Sometimes it seems that those of us with a social conscience, those of us who believe in equality and humanity, are reviled with the use of the new term ‘woke’ that is bandied about like something distasteful and disgusting. But guess what? The majority of people actually believe that ‘woke’, as used in the 21st century vernacular, is a good thing! Take a look at Diane Ravitch’s post …
Republican presidential hopefuls are vowing to wage a war on “woke,” but a new USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll finds a majority of Americans are inclined to see the word as a positive attribute, not a negative one.
Fifty-six percent of those surveyed say the term means “to be informed, educated on, and aware of social injustices.” That includes not only three-fourths of Democrats but also more than a third of Republicans.
Overall, 39% say instead that the word reflects what has become the GOP political definition, “to be overly politically correct and police others’ words.” That’s the view of 56% of Republicans.
Apologies, for this is a redux from a post I did on April Fool’s Day two years ago, but when I re-read it yesterday, I had forgotten much of it and it made me laugh all over again, so I’m hoping that will be the case for you, too! Happy April Fool’s Day!!!
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.
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!
Lots going on these days … it’s hard to know where to even start, and harder still to try to make sense of it all. Nonetheless, the nation’s political cartoonists are hard at work trying to make “a picture paint a thousand words” and they are pretty darned successful! Here are some that I thought particularly thoughtful, thought-provoking, prescient, or otherwise worthy from the past several days. As you can see, ol’ Tucker Carlson is the brunt of more than a few jokes! Well-deserved, too!
The following post from a guest commentator over at Scottie’s blog is the most successful analysis I have read that views what we are seeing today, not only in the U.S. but ’round the globe, and connects it to a historical context that is truly uncanny. There is no hyperbole, no exaggeration, just thoughtful analysis. Thank you Scottie and Randy for this excellent piece.
This is a guest post from Randy. As most people here already know Randy is someone I admire greatly. Randy is my online brother and a member of our family. Randy is smart, funny, caring, kind, willing to reach out a hand to those in need while also willing to stand up to protect others. Randy is the kind of guy who if he knew a co-worker had no other way to get to a much needed job during a snow storm he would get up out of his warm bed and go take them to work. And not ask any for doing it. I have asked Randy if he would be a guest author as he has time. He has delighted me with the first two posts of what I hope will be many more. Thank you my brother, Hugs.
The next presidential election is in just under 20 months, but you’d think it was next week if you looked at the news! 90% of the front page stories have the ‘T-word’ or the ‘DeS-word’ and an alien just dropping in from another universe would be forgiven for thinking the United States is a looney bin! I tried to avoid every story that was, indirectly or directly, about the election and the two top Republican contenders, which left me only with news of China’s President Xi’s visit to Russia for a photo op. Okay, so let’s just have a few of the political cartoons I’ve been collecting for this afternoon, as I really don’t feel up to digging any deeper to try to find some actual news.
As I sit here on Monday night perusing the news of the past day, I find myself feeling very sad, heartbroken actually. It saddens me to see the state of this nation, the nation I live in and have done so since my birth. I first wrote about what I call “the great divide” around 2016, for obvious reasons, but I thought that people would find reasons to come together, to narrow the gap between right and left ideologies. I thought that at the end of the day, we would remember our humanity, our shared interests and concerns, and mend some of the fences that were torn down during the 2016 election cycle.
Instead, we have pushed even further apart, we have gone from bad to worse, and today I do not even recognize this country. On any social media site, you will find people spewing hateful rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and incitement for violence. You will find people like me who care more about humanity than about wealth, who support what has come to be known as ‘woke’ ideas, denigrated and taunted, called ‘Communists’ and any other label they can think of to pin on us. I don’t see many like myself fighting back, except for an occasional one-liner, something of which I have been guilty as well a time or two.
A monster of a man who has broken the law multiple times, even while sitting behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, is about to be indicted for just one of his lesser crimes, and half the nation is going nuts, calling for riots, violence, and even executions.
Tonight, I read of a man, a right-wing radio host named Pete Santilli, who has called for the execution of former President Barack Obama, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice. Execution! That’s … murder. When did we come to this point, and where are the limits on free speech that need to nip this sort of talk in the bud? Is this who We the People of the United States of America have become???
There are so many important issues that we need to take a stand on, but each one seems to only add to the divisiveness. Covid, the war in Ukraine, climate change, world hunger, wealth inequality, the gun culture, voting rights … all need serious attention, but instead of researching, thinking, and coming together to help solve problems, we take it out on each other, don our weapons of words and sometimes guns, and take to the streets.
