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Upside Down World

I’m a little behind. Okay, way behind.  This article about the Senate voting on human involvement in climate change is from January but I just saw it a couple of days ago and have to say something about it. You know me.  Never one to keep my mouth shut on things like this. I’m not here to change anyone’s mind on the issue, but I have my viewpoints and one of them was so strongly challenged from a place I least expected it that it sort of took my breath away.

Per the article:

The Chairman of the Environment Committee, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is an enthusiastic denier of climate change, saying it is the “biggest hoax” perpetrated against mankind.

“The hoax is there are some people so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change the climate,” Inhofe said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “Man can’t change the climate.”

Please keep in mind people, this is the CHAIRMAN OF THE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE saying this. That’s like the Executive Director of General Motors saying that cars aren’t actually faster than walking. It’s all been a hoax. You’ve just been fooled this whole time into purchasing these wildly expensive newfangled contraptions that you never really needed.

I’m sorry but isn’t there a little something called scientific evidence that supports the fact that the climate has gone through a more radical change than Jekyll and Hyde over the past century or so.  Has Inhofe never heard of that somewhat monumental historical event known as the Industrial Revolution? Heck, the impact of that period sure enough changed the course of evolution, just ask the peppered moth.  I’m pretty sure pumping out loads and loads of contaminants into the atmosphere for decades on end has had the power to make some alterations to the weather patterns.

Only five Republicans joined the Dems in the belief that humans have contributed to climate change and that’s fine. Republicans have their beliefs and I do my best to respect them. I try not to ask for too much from my government (cause seriously, it’s the government after all), but it’d be really, really nice if the Head of the Environment Committee could actually believe in science or at the very least just listen to other people with scientific degrees who might perhaps know a bit more about the whole issue than he does…you know, those people with tons of letters after their names who work for little known firms like NASA and NOAA, among others.  Just saying.

In-Flight Service

We all know that airlines treat us like crap and don’t actually care about our comfort or making sure we have a cozy trip. First they took away the free in-flight meals. Then they took away being able to check two bags free. Then they took away being able to check one bag free. Now, I hear they’re even charging for water and the little bags of pretzels. On many flights they don’t even have an in-flight service at all. They’re just loading us into a flying metal pen, shooting us into the sky, taking as much money as possible, and giving us a swift kick in the rear when we leave just knowing we have to come back eventually.

That all said, this latest news story takes the cruelty of airline hospitality to unbelievable heights (bad pun, I know, I apologize). If you can, read this news item here. If you don’t have the time, the title sums it up pretty well (take heed before clicking the link): Family Forced to Sit in Vomit on United Flight. Yes, you read that correctly.

All I can say is YUCK.

A family boards a plane, finds their seats, then realizes (as they put their bags in it and then running their hands through it…because placing their bags in it wasn’t gross enough) that there was someone else’s vomit already occupying their space. How much did the airline care? Whatever the smallest amount possible is, that’s how much they cared.

To make matters worse, the wife suffers from mysophobia, which is a fear of germs.  Can you imagine!? I’m sure she wasn’t expecting the plane to be pristine when she boarded, but I’m sure she had a very reasonable expectation of a clean seating area for her and her family…one that was at the least vomit-free.

Instead of, oh I don’t know, cleaning the seat or maybe bumping the family to first class or offering to reimburse them for their tickets or somehow fixing the situation in a manner that was proportional to the gross violation they stuck the family with, here’s what United did:

“United offered the family two unsatisfactory alternatives—fly out the next day or stay in their seats. Since Shirley’s wife, who works at the Food and Drug Administration, had to be at work that Monday, the family opted to stay put and were given trash bags with which to wrap their soiled luggage.”

DOUBLE YUCK. Which of course doesn’t even begin to describe it. Add a few colorful expletives in the middle there and you get the picture of what my face looked like when I was reading this article.

As bad as it was to READ about this experience, can you imagine LIVING it!?  Forced to sit in the wet spot of someone else’s throw-up!?  To have that smell in one’s nostrils for the entire flight. To have one’s bag marinating in this puddle of bile.  If this story were about me, I can guarantee you there would’ve been a hell of a lot more “stuff” there than they originally found.

In the end United’s “gesture of goodwill” to the family amounted to a $150 flight voucher for each family member. Oh great, barely any real discount for the same airline so I can maybe have a repeat experience.

Good job, United!  You truly do win the “we simply don’t care about you” award. It was a disgusting situation but an even more disgusting display of customer service.

