Good People Doing Good Things — Young People Around The World!

Today is World Kindness Day, so it’s rather a good day for this post, don’t you think?  Good people come in all sizes, shapes & colours, and there is no age requirement for being a good person.  Every now and then, I like to focus this feature on young people who are doing good things, for it gives us reason to hope for a brighter future.  And believe me, there are plenty of them out there!


Take, for example, Nicholas Lowinger.  Now, Nicholas had a good example to follow, for his mother worked in various homeless shelters across the state of Rhode Island.  When Nicholas was only five years old, his mother took him to visit in one of the shelters, and he quickly realized that the children in the shelter were living in circumstances that were very different from his own.  While Nicholas had a brand-new pair of light-up sneakers, he saw children in the shelter who had no shoes.nick-lowinger

“I saw other kids my age who looked just like me. The only difference was, they were wearing old, tattered shoes that were falling apart. Some didn’t have a pair of shoes to call their own. I’ve been very fortunate to grow up in a family that is able to provide me with whatever I need. A lot of kids here in the U.S. don’t have the same opportunities.”

Fast forward to 2010, when Nicholas was 12 years old and met a homeless brother and sister duo at school who took turns going to school because they only had one pair of shoes between them.  Nicholas gave the boy a pair of his own basketball sneakers, but it gave him an idea.

“I didn’t want to make one donation and stop there. I wanted it to be something I could do for the rest of my life.”

With the help of his parents, he then started the Gotta Have Sole Foundation.   Since 2010, the organization has donated new footwear to more than 100,000 homeless children in 35 states.  Take a look at this short clip to see Nicholas tell a bit of his story.

Two thumbs up to this young man whose social conscience began at a very early age!  👍👍


Or how about sisters Melati and Isabel Wijsen … Six years ago, these two sisters, then ages 12 and 10, decided they were going to do something about the plastic problem on their island of Bali.  The girls were inspired by the country of Rwanda’s ban of polyethylene bags in 2008 and decided to try to get their native Bali to do the same.

Bali is part of the island nation of Indonesia, which is the world’s second biggest polluter when it comes to marine plastic, trailing only China.

The two sisters got the idea for Bye Bye Plastic Bags in 2013 after a lesson at school about influential world leaders — change-makers — including Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

“My sister and I went home that day thinking, ‘Well, what can we do as kids living on the island of Bali?’ You see, we didn’t want to wait until we were older to start making a difference. It wasn’t even a question, really. It was more like, what can we do, as kids, right now.”

The answer was right in their own backyard …Bali-beach

“It got to the point where on weekends when we would go to our childhood beach, if we went swimming there, a plastic bag would wrap around your arm. And you say just, enough is enough.”

They went online and discovered that over 40 countries had already banned or taxed plastic bags.

“We thought, ‘Well, if they can do it, c’mon, Bali! C’mon, Indonesia! We can do it, too!’ So, without a business plan or a strategy or a budget, like my mom will tell you, we went forward with a pure passion and intention to make our island home plastic bag free.”

They got some friends together, went online to start a petition and got 6,000 signatures in less than a day! They spread awareness through school and community workshops. They organized massive beach cleanup campaigns, all the while drawing international attention and that of local politicians too.

“I think one of the biggest tools that pushed us forward was our decision to go on a food strike.”

The sisters put the word out about their plan on social media. Local media picked it up, and that prompted the governor at the time, I Made Pastika, to do what any savvy politician would do when faced with two teenage girls threatening a hunger strike. He invited them to come see him.

“Within 24 hours, we had a phone call and then the next day we were picked up from school and escorted to the office of the governor.”

Pastika signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the sisters to work toward eliminating plastic on the island — and later pledged to rid Bali of plastic bags by 2018. That didn’t happen, but the sisters kept engaging government at every level — local, municipal and national — to keep up the pressure. Melati Wijsen says she learned a lot about dealing with politicians in the process.Melati-IsabelBut … in December 2018, the new governor of Bali announced a law banning single-use plastic in 2019, thanks in part to the sisters’ efforts and those of like-minded NGOs.  Last year, the girls founded their own NGO (non-governmental organization), Bye Bye Plastic Bags.

“We’re actually now in 28 locations around the world, and it’s all led by young people. We’ve created a starter kit and a handbook that guides them through this process of how to start a movement.”

Bali-beach-2These young women are pretty awesome, don’t you think?  Perhaps we need them to come over here?  Another two thumbs up!  👍👍


And then there’s Kelvin Doe from Sierra Leone, the “world’s youngest self-taught engineer”.  Kelvin got his start when he began looking for ways to fix local problems with technology as an 11-year-old, just five years after the country’s volatile civil war ended.Kelvin-DoeKelvin Doe grew up in Freetown, Sierra Leone. At the age of 11, he started collecting scrap material on the way home from school. He discovered that with a little bit of tinkering he could make working parts from things that others had thrown out. Feeling inspired he’d go to bed at 7pm only to wake up in the middle of the night and tinker while the rest of his family slept.