I don’t see how this level of hatred can continue. Already, it has split marriages and families, wrecked friendships, and made many of us feel isolated, hopeless. President Biden ran on a platform of unifying the nation, and I sincerely believe he has tried his best, but … people can only be unified if they are willing, and if they can find common ground. Have we completely lost our common ground? Did it fall through the huge crack we created with the great divide? And most importantly, have we lost our humanity? The reason for my sadness tonight is that I think we have. I think we have lost our humanity and that the divide we created is too wide to be healed. Might a bridge be built? I wish I could say I had hope.
We’ve all heard the term ‘American Exceptionalism’, one which causes me to shake my head and roll my eyes. It ties in with the ultra-discriminatory ‘America First’ ideology and other supremacy notions and has no place in this world. But, it turns out there is one area in which we are ‘exceptional’ … we, particularly the wealthy in this nation, contribute more per capita to the destruction of the environment than any other nation. Not something to take pride in, is it?
Somini Sengupta is the international climate reporter for the New York Times, and what follows is her column/newsletter from February 28th.
The American Exception
When it comes to climate footprints, rich people in the United States are in a class of their own.
By Somini Sengupta
28 February 2023
Climate change may be a global problem. But we are not all the same. Far from it.
The wealthier we are, the more climate pollution we produce, because of how much electricity we consume, what we eat, and how much we drive. But it’s not just wealth. It matters a lot in which country we are wealthy.
You will see the wealthiest people in the United States have an astonishingly large climate footprint, far larger than rich people in wealthy, industrialized Europe and in fast-rising China.
Not only that: Nearly everyone in the United States, even those in the lowest income brackets, produces a lot of climate pollution relative to everyone else in the world. It’s the way our economy is built. We take for granted long commutes and frequent flights. Our electricity comes from sources that are relatively carbon-intensive. The rest of the world is different.
Americans are exceptional.
I know this intuitively. I’ve reported from more than 50 countries. But seeing the spread of per capita emissions from the world’s four largest economies — the United States, the European Union, China and India — still surprised me.
The richest 10 percent of Americans, or those who make an average of $233,600 a year, produces 56.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per person, per year on average, according to the I.E.A. analysis. That’s more than double the emissions of the richest 10 percent in Europe. It’s nearly double that of the richest 10 percent of Chinese.
Everyone else in the United States has a big footprint, too, relative to their counterparts in Europe, China and India. For instance, the poorest 10 percent of Americans, those making $2,500 a year on average, have a carbon footprint that’s almost as big as everyone in India, except India’s richest 10 percent.
Likewise, the poorest 10 percent of Americans have a climate footprint larger than the poorest 30 percent of Chinese.
This is about emissions per capita. Not about total emissions.
India and China are obviously much more populous than the United States and Europe. So their small footprints add up. I get that. I wrote about the population question not long ago. But for those at the bottom, and even middle, of their class ladders, they do not produce a lot of emissions.
Inequality within countries really matters.
In China, for instance, the richest 10 percent have a footprint 33 times the size of the poorest 10 percent.
In the United States, the richest 10 percent pollute 16 times as much as the poorest 10 percent. See where you fall on this graph:
In India, the climate pollution produced by the poorest 10 percent of the population is negligible. Many of them still cook with charcoal or cow dung. They may not have access to electricity around the clock. They most certainly don’t own a car. At best, a bicycle.
This could make climate action simpler (in theory).
A small number of relatively wealthy people can make a very big difference. Most of all, in the United States. “The richest individuals have many ways to reduce their emissions,” the International Energy Agency analysis pointed out. They include individual changes and policy changes.
And bear in mind that the so-called yacht class, the richest 0.1 percent of the population, are super polluters of another order. Their emissions are 10 times as much as the whole world’s richest 10 percent combined.
I have learned something else from going over these numbers.
I have frequently used the term “we” in writing about climate change. Are we doomed? Can we limit temperature rise to relatively safe planetary boundaries? How quickly can we wean ourselves from fossil fuels to slow down warming?
But who is we, exactly? I’m going to think harder about when I use the term. Because when it comes to our role in this profound global problem, we are not the same.
The time has come to share some of the political cartoons from the past week with you guys. I must say that as much as we are bombarded with political drama, environmental crises, social disruption, it is a boon for the political cartoonists who NEVER have to go digging for a topic these days! Oh, if only I had some artistic talent! But alas … a five-year-old child can draw better than I can! These ‘toons and artists show that we CAN find humour, even in the darkest of times.
