Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Dust Bowl

I just saw that PBS is airing a documentary on the Dust Bowl on Nov. 18th 2012. (see: link at bottom)

My mother was in the middle of it of all. She grew up in Commerce Oklahoma and her daddy was a coal miner who died of "Black Lung" when she was around 10. Her family took part in what was referred to by Steinbeck as the "Grapes of Wrath". During the "Dust Bowl" her mom, three older brothers, and her migrated to California to find work.

She told us stories about staying in camps along the way and about her mom crying because she had to leave her favorite rocking chair that was tied to the roof of the car along the side of the road. A bunch of their things they had attached to the car had to be left along the way. When they tried to cross the mountains the car kept overheating and could not make it up the grade because of the extra weight of all the things they were carrying.

It was a very difficult time for my mom's family, and all the rest of the "Okies" that left and went west to find work, dignity, and a better future. I am hoping this documentary will help give me an even better perspective on what they had to go through. Although mom did tell us some things about that time in her life, she never went into much details, I think because it was hard for her to talk about.

But the fact is that I would not be here if that had not happened. After moving to California mom met dad there when he was brought home during WWII for a leave from the Navy by a shipmate who was mom's cousin.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

We’ve lost another one of us!

He probably never received many accolades in his lifetime, but Dean HuneyCutt was one of those great American unsung heroes that are often overlooked, one of those so called “little people” that no one hears much about but who are actually the backbone of what makes a country like ours so great. A lot of people believe there are basically two types of people, thinkers, and doers. But Dean was one of those who was both kinds, a thinker and a doer. He was raised from humble beginnings and throughout his life he never really aspired to rise to any socially excepted heights of respect, but never the less he was highly respected by his peers and fellow workers for his ability to decipher and build some of the most difficult steel fabrication designs ever seen.

Those who live in the Charlotte North Carolina area might have seen one of his creations without even knowing it. If you have ever been to Discovery Place in downtown Charlotte, you’ve probably walked on the huge spiral staircase that winds around the lobby. I watched Dean take crude drawings and piece by piece carefully measure, calculate, and clamp together the entire two story 8 foot wide spiral staircase within the confines of a fabrication shop, and then take it all apart and put it up permanently in the Discovery Place lobby. Dean also fabricated the huge spinning disk sculptures that are sitting in the median of Trade Street in downtown Charlotte. Dean’s fabrications are scattered all over the Charlotte area, with a stairs here or a sculpture there, including many frame facades for store fronts.

But his most important qualities were his kindness and generosity. He was the original “help your neighbor” kind of person. I have no doubt that he would have literally given you the shirt off his back if he thought you really needed it!. I have watched over the years as he not only gave money to help others, but more important he gave his time to those who he felt needed his help. He never hesitated to give of himself to both friends and strangers alike. A lot like his belief in a simple life, he had a belief in the simply philosophy that said we should treat other people the way we wanted to be treated. He truly lived by the Golden Rule and not many people can honestly say that about themselves!

One of the greatest people I have ever known passed away Wednesday April 4th 2012. Dean Huneycutt will be greatly missed by his friends and family. However, it is the world that did not know him who has lost the most because it is this world that will miss the love, kindness, and creativity he contributed to it!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Great American Divide

It's probably not PC, and it may even tick some people off by saying it, but in my opinion we have reached the point in America where we have developed almost too much diversity in our quest to give everyone the right to hold their opinions scared. Before you say anything, let me point out that we currently have a government of elected officials that can't even agree on a single issue, and instead each defends their own point of view with no options allowed for compromise. I understand the need for those who hold their opinions as truth to vehemently defend what they believe. But there needs to be a point when they do what is best for the good of everyone instead focusing on what is best for the highly vocal and politically active few.

Being an American, and supported by our constitution, we each have to right to live as we want in our own lifestyle, as long as we do not interfere with the rights of others. What this means is that we should be able to live as we want without fear of interference from others who disagree with our lifestyle or beliefs. It does NOT mean that we can impose our opinions on the majority because we believe we are right. When it comes to the good of everyone, we need to realize that our opinions and beliefs should not be the deciding factor in whether we do something together as a country or not. What should be the primary consideration is whether an action is positive and serves the people while furthering our country's position, or is it negative and does it damage our people and our position.

