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.

Greta-Thunberg

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-2

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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Seeking Election Integrity …

Dan Coats was the director of national intelligence from 2017 to 2019. He resigned on July 28th 2019 when he was apprised that he was about to be fired.  The reason?  He did not play Trump’s game, did not take that oath of fealty that required him to be naught more than a yes-man.  He affirmed in no uncertain terms that Russia had indeed interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, contrary to Trump’s denials of such interference.  Today, Mr. Coats has written the following OpEd in the New York Times about the security of the upcoming election and offers one possible solution.


What’s at Stake in This Election? The American Democratic Experiment

Trump’s former director of national intelligence on how to firmly and unambiguously reassure all Americans that their votes will be counted.

dan-coatsBy Dan Coats

We hear often that the November election is the most consequential in our lifetime. But the importance of the election is not just which candidate or which party wins. Voters also face the question of whether the American democratic experiment, one of the boldest political innovations in human history, will survive.

Our democracy’s enemies, foreign and domestic, want us to concede in advance that our voting systems are faulty or fraudulent; that sinister conspiracies have distorted the political will of the people; that our public discourse has been perverted by the news media and social networks riddled with prejudice, lies and ill will; that judicial institutions, law enforcement and even national security have been twisted, misused and misdirected to create anxiety and conflict, not justice and social peace.

If those are the results of this tumultuous election year, we are lost, no matter which candidate wins. No American, and certainly no American leader, should want such an outcome. Total destruction and sowing salt in the earth of American democracy is a catastrophe well beyond simple defeat and a poison for generations. An electoral victory on these terms would be no victory at all. The judgment of history, reflecting on the death of enlightened democracy, would be harsh.

The most urgent task American leaders face is to ensure that the election’s results are accepted as legitimate. Electoral legitimacy is the essential linchpin of our entire political culture. We should see the challenge clearly in advance and take immediate action to respond.

The most important part of an effective response is to finally, at long last, forge a genuinely bipartisan effort to save our democracy, rejecting the vicious partisanship that has disabled and destabilized government for too long. If we cannot find common ground now, on this core issue at the very heart of our endangered system, we never will.

Our key goal should be reassurance. We must firmly, unambiguously reassure all Americans that their vote will be counted, that it will matter, that the people’s will expressed through their votes will not be questioned and will be respected and accepted. I propose that Congress creates a new mechanism to help accomplish this purpose. It should create a supremely high-level bipartisan and nonpartisan commission to oversee the election. This commission would not circumvent existing electoral reporting systems or those that tabulate, evaluate or certify the results. But it would monitor those mechanisms and confirm for the public that the laws and regulations governing them have been scrupulously and expeditiously followed — or that violations have been exposed and dealt with — without political prejudice and without regard to political interests of either party.

Also, this commission would be responsible for monitoring those forces that seek to harm our electoral system through interference, fraud, disinformation or other distortions. These would be exposed to the American people in a timely manner and referred to appropriate law enforcement agencies and national security entities.

Such a commission must be composed of national leaders personally committed — by oath — to put partisan politics aside even in the midst of an electoral contest of such importance. They would accept as a personal moral responsibility to put the integrity and fairness of the election process above everything else, making public reassurance their goal.

Commission members undertaking this high, historic responsibility should come from both parties and could include congressional leaders, current and former governors, “elder statespersons,” former national security leaders, perhaps the former Supreme Court justices David Souter and Anthony Kennedy, and business leaders from social media companies.

This commission would be created by emergency legislative action. During that process, its precise mandate, composition, powers and resources would be defined. Among other aspects, the legislation would define the relationship between the commission and the intelligence and law enforcement communities with the capability necessary for the commission’s work. And it would define how the commission would work with all the individual states.

Congressional leaders must see the need as urgent and move quickly with common purpose. Seeking broad bipartisan unity on such an initiative at such a fraught time goes against the nature of the political creatures we have become. But this is the moment and this is the issue that demands a higher patriotism. No member of Congress could have any valid reason to reject any step that could contribute to the fundamental health of our Republic. With what should be the unanimous support of Congress, the legislation must call upon the election campaigns of both parties to commit in advance to respect the findings of the commission. Both presidential candidates should be called upon to make such personal commitments of their own.

