Greta Thunberg — Simply Amazing

I have written before about the young Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, and in fact she was one of my ‘good people’ one Wednesday last December.  Sometimes an activist will start like gangbusters, and then after a few months you hear nothing more about them, but not so Ms. Thunberg.  I see her name in the news at least once a week, and she has been inspirational to many young climate-conscious groups around the world.

Today, she is back in the news, and in a big way! A couple of big ways, actually.


Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg and The 1975’s Matty Healy pose for a photo. (Photo: Jordan Hughes)

The first is that she is featured on the first track of the forthcoming album of British pop-rock band The 1975.  In the track, Greta delivers a speech about the global climate emergency, against an instrumental background by the band.  Now, I have never heard of The 1975, but I give them two thumbs up for this effort, as well as the fact that all proceeds from the track will be going to the climate action group Extinction Rebellion.

The full text of Greta’s speech on the track is at the end of this post.

In an interview with The Guardian, Greta said …

“I’m grateful to get the opportunity to get my message out to a broad new audience in a new way. I think it’s great that The 1975 is so strongly engaged in the climate crisis. We quickly need to get people in all branches of society to get involved. And this collaboration I think is something new.”

The second thing is that Greta has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize this year.  She was nominated by Freddy Andre Oevstegaard, a parliamentary representative in Norway …

“We have nominated Greta because the climate threat may be one of the most important causes of war and conflict.”

greta-2.pngThe Norwegian Nobel Committee will announce its latest laureates in October, and those selected will receive their prizes in December.  I do so want to see her win it!

And the third thing that has put Greta in the news this week is that she will be coming to the U.S. next month to attend a United Nations summit meeting on global warming in New York!  Now, you may remember from my previous post about Greta that she does not fly on airplanes because of the CO2 emissions, so you may be wondering how she plans to get here.

“Good news! I’ll be joining the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York. I’ve been offered a ride on the 60ft racing boat Malizia II.”


Malizia II

Malizia II, is outfitted with solar panels and underwater turbines to generate electricity. That should make the entire trip possible without burning any fossil fuels.

Boris Herrmann, who will skipper the boat, said the voyage would not be the luxury cruise that a high-tech yacht might conjure in the popular imagination. The Malizia II is built for speed, not comfort. It has no kitchen, refrigeration system, air-conditioning or showers.

Think about this one for a minute, folks.  This young woman is so committed to saving our planet that she is willing to spend two weeks on a small boat, eating mostly freeze-dried and vacuum-packed meals, in order to do her part to save the environment.  Greta is sixteen years old … most kids her age are attached at the hip to their cell phones, ipods, laptops, and wouldn’t dream of missing a shower or a hot meal, let alone spend two weeks in a small boat on choppy seas!

Greta will be accompanied on the trip by a filmmaker; her father, Svante; and Pierre Casiraghi, the head of the Malizia II racing team who is also the grandson of Prince Rainier III of Monaco and the American actress Grace Kelly.

Greta is, with her parents’ approval, taking the year off from school to campaign against climate change, also plans to attend the annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talks in December in Santiago, Chile.

I was impressed by this young woman when I first wrote about her eight months ago, but today … the only word I have is “WOW!!!”  She puts us all to shame, and particularly those who would “deny” climate science in order to justify their own greed.

I would like to end with a quote that was sent to me tonight by a very special friend:

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” – Helen Keller

Ms. Thunberg is doing something that she can do … let’s all try to do just one thing more that we can do to help heal and protect our home, planet Earth.

Full text of Greta’s speech on The 1975 track:

We are right now in the beginning of a climate and ecological crisis.

And we need to call it what it is. An emergency.

We must acknowledge that we do not have the situation under control and that we don’t have all the solutions yet. Unless those solutions mean that we simply stop doing certain things.

We admit that we are losing this battle.

We have to acknowledge that the older generations have failed. All political movements in their present form have failed.

But homo sapiens have not yet failed.

Yes, we are failing, but there is still time to turn everything around. We can still fix this. We still have everything in our own hands.

But unless we recognise the overall failures of our current systems, we most probably don’t stand a chance.

We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people. And now is not the time for speaking politely or focusing on what we can or cannot say. Now is the time to speak clearly.

Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that homo sapiens have ever faced. The main solution, however, is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases.

And either we do that, or we don’t.

You say that nothing in life is black or white.

