PLEASE Just CARE!!!

Another day, another time, I would have been all over the story of what has been happening in Myanmar (aka Burma) over the past several months (decades).  It is important.  It is a matter of human lives.  Instead, I have focused on the political corruption, the racism, the horrific gun problem, and other issues that hit more closely to home.  I learned some time ago that many people in this country are not particularly interested in what happens in North Korea, Yemen, the Ukraine, or Myanmar, for we have our own burdens to bear, our own fights to fight.  But, what has happened in Myanmar, Yemen and other places over the past years is … must be … important to us all, for whether you like it or not, we all share the same planet and its limited resources, and we are all part of the same race — the human race.  What happens to one of us, happens also to the rest.

The story you are about to read is not pretty, it will not lift your spirits, but … you cannot read this and tell me, at the end, that you do not care.  Please, my friends, even if you are powerless to change it … care … at least, just CARE, I beg you … please care.  😭


This is Aye Myat Thu at age 10.

Aye Myat is dead now, killed by an assassin’s bullet …



She Just Fell Down. And She Died.

By Hannah Beech

April 4, 2021

ဤဆောင်းပါးကို မြန်မာဘာသာဖြင့် ဖတ်ပါ။

In the swelter of the hot season, U Soe Oo cracked open the coconut with practiced blows of his machete. Small hands reached out for the first slice, cool and slippery.

His daughter — 10 years old, with dreams of being a makeup artist or a nurse or maybe even a princess with long golden hair like the one in “Maleficent,” which she had watched a zillion times, no joke — ran down a path with her sweet prize.

Just as she reached the trees that marked the perimeter of their property, the girl seemed to stumble, landing flat on her stomach, her father recalled. The piece of coconut slipped from her grasp, falling onto the reddish earth of Mawlamyine, a port town perched on a slender archipelago in southeastern Myanmar.

Mr. Soe Oo put his machete down and ran to tell her it was OK, that she could have another chunk of coconut. He scooped her up, limp in his arms, but it still didn’t register where all the blood was coming from, why she wasn’t saying anything at all.

The bullet had hit the left temple of his daughter, Aye Myat Thu, at about 5:30 in the soft glow of the afternoon of March 27. By the time darkness fell less than an hour later, she was dead.

Since staging a Feb. 1 coup and jailing the nation’s civilian leaders, the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, has murdered, assaulted and arrested with impunity. More than 550 people have been killed on the streets and in their homes by soldiers or police officers, according to a monitoring group.

At least 40 of the dead were children under 18, according to a tally compiled by The New York Times that relies on medical testimony, funeral details and family accounts. A few of the minors were killed for participating in the protests. Many others were bystanders who were seemingly executed, with a single gunshot to the head.

Often the children were killed as they went about their lives, playing or huddling with their families, in cities and towns that have descended into terror. Some had done nothing more threatening in their final moments than seek the comfort of a father’s lap, serve tea, fetch water or run down a lane with a piece of coconut.

“I have no power of revenge against the soldiers who killed my daughter,” said Daw Toe Toe Lwin, Aye Myat Thu’s mother. “All I can do is hope their turn comes soon.”

The slaughter of children has eclipsed the violence of previous military crackdowns, horrifying a nation accustomed to the Tatmadaw’s impulse to use maximum force against peaceful civilians. And it has hardened the resolve of a mass protest and civil disobedience movement that shows little sign of folding in the face of army snipers and grenade launchers.

This past week, a United Nations special envoy for Myanmar warned the Security Council that “a blood bath is imminent” and that “the whole country is on the verge of spiraling into a failed state.”

In Mawlamyine — known for its Buddhist pagodas and fleeting mentions, by its old name of Moulmein, in a Rudyard Kipling poem and a George Orwell essay — the protests began a week after the coup. They have coalesced almost daily since, with protesters occasionally showing up on boats in the harbor or on fleets of motorcycles.

Members of Aye Myat Thu’s family had not been politically active. Four years ago, when others in Mawlamyine protested the naming of a bridge after a general from another state, they kept quiet. A decade before that, when monks led protests against the military junta, they also stayed home. The same was true in 1988, when Myanmar erupted in pro-democracy dissent, only for the military to gun down thousands of people nationwide.

