Friday, November 28, 2008

Teapot Dome III? Corruption-Free Elections?

Well, back in 2002, an article compared the Enron scandal under Bush to the Teapot Dome scandal under Harding, formerly considered the worst President in US history. I'm wondering if there will be a third (or fourth) Teapot Dome-style scandal that will come to light, perhaps, once again, in relation to oil. If you're interested in learning about the 1920's Teapot Dome scandal, check out this link...

All of these scandals, whether under the aegis of Republican or Democratric rule, could be reduced by prohibiting ANY donations, favors or undue influence to/from politicians, elected officials or candidates. Concurrently, publicly financed elections with reasonable monetary caps would give all comers an even chance, thus including candidates who are as highly qualified, yet less-affluent. Wealth does not necessarily breed superiority, moral or intellectual. It does often, however, tend to breed a sense of entitlement and false sense of superiority that are antithetical to the tenets of equality guaranteed to all citizens by our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Some things I'm thankful for...
My home and my wonderful pets
A fairly secure job
My friends and relatives
My beautiful and contemplative backyard garden
My relatively good health
The lower price of gas, reducing financial stress
The growing heightened awareness of people about our environment
Hope for my country after 8 years of darkness and shame
Creativity, including this blog
Garage sales in which you can find beautiful things

Singing and dancing in my kitchen when no one is watching or listening
The light and warmth of the sun and the cooling depths of night
Blooming flowers and the hummingbirds, butterflies and bees that also enjoy them
The way plants sway in the breeze and the sound of the wind as it passes through them
The sound of birdsong
Music and art
Things that live and grow
The giggles and laughter of babies and children
The persistence of diplomacy in its quest for peaceful conflict resolution live and breathe in this world
Travel to explore and exchange ideas and cultures
Writing and photography to express myself
Books that open up new and unexplored worlds of ideas
The Internet that brings the vast world into my home
The infinite timelessness of rocks, the earth, and the universe; all living on such a grand scale I can only imagine

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Our Food Supply Threatened, Again

Our food supply is in jeopardy from a newer group of gmo crops containing pharmaceutical drugs and industrial chemicals. Round-Up ready seeds have already contaminated our food supply due to weak regulations and lack of oversight that protects industry instead of humanity. Now the USDA is trying to push through another batch of weak regulations and oversight on pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals spliced into human food staple crops such as rice and corn, while President Bush is still at the helm to support this. Outdoor production of all pharma and other gmo crops should be banned and companies who allow their products to even accidentally get into the food supply should be shut down. There has never been any definitive independent testing that states these crops are safe. The security of humanity's food supply, along with our water supply and the rest of our environment, should no longer be sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed and political facilitation. Please write to your legislators and to head of the USDA and stop this before pharma crops also contaminate our food supply. Our food supply is our survival.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Could I Please Order a Water and Flame Retardant?

Researchers have found that four-fifths of 139 waterways across the United States that provide drinking water for many of our cities contain traces of medicine, flame-retardant and other toxins. Companies that sell bottled water get their water from some of these waterways, too. So, whether you get drinking water from the tap or bottled water, you're also drinking chemicals such as flame retardant and medicine such as zoloft, xanax and birth control pills (remember, a percentage of what goes in your body, eventually comes out). Some other chemicals found in drinking water are stain protection chemicals for fabrics, oil, transmission fluid, lawn chemicals, pesticides, and other toxins that have washed down from fields, streets, yards and driveways into storm drains, rivers and lakes.

In one of these waterways, the Potomac River, a water source for many in Virginia, greater than 80% of male small-mouthed bass grow eggs. Yes, males growing eggs. Salmon in northwest rivers are dying. Scientists believe it's because chemical toxins in the water reduce their sense of smell. This may impede their recognition of predators, as well as their ability to find food and locate their spawning grounds. Some of us are also drinking and bathing in the same water, including water coming out of our water taps or in bottled water. For humans, up to and around 56% of what you put on your skin (including make-up and lotions) enters your bloodstream and goes straight to your major body organs. So, this is not just all about drinking your water, either.

Water doesn't usually stay in one place. As for how quickly these toxins can spread through water, I'm going to give one example. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground, spilling oil. For three days, Exxon did nothing to remediate the spill and the oil remained within Prince William Sound, only through the luck of good weather. Then there was a storm and, in less than a week, the oil spread out of the sound and onto beaches approximately 3200 miles away.

