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In Entertainment, history, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Religion, sociology on November 20, 2017 at 9:10 am

Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks was just honored with the National Archives Foundation Records of Achievement award. During the presentation event, he commented on the current state of American politics.

“People are upset about what’s going on today. They’re furious, they’re frustrated, they’re worked up,” Hanks said. “If you’re concerned about what’s going on today, read history and figure out what to do because it’s all right there,” Hanks spoke with hope for our country’s future and noted that what is needed today is dialogue, not destruction.

It’s unlikely anyone to the right will ever listen to a “Hollywood” type, but what Hanks said is absolutely accurate. The solutions to today’s problems may very well be found in the conflicts of the past. Often, history simply repeats itself in a different time and location. Every situation that has every arisen throughout human history has one common denominator – people.

Most social, religious and political conflicts in America are caused by a lack of knowledge, an ignorance that is either innate or self-imposed. Without an understanding of the person standing next to you, his trials and tribulations, his background and motivation, it is impossible to identify with him and that leads to conflict.

Taking the time to compare today’s issues with similar situations in the past might help better manage current conflicts and find possible solutions because we know how they were finally resolved. Obviously, we should be investigating any negative outcomes, like war or civil unrest, to see how they can be avoided.

How many times do people say, “Wow, if I’d only known then what I know now?” An insight apparently lacking in President Donald Trump’s character. If he would look backward he’d learn that there were several other presidents that faced the same kinds of situations and resistance. Herbert Hoover, for example, was, like Trump, a terrible communicator.

A closeup of the word HISTORY engraved on a war memorial.

President on the eve of the Great Depression, Hoover was seen by many as mean and uncaring as the economy collapsed because of his rigid adherence to conservative principals. While he made efforts to lower taxes and create public works projects that would help with jobs, he refused any sort of outright relief programs.

As a result, the economy sank even deeper into depression and the shanty towns where people were forced to live after losing everything were nicknamed Hoovervilles, in his “honor.” Hoover is largely regarded, though often not by his conservative disciples, as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history. And Trump is on the road to the same end if he doesn’t learn from the past. Then again, it doesn’t seem like anyone who leans to the right these days is interested in facts unless they directly refute a democrat.

Trying to enact policy just because it defies the opposition seems to be how politics on both sides of the aisle runs today. At this point, no one at the legislative level cares about those of us down here in the real world, this kind of historical ignorance is simply ego and one-upsmanship.

You hear it every day in the news media. Some politician on the left will say something and everyone on the right refutes it, just because it came from the other side.

Imagine this exchange one sunny afternoon on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. “The sky is blue,” declares a Republican senator one day, stating a fact – something kind of new to him. While across the aisle, his Democrat opponent pops up from her seat and defiantly exclaims, “That’s a lie! It’s green!”

And it continues indefinitely, back and forth, with charts, graphs, testimony from non-blue-sky believers, and on and on. But neither will ever back down because to do so is weak, and the ego must remain intact, regardless of how idiotic they sound. Just resisting any other ideas but your party line is not only ignorant but potentially destructive.

The point is that we could solve a great many problems in modern politics if we just consider how history shows we dealt with some of the same kinds of people and issues. As poet and philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at gerydeer.com.

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Coping with the Big “C”

In Economy, Health, Opinion, psychology, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on November 20, 2017 at 9:06 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

According to the statistics, more than 14 million people are living with cancer today in the United States. Something like 39 percent of all men and women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to call “cancer,” on the whole, an epidemic.

Every day we’re flooded with “awareness” messages and celebrity pleas for donations to this cancer group or the other. But will there ever be a cure? And how do victims, and families, cope with the stress that comes with the realization of a cancer diagnosis?

First, let’s discuss the possibilities of a cure. For any organization to state, emphatically, that they’re working on a cure for “cancer” is a bit misleading. Cancer comes in many forms. Every research group must focus its attention on one specific type to formulate treatment and potential cures. And research is expensive.

There are countless organizations dedicated to raising funds for research but, unfortunately, that’s probably all it will be. Without sounding like the dark heart in the room, cancer is a huge cash cow to research labs and big pharma. There’s far more money in treating the disease than there ever would be a cure. It might sound cynical, but it would be naive to think there wasn’t some of that kind of thinking at play here.