If we fail to take every conceivable effort to ensure the integrity of our election, the winners will not be Donald Trump or Joe Biden, Republicans or Democrats. The only winners will be Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Ali Khamenei. No one who supports a healthy democracy could election 2020want that.

Think Trump’s Not Moving Toward Total Autocracy? This International Analyst Knows the Signs Too Well…

Earlier today, I re-blogged a post from Annie of annieasksyou fame, and this evening I am sharing another. Annie has collected a series of observations made by International Analyst Michael McFaul that paint a picture that is … chilling. Please do take a minute to check it out. Thanks again, Annie!

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Michael McFaul, Stanford University

[Note from Annie:I’ve extracted from Twitter a series of observations made by Michael McFaul last week after viewing the Republican National Convention that I think form a compelling picture of the dangers we’ll face if we don’t remove President Trump from office in November.(The emphases are mine.)

McFaul served as Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House from 2009 to 2012, and then as the United States Ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014. The author of several books and an academic at Stanford, he cites his research interests as American foreign policy, great power relations, and the relationship between democracy and development.]

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For those of us who study autocracies, including elections in autocracies, there were a lot of familiar messages, symbols, and methods on display this week…

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The Choice

Blogger friend Annie posted this post earlier this month (where has September gone???) and it is an excellent and timely reminder for those who may still be sitting on the fence about the November election. Please take a few minutes to read. Thank you, Annie & Infidel!

annieasksyou...

[Note from Annie: I feel the post below, written by my fellow blogger Infidel753, is so thoughtful and persuasive that I’m featuring it here.Infidel’s highly informative, provocative, and often entertaining blog may be accessed at infidel753.blogspot.com.]

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This November, one of two things will happen. Either Biden will be elected president, or Trump will be re-elected. Many people fervently believe there should be some third option. There isn’t. It’s going to be one of those two.

This post is addressed to those who, for whatever reason, don’t like Biden. Maybe you consider him too centrist or too old or too old-fashioned or “Republican-lite” or whatever. Maybe you think the Tara Reade accusation has credibility (though there are good reasons to believe otherwise). Maybe you think the process by which millions of rank-and-file Democrats chose the nominee (from among a remarkably large and varied group of candidates) was tainted…

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♫ Lyin’ Eyes ♫ (Redux)

I try not to play songs by the same artists too close together, but it was just last night that I played “Tequila Sunrise” by the Eagles, and here I am back with another Eagles’ song tonight!  Why?  Well, in a comment today, friend Cheryl said that Lyin’ Eyes was her all-time favourite, and … well, you know I aim to please, right?  Besides that, after reading her comment, the song got stuck in my head and has been bouncing around up there ever since.  I did play this on once before, two days after Christmas in 2018.


Lyin’ Eyes is a song written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey and recorded in 1975 by the American rock band the Eagles, with Frey singing lead vocals.

According to the Eagles on their DVD Hell Freezes Over, when they were a struggling band in Los Angeles, they saw a lot of beautiful women around Hollywood who were married to wealthy, successful men, and wondered if they were unhappy. One night they were drinking in a bar (their favorite watering hole: Dan Tana’s) when they spotted this stunning young woman; two steps behind her was a much older, fat, rich guy. As they were half laughing at them, Glenn Frey commented, “Look at her, she can’t even hide those lyin eyes!”

Realizing they had a song title, the band members began grabbing for cocktail napkins to write down lyrics to go with that great observation.

In the History of the Eagles documentary, Don Henley offered a slightly different interpretation: “It was about all these girls that would come down to Dan Tana’s looking beautiful. They’d be there from 8 O’clock until midnight having drinks with all of us rockers, then they’d go home because they were kept women.”

A bit of interesting trivia:

In 2008, an Irish prosecutor quoted the words to this song (“You can’t hide those lyin’ eyes…”) in her closing statement at a trial involving the email lyingeyes98@yahoo.ie. The Dublin jury convicted Sharon Collins of conspiring to have her older partner and his two sons killed. Using the lyingeyes98 email, she contacted a hit man at hire_hitman@yahoo.com to do the deed, apparently unaware that emails can be traced.