But that is a lie. A very dangerous lie.

Either we prevent a 1.5 degree of warming, or we don’t.

Either we avoid setting off that irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, or we don’t.

Either we choose to go on as a civilization or we don’t.

That is as black or white as it gets.

Because there are no grey areas when it comes to survival.

Now we all have a choice.

We can create transformational action that will safeguard the living conditions for future generations.

Or we can continue with our business as usual and fail.

That is up to you and me.

And yes, we need a system change rather than individual change. But you cannot have one without the other.

If you look through history, all the big changes in society have been started by people at the grassroots level. People like you and me.

So, I ask you to please wake up and make the changes required possible. To do your best is no longer good enough. We must all do the seemingly impossible.

Today, we use about 100 million barrels of oil every single day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground.

So, we can no longer save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed.

Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.

So, everyone out there, it is now time for civil disobedience. It is time to rebel.

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♫ Didn’t We Almost Have It All ♫

I’ve played many of Whitney Houston’s best songs, but turns out I haven’t played this one!  This song, written by Michael Masser and Will Jennings and released in 1987, was the fifth of seven consecutive US #1 hits for Houston.  

According to Will Jennings …

“I think that probably took longer than any other song. Michael was traveling and he was in the studio and doing this and that, so I think it was about a year or two after we started it that it was finished. And I sort of lost track of the whole thing. It was one of those never-to-be-repeated experiences, because he was producing the record and he wanted to really nail it down. He kept feeling it wasn’t finished and so he’d put it away, and I was off working on something. I’d lost track of what went on with it.”

There are two main versions of the song, and I shall play both here. My favourite is the first, for while I usually prefer a live version, like the energy and emotion that comes through in the artist’s body language and facial expressions, in this case the live version, from her September 2, 1987 concert in Saratoga Springs, New York, is a bit too melancholy to suit me.

Didn’t We Almost Have It All
Song by Whitney Houston

Remember when we held on in the rain
The night we almost lost it
Once again we can take the night into tomorrow
Living on feelings
Touching you I feel it all again

Didn’t we almost have it all
When love was all we had worth giving?
The ride with you was worth the fall my friend
Loving you makes life worth living
Didn’t we almost have it all
The night we held on till the morning
You know you’ll never love that way again
Didn’t we almost have it all

The way you used to touch me felt so fine
We kept our hearts together down the line
A moment in the soul can last forever
Comfort and keep us
Help me bring the feeling back again

Didn’t we almost have it all
When love was all we had worth giving?
The ride with you was worth the fall my friend
Loving you makes life worth living
Didn’t we almost have it all
The night we held on till the morning
You know you’ll never love that way again
Didn’t we almost have it all

Didn’t we have the best of times
When love was young and new?
Couldn’t we reach inside and find
The world of me and you?
We’ll never lose it again
‘Cause once you know what love is
You never let it end

Didn’t we almost have it all
When love was all we had worth giving?
The ride with you was worth the fall my friend
Loving you makes life worth living

Didn’t we almost have it all
The night we held on till the morning
You know you’ll never love that way again
Didn’t we almost have it all

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Michael Masser / Will Jennings
Didn’t We Almost Have It All lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Some Positive Signs …

Okay, friends … Joe Biden has been in office for less than 48 hours, and already I see positive signs coming from the White House.  Let’s look at a couple …

Once again, science matters

Joe Biden promised to listen to the scientists and the experts, unlike his predecessor, and he is doing just that.  First off, he offered Dr. Anthony Fauci the position of Chief Medical Advisor, which Fauci gladly accepted.  It is encouraging to hear Dr. Fauci, the nation’s foremost infectious disease specialist, say …

“One of the new things in this administration is, if you don’t know the answer, don’t guess.  Just say you don’t know the answer. The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know and what the science is … it is something of a liberating feeling.”

Yesterday morning, Dr. Fauci spoke to the executive board of the World Health Organization, and was able to tell them that the United States would not be following through with Mr. Trump’s demand to leave the group in the middle of a pandemic.  I, for one, breathe a sigh of relief for that one.

Isn’t it grand to know that our president doesn’t think he’s such a stable genius that he knows everything about … well, everything?  We can trust that President Biden will listen to the scientists, the experts, on such things as the pandemic and climate change.