In order to obtain desired freedoms, this country was built around diversity. People from many different faiths, lifestyles, and opinions came together and formed a union that was based on the good of all, and developed through compromise and cooperation. Over the years this direction has been diverted by those who would have us go back to become the type of country we broke away from in the first place. The American revolution took place because the people came together to fight for a place where everyone could follow their own direction while uniting as a fellowship of freedom seekers. Diversity is highly desirable and a positive contribution to the fullness and depth of our collective American ancestry. It should never be used as a heavy handed tool to divide and separate those who make up this union of freedom. But ultimately the choice is ours. We can either work together or fall apart!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Should cannabis prohibition be repealed?

The primary problem with cannabis prohibition is basically the same problem we had with alcohol prohibition. When a majority of the people in a country want something, whether it is legal or not, they will find ways to obtain it even if it has to be obtained through underground means.  The fact is that most people really don’t care how they obtain something they want as long as they can get it, and if they want it bad enough they will go to great lengths to get it.  As a result, the more people want something the greater lengths business oriented people will go to supply it for a profit. It is the law of supply and demand.

According to a United Nations survey there are over 90 million regular users of cannabis. That large of a number does not necessarily mean that those people are right about the use of something that is illegal in most all countries, it only means that they will do whatever is necessary to obtain it. This fact leaves the criminal element to step in and fill the gap between a country’s prohibition laws and those wanting a substance like cannabis that is illegal in their country. The shining example of this is the mob organizations that became so powerful in this country during alcohol prohibition. One has to wonder if we could have avoided all the violence that developed out of organized crime syndicates that came into being then if prohibition had not been enacted.

It seems reasonable to me that instead of spending billions on “The War on Drugs” and still not stemming the tide of cannabis use, we could instead possible be making billions from a controlled and taxed industry of cannabis production.  When we put a young person in prison for cannabis possession we only serve to make them more criminalized and they seem to only learn skills that make them better criminals. When we spend billions on housing, feeding, and maintaining those incarcerated for cannabis possession, we take billions away from those who are starving and living in cardboard shacks, those who could really use our assistance.  In my opinion, we need to re-evaluate our priorities and consider the needs of the many over the prohibition objections of the few.

Finally, hemp, the generic form of cannabis, can be used to make a lot of other products, as they were in the past before prohibition. The fact is that our American classic “Blue Jeans” were originally made from hemp fabric because it is much more resilient and stronger than cotton weaves.  Once cannabis prohibition was enacted, a lot of things that were originally made from hemp were changed and produced from other resources because prohibition made it very difficult to get a permit to grow hemp for commercial uses. Even our founding fathers knew the value of hemp production for raw materials. Both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington had large hemp fields and often referred to them in letters and other writings as being very productive.

Now I realize there is a lot of debate about this issue and that I haven't even touched on the medical side of this issue, and that there are many who will disagree with me vehemently no matter what reasons I may have. However, in my opinion if like those who were against alcohol legalization for ethical or moral reason, you are against cannabis legalization, then my advice to you is don’t use it and avoid any moral dilemmas for yourself. What I would hope that you don’t do is what would be in my opinion costing us more young lives and billions more in tax dollars by keeping it illegal for others who do use cannabis.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

There's a good reason why they say power corrupts.

I'm sure you have heard the phrase: "power corrupts" which is usually followed by: "and absolute power corrupts absolutely". There is a reason why this rings so true. The fact is power can be addictive for most people and that addition can lead to setting no limits in gaining more power. The more powerful a person become, the more power they want to achieve. But when it comes to groups or organizations, that thrust for power tends to grow beyond the people behind it and can become a force in itself. The longer this force is allowed to grow the less control an organization has over its reach. In the end the organization becomes more powerful than its members.