But what of those who are already affected, how are patients coping with it? Each stage of the journey through cancer care brings about its own set of emotional responses. Granted, a great deal of the initial response depends on how serious the cancer is – not that there is a kind that isn’t. A good prognosis will make the impact a bit less difficult to handle.

Most patients are angry at first, experiencing a level of, “why me?” There’s some denial, more anger, and finally acceptance in some fashion. Dealing with that emotional roller coaster can be incredibly difficult for people, not just the patient but family and friends as well.

What we are told to do by the experts is to look for ways to cope with it in our own way. They first suggest you try to learn as much as you can about the diagnosis, what type of cancer it is and how it is treated. But be aware – it might seem frightening because the information is often provided out of context for the individual situation.

It’s also suggested that you express your feelings about it. Too many times we try to put on a brave face for family or friends and never really let it all out. It’s not only healthy, emotionally, to exercise those feelings, it can help the healing process.

Taking care of yourself through proper diet, exercise, maintaining your regular routines as much as possible can also help. As human beings, we need normality to function. Try to keep as much of it in your day-to-day life as possible as you move through your treatment.

Participating in support groups and talking with others who have shared your experience can be beneficial as well. There’s nothing more frightening than the unknown. When someone shares their experience with you, and knowledge can help ease fear.

We’re also directed to do our best to focus on what we can control in the situation, rather than worrying about what we can’t. Worrying only wastes energy and creates its own stress.

I recently met a woman who, during her treatment for breast cancer, a professional artist who painted stones from the hospital parking lot. Each stone represented how she felt after each treatment, all 33 of them. She made a full recovery but insists the practice helped her focus and have something within her control that also allowed her to deal with her feelings.

No one can say how they’d react to a cancer diagnosis. But, knowing you’re not alone can really help. If you or someone you know is dealing with cancer, no matter what the prognosis, be as positive as you can, and don’t miss out on a minute of life in the process.

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

Sexual assault is a societal problem.

In Crime, Entertainment, Health, National News, Opinion, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on November 6, 2017 at 8:29 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

The continued exposure of alleged sexual assault and mistreatment of women within the entertainment industry have shaken some pillars of the Hollywood elite. But exactly what good will come from the heightened media attention? More to the point, since nothing about this problem seems much of a secret, why aren’t we addressing this issue in other industries with as much vigor?

A couple of weeks ago I was involved in a discussion about the idea that Hollywood’s misogynistic, casting-couch culture will likely never change. In case you’re not aware, the term “casting couch” refers to the practice whereby actors or actresses are awarded a part in a production in return for granting sexual favors to whoever is in charge. That could be a producer, casting director, agent, whatever the situation.

Harvey Weinstein has become the poster boy for Hollywood’s misogynistic culture. But he is certainly not alone.
(Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images courtesy Variety)

Because the entertainment industry is, even now, dominated by men, this despicable practice has largely been perpetrated on women. These men promise stardom, fame, and prey on lifelong dreams for a few minutes of repugnant self-gratification.

Cultural change within an organization, or an industry, is not so much different from that of a society. There is a status quo that has developed over time, fueled largely by the ambitions of people hoping to succeed and by those already at the top who abuse their power for nefarious gain.

It’s a struggle between the powerless, trying to achieve some level of status, and the powerful, who already have it and may not have achieved it solely on merit, but by largely more devious means. As the floodgates of these allegations began to break down, more women – and men – came forward.

Although this issue should be about decency and civil rights, it has, of course, also turned political. Many of the women coming forward have been labeled publicity hounds and opportunists, primarily by conservative media. While there is certainly some measure of that going on, who can say what is real and what is unscrupulous? Only by investigating each situation can the truth come out and to not do so would be an incredible injustice.

Additionally, the entertainment industry is certainly not the only one where this kind of atmosphere is prominent. Every business has its unspoken norms, with the same stigmas attached to coming forward.

Mistreatment of women is a society-wide problem, with no isolated industry or socioeconomic group. And, while these issues tend to involve women being the subject of the abuse or misconduct, it can happen between anyone in a position of power and a subordinate or a person who feels they are required to accept such behavior because of their status. Unfortunately, we may never know the broad-reaching effects of this issue, especially when so much goes unreported or unprosecuted.

