About Jeannie Michael

From out in the country of the Shenandoah Valley to the beaches of Southern California, with quite a few stops along the way, it's been an interesting 60 years or so. Now I'm back in Virginia, living in Hampton Roads but missing the Blue Ridge, and 'retired' from the 9:00 to 5:00. All my life I've wanted to "be a writer" and I'm just now finding out what that means - if I'm going to make a living at it. So here I am, having made the plunge, and finding the water a bit chilly but bracing!

Compromise is not a dirty word

Would all of the liberal conservatives and the conservative liberals please stand up? Thank you. You are the people who will save us from the fools, the fanatics and the fearful. You have a big job ahead of you and unfortunately no clear path to follow to get it done. But you really must search for and find that path, because the one we’re on now is leading to a very dead end.

Every time Mr. Trump makes one of his calculated – or miscalculated – statements that totally contradicts a previous statement, or throws a few of those oh-so-politically incorrect terms around in his tweets or speeches, the liberal media (both mainstream and social ) pounces on it, buffs it up and waves it like a kid with a sparkler. This of course incites the wrath of ‘conservatives’ who wrap it in piles of angry rhetoric to lessen its effect.

What comes out of all that is more anger, more frustration, more digging in of heels on both sides, and not a damn bit of good. We all have to stop reacting like 4-year-olds who haven’t yet learned that the Stones song is true: “You can’t always get what you want” – and certainly not always when you want it.

As Michael Bloomberg said in an opinion piece on August 5, we need to start channeling the “disgust and dismay” that rises like a wave each time something new and horrifying happens. Like a wave it sinks back into the deep, sometimes leaving scattered debris, but not significantly changing the geography of the shoreline.

As a country that was built and thrives on diversity, we the people had better start acting like adults who can think rationally. The issues we face call for empathy, compassion, good will and good sense on both sides. Surely those qualities have not been lost – though they seem to be in very limited supply.

The need to have thoughtful, non-combative discussions about current and future problems to be faced is vital to the survival of democracy as we (used to?) know it. Disagreement is not the same as warfare. Compromise is the solution – or it can be if those on both sides of an issue can listen to each other’s opinion with a genuine desire to solve rather than create problems.

More Coal Mines? Really?

The main argument for coal mines seems to be that they offer jobs to people who would otherwise have no job. If this is really the case, why not train those people for other jobs working on projects to develop sustainable energy sources such as solar, hydro and wind power? The human resources and financing used to keep coal mining operations going would be far better employed in creating these new jobs and offering the qualifications needed to perform them.

Just this month the EPA proposed to change industry regulations to make it easier for coal mines to re-open or continue operations. As the current administration does away with regulations and protections put in place with a view to lessening the damage done by pollution and just by mining activities, we’re heading down a slippery slope and it appears to end in a slag heap.

Tuesday August 21st EPA brought out a proposal for an Affordable Clean Energy Rule. On close scrutiny it appears that under the new ‘rule’ energy will be neither cleaner nor more affordable – in fact the opposite. There are several factors involved, and it’s a real challenge to sort out the language used in this proposal, but it can be explained in very basic and non-technical terms.

The new rule only requires CO2 producers to deal with existing plants as they are, not to implement other, cleaner sources of energy as a way to reduce emissions. It also allows individual states to set their own standards for how much emissions should be reduced, if at all. The Clean Air Act, as it reads now, sets up specific numeric targets for CO2 reduction, but the new Rule does not.

When it comes to analyzing the comparative costs of the existing Clean Power Plan and Affordable Clean Energy the waters get very murky, mainly because the EPA “altered its methodology” – or in plain speak, juggled the numbers – differently. Initially, EPA estimations put the ‘net benefits’ under the CPP at between $26 and $46 billion by the year 2030. Under the ACE rule they estimate benefits of up to $400 million per year.

What is wrong with this picture? If you feel up to it, study the tables provided by RIA (Regulatory Impact Analysis), but the gist of it is that no matter how the numbers are juggled, they add up to more long-term costs and fewer benefits either long or short-term. It’s another move on that downward slope that could ultimately result in a drastic change in our quality of life – and it won’t be a change for the better.