And now, I will hush and let you enjoy the song …

Lyin’ Eyes
Eagles

City girls just seem to find out early
How to open doors with just a smile
A rich old man
And she won’t have to worry
She’ll dress up all in lace and go in style

Late at night a big old house gets lonely
I guess every form of refuge has its price
And it breaks her heart to think her love is only
Given to a man with hands as cold as ice

So she tells him she must go out for the evening
To comfort an old friend who’s feelin’ down
But he knows where she’s goin’ as she’s leavin’
She is headed for the cheatin’ side of town

You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes
And your smile is a thin disguise
I thought by now you’d realize
There ain’t no way to hide your lyin’ eyes

On the other side of town a boy is waiting
With fiery eyes and dreams no one could steal
She drives on through the night anticipating
‘Cause he makes her feel the way she used to feel

She rushes to his arms, they fall together
She whispers that it’s only for awhile
She swears that soon she’ll be comin’ back forever
She pulls away and leaves him with a smile

You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes
And your smile is a thin disguise
I thought by now you’d realize
There ain’t now way to hide your lyin’ eyes

She gets up and pours herself a strong one
And stares out at the stars up in the sky
Another night, it’s gonna be a long one
She draws the shade and hangs her head to cry

She wonders how it ever got this crazy
She thinks about a boy she knew in school
Did she get tired or did she just get lazy?
She’s so far gone she feels just like a fool

My oh my, you sure know how to arrange things
You set it up so well, so carefully
Ain’t it funny how your new life didn’t change things?
You’re still the same old girl you used to be

You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes
And your smile is a thin disguise
I thought by now you’d realize
There ain’t no way to hide your lyin’ eyes
There ain’t no way to hide your lyin’ eyes
Honey, you can’t hide your lyin’ eyes

Songwriters: Glenn Frey / Don Henley
Lyin’ Eyes lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

How The World Sees Us Now

We know about the divisiveness, the chaos, the hate that is dominating the headlines here in the U.S.  We are fed a steady diet of daily abominations, accusations, and ignorant spew.  But how do people in other countries see us?  Until four years ago, we were largely viewed with respect … sure, we had our flaws, but we tried to do the right thing … most of the time.  We helped our allies and others around the globe.  We were doing our part to promote solutions to climate change, nuclear disarmament, and to contribute to a global defense structure.  And then, came Donald Trump, riding the waves of the populist movement all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, occupying a chair that he would never fit.  So … how are we viewed abroad today?

From an article in The Guardian back in June …

The coronavirus crisis has caused a dramatic deterioration in the European public perception of the US, extensive new polling reveals.

More than 60% of respondents in Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Portugal said they had lost trust in the United States as a global leader.

A report based on the survey’s findings argues that the shock of the pandemic has “traumatised” European citizens, leaving them feeling “alone and vulnerable”.

In almost every country surveyed, a majority of people said their perception of the US had deteriorated since the outbreak. Negative attitudes of the US were most marked in Denmark (71%) Portugal (70%), France (68%), Germany (65%) and Spain (64%). In France, 46% and in Germany 42% said their view of the US had worsened “a lot” during the pandemic.

On Tuesday, PEW Research released a new poll of 13 foreign countries that reveals that perceptions of America have dropped drastically in recent years.  I strongly encourage you to take a look at their data.

PEW-chart

Let’s hear directly from some of those people, shall we?