He went on to build a community radio station out of recycled parts that he powered with a generator also made out of reused material. David Sengeh, a PhD student at the MIT media lab and Kelvin’s mentor, said: “In Sierra Leone, other young people suddenly feel they can be like Kelvin.”

In 2016, at the age of 19, Kelvin became an honorary board member of Emergency USA (a global non-profit that provides free medical care for those affected by war and poverty) and founding the Kelvin Doe Foundation, a non-profit organization that is committed to empowering young people in Africa to design innovative solutions to tackle some of the most critical issues in their communities.

Take a look at this video from when he was only fifteen …

Wow, huh?  I’m in awe of this young man!  Another two thumbs-up!  👍👍


Okay, folks, I’ve run out of thumbs now, so that wraps this week’s “good people” post up, but hopefully you found something to love and to inspire you about these young people!  Until next week … remember, if you can’t find a good people, then just go ahead and be one!

In Honour Of The Real Heroes …

Today, 11 November, is Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth of Nations and Veteran’s Day in the U.S.  In all our nations, it is a day to remember and honour those who have died while in military service.  While the specifics and the observances may vary somewhat from one country to the next, the meaning is much the same — to honour those who fought and died in wars they did not start.  It is also Armistice Day world-wide … a day that marks the end of World War I, the “war to end all wars”.  Only, sadly it didn’t … end all wars.

One of the first blogs I connected with way back in the early days of Filosofa’s Word when nobody read what I wrote was a blog about a dog and his human, A DOG’S LIFE? (STORIES OF ME AND HIM).  The dog is Ray, who graciously allowed a man named Colin to adopt him, and the blog is mainly about their adventures together.  We drifted apart over the years, but recently reconnected through another blog, NUGGETS OF GOLD.  Long story short, as I am rambling here … on Saturday, I happened upon Colin & Ray’s blog and found a poem that … well, it sums it all up far better than I could have.

Our friend David said it best this morning …

“I honour the dead on both sides in all conflicts.  The all fought because of decisions made by politicians.”  

Those who fought did not start the wars, they did not want to kill others, but they did their duty.  Let’s honour not only those of our own country, but all who have lost their lives in the service of their country.

Thank you, Colin, for sharing this touching poem.cemetery

JUST A COMMON SOLDIER

(A Soldier Died Today)

He was getting  old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won’t note his passing, though a soldier died today

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It’s so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier’s part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor while he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.

© 1987 A. Lawrence Vaincourt

Take a minute today, no matter where you live, to thank a veteran, or even give one a hug, okay?  And, to all the veterans in my life, a personal and heartfelt “Thank You”.

How Have We Lasted This Long?

Remember not long ago, I told you that Popeye’s had come out with a chicken sandwich that was said to be the equal of Chick-Fil-A’s?  I was happy to hear this, for I refuse to set foot in a Chick-Fil-A restaurant because of their overt bigotry, but I did like their chicken sandwiches long ago.  Well, before the girls and I got around to trying Popeye’s new sandwich, it was announced that they were sold out and would have more in the near future, so I rather forgot about it.  Apparently, though, the Popeye’s sandwich is … um … I don’t even know what word to use … controversial?  Worth risking life and limb for?  Just in the past week …

On Monday, the headlines read “Man Is Fatally Stabbed Over Popeyes Chicken Sandwich”, and on Wednesday it was “Driver Damages Own Car Trying To Jump Popeye’s Drive-Thru Line”Popeye-1.jpgThis post is not about those two events specifically, and I won’t waste my time or yours going into detail.  But rather, this post is about the thought that occurred to me upon seeing these two stories:  I wonder how the human species has managed to survive this long?

Ever since humans evolved from their simian cousins, it seems that they have been trying to kill one another, sometimes with cause, but more often for no good reason.  The more laws we make in our effort to establish a ‘civil society’, the more violent we become.  The more we enhance our education systems, the more ignorant we become.  The more we claim to care about others, the less we seem to care.

Part of the problem, of course, is that we don’t know when to stop reproducing.  The population on earth today is roughly 7.7 billion people, which is more than double the number of people on earth in 1972, just 47 years ago.  The amount of land on the planet, however, remains roughly the same, although with rising sea levels it is on the downturn.  The land on the planet is roughly 196.9 million square miles, which translates to .03 square miles per person.  But, of course, some of that is taken up by forests that are critical for the survival of life on earth.  The bottom line is that we cannot continue to double the population on the planet every 50 years and survive!  Maybe China’s ‘one-child’ rule wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

But, there is more to the problem than overpopulation.  I think that technology has a role in the way people treat each other these days, as well.  Mind you, I’m not putting down man-made technology in general … there have been many amazing inventions, as evidenced by the fact that I am sitting in my comfy chair, and within minutes I have discovered the amount of land and the number of people on planet earth without moving more than my fingertips. Then with a few more clicks of the fingertips, I was able to make the calculations I needed.  Now, I am writing words, again with my fingertips, and in a couple of short hours, people across the globe will be reading my words.  Back in 1972, nobody would have believed it possible.

