Wednesday, August 26, 2015

college tuition

This is partly a rant and partly a what the @#$%* is going on post. I was listening to Rush Limbaugh when we were in town yesterday. It's the only time I listen to talk radio. It was a substitute host but he had a guest who discussed what the Republican party in Washington state had done for college students over the objections of the Democratic party.

What he said shocked me enough that I had to go home and double check the basic facts. What he claimed was the Democrats wanted college tuition to be as high as it's been, increasing far faster than inflation, so that they can use the tuition money to fund their pet projects-- like green projects. He said it took Republicans and some fiscally conservative Democrats to get past this road block and do something for the people-- of either party.


He claimed the Democrats in the Legislature and the Governorship wanted the high tuition rates that have made college difficult for many middle class families without taking out big loans. It turned my concept of which party is on the side of the middle class upside down. How could this be and why would liberals favor this kind of unfairness? Aren't the left supposed to be those who want everybody more educated? 

If you had reason to pay attention to the rising costs of college tuition, you would be in shock as I was to see them going up at a far higher rate than inflation and you ask yourself-- why? One reason I heard is that the colleges have gone administration heavy. Administrators often make more money than instructors. Professors, if they want to have tenure, are pushed to get grants from industry, the wealthy, or any kind of research facility who can pay. How good they are as teachers is secondary for how good they are at begging for research funds. It's how we end up with some of these ridiculous studies and everybody is wondering why or how come they needed to research what everyone has taken as common knowledge. Well it's grant money and that mostly goes to the University. 

So what have they been doing with the rising tuition funds, the grant money? Putting it into better instruction? Not so much. It's fancy buildings in some cases, bigger football stadiums in many cases, but also many speciality departments run by-- guess who-- the intellectual elites. So you have not just a Psychology Department but all kinds of secondary issues within psychology with a head for each.  Maybe Democrats are really on the side of the intellectual elites and that doesn't mean John and Mary Doe with their middle class income and four kids who need to get an education.

The cost of a college education has become a national disgrace. There are other countries who fund college for all the students who got good grades. When I went to college, much of the cost of the education was being subsidized by government. Well, it still is but the costs have been allowed to skyrocket so much that not only are the taxpayers but the students paying a high price for what is needed but has been going hog-wild.  And to get a loan, the students have to promise to not go bankrupt, which means they cannot escape the high interest and loan costs that are far more by the time they get a job than they originally borrowed. This is a national disgrace but worse-- short sighted. It leaves the coming generation without a lot of good options. Remember, they will be the ones running things someday. Do we want to close the middle class out of that option? Or have we simply not paid enough attention to what was happening until we have an offspring heading there.

I am impressed by Washington to lower the tuition in their universities by 20% and in their community colleges by 5%. I hope Oregon competitively finds it necessary to follow suit and then the other universities. It's not right that the only way kids can afford to go to college is to join the military, but for a society gung-ho for more wars, I guess it makes sense-- in a sick sort of way.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Fires




 Yellowstone National Park some years back, during one of the fire seasons
From what I have been reading, some are blaming the catastrophic wildfires in the West this year to environmentalists. I don't know if that idea originated with a radio pundit or just those who resent any environmentalism, but I thought I’d put out a little history on wildfires. 

They were factors in nature long before men even got here. They would rage across the land with only weather eventually to stop them. Nature is good at starting fires with those dry thunderstorms. Native Americans also used fire to clear land as heavy timber wasn’t as good for their survival needs. If you read much about Lewis and Clark, they nearly starved coming through miles and miles of thick forest where nothing edible was to be found.

I have personal experiences with fire. I grew up in the Columbia River Gorge and our farm property went up into a wilderness made famous as the Yacolt Burn. There was more than one Yacolt Burn but the most well-known, with the greatest loss of life, was in 1901-- http://www.lewisriver.com/yacolt/burn/
 
A later Yacolt Burn was a factor in my life. I was nine years old when fire came down out of the hills to threaten our farmland and home. I am not sure how that one started, but I remember going to sleep at night with the glow of red on the horizon. I left to catch the school bus, unsure if there’d be a home when I returned. My father and the other neighbor men started a backfire to protect their land. The firefighters at that time were only trying to protect homes. The backfire turned the fire back into the wilderness. The authorities were angry at the men. Backfires can be risky. Men have to know how to set them or they can make it all worse—but the men did know, and it saved our home, barns, and those of our neighbors. My parents had some timber burned but were able to sell those that were salvageable (my brother made good money by opening our farm gate for the loggers to go through without having to get out of their trucks—jealous? A bit). 