Very few of the well-documented cases within the Catholic church over the years have seen justice. It’s sickening to think that the church has so much power as to avoid the prosecution of potentially hundreds of priests who have spent years sexually abusing young boys. You’d think that the faithful would want to end abuse of any kind, but religion often plays a major role in perpetuating the oppression of women.

Many faiths persist in the subjugation of women to lower status than men, keeping them in positions of service. Young girls are taught to be fruitful and multiply and have as many children as possible to increase the congregation to better serve their god. It is one of the prime duties under the doctrine of their beliefs.

This is a disgusting level of abuse that no one seems to even want to discuss, let alone change. And, because this speaks directly to ignorance and misogyny so prevalent within the Bible-belt following of the conservative right, nothing will be done while they are in power.

Sexual assault and harassment are known and accepted practices in virtually every industry throughout the country. From entertainment to sports and government to big business, the exploitation and mistreatment of women (or others in a subordinate position) is a national, social problem. Society, as a whole, must work to end the stigma surrounding this issue and provide support and justice for those who come forward.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at deerinheadlines.com

 

 

Avoid Election Misdirection

In Education, history, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, sociology, State News, Uncategorized on October 19, 2017 at 6:08 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

With an election coming up, it’s important to keep focused on what’s going on here at home rather than be distracted by the childish circus that has become Washington. Do you know what local governmental seats are up for grabs or the effect the next school levy might have on you if it fails?

Most of the time, we focus our attention on big stories from national news sources and lose sight of the things that really matter. Sometimes, that’s exactly what the politicians, pundits, and issue-pushers want to happen. Politics might seem, on the surface, about an open debate between candidates or issues, but it’s mostly about misdirection.

In the 2016 presidential election, the Trump camp used misdirection and the divided state of the Democratic base to push their message. While people who could greatly alter the outcome of the election were busy with the chaos on the left, Trump’s people had more opportunity to manipulate the right and win over some middle-of-the-road and undecided voters. The same thing happens on a much smaller scale right in your own backyard.

Most local candidates, regardless of whether they are incumbent, hope that simple name recognition will do the trick. Buying a few local newspaper ads and planting hundreds of signs everywhere can give them just that, not so much recognition but a hope that people can’t remember the names of the others.

Think about it. When you step into a voting booth and there’s a seat open for township trustee (and you barely know what a trustee is, much less any of their names), you’re going to pick the name you remember. In the back of your mind, you’ve seen the signs and ads everywhere of the guy who spent the most at the print shop so you touch the screen on his name and that’s that.

Then there’s some human services levy up for a vote and you have no idea what the fine print says, but it’s for the hospital, or children’s services issue right? What kind of person would you be if you say no to that, so what if you have no idea that it’s going to double your property tax for the next five years? This might seem exaggerated but the point is clear – learn about these candidates and issues before that Tuesday in November.

In this year’s election, the state issue that stands out as most confusing to people seems to be Ohio Issue 2, the drug price standards initiative. Both sides have spent a fortune in print, digital, direct mail, and broadcast advertising trying to sway your vote one way or the other, and it’s only going to increase.

We won’t spend any time on the issue here, but suffice to say that it’s controversial because it involves Medicare drug pricing agreements between the state government and pharma companies. Talk about an unholy alliance. Can you think of any two organizations that have proven to care less about the plight of the average citizen? That’s why it’s so confusing to people.

But, you’re going to have to go look up the exact wording, but take your lawyer with you. Actually, that may not help, because the language of these proposals is made overly complicated for a reason – so you can’t understand them. That’s no accident. The more complex the wording, the more confusing it is to the voter. Mission accomplished.

Remember that the local elections mean far more than the national ones in the grand scheme of things. Pay as close attention as possible to these smaller ballots because the outcomes have a far more immediate effect on your day-to-day life.

Most of these candidates have little or no money to spend on advertising so you may not even see their names until you get to your polling place. You’ll have to do some digging. Your county elections board has all the information you need to get started understanding these issues before it comes time to punch a chad, pull a lever, or tap a screen.

