Retrospect – Candidates 2016

I wrote this back in mid August 2016 in Evernote.

What draws me most to why Donald Trump is the worst choice America can make for our political leader, our figurehead, our primary representative to the world community is his lack of compassion for non-white citizens, his selflishness, and monumentally about not really wanting to make a difference in all American citizens’ lives. I never hear/see any of his words that state how he wants to “make America great again”, just how others, like blacks, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, feminists of all genders, GLBTQ citizens, the down-trodden and less fortunate, all of these unwanted citizens aren’t really desireable members of his elitist club, the White Man’s club.

But the real question here is what does our current leader, President Obama, and our future President, Hillary Clinton, really say and do to set them apart from Trump? What attitude and spirit do they bring to the table that Trump has never shown?

  • Both Obama and Clinton have spent their adult lives in service to the public – their track records are very clear on how they care for all members of society.
  • Both Obama and Clinton have spent much of their adult lives in service to targeted, less fortunate groups and ultimately everyone in their respective communities.
  • Trump has only been in service to himself, his ego, his empire, his ultimate business goals of power and money – he doesn’t speak of his history of volunteerism or professional life work he’s done to help the less fortunate or social justice causes: Good reason because he’s done neither!

It’s clear he views anything outside the scope of business as a waste of time and energy. Problem is, he’s not that great at business when viewed in the scope of longevity, consistency, continued growth, enabling all members of his business. Prime examples are all instances of his failed businesses, topically the Trump Taj Mahal Casino fiasco: Trump failed in the business venture, screwed employees and contractors out of earned wages, and eventually screwed the state of New Jersey out of the money he owed. In Trump’s eyes it was a win for him – he didn’t take too great a loss, less money out of his bottom line.

The most disturbing aspect of Trump is his lack of empathy, his true lack of compassion – I’d hazard to say (being generous here) that he borders on a moderate degree of sociopathy. His general immaturity and obvious low scores in Emotional Intelligence don’t bode well for a possible leader; Examples:

  • His heartless and cruel ridiculing of a disabled press member this year.
  • His unwarranted and dangerous call for violence against Hillary Clinton.
  • His inciting riots and white-on-black violence at his pre-Convention gatherings.
  • His encouraging crowds to physically abuse protesters and unwanted members of gatherings.
  • His total lack of understanding what a nuclear missile can do, but still wanting to be the bully and scare everyone with the thought that he would consider their use. Clearly, he has no clue that the President doesn’t press a “button” and has a military cabinet that would fight against any such action.

Interesting Learning Techniques

Here are some interesting ideas on how we learn, what keeps us from learning and progressing in a field of study, what kinds of tools we can incorporate in our learning to get beyond the frustration and resistance so many of us experience while learning.

Dr. Barbara Oakley wrote a great article for LinkedIn about her experiences of moving from one field of study, where she used different techniques to learn a foreign language, to a move later in a direction she had never considered – mathematics and engineering. Great article on how she found her way and pushed through, used her “beginner’s mind” to stay open to the possibilities.

Dr. Oakley describes her experiences and teaches an online course through Coursera, Learning How To Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects. I’m going to commit to setting aside time to take this online course. I don’t quite know the costs yet, but there is a certificate of completion that can be posted to LinkedIn profile.

Links mentioned

Resources for Recent Presentation

I’ve recently attended the Southern California Linux Expo (SCaLE 15x) conference in early March 2017, paid with professional development funds by the community college where I work in the IT department at a local campus. I had an amazing time learning about some recent technologies within the Linux and open-source software communities. I heard some amazing speakers who inspired me and helped to renew my evangelistic enthusiasm for Linux, open-source software. Many of the conference presentation sessions are available in the SCaLE-15x YouTube channel. Some outstanding presentations, especially the keynote speaker, Dr. Christine Corbett Moran on Saturday morning!

