Helen of Marlowe's Blog

Summer’s End

Posted in "North Carolina" by helenofmarlowe on October 18, 2015

Active Advisory: Freeze Warning

This is an unwelcome time of year for me. WeatherUnderground tells me to bring all my plants in but there is no room for them all. A front porch, and side deck, and a screened porch on the back, all with assorted vines hanging from pots and wall pockets, and aloe and sansevieria, jade and agave and  various succulents, cherry tomatoes …
backdeck
The dragons wing begonias are still flaunting their coral flowers in the sun, and will not like coming indoors. The geraniums will be sacrificed.

I count eleven avocado trees. We eat lots of avocados, and I toss the pits into water. I don’t go through the elaborate toothpick method, just toss them into water.  Some will sprout and become trees.  None will produce avocados.

Several pots of setcreasea will live indoors, leggy by alive.
Where can we put the papyrus out of reach of Jellico, who loves to chew the papyrus stems but shows no interest in stems of other plants? Can’t put it up high, for the plant is too tall and will almost reach ceiling even sitting on a plant stand. It’s now on the deck, on a high rail, where there is no ceiling to scrape, though it may scrape the sky and puncture the clouds.

I must get to it. Take some last cuttings of basil and parsley.

Let the coleus go.

Tagged with:

The Right to Avoid the Presence of Guns

Posted in "North Carolina" by helenofmarlowe on July 2, 2015

E. J. Dionne says “we need to insist on protecting the rights of Americans who do not want to be anywhere near guns.” Lots of us have been thinking that for a long time, but maybe we needed someone of prominence to articulate it. But, as Dionne goes on to say, as long as the National Rifle association and its allies claim a monopoly on arguments about individual rights, reasonable gun regulations will be ground to death by the Washington Obstruction Machine. We need, as Dionne says, a public service offensive on behalf of the health and safety of all of us.

Dionne quotes Guy Molyneaux , “The evidence is overwhelming that having a gun in your home increases the risks of suicide, domestic violence and fatal accidents, and yet the number one reason given for gun purchases is ‘personal safety.’ We need a public health campaign on the dangers of gun ownership, similar to the successful efforts against smoking and drunk driving.”

The NRA has kept the conversation focused on “rights” – the “rights” of Americans to own guns. No one has succeeded in changing the conversation to talk about the rights of those of us who want to walk and shop and attend meetings in gun-free places. Who will speak for parents who want to take their children to play in a local park, but don’t want their children playing in the presence of guns?  Kids in our country are at least sixteen times more likely to be killed in unintended shootings than in other advanced countries. The NRA positions itself as a defender of freedom, and yet they even curtail the freedom of medical practitioners with their “physician gag rule” which punishes doctors who talk to their patients about gun safety.

The NRA positions itself as a defender of rights, and yet wants to curtail the right of restaurant owners to ban guns from their own restaurants.  They say that owners of bars where alcohol is the main course should not be allowed to restrict guns.   And they get a pass on their Orwellian claim that they are the defenders of individual freedoms.

I hope E.J. Dionne’s recent column in The Washington Post will start a new conversation, one about the rights of people who want to go about their lives without being surrounded by guns. The American conversation about guns does not have to be about what the 2nd Amendment means, it does not have to be about whether our constitution allows you to have a gun, but about whether you should have a gun.

As Molyneux said. “This is not about the government saying you cannot own a handgun. This is about society saying you should not have a gun, especially in a home with children.”

Tagged with:

Major Moral Issue

Posted in "North Carolina", Environment, NC, Planet Care by helenofmarlowe on July 2, 2015

Wrong on many levels

Our local newspaper has recently published articles about industrial chicken farms around Pilot Mountain. These chicken farms are wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to focus on just one.

The Journal stories focus mainly on the financial cost to the nearby homeowners. Families who have lived there for decades, putting their life savings into their property, now have their homes made almost unlivable by “the unbearable stench of death,” putting them into the bind of being unable to enjoy their land and unable to sell it. Surely our legislators can protect taxpaying citizens from what amounts to a take-over of their property by industrial
chicken farms that pollute the land, air and water and destroy the value of area properties.