And speaking of the pandemic …

President Biden unveiled his national strategy to conquer the pandemic, to save our lives.  If this sort of action had been taken a year ago, hundreds of thousands of lives almost certainly would have been saved.

The orders included new requirements for masks on interstate planes, trains and buses, as well as in all federal facilities.  I guess this means you, too, members of Congress!  He also calls for the creation of a national testing board and mandatory quarantines for international travelers arriving in the United States.

But Biden pulled no punches, he was brutally honest (oh isn’t that so refreshing?) when he admitted, “The brutal truth is it’s going to take months before we can get the majority of Americans vaccinated,” and when he said that US deaths from the pandemic will likely reach 500,000 by February.  Honesty.  From the president.  WOW!  Just WOW!

Transparency & truth … FINALLY!

Her name is Jen Psaki, pronounced SOCK-ee, and she is President Biden’s press secretary.  She is more than qualified for the job, having served in a number of communications positions in the Obama administration, including as a spokeswoman at the State Department, where she was comfortable delivering lengthy, policy-heavy briefings in a role often held by career foreign policy officials. And she was popular with Washington reporters.

She has already given her first press briefing, and while I only listened to a brief clip, the first few minutes, one word jumped out:  transparency.

“If the president were standing here with me today, he would say he works for the American people. I work for him, so I also work for the American people, but his objective and his commitment is to bring transparency and truth back to government, to share the truth, even when it’s hard to hear.”

It brings a tear to my eyes to hear the words ‘transparency’ and ‘truth’ spoken by the press secretary, after four years and five … or was it six? … different press secretaries all telling thousands of lies, accusing reporters of bias, or simply not communicating at all.

A short bit of a rant

I hate to sully an otherwise upbeat post with a min-rant, but I simply must vent a bit on this one …

I understand that ol’ Mitch McConnell has ‘suggested’ that the impeachment trial for Donald Trump be pushed back to February in order to give Trump time to prepare his defense.  I have only one question:  why should we be fair to the ‘man’ who put us through hell and caused us grief every single day for four solid years?  There can be no defense for the impeachment charge, the charge of inciting an attempted overthrow of a legitimate, fair, and honest election.

Oh sure, some high-priced lawyers will try to spin it, to put in in such a light that Trump’s words were not incitement.  But we all know better.  We all know that he had been planning that last-ditch attempt to silence the people of this nation and seize power as an authoritarian dictator for some time, and those people who stormed the Capitol on January 6th were his pawns, they were inspired to do his dirty work for him.  No, there can be no defense against what he did, so why wait?  Hold the trial now, convict him, and ensure that he can never again destroy this nation and our lives.

Donald Trump is guilty of treason, for he betrayed a sacred trust, broke his oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, and put this nation in grave jeopardy in more ways than one.  The charge of inciting violence is a mild one compared to what he could have legitimately been charged with.  He must be convicted on that charge, and as soon as possible in order for this nation to fully breathe easily again, in order for us to move on and begin to heal.

Prove Me Wrong — PLEASE!

Joe Biden has promised to do everything in his power to heal the wounds that divide the people of this nation, to bring unity where there is only separation and hate.  I fully believe he will try, but we all have to do our part … he cannot do it alone.  And today, it seems to me that nearly half the nation does not want unity, though they claim they do.  Perhaps they are defining ‘unity’ as everyone bending to their own views.

In an early morning text from a friend, there was this …

“… the “new” President call 74 MILLION Americans…. white suprematists. He’s off to a great start. Unity? I think not a chance in hell now.”

And that was only the beginning.  Senator Rand Paul said in a morning interview with Fox News …

“If you read his speech and listen to it carefully, much of it is thinly veiled innuendo. Calling us white supremacists, calling us racists, calling us every name in the book. Calling us people who don’t tell the truth.  ‘And going forward we’re not going to have manufactured or manipulated truth.’ That’s another way of saying ‘All of my opponents manufacture or manipulate the truth and are liars.’”

And speaking of Fox, ol’ Tucker Carlson just had to throw a bucket of fuel on the fire, saying …

“Now that we’re waging war on white supremacists. Can somebody tell us in very clear language what a white supremacist is? Biden has now declared war. So, we should know specifically and precisely who exactly he has declared war on. We have a right to know that innocent people could be hurt in this war. They usually are.”