One more thing to note and remember: no change in regulations or suggested quick fix for the coal industry can return coal mines to the status of necessary energy solutions. As it stands now, the cost of mining coal with or without strict regulations makes it unprofitable compared to the options now available in clean, renewable energy sources. This attempted resuscitation of a failing industry is misguided and tragically unfair to those who have been promised a future livelihood in the mines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter to the Editor

Mike Watson made several points in his March 23rd letter in the Richmond Times Dispatch about the plus side of offshore drilling. He says it’s an all-round great thing, with thousands of jobs created, income from industrial spending and additional tax revenues. He also says it’s safe for the people and the environment of Virginia.

Can anyone still not see that we need to get away from fossil fuel and the pollution that inevitably accompanies it? The classic ostrich theory – burying our heads in the sand and hoping a clear and present danger will go away because we don’t look at it – how absurd is that?

Have we also forgotten that oil is not being manufactured by Mother Nature at the rate we’re burning it? If nothing else is obvious, surely the undeniable fact that there is a foreseeable end to the availability of fossil fuels ought to encourage exploration in other areas.

The great benefits Mr. Watson speaks of resulting directly from offshore drilling would also result if the manpower, money and motivation were directed at the production and improvement of alternate, sustainable energy sources. Surely we could put the creativity and determination that go into the oil industry to a better use.

If all that money and technology going into oil and gas R & D were re-directed to wind and solar power, we would be a whole lot closer to energy solutions we – and future generations – can live with.

TechNO

TechNO

Welcome back to the I-hate-technology venting site. Surely I am not the only one who cannot manage a LinkedIn or WordPress site. Here I am with both of them and be dogged if I can do little things like add clips or samples so prospective clients could see them. It’s worse than frustrating, it’s going to remove any chance I have of actually making some money to live on in my old age.

For the zillions of folks in my age range (born before the computer age began, whenever that was) and not raised on an iPhone, the challenge is greater, obviously. But is it just me who feels personally and paralytically dyslexic when it comes to clicking and dragging and linking and hyperlinking and all that jazz? And where can we go to find out this stuff – and I mean learn it, not just watch a video of someone else doing it – is what I need to know.

Anybody got any bright ideas on this subject? Mind you, I’m venting here, and a vent blog isn’t likely to get readers who don’t have a problem with the issues mentioned. So here we go again. If the only readers are those who identify with the problem, how do I reach the ones who can solve the problem? Wow. Good question. If I can answer it we’re getting somewhere.

First let me say that tutorial videos have so far failed to do the job for me. Now that may not be the case for you, and if it’s not, more power to you. But for me, everything in a video happens too fast, and inevitably whoever is doing the presenting assumes I know a whole lot more about which buttons do what and which icons mean what than I do. It took the sales rep at Sprint to point out the little icon that stands for ‘phone’ – not that it helped much, by the way.

Example: when I asked how to access my voicemail on the new Samsung, this guy pushed a button (didn’t mention anything, just pushed it) and LO, here’s the recording that says “enter your passcode” or whatever it says. So I jumped up and down and said ‘What did you just push?” and he pointed to the digit 1 on the keypad. Right. I was supposed to see the little phone (? who draws these things anyway?) and intuit that it meant I could hit that and get voicemail. Who knew? Not me, for sure, but apparently everybody else he ever dealt with.

So really what I’m doing here is whining pathetically, but I have little pride left when it comes to the failure of my brain to grasp what the younger generation(s) seem to know or pick up easily with just no sweat at all. In comparison I am constantly in a mental lather, and it’s more of a pain than anything worked up by sweating in the gym. Rather than rousing up those helpful endorphins, this lather just makes everything more slippery! Anybody who finds all this amusing can . . . help?!

Life and Death

Life and Death

We can resolve the ongoing warfare (might as well face it – that’s what it is) about abortion “rights”. Not that this will come as a surprise to most, but we can resolve just about any of the disagreements among us. All it takes, folks, is the ability to listen, to think, and to control our inborn fears and biases long enough to understand that they are not necessary to our survival.