SCaLE-15x
Southern California Linux Expo 15

I felt compelled to do a bit of “pay-back” and share some of the information and enthusiasm I have regarding the:

  • Linux operating system
  • open-source software
  • courses available within the College (and beyond) to help kick-start technology careers for students
  • and to help promote the need for more Women in Technology.

To facilitate this desire to give something back, I developed a presentation for students, faculty, staff, and community members. The presentation slide-deck is available on GitHub and the links to that and a list of resources mentioned in the presentation and more are hosted at a quick site I put up via Blogger: https://beelybox.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html. Check it out! I do plan on cleaning the presentation up substantially and modifying the presentation of the resources – kind of cobbled together.

Feel free to comment below.

White America Hatred Exposed

I’m sure it’s been said dozens of times before, but it’s predominantly male, white America that voted Donald Trump into the White House. Their anger over eight years of social-justice motivated policies and legislation under a humane and just Barack Obama were too much. They could no longer maintain their simmering kettle of anger and feelings of their white disempowerment. Their frustration and bitterness that a brilliant, gifted African-American male was accomplishing so much and had such consistently high approval ratings here at home and around the world angered them. All of President Obama’s accomplishments were hard fought despite extreme opposition at every turn from the GOP. Don’t forget about all the images of Obama that were burned in effigy, all the racial epithets and stereotypes, the double entendres the Tea Party and whites used during his eight years in office. What could possibly explain that hatred if that wasn’t White America pushing back?

White, heterosexual America has now found its champion in Trump and the brains behind the operation, Steve Bannon – both trying to keep White America protected against the supposed Islamic Jihad, as Bannon keeps reiterating, described here “Steve Bannon Aligns With Vatican Hard-Liners Who Oppose Pope Francis” on NPR and their reporting from “Stephen Bannon in 2014: We Are at War With Radical Islam”the New York Times

“…something we have to face, and it’s a very unpleasant topic, but we are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.”

and some great analysis here “Steve Bannon, the Church Militant and the Global War Against Islam”. How much of this crisis is mostly a product of our ceaseless waring in the Middle East? The product of the GW Bush Presidency is of course never mentioned – that’s a fiasco the ultra-conservative GOP would rather we forget.

Trump is the the biggest champion of his oil industry buddies, outside of the infamously oil-sodden Koch Brothers: Both Trump and Koch want the North Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL pipeline finalized so they can reap ultimate profits while ignoring environmental concerns like community water sources and public waterways destroyed with little impunity, completely ignoring the sacred American Indian tribal lands that are torn up for the pipeline. All the while, there’s Flint Michigan and their on-going water crisis that no one is paying attention to, sending relief, providing a solution. Again, the poor don’t matter in the ultra-rich’s world view. But I digress – let’s get back to point at hand: White Anger

The poison that Trump, Bannon/Breitbart are spreading with their message of White Nationalism isn’t just for U.S. citizens to receive and get worked up about. Canadians have their own groups with their White anger stirring their shit-soup up. Case in point, this rally that was put together to intentionally spread misinformation about recent proposed legislation (here Member Motion M-131) by Iqra Khalid, a member of the Canadian Parliament in response to the recent Muslim temple burning by a White Nationalist racist whack-job. This incredibly brave young, hijab-wearing Muslim woman, Sarah Hagi (@geekylonglegs on Twitter decided to go a recent rally of really ill-informed and confused white people with a few of her friends. Here’s her description of the rally of racist, group of miscreants and their messy Islamophobic mutterings – all that was missing were their Sunday best Klan sheets and burning crosses!

We progressive Americans, focused on social justice and an egalitarian society, can’t stay focused on the anger and hatred of White Nationalism and xenophobia, we must look forward to a just society that cares for all of its citizens. Trump and company’s view of poor and less fortunate is they are losers and if they aren’t capable of making a better life for themselves without resorting to assistance, the government should cut them loose and let them fend for themselves!