Exxon isn't the only corporation to pollute our planet. Businesses use 90% of our potable water, a large percentage of this in the manufacturing process, as well as in many types of energy production. All of us are partly to blame, however, because we use or consume what they produce. Food, drink, clothing, and many other types of products we use, drive and live in are all produced with water. All contribute to polluting the water you drink, with which you cook, and in which you bathe and play.

So, here are some thoughts. Think about your needs and wants in relation to how they affect our environment. Then make changes in how you live and what you consume. Follow the the three R's: reduce, reuse, recycle. If you ingest it, put it on your skin, or put anything on any surface that might wash away or evaporate, maybe you should think about drinking it, too. After all, you will, eventually. So will your children, relatives, friends, pets, and every other living thing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Disappearance of the Bee and Humanity?

I heard a quote some believe has been erroneously attributed to Einstein that predicted the demise of humanity within 4 years of the disappearance of the bee. ”If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” Honeybees are dying at alarming rates in North America and Europe. There is also documentation that they are disappearing in Taiwan. A large percentage of plants depend upon honeybees for pollination to remain a viable species. Therefore, I can see how the disappearance of all bees could produce a concomitant collapse of some species, and possibly, ecosystems. Although we don't know the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, I am concerned that we humans are at the root of the collapse. Some scientists believe it is caused by insecticides, herbicides. other toxins, and/or pollutants; others believe the collapse may be caused by genetically modified crops.

I believe our agricultural system is in disarray. Agribusiness has decreased the diversity of plant species through their farming practices. Also due to their farming practices, large tracts of once arable soils are no longer fertile and are so polluted by pesticides, I question if large-scale remediation is possible. We have disregarded the "simplistic and unscientific" wisdom of our ancestors, who through thousands of years of trial and error, determined that crop rotation and letting fields lie fallow to rest, maintains soil viability and fertility. I hope that we can return to a larger percentage of small farms growing diverse, natural, non-gmo crops and using healthier, organic or permaculture-type methods of farming. We are also destroying our marine food supply by overfishing, pollution through oil spills, the dumping of waste, trash and chemicals, and the purposeful killing of whales and sharks, the top marine predators.

Our food supply has been contaminated with the introduction of genetically modified organisms (gmo's), which have also been allowed to cross-contaminate natural plants. Gmo's were not subjected to long-term independent scientific testing to determine their long-term health effects on human health (or that of other species) before they were introduced into our food supply. The use of Monsanto's genetically modified, patented seeds and plants require the use of Monsanto's poisonous pesticide Round-Up. Small-acreage farmers, into whose fields the gmo seeds blow and grow without any intent of those farmers, are being sued by Monsanto for patent infringement. Another problem is that one chemical company owns the patents to a large percentage of natural seeds in the western hemisphere. This company can withhold selling these seeds in favor of its own. He who controls the food supply... Who allowed them to patent life? I hope that I, as an American citizen, didn't fall asleep at the wheel and that I don't share the blame. Can we have these patents found unlawful, unconstitutional and be rescinded?

The diversity of all plant and animal species have been dramatically reduced partly because of the encroachment of humans into their natural habitats. If you look at a population map of the human species, our population growth over thousands of years used to be predominantly linear and sustainable. However, our population growth increased substantially with the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of antibiotics and modern medicine. It has been exponential, in fact, almost vertical since around the 1970's. Potable water is less than 1% of all water on earth. Habitable land is approximately 4% of the earth's surface. There is no longer enough potable water or arable land to sustain our still-growing global population. When we compete with all the other species for what's left of habitable land and potable water, they lose. Yet, so do we, although on the surface, we appear to win.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature, based in Switzerland, recently released the results of a five-year study that concluded almost 1 in 4 mammals on our planet are at risk of extinction. When the top predators are gone, the trophic cascade spills down to the smallest of species, adversely affecting entire ecosystems. In the 1920's we eradicated wolves from the Yellowstone ecosystem, unwittingly setting off the trophic cascade. The recent reintroduction of wolves, the top predator, into Yellowstone has led to a natural balance in that ecosystem and a significant increase in the diversity of plant and animal species found there. We humans often arrogantly disrupt the balance and rhythms of nature, thinking that a)we have the right to do this, b)we "know better," and c) it is in "our", but actually one group's, best interest. Our huge population increase, in and of itself, has put the balance of nature into a downward spiral. Will nature create a way to bring our population into a more natural balance with the rest of the species?

These are dangerous times for all who inhabit Planet Earth, mostly by our own hand. We consistently see reports of how something we've done adversely effects other species and our environment. We also see reports of human illnesses that have been attributed to the increased concentration of pollutants, toxins and heavy metals in our environment. Many different allergies, cancers, asthma, COPD and other pulmonary disorders are being reported at increasingly alarming rates. How can we continue to commit specicide?

I haven't even introduced CO2 emissions, global warming, or climate change into this discussion and we're already in trouble. When these issues are included, our problems escalate exponentially. When global temperature increases and sea levels rise, the percentage of habitable land decreases. Considering the fact that more than 50% of humans live along or close to coastlines, there will be mass migrations. Where do we put all those people? Do we believe these migrations will all occur peacefully? What role in all of this will storms have; storms that are predicted to increase in both strength and frequency? Will there be water wars over what's left of unpolluted potable water? What happens to all the other species affected?

Can we humans, somehow, come together in peace to discuss and formulate global initiatives to control our population growth, as well as the pollution and destruction of our common home? Will corporate executives stop their seemingly unquenchable greed and quest for power? Will they also end their unhealthy and unsustainable policies and actions and, instead, start caring for the beings of this planet? Will governments finally start penalizing these people and their behaviors, as well as their own? Why can't a free economy benefit all sentient beings of this planet? The current huge and still-expanding gap between rich and poor is immoral. Why do we reward uncontrolled greed and power that so clearly benefits the few and harms our planet and all life? Has our quest for more "stuff" been worth it? Are we already too late to even attempt to repair the damage we've caused? Is this last-minute bid for our own survival yet another form of human arrogance? What do you think?

Check out the following:
Human Population Maps
The Future of Food
The IUCN Red List Along Coastlines
The Story of Stuff

In Honor of My Father and Other Veterans on Veteran's Day

I went to visit my father's grave last month, a wee bit early for observing Veterans Day, which falls on a Tuesday this year. The grass has grown in around the grave markers. He rests close to an airport, which he would have loved, as he so enjoyed traveling. He is also buried near the lake he loved and where he used to swim, water ski, camp, hike, cookout, and enjoy the company of dear friends. The cemetery is home to families of Gambrel's quail and other indigenous species. My father is in a truly beautiful place, but I still miss him.

On this special day during which we honor our country's veterans, I would like to salute all men and women in our Armed Forces who have or who currently serve and protect our country. I appreciate your sacrifice and dedication, as well as that of your family. Bless you all!!! I hope all who currently serve will return home safe and sound.

If you are a veteran, there is a fairly new website that was formed to promote communication among all members of the armed forces community, whether active duty, retired, veteran — or family member, friend, or supporter of the military. The number of veterans returning from WWII were approximately 25% of the entire US population. Current returning veterans are now less than 2% of the entire population, so it is much more difficult to find other veterans with whom you can speak. This is why this website was formed by the folks at If you're interested, this is the link: Best wishes to all of you!

Oh, and Dad...
you would have loved the first pork loin roast I ever cooked. You were a truly great cook. Maybe your talent is finally rubbing off on me. When I saw how it turned out and tasted it, it absolutely reminded me of you, and your love of cooking and good food.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Congessman Broun of Georgia Fears an Obama-led Fascist State

Earlier today, Republican Congressman Broun of Georgia said he fears President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force in order to impose a Marxist or fascist dictatorship. Congressman Broun has the same right to freedom of speech as does every other citizen. However, his elevated place of power as an elected official in public office should inform his behavior and any statements he might make. As a public official, he is held to a higher standard and should make more responsible, considered and factual public statements, instead of spouting the usual fear-mongering that has been the trademark of the current administration. Didn't Hitler use fear as one of his methods of gaining power over his people and reducing their rights?

As for his comments about the President-Elect, I see that he is suffering from the psychological condition of projection, in which a person projects their own problem onto others. We already live in a fascist state, courtesy of President Bush, with security forces formed under the Patriot Act: the Department of Homeland Security. This department regularly hires Blackwater militia to assist them on and off our soil. When they named this department "Homeland," it reminded me of Hitler's "Fatherland." Excessive nationalism is one of the tenets of fascism. I remember when President Bush called those who opposed his invasion and occupation of a foreign country, unpatriotic Americans. Didn't Hitler use ultra-Nationalism while invading and occupying foreign countries?

President Bush has also allowed Blackwater, formed before his Presidency in 1997, to grow into what is now the world's largest private militia on our own soil. This is unconstitutional. Why is a private militia, not bound by Constitutional constraints and Congressional oversight, allowed on our soil doing Bush's bidding? Isn't this just like the Gestapo? He also pays Blackwater forces more money than he does our own armed forces to fight in Iraq. For all of his talk of his support of our military men and women, he ought to put "his money where his mouth is."

Homeland Security and the NSA actively and unconstitutionally monitor the private conversations of US citizens. They have recorded so many conversations that they are building a new storage facility in, go figure, Texas. They are able to type in a person's name and pull up any and all conversations they've recorded under that name. We may have freedom of speech, but absolutely no right to privacy. Think about being outside anywhere on this planet - surveillance is being conducted by satellite and, in many populated areas, by street webcams. How they can see a person's nose or the license plate on a car, yet have been "unable" over almost a decade, to find one, very tall man in Afghanistan, still boggles the mind.

Our right to habeas corpus was unconstitutionally suspended under the current President. The US Constitution clearly states that "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." There was no rebellion, nor was our country invaded - we were attacked; there is a very real difference between the words invade and attack.

I could go on, but will stop here. The framers of our country expected responsible citizenship from American citizens. I ask that all Americans read or reread the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Here are links: and It is so easy to lose rights and privileges when you aren't aware you have them. Many people in this world still do not have the right to vote, yet approximately 40% of American citizens didn't even bother to exercise this right in the most recent national elections. Our own citizens fought and died so that we could vote and live in a democratic republic. So please get out and vote, in local, state and national elections. Finally, people may attempt to create a climate of fear; it is only when you listen to and believe them that you will be afraid and, in so doing, elevate the power of those fear-mongering people. Please use reason and knowledge, instead of emotion, to inform your beliefs.

My Contribution to Growing Food, Not Lawns

Well, my backyard garden is finally in and growing, using a drip irrigation system. So, no green grass here in the desert. My current list of plants and trees is as follows:

2 dwarf Meyer lemon (A few fruits this year. One small and one huge lemons are growing now.)
1 dwarf Bears lime (No fruit this year.)
1 dwarf Valencia orange (No fruit this year.)
1 dwarf Rio Oro grapefruit (No fruit this year.)
2 pomegranate bushes (No fruit this year.)
1 golden delicious apple (No fruit this year.)
1 red delicious apple (No fruit this year)
1 Santa Rosa plum (One small plum grew this year.)
1 asian pear (I got a huge crop of small pears this summer, some of which went to the local birds.)
2 Bartlett pears (No fruit this year.)
1 peach (Some fruit this year that the local bird population enjoyed enormously.)
1 apricot (Some fruit this year that I shared with the local birds.)
1 pineapple guava (No fruit this year, but the flowers are edible and YUMMY!)
3 bay laurel bushes
8 or more aloe vera plants
4 different grape vines (No fruit this year because they got attacked by the western grape leaf skeletonizer, which hatches from eggs laid by a small, white, day-flying moth. I definitely hope they don't return next year. Here's a link for more information about them:

I may not be living sustainably, but as a desert city-dweller, I'm doing okay; I even grow basil in my kitchen window. I could be doing better. So, I've thought about using hydroponics to grow plants indoors that would never survive the blistering sun, low humidity, and extreme high temperatures of a desert summer. However, these systems are fairly pricey. As an alternative, I'm going to have to contact my city's Master Gardeners to find out which vegetable and herb plants do better here. Then I'll put in organic soil and grow organic plant seeds and/or plants in my small, raised-bed vegetable area. All this will happen when my back "goes back" into place again. I "threw it out" while walking my dogs. In the future, I'd like to start composting. Any ideas on this?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Our New President - Barack Obama

The people have been heard with an overwhelmingly resounding voice! We have elected Barack Obama as our new president! We have also elected 56 Democratic Senators (so far, as there are votes too close to call on some Senatorial elections) to change the balance of power in the halls of our Capitol.

I truly hope that this new president will be able to heal the wounds of the past 8 years, reinstate the freedoms for which our founding fathers fought so hard, and help the US earn the respect of the international community once again. I hope he can lead us up and out of the dark void into which our current President has led us. I pray he will use peace and equity as guiding principles for his leadership.

My hopes also reach towards an equitable, progressive economy that benefits all, not just the rich and powerful; health care for all, so that those 79 million Americans without health insurance will no longer have to trade bankruptcy for their health; a clean energy policy that brings sustainability and protects our national security; environmental protections reinstated and expanded, as well as leadership on international climate change and global warming initiatives; an education policy that actually gets funded and treats educators as professionals, instead of people who don't know what they're doing; a strong implementation of diplomacy and peacemaking, instead of war-mongering; stop the torture of prisoners, close Guantanamo, follow the Geneva Convention, and withdraw most of our troops from Iraq.

I have many more dreams for our country and I pray that our new leaders and all citizens remain safe and secure so that our new president has a real chance to make positive changes happen in our United States of America!