Even more important, I think, than the injustice done to these individuals is the damage to our children and grandchildren who will have to deal with the environmental devastation caused by CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations). Since animal farms are the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, this is an issue we should all care about. Pollution from chicken farms kills fish and other wildlife and makes people sick.

And this does not even take into account the suffering of these sentient creatures who live their entire lives locked in cages so small they cannot spread their wings.

I believe history will show that the way humans treat other animals is the major moral issue of our times.

Tagged with:

The Pope is With Us

Posted in Environment, global warming by helenofmarlowe on June 18, 2015

This is great fun to watch.   It’s a two-minute video.

http://climatecrocks.com/2015/06/15/pope-goes-rope-a-dope-on-climate-villains/

I don’t know who created the video.

Straw Pollution

Posted in "North Carolina" by helenofmarlowe on April 15, 2015

Reduce your plastic footprint. Say no to plastic straws.

Some time ago I heard of towns in England where plastic drinking straws
are banned.  Curiosity led me to learn more about how straws harm and
kill fish and coastal birds.  Some coastal cities in the US now have
bans against restaurants serving straws.

I don’t suggest banning straws, but I do want to encourage
thoughtfulness.  If you’re not going to use it, decline the offering?

Many of our ecological choices, like driving, are not so easy.  In our city of
Winston-Salem, as in many US cities, you can’t get where you need to go
without a car, and this won’t change until our city pays more attention
to public transportation.  Until then, to give up cars is not within our
reach.

But other ways to reduce our harm to the environment, such as giving up
meat, taking our own re-usable bags when shopping, and taking our own
containers to restaurants for bringing home leftovers, are easy and cost
us nothing.  Many of us have already made those changes.

I’d like to add plastic straws to our consciousness.  I’m not proposing
that we ban plastic straws.  I am proposing that restaurants give straws
only to people who want them.  Instead of including a straw with every
glass of water or tea, why not just ask when bringing the drink – Would
you like a straw? Or provide a straw only when requested.  If customers
want a straw, they can ask and receive.  It’s one small way we can
reduce the damage we’re doing to our (and our children’s) oceans.

Tagged with: ,

Our Jellico is six months old now.

Posted in "North Carolina" by helenofmarlowe on January 6, 2015
Why should I curl up in that silly basket when I can have a beer?

Why should I curl up in that silly basket when I can have a beer?

Jellico

Posted in Winston-Salem by helenofmarlowe on September 2, 2014

We have a brand new kitten. Her name is Jellico.
Where she came up with that name, I’m sure I’ll never know.

Dr. Vorsteg is her master, though he doesn’t tell her so.
It’s she told him, in fact, when we said, One cat, to go.

She jumped upon his shoulder, said, I want to go with youJellico1
Of all the cats in all the cages, she’s the one we knew
would make us laugh and love the life she will contribute to.

We asked her what her name is.
My husband says she whispered it, into his ear, her own true name.
I think the whisper came from T. S. Eliot.

I offered Tabby, Tumbles, Mittens,
Can we name you Chloe ? Bo?
No! she said, I’ll stop my ears! My name is Jellico!                                    Jellico2

Let’s sleep on that, we told our cat
and she curled up and purred.
When morning broke, she knew she’d won
We had to keep our word.

So, tiny kitten, here she is!

.           World,

.                     meet Jellico.

090214

The Money Behind the Climate Debate

Posted in Environment by helenofmarlowe on June 30, 2014

In   Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming , James Hoggan reports and discusses dramatic stories of projects funded by the fossil fuel industry designed to confuse and mislead the public, to mislead reporters and newspaper editors, and to confuse and misinform our elected officials. The deniers want to confuse the public into thinking there is still scientific debate, when in fact, among scientists, there is no debate.  For years, this misinformation campaign has been largely funded by the oil and coal industries, often under the guise of industry front groups and fake grassroots groups.

A few of the cases Hoggan reported were so outrageous that I had to check them out for myself.  For example, there is The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, which describes itself as a small research institute, but is in reality a farm shed. They circulate online a deceptive “scientists’ petition”  signed by 31,000 “scientists” who are either skeptics or deniers of global warming.  The Oregon Institute lists six faculty members, two of whom are dead, and two others who are the founder’s 20-something sons.   Although they identify their six members as “faculty” they have no classrooms and no students.