Memorial Day Reminder

What with all of the sales flyers that have filled my mail box this past week and the celebratory posts and invites that have been floating through my Facebook feed nonstop, it seems like many people in this country have forgotten what this day means. The photo below truly captures what Memorial Day symbolizes.

Despite what the car dealers or Macy’s or the party planners would have you believe, it’s not about the excellent deal on that gas guzzling SUV or the 50% off sale on shoes you don’t need or that rowdy beer infused bbq party you won’t half remember on Tuesday at work.

Memorial Day is about giving thanks to our nation’s true heroes as we honor those who have fallen in their service to our great country.  So enjoy your day, most definitely, in whatever way you decide to do so. But let’s just remember those who made it possible.

memorial day 2

Once Upon a Time There Were Rhinos

Hang your heads in shame, patriots. The hunt is on. Remember my previous post about Corey Knowlton, America’s poster boy for wildlife conservation? Well, he’s finally gotten approval from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to bring back—as a trophy—the critically endangered black rhino he paid the Namibian government $350,000 to wipe off the face of the earth. It’s basically the US government giving him the thumbs up for helping to annihilate a species.

Of course Mr. Knowlton (so tough to type out his name, my fingers start to ball up into fists when I get halfway through) isn’t going to prance around in a black mask and black cape and tell you he’s a horrible, rotten, no-good villain. He’s still trying to desperately spin his bloodlust into some positive PR routine so that people will believe he’s actually helping the conservation efforts of the rhino. Uh huh. Killing to save lives, you say? Who would fall for such a ridiculously hypocritical stance? Oh, our government. I kid, I kid. Truth is our government wasn’t fooled by Knowlton at all, they were simply bought. Apparently hundreds of thousands of dollars can buy just about anything these days.  As if we didn’t know that already.

I know Knowlton says that the money he paid for the hunt is for aiding the anti-poaching and conservation efforts, but my original question still stands:  Why not just donate the money? I wish someone would slap him up side the head tap him on the shoulder and tell him his money is still good, even if he doesn’t kill something critically endangered just for the chance to hang its head on his wall.

click photo for info

click photo for some actual facts on the whole mess

Of Haunting Images and Hope

Okay, so time for a more serious post.  I hope you’ll stick with me long enough to read this one through.

I’m sure everyone has seen those horrific photos on Facebook and elsewhere on the internet. The ones that show an animal starving or abused or neglected.  They’re horrendous and just who the hell wants to see them anyway?  Ye Gads, once they’re seen it’s difficult if not impossible to un-see them.  It just ruins a person’s day (I had someone tell me that once).  Honestly, I understand just where those people are coming from.  I hate the photos for the very same reasons.  I’ve always had a problem with getting images out of my head.  Some people can’t stand to see horrible things, but I take it further in that once I see something horrific or disturbing, I can’t seem to get rid of the image…ever.  It stays with me, in my head, and pops back up at the oddest and most inopportune times.   Of course, it’s the emotion that is behind the image that stays with me….but it is the visual that truly haunts me. Forever. It’s like a kind of demented eidetic memory.

But you know what?  These photos are necessary.  It’s easy to say “I know what happens; I don’t need to see it.”  That really isn’t true though is it?  I mean, being told “that dog was starved to death,” isn’t nearly as moving as seeing a dog that had been starved to death. Sometimes words just aren’t enough.  And of course that’s what makes people so angry….the photos hurt their heart.

I support the fight against animal cruelty in all forms but I especially work towards ending horse slaughter.  It’s such a needless and inhumane business.  And I know that by supporting animal advocacy groups I’m helping to keep animals from being exploited and slaughtered and I realize that raising awareness is the key to change.  But I’ve often wondered if I can continue to deal with the constant horrific images floating around in my head and in my heart.

I had a revelation one night and it came, as they usually do I guess, through a dream. I dreamed of watching a horse slaughter transport truck go down the highway from a spot high above on a rocky hill, and seeing a horse, a splendid fawn colored, spotted horse, falling out of the truck thru a gap at the top of the side wall.  In real life, this would of course be physically impossible…but then…this was a dream.  And in my dream, the truck was so completely overloaded that it caused her to fall out, to basically be forcibly shoved out through a small gap in the sidewall of the truck.  In my dream I sat there gasping in horror as the horse fell completely out of the truck. I was just sure it was dead because there was no way it could survive the fall, let alone make it off the busy highway without being hit. Instead, to my absolute delight, it ran across the highway and up the hill where I was sitting. It came to my vehicle and leaned down to look in the open window as if to talk to me. I looked into its sensitive eyes and face, knowing that it was free of the horrors that had awaited it, that it had escaped, and I was inspired by the hope I saw there. I awoke with this amazingly beautiful image in my mind.

