Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Independence Day Perspective

It was July 4, 1988.  A couple of days earlier I'd had some kind of medical episode and I was waiting for medical test results delayed by the holiday,  prolonging the angst of what I was sure would be news that my  21-year old life was about to be cut short.

As my family gathered and got ready for the 4th of July parade and other festivities, I remember hugging everyone tighter, a fake smile in all the pictures being taken (to cover the heartbreak), all the while convinced it would be my last Independence Day.

That afternoon, I was invited by Danny & Marcy, my closest friends of that era, to do something amazing... watch the fireworks that night from above Kansas City in  a small airplane. I thought it would be a fitting way to spend my last Fourth of July on this planet.

Danny's mother, Betty, had something different going on that evening.  She would be hosting a dozen or more severely mentally handicapped individuals for cake and ice cream, etc.  She could really use a few extra hands, she told me.  I let my friends know that I wouldn't be watching the fireworks from the sky.

At 6 p.m. or so a van arrived, and  out came the group of visitors, many of whom had the kinds of severe physical and mental challenges that a lot of people rarely come in contact with. They made themselves comfortable in Betty's lovely, decorated back yard.  A few of us ran about serving cake and ice cream and chatting with them, sometimes feeding them. Their smiles were filled with more joy and happiness than I'd ever encountered.  "These men are the happiest people I've ever seen!" I thought.  They were thrilled and delighted at everything that was going on, and their love for Betty was obvious.  They knew her well, as she had done many such things for them before.

And for a few hours, I completely forgot that I was "dying."  All the day's tragedy had vanished, forgotten.  I was in awe of Betty for doing kind things such as this, bringing these people so much happiness. And I was in awe of the visitors who were able to find joy in the  midst of so much challenge and pain.

I'd known Betty all my life.  She was always doing things to help people. She'd helped me out before, and that night she helped me understand what a "higher purpose" looks like when it's in action.

As I watched the fireworks gratefully from the ground, I "bargained" with God that if I should live, I would be more like Betty and I would devote my life to helping people.  Needless to say, I survived the medical crisis that wasn't.  But I've fallen very short of "being like Betty."  I did not keep my end of the bargain.  Maybe there's still time.

Rest in Peace, Betty.  She inspired me, and I loved her.

Friday, April 03, 2015

March Against Monsanto KC 2015

We're getting close to the Third Annual March Against Monsanto, happening worldwide, and right here in Kansas City at the JC Nichols Memorial Fountain.  From www.KCMarch.com:

If you're not in the Kansas City area, there is sure to be a march near you.

A lot of scientists will tell you that genetically modified foods are perfectly safe.
But ask them about how safe it is to eat Roundup® Herbicide, because that's what's dumped all over your "safe" GMO corn, soybeans, and any other "Roundup® Ready" GMO seeds that end up on your dinner plate.  They led us to believe that Monsanto's GMO corn seeds would be naturally resistant to weeds.  What they meant was that Monsanto's GMO seeds would be able to survive being drenched with large amounts of Monsanto's Roundup® Herbicide, which kills everything else all around it (but not your food).

It was not a big surprise to many when weeds started to become resistant to the Roundup® they were dumping all over the crops.  So farmers had to use more Roundup®.  And more Roundup®, and more Roundup®. Monsanto's profits soared as farmers couldn't get enough of their plant poison to keep the superweeds at bay.

And because so many of the GMO grains that get soaked with Roundup are used to feed our livestock, humans are ingesting Roundup not only in the GMO foods that we eat, but from the meats we eat as well.

 When the World Health Organization recently proclaimed that Glyphosate, the chemical that makes Roundup® toxic to everything but GMO crops, probably caused cancer, Monsanto went on the defensive. Here's a GMO advocate telling us that you can drink it from a glass and it wouldn't hurt you. Watch the way he backtracks when he's offered a glass of glyphosate to drink, himself.

Naturally I prefer foods that didn't grow up being constantly sprayed with poison, but that's only one of many reasons I'll be Marching Against Monsanto again this year.  Soon we'll talk about the bee population, and the dwindling thereof.

 Over the coming weeks we're going to need lots of help getting the rally together and putting the word out!  Please visit www.KCMarch.com and find out how you can get involved, but most of all tell your friends and try to be at a march near you!  If there's not an event scheduled in your area, there's still time to organize one, so don't be afraid to step up to the plate!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Crosby Kemper's Library Woes

   Crosby Kemper III took 100 teenagers to Jefferson City to protest $6 million in cuts to Missouri's public library systems, and he was shocked and surprised when he and the kids were booted out of Governor Jay Nixon's office.  On Facebook he blamed it on the "the notion that we were slightly critical and not whispering was too much."