Joe Biden offered an olive branch, and some republicans are determined to destroy it rather than accept it.  It’s almost as if they take great pleasure from the current atmosphere of hate and divisiveness.  Biden wasn’t looping Republicans generally in with white supremacists and extremists. Carlson is doing that. Paul is doing that.

I’m sure there is a large contingent of republicans who are hopeful that Biden can, in fact, lessen the tensions, find common ground on the issues that divide us, and helps us find the path to mutual respect, but they aren’t speaking loudly enough, if at all.  The only republican voices I’m hearing are those who aren’t even willing to give peace a chance.

From an OpEd by Philip Bump writing for The Washington Post …

It’s important to note that this is clearly not what Biden was talking about. He was talking about the rise of white nationalist extremism and violence of the sort that has been manifested occasionally in recent years and which the Department of Homeland Security (under Trump) identified as the most significant terrorism threat in the country. He was talking about the sort of extremism that contributed to what happened at the Capitol.

There is some undercurrent of sympathy among Republicans generally for what happened there. Most Americans reject the mob’s actions in storming the Capitol, though, as a Washington Post-ABC News poll found, 15 percent of Republicans at least somewhat support the storming of the Capitol itself. A HuffPost-YouGov poll taken shortly after the attack found that most Republicans viewed the mob’s actions as being mostly right or simply having gone too far in pursuit of a valid point.

I remember a time when being a republican or a democrat was not a divisive feature.  Sure, there have always been ideological differences – hence the reason for two distinct political parties.  But it wasn’t the thing that defined us, as it appears to be today.  This nation is split in half, though not by any physical boundaries, but rather by prejudice and intolerance.  President Joe Biden wants to start to put us back together, but it can only work if people on both sides of the issues are willing to make it work.  Taking his words, twisting them to mean something entirely different, then spewing hateful remarks is not the answer, people!

I call on every person, whether democrat, republican, or independent, to give Joe a chance, for Pete’s sake!  Within twelve hours of him taking his Oath of Office, people were already denigrating and swearing that they would not even listen to his actual words, would not be open to trying to help make his attempts at healing the Great Divide work.  Do these people actually crave violence, want a damn civil war?  I’ve said many times in the last four years that this is no longer a country I recognize.  I was hoping that would change under a President Biden, but it can only change if we all want it to.  Do we still have any shared values in this country?  Today, I have my doubts.  PLEASE prove me wrong!

♫ Everyday ♫

Tonight I went in search of something … positive, upbeat, to reflect the mood of the nation after the inauguration of President Biden and Vice-President Harris.  We once again have hope for a future … a brighter future for ourselves, for the nation, and for the planet.  So, I came across this one, originally by Buddy Holly.  Naturally, the lyrics accompanying the one rattling in my head were different from the actual lyrics … I had “Everyday, things are looking brighter …”, which is … well, close but no cigar!  Still … close enough for me.

This is listed as being written by Charles Hardin and Norman Petty. Charles Hardin is actually Buddy Holly: his real name was Charles Hardin Holley. The song was recorded by Buddy Holly and the Crickets, however on the original single the Crickets are not mentioned, but it is known that Holly plays acoustic guitar; drummer Jerry Allison slaps his knees for percussion; Joe B. Mauldin plays a standup acoustic bass; and producer Norman Petty’s wife Vi Petty plays the celesta aka celeste (a keyboard instrument with a glockenspiel-like tone, used in such classical pieces as “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy” from The Nutcracker).

What’s interesting … I found this song rattling about in my head tonight, but couldn’t remember the song title nor the name of the artist.  I Googled, using the one line I could remember of the lyrics, and found it was by Buddy Holly.  I listened … yep, that’s the song, just as I remember it.  However, Buddy Holly’s version, release in 1957 as the B-side of Peggy Sue, never charted!  However, both John Denver and James Taylor did versions of the song that did chart, Denver’s at #81 in 1972, and Taylor’s at #61 in 1985.  Truth be told, much as I like John Denver and love James Taylor, Holly’s is still my favourite, perhaps because it’s the one I remember from my childhood.  At any rate, I’ll give you all three and you can choose your own favourite.

Buddy Holly and the Crickets

Everyday, it’s a-gettin’ closer
Goin’ faster than a roller coaster
Love like yours will surely come my way
A-hey, a-hey, hey

Everyday, it’s a-gettin’ faster
Everyone said, “Go up and ask her”
Love like yours will surely come my way
A-hey, a-hey, hey

Everyday seems a little longer
Every way, love’s a little stronger
Come what may, do you ever long for
True love from me?