  • Have you tried turning your country off and then on again?
  • I think Mexico is probably now in favour of that wall
  • Sad. Disappointed. We used to think pretty highly of you, but now we just feel sorry for you. You are so divided we’re not sure how you can ever come together as a country again. Your guns are out of control. Your racism is dividing you. Your politics are a disaster. Your healthcare system is a joke. Your pandemic is out of control and you will soon be in the depths of a depression, with more than 30m people without jobs. How do you feel so far?
  • Being an Italian and knowing roman history, I can say that in my opinion America is showing the classic symptoms of an empire in decline
  • The US always appeared like an older, stronger brother – now it feels like this brother started using meth.
  • Being in the U.K. right now kind of feels like being a little boat that has broken down and everyone’s too busy being mad at the captain to fix anything. But then you look to the left and there’s a big cruise ship burning as it sinks with people fighting on every deck, and the captain’s throwing gasoline on everything, and you feel a little bit better about the s***** boat you’re in.
  • I used to really admire America. The last few years have changed that perception drastically. The blatantly corrupt politics seem to have the whole country in such a tight grip that from the outside it looks like a 3rd world country. Your president is lying constantly and obviously yet he has outspoken followers in the millions who just disregard his lies. There seems to be no safety net for the average person at all and you seem to rely on luck to get through your life.
  • I live in Germany. When I was younger, I always wanted to live in America. I thought it was great. Now, not even for a million dollars, I would never move there
  • I knew there were lots of idiots, but the sheer quantity is mind blowing. And how so many Americans just can’t handle a view that’s different to their own or at least allow others to have a different view, is crazy.
  • You’re a country blessed with diverse land, money and democracy. But you have become your own worst enemy—healthy patriotism has turned into extreme nationalism and xenophobia, freedom has turned into anarchy. Also guns, like howww are they still a thing? Sad.
  • The Second Amendment is there to protect your precious democracy from tyrants. Ironic who the gun owners support the most.
  • What saddens me the most is how the basics, such as universal healthcare and social support are so reviled by so many. Worst is that those who are the most vocal are probably not far from those who would benefit the most.
  • I keep wondering why the “richest” country in the world still doesn’t have national free health services.
  • I can’t believe how Americans can politicise EVERYTHING?! Wearing masks, postal service and before these newer topics universal healthcare, free (or at least vastly cheaper) uni, higher taxation etc. are a reality in most developed countries, but in America it seems like you can just scream socialism and people are against everything. From my German point of view the two party system and electoral votes is seriously f**ked up and even the moderate democrats are pretty right-wing.
  • With the economic divide larger than ever, I don’t believe the majority of Americans, who struggle to live decently, pay for healthcare and their kids education, still buy the freaking “american dream” BS.
  • Trump is an Emperor, with his princess and princes. Everyone with any insight or brains can see it, but there are a lot of supremely uninformed Americans in the Rust belt, the south and parts of the north who have been fed the line from Fox and Facebook that he is their saviour.
  • I’m a Canadian, living in Mexico since 2014. I seriously can’t wrap my head around it from either vantage point. It’s like watching a slow-motion car wreck – it’s horrifying and you know nothing good is going to come of it but it’s fascinating at the same time.
  • As a Millennial from Toronto, I grew up thinking America was awesome. I thought it would be cool to live in New York when I was older. The past 5 years have been such a s*** show, I am so thankful to be from Canada. I dont think its Trump that is the main problem (although hes a huge one.) Its his legion of supporters that feel the same way he does. They will not go away once he leaves office. The problem is more permanent than some realize. Its been sad to see the US deteriorate.
  • I feel sorry for the sane people over there.
  • Sadness
  • I genuinely feel sorry for you people.

Remember when we were mostly respected by people in other countries?  Remember when Trump said he would “make America great again”?  Remember when we thought of this as a country of equal opportunity for all?  Remember when we had a president, not a tyrant in the Oval Office?  Think long and hard about it between now and November 3rd, for your vote could help save this country, or it could help sink it.

♫ Tequila Sunrise ♫

As sometimes happens, my inspiration has dried up tonight.  I was ready to give up, snuggle down in the rabbit hole and leave you sans music.  And then, I popped over to fellow-blogger Michael Seidel’s site just to see if perhaps he had any extra inspiration lying around.  Turns out, he did!  He had a flock of Eagles singing this song!  Thanks, Michael!!!  I owe you one {I actually owe him a few!}

Glenn Frey and Don Henley, both of the Eagles, wrote this song together, and Frey sang lead. Along with “Desperado,” it was one of two songs they came up with the first week that they started writing together. The songs formed the basis for a Western theme, with Frey and Henley comparing the life of a cowboy to that of a musician.

According to Frey, he was lying on a couch playing the guitar, and came up with a guitar riff he described as “kinda Roy Orbison, kinda Mexican”. He showed Henley the guitar riff and said: “Maybe we should write something to this.”

The title refers to a cocktail named Tequila Sunrise that was then popular.  According to Henley …

“I believe that was a Glenn title. I think he was ambivalent about it because he thought that it was a bit too obvious or too much of a cliché because of the drink that was so popular then. I said, ‘No-Look at it from a different point of view. You’ve been drinking straight tequila all night and the sun is coming up!’ It turned out to be a really great song.”

The line, “Take another shot of courage,” refers to how if you drink tequila, it will give you courage to talk to women (although not coherently). The Eagles, who knew their way around a tavern, used to refer to tequila as “instant courage” at a time then they needed some to approach the ladies.

The song only made it to #64 in the U.S. and #68 in Canada, but I still like it.

