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A matter of alternative fact

In history, Media, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized, World News on January 30, 2017 at 9:24 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOThere has been a great deal of discussion in the media of late about “facts” and the incomprehensible notion of “alternative facts.” Considering such dialogue, it’s only fitting to review what constitutes a “fact” and if, indeed, there can be any possibility an alternative to any fact. Confused yet? We’re just getting started.

First, we need to define the word, “fact.” What does it mean? Where does it come from? Is a fact out of context still a fact? Is a fact the same thing as the truth?

Well, according to merriam-webster.com, the definition of the word “fact” is listed as follows.  Pronounced, “fakt,” it is a noun meaning: 1. A thing done 2. Archaic 3. The quality of being actual 4. Something that has actual existence or an actual occurrence and 5. A piece of information presented as having objective reality. OK, that’s a lot of material, so let’s focus on definitions 4 and 5 from our list.

Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway spins the "alternative facts" from the White House.  Photo courtesy NBC News

Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway spins the “alternative facts” from the White House. Photo courtesy NBC News

Starting with number 4, “Something that has actual existence or an actual occurrence,” we might best illustrate this in the following phrases. “It is a fact that water is vital to life,” or “prove the fact of damage to the house after the storm.”
If you stop watering your plants, they die. Stop drinking water and you die too. These notions are “facts” because we know them to be impartial. If a house is destroyed by a storm, the wreckage is visual and cannot be disputed. These things are all “facts.”

Moving on to definition number 5, “A piece of information presented as having objective reality,” the key word to focus on is, “objective.” To be objective something must be taken impartially and without bias.

For example, two people could easily agree on the color of a house, in this case without worrying about a specific shade. Bob says the house is green. Mary says the house is green. Bob and Mary aren’t looking at the location, style or anything else that may prejudice their judgment of the structure, only that it is green. That’s what it means to be objective. Therefore, for information to be factual, it must be viewed objectively.

Somewhat confusing, however, is that a fact can be argued for its validity of context, but not as to whether it is a fact. A great example of this is the idea of global warming.

Politically, there’s a good deal of disagreement between liberals and conservatives about this concept. Scientists have factual evidence that the earth is, “in fact,” growing hotter, over all. But the context of the facts is where the disagreement lies.

Is the fact of global warming a direct result of man’s poor energy choices and pollution? Or, is global warming the natural result of the planet’s life cycle and nothing we do will have the slightest effect one way or another? This is where the argument takes the facts and places them in opposing context.

Where does “truth” come into all of this? Most people make decisions about politics, religion, and just about every other emotionally-charged concept, based on what they believe to be the truth, with little thought to what might be factual. That’s where this all gets a bit murky.

Indiana Jones may have offered the best explanation of this idea, from a scientific perspective. In “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” he said to his class, “Archaeology is the search for ‘fact,’ not ‘truth.’ If it’s truth you’re interested in, (the) philosophy class is right down the hall.”

What he meant was that in something like philosophy, as in religion and politics, “truth” is largely dependent on your point of view (a subjective belief). While archaeology, and other sciences – physics, meteorology, chemistry, etc. – are based on objective, factual study, unemotional and unbiased.

What all of this objectively leads to is the conclusion that a “fact” cannot have an alternative – it either exists or it doesn’t. It’s logical then to deduce that an ‘alternative fact’ can likely be only one other thing – a lie.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com.

 

 

 

 

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Hypocrisy and rants of the Hollywood left

In National News, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized, World News on January 18, 2017 at 10:14 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

When actor Meryl Streep took the stage to accept her Golden Globe award on January 9, she did something that has become a bad habit among the Hollywood elite. Instead of a sincere speech giving thanks for the honor, Streep chose to use the network TV time, and captive audience, to lash out in a thinly vailed diatribe against president-elect Donald Trump.

Meryl Streep and her entertainment cohorts have a right to voice an opinion. But the awards show is not the proper venue in which to vent. Grandstanding to whine about the inequities of life because you have a viable platform to your advantage is exactly what the liberal left is always complaining about.

img_6238I need to be clear, I don’t think much of Streep, and I’m sure she could care less about my opinion. But I believe most of her type are hypocritical millionaires who are incredibly overpaid to pretend for a living.

Primarily a group of babied, narcissists who live in multi-million-dollar mansions, and surrounded by personal assistants, yes men, and “handlers,” these people are far more out of touch with reality than any of the politicians the spend so much time attacking in the media. Which brings me to the second point of this piece – why do Americans put so much value in the opinions of these people in the first place?

Rather than listen to the thinking minds of the day, whether academic or political, or even the few top-notch journalists that are out there, the politically apathetic tend to absorb the opinion of actors and celebrities. It makes no sense to me. They have no qualifications to offer any such opinions but “act”- pun intended – as if they have the pulse of the socioeconomic state.

I have a great deal of respect for those I have worked with in the entertainment industry over the years. I’ve known incredibly successful and famous people as well as those who are just getting by.

Most of them do their best to entertain, earn their pay, and move on to the next project without feeling the need to stump for a political cause. That’s not to say being public about your politics is bad, it’s just that there is a proper time and place to voice your opinion.

The truth of politics, religion, even science, is that people hear what they want to hear and repeat what they “believe” to be the facts – or the facts according to personal perception. The challenge is altering that perception so that it’s more in line with the facts than with the opinions of someone else.