Take the time to know for whom and what you’re voting. It’s up to you to make the best choice for yourself and your community.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at deerinheadlines.com

Caregiving a parent with dignity

In Children and Family, Economy, Education, Health, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on October 5, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Deer In Headlines
Gery L. Deer

When you’re a caregiver of a senior parent one of the most difficult things is maintaining the dignity of your charge. When we’re kids, our parents wipe our faces free of food, help us in the bathroom, even spoon-feed us. But, decades later, when those roles are reversed, it’s important to keep in mind that the person you’re helping isn’t a child. He or she is an adult with a mature sense of dignity and pride.

It took me a long time to get used to helping care for my parents. To say it was uncomfortable to have to help my mother dress or manually feed her would be a massive understatement. Alzheimer’s had long settled in by the time she broke a hip, but not being able to walk created further challenges. Her mind was like that of a toddler and she didn’t initiate speech or really understand anything going on around her. So, it was different than it is with my father now.

Deer In Headlines author, Gery Deer, with his father, Gary Sr.

My parents were proud people and didn’t like taking help from anyone. Now, the man who was always looking after everyone around him needs more care than he’d probably ever imagined he would in his golden years.

Like many seniors in this situation, Dad is fully cognizant of what is going on around him, but he needs a great deal of physical help in managing his day-to-day activities. One thing it took a while to understand is that his sense of personal privacy and dignity must be preserved, though it seems to outsiders like it wouldn’t matter as much anymore. It does.

Which brings us to the first point of what you can do to maintain self-worth for your senior parent, whether you’re caring for them all the time or just helping out once in a while. First, you can help maintain personal privacy and dignity by closing the door when you help him or her to bathe, dress or change clothes.

You wouldn’t think twice about closing the door when you do those things but put yourself in their place. What makes you feel awkward probably makes them feel that way too.

Don’t make a show of things. Try your best to avoid drawing unwanted attention to your charge whenever possible. Adult children sometimes have a need for outside validation of the caregiving task they’ve undertaking and can be overly dramatic in public. I can assure you it’s unlikely your mom or dad or whomever you’re caring for really wants any of that attention. They want to feel as normal and inconspicuous as possible so help them.

The more prepared you are the better. Keep a care bag packed to travel with, even if just going around town for the day. Load it with spare clothing, tissues, a towel, facial wipes, a bottle of water, specialized eating utensils, whatever your senior may potentially need, both commonly or in an emergency. Remember that their comfort comes first. Be ready for anything.

Sometimes the best way to help is to do nothing. As frustrating as it can be as a caregiver to sit by and watch your charge struggle to do something like button his shirt, there are times when you need to do just that – nothing. Although it can be part of the individual’s therapy to do normal, day-to-day things like getting dressed, it can be challenging.

And, as caregivers, it’s tough not to jump in and just do it for them. But, from the standpoint of respect, you have to let them do their best to tackle it on their own. It’s when their own frustration level peaks you might need to take over.

Naturally, there are things you have to do to care for them that they’re not going to be happy with. He or she may not want to use the cane or walker they’ve been provided. You will probably need to be firm with them on this because sometimes safety must outweigh pride.

Finally, be patient. I struggle with this one daily. Remember that this is hard for them too. Remember you’re not alone. If you need help, go find it.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at deerinheadlines.com.

A Half-Century and Counting

In Education, Entertainment, Health, history, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on September 28, 2017 at 10:08 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

At the end of September this year, I will celebrate my 50th birthday. It’s funny how you don’t notice the years flying by until there’s a milestone like this to make you stop and reflect on them. No, turning a half-century old is nothing new, until it happens to you. Then, it’s a big deal.

On my last birthday, I decided to figure out a way to commemorate the passage of the year leading to my 50th. Now, only days away, and I wonder what I’ve accomplished this year which begs the question, what do we do with our time? How does it slip away so easily, so unnoticed in the lightning pace of our modern lives?

Even the simplest moments, often the most important, go right past us without so much as a footnote in the mental journal of our day. I wanted to make sure I remembered at least some of this past year so I made it a point to do something new every day that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I didn’t exactly manage something every single day, but I did make some major changes in my life that have had much more of an effect than I ever anticipated.