However, in some ways I think that technology has made our lives too easy.  If the Internet died tomorrow, how many high school kids would know how to go to the library and look up the information I just found at my fingertips?  I’m betting very few.  And, technology has put distance between us – not physical distance, but we are emotionally disconnected from others as we text messages on our cell phones, play video games, watch movies, or troll the ‘net.  We have become emotionally isolated, and when we do have the occasion to interact with others, we have little tolerance.

We are easily frustrated by the actions of others.  Going back to the chicken sandwich example … a man was rude and cut in line in front of another, and the other was so frustrated that he pulled out his knife and stabbed the rude man to death.  Is this what we call ‘civilization’?  All species will kill if they feel their lives or the lives of their pack are threatened, but humans are the only species I know that will kill a person because of the colour of his skin, or where his ancestors came from, or because he was in a hurry to buy a sandwich.

At the same time as we are losing more and more of our humanity, we are also failing miserably to take care of the Earth on which our lives, in fact the lives of every living thing, depend.  The human species seems, as it becomes less tolerant toward one another, to either have a death wish or to believe that they are invincible – I’m not sure which it is.

There are those that will say “Well, species come and go, it’s the natural progression of life”.  Not true.  This extinction will be near-total, and it differs from the extinction of other species in the past because this one was completely, entirely avoidable.  Our fate was in our hands all along, yet we chose to take the path of least resistance, the path that gave us the greatest pleasure, but at the highest cost. It is the arrogance of mankind that has led us to the brink of extinction, and as I ponder it, the only real surprise is that humans have survived this long.

Afternoon ‘Toons!

The first thing I saw in the news this morning made my blood boil … the republicans in the House of Representatives are requesting that Hunter Biden and the whistleblower be subpoenaed to testify before the investigative committees.  First, Hunter Biden?  They have no reason to ask Hunter Biden to testify … that is harassment of a private citizen without cause.  But even worse, is their “demand” that the whistleblower testify.  That is akin to painting a big, red target on his or her back.  It would almost certainly be signing his/her death warrant, given the crazies in the Trump camp that are running around fully loaded for bear.  So, I knew that anything I would write at the moment would be a rant.  It’s Saturday, and this afternoon I will be going out for lunch and a bit of shopping with the girls, so I really don’t want to be in a growlie mood.  So, instead I decided to look at some of those brilliant political cartoons and at least maybe have a chuckle or two, at the expense of the idiots in Washington.


Lindsey Graham.  Sigh.  Lindsey seemingly has no conscience, is two-faced, and seemingly goes in whichever direction he perceives the winds of fortune to be blowing, even if it means stabbing a friend in the back, as he once did his ‘best friend’, John McCain.  More recently, ol’ Lindsey, who fully supported Bill Clinton’s impeachment back in 1998-1999, is refusing to even do his job, says he won’t even read the transcripts from the impeachment investigations.  

GrahamGraham-2Graham-3Graham-4

Graham-5


Since long before he took office, Trump has called climate change a ‘hoax’.  Since taking office, he has actively done everything in his power to add to the problem, to decimate and destroy our environment.  He has long said that he would take the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, making us the only nation on the planet not committed to doing everything in our power to keep the planet from becoming uninhabitable.  Last week, he kept that “promise”, and took the first step toward pulling out of the Accord.  It was a sad day for the citizens of this nation, and one that will ultimately make us the pariah, the most hated nation on earth.  Climate change is real, folks … it’s Trump who is the hoax!

climateclimate-2climate-3climate-4climate-5Nick Anderson cartoonclimate-7


Trump recently announced that he is changing his state of residence from New York to Florida.  I don’t recall what b.s. excuse he gave, but the reality is it’s naught but a tax dodge.  New Yorkers cheered, while Floridians drowned their sorrows in either a bar or the rising sea tides.

Trump-floridaTrump-florida-2Moving to Florida

Trump-florida-4

I rather thought this looked more like Boris than Donnie …


There was some good news last Tuesday, as people in states like Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania used their vote to tell the nation that they are fed up with the GOP corruption running rampant in the Era of Trump.