Everyday, it’s a-gettin’ closer
Goin’ faster than a roller coaster
Love like yours will surely come my way
A-hey, a-hey, hey

Everyday seems a little longer
Every way, love’s a little stronger
Come what may, do you ever long for
True love from me?

Everyday, it’s a-gettin’ closer
Goin’ faster than a roller coaster
Love like yours will surely come my way
A-hey, a-hey, hey
Love like yours will surely come my way

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Ignacio Sotomayor Roman
Everyday lyrics © Peer International Corporation, Peer International Corp

Not-So-Snarky Snippets

Ahhhhh … it is like a breathe of fresh air to have positive news on the political front to write about.  Already I can feel the difference in the tone of the news sites I frequent … well, most of them, anyway.  And it was truly bliss to troll the news this evening and see not one single thing about the person who left the White House for the final time yesterday morning.  So, forward we move.

My usual ‘snarky snippets’ came about as a direct result of you-know-who and his cohorts, and there isn’t a doubt in my mind that I will still have many more snarky snippets, for there are still many unsavory elements in our government, such as Josh Hawley, Marjorie Taylor-Greene, and Lauren Boebert.  Add to that the long-termers like Jim Jordan, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham … and well, you can see how the snarky snippets will be around for a while.  However, there will also be times that, finally, I will be writing about positive things happening and those need a different name.  The best I could come up with last night was ‘Not-so-snarky Snippets’, but you guys are more than welcome to think up something better if you can.  My mind is tired and my imagination took a long hike and hasn’t returned yet.

First bit of good news …

After the inaugural festivities yesterday, something awesome happened.  Vice-President Kamala Harris administered the oath of office to newly elected Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, both from the state of Georgia, and Alex Padilla, the former California secretary of state, who was appointed by California Governor Gavin Newsom to fill Harris’ own Senate seat.

The Senate is now tied with 50 Republican senators and 50 Democratic senators, however in the event of a tie on any given vote, Vice President Harris will provide the tie-breaking vote, so in essence, there is now a Democratic majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  It is my hope that this will streamline the process of President Biden’s nominees for cabinet positions being confirmed, not to mention other legislation being passed.  What would really be nice is if the two parties reached across the aisle and worked in a bi-partisan manner for the best interests of the country, but perhaps that’s asking just a wee bit too much.

Never too soon to get to work

President Biden and his wife had an exhausting day yesterday, with all the inaugural activities.  Personally, I felt more sorry for the First Lady, for her feet had to be killing her after wearing those high-heeled shoes all day!  Heck, it wore me out and all I had to do was sit here at my computer, with occasional breaks to fold a load of laundry or cook supper.  However, that didn’t stop the President from getting busy once the festivities were over.

“I think some of the things we’re going to be doing are going to be bold and vital. And there’s no time to start like today.”

President Biden signed 17 executive orders yesterday, pertaining to the environment, education, the pandemic, and immigration.  Just a brief overview of a few of them …

  • Environment
    • One order was to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords which we so negligently backed out of in 2019, though unofficially we backed out of our obligations under the agreement in 2017. This was one of my biggest hopes, that we would re-join, for we were one of only 9 nations on the planet that was not committed to reversing the effects of climate change, and in fact had increased our CO2 emissions with the rollback of environmental regulations.
    • Biden also revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline that has been the source of numerous leaks and spills, damaging water supplies and endangering both human and wildlife. The pipeline would also have increased CO2 emissions significantly and have further damaged the atmosphere.
  • Immigration
    • The President signed an order repealing the ban on travel from several majority-Muslim nations.
    • Another order called on the Department of Homeland Security to extend the initiative protecting ‘dreamers’, people who were brought to this country as children, from deportation and issuing them work permits.
    • He put an end to the false ‘national emergency’ that was put into place by his predecessor as a means for obtaining additional funding to build a wall – a wall that had no purpose but would cost billions, if not trillions of taxpayer dollars.
  • Pandemic relief
    • In a directive to the Department of Education, Biden asked the department to consider extending a freeze on both interest and principal payments for federal student loans until September 30th.
    • In a separate directive he asked the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to extend a moratorium on evictions that expires after this month to at least through March.
  • Education
    • Biden rescinded the “1776 Commission” established by his predecessor. The commission, staffed by 18 ultra-conservative members, not a historian in the bunch, recommended the teaching of history as viewed through rose-coloured glasses.  An alternate reality, or revisionist history so to speak, that downplayed the darker side of the history of the nation, glossed over or even changing facts to glorify or ignore such things as slavery, Jim Crow, Japanese internment camps, the turning back of the SS St. Louis carrying Jewish refugees from Hitler’s Germany.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard he had rescinded the commission, for this is the way authoritarian countries educate their young, with fantasy that suits the leaders, rather than facts. 