The other fire from my childhood was the Tillamook Burn. As with the Yacolt Burn, there were more than one of them. We would drive to the Coast through the burned out forests. It was great for stirring the imagination of children—until the hills were replanted and soon you’d not know it had happened.

I’ve also been in Montana during fire seasons, seen fires on the hillsides and the air so heavy with smoke that you couldn’t breathe without it making you sick. I got some of the most beautiful photos ever in Yellowstone one year from that smoke and the glow. Some of the forests there have naturally reseeded themselves. Some still are bleak many years later due to the fierceness of the heat. Arizona has also had its share of terrible fires. A big one roared out of the hills and took Zane Grey’s historic cabin up on the Mogollon Rim country—which was a big loss to someone like me who had been there twice but hoped to go again someday.

Environmental practices can lead to less fire risk by thinning forests and doing selective burns. Clearing out brush around homes (no, it’s not as pretty), not having cedar shingled roofs (we gave up our beloved shingles for that reason), and cutting down trees that are too close to the dwellings can help reduce risk. In the end though, a catastrophic blaze will overpower all in its way. 

We’ve spent a lot of money and time this year being sure we have irrigated our farmland as much as we can although our cattle graze on leased, tinder dry land, and we can’t do anything about that. Every time I smell smoke, I go outside to look at the horizon in all directions. A few times, it’s been there. Several small fires have started this year but the firefighters have gotten on them right away. Logging and farm equipment can start fires even with all the precautions responsible users take. Once we had to take some of our possessions into town because we were on one of the advance warning categories-- incidentally, what I wanted protected were photos and irreplaceable Native American pottery and rugs. 

Late summer and early fall is when country dwellers worry. What might happen here or in any rural location is not an event brought on by an ideology. Sometimes, it’s manmade. Often it’s nature, and although many humans want to think we are beyond nature—we’re not.

Fighting these fires is the most dangerous job I can imagine as they are unpredictable, winds change their direction, but they create their own winds. When those elements combine with dry thunderstorms, there is often no protecting the wildlife, livestock, humans, or structures in their path.  It would be nice if there were pat answers as to how to stop them and the kinds of catastrophe we are seeing this year. I don’t believe there is.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

debating

Reading the aftermath of the Republican debate, a debate I watched, has been informative about Republican politics as much as the candidates. It's easy now to tell which righties are dictated to by the oligarchs. RedState just disinvited Trump from a forum that is supposed to be what righties care about with Erikson at its head. It pretty well says that the forum and RedState are owned. Who else is? So far not Limbaugh but time will tell on him too. They all depend on advertising. Can they really stand against their big money owners? Seems unlikely.

My impression from the debate is nine of the candidates and probably all of the ones from the earlier debate, had their talking points down firmly. They had been told what they better say if they want big donations. They said it-- one right after another. Oh, a few like Kasich tempered it but the view is the same--
Build a wall  across southern border  √
do not pay for wall across southern border   √
do not negotiate with Iran to block their acquiring nukes  √
go to war with Iran   √
do not pay for war with Iran   √
back into war in Iraq and wherever else it is profitable for industry here  √
less government (except for wars or personal choices)  √
i.e. no regulations for environment or campaign finances    √
but regulate abortion and make personhood law of land  √
criminalize abortion     √
gay marriage is bad, amendment banning would be good (but we love our families )  √
health care for everyone is bad    √
unless it's us or our families  √
Obama is bad    √
Hillary is worse  √

I could go on, but you get the gist. There is not one possible Republican I could vote for based purely on the issues. I listened to them for two hours and just find it amazing that half the country wants what they are promising which is less personal freedom, less concern for the poor, no help with health care, and more wars. 

And then there is Trump. There was no doubt in my mind that the demand had gone out to Fox that they should take him out. While they did not ask Jeb Bush about his own questionable business dealings, those were front and center where it came to Trump. Jeb Bush sold out to lobbyists to get his fortune = good. The fact that Trump slyly used our own laws (laws he himself pointed out aren't good) = bad. 

Limbaugh had said ahead of this debate that he'd been told the oligarchs had ordered the candidates to take Trump out. He said he wondered if they'd dare do it. Well, they didn't, but the Foxies did or tried to. They did it with not asking him policy questions but instead went for the personal. They had the power, and they used it by taking up 1/3 of the two hours with their pointed questions where they pontificated. IF I had forgotten how much I dislike Fox, that debate would have reminded me. I just saw my last Republican debate, but am glad I watched this one. Seeing more would be like hitting myself over the head with a hammer.

There was not one man on that stage (or woman earlier, given what I know about Fiorina) that I could vote for and that includes Trump but not for the reasons the Foxies tried to convince the American people. It's his thin skin. That would cause a LOT of grief in a President. Look at how Obama is constantly attacked. IF he felt he had to attack back, get revenge, how would that work? Thin skin might be fine in a property developer, casino owner, multi-billionaire, or entertainer-- not good at all in a man with his finger on the button. I don't think Trump would go to war with bombs over that thin skin, but it makes him easy to manipulate. 

I also do not believe any CEO type would make a good President. I know it sounds good-- they made their fortune and can make ours. But they are used to issuing orders, not compromising. We have too little ability right now of the right and left to work together for the good of the nation. There'd be less with a Trump in the power seat.

But he was right to not promise to support any Republican who gets the nomination. How could he if he thinks he might run as an independent? I think that question is when they decided to go for blood with him. If he had agreed, the questions he'd have gotten might've been very different.

Now for righties-- here's the dilemma. Do they support Fox in this as Fox is out to get Trump due to the ones who run it? Do righties give up their favorite station for its bashing of the left and Obama? Because Trump is on his own now with only one path to the White House-- as an independent, he might hang around for awhile in the Republican primaries; but if the Fox viewers are as brainwashed as many of us believe they are, he can't get the nomination. They are the voters and will be dictated to as much as the commentators Thursday night were. It would be interesting.

As for me, I'll be voting Democrat and just hope for the best as to who that will be. It's not like I am happy right now either.


Monday, June 01, 2015

sometimes a rant doesn't help

This is one of those issues that makes me so mad I can barely type. When a young man is revealed to have been sexually abusing his sisters and another girl who is not identified--who is the victim? In the Christian community, with the rally round the cross mentality that some of them have, it is the Duggar family and the perpetrator himself. This should never have been brought forth goes the argument. It's all to persecute Christians is another. Why mention it now goes yet another!

I am livid, and if you have not been following what happened but are concerned how we as a nation address sexual molestation of children, check out the following links for what happened in Arkansas and most likely a host of other states-- most especially the cover-up that is currently ongoing. 

Yes, I know it's unpleasant and I know you would rather not know, but this is not something that only happens in families you don't know. The consequences, from what happened there and the cover-up, are long lasting. It's not over for that family-- not remotely; and if our nation doesn't get its act together on the abuse of children, it's not over for us either!


My personal rage on this comes from experience as to the aftermath of such abuse. Two of them I know the adult consequences on the victim but not whether the molesters ever felt guilt. (I do know they never faced a criminal penalty as has been the case with Josh Duggar.) One victim was my cousin, the second a girl in our church community. My third personal experience involved a boy as the victim-- and in that case, there was a criminal penalty, but it wasn't a lot. The point was it was something. 

When I spoke my mind on this in Facebook where a Christian had put out a link indicating this should not be brought out now as it only hurts the girls (another liberal christian hating plot that it is), I got unfriended. I'm fine with that as I don't want friends who defend Christianity no matter what it does. There is plenty in the Duggar case to see that happening from the time the molestations happened right up until today.

Bad enough what the man did when he was a teen-ager to his innocent sisters over a two year span, but to say that his time in a youth camp run by a man* (who has been accused of sexual harassment of women) was a sufficient penalty is beyond infuriating. To say that Jesus forgave Duggar and that means it's over pretty well says to Christians they are above the law-- Say you are forgiven and everyone else should let it go because this kind of Christian only answers to an imaginary god with an imaginary set of rules that he can break anytime he wants and pray for forgiveness.

What I say is that the consequences to the girls Duggar molested are not yet finished. My cousin died of a heart attack before she reached 60 after never having married or had children. She was so sweet and innocent and her (and my) cousin molested her regularly. I never knew this until many years later when my brother told me what he had known back then. No criminal penalty for that cousin and maybe no guilt for all I know. He was always hitting on me too but he didn't take it to the molestation level but then I was older and the cousin he misused was younger.

The other case in our country community was a girl who revealed that her brother had been molesting her. Again it didn't go to criminal charges and not sure what the pastor did-- whether he even talked to the young man. She also died way way ahead of her expected lifetime.