I think there is a part of the survival instinct that is wired into every living thing plant or animal, and to humans no less than any other creature. Personal survival is probably the strongest instinct we’re born with, though there have been countless times throughout history when that instinct has been overcome or overwhelmed by the wish/need to save another creature from harm/death. These creatures usually get “hero” in their elegies.

So the issue of unborn human babies also comes down to survival. We have the pro-life side – and we’ll use that term only because it’s commonly known as applying to anti-abortionists. The arguments seem a bit muddy, as they waffle around about the exact length of time it takes from the meeting of sperm and egg to the creation of a human being. Wow. Tough one.

If you talk to a far-right, hard-core Bible-thumper you’ll probably hear that nothing should interfere with the growth and development of any fertilized egg. It’s meant to form a living fetus and grow into a fully formed infant and be born into the world and that’s that. From there you’re on your own, kid. That’s what kills me about the antis.
Get those babies born at any price, but after that? Who cares? This is of course not true about some of the pro-lifers, but tell me it’s not true of a whole lot of them. The ones who really don’t think past their own fears and prejudices.

Far from being 100% pro-abortion, I’m in the camp (and I know it’s a large one) of those who still consider that the lines are blurry and should stay that way. This almost has to be a case by case situation. Granted, no human has or should have the power to arbitrate when it comes to an unborn child. There are so many circumstances that sensible and compassionate people feel should allow for abortion if the woman involved so wishes.

There really is no simple answer and we shouldn’t expect one. The deciders, however, should be the woman involved and the doctor who facilitates the operation. A medical person who does not believe in pro-choice should not be required to assist in any way.
The decision should be weighed not in terms of convenience for the living, but in honest concern for the future of the unborn.

I believe that there is some force for ‘good’ in all of us, that we can trust to tell us right from wrong. That has to hold true for everyone or it’s no use, so to carry the notion a little further we have to accept that what seems right to one may not be the same as what seems right to another. We have different cultures, religious beliefs and customs that are ingrained in us from birth, depending on where and to whom we’re born.

Maybe there should be a simple test. Just answer the question: is this the right thing for me to do? And think about it honestly, to the best of your ability. Listen to your heart, if you’ll pardon the dramatics. Or to the voice from somewhere in your mind, whichever feels more real to you. Don’t pay attention to any voices from around the room, just to your own conscience (and we all have one whether we admit it or not.)

Then make your decision. You can’t make the one for somebody else, and no one should try to make yours for you.

Oh People!

Oh People! Have we all forgotten our history – and all the history of all the ages of man and womankind? What is this “make America great again” rhetoric? Is anybody comparing ‘the state of the union’ today with the interior conflict that grew into the War Between the States? Are we going to do that again? And without the faintest hint of a “glorious cause” that both sides claimed? Can we never ever learn from our mistakes?

The hostility and rancor that are tearing this country apart from the inside are not going to lead to any form of greatness, people. Why can’t we recognize that and stop behaving like the most obnoxious of spoiled children, screaming about the wickedness of our opponents and blaming each other for everything we don’t like about the world around us.

Come on, people. Didn’t someone once council us to love one another? Isn’t that the same Someone the Evangelical Christians claim to worship?

Our current POTUS is not the reason for this terrible situation. The Republicans are not the reason. Nor are the Democrats. This truly ‘deplorable’ (look it up, it means “deserving censure or contempt” according to Webster’s.) state of affairs has been simmering since the unCivil war, but sort of went into hiding when we were involved in World Wars and most people felt a need to hang together out of fear of a common enemy that just about everyone could hate, if nothing else.

Since then we’ve had our ups and downs, but today, as I listen to the latest news from NPR, which I still trust not to bring me any fake news if they can help it, about all I can hear is down, down, down.
Obviously the rift between citizens of this country has widened, but it was there already before the current administration took over. It had to be, or Trump could never have been elected with or without help from Russia or anywhere else. He couldn’t have gotten close.

How did this happen? How could we as a nation be so clueless, so apathetic, so unwilling to look for solutions to problems instead of making them worse by trying to pin the responsibiity for those problems on some hobgoblin we like to call “Them”. “ Them” can be any group of people who happen to have skin of a color different than ours, or who happen to believe in the god or gods they were taught by parents and/or culture to believe in, or speaks a different language from the one we grew up learning, or has more money than we do or . . . you name it, we’ll blame it.

There are no easy answers. Does anyone really think that fear and hate (which go hand in hand, of course) can serve to protect us from our (perceived) enemies, or bring us happiness, or help us sleep better at night? Is the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar (or any other currency) the most important factor in our lives?

What has happened to ‘the Land of Hope and Opportunity’? The New World? America the Beautiful?
Has Lady Liberty’s light gone out? Come on, people. We had a chance to build on the best of the old and try for the best of the new and unknown, to reject the values of a society built on ignorance rather than enlightenment. We may still have that chance, but from here it sure looks like we’re blowing it.

Many others are saying the same thing I’m trying to say, and with far more eloquence. Can’t we, as a nation of diversity, make a blessing of that diversity, rather than a curse? The idea that anybody can “make America great again” by ignoring or demonizing the rest of the world is utterly absurd – and terribly sad, not to mention incredibly stupid.

Please, can people of good sense and good will get together and exchange views, talk honestly and thoughtfully about our differnces, and look for solutions to our problems rather than adding to them?
Is that too much to hope for? Oh people, we have to work together or we will almost certainly fall apart.

Personal demons

Doesn’t everybody have at least one? I’m defining ‘personal demon’ as anything that gets in the way of personal progress, in my case severe technophobia, or not playing well with . . . gadgets.  Computers are gadgets. ‘Nuff said?

How do I transfer a word document file to the Portfolio page, short of copy/pasting the entire document, that is?  Since I no longer have the link to the site where it was published, I’ve only got the original of articles I’ve written over the past several years.

Most were published somewhere online, but as I was writing for a ‘content provider’ and never under my own name, and my content provider has recently passed away, any links are likely to be history (or at least I don’t know how to find them).

Any suggestions?  I’d be most grateful!

 

Republicans and Christians and Trump! OH MY!

Sheesh.  I’ve just received a big envelope from the Faith and Freedom Coalition.  Now, I’m sure they’ve got their wires crossed, since I’ve been in a state of horrified disbelief ever since Nov. 2016. Be that as it may, this particular bunch of pages included a survey and a request for a donation to support the current administration, listing its many accomplishments. I almost tossed it in the recycle bin, but on second thought decided to vent some of my disgust.

The first and worst part of this ‘presentation’ from the FFers refers to Christian values, which they seem to think they’ve got a lock on. Personally I don’t think they pay much attention to the actual teachings of Christ. Like too many of us, too much of the time, they pick a phrase or two and bend it nicely to support their convictions (or at least the convictions they claim to have). Anytime anybody says “I’m right and you’re wrong and that’s the end of it” I am disposed to  doubt very seriously anything else they may say.

It seems that one big draw of FFism is the idea of closing our borders . . . to undesirable types such as anyone with pigmentation or ideology that differs from those they claim as their own – which in reality is anyone who disagrees with their (decidedly narrow) viewpoint. They seem to have forgotten or managed somehow to rationalize away the fact that this country was founded on the presumption of equality among people, not “people like us in every way”.  Not to mention the notion that church and state should be separate; that the government operates on the principle of justice for all, and no religion can or should be forced upon anyone.

But alas, I’m off target here.  What I cannot discern is how this ‘moral’ and ‘righteous’ bunch can continue to cheer on a man who has proven himself again and again to be a bully and a liar, to mention only two of his defining characteristics.  If this is what you’re lauding as a great leader, I fear very much for this country and for the rest of the planet, since the U.S.A. has, at least until recently, been considered the greatest nation in the world.  If the FFers think they’re the true Christians, I think they need to go back and check their sources.