It’s rare that I redux a good people post, but tonight I was trying to remember when I had first started doing the ‘good people’ posts, so I went diving back through the archives. Turns out I’ve been doing them since February 2017 — over six years! My very first one was about Bill & Melinda Gates and their philanthropy, the second was about Mike Ilitch, founder of Little Caesar’s Pizza for his wonderful work toward helping feed those in need. I considered reduxing one of those, for they are all worthy, but over the years I’ve leaned more toward everyday people doing good things, so I am re-playing one of my first, from March 2017, about little kids with BIG hearts!
I have been working on this post for some four hours, and thus far, this sentence is all I have. I made several false starts … people who seemed to be philanthropists, seemed to be doing good things, but on further digging were merely collecting on other people’s altruism. Then there were scandals with some of the people/organizations I looked into. So, as time and energy are running on fumes at this point, and my family members who walk on all fours are determined to drive me nuts, I decided to think small tonight. Child-sized small, in fact. Children may only be able to do small-scale deeds, but it shows us that though their bodies may be small, their hearts are big. And since these pint-sized do-gooders hold our future in their hands, it is good to see that they already have a sense of caring for others, a sense of humanity.
You are never too young to understand the value of helping others. Second grader Phoebe Brown was running errands with her mother last week in Independence, Missouri when she came across a winning, $100 scratch-off ticket, just lying on the ground. For a fleeting moment, Phoebe admits, the thought of a spree in the toy department held a certain appeal, but it didn’t take long for her to remember that her school was having a canned food drive that week, and she ended up spending the entire $100 on canned food to donate to those less fortunate. Her good works even inspired her dad to match every dime she spent! At the end of the food drive, Phoebe’s class had collected 541 items of food, making them her school’s winner. As a fun reward, Phoebe and her classmates were invited to shave their gym teacher’s beard.
A group of schoolboys in New South Wales, Australia, were about to board a bus and head home after a rugby league game when they noticed an 81-year-old gentleman moving his woodpile from the front of his home to the back, one piece at a time. Without hesitation, the boys and their dads jumped in and moved every last piece of wood for the man. A small gesture? Perhaps, but it is a sign of respect and caring, a sign that these kids are being taught values and compassion. Hats off to the rugby team at Cooma North Public School!
Westboro Baptist Church, best known for its intense hatred of most everything, is located on the East Side of Topeka, Kansas, directly across from Equality House, a resource center established by the non-profit group, Promoting Peace (interesting juxtaposition, don’t you think?). Equality House and Promoting Peace is a whole story unto itself, but that will have to wait for some other Wednesday, because today’s story is about a six-year-old girl named Jaden Sink. After Jaden’s dad tried to explain to her that Westboro members promote messages of hate, Jayden decided she wanted to raise money toward spreading messages of love and peace. So Jayden opened a lemonade stand … not just any ol’ lemonade stand, but a pink lemonade stand, mind you! And in the first day of business, she made $1,400! I think this is proof that love sells better than hate! By the end of that summer in 2013, Jaden had raised more than $23,000, all of which she donated to the cause of peace.
But Jaden’s story didn’t end there. The story of Jaden’s pink lemonade stand went viral during that summer of 2013, and other children jumped happily on the bandwagon. Today, there are some 70 stands worldwide, with all proceeds going toward Equality House’s anti-bullying initiatives. Says Jaden, “We’re giving [the money] to the rainbow house to help people who are sick, and to help people be nice to each other.” That’s my kind of kid!
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005, it made history as one of the five deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history. Then-10-year-old fifth-grader Talia Leman, seeing images of the destruction on the news, launched a charity urging kids to trick-or-treat for New Orleans, ultimately raising more than $10 million for the Hurricane Katrina foundation. From there, she founded RandomKid, a nonprofit that provides resources for young people who want to make a worldwide impact on any issue. Among the company’s successful efforts are reusable water bottles, which helped fund a water pump for an African village, and a push to provide crutches and artificial limbs to Haitian earthquake victims. Here is an example of a kid who started out doing small things and ended up doing some pretty big things!
Many of these stories are about small acts of kindness, but these children have the right idea, and I would not be surprised to see them make major differences in the world one of these days. Hats off to the kids, of course, but also to their parents who have obviously taken the time to instill compassion, kindness and caring about others into the hearts of their children.