Tequila Sunrise
Eagles

It’s another tequila sunrise
Starin’ slowly ‘cross the sky
Said goodbye
He was just a hired hand
Workin’ on the dreams he planned to try
The days go by

Ev’ry night when the sun goes down
Just another lonely boy in town
And she’s out runnin’ ’round

She wasn’t just another woman
And I couldn’t keep from comin’ on
It’s been so long
Oh and it’s a hollow feelin’
When it comes down to dealin’ friends
It never ends

Take another shot of courage
Wonder why the right words never come
You just get numb
It’s another tequila sunrise
This old world still looks the same
Another frame

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Glenn Frey / Don Henley
Tequila Sunrise lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Good People Doing Good Things — Inspiring Youths

I must apologize, but tonight I simply cannot write a new ‘good people’ post and instead will do what I have only done once before — repeat one from January 2018.  You will read about three really big-hearted young people and they will make you smile, even if you read it two+ years ago.  My humble apologies, but I hope you will enjoy this repeat.


Yesterday I wrote a piece about integrity, and bemoaned the fact that we seem to have lost ours along the way.  Today, I would like to shine a spotlight on some young people who still have their values, who still have integrity, who still believe in helping others and making a difference.


Campbell Remess

Meet Campbell Remess, age 13. Campbell, nicknamed Bumble by his little sister, lives with his family in Hobart, Tasmania.  (Tasmania, for those who might have thought it was only the fictional home of the Tasmanian Devil, is an island state off the southern coast of Australia.)  So what, you ask, does Campbell do?  He makes teddy bears!  Yes, you heard me right … he sews teddy bears in, according to his mum, almost all of his spare time.

Campbell RemessIt all started when Campbell was nine years old and asked his parents if he could buy Christmas gifts for sick children, for he wanted to do something to brighten their spirits. His parents had to turn down his request, for Campbell is one of nine children and … well, money, y’know?  Still, Campbell was a determined young lad, and so he found a pattern for a teddy bear online and with a bit of help from his mom, managed to craft what would become the first of more than a thousand such bears.

So, what does Campbell do with the bears?  Well, every week he hand delivers some to sick children at the Royal Hobart Hospital near his home.  He also sends his bears to sick children all over the world, and has a special bear he makes, the Winning Bear, for cancer patients to hold onto during treatments and at those down times.  He has even sent bears to victims of terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris. But it doesn’t end there …

campbell remess 2.jpgMore recently, Campbell started auctioning some of his bears on eBay, and donates all proceeds to charity.

“I put them online for auction for people to buy and all money goes to charity. My top bear sold for $5,000. On eBay they sell for about $1,000 to $2,000.”

Campbell says he lost count of how many bears he has made, but estimates it is somewhere between 1,200 – 1.400.  His goal is to make a bear a day, or 365 per year.  What I liked most about this young man is his attitude, his heart, when he said …

“Everyone can do something like this, it isn’t too hard to do it. I think the world would be a lot happier if everyone was kind and helpful and not mean, and if everyone had a teddy bear.”


Ryan Hickman

We are often amazed when young people start their own business, perhaps fresh out of college, or shortly thereafter.  But I believe Ryan Hickman may qualify as the youngest person ever to start his own business.  Ryan Hickman started his business at the ripe young age of 3½, and now, at age 7, is the CEO, manager, and sole employee of Ryan’s Recycling Company in Orange County, California.

Ryan HickmanWhen he was 3½ years old, Ryan Hickman visited the rePlanet recycling center in California, and found his life’s mission. The next day, standing in the family’s driveway with his dad, he pointed down the street and made an announcement: “My new business! I’m going to pick up all the cans and bottles from everyone in the neighborhood.” And that is just what he did!

To date, according to Ryan’s website, he has collected over 290,000 cans and bottles for recycling, and from his profits has donated nearly $6,000 to Pacific Marine Mammal Center.  He has also managed to save some $11,000 from his profits, which his dad, Damion Hickman, says will go toward college.  Ryan, however, has other ideas:  he wants to buy a full-size trash truck and eventually become a garbage man.  Any bets who wins that argument?

Ryan Hickman 2Last year, Ryan was invited to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres show, and Ellen then surprised him with a mini golf cart to help him with his recycling business, and also gave him a check for $10,000! When Ellen asked him why he likes recycling so much, he replied, “It’s because bottles get to the ocean and then animals get sick and die.”