2019-election2019-election-2


And, of course, as I mentioned in my opening blurb, there is the whistleblower and the fact that the GOP is basically calling for his/her execution …

whistleblowerwhistleblower-2whistleblower-3


And, of course, there is that proverbial ‘elephant in the room’, the looming impeachment, which I hope succeeds beyond our wildest dreams and that Trump is booted out of the White House before the end of the year!  Yeah, I know, I’m dreaming.

impeachimpeach-2impeach-3Attacking the CIATom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c191103.tif


And, to offset any angst you might be feeling … take a look at this … guaranteed to give you a chuckle.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend, my friends!

This Cannot Become “Normal”

I came across this OpEd in the New York Times by one of my favourite opinion writers, Nicholas Kristof, earlier today.  It is a prescient warning that I think is worth sharing.


Don’t Let Trump Make You Numb to What’s Unacceptable

Our species has an ability to adapt. Now’s not the time.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

  • Nov. 6, 2019

The problem with being a frog in a beaker is that you may not notice the water temperature rising to a boil.

Humans, too. In New Delhi, people get used to air that is filthy. In Syria, to checkpoints. In Angola, to corruption. In China, to propaganda. And in America, we risk becoming numbed to a political, social and moral breakdown.

Scandal and dysfunction dribble out from Washington day by day, numbing us so that we may forget just how unprecedented and outrageous the trends are. It was only five years ago that Fox News was deploring a “shocking” and “desperate” presidential scandal that Republican Representative Peter King described as inexcusable: Barack Obama wore a tan suit! Now we can’t even keep track of how many countries President Trump has asked to do him political favors.

I’ve been traveling abroad, so I’ve been asking journalists and officials how they see America, and from a distance they offer blunt assessments. “If your president isn’t a Manchurian candidate,” one senior European official said, “he’s doing a pretty good imitation of one.”

In 2016, Obama’s passivity and Republican intransigence may have allowed Russian cyberattacks to swing the presidency to Trump (there’s no way to be sure, but that’s what the forensic work of Kathleen Hall Jamieson suggests). Yet despite improvement, the United States still doesn’t have an adequate strategy to foil Russian or Chinese interference in the 2020 election.

Trump is a hero of many evangelical Christians who previously emphasized the importance of personal values and restoring “honor and dignity” to the White House. Meanwhile, he is on his third wife, has cheated on all three and has been accused of sexual misconduct by 25 women. And Trump tweeted a supporter’s praise likening him to “the second coming of God.”

Since taking office, Trump has made more than 13,400 false or misleading statements, according to a Washington Post database. The Post found that he has recently accelerated his falsehoods to a rate of 22 per day, more than one per waking hour. (I’ve covered many world leaders, and the only two whom I consider pathological liars are Trump and former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.)

Trump has declared “I am the chosen one.” His press secretary last month spoke of “the genius of our great President.”

Trump, who according to a Times investigation is wealthy partly because of fraud, pledged to fight corruption and “drain the swamp.” Since then, he has lost more first-term cabinet members to scandal than any president in history.

 “I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” Trump said before his election. In fact, he has visited golf clubs approximately 224 times since taking office, including more than three months in total at Mar-a-Lago. These vacation trips have cost taxpayers more than $100 million.

Trump’s mother was an immigrant, as are two of the women he married (his current wife may have been undocumented). Yet he has ripped children from parents at the border, and his administration has argued that detained immigrant children do not need soap or toothbrushes.

We haven’t even gotten to Trump trying to buy Greenland, marching into women’s changing rooms to admire undressed teenagers, borrowing Stalinist language to denounce the press as the “enemy of the people,” claiming that climate change is a Chinese conspiracy, banning Muslims or diverting money to build the wall that Mexico supposedly would pay for.

Oh, and that multibillion-dollar wall is now being cut open by smugglers with $100 saws.

Yet America’s dysfunction goes beyond Trump, and it will outlast Trump, even as it is aggravated by him.

American kids ages 1 through 19 are 57 percent more likely to die than those in other advanced nations, according to a study in the journal Health Affairs. That’s partly because the United States is virtually alone in failing to provide universal health coverage: Trump didn’t create that problem, but he did magnify it so that the number of uninsured children is now increasing.

Longstanding economic inequality in the United States, exacerbated by Trump’s tax cuts and other policies, is staggering. A single hedge fund tycoon, James Simons, made $1.6 billion last year, or more than $4 million each day — yet the United States has 100,000 children who on any given night are homeless. Since 2000, 61,000 foster kids have simply gone missing. Girls and boys are sold by pimps for sex in every American city.

America is not, as President Trump once called it, a “hellhole.” It is a nation of enormous strengths and resources, but we need to muster them now. A merit of our species is that we are adaptable and resilient and can get used to almost anything.

But we should never get accustomed to all this. Let’s not let ourselves be numbed by the daily drip into accepting a level of Trumpian dysfunction that should always be unacceptable.

Text dividers

We The People Have Had ENOUGH!