In order to accomplish anything in our lives, we have to set a reasonable and measurable goal. I know, that sounds like something off some high school career lecture, but it’s valid. I’ve never cared much for the word “goal,” but we do need to have something to aim for or we can’t work toward it.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, I wanted to remember the last year in as many ways as I could. One of my goals was to improve my health and that meant a great alteration of my day-to-day lifestyle, which had actually begun a few years ago when I stepped back from things like soda and junk food.

From there, I started an exercise program that culminated in my becoming an endurance cyclist, accomplishing both a 100-kilometer and 100-mile bike ride, respectively, over the summer. In preparing for these events, I improved my stamina, respiratory function, muscle tone and overall health – and I’m still going. From couch potato to athlete in just a few months, and there was nothing easy about it.

At this point in life, if you’re paying attention at all, you probably have a better grasp on just how much drama you will put up with as well. I know I have. I can’t even describe how many people I know close to my age who have yet to shake out all the dead wood from their lives.

I’m referring to those negative people that always seem to have disaster following them, primarily of their own making, and want you to solve their problems for them. You can’t. Nothing you do will change who they are and how they drive their own lives – walk away.

When people straight out of college demand salaries and respect akin to those twice their elder and greater experienced it’s a sad state. At the same time, I’ve met a great many older people for whom I have little respect, for one reason or another.

Contrary to what younger folks might say, at 50, we’re not quite doddering, forgetful seniors, ready for the walker and rocking chair, although that’s what most Millennials probably think. In my case, I’m in the best physical condition of my life, I have a better understanding of who I am than ever before and those around me are benefiting from my achievements.

To me, what matters most is how my life to date has prepared me for all that comes next 50. There’s still a lot to do and I have no intention of sitting by and letting the world fly by, not that I ever did that before.

People say I’m over the hill, maybe they’re right. But, Charles Schultz, the creator of, “Peanuts,” once said, “Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.” Couldn’t agree more! I have more to do in the next half-century.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at gerydeer.com.

Dems, get your heads out of your …

In Business, Economy, Education, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Uncategorized on September 27, 2017 at 11:24 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

Hey, all of you Democrats who are whining and crying about a Trump presidency, listen up (or in this case, keep reading). You’re the reason he’s president, so either get over it or get on the ball, make up your minds. In all my years a writer I have never seen a more bumfuzzled time in American politics. It’s goofy on both sides, but the Democrats really take the prize here.

And, as I have written many times, they handed the White House to Trump on a silver platter, covered in gold and trimmed in platinum. “What? It’s not our fault,” blah, blah, blah. Oh, yes, it is your fault.

The only reason, the only reason, the only reason (yes, that’s meant to be there three times) Trump won the election was because Democrats divided themselves and didn’t get out and vote. Protesting Hillary or Bernie or whoever cost them the election, not some overwhelming love of Trump. Just to beat the dead horse one more time, it happened something like this.

On one side, you had the Bernie Sanders hippies. Yes, I meant to use that word – hippies. The sandal-wearing, left-wingers who hate corporate America, right up until their non-profit needs a check. Moreover, they have absolutely no idea how to pay for any of the grand social overhauls they want to make. Giving everything free to everyone costs somebody money somewhere. Just writing that gives me a headache.

Confused Hillary courtesy of TheGatewayPundit.com

Then you have the Hillary Clinton crowd. For all that the pant-suited, former First Lady commands intelligence, experience, and demeanor, she inspires, well, no one, for any reason. She carries the baggage of a type that’s not easily shed in the social media-driven trenches of popular politics. Instead of falling in behind Hillary after the primaries, white Obama voters went over to Trump – I still don’t get that, but the math doesn’t lie.

Could Hillary and Bernie have taken the White House together? Possibly. But, again, there was just too much anger out there in the real world about Obama’s entitlement programs. Working class people were getting tired of having to break their backs to make ends meet while anyone who didn’t want to do anything could get a check and free healthcare just for being lazy. I know, that’s not the reality, but that’s the perception ignored by the Dems in the media.

If the Democrats are going to try to oust the current administration in 2020, they’d better get a move on. So far, very few they have suggested as a challenge to Trump could even get past the primaries, let alone win the Oval Office. Right now, the list of potential candidates that might have a chance includes Senator Elizabeth Warren, Bernie (again, please no), Michelle Obama, and Joe Biden. Getting Mrs. Obama or former Vice President Biden to run would be a challenge. They both seem to be done with day-to-day Washington, but who knows.