He’s only seven years old, so it’s hard to predict what path this young man’s life will take, but one thing is for sure … he is doing good things and his heart is in the right place.


Haile Thomas

How many kids eat mostly healthy food?  Probably not a lot, but 16-year-old Haile Thomas of Tucson, Arizona, is on a mission to change that.  Haile’s mother began teaching Haile how to cook when she was only five years old.  At age ten, after completing a Girls Making Media workshop, Haile was greatly inspired to share her cooking adventures with other kids and thus was launched her online cooking show, Kids Can Cook.

Haile Thomas Al RokerHaile Thomas does not just cook, but she COOKS!  She puts me to shame, and I am fairly adept in the kitchen.  In 2013 she appeared on the Today show and cooked black bean and corn quinoa salad with garlic shrimp and avocado, a dish she had previously cooked up for first lady Michelle Obama as part of the first Kids’ State Dinner.

“I started asking questions about where my food comes from and what I was eating.”

She signed up for the youth advisory board of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which aims to combat childhood obesity, and from there started working with local chefs doing cooking demonstrations.

“The alliance and the chefs really inspired me and got me to where I am now.”

Her show, Kids Can Cook, teaches kids how to prepare nourishing meals for themselves, with recipes that call for simple ingredients.

Haile Thomas.jpgAnd if that’s not enough, Haile travels around the nation talking about her mission and has been awarded several grants for her service programs, HEAL (Healthy Eating, Active Lifestyle) and the Healthy Girl Club. She is the founder and director of the Tucson-based HAPPY Organization, Inc., which serves to improve the health and wellness of Arizona youth and families.

“I hope to make a difference by inspiring other kids to embrace a healthy lifestyle, and become educated about how good and bad food affects their bodies, overall health and quality of life.”

And she’s only 16.  She has most of the adults I know beat for understanding, practicing and teaching good nutritional values.  Imagine what a difference this young woman will make.  Move over Emeril!

Haile-Obamas.jpg


I have two others, but I have already surpassed my self-imposed word limit, so I shall save them for another day.  Friends … we see so much pure evil every day in the news, and I spend the bulk of my time writing about that evil.  Every now and then, it does us all good to pull ourselves up out of the dark places and look around us, for when we do, we see that there are many, many people out there countering the evil, doing good things for others.  These three young people serve as an inspiration, give us hope that perhaps all is not lost, and that there is still conscience and integrity in the world.  My hat is off to these three and all the others out there doing good things.  Until next Wednesday … SMILE!

“It’ll Start Getting Cooler. You Just Watch.”

I’ve written a couple of times in the past week about the West Coast wildfires, but our friend Jeff today shared an open letter to Trump by the esteemed Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, that pulls no punches, that “tells it like it is”! I have always respected Governor Inslee, and now even more so! Thanks, Jeff, for sharing this letter!

On The Fence Voters

Every day, the current president seems to be on a mission to eliminate as many people as he can in the United States of America. Whether it’s through his immense incompetence and failures to address the worst pandemic in a century, or ignoring the ongoing climate crisis, we can see in real time how devastating another four years of this administration would be to human life and suffering.

Today, I’d like to share a letter written by the current Governor of the state of Washington, Jay Inslee, that was published today on Medium. In it, he addresses the current president in an open letter to lambaste him for his abject failure to even acknowledge there’s a climate crisis emergency in progress.

Open letter to President Donald Trump on the role of climate change in historic wildfires

WA Governor’s Office

WA Governor’s OfficeFollowSep 14·5min read

September 14, 2020

The Honorable…

View original post 942 more words

Going Once, Going Twice …

Arguably the single most important issue facing the world today is climate change.  In the throes of the current pandemic, and amidst the undeniably craziest election the U.S. has ever seen, we in this country seem to have largely forgotten about the damage that we humans have done to this planet over the past 100 years or so.  The wildfires on the West Coast and the onslaught of hurricanes in recent years should have been a wake-up call, but … we are still focusing on other things, while the world burns.  We are nearing the point of no return in our wanton disregard for the environment, yet few seem to care.  Robert Reich speaks wise words …


Trump doesn’t care if wildfires destroy the west – it didn’t vote for him

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

The climate crisis is upon us all but the president pursues more rollbacks. This election offers an existential choice

The air outside my window is yellow today. It was orange yesterday. The Air Quality Index is over 200. The Environmental Protection Agency defines this as a “health alert” in which “everyone may experience more serious health effects if they are exposed for 24 hours.” Unfortunately, the index has been over 200 for several days.