This time was different. Mr. Soe Oo is a furniture polisher. His two oldest daughters — Aye Myat Thu was the fourth of five — are a teacher and a beauty salon owner. There was a sense of upward mobility in a country once trapped by an economically disastrous mix of socialism and numerology, which gave preferential treatment to a former junta chief’s favorite digit. (At one point, when currency notes in multiples of nine replaced conventional ones, some of Myanmar’s savings evaporated.)

Today, the family is neither rich nor poor. But they are clear beneficiaries of the political and economic reforms that began a decade ago, which allowed ordinary citizens to buy cellphones, join Facebook and set up private savings accounts safe from government hands.

The family acquired some of the trappings of middle-class success, including a sound system and a television. Aye Myat Thu used her allowance to buy a bicycle with a blue basket. She discovered TikTok, along with the pleasures of a princess filter with tiaras and pink hearts. She and her sisters would dance with a frenetic jumble of limbs, before erupting in laughs so consuming that they had to stop the video.

For the first time, perhaps, the family had something to lose. Aye Myat Thu’s aunt marched in the anti-coup protests for “the revolution.”

Her niece was full of questions.

“She asked me once what people are doing out on the street, because she saw on Facebook that people are protesting and dying,” said her aunt, Daw Kyu Kyu Lwin. “I explained to her about the coup and why we were protesting. She said nothing but listened as I explained. She was thinking.”

On March 20, with the death toll mounting, some residents of Mawlamyine staged a set of creative rallies, meant to keep them safe. Instead of protesting in person, they lined up rows of stuffed animals, posting photos of them on social media. There were Winnie the Poohs and Piglets, the Japanese robot cat Doraemon and a tiny turtle holding a sign that read, “We want democracy.”

A week later, the mercury rose in Mawlamyine. Tarmac roads shimmered. A hot wind wafted from the Andaman Sea. It was Armed Forces Day in Myanmar, and Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the army chief and coup instigator, presided over a display of Tatmadaw weaponry in the capital, Naypyidaw.

Across the country that day, the security forces shot dead at least 114 people, among them seven children. In Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, a baby girl was half-blinded when a rubber bullet struck her eye.

In Mawlamyine this time, the protesters did not rely on stuffed toys as stand-ins. About 300 people gathered in the unrelenting sun, behind sandbag barricades. Some wore plastic helmets as they faced off with about 100 members of the security forces. The bullets started out as rubber and by afternoon had hardened to live fire. Protesters scattered, but two were killed.

No one quite knew why the soldiers wandered into Aye Myat Thu’s neighborhood of neat wooden houses, each painted a cheerful hue, sprays of bougainvillea adding more splashes of color.

Mr. Soe Oo took a coconut from the family palm tree and hacked at it carefully, lest the sweet water spill out. Sounds like the pop of firecrackers echoed in the hazy heat.

Aye Myat Thu grabbed her slice of coconut. The popping noises drew her down the path from her house. Past the trees, a camouflaged presence stalked, according to other neighborhood residents. No one in the family saw him.

The hole from the bullet was so small that Mr. Soe Oo said he couldn’t understand how it had extinguished the life of his daughter, another random victim of a trigger-happy military.

“She just fell down,” he said. “And she died.”

The funeral was the next day. Buddhist monks chanted, and mourners gathered around the coffin, raising their hands in the three-fingered salute from “The Hunger Games” that has become the protesters’ symbol of defiance. Garlands of jasmine framed the girl’s face, the bullet still lodged somewhere in her skull.

“I want to tear off the soldier’s skin as revenge,” said U Thein Nyunt, her uncle. “She was just an innocent child with a kind heart. She was our angel.”

Around her body, the family placed some of Aye Myat Thu’s favorite belongings: a set of crayons, a few dolls and a purple rabbit, some Fair and Lovely cream, a Monopoly board and a drawing of Hello Kitty she had sketched two days before she was killed. On the paper, next to the cartoon cat, Aye Myat Thu had written out her name in careful English letters.

“I feel empty,” said Ms. Toe Toe Lwin, her mother.

Right after the funeral, Aye Myat Thu was cremated, the flames burning her treasures with her. In other parts of the country, soldiers have stolen corpses of those they killed, perhaps to conceal the evidence of their brutality. In one case, they exhumed a child’s grave.