The  31,000 endorsers of The Oregon Petition give only names, with no contact information or institutional affiliation.  Some of the names are in fact the names of legitimate climate scientists, who, when contacted, had no idea their names were on this petition and demanded their names be removed.  But the petition still circulates with a claim of more than 31,000 scientists.   You can see it  here http://www.oism.org/project/    (I wonder why the few scientists with recognizable names don’t sue.  Maybe they have, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s just too costly to challenge the legal staff of the oil and coal giants.)  The Oregon Institute’s news releases are treated by many newspapers as legitimate contributions to some ongoing debate.

At the bottom of their web page, you’ll see

Note: The Petition Project has no funding from energy industries or other parties with special financial interests in the “global warming” debate. Funding for the project comes entirely from private non-tax deductible donations by interested individuals.

In Climate Cover-Up, Hoggan says that the Petition Project was funded by  the Exxon-backed George C. Marshall Institute.  Much of the deliberate misinformation is promoted by Exxon. (See http://www.ExxonSecrets.org)

Other “scientific” papers published in editorial sections of small-town newspapers are authored by the climate deniers under different names. They instruct their people that, although they are not likely to get published in  major newspapers, if they can get their articles printed in enough small-town papers,  they can reach as many people as they  would in the Washington Post. And speaking of the Post, when George Will wrote a column incorrectly stating facts about global warming (such as, that sea ice is advancing, rather than retreating) critics called for a correction. The Post’s editor Fred Hiatt said that Will may be wrong – he’s not a scientist — but he has a right to voice his opinion. Critics responded that this is not a matter of opinion, it is a fact. But George Will didn’t offer corrections and the Post stood by him.

Hoggan tells stories of climate scientists whose reputations and careers have been damaged by fake “scientists” who not only challenge the climate research, but also defame the characters of the researchers, who often simply don’t have the time or financial resources to fight the legal battles funded by the oil industry. (See Siegfried Frederick Singer, but don’t question his integrity unless you have a bank account to match The Heartland Institute.)

One of the most outrageous of the stories Hoggan tells is the story of  Christopher Walter Monckton, the third Viscount of Brenchely, a British politician affiliated with the UK Independence Party. Though he has a degree in classics and a diploma in journalism, and no further qualifications, according to Hoggan, he is quoted by think tanks as an expert in the field of global warming.  In biographical information supplied to news media, he claims to have received a Nobel Peace Prize for correcting inaccurate information put out by IPCC (actually, it was the IPCC panelists who received the Nobel) and he says  “The right response to the non-problem of global warming is to have the courage to do nothing.”

At least as culpable as the fossil fuel industry in climate disruption is the livestock industry.  Methane from landfills and livestock, and the destruction of rain forest for cattle grazing are at least as much a cause of global warming as fossil fuels.  But Hogan doesn’t talk about the impact of the livestock industry on climate change, and I wonder why. Since we hear so little in “mainstream” media about the environmental damage of the meat industry, I wonder whether there is a similar funded cover-up.  If I had Hoggan’s ear, I would encourage him to discover and tell us why only those of us who care to do our own research are finding the facts on CAFOs and their substantial contribution to global warming.

.

NC House Bill 1191 – Protecting Trees Not Allowed

Posted in "North Carolina" by helenofmarlowe on June 10, 2014

   Generally, Republicans pride themselves on fighting “big government” and keeping government out of local issues. I hope the Republican-controlled NC legislature will get back in touch with its history and tradition, and will not move forward with House Bill 1191, misleadingly named Authority To Adopt Local Ordinances. The bill actually does the opposite of what the name implies.

   Quoting from a column in the June 3 Winston-Salem Journal entitled Locals Should Control Local Environment, “this bill would prevent municipal and county authorities from creating and enforcing reasonable tree ordinances and landscaping standards developed to protect our quality of life.”