Dear Donald Trump … our lives ARE NOT your personal playthings to do with as you wish for your own greedy, egotistical, narcissistic purposes!  Grrrrrrrrrrrr.  Filosofa is growling and grumbling tonight for a number of reasons …


#1

Several days ago, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said …

“I’m increasingly worried that President Trump will want to shut down the government again because of impeachment. He always likes to create diversions. I hope and pray he won’t want to cause another government shutdown because it might be a diversion away from impeachment.”

When asked on Sunday if he would shut down the government in light of the ongoing impeachment investigations, he said …

“It depends on — it depends on what the negotiation — I wouldn’t commit to anything. It depends on what the negotiation is.”

This is NOT how government works … at least not unless your country is a tinpot dictatorship!  But then, Donald Trump is neither educated nor enlightened on how government works, and has no concern for the standards and practices, nor for the people of this nation, let alone the U.S. Constitution.

Trump’s last government shutdown, which was also a political ploy to attempt to force Congress to fund his damnable wall, was the longest in the history of the nation.  It cost people their homes, their cars … their livelihood.  Is he going to do it again?  Does he foolishly believe that the House of Representatives will shirk their duty and drop the impeachment investigations in exchange for his signature on the short-term spending bill before November 21st?  If he believes that, he better think again.  If he shuts our government down again for his own personal gain, somebody really ought to put strychnine in his Big Mac!


#2

For those republicans and Trump supporters who may be unaware … California is one of the 50 states in the United States, and the most populous state.  The population of California is 39.56 million, or approximately 11.9% of the nation’s total.  And California is burning!  California is experiencing horrible wildfires that are threatening land, structures, crops, and lives.  Nearly 100,000 acres have burned in recent weeks, and thousands of people have been forced from their homes.  And how, you might ask, is the head of the federal government helping?California-fire-1In his usual way, by placing the blame on others, by saying he could have done it better, and by threatening to cut off federal aid to the state — all done via tweet, of course.

First, he blamed California Governor Gavin Newsom who has been a critic of Trump for some time.

“The Governor of California, @GavinNewsom, has done a terrible job of forest management. I told him from the first day we met that he must “clean” his forest floors regardless of what his bosses, the environmentalists, DEMAND of him. Must also do burns and cut fire stoppers …”

California-fire-2This from a ‘man’ who has no idea what he is even talking about, a ‘man’ who last year said that Finland ‘rakes’ their forests, a faux pas that the president of Finland quickly put paid to, showing Trump for the fool that he is!

Newsom fired back …

“You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation.”

Thumbs up to Governor Newsom!  👍👍California-fire-3The reality is that increased temperatures due to global warming are causing the huge wildfires in California, according to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Drier, warmer conditions lead to vegetation drying out and becoming more flammable.  And what has Trump done?  He has rolled back nearly every single environmental regulation that would have helped reduce carbon emissions that are exacerbating the effects of climate change.  He is more nearly responsible for those wild fires than any other individual on the planet, in my book!  And yet …

“Every year, as the fire’s [sic] rage & California burns, it is the same thing – and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor.”

Jackass.


#3

And speaking of climate change …

Yesterday, Trump kept to his threat, taking the first step in the process to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, making the U.S. the only nation to ever have done so, making us the only nation that appears not to give a damn about the environment, or the future of life on Earth.  In a tweet, Mike Pompeo bragged about the move, saying …

“Today we begin the formal process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. The U.S. is proud of our record as a world leader in reducing all emissions, fostering resilience, growing our economy, and ensuring energy for our citizens. Ours is a realistic and pragmatic model.”

I beg to differ.  First of all, we are NOT proud of anything this nation has done regarding the environment since Trump took office.  We have, under the lunacy of Donald Trump, done not one damn thing to cut emissions, protect the land or wildlife habitats, the water or air, but instead have removed nearly every regulation that was in place prior to January 20, 2017!  I had hoped he would be gone from office long before this day rolled around.  There is still some hope, since the country will not be officially out of the agreement until November 4, 2020 … the day after Trump is (fingers crossed) voted out of office.

In response to Pompeo’s tweet, Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a leading expert on the United Nations’ international climate negotiations process, warned …

“President Trump’s decision to walk away from the Paris agreement is irresponsible and shortsighted. All too many people are already experiencing the costly and harmful impacts of climate change in the form of rising seas, more intense hurricanes and wildfires, and record-breaking temperatures.”

If the U.S. does, in fact, officially pull out, we will be THE ONLY nation on the entire globe that is not in the agreement and is not even trying to save the environment.  Think about that one for a minute.  Or two minutes.