The west is burning. Wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington are incinerating homes, killing scores of people, sickening many others, causing hundreds of thousands to evacuate, burning entire towns to the ground, consuming millions of acres, and blanketing the western third of the United States with thick, acrid, and dangerous smoke.

Yet the president has said and done almost nothing. A month ago, Trump wanted to protect lives in Oregon and California from “rioters and looters.” He sent federal forces into the streets of Portland and threatened to send them to Oakland and Los Angeles.

Today, Portland is in danger of being burned, and Oakland and Los Angeles are under health alerts. Trump will visit California on Monday, but he has said little.

One reason: these states voted against him in 2016 and he still bears a grudge.

He came close to rejecting California’s request for emergency funding.

“He told us to stop giving money to people whose houses had burned down because he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn’t support him,” said former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor.

Another explanation for Trump’s silence is that the wildfires are tied to human-caused climate change, which Trump has done everything humanly possible to worsen.

Extreme weather disasters are rampaging across America. On Wednesday, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration released its latest State of the Climate report, finding that just in August, the US was hit by four billion-dollar calamities. In addition to wildfires, there were two enormous hurricanes and an extraordinary Midwest derecho.

These are inconvenient facts for a president who has spent much of his presidency dismantling every major climate and environmental policy he can lay his hands on.

Starting with his unilateral decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, Trump has been the most anti-environmental president in history.

He has called climate change a “hoax.” He has claimed, with no evidence, that windmills cause cancer. He has weakened Obama-era limits on planet-warming carbon dioxide from power plants and from cars and trucks. He has rolled back rules governing clean air, water and toxic chemicals. He has opened more public land to oil and gas drilling.

He has targeted California in particular, revoking the state’s authority to set tougher car emission standards than those required by the federal government.

In all, the Trump administration has reversed, repealed, or otherwise rolled back nearly 70 environmental rules and regulations. More than 30 rollbacks are still in progress.

Now, seven weeks before election day, with much of the nation either aflame or suffering other consequences of climate change, Trump unabashedly defends his record and attacks Joe Biden.

“The core of [Biden’s] economic agenda is a hard-left crusade against American energy,” Trump harrumphed in a Rose Garden speech last month.

Not quite. While Biden has made tackling climate change a centerpiece of his campaign, proposing to invest $2 trillion in a massive green jobs program to build renewable energy infrastructure, his ideas are not exactly radical. The money would be used for improving energy efficiency, constructing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, and increasing renewable energy from wind, solar, and other technologies.

Biden wants to end the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity by 2035, and to bring America to net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by no later than 2050. If what is now occurring in the west is any indication, his goals may be too modest. 2050 will be too late.

Nonetheless, Americans have a clear choice. In a few weeks, when they decide whether Trump deserves another four years, climate change will be on the ballot.

The choice shouldn’t be hard to make. Like the coronavirus, the dire consequences of climate change – coupled with Trump’s utter malfeasance – offer unambiguous proof that he couldn’t care less about the public good.

♫ Midnight Train To Georgia ♫ (Redux)

This song, written and first recorded by Jim Weatherly, was originally titled Midnight Plane to Houston.  Who knew?  I’ll let Mr. Weatherly tell you the story …

“The song actually came about after a phone call I had with Farrah Fawcett. Lee Majors was a friend of mine. We’d played in the Flag Football League together in L.A. He had just started dating Farrah. One day I called Lee and Farrah answered the phone. We were just talking and she said she was packing. She was gonna take the midnight plane to Houston to visit her folks. So, it just stayed with me. After I got off the phone, I sat down and wrote the song probably in about 30 to 45 minutes. Something like that. Didn’t take me long at all, ’cause I actually used Farrah and Lee as kind of like characters I guess. A girl that comes to L.A. to make it and doesn’t make it and leaves to go back home. The guy goes back with her. Pretty simple little story, but it felt real to me. It felt honest to me. I played it for them and they loved it. I cut it on my first album as ‘Midnight Plane To Houston.’ And then later on, maybe a year or six months later, a guy in Atlanta wanted to cut the song on Cissy Houston, Whitney’s mother. They called and said they would like a more R&B sounding title and asked if we would mind if they changed the title to ‘Midnight Train To Georgia’ [so that “Houston” wouldn’t appear in both the title and artist name]. We said ‘change anything but the writer and publisher.’ So, he cut the song on Cissy Houston and it was a nice little cross between an R&B and country record. It got on the R&B charts. That’s the version that Gladys heard. Some of the background vocals you hear on Glady’s records were first on Cissy Houston’s record. It wasn’t as much, but just some of the feel of the background vocals. And of course Gladys’ record was more of a groove-oriented thing. It wasn’t as slow. It just became a monster record.”