All in all, President Biden had a busy day, and from the looks of it, all his days are going to be pretty busy.  I cannot argue with a single thing he’s done thus far, though of course some Republican lawmakers are … shall we say, not happy.  I’ve read a number of comments from them this evening and finally stopped after I found myself saying, “Shut up, bitch” to my computer.  I figured it was time for me to turn my thoughts elsewhere, for the past couple of weeks have already taken a toll.  Now’s the time to find the positive, and there will be plenty of that, I think. 

Aside from all that, I was moved to tears a few times yesterday morning while watching the ceremony.  Funny, when I watched the last inauguration in 2017, I was spitting and cursing, but yesterday morning I was mellow … and thankful that sanity has returned to the White House. 

The 46th!

Jeff speaks for me, and millions of others, when he recounts his feelings of today’s events. Finally … we can go to bed at night knowing the nation is in good hands, and wake in the morning without immediately grabbing our phone to see the latest ‘breaking news’. Thank you, Jeff, for sharing your thoughts and feelings … they echo my own. And now, you and I have a project to talk about, yes?

On The Fence Voters

We did it, folks. He’s gone for good. On November 3, 2020, over 81 million of us told the 45th President of the United States to get the hell out of our house. Today, we welcome the 46th President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

On the drive home today from my walk with our beloved four-legged buddies, I heard the beautiful voice of Lady Gaga singing our National Anthem emanating from my car radio. I couldn’t hold back anymore. The tears started to flow like a spring waterfall in Oregon. It’s as if a massive weight, an albatross if you will, began to leave my body all at once.

The gravity of the moment will live with me for the rest of my life. I felt similar emotions when the election was formerly called for Biden. But this was different. So much has happened since…

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Life, Once Again, Goes On

My friends, we now have a President.  I began watching the ceremonies with some degree of trepidation, fearing another terrorist attack similar to the one two weeks ago, but as the program progressed, there was no sign of trouble or even mild dissent, and I began to relax a bit.  I realize that this is only the formal first step, and that Joe & Kamala have much work to do, but it feels as if fresh air has returned, as if I can breathe again.  My tears today were tears of relief, of peace.

It is time, now, to move forward, not to keep looking back at the past four horrifying years.  That’s not to say there won’t be times that it is necessary to look back, for much damage has been done and repairing it will also mean assessing it, but for the most part, I think we need to focus on President Biden’s actions.  Moving forward doesn’t mean we forget the past, but rather that we learn from it, we catalog the mistakes, assess their origins in order to ensure we don’t repeat the same mistakes ever again.

For four years, this nation has been steadily losing the respect of the rest of the world, and it will take time and effort to repair our alliances, to once again be respected in the eyes of the world.  For the past year, we have fought a deadly pandemic, with deaths in the U.S. alone totaling over 400,000 … fully 20% of the total deaths worldwide, though we have only 4% of the world’s population.  The overt racism and police brutality toward Black people is out of control.  Unemployment and poverty are at an all-time high, in part due to the pandemic.  And perhaps the most critical issue is that for four years we have completely disregarded the environment, have added more plastic and CO2 to the atmosphere than ever before.  All of these and more are things that President Biden will need to deal with rapidly, and I believe he will.

Solutions will not happen overnight, and our patience is likely to be sorely tested, but finally we have a President who understands the problems, will listen to the experts and the scientists, and will do his best to repair the damage, to protect not only the people of this nation, but of the world.  My hope is that rather than engage in partisanship and obstructionism, Congress will work with President Biden to help solve some of our many problems.  Members of Congress who fail to do so will earn themselves a place in my ‘snarky snippets’ hall of fame!