And that, people, is the image that will be sticking with me from now on, regardless of anything else that I might see. That horse, that one magnificent horse, can turn into hundreds and into thousands and then tens of thousands of horses that are saved from future slaughter, from future horrors that they do not deserve. That image of hope in her soulful eyes, of future, and of survival moved me far more than the horrific pictures I’ve seen.

It moved me more because that horse represents everything animal advocates, myself included, work towards.  Her heroic escape from an overloaded truck headed for a slaughter-house, gallant run to safety, and entrance into freedom represents a journey.  It is a journey that we must all take to stand up for the rights of animals who cannot stand up for themselves.  It is a journey that requires facing our fears and standing up to evil itself.  It is a journey of hope and hope is what gives us all the strength to fight animal cruelty every day.  Hope is so much stronger than evil.  Hope can move mountains and save horses.

 

 

Charitable Music Contributions

Charity starts at home on the road and I want to give a shout out to all those altruistic folks on the highways, at red lights, and in parking lots who are oh so kind enough to share their music with those of us less fortunate who might not have music of our own to listen to.

Without you we might have to sit in glorious silence going over that speech we have to give in the PR meeting later, or perhaps, god forbid, we might catch up on the news or the latest weather report, or even be forced to listen to that audio book we checked out at the library just for our commute to work. If it weren’t for you sharing your music at such a loud decibel that our cars shake, we might never know the pleasures of obscenity laden music or lyrical rape scenarios, all while having our spines realigned and our heads on the verge of implosion from the sheer force of the bass.

So thank you! Thank you for doing your part to make what is already an annoying undertaking — our daily commute or running errands — that much more intolerable by giving of yourselves and your delightful taste in music.

Unlikely Plaything

Kids can be so cute, can’t they? The way they have endless curiosity about everything they see; their exuberance over new experiences that we have grown jaded to and take for granted; the wide-eyed openness to everything the world has to offer regardless of how taboo, odd, or grotesque. They’re simply amazing.

Take this video of a little girl traipsing around her front yard playing lovingly with a dead squirrel:

If it were a doll or a stuff animal or a photo of a family member I’d be letting all sorts off oohs and awwws escape my mouth. The only thing holding me back from sharing in her happiness is that it’s a freakin’ dead squirrel! Mouth agape, eyes rolled back in its head, limbs hanging heavy, neck slack, this squirrel is deader than dead. And recently dead. As in their dog just killed the poor thing. So of course, why not let the kid play with it. It’s the natural order of things, right?

I don’t wag my finger at the girl, though. She’s so young, she obviously doesn’t understand what her newest toy actually signifies. I’m more angered at the parents. The Dad who saw this as the perfect opportunity to grab a camera and film his daughter being so oblivious that it’s “cute” and the Mom who can only stand there, hands on her hips and smirk on her face, looking at the camera with an inner monologue that screams, “Don’t kids just do the darndest things!?” What is wrong with these parents?

You don’t have to agree with me, but in my opinion the Gods that be (or whoever you want to name) just gave them an absolutely perfect teaching opportunity about oh, I don’t know, empathy, compassion maybe, life being a sacred thing, and they squandered it. This could have been a prime moment to impress upon their child a lesson about the sanctity of life, the inevitability of death, and the respect that we can show the dearly departed. But no. What do they do instead? They mock the animal that tragically lost its life (in the jaws of the family dog no less…not even a natural death) and turn what could be a window into the frailty of life into playtime. The little girl sees the squirrel as a toy (again, not blaming her for this because she’s too young to know any different) and the parents just go along with this little show, encouraging it even — with the Dad calling the dog into his video masterpiece so he could introduce “the killer and the killed.”

I could also go off about the fact that his kid is rubbing a dead carcass all over her naked chest and the obvious health implications of that. I’m not saying that the squirrel definitely has fleas or a virus or a disease or whatever, but until I’m 100% certain a wild animal corpse isn’t going to pass along some transmittable illness, I wouldn’t want my kid laying a finger on it let alone using it for playtime. But I’ll let the other YouTube comments harp on that point.

My main concern centers around this one question: Where is the empathy? Clearly not with the parents and because of what they are either knowingly or unknowingly passing on, the kid has none either. What message does this send to their child? Sure, it’s all fun and games for now, but I wonder what they’ll do when she drags home a dead dog to play with.