Midnight Train To Georgia was not only a #1 hit on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B, but also a #10 on the UK Singles chart. It garnered the group the 1974 Grammy Award for “Best R&B Vocal Performance” and was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. It is considered Gladys Knight’s signature song.

The song was featured during a scene in the 1978 film The Deer Hunter, as well as a number of television programs.  Garry Trudeau even did a strip about it in his Doonesbury comic!doonesbury.png

And without further rambling from me … here is Gladys Knight and the Pips …

Midnight Train To Georgia
Gladys Knight

L.a. Proved too much for the man
(Too much for the man, he couldn’t make it)
So he’s leavin’ the life he’s come to know, ooh
(He said he’s goin’)
He said he’s goin’ back to find
(Goin’ back to find)
Ooh ooh ooh, what’s left of his world
The world he left behind
Not so long ago

He’s leavin’ (leavin’)
On that midnight train to Georgia
(Leavin’ on the midnight train)
Yeah, said he’s goin’ back
(Goin’ back to find)
To a simpler place in time
(Whenever he takes that ride) oh yes he is
(Guess who’s gonna be right by his side)

And I’ll be with him (I know you will)
On that midnight train to Georgia
(Leavin’ on the midnight train to Georgia)
I’d rather live in his world (live in his world)
Than live without him in mine
(Her world is his, his and hers alone)

He kept dreamin’ (dreamin’)
Ooh, that someday he’d be a star
(A superstar, but he didn’t get far)
But he sure found out the hard way
That dreams don’t always come true
(Dreams don’t always come true) oh no
(Uh uh) uh uh (no, uh uh)
So he pawned all his hopes (ooh ooh ooh)
And he even sold his old car (woo woo woo)
Bought a one way ticket back
To the life he once knew
Oh, yes, he did
He said he would

Oh, oh, he’s leavin’ (leavin’)
On that midnight train to Georgia
(Leavin’ on the midnight train)
Yeah, said he’s goin’ back to find
(Goin’ back to find)
Ooh, a simpler place in time
(Whenever he takes that ride) ooh
(Guess who’s gonna be right by his side)

And I’m gonna be with him (I know you will)
On that midnight train to Georgia
(Leavin’ on the midnight train to Georgia)
I’d rather live in his world (live in his world)
Than live without him in mine
(Her world is his, his and hers alone)

Oh, he’s leavin’ (leavin’)
On the midnight train to Georgia
(Leavin’ on the midnight train)
Yeah, ooh, y’all
Said he’s goin’ back to find
(Goin’ back to find)
Ooh, a simpler place in time
(Whenever he takes that ride) ooh
(Guess who’s gonna be right by his side)

And I’ve got to be with him (I know you will)
On that midnight train to Georgia
(Leavin’ on the midnight train to Georgia, ooh ooh)
I’d rather live in his world (live in his world)
Than live without him in mine
(Her world is his, his and hers alone)

gonna board
The midnight train to ride
For love (for love) gonna board (gonna board)
Gotta board the midnight train to go
For love (for love) gonna board (gonna board)
The midnight train to go

My world (for love), his world (gonna board)
Our world (the midnight train to go) now I’m his alone
My world (for love), his world (gonna board)
Our world (the midnight train to go) now I’m his alone
I’ve got to go (for love), I’ve got to go (gonna board)
I’ve got to go (the midnight train to go) hey
I’ve got to go (for love), I’ve got to go (gonna board)
(The midnight train to go)
My world (for love), his world (gonna board)
My man (the midnight train to go) his girl
I’ve got to go (for love), I’ve got to go (gonna board)
(The midnight train to go) I’ve got to go
My world (for love), his world (gonna board)
Our world

Songwriters: James D. Weatherly
Midnight Train To Georgia lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group