  • No more assistance for healthcare
  • No more public education
  • No more family planning and female reproductive health support
  • No more “protection” for GLBT individuals
  • No more protecting them against harmful chemicals and polluted air
  • No more safeguarding their right to clean, wholesome water.

We progressives must RESIST! and rally around our liberal, left-leaning progressive incumbent public servants and candidates for offices at all levels of government – rally around with monetary support, being present for their rallies and public meetings, volunteering to help with re-election efforts. We must have a strong show of support and show our faith in the possibility of the America that we saw for eight years under President Obama. We must keep the cherished view of an America that welcomes everyone, cares for its citizens, moves forward with compassion, keeps our role as a leader in the world. We did this in January, we’ll do it again on April 29th for The People’s Climate March, we will do over and over again this year for upcoming elections and referendums. Yes – RESIST!

Further Monsanto Incursion

I can’t think of anything positive for the environment, health and safety, and economic security of the somewhat rural area that can come out of this connection with Monsanto in Avra Valley. Monsanto currently has cotton farmers using Monsanto seed stock for crops grown in Pima County.

Monsanto, according to the presentation included in County documents released on the above site, wants to build a gigantic greenhouse to test out new hybrid corn development. End result to sell the hybrid, GMO corn to farmers and use their typical ploy of locking farmers into their seed – suing them if they use another type of seed. The movie, “The World According to Monsanto”, describes these practices.

Here’s a statement from the overview of project:

“Approximately 51 citizens voiced comment to the Board of Supervisors during the meeting and many others provided written comment – most of which was in opposition to the Monsanto facility. Community concerns ranged from opposition to the use of genetically modified seed in farming, the health effects of genetically modified food, the use of a proprietary herbicide, the impact on local farmers, past incidents of contamination elsewhere and questions about Monsanto’s corporate ethics.”

Let the county Supervisors know how you feel about this development! There are schedule community feedback meetings scheduled over the next few days in mid-January in different locations throughout the county. Here’s the county press release, with info about upcoming meetings/locations for the public to provide feedback about the project. You can also use the “Feedback” link to provide comments via the web site.

Thoughts on Fall 2016 Election Cycle

I’m not experiencing pain and sense of loss because of the behavior and statements of President-elect Trump and his followers. My anger, pain, and sense of betrayal stem from how many Americans were tricked and others decided to betray the social contract of all-for-one, one-for-all when they voted with a strong voice against President Obama’s legacy and the vision of Hillary Clinton and said “Yes!” to Donald Trump.This blog, Don’t Fall Apart, does a great job of describing the angst and the stress Hillary voters are experiencing. To me, the anguish is so much more. I’m feeling a strong sense of betrayal and dread that Americans, specifically white Americans, really are a bunch of racist, misogynists, xenophobic, ignorant fucks – perfect mirroring of their adored figurehead, Donald Trump

I’m angry and hurt that this nation made it clear that it has abandoned:

  • women (expecting their right-to-chose, their equal pay for equal work, equal opportunities),
  • our hard-working immigrant population (seeking a better future in America, respect and fair, humane treatment),
  • the sick (looking to the medical care safety net of the Affordable Care Act),
  • the poor (needing the assistance safety net help with food, shelter, work-training programs),
  • the elderly (facing an uncertain future of cutbacks to their Social Security lifeline, their Medicare being drastically modified)
  • the down-trodden and homeless (needing a help hand, job training, understanding and compassion)
  • the mentally ill (needing assistance, housing, therapy)

Don’t get me wrong, I find the horrible statements made against the above groups, the language and behavior, lack of compassion and acceptance of “the others” that Trump (and his band of racists) harasses, ridicules, physically assaults in person, in the press, on TV news cycle – all of that is reprehensible and casts such a bleak pall over America.

We’ve seen so many times where members of the American Taliban (ultra-Christian Right, misogynists, racists/white supremacists/KKK hiding behind the clever tag of Alt-Right) vilify women, non-white people, and progressives who stand for social justice and the social welfare contract. These American Taliban call themselves God-fearing Christians, who shield themselves behind their Bible, spouting their hatred all the while they profess their sense of entitlement, white privilege, power and strength because of their Savior. My recollection of Jesus’ teachings are caring for others above yourself – where did that mindset go?

Here’s a great guest piece on Bill Moyers’ web site Farewell, America that I totally agree with. The thin layer of veneer that was hiding white hatred, white male insecurity has been pulled back and exposed with the millions of votes for Trump. The writer, Neal Gabler, questions if our American society will ever be the same!

It’s just after the Christmas season, right before New Year as I write this. I’m searching for words that can help soothe my soul and prepare me for 2017 and the Trump Presidency. (Holy shit, whoever thought we’d be facing that nightmarish reality?!?) Here’s an insightful thought from Kate Johnson, a contributor to the January 2017 issue of “Lion’s Roar” Buddhist magazine Have a Very Buddhist Christmas

“As a dedicated dharma practitioner, my beliefs have changed, but my longing for unconditional love and a fresh start for humanity have not. I still see Christmas as a time to celebrate the shared wish for a better world. It seems like we all want peace and for everyone to be safe and fed. Yet we have all contributed to a system in which these things seem impossible, and that truth is breaking our hearts.”

Yes – the truth of our national betrayal does break our hearts. Let’s not live with broken hearts or anger and frustration surging through us during these next four years – let’s reach out and help our fellow Americans, all of them! Here’s a wonderful quote from revered teacher, Joan Halifax, Roshi from an article in Lion’s Roar Buddhist magazine published soon after the election – Buddhist Teachers Respond to News of Trump’s Presidential Win:

“So please, stop and look deeply, and let’s work together in not building a contentious future, but a generative one. And let’s not pretend we know, but be open and learn; let’s bear witness to what is happening in our country, in our world, and take wise, compassionate, and courageous responsibility. Let’s reach through differences, listen deeply, and ‘give no fear.'”

Let’s move on and not cling to the anger and bitterness of this past election cycle. Let’s now continue to remind our elected officials that they work for us, they should be doing our bidding and reminding them that their well-heeled contributors/corporations needs and desires do not take precedence over the citizens’ needs. I don’t give a whit about the Citizens United decision – yes, I want it reversed but that might be a while with the new Supreme Court this next year. We must tell our elected officials that we are watching them and we hold them accountable. We won’t let them take America down with them as they stuff their pockets full of corporate cash.

The Effects of Corporate Greed

Skull-n-CrossbonesThank god those folks at Texaco (now owned by Chevron) aren’t drilling for oil or doing their exploration in your neighborhood–I don’t think you and your family would survive the experience. Why is this? Just ask the local people in Ecuador’s Amazon jungle region about Texaco and oil exploration.

The Tucson Weekly published a fantastic article here about the oil exploration and drilling that Texaco started back in the 1920s in the Ecuadorian region. Texaco, now owned by Chevron, decided that the poor indigenous jungle people wouldn’t know any better about modern petroleum drilling methods, so they used the cheapest, most expedient and damaging practices possible with no concern for those native peoples. There has been quite a bit of coverage about this situation, including Amnesty International throwing their legal and activist/community support into the mix.

Here’s the routine: you follow worst case business practices in an area where the locals don’t have a clue as to what you’re up to, completely devastate the local environment, don’t bother cleaning up after yourself, and then deny you ever did any harm in the first place: blame everything on the locals (who would never do anything to their community because it’s where they live.) Doesn’t this sound like a petulant, spoiled American child? What do parents typically do to the child after repeated warnings and parental instructions about poor behavior? They spank the kid’s ass and send the child to a “time out” zone, take away privileges, show their displeasure and sorrow about the child’s actions. So, taking this rather spotty metaphor to the matter at hand, how do we treat corporate misbehavior? We shame them, we spank them with lawsuits, we shun them by boycotting their products and services, we hopefully cause the corporate brats to own up to their misdeeds and compensate the native peoples.

Links:
Tucson Weekly (archives) article
Chevron could face huge damages
In-depth reporting about this disaster: AmazonWatch – ChevronToxico

Bhopal and Union Carbide 1984 Accident

Toxic landscapeHere’s the New York Times headline about the disaster and a chronology article NYTimes story about the Union Carbide Corporation’s Bhopal India chemical plant disaster from the day after the accident on 12/3/1984. Accident? Here is a very instructive bit of history on how we do out-sourcing and some of the consequences.

Union Carbide states, from their own private investigation, that the Bhopal accident was the work of sabotage: some unknown person put water in the toxic gas storage tank and that caused the massive chemical reaction that caused valves to rupture ejecting chemicals into the environment.

And a chronological view of the accident and how Union Carbide Corp. (UCC) weaseled its way out of providing substantial help in the short term for Bhopal victims. Contrast the UCC web site’s view of the disaster with the events listed on the Wikipedia page.

Here’s another site with graphics depicting the layout of the plant, holding tanks, and map of the surrounding area indicating the dispersing of the toxic gas.

Here’s a perfect example of how U.S. corporate weasles do business: You sell off or change the corporate name/identity of the nasty parts that have such an unattractive public image.

As a result of the sale of its shares in Union Carbide India (in 1994), Limited (UCIL), Union Carbide retained no interest in — or liability for — the Bhopal site
Union Carbide was purchased by another planet corporate citizen, Dow Chemical, in 2001 after the messy brouhaha in India.

Union Carbide Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company. “Dow”, as used throughout, often refers generically to The Dow Chemical Company and its consolidated subsidiaries.

This type of corporate behavior is quite common and the American public seems to simply accept as normal, “business as usual”. Gotta watch out for the bottom line and keep those stock shares performing at an optimal level.

More fantastic news coverage and commentary about the Bhopal disaster:
NYTimes – Bhopal Deadly Legacy opinion
NYTimes – Where does the blame lie?

Dow Chemical Our Ethical Friend

Toxic landscape

[Here’s an older story that is relevant today with all the oil pipeline spills, the Standing Rock Sioux nation’s grievance and protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), and the lead poisoning of large portions of Michigan’s water supply.]

Heartbreaking story on NY Times article on the continuing problems with the Union Carbide accident in Bhopal, India and how Dow Chemical is still doing its best to do nothing about the after-effects and weaseling out of helping with remediation of the site/community. Groundwater and soil are rarely tested and continued birth defects plague the area. Toxic waste is still being stored in sheds and a toxic sludge “pond” is used daily by children and dogs.

Dow can’t risk impacting its stockholders’ dividends with negative publicity and impact with probable cash outlay: Dow, based in Michigan, says it bears no responsibility to clean up a mess it did not make.

“As there was never any ownership, there is no responsibility and no liability — for the Bhopal tragedy or its aftermath,”

Scot Wheeler, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail message.

The Dow weasel is talking about how Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide and all its holdings, so Dow is, of course, not responsible for anything that Union Carbide perpetrated on the Bhopal community.

The article states that a jumpstart sum of $25M from Dow could solve many of the problems and help testing in the area. India’s government is afraid to push for the money because, in doing so, future investments by Dow might be put in jeopardy. (Why would you want to have Dow take part in anything in the country knowing their track record of environmental destruction and denial of wrongdoing?!?)

Dow Chemical has quite the awful past. They supplied the defoliant, napalm, that was used during the Vietnam conflict as well as manufactured Agent Orange that caused so much devastation and birth defects in Viet Nam. Dow is no stranger to environmental disasters. Wikipedia has noted the Environmental Record of Dow including

Being #11 in the “measure of toxicity of airborne pollutants emitted in the United States”
Dow has some responsibility for 96 of the United States’ worst Superfund toxic waste dumps, in tenth place by number of sites
Areas along Michigan’s Tittabawassee River, which runs within yards of Dow’s main plant in Midland, were found to contain elevated levels of the cancer-causing chemical dioxin in November 2006. The dioxin was located in sediments two to ten feet below the surface of the river.