   In 2009, a committee of dedicated citizens worked for more than two years to draft recommendations for a tree ordinance for Winston-Salem, an ordinance which would prevent clear-cutting in large new developments, and require developers to plant shade trees in new parking lots. The City-County Planning Board drafted an ordinance based on the committee’s recommendations. The Sierra Club, home builders and realtors, the Neighborhood Alliance, and our City Council all supported our city’s tree ordinance, and the Council’s vote to adopt the ordinance was unanimous.

   And now comes House Bill 1191, stating that no county or city in NC shall adopt or continue in effect any ordinance, rule, regulation, or resolution regulating the removal, replacement or preservation of trees on private property within its jurisdiction.

   The North Carolina Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects sees the folly of this proposed legislation, and warns that this would eliminate the authority that cities and counties now have to enforce tree ordinances, including those involving the protection of trees during construction and the protection of historic and heritage trees from removal.

    Why does our NC General Assembly believe it is their business to prevent communities from passing and enforcing local ordinances?

   Trees in cities absorb stormwater runoff and help with controlling air pollution, as well as reducing heat-island effects in urban areas. Trees cool the city by shading houses and streets, and releasing water vapor into the air through their leaves. Trees reduce energy used for air conditioning, reduce soil erosion, provide canopy for wildlife.

   And many a summertime grocery shopper will choose the supermarket that has shade trees in the parking lot.

Looking for Time-Warner Service

Posted in "North Carolina" by helenofmarlowe on June 9, 2014

Sometimes I think I would vote for any politician, even a teaparty regressive, if they promise to pass a law requiring all businesses to have real people answering telephones.  It would help the economy, provide more jobs, and probably get votes from all except corporate persons.

   My Time Warner cable service has been spotty for years.

   Our internet connection is dropped at least once most days, several times some days. Sometimes for a couple of minutes, sometimes for a half hour or more.

   Years ago – 15 years? – we discovered one problem, after countless tech support people came out to the house and found nothing wrong. Seems when the service was installed, someone mismatched the connectors. So that it was building heat, getting too hot, cutting off, cooling down, getting too hot again …

   That went on for almost a year before one of the technicians discovered it. After that, I wrote a letter to Time-Warner telling them I want six months refund because it took them at least that long to discover that their incorrect installation was causing the constant outages. A woman responded with much sympathy saying they’d give me a one-month credit, but it never happened. Wish I could find that letter, but looking for it seems as pointless as calling their service number.

   And we continued to have outages, so they came out and dug a new cable. Not sure why. That was maybe five years ago. We still have outages.

   So occasionally I actually try to call the customer service number, but I never get to a real person and I don’t get to tech support.

   On Saturday, I thought I’d watch Michelle Obama speak at Maya Angelou’s funeral. Caught a few minutes of it, then the cable went out for about 25 minutes.

   This morning, I thought I would be clever, and instead of punching the number that I want technical support, I punched that I want to buy new services. I thought, yeah, they’ll have that one staffed. And I was right. A pleasant real-live human answered immediately. I told her that I don’t really want to buy new service, I just want to reach technical support, and asked if she can connect me to tech support. She said she can give me a number to call. I asked, can you give me a phone number that someone will answer? Well, no. She gave me the number I’ve been using. Said that’s all she can do.

   So here’s how it goes.

   After pressing one for English, I go through recursive steps of asking what I want. Do you hate speaking to a robot as much as I do? I keep repeating that I want to talk to technical service. The robot says, we are not showing any outages in your area. And then the robot thanks me and assures me that I’m important, and that their mission is to provide good services, and then disconnects.

   AT&T is available here, but I’m told by people who know more than I do that DSL is much slower than cable.  At least in USA — not in Europe.  Also, it’s a nuisance to have to change our email addresses.

   The AT&T web page tells me their highest speed is “Up to 6.0 Mbps” That’s pretty slow, even if we ignore the problem that “up to” could mean three.

   I’m pretty sure Time-Warner has a monopoly in my city. You want cable, you get it from Time-Warner.  So I’ll go back to watching the bird feeder in the back yard, or maybe the one in the front.  Always reliable entertainment there.

   Now, if I can find a snail-mail address to corporate offices, I’ll print this blog and mail it to Time-Warner.

   At least it will add fifty cents to the USPS revenue.

%d bloggers like this: