Helen of Marlowe's Blog

Epilogue to AT&T

Posted in "North Carolina" by helenofmarlowe on October 12, 2019

Epilogue:
A few weeks ago AT&T sent my final bill.
It was 93 cents.
I pay bills on line, and my bank would not write a check for less than a dollar.
So I sent them a dollar and forgot about it. Actually, I wondered if they would send seven cents in the mail, but didn’t really think they would.
Today, we went to our mailbox and found an envelope from AT&T.
It’s a pre-paid Visa credit card.
It is pre-loaded with seven cents.
We must call a number to activate the card, and then decide how to spend our seven cents.

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Don’t do business with AT&T

Posted in "North Carolina", corporatocracy by helenofmarlowe on August 9, 2019

I’ve been trying, off and on for days, to cancel my landline.

Today, I’ve been on hold for 1 hour, 16 minutes, 08 seconds.

They tell me to continue holding, or use att.com/myattapp

 

After you tell them what you want – to cancel your service, here is what you get

 

ScreenshotATTLots of options for why you should change your mind, but nothing – nothing – to actually cancel.

The phone number they give is not answered.   Yesterday, I stayed on hold until my battery ran out.

Don’t do business with AT&T unless you’re sure you’ll want to keep your account for the rest of your life, because you won’t be able to cancel it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Losing the Earth

Posted in "North Carolina", Ecology, Environment, Planet Care, Winston-Salem by helenofmarlowe on August 16, 2018

Have you read the NYTimes Sunday magazine, “Losing Earth” by Nathaniel Rich, Sunday, August 1?
It is very long but worth reading. It begins, “Thirty years ago, we had a chance to save the planet.” But, he says,to save life on this earth now will take a revolution, “But in order to become a revolutionary, you need first to suffer.”
The glaciers, he says, are gone. “We are now looking at the tipping of the first domino piece — glaciers — in a complex system of domino pieces, natural systems on earth. And we are losing options for action. It is too late to save the glaciers.”

Rich’s criticism of us, all of us, is distressing. He says, “We know that if we don’t act to reduce emissions, we risk the collapse of civilization. We also know that, without a gargantuan intervention, whatever happens will be worse for our children, worse yet for their children and even worse still for their children’s children, whose lives, our actions have demonstrated, mean nothing to us. Could it have been any other way?”

That’s harsh, and distressing, but what can we say in the face of the evidence.
A harsh indictment of us, and we as a species will be found guilty.

Perhaps there would still be time if nations stopped carbon emissions, stopped cutting forests, required canopy trees in all large parking lots, required green roofs on new construction, banned factory farming of cows, chickens, and hogs, and banned single-use plastics, but they won’t, and there’s not much of that that we as individuals can control. Not much, but some.

Some of these things we can do without our indifferent government leaders. We can encourage our local councils to support
green roofs and to require trees in parking lots, and to provide city property for community gardens. We can stop eating
factory farmed animals and fish and stop using single-use plastic bags and drinking straws. Take your one carry-out containers
to restaurants for bringing leftovers home.

Friends, this is important. Turning out your lights and taking shorter showers is not going to do it.

The Perspective of Time

Posted in Literature, poetry by helenofmarlowe on August 4, 2017

If I could go back in time
and speak to my teenage self,
I thought last night,
I would say to her
When you are 70,
You will say happiness is
lying half asleep at 5:00 a.m.
listening to soft, gentle
snoring on your left,
listening to a woodthrush in the distant woods
and hearing the early songs of wrens
and cardinals and towhees through four open windows
on your right,
with a yellow cat curled up at your feet.

Helen Etters
3/4/17
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Living in the Anthropocene

Posted in Ecology, Environment by helenofmarlowe on July 5, 2017

We’ve all heard the oft-quoted aphorism that if you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain.

I’ve never subscribed to that stance.

But there is a parallel philosophy that is harder to dismiss.

If we decry the hunger of 1 million people on this planet, and the trashing of the oceans and the destruction of the rain forests, the extinction of species and the wasting of water – and yet we choose to participate in the causes, do we have the right to decry? Or must we say, Well, I sort of care, a little bit, but not much – not enough to give up some of the pleasures I’m accustomed to.

I have this on my mind because a friend sent me a link to a November 10 New York Times article,

Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene, by Roy Scranton.
A brief excerpt:

The biggest problem climate change poses isn’t how the Department of Defense should plan for resource wars, or how we should put up sea walls to protect Alphabet City, or when we should evacuate Hoboken. It won’t be addressed by buying a Prius, signing a treaty, or turning off the air-conditioning. The biggest problem we face is a philosophical one: understanding that this civilization is  already dead.

Our leaders ignored the warnings while there was still time.

And still, most of us are choosing, not from necessity but because we like the taste of other animals, to continue unraveling the web of life on this planet that we will leave to our children and grandchildren.

We know that greenhouse gasses accumulate in the atmosphere and remain there for centuries as they are slowly absorbed by plants and oceans, and yet we continue the destruction of the rain forest, the lungs of the planet.

There is much information about the connections between eating meat and climate change, some of it published by the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office. Here is a 4-minute video that the UU UNO makes available on its website.

http://climate.uu-uno.org/topics/view/524759010cf264abcd860045/#resources

It’s  taken from this  slightly longer (12 minute) video.

Some of the points made in this video (video number 5 in the list of resources):

While we are being encouraged to change our lightbulbs and drive hybrid cars, the united nations found that raising animals for human food contributes more to global warming than all the planes, cars, and trucks on the planet combined. Forty % more.

You can leave your shower running for 24 hours a day every day of the year and you would still not waste as much water as when you include meat in your diet.

Many of us recycle paper because we want to save trees. But the number one reason for cutting down trees, including the destruction of the rain forest, is to clear land for grazing meat animals and growing corn to feed to animals that we will slaughter and eat.

40,000 people on this planet starve to death every day! This does not happen because there is not enough food for everyone – this happens because, while people are starving, we are wasting enormous amounts of food to feed cows, pigs, chickens and other animals so that we can satisfy our desire (not need) for meat.

Today, we look back on behaviors of humans in previous centuries and wonder how they could participate in some of the cruel practices common to the culture in early American history.

Now, we persistently put our frivolous desires above the indisputable needs and rights of many who go hungry while we support a meat industry that metes out to us vastly more of the world’s resources than is our just portion.

As we continue to eat animals even knowing that a vegetarian diet is healthier, and knowing that factory farming is the greatest contributor to water pollution and climate change, and knowing the pain and suffering inflicted on other sentient beings who want to live, I believe history will judge us harshly.

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What would we have done?

Posted in Government, Politics by helenofmarlowe on July 2, 2017

At our UU forum this morning, the topic was Current Events, and we
were led in our excellent discussion by a member who is a US attorney. We
didn’t spend most of our time talking about our president who
tweets up storms almost daily, but that topic did take some of
our time. And I have a question I’d like to toss out to
anyone who will give thought to this question:
What would we, as a nation, have done, if President Obama had
talked about women (and others) the way Trump does?
I constantly hear people say, of Trump’s behavior, that this is
not acceptable. And I think, yes, apparently, it is acceptable,
because we are accepting it.  So I ask, if President Obama had
said these things, what would we have done? My reason for
asking is because I say, whatever it is that we would have done,
let’s do it.
I don’t want hyperbolic answers such as “shoot him” and I will
delete any such, but I want to think about what we, officially, as a nation,
would have done.
What would we have done?

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Democracy in North Carolina

Posted in "North Carolina", Government, NC by helenofmarlowe on December 26, 2016


Why did NC bother to hold an election?

We, the people of NC, voted for Roy Cooper, a Democrat, to be our next Governor.
In response, our legislators called emergency session and hurriedly, without
public discussion, passed bills that undermine the will of the voters.
The people voted for a Democrat to replace a Republican on the NC Supreme Court,
so the legislation will require constitutional challenges, now, to go to the
Republican majority Court of Appeals before a case can be heard by the NC Supreme court, where our votes created a Democratic majority. The legislators stripped our new governor of the power to appoint a majority to the state Board of Elections.
They stripped the governor of his ability to name members of the boards of state universities. They reduced the number of state employees the governor can appoint from 1,500, under McCrory, to 425 for Governor Cooper, and they will require Cooper’s appointments to agencies to be approved by legislators.
A Democrat won the office of Governor, so the Republican legislators will stop him, to the extent possible, from being able to perform the duties of the office he was elected to.
Andrew Reynolds, a Professor of Political Science at the UNC Chapel Hill and an expert on democracy and democratic systems, says that NC can no longer be considered a democracy.
This institutional brinksmanship in NC is being discussed on national news, the entire nation is looking at how we are losing our democracy in NC, and we must, in all seriousness, ask whether our elections matter and whether we want our democratic rule of law to continue to be eroded.

Think it doesn’t matter who is president?

Posted in "North Carolina", Ecology, Environment, Politics by helenofmarlowe on October 7, 2016

I have heard intelligent people in recent weeks say that it doesn’t matter who the president is. It troubles me. I want to say to them, imagine if Al Gore had actually taken the White House when he won at least the popular vote and maybe the electoral vote. Do you think the US would have gone to war in Iraq? Think about all the repercussions of that misguided decision to take our country to war.

And climate change: If Gore had taken his place in the White House, we would be much further down the path to dealing with climate change, which is surely the most urgent issue confronting our world.

One of our candidates has said that climate change is a Chinese hoax. He has said that he will get rid of the EPA. EPA doesn’t just invent regulations, it enforces laws passed by congress. (He has also said he’d tear up the Paris climate agreement. Perhaps he doesn’t understand that he can’t do that, but he can take our country out of it.)

As The Guardian says, “Scrapping the EPA … would cause an unravelling of basic protections of air and water. …Trump is demagoguing. It plays to the far-right base but it would have enormous consequences for people’s health.”

And, from The Washington Post,

But more prosaic powers also present grave dangers. U.S. prosecutors have enormous discretion to investigate, or not investigate, and Mr. Trump would appoint his attorney general and a raft of new U.S. attorneys. These have to be confirmed by the Senate; but if you take comfort in that, simply imagine a Gov. Chris “Bridgegate” Christie at the Justice Department, or a Newt Gingrich — who, in Mr. Trump’s thrall, has advocated expelling any American who believes in sharia law — as homeland security secretary.

If Mr. Trump wanted to wield the IRS against that Chicago family; if he tried to use U.S. diplomats to help his hotel business in Russia or Azerbaijan; if he barred disfavored reporters from the White House; if he ignored a judge who told him, say, that immigrants had to be given hearings before being deported — what recourse would Americans have?

We should take comfort in the polls which show Trump unlikely to win. But then,look at the surprising Brexit vote, and the surprising Colombian vote against the peace agreement. Polls can make very very wrong predictions.

Think it doesn’t matter who is president? I go back to Al Gore, and the reminder that we would not have had the war with Iraq, and we would be working seriously on climate change, if the candidate who won the people’s vote had taken his place in the White House.

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Empirical Data on the Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

Posted in "North Carolina" by helenofmarlowe on September 23, 2016

Resources on the Benefits of a Plant-Based (Vegan) Diet I. American Dietetic Association, “Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets” “It is the position of the American Diete…

Source: Empirical Data on the Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

Armed America

Posted in "North Carolina" by helenofmarlowe on July 25, 2016

Published in Winston-Salem Journal, Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Readers’ Forum: Sunday letters

Correspondent of the week

HELEN ETTERS, Winston-Salem

Armed America

Protests over police brutality? Mass killings? This is America.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that guns kill 30,000Americans per year. Less than 3 percent of these are self-defense.

This is America. This does not happen in Canada or Australia or Spain or any other industrialized nation. This is America! In other countries, police approach a car or a suspect and don’t have to wonder whether this person is carrying a gun. They assume the citizen is not, and that is almost always correct. In America, police approach a car or a suspect and they assume the person they are stopping, for perhaps a broken turn signal, is likely carrying a gun.

They have to fear for their lives every time they stop someone for speeding, and when they expect that the citizen probably has a gun, they are more likely to use their own. When our own NC state legislators prevent the public from seeing the police-cam recordings, they only make matters worse.

As Ronald Reagan said in May, 1967, “There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.”

If we don’t like this armed America, if we want to protect our police officers, if we want a safe country, then we have to get rid of the guns. Get rid of the guns.

Helen Etters
Winston-Salem
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