It is said that 25% of women have been sexually abused to some level. I won't go on with the stories I know of how that manifests itself, let's just leave it that it does and in many ways.

So the Christian community wants this forgotten because it's something against them. They then are part of the cover-up to avoid embarrassment and damn to laws of the land or moral behavior. Just ask for forgiveness from Christ. He's guaranteed to give it! 

If anybody here watches the Duggars' show, stop right now. It should be taken off the air. Those parents are criminal in the way they promoted themselves as such great Christians while hiding a secret like that. I admit I never have seen the program and found it disgusting since I heard about it. Any family that gets itself fame for having that many children and then using those children to make money does not deserve to be admired for their pious talk. 

But if talk is all you understand about what Christianity is supposed to be about... well, maybe you need to get to know some real followers of Christ. There are a few still around-- but danged few. Check out the Book of Revelations describing various church communities. It defines what I see in much of today's Christian communities. The sad part is, when some defend people like the Duggars, and what they did, they are not followers of who they think... 

The louder the piety is shouted, the more likely it's hiding something.

The worst part about what those pious frauds are trying to hide and bury is what it is doing to innocent children!


* I know something about Bill Gothard mentioned in the above link. Many years ago, we went to his Basic Youth programs when they were in Portland. They were important in our lives when we did. It sounded so good to think that Christianity worked as he claimed. We wanted to believe it and went several times to what amounts to a week-long series of lectures. He was charismatic and convincing. 


Eventually, I lost faith in his authenticity. but if I had not, this would have totally done it. He accepted Josh Duggar into his youth camp as a way to atone for what he had done. Four months in the camp and that was that. Why did he not report him to the authorities? I know the only possible answer-- because Gothard doesn't see legal laws as of importance-- it's only about his interpretation of how God's laws work out-- you know like live a 'good' life, follow the rules, and pray for a car, it'll be yours... I still cannot believe I tried to believe in such but I will say having been on the inside of this way of thinking, it makes it easier for me to speak about it today. 

When I saw his name connected to this story, I felt both irony and disappointment. Not surprise though and that alone is not something to make me happy at all.




Wednesday, May 20, 2015

turning it around

I am soooooo down on media and for someone like me who used to be a news junkie, that is saying a lot. But little by little media has turned into an agenda driven machine-- pick your station for your agenda.

The Waco gang war is a good example of why a lot of Americans don't want to watch any of the news programs. 


Because I don't watch much TV right now, I didn't know how the left was trying to use this to again rile up their base. I had no idea anybody would think that what happened between those bikers were anything like what happened in Baltimore and Ferguson. Some wanted to claim it had to do with how white cops see blacks or other whites and how they treat them differently but... based on Waco??? Come on.

How ignorant is the left or right wing media-- each only pushing their goals and using whatever happens to do it! What I think is it's not how ignorant, because maybe they aren't, but rather how desperate are they to make an issue out of whatever will suit their base. What they are evidently seeking is more racial resentment-- like there isn't enough now?

If you are on the road a lot, you have had your own experiences with biker gangs. Regularly they pass by our farm on the highway as this is one of the routes that bikers love to travel. Most are bankers or mechanics and blasting by on their Harleys for a feeling of freedom. It's not always the case and if you are familiar with the biker world, you don't ever wonder which is which.

One of the more interesting times we saw a lot of bikers on the road was coming back from Massachusetts and realizing there were a lot of bikers on the road. What we didn't realize is Sturgis was about to happen which is the kind of biker rally that draws in all types from retired executives to the real deal. They all descend on Sturgis for one of those big events. There are others but it's the big one. When you aren't doing something that irritates a real biker gang, they can be quite friendly and nice.

What went wrong in Waco was evidently a turf war. Gang wars actually are a lot of the killings in America but most are a shooting here or there and not all connected to motorcycles. Texas though evidently has been having some major gang disagreements for who controls what territory and that led to Waco. It had NOTHING to do with what happened in Ferguson or Baltimore for how the police handled it. They came there also with their gear ready for anything and some of the bikers were shooting at them as they shot back.

What the country does about such things is one of those places I have no answer. My answer though to a media gone amok is turn it off. Get news from newspapers and journalism sites. Go to places like VICE, John Oliver or some of the documentaries. For awhile skip the magazine sites. When they figure out that turning everything into a partisan rumble is not profiting them, they'll change what they do. Profiting themselves is all that really matters to them in the end!