The family didn’t want the same for their little girl.

Two Worlds

Of late … well, for the past decade or so … I have wondered how the human species could possibly survive to the end of this century, for we are destroying our home, our world, and each other at an alarming rate. Professor Taboo, aka PT, has written a post that I think should be required reading for every human alive … thoughtful and though-provoking. Thank you, Prof, for your words of wisdom and the eye-opening photos.

The Professor's Convatorium


OF WONDER AND SPLENDOR

Just like as in a nest of boxes round,
Degrees of sizes in each box are found:
So, in this world, may many others be
Thinner and less, and less still by degree:
Although they are not subject to our sense,
A world may be no bigger than two-pence.
Nature is curious, and such works may shape,
Which our dull senses easily escape.Margaret CavendishOf Many Worlds in This World

There are a number of Earth’s animals, great and small, that care for each other. They seem to have feelings for the welfare of another. They demonstrate an innate behavior to protect their own as a whole rather than and possibly at the demise of themselves. In human terms this is called compassion, empathy, courage, altruism, love, and other inspiring virtues. In scientific terms it is known as eusociality and forms of superorganism behavior

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♫ For What It’s Worth ♫ (Redux)

A few days ago, someone mentioned this song and it has stuck in my head ever since.  I didn’t think I had already played it, but it turns out I did … just over a year ago in March 2020.  I think this is especially relevant and timely since there is currently a bill before Parliament in the United Kingdom that would, among other things, give police the right to bar unauthorized encampments and detain protesters if gatherings are deemed a “public nuisance.” The new legislation, pending in Parliament, could also impose noise limits and set start and finish times on demonstrations.  There have been numerous protests against this bill, and last weekend at least 26 protestors were detained by police.  Seems this song never loses its relevance, eh?


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Written by Buffalo Springfield guitarist Stephen Stills, later of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, this song was not about anti-war gatherings, but rather youth gatherings protesting anti-loitering laws, and the closing of the West Hollywood nightclub Pandora’s Box. Stills was not there when they closed the club, but had heard about it from his bandmates.

In the book Neil Young: Long May You Run: The Illustrated History, Stephen Stills tells the story of this song’s origin:

“I had had something kicking around in my head. I wanted to write something about the kids that were on the line over in Southeast Asia that didn’t have anything to do with the device of this mission, which was unraveling before our eyes. Then we came down to Sunset from my place on Topanga with a guy – I can’t remember his name – and there’s a funeral for a bar, one of the favorite spots for high school and UCLA kids to go and dance and listen to music.

[Officials] decided to call out the official riot police because there’s three thousand kids sort of standing out in the street; there’s no looting, there’s no nothing. It’s everybody having a hang to close this bar. A whole company of black and white LAPD in full Macedonian battle array in shields and helmets and all that, and they’re lined up across the street, and I just went ‘Whoa! Why are they doing this?’ There was no reason for it. I went back to Topanga, and that other song turned into ‘For What It’s Worth,’ and it took as long to write as it took me to settle on the changes and write the lyrics down. It all came as a piece, and it took about fifteen minutes.”

Buffalo Springfield was the band’s first album, and this song was not originally included on it. After For What It’s Worth became a hit single, it replaced Baby Don’t Scold Me on re-issues of the album.

For What It’s Worth
Buffalo Springfield

There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop
Children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking’ their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind

It’s time we stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, “hooray for our side”

It’s time we stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the men come and take you away

We better stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

We better stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

We better stop
Now, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

We better stop
Children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

Writer/s: Stephen Stills
Publisher: Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Humanity is still a thing

Reading the news every day, it’s easy to believe that simple humanity has been lost in the great web greed, politics, corruption, bigotry and more. But, as blogging buddy Owen reminds us … Humanity Is Still A Thing. Thank you, Owen, for the timely reminder.

R2030 - In hope of a better decade

It is time to write something positive.

Today in Nantes, France, some young people rescued a family from a fire, showing great courage and putting their own lives at risk by scaling a building. The young peope who conducted the rescue were all migrants.

Migrant youths in Nantes, France, rescued a baby and parents from a deadly fire. (Image from connexionfrance.com)
Migrant youths in Nantes, France, rescued a baby and parents from a deadly fire.
(Image from connexionfrance.com)

The incident invokes memories of a news story from 2018, also in France, where a migrant in Paris scaled a building to rescue a small boy.

Mamoudou Gassama, a migrant from Mali, scaled four balconies of a building in Paris before pulling a child to safety.
Mamoudou Gassama, a migrant from Mali, scaled four balconies of a building in Paris before pulling a child to safety.
(Image from New York Times via You Tube)

These stuning moments of humanity tell us something profound; that we are human before we are a skin colour. We are human before we are a passport holder. We are human before we…

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April Fool’s!

I gave some thought to trying to pull an April Fool’s joke on you guys by telling you that this would be the last post ever on Filosofa’s Word, but … I figured some would see the title or read the first sentence and say, “Whew, it’s a good thing, for that old hag never had anything interesting to say anyway.”  And then my feelings would be hurt.  Not to mention that I’ve never been any good at pulling April Fool’s jokes.  The best one I tried was hiding my daughter’s car after she went to bed one March 31st night.  But, after an hour or two, I feared she might wake up, think it had been stolen, and call the cops (I only moved it one street over), so I moved it back before going to bed.  My girls … and anyone who knows me … can tell when I’m “up to something”, for my face gives me away every time.  So … instead of pulling a prank on you guys, I’m going to share some of the best April Fool’s pranks by others in years past.

Nearly every site I visited had this one …

On April 1, 1957, the BBC TV show “Panorama” ran a segment about the Swiss spaghetti harvest, enjoying a “bumper year” thanks to mild weather and the elimination of the spaghetti weevil. Many credulous Britons were taken in, and why not? The story was on television – then a relatively new invention – and Auntie Beeb would never lie, would it?

It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.” Even the director-general of the BBC later admitted that after seeing the show he checked in an encyclopedia to find out if that was how spaghetti actually grew (but the encyclopedia had no information on the topic). The broadcast remains, by far, the most popular and widely acclaimed April Fool’s Day hoax ever, making it an easy pick for the #1 April Fools’ hoax of all time on the Museum of Hoaxes website – a fine source for all things foolish.

More recently, in 2015, Cottonelle tweeted that it was introducing left-handed toilet paper for all those southpaws out there.

toilet-paper

Few people may have been taken in by Cottonelle, but that wasn’t the case in 1973, when Johnny Carson cracked a joke about a toilet paper shortage. Worried Americans immediately stocked up. Well, you can never be too sure.

In this now-classic 1996 prank, Taco Bell took out newspaper ads saying it had bought the Liberty Bell “in an effort to help the national debt.” Even some senators were taken in, and the National Park Service even held a press conference to deny the news. At noon, the fast-food chain admitted the joke, along with donating $50,000 for the bell’s care. The value of the joke, of course, was priceless.

In 1994, PC Magazine ran a column about a bill making its way through Congress that would prohibit the use of the Internet while intoxicated. Despite the name of the contact person, Lirpa Sloof (“her name spelled backward says it all,” the column concluded), many people took the story seriously.

In retrospect, however, perhaps the bill – fake or not – wasn’t such a bad idea.

Here are some of the best April Fool’s pranks from around the globe …

France: According to Le Parisien, in 1986, the Eiffel Tower was going to be dismantled and rebuilt inside the new Euro Disney park.

Denmark: In 1965, a Copenhagen newspaper reported that Parliament had passed a law that all dogs be painted white to improve road safety because they could then be seen clearly at night.

Norway: In 1987, after reading that the government was planning to distribute 10,000 litres of wine confiscated from smugglers, hundreds of citizens turned up carrying empty bottles and buckets.

China: Claiming that it would reduce the need for foreign experts, the China Youth Daily joked in 1993 that the government had decided to exempt PhDs from the nation’s one-child-per-family policy. After foreign press picked up the hoax, the government condemned April Fools’ Day as a Western tradition.

Great Britain: In 1980, those serial pranksters at the BBC announced that Big Ben, London’s historic clock tower, would undergo a face-lift and become digital to keep up with the times. This one didn’t go over so big, as enraged callers flooded the station with complaints.

Canada: In 2008, WestJet airlines advertised its overhead cabin bins as “among the most spacious of any airline” and said it would charge passengers an extra $12 to use these “sleeper cabins.”

Taiwan: In 2009, the Taipei Times claimed that “Taiwan-China relations were dealt a severe setback yesterday when it was found that the Taipei Zoo’s pandas are not what they seem.” The paper reported that the pandas, a gift from the Chinese government, were brown forest bears dyed to resemble pandas. Among the complaints sent to the paper was one from the zoo’s director.

Germany: In 2009, BMW ran an ad promoting its new “magnetic tow technology.” The invention enabled drivers to turn off their engine and get a “free ride” by locking onto the car ahead via a magnetic beam.

Perhaps the most fun part of April Fool’s pranks are that somebody, somewhere, will fall for almost anything!

And if you need some ideas for your own pranks, Bored Panda has a few

Insect Lamps

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Attach An Airhorn To Their Seat

bp-5

Delight Their Taste Buds With Caramel Onions

bp-7

Prank At Walmart

bp-12

Now, use your imagination and have a bit of fun with the day … just keep it fun, not mean.  Unless you’re pranking someone who deserves mean … then it’s okay to be mean.

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Trumpity Diggity

Yes, yes, I know I’ve committed to ignoring the former guy and that he must be allowed to fade into oblivion. But, when I saw this one by Claytoonz yesterday … it made me laugh … really laugh … and I simply couldn’t resist sharing the humour!  The cartoon is good, but his commentary beneath is truly priceless!

claytoonz

Cjones03312021

I have excellent timing. Minutes after finishing up this cartoon and while creating different file types of it for my clients, The New York Times sent me a notification that the ship blocking the Suez Canal for the past five days has finally been freed (I made that sound like I’m really important because the NYT sent me a notification, but it’s an app on my phone).

In case you’re a Republican, the Suez Canal is in Egypt. It’s a vital artery for the world’s shipping and economy. Think of it like a short cut between the Atlantic Ocean, after going through the Mediterranean Sea, to the Indian Ocean. It beats having to go around Africa. In case you’re a Republican, Africa is a continent, not a country.

While salvage crews were digging and tug boats were tugging, it was the moon that came through with the final push. The…

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What is your ‘ism’? Ask the dictionary

Owen is a blogging friend from the UK. His post yesterday focused on the political terms we use that so many people don’t even understand, but use them almost as if they were bad words. He gives concise definitions for everything from liberalism to fascism and adds his own views of each. Though his perspective is from Brexit and the UK, he also has a good understanding of U.S. politics and sees the parallels between his country and ours. Thank you, Owen, for this helpful post!

R2030 - In hope of a better decade

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
The dictionary can be a calm, quiet, simple source of truth

In times of turmoil, fear and uncertainty, words matter. As ever, the dictionary provides our clarity, our definition, our truth. It is held up as a source of truth to settle arguments, to provide resolve to confusions, to finish debates.

We should look to the dictionary for simplicity in chaos. One can gain more from a two-paragraph definition than a five hundred page book about politics.

A lot of words are banded about in online arguments: Fascism, Conservatism, Liberalism, Socialism. These words are weaponised, hurled as insults, but also worn as proud badges, waved as flags (don’t get me started). Sometimes though, one wonders if the users of such words actually know their meanings. I put myself in that same category, and it struck me that I should pause and recap, and refresh myself on the meanings of these…

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♫ What the World Needs Now Is Love/Abraham, Martin and John ♫

As I peruse the headlines, read the news stories from the U.S. and around the globe, I am discouraged, ashamed to be a member of the human species at times.  In every ‘corner’ of the globe, hatred is raising its ugly voice:  North Korea, Myanmar, Brazil, and others.  Here in the U.S., we are seeing a surge in racism, mass shooting sprees, and lawmakers who seek to overturn the Constitution, to take away our rights as citizens.  I no longer recognize this world … there are days I no longer wish to be a part of it.  I was thinking tonight of a song, Jackie DeShannon’s “What the World Needs Now is Love”, and I recalled this one, a compilation of that song and another.  I think we need to keep this song close to our hearts today, tomorrow, and … until we can learn to live together in peace. 


I started looking for the right song for tonight … for once there was none stuck in my head … and happened across Jackie Deshannon’s 1965 hit, What the World Needs Now is Love.  I thought perhaps, in these times of troubles all over the world, in the Middle-East, the UK, the United States, and many more places, this might be an appropriate song to play.

As I looked for a bit of information, a bit of trivia about the song, I was led to another song and it is this that I play for you tonight.  I don’t intend these music posts to be in the least bit political, and my apologies, for this one is, in a sense.  But it is also … it speaks to us today, I think, just as it did in 1971.  Today, some of the issues are different … Vietnam has ended, but Syria and Yemen have not.  And some of the issues are yet the same … racism, prejudice, bigotry.

This is a remix of two songs, the aforementioned What the World Needs Now is Love combined with Abraham, Martin and John, first recorded by Dion in 1968 as a response to the assassinations of both Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy earlier that year.

Tom-Clay.jpgTom Clay was a disc jockey in 1971, working for radio station KGBS in Los Angeles, California when he created this remix.  The narrative includes sound bites from speeches of John and Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr., and makes a heartfelt social/political comment.

Again, I apologize for bringing a socio-political statement into my music posts, but when I heard this song … it just … did something to me and I wanted to share it.  I promise a more uplifting music selection tomorrow, but I do hope you will take just a few minutes to listen to this one.  I have included the lyrics to both of the original songs.

What the World Needs Now
Jackie DeShannon

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.

Lord, we don’t need another mountain,
There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb
There are oceans and rivers enough to cross,
Enough to last till the end of time.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone.

Lord, we don’t need another meadow
There are cornfields and wheat fields enough to grow
There are sunbeams and moonbeams enough to shine
Oh listen, lord, if you want to know.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone.
No, not just for some, oh, but just for everyone.

Songwriters: Burt F. Bacharach / Hal David
What the World Needs Now lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Abraham, Martin And John
Dion DiMucci

Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lotta people, but it seems the good die young
But I just looked around and he’s gone.
Has anybody here seen my old friend John,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lotta people, but it seems the good die young
But I just looked around and he’s gone.
Has anybody here seen my old friend Martin,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?

He freed a lotta people, but it seems the good die young
But I just looked around and he’s gone.
Didn’t you love the things they stood for?
Didn’t they try to find some good for you and me?
And we’ll be free,
Someday soon it’s gonna be one day.
Has anybody here seen my old friend Bobby,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
I thought I saw him walkin’ up over the hill
With Abraham, Martin and John.

Songwriters: Richard Holler
Abraham, Martin And John lyrics © Stonehenge Music

Sometimes Less Is More

I read an article a few days ago about “America’s Falling Fertility Rate”.  My curiosity was piqued by the title, so I read on.  Turns out that women in the U.S. are having fewer babies than at any time in recorded history.  Okay, so … the earth is overpopulated, there are some 330 million people in the U.S. … what’s the problem?  Fewer people is better, at least in my book.

According to the experts, a replacement rate of 2.1 children per couple is necessary to sustain a country’s population, and at present the U.S. is only achieving 1.705 births per woman while Britain, Canada, France, and Australia all had fertility rates below 1.9.  So?  Again … what’s the problem?

Given the effects of humans on the environment and given that people in some parts of the world are dying of hunger due to the lack of arable land on which to grow food, it seems to me that lowering the rate of population growth could well contribute to saving the planet.  Oh, but wait … silly me, I wasn’t considering the wealthy corporations!

Some experts are calling this phenomenon “a demographic time bomb.” In coming years, lower fertility rates could have profound economic consequences, with employers lacking sufficient workers to grow the economy.  Le GASP!  Oh damn!  Microsoft and Apple won’t have enough workers to invent more useless software and market it for 5,000% of what it’s actually worth, and Wally World (aka Wal-Mart) will have to scale back on some of the junk they sell!  The world’s richest dudes will start losing money instead of languishing in obscene profits!  And they will learn, perhaps, to live a little less extravagantly, to appreciate their employees, maybe even to pay them a living wage.

So, why are women having fewer children today?  According to the article in The Week

A complex set of factors has driven down birth rates for almost all age groups of women — except for those in their late 30s and early 40s. As more women pursue college and advanced degrees and devote their 20s to career building, the mean age at which women have their first birth reached a record high of 26.9 in 2018. The Census Bureau reported that from 2000 to 2019 the number of 25-year-olds who had obtained a master’s degree doubled to 21 million and the number of those pursuing doctorates more than doubled. In a 2020 survey of thousands of women who delayed childbirth, 3 in 5 cited their desire to reach a certain job title or level before starting a family. Many feminists say this is necessary because many employers sideline mothers. Ashley Stahl, a career coach, points to a Princeton University study showing that for every child a woman has, her earnings potential falls 4 percent.