I have more, but … well, that’s enough for the moment … I don’t want to make you all growl and grumble too.  There is one bit of a bright spot.  Remember last week I wrote about Washington Nationals’ pitcher Sean Doolittle who, after much thought, decided he would decline the offer to visit the White House for a celebration of the team’s win?  His reasoning was that Trump had gone against many of Mr. Doolittle’s own values with his racist ways.  Well, when I wrote that, it was rumoured that several other players were also considering declining the offer, and I am pleased to report that six other players in addition to Mr. Doolittle did not attend the White House ceremony yesterday.  They are Anthony Rendon, Joe Ross, Javy Guerra, Wilmer Difo, Victor Robles, and Michael Taylor.  I applaud them for having the courage to follow their conscience.

The “Stable Genius” Advises The UK 🙄

It’s bad enough that Trump is making life a living hell on this side of the pond, but now he’s inserting his bulbous nose into a volatile political situation across the pond, and needless to say, the Brits are not all that happy about it.  Who can blame them?

On Thursday, Trump caused quite a stir when he phoned his pal Nigel Farage’s radio program and weighed in on Brexit, the upcoming U.K. election and Meghan Markle’s public battle with the British press … all things that are absolutely none of his business, and about which he knows absolutely nothing!

Back when Theresa May was Prime Minister, Trump claims to have given her advice, and then blamed her failure to make a deal with the EU that Parliament would agree to on the fact that she disregarded his advice.  More recently, Trump has encouraged UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to do a no-deal Brexit, in other words leave the European Union without any agreements regarding trade, travel, etc.  Boris Johnson has since negotiated a new deal with the EU and is trying to get it through Parliament, but Trump said to Farage on Thursday that if Johnson’s deal goes through, the U.S. will not trade with the UK …

“To be honest, under certain aspects of the deal, you can’t do it, you can’t trade. We can’t make a trade deal with the U.K.”

Then he goes on to tell Farage what a great thing it would be for the UK if they could make lots of trade deals with the U.S.  First, he’s wrong … Trump does not deal with any degree of integrity or honesty and the UK would likely be better off without us.  Second, Trump has no idea what is in the deal that Johnson has negotiated with the EU, and doesn’t understand the situation nor the dynamics any better than mi gato.  Third, how would he like it if, say, Canada told him that they would only trade with he U.S. if the U.S. cut off all trade with Mexico?

But that wasn’t bad enough.  Nigel Farage is as big an idiot as Trump, and Trump advised him that …

“You and I have become friends over the years and you’ve seen what’s happening with my thing. I would like to see you and Boris get together because you would really have some numbers. Because you did fantastically in the last election. I know that you and him [sic] will end up doing something that could be terrific if you and he get together. You’d be an unstoppable force.”

Think about this one for a minute … can you imagine if another world leader told Trump who he should choose for his running mate, and how he should run his campaign?  He would go ballistic, Twitter would be ablaze with his vitriol and vulgarity!

And then he went on to offer his unsolicited opinion about Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn …

“Corbyn would be so bad for your country, so bad. He’d take you in such a bad way. He’d take you into such bad places. I’m sure he’s a lovely man but of a different persuasion to put it mildly. He’s at the opposite end.”

Just who the heck does he think he is???  Few in the UK are likely to listen to his unwanted opinions, for his approval rating there is somewhere around 19% last I heard … even worse than it is here!

It always amazes me when people who have the filthiest house in town criticize somebody else for having a bit of dust on the shelves.  In this case, Trump’s own house is not only filthy (read corrupt), but he is the subject of numerous investigations that are almost certain to lead to his impeachment, if not his conviction and removal from office.  His own country is deeply divided as a result of his incompetence and corruption. What business does he have telling another how to run their country???

It seems to me that instead of calling a radio show in another country and advising that country how to run its business, his time and efforts would be better spent running his own country, trying to fix just some of the things he and his band of nasties have broken.  Certainly, the UK is a country in turmoil and uncertainty right now, but Donald Trump is not the person who can help them … all he can possibly do is add to their troubles, just as he has added to ours.

Saturday Surprise — B

Good morning, and welcome to the Weekend! You guys have big plans for the weekend?  We’re having a joint birthday party with our neighbors Maha & Ali and kids this evening, so I’ll be in the kitchen most of this day.  Daughter Chris’ birthday was last Saturday, and Maha’s was on Sunday, but we were all busy doing other things last weekend, so we’re celebrating together this weekend.  I was going to put a number of candles on the cake equal to their combined ages, but as Natasha pointed out, it would be a fire hazard, and anyway, can you imagine how long it would take me to light 93 candles???  Anyway … I had to go to Kroger for a few things yesterday … November 1st and let me tell you … Kroger did not waste a single second switching from Hallowe’en to Christmas!  Christmas nuts, Christmas candy, Christmas lunch cakes, napkins, paper plates, baking stuff … ay ay ay!!!  Could we please have a little break in between holidays … and anyway, what happened to Thanksgiving???