I believe a good example of this can be found in the former religious entertainment and television organization of the PTL Club. It started originally by what I believe to be a naive country bred young couple as an outreach christian ministry. It turned into a power monster that needed to be constantly fed. The reason I understand this situation better than most is because in the 80s I actually lived on the PTL property and worked for the construction company Jim Baker had hired to build his empire. I saw then that those closest to the leadership stood by and watched as the focus changed and the organization's morals were corrupted by the greed of the powerful machine they had built. It had become more important to keep the machine fed than to fulfill the intended purpose the christian organization had been created for in the first place. It was now more important to keep the organization alive than any other goal. The good of the people had been abandoned for to the good of the organization.

In contemplating world politics, it is also a rather sad commentary on the state of our world's governments when a majority of citizens want peace but governments continue to wage war supposedly on their behalf. It really emphasizes the fact that most governments as a form of organization have also grown to become so large and powerful that they believe the opinions of those they represent do not really matter anymore. Whether or not a government represents and serves it citizens no longer matters. What matters is that the government must be fed and maintained. That goal becomes the prime focus of the government and all other goals become secondary. The problem is once this direction has been given some headway, it becomes very difficult to change that direction. The only way I know to change this direction is for one person at a time to stand up and point out the the injustice they have experienced so that together we can take back control of our lives.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It is time for a good house cleaning in Washington!

It really doesn't matter if they call themselves Republicans or Democrats, either way Washington politicians have been running our government like it was their own personal business without regard to those who put them into office. It appears to me that an attitude has developed among our elected officials that they are smarter than we are and know better than we do what is good for us. After all we are the "Masses" and everyone knows the "Masses" are not smart enough to make decisions for themselves. The problem with this attitude is that while a mob may be ignorant of the total truth and driven by questionable motives, today in this time of constant connections to millions of information sources, most individuals on the other hand, are fairly intelligent, knowledgeable about the issues, and have goals that are constructive and reasonable.

Even with all the political spin the big media sources put on things, whether conservative or liberal, we have all been watching what has been going on in Washington these days and can see the truth for ourselves. One party wants to control various aspects of our life, while another wants to place the interest of businesses above the interest of the people. Both sides are serving their own personal interests and motives. Every day we see them either refusing to act on important issues, or creating laws that benefit those funding their political career while ignoring the real needs of the people they represent. We the people are being ignored while politicians continue to help themselves and grow richer.

I believe it is time to clean house in Washington as well as on the state level too.  In my opinion it is time to get rid of the old guard that have set the current status quo. We can not take them at their word and trust them to do as they say because they have proven they are not really interested in serving the people by their actions. I feel the only way we can fix this problem is to start over with new people that do not owe any political favors. I truly believe we should vote out all of the old guard politicians and only retain those fresh faces that have a record of representing the people correctly. In turn we should vote in a new regime of representatives with the understanding that if they don't represent us correctly we will throw them out too. This may be the only way to save our country from reaching a depth so low that no one will be able to get us out of it!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Big Oil ... Come Get It While We've Got It

I understand the need for oil products at this time in history, but personally, I think we have done far too much to keep the oil industry comfortable in its earnings. The problem is we have known for decades that oil is eventually going to run out, yet we keep on exploiting it. It may not affect us, our children, or our grandchildren, but our great-grandchildren may have to deal with it when the oil runs out, and eventually it will.

The limited oil resources we have now are forcing prices higher and higher while promoting what I believe to be possibly dangerous explorations. In light of the discovery that some earthquakes in Ohio were linked to fracking operations, and with all the loss of income by the fishing industry in the gulf recently, I believe further uncontrolled oil exploration could damage the income of hundreds of thousands while employing just a few thousand just because the demand is so high and the financial return for a few is so great.

The fact is, oil is a limited resource and is also partially responsible for air, water, and earth pollution. If we don't start looking for other cleaner energy resources and try to discover alternative means for producing those things we now make from oil and its by products, I believe we will be contributing to the development of a serious disaster for all of mankind. If we wait until the oil runs out before we start seeking to employing viable solutions, it will be too late to do anything. I do not want future generations saying that it was our generation's fault for not doing something sooner.