And so, we enter a new day in our ongoing history … a day filled with hope for the future, something we haven’t felt for a very long time.  When I awoke this morning, the sky was cloudy and grey, but sometime in the early afternoon, the sun came out and outside my window the birdies are eating the squirrel’s peanuts and the squirrels are eating the bird seed – and thus, life goes on!

♫ It Takes Two ♫

After the events of the evening (the aforementioned cat fight), I was pretty sure there could be no music post tonight, but then … dear David mentioned this song by the wonderful Marvin Gaye, and I knew I had my song for the night!  Thank you, David!

It Takes Two is a hit single recorded in late 1965 by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston for Motown’s Tamla label.

Produced by Weston’s then-husband, longtime Gaye collaborator William “Mickey” Stevenson, and co-written by Stevenson and Sylvia Moy, It Takes Two centered on a romantic lyric that depicted many things in life (dreams, love, wishes, etc.) being better with two people instead of one. The single became Gaye’s most successful duet single to date, later outperformed by Gaye’s duets with Tammi Terrell.

According to Kim Weston …

“Marvin and I went into the studio together to record the album Take Two. We didn’t pick the tracks, they were picked by Mickey Stevenson, my then-husband, and our producer, but ‘It Takes Two’ had been written by him and Sylvia Moy especially for us and it really worked. Being in the studio with Marvin, I saw a new side to him. I’d traveled and shared bills with him so we knew how each other worked. In the studio he was really encouraging. He added little ad libs, intonations here and there and suggested things for the arrangements. I saw the genius shine out of him but also the frustration. You could hear it in his voice. He wanted more control.  It was a shock when they released the song as a single. I’d already left Motown and gone to MGM. I don’t think Motown knew I was going to leave and I was upset that this came out after I’d gone. I regret never having the chance to sing it live with Marvin. I felt my duets with Marvin really paved the way for what he did with Tammi Terrell next. Our songs influenced theirs, and if I’d stayed at the label I think I’d have been singing those songs with him instead.”

Though Gaye had already racked up a number of hits in the US, this was his first Top 40 hit in the UK. The song reached #14 in the U.S. and #16 in the UK … the Canadians apparently didn’t like it, for it didn’t chart there.  

In 1990, the song was covered by Rod Steward and Tina Turner, where it was a Top Ten throughout Europe.

It Takes Two
Kim Weston and Marvin Gaye

One can have a dream, baby
Two can make a dream so real
One can talk about being in love
Two can see how it really feels

One can wish upon a star
Two can make a wish come true, yeah
One can stand alone in the dark
Two can make a light shine through

It takes two, baby
It takes two, baby,
Me and you
You know it takes two

It takes two, baby
It takes two, baby
Make a dream come true
It just takes two

One can have a broken heart
Living in misery
Two can really ease the pain
Like a perfect remedy
One can be alone in a bar,
Like an island he’s all alone
Two can make just any place
Seem just like bein’ at home

It takes two, baby
It takes two, baby
Me and you
It just takes two
It takes two, baby
It takes two, baby,
To make a dream come true
It just take two

Just takes two
Just takes two

One can go out to a movie
Looking for a special treat
Two can make that single movie
Something really kind of sweet
And one can take a walk in the moonlight
Thinking that’s it’s really nice
But two lovers walking hand in hand
Is like adding just a pinch of spice

It takes two, baby
It takes two, baby
Me and you
Just takes two
It takes two, baby
It takes two, baby
To make a dream come true

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Sylvia Moy / William Stevenson
It Takes Two lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Good People Doing Good Things — Today’s Youth

I’ve been doing ‘good people’ posts for nearly four years now!  My first one was in February 2017, and I try my best to consistently find new and interesting ‘good people’ every Wednesday.  For the fourth time in as many years, and due largely to circumstances beyond my control (a mega cat fight that lasted intermittently for hours and resulted in injuries to both humans and cats!), I am unable to write a fresh one tonight, so I am re-playing one from July 2018 … one of the more popular ones I’ve done thus far. 

Dessi-2Desmond Sieburth, nicknamed Dessi, lives in Pasadena, California.  Sieburth, a young bird conservationist, explains, “I got into birding when I was eight years old, after making a bird feeder.” Sieburth’s frequent birding expeditions soon led him to the unfortunate truth that populations of many types of birds are declining, thanks to factors including deforestation. So, he decided to help. To start, he made nesting boxes for the western bluebird, which typically make their nests in dead tree cavities—and he has been building and monitoring his homemade nesting boxes ever since. Last year, 21 boxes produced 163 fledglings.