   It's too bad he and his 100 "non-whispering" teenagers weren't in Jefferson City raising a ruckus when Republicans in the legislature slashed taxes for wealthy Missourians to the tune of $621 million last year, a budget that Jay Nixon vetoed but Republicans over-rode. 

   In fact, Crosby Kemper III and his buddy, Tax Cut King Rex Sinquefield, head up the "Show Me Institute,"  a supposedly non-partisan (though pretty much wholly Republican) "grass-roots" organization that fights hard for lower taxes and "free market solutions," and lobbies hard for the kinds of tax cuts that are now costing Kemper's library at least $100,000 of its funding.

  Perhaps Mr. Kemper can find a free market solution to his library problem... or maybe he could quit supporting the Republicans that bring us these heinous budgets that benefit only wealthy folk like himself and his tax cut king friends.  But it makes better press to take 100 teenagers into a government office and then be "shocked" when they're asked to take a hike because they are disrupting an office not equipped to handle 100 non-whispering teenagers, being tasked as they are with balancing a budget that's $621 million thinner, thanks to the tax cuts that Crosby Kemper himself personally fought for.  I wonder how many of the 100 "non whispering teenagers" were aware of that fact.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

His 21st Birthday

It was this day, March 7, back in 1967.  It was his 21st birthday and he asked his buddy to take this picture of him cleaning his M-14  combat rifle.  He was in or near a place spelled Huế and pronounced "Way."   Because he would spell the name Way in letters home, his mother became frustrated about being unable to find it on a map.  It had once been the capital of Vietnam. The next year the place would be the site of the Battle of Huế and the Tet Offensive.
   He'd been in Vietnam for ten months, which gave him enough tenure to make life a little easier for a Marine.  A person knew more than anyone who had been there a shorter length of time, even a day, in a situation where every day the motto was "learn or die."  He tells me that in reality survival was "90% luck."
   The weather was beautiful that day, between 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  The letter in his pocket had to have been outgoing... an incoming letter would show much more wear.
   Of the two Marines pictured here, only my friend made it back home alive.
   Three months later Prof. Ulichne was Stateside, the War in Vietnam behind him but always a part of him, even today, on his birthday, 48 years later. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

One America News

For more than an hour last week I had no choice but to sit in a place where CNN was on a television in front of me, with the sound turned down.  For the entire time the only news being reported was about ISIS and Islamic terrorism.  Not one other news story was mentioned.  Sometimes there would be three people on the screen discussing it, then other people debating it, and all the while there was alarming footage of terrorists and radicals showing in the background.  Anyone who turned on CNN to see what was going on in the world that day might have thought that there was nothing else going on but that.

Last year I would have found this very annoying, but now things are different. I know now that CNN's news reporting (along with FOX and MSNBC) is nothing short of unconscionable.  I already knew that, but now I have proof.  I've discovered the One America News channel.

"No Bias, No Discussion, No Debate. Just the News"

You would be surprised how many astonishing world events can be fit into a half-hour newscast, when you leave out the "experts" and the politicians that they trot out to "weigh in" on the matters they insist Americans are concerned about.  If this IS all that Americans are concerned about, it's because it is all they're being told.  Whether it's Ebola or a missing plane or an athlete involved in a scandal, the news we are fed as being important is rarely really important to the people who are absorbing it.

But now there's One America News. On this channel you'll find important events from just about every continent, news that Americans would likely have no idea about if all their information is coming from the three tired cable news networks, who put more effort into their graphics and music than they do in their journalism

Ironically, I was watching this network with somebody who said, "Why does this news seem boring?" when One America was reporting something egregious going on in West Africa.  I realized that this person is so used to the powerful music and exciting graphics leading into the news stories that they sensed something was missing, in spite of the fact that they'd seen more exciting footage and news in ten minutes than they would have found in 24 hours of any other cable news network.

Does your cable provider offer One America News?  Unless you've got AT&T Uverse and a few other providers in some places, probably not.  You won't find it on Comcast or Time Warner or DISH, and that's a shame.  But that could change if customers demand it.  So here's what to do, and it will only take a few minutes to help Americans break the habit of spoon-fed propaganda media and let them find out what's really happening on this planet.

Contact DISH:   (888) 656-2461  - Email form - Twitter - Facebook

Contact COMCAST Xfinity:   (800) 934-6489  - Chat with an Agent - Twitter - Facebook

Contact Time Warner: (800) 892-2253  - Online - Twitter - Facebook

I know there are more, but that's a good start.  Let them know you want One America News added to your cable package.  This kind of lobbying has worked in the past and if you're able to watch 1/2 hour of One America, you'll understand what you've been missing.  For now you'll just have to make do with their website