The corporate marketing and legal staff at Dow are really working their spin on what a good corporate/world citizen the company is with their Corporate Ethics overview. Is this the type of ethical behavior we’ve come to expect from our leading corporate citizens? If that doesn’t make you feel nauseous and fear for your humanity, then look at Dow’s information about its commitment to clean drinking water. They talk about sustainability and clean water technologies they are helping to implement all over the world. Hey Dow! How about helping the folks in Bhopal with the problems your corporate ancestors created?

How do the corporate spin doctors and legal weasels at Dow sleep at night? How do they assuage their guilty consciences about the lies and deceptions they take an active role in promoting? Do large paychecks and great stock options help to ease their guilt? I’m feeling sickened…

Reproductive Rights

[Here’s an older article that is definitely still pertinent today, with the American Taliban’s fight to shut down women’s access to reproductive health care, closing down Planned Parenthood locations, withdrawing funding from women’s health. If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention!]

lady_justice_standingKeep your laws off my back! (out of my bedroom, out of their vagina) Here’s my take on a few things…

Where do these men get off thinking they can control what women do with their bodies? Controlling what access women have to taking care of their bodies and their reproductive systems? Men have no say! It’s like that bumper sticker,

If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament!

It’s not enough that Religious Right & pro-life (read as pro-male/anti-female) sycophants try to get Roe v. Wade repealed or reproductive rights curtailed, now they are trying to strong-arm pharmacies into following their male-centric views and Judeo-Christian/American Taliban nonsense.

This a new story about Pat Robertson and his legal support group (American Center for Law and Justice) coming to the aid of four religious nut pharmacists who had worked at Walgreen’s stores in Illinois, but were fired because they refused to fill prescriptions for the “morning after” pill, all because of their “religious views,” filling the prescription violated their religious beliefs. Here’s the link on Yahoo from the story carried by Reuter’s Health News.

Since when do pharmacists have a say in what medications a woman can put in her body? Yes, their job is to provide the female customer with factual information about the medications she’s taking, to make sure the drugs are not going to cause problems especially with other drugs she might be taking. Outside of that, she puts a piece of paper down on the counter, signed by her doctor or her own request, they fill it. Since when is it a pharmacist’s job to let their version of morality (their mores) enter the picture? If they can’t do their job according to the corporate guidelines Walgreen’s has in place, then they should leave and start their own pharmacy (or work at WalMart.) If a company’s policies conflict with my beliefs, I should address the company and try to reach some sort of an agreement (a compromise, a corporate statement/disclaimer, etc.), if that can’t happen, then I should walk.

But noooo! Here comes Pat Robertson, who believes that New Orleans deserved what happened to it by Hurricane Katrina because of the sins of the people of New Orleans and who believes that Ariel Sharon had what was coming to him because of his going against Robertson’s “god.” (Story here about how whacked this old fart truly is.) Good-old boy Pat steps in with his idiotic views and old-timey religion (read as white male of privilege using an established hierarchical structure to keep his sheep-like, no-thinking followers in place with the fire and brimstone, rath of “god” bullshit) and his deep pockets of money skimmed off his followers from his tele-evangelism shows. Old Pat brings his forces to bear and goes on the offensive against Walgreen’s.

Now, I have no great love for Walgreen’s — the stores are a blight on the land! Every corner you look, there’s another freakin’ Walgreen’s! Where in the hell did that one come from? Why do we need another one of these damned things so close by? But, ya gotta give ’em credit: they fired these religious zealots who where letting their religious beliefs get in the way of doing their job and serving the public, doing their jobs according to Walgreen’s corporate policies. Pharmacists do have advanced degrees and are supposedly intelligent people, but they are simply employees of the company. If they can’t follow the company guidelines and policies, then they need to take a freakin’ hike!