I had heard the term “Social media influencer” a few times recently, but paid no attention and gave it no further thought.  Until last night, that is, when while searching for something to enchant you this Saturday morning, I came across a very special little ‘influencer’, and thought I should at least figure out what was meant by the term.  Now sure, I know that an influencer would be somebody or something that has influence over another person or people, but these days, social media has a language all its own, so I did a bit of digging.

“An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience. An individual who has a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with.”

Okay, not much different than I would have thought, and it sounds like not much more than Marketing 101.  But, today’s Surprise is a very special influencer and her marketing efforts are for a very good cause – to raise money to save the bees.  Bees are the most important living thing on Earth, due to 70% of the world’s agriculture depending on them.  Frighteningly, bees are now an endangered species, with recent studies showing a dramatic decline in the insects’ numbers; almost 90% of the bee population has disappeared in the past few years.

Enter Fondation de France, an independent administrative agency established by the government for the purpose of saving the bees.  They have set up a charity, Bee Fund, and an Instagram account for the subject of today’s Surprise, an adorable little CGI (computer-generated imagery) bee called, appropriately, B.  B has more than 122,000 followers today, and B aims to save the world by generating ad revenue via social media and then donating everything to the Bee Fund charity.  Let’s take a look at a few of B’s pictures … I think you’ll enjoy her.  Please do take just a minute to visit Bee Fund’s site … I found a lot of information about the declining bee population there, as well as the things being done to try to save the bees … it’s well worth the visit.

B-1

“Yo guys! So, name a thing you love.
Chocolate? I make it.
Ice-cream? I make it. 
Coffee? Always me.
Broccoli? Me again.
Clothes? Still me. 
We are behind most of the things you use everyday! And 24% of bees are dying every year.This is bad for us, but terrible for you as well dear humans… Are you ready for a world without chocolate?”

B-2

“I love to read and reply to your comments on my posts from my bathtube! Ask me questions in the comments: I will answer to EVERYONE! (As long as water stays warm)”

B-3

“Je vois la vie en rose. Maybe I should think about painting my hive in pink.”

B-4

“I might not be in a museum, but I’m Mother Nature’s masterpiece.”

B-5

“It is essential to save the planet… And the bees too! Both are threatened and trust me, it would be terrible to live without bees. Thanks a lot for demonstrating today, it was really nice to see you all and let’s keep up the fight!”

B-6

“Afternoon at the Sacré-Coeur! Where should I go for my next painting?”

B-7

“I spend so much time in my bathroom every morning… Ladies what is your morning routine?”

B-9

“I am so happy to work on my next partnerships and I can’t wait to share it with you!”

B-10

“On my way to the Montmartre’s 2019 grape harvest festival! Did you know that without bees there would be no wine? We pollinate plants and flowers that are essential for vineyards’ health.”

B-12

“Watering my little plants! Tips for humans: always keep flowers on your balconies, we might stop by to say hi.”

B-14

“What a better place than your bed when it is rainy outside. Even though it’s very important for nature, I’m not very much into rain because it frizzes my hair!”

B-18

“Great game with my friends today! (Haha just kidding I went there just to take pictures for my Instagram.)”

B-20

“Heading into the weekend like..”

B-22

“I’m not like Pablo, but I try to do my best…”

B-23

“Trying to get a little tan before going back to work.”

B-24

“Are you ready for the Pride, Paris?? I can’t wait to march with you.”

B-25

“Check out that side bee…”

B-26

“If you love to eat, you have to celebrate World Food Day! My sisters and I are behind most of the food you eat everyday. Are you wondering which ones?”

B-28

“Finally back home and working late today but it’s worth it.”

B-30

“Today I visited @FondationdeFrance, together we are working on my upcoming partnerships. From this flower of their balcony, I feel more than motivated and thanks to you all, we will save the bees.”

Ghosts, Goblins & Witches ‘Round the Globe … Redux

This was my Hallowe’en post back in 2016 … little did I know then just how scary things were about to get!  I’ve added a few pictures since the original version, and I hope you’ll enjoy seeing some traditions from other countries and cultures!   