To me, hijacking the stage at an awards show is very much like someone who rants at their job all day about politics to whoever will listen. Same goes for religion, or whatever else might not be the best conversation in a professional setting.

Make no mistake, I believe Trump is a bad move for our country. But I must point out that back when Barack Obama was elected, anyone who voiced a negative word against him was immediately labeled (by the liberal left) unpatriotic, or worse yet, a racist.

It’s obvious that the media is firmly against Trump and his buddies. He is unlikely to ever get a fair treatment by the press – nor is he going to give them any latitude without flashback for all the negative coverage. It’s not a press holding power accountable – they just don’t like him.

Trump doesn’t seem to care what the media says. The Donald’s take more like the schoolyard bully who gets away with shoving some kid to the ground and then, thumbs in ears and fingers up like rocking antlers, sticks out his tongue in an exhibit of, “Nanny, nanny boo boo.”

Streep’s rant – however graciously delivered it may have been – was inappropriate for the setting. Much in the way that I don’t want to listen to a musician’s politics when I’ve paid to attend a concert. Save it for the op-ed pages or write your memories or something, but if I’d wanted to hear a political speech, I’d have tuned into C-SPAN instead of the Golden Globes.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines can be seen online and on WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton program in video form. Visit gerydeer.com for more.

The invisible side of caregiving.

In Children and Family, finances, Health, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on January 10, 2017 at 9:32 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

12191385_10153464406329342_2088873762632508759_oWhen you think of the term “caregiver,” you might have the image in your head of the dutiful family member looking out for an elderly parent or disabled child. What you see in public or on the surface is someone helping a senior citizen do her shopping or teaching a child with limited mobility to use an iPad. But, it’s the stuff you never see that is really the hard part of the job.

Caring for a family member is not something that comes with many benefits. Actually, there is only one benefit – looking after your loved one. Yes, there are some people who get paid to take care of a family member, but that’s rare and extremely difficult to

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Shower prep for caregivers can be like gearing up for battle. Helping a senior parent with every day personal care can be hard to get used to – for both – but extremely necessary.

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Medicines must be cataloged, dosed, and set into daily dispense containers. Tracking of administration is also necessary to ensure proper care, safety and financial maintenance.

Personal care is one of the hardest parts of caring for a senior parent. Different than helping a child with these issues, an elderly adult has a different perception of self-sufficiency and personal dignity. I can’t even imagine how hard it is for my father that he now needs help just to do something as simple as shaving or taking a shower.

As a Parkinson’s sufferer, Dad can’t hold his hands still enough to shave with a safety razor and we’ve had to go to an electric model. He does his best to try to do it on his own, but his hands can’t apply any pressure to the razor on his face so it misses, well, pretty much everything. So once a week, we do a complete, clean shave starting with a trimmer.

Showers also require some consideration to personal dignity while trying to ensure complete cleanliness. When I help Dad with a shower, it’s like gearing up for battle. It’s tough to get used to, for both of us. But we do our best. I just try to make sure he gets in and out without injury, get him clean and get him dressed. How would you feel if, suddenly, your children had to help you with trimming nails, combing hair, or washing? You have to be aware of your charge’s discomfort while still meeting the needs.

Managing medications is also a challenge for caregivers. I’m actually pretty lucky in our situation because Dad’s meds – for now at least – can be divided into two daily packets. Every Sunday, I refill a daily box dispenser and we have a record book to record every dose administered and by whom.

14192078_10154177027939342_4999691246789055042_nMoney is probably the biggest sore spot for many caregivers as well because we end up having to handle our own homes as well as the finances of our charge. It wasn’t long after my mother became ill that I learned who the money manager of the house was as I grew up.

As is common with many elderly folks, Dad was letting bills go unpaid, utilities were being cut off, debt was mounting and statements lay unopened, piling up on the kitchen table – Never again. My siblings and I took over managing his money and paid off all his major debt so we only have living expenses, medicines and doctor bills to worry about.

The problem is that things won’t stay that way. People don’t understand how little Medicare and its supplements really cover and the expenses continue to mount as a senior’s care grows more complicated because things like Parkinson’s continue to progress.

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Adjusting work to caregiver life is rarely easy, sometimes it is impossible. Many caregivers have to choose one over the other.

Naturally, The U.S. Congress is far too busy voting itself another ridiculous raise and cutting Social Security to bother considering how to better spend money to care for its citizens. After all, it’s “our” money. And there is no outside financial support for caregivers.

So, the bills continue to roll in – co-pays, lift chairs, vaccinations, home care (yes, it’s mostly self-pay), unforeseen changes in the health of the patient and the understanding that with Parkinson’s, diabetes and glaucoma, my father will get worse, even with the best possible care.

Tons of other things come into play too. When you’re a caregiver, you’re often the housekeeper, accountant, chef, chauffeur, nurse, clothes and dishwasher, and much more. The rest of the world doesn’t see the countless hours spent making sure the things like cracker packets and juice bottles are stored in a way he can easily open them with limited mobility.

Over the years, I’ve written many times about my experiences in helping to care for my parents. But people I meet always seem to be shocked how much we have to do that no one ever sees. So, when you see someone out in public dealing with something like this, just remember how hard it is and open a door for them or be patient when they’re sorting groceries for two households at the checkout. We appreciate it.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is available as a podcast at MyGreeneRadio.com.