In an effort to further preserve and create bird habitats, especially in urban settings, and to educate others about helping birds, Sieburth created an organization called Protecting Our Birds. He says that teaching Californians about the threatened and endangered birds right in their backyards—such as the California condor—is his passion. “Microtrash, lead ammunition, and habituation are the main threats to the California condors.”

DessiSieburth, who joined the Pasadena Audubon Society at age eight, also contributes to several Audubon newsletters. He regularly leads bird walks for kids and adults, and has presented on bird habitats before Audubon chapters, schools, and libraries, reaching close to 1,000 people. And, over three years of participating in Audubon’s “Big Photo Day”—an annual event that calls on birders to photograph as many species of birds as they can in a day, with each photo fetching a donation—he has raised more than $1,500 to protect a local watershed and wildlife corridor. The American Birding Association named Sieburth 2015’s Young Birder of the Year for his tireless efforts.

Sieburth’s plan for the future is to expand his conservation efforts globally—he already uses his Protecting Our Birds website to emphasize the importance of supporting bird-habitat-friendly coffee plantations in South and Central America. It was hardly a surprise to learn that when he grows up, he wants to be an ornithologist.   His website is amazing … you really should take a minute to check it out!

Isabella-WillowIsabella and Willow Poschman are 12-year-old twins who are out to save the endangered species of the world.  They have been involved in animal conservation ever since second grade, when they saw a film called “The Elephant in the Room.” Isabella promptly wrote letters to President Barack Obama, President Xi of China, and President Kenyatta of Kenya, urging leaders to do whatever they could to end the ivory trade. Since then, the twins have gathered signatures for an online petition version of that letter—signed by children in almost all 50 states and in more than 60 countries—and founded Kids Saving Elephants. Their organization not only educates kids and adults around the world about the plight of African elephants, but also raises funds to help fight the ivory trade. Isabella and Willow have also raised thousands of dollars by selling handmade elephant greeting cards, as well as lemonade and cookies, at the Aspen Music Festival, and throughout summers at the Aspen Saturday Market.Willow-letterSome of the twins’ most recent actions include sending letters to the Wall Street Journal and to Elle Décor magazine—one was published in Elle Décor’s September 2016 issue— beseeching editors to not feature elephant tusks and other endangered species in their spreads. Alongside a visiting conservationist from Kenya, they also recently presented to 120 of their fellow students at Aspen Middle School. Isabella and Willow now plan to hone this presentation and make it available online to schoolkids around the world. They also continue to fundraise via their elephant cards, which they plan to start selling online and at a couple of local stores.

Willow, who is currently an intern at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Silt, Colorado, as part of a sixth-grade mentorship program, plans to be a big-cat scientist when she grows up. This is according to the twins’ mom, Maureen, who adds, “Willow may become a best-selling author first, in order to help fund her wildlife conservation efforts.” Maureen says Isabella “wants to become a Broadway actress.”

Hannah-TestaAt age 12, Hannah Testa founded Hannah4Change to fight for issues that affect the planet and all of its animals. One of her most successful fundraisers—a movie night that attracted more than 300 guests and raised several thousand dollars for the nonprofit Save the Horses—led to the then-10-year-old Testa being featured on CBS News. She has since presented to thousands of children and adults (including Georgia governor Nathan Deal) on one of the biggest threats to wildlife—plastic pollution—and practical ways residents can reduce their “plastic footprint.” She has also made videos outlining the need to protect some of her other favorite animals, orcas and rhinos, and has presented at rallies and protests in the name of saving orcas. Additionally, Testa sells homemade cookies, through which she has raised $1,500 for elephant conservation.

Hannah-2Testa says her current mission is to make her native Forsyth County “the greenest county in Georgia, through education and awareness. This includes educating businesses as well as schools to become more green by using less single-use plastic products and to recycle as much as possible.” When this jack-of-all-trades conservationist grows up, she says she is interested in “working for the UN, where I can be in a position to truly make a difference in this world.”

In light of recent rolling back of environmental regulations here in the U.S., I worry about the future of this planet.  But with kids like Dessi, Isabella, Willow and Hannah, maybe … just maybe there is hope yet.  I applaud these four young people, and all the rest whom I haven’t yet discovered.