 

halloween-3Here in the U.S., our Hallowe’en traditions hail back to Ireland, which is widely considered to be where Hallowe’en originated.  The Irish celebrate much as we do here, with children dressing up to go trick-or-treating for candy, parties with games such as bobbing for apples, bonfires, etc.  A traditional food eaten on Hallowe’en is barnbrack, a kind of fruitcake that can be bought in stores or baked at home. A muslin-wrapped treat is baked inside the cake that, it is said, can foretell the eater’s future. If a ring is found, it means that the person will soon be wed; a piece of straw means that a prosperous year is on its way.halloween-2

So, let us take a look at what they do in some other countries around the globe:


Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead):

dia-1In Mexico, Latin America and Spain, All Souls’ Day, which takes place on November 2, is commemorated with a three-day celebration that begins on the evening of October 31. The celebration is designed to honor the dead who, it is believed, return to their earthly homes on Hallowe’en. Many families construct an altar to the dead in their homes to honor deceased relatives and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, samples of the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks, and fresh water. Often, a wash basin and towel are left out so that the spirit can wash before indulging in the feast.

dia-2Día de los Muertos festivities often feature breads, candies and other foods in the shape of skulls and skeletons. Candles and incense are burned to help the deceased find their way home. Relatives also tidy the gravesites of their departed family members. This can include snipping weeds, making repairs, and painting. The grave is then decorated with flowers, wreaths, or paper streamers. On November 2, relatives gather at the gravesite to picnic and reminisce. Some gatherings even include tequila and a mariachi band.mariachi


Guy Fawkes Day

guy-1On the evening of November 5, bonfires are lit throughout England. Effigies are burned and fireworks are set off. Although it falls around the same time and has some similar traditions, this celebration has little to do with Hallowe’en or the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The English, for the most part, stopped celebrating Hallowe’en as Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation began to spread. As followers of the new religion did not believe in saints, they had no reason to celebrate the eve of All Saints’ Day. However, a new autumn ritual did emerge. Guy Fawkes Day festivities were designed to commemorate the execution of a notorious English traitor, Guy Fawkes.

guy-2On November 5, 1606, Fawkes was executed after being convicted of attempting to blow up England’s parliament building. Fawkes was a member of a Catholic group who wanted to remove the Protestant King James from power. The original Guy Fawkes Day was celebrated right after his execution. The first bonfires, which were called “bone fires,” were set up to burn effigies and symbolic “bones” of the Catholic pope. It was not until two centuries later that effigies of the pope were replaced with those of Guy Fawkes. In addition to making effigies to be burned in the fires, children in some parts of England also walk the streets carrying an effigy or “guy” and ask for “a penny for the guy,” although they keep the money for themselves. This is as close to the American practice of “trick-or-treating” as can be found in England today. Guy Fawkes Day was even celebrated by the pilgrims at the first settlement at Plymouth. However, as the young nation began to develop its own history, Guy Fawkes was celebrated less frequently and eventually died out.


Teng Chieh

teng-1In China, the Hallowe’en festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed while bonfires and lanterns are lit in order to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the earth on Halloween night. Worshipers in Buddhist temples fashion “boats of the law” from paper, some of which are very large, which are then burned in the evening hours. The purpose of this custom is twofold: as a remembrance of the dead and in order to free the spirits of the “pretas” in order that they might ascend to heaven. “Pretas” are the spirits of those who died as a result of an accident or drowning and whose bodies were consequently never buried. The presence of “pretas” among the living is thought by the Chinese to be dangerous. Under the guidance of Buddhist temples, societies are formed to carry out ceremonies for the “pretas,” which includes the lighting of lanterns. Monks are invited to recite sacred verses and offerings of fruit are presented.


Yue Lan

yueThe Halloween celebration in Hong Kong is known as “Yue Lan” (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts) and is a time when it is believed that spirits roam the world for twenty-four hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money at this time, believing these images would reach the spirit world and bring comfort to the ghosts. Fires are lit and food and gifts are offered to placate potentially angry ghosts who might be looking for revenge.


austriaAustria: Austria has a Pumpkin Festival in Retzer Land called Kürbisfest im Retzer Land. On November 11, Austria celebrates Martini which includes costumes and a lantern procession. Some people in Austria believe that if they leave bread, water, and a lighted lamp out, dead souls will be welcomed back to earth for that night.


Belgium: In Belgium some villages celebrate Hallowe’en while other villages focus on celebrating All Saints’ Day. On Hallowe’en night, a Belgian may be found lighting a candle in memory of a dead relative.

germany


Germany: Hallowe’en auf Deutsch became popular in the 1990s. People start to decorate around mid-October and use Hallowe’en as a party theme. On November 11, Germans celebrate Matinstag which includes costumes and a lantern procession.

sweden


Sweden: In Sweden, Hallowe’en is known as “Alla Helgons Dag” and is celebrated from October 31 until November 6. As with many other holidays, “Alla Helgons Dag” has an eve which is either celebrated or becomes a shortened working day. The Friday prior to All Saint’s Day is a short day for universities while school-age children are given a day of vacation.


HalloweenWell, that is all I could come up with for today.  I will likely do another Hallowe’en post sometime between now and Hallowe’en.  Those readers who live outside the U.S., please feel free to share traditions and celebrations in your country by leaving a comment.  Thanks to all for giving me this opportunity to take a brief break from you-know-who!  I can breathe again!  Have a safe and fun Hallowe’en!

Maxine-halloween