The article goes on to say that housing plays a significant role …

The National Bureau of Economic Research says that the largest component of child-rearing costs is housing. And the cost of housing in America has skyrocketed. The median U.S. home in 1953 cost $18,080, or about $177,000 in today’s inflation-adjusted dollars. Today, the median home price is $301,000. Young people who cannot afford homes or even a two-bedroom apartment are less inclined to marry and to have children.  One 2014 study published in the Journal of Public Economics explicitly linked housing costs to fertility, suggesting that for every $10,000 jump in housing values, fertility among nonowners fell 2.4 percent.

Now, I fail to see the problem.  As a person who is deeply concerned about what humans have done and are continuing to do to the environment, I can only conclude that fewer humans on this earth is a positive thing.  Fewer humans = fewer cars, fewer airplanes, fewer trees being cut down, less pollution.  As a supporter of animal rights and protecting the earth, again I see fewer humans leading to fewer species becoming extinct as a result of human activities.  Perhaps this is Mother Nature’s way of leveling the playing field.  I realize that the majority of people do not likely share my opinion, but rather see the growth of the human species as invaluable and essential.  I also realize that to a degree, my view of this complex issue is somewhat simplistic.

In my view, fewer humans means more trees, healthier animals, cleaner air and water … a healthier planet in general.  It may also mean that the planet can better sustain all the people on earth, that nobody will be without food, water, and fresh air.  Let’s learn to appreciate the truly finer things in life, the things that man, in all his greed and arrogance, is in the process of destroying.

Good People Doing Good Things — Communities

I hope you will forgive me, but this week’s ‘good people’ post is a re-post from September 2017.  It was, I think, well worth re-visiting, and frankly between the latest mass shootings and being very worried about a dear friend, I just cannot seem to focus well enough to write a new ‘good people’ post tonight.  I think you’ll find these good people make up for my laziness this week … at least I hope so!


It’s been a rough couple of weeks … 2 hurricanes slammed the continental U.S., another even stronger one devastated the archipelago of Puerto Rico.  Four major earthquakes have hit Mexico so far this month. Political upheaval and controversy reigned, not only here in the U.S. but around the globe.  We all need to look to something positive, look at those people who thumb their noses at trouble and just roll up their sleeves and get down to the business of helping others.  Today’s ‘good people’ are those who take the meaning of the word ‘community’ seriously, who believe that we are all in this together and we need to set aside differences to help one another.


hatley.pngJulius Hatley is 95-years-young, a World War II veteran, and lives alone in Ft. Worth, Texas.  At the beginning of summer, back in June, Mr. Hatley’s central air-conditioning as well as a smaller window unit both went caput, so Mr. Hatley took to sitting out on his porch most of the time, for inside the house was unbearable.  Finally, one day Mr. Hatley knew he had to do something … summer was only beginning and he was already miserable.  But what to do?  So, the only thing he could think of was to call 911, which is what he did.

“This wasn’t a regular 911 call,” according to Fort Worth Police Officer William Margolis. “It was what you’d label ‘low priority’ because we’re not AC techs.” I have to wonder if many police departments would have just written it off as a ‘no-priority’ call?  But not these guys.  Officer Margolis and his partner, Christopher Weir, after responding to a few higher priority calls that morning, went to check on Mr. Hatley. They found that he had no working air-conditioner, and at 8:30 a.m., the temperature inside his house was already 85° (F), 29.4° (C).

Now these guys were under no obligation, but out of the goodness of their hearts, they went to Home Depot to buy Mr. Hatley a window unit to replace his broken one.  And, just as these things so often do, their effort gained momentum when they explained to the staff at Home Depot what they were doing.  Staff and management pooled their available cash and contributed $150 toward the air conditioner!

Later that day, Officer Weir returned to Hatley’s home with another Ft. Worth Officer, Steven Rebrovich, and they installed the unit.  Mr. Hatley was appreciative and excited beyond words, but the story doesn’t stop there.  Once the story hit the news, the community came together in the spirit of … community!  An air conditioning company replaced his central air free of charge, and others took care of replacing his windows and re-painting his house!  Other members of the community check on Mr. Hatley and deliver groceries every week!  This, friends, is what being a community is about.  This is what being a human is all about.  Let us all give two thumbs up to Officers Weir and Margolis, certainly, but to ALL those who have come to help Mr. Hatley!  And a thumbs up to Mr. Hatley himself for his service to our nation all those years ago.


In the small eastern Turkish town of Karakocan, nobody goes hungry.  The Merkez Restaurant is just one of many in town that feeds people who need a meal, free of charge.  Mehmet Ozturk, 55, the owner of Merkez, says he always keeps at least three tables reserved for the needy, even during rush hour when his restaurant is packed.

OzturkOzturk says at least 15 people come to his restaurant every day to receive a free meal. According to residents, around 100 people eat for free each day across the whole town.  The tradition to feed the needy for free first started in the 1940s at the Merkez Restaurant, one of the first eateries in town, when the former owners started offering free meals to those in need every day. The practice was quickly picked up by other restaurants in the area. Ozturk says: “The tradition has always been here, even 70 years ago. For us it was a natural thing to do, something we learned from our elders.”

There are about five large restaurants in the quaint but surprisingly vibrant town centre, and each one honours the philanthropic tradition. Individuals receiving free food tend to be regulars, familiar faces who visit the restaurant to have at least two meals a day. Ozturk says that a large margin of the regular diners suffer from disabilities, such as mental illness, such as regular Galip who says, “The Merkez is my favourite place in town, because the food is great.“

GalipThe generosity goes beyond feeding those in need, as restaurants also offer feasts for free for the whole town on Islamic holidays including Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and throughout the holy month of Ramadan.  Again, we see what community is really about.  Hats off to the restauranteurs of Karakocan, Turkey for taking care of the less fortunate!


GothenburgAnd then there’s Gothenburg, Sweden.  Gothenburg is the 2nd largest city in Sweden, with about 600,000 residents.  The city is one of the most segregated in Europe and is dependent on the fossil industry, and yet it was voted the world’s “most sociable city.” How can that be, you ask?  Through a series of community initiatives that promote sharing and collaboration, the city is turning things around.

Just a few of these initiatives are ,,,

Collaborative Economy Gothenburg, a non-profit promoting the collaborative economy in the city through projects and events like Global Sharing Week.

Bike Kitchen, an open do-it-yourself workshop where people can repair their bikes with access to tools, space, and assistance from others. They also hold workshops where people can learn to repair bikes.

The nonprofit ridesharing movement Skjutsgruppen, where private individuals can bridge both physical distances and distances between each other as human beings by sharing vehicles.

Gothenburg-2These are just three of the twelve initiatives this community has created to overcome the obstacles the city, like any other city, faces, and I strongly urge you to take a look at the entire list … there are some terrific ideas there!  It just goes to show that when people pull together, when they put aside meaningless differences, they can do marvelous things!


Mexico first experienced an earthquake of 8.1 on September 8th, and another of 7.1 on September 19th.   The one in Oaxaca on the 8th was the strongest in living memory and the death toll quickly rose.  Rescuers were on the scene quickly, and one seven-year-old named Frida is responsible for helping find people amid the rubble.  Oh, did I happen to mention that Frida is a Labrador retriever employed by the Mexican Navy?

Frida-1.jpgWhen the second quake hit Mexico City just over a week later, Frida was once again on the job. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto formally recognised the labrador’s determination and bravery on Twitter on Friday morning …

“This is Frida. She belongs to SEMAR and has helped save 52 lives in various natural disasters at national and international levels.”

Yes, I know … the title of this post is Good People Doing Good Things … but this dog gave her all, and I think she deserves a bit of recognition also. And now, Frida has been immortalized as a piñata!

Frida-4


I hope you enjoyed today’s good people (and dog).  Isn’t it great to read about people pulling together, putting aside differences in the true spirit of ‘community’?  I think every city could take a lesson from Gothenburg, don’t you?  Until next Wednesday, my friends, lets all try to do something good for somebody this week.  Love and hugs!