Elizabeth Warren is a bit too far to the left to drag any moderates over to pull the lever for a Democrat. And you need moderates right now. Alienating them is something that Bernie did really well. You can’t be a massive, outspoken socialist, even a democratic one, and pull anyone from the middle, it will just never work.

I mentioned perception a few paragraphs before, and that’s the key word here. It’s a perception problem with the Democrats. They’re seen by the moderate and conservative public as the bleeding-heart, all-or-nothing left-wingers who want only to cater to minorities, let in any Mexican who wants to come north, criminal or not, and punish people for being white and earning a paycheck. Sounds bad when you put it like that, doesn’t it? Well, that’s the perception to be challenged.

In short, the 2020 election will not be about politics, a border wall or Obamacare, but a fight between nationalism and socialism, about smart and ignorant, about bigotry and acceptance. There must be some way to restore some dignity to the White House and I guess it’ll be up to the Democratic National Committee to figure out who can do it. Oh, my, we’re in trouble.

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

Ignoring the reality of climate change

In Economy, Education, Environment, Health, history, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Science, Technology, Uncategorized, World News on September 12, 2017 at 10:27 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

As another devastating hurricane blasts its way across the southeast sections of the United States, I am still amazed at how many people continue to believe that climate change isn’t a real thing, with real consequences. Yes, logically, there is a reasonable debate as to how much mankind has affected the changes in the Earth’s climate and weather. If you want to argue that point, it is valid. But to dispute the facts of the matter, that’s just sheer ignorance.

Before getting into more of this debate, let me say that climate and weather have been an interest of mine going back to my early days. My background in physics, chemistry, and engineering gives me a more fact-based view of scientific subjects. Facts can be trusted, but the interpretation of those facts is when things get shaky.

Our planet is not some static ball of water and dirt spinning aimlessly through space. It’s a living, breathing, ever-changing construct made up of moving water, moving land masses, and billions of different types of life forms. The measurements we make of the planet’s climate – air quality, water temperatures, polar cap conditions, and so on – are really its “vital signs.”

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 10.25.30 AM

Photo courtesy, NASA.gov

You can check on how our world is doing right on the website of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The direct link is https://climate.nasa.gov. There you can read non-political facts about how climate changes affect our world and our societies around the globe. From the warming oceans, which contribute to the recent volatile hurricane seasons, to increased intense rainfall events – it’s all there, with no political slant, just the facts.

For the moment, we’re going to ignore the stupidity of politically-charged, or religiously-motivated people who pick and choose to accept facts as it pleases them and falls in line with their “beliefs.” Facts don’t choose sides and you don’t have to believe in them – they are real, they are measurable, and they can be verified.

But to that point, there are people who totally deny even the very concept of climate change, alleging that it’s, “fake news,” or whatever the terms are now, so they’d never go look at that data on NASA’s website. And yet, they’re the same people who probably went there to learn about the recent solar eclipse and watch it happen via live stream.

Interpreting the cause is another matter, but to deny that it exists just demonstrates a level of glaring ignorance in American society today. As I mentioned before, scientifically speaking, it’s my contention that after an estimated 4.5 billion years of existence, we really have no idea what is “normal” for our planet, especially since mankind has only been here for a tiny fraction of that time and keeping records for far lesser of a period.

If you’re one of those who simply likes to ignore facts for political reasons, or just because you need to think you’re “right,” then here is a suggestion. Stop looking at the thermometer altogether, any thermometer. Why? Because that’s what this all comes down to, the fact of a changing number on a non-partisan, inanimate piece of scientific equipment. All the scientists did was write it down and show it to us.

And our leaders and the current administration in the White House are going to be no help at all. As the Huffington Post pointed out a while back, “If you’re trying to wrap your head around climate change, don’t ask Donald Trump.” This was in response to the following statements he made on a radio show last September.

Candidate Trump said, “I am not a believer. Unless somebody can prove something to me, I believe there’s weather.” And his blathering on the subject hasn’t got much better since. If anything, it’s worse.

People interpret facts rather than taking them at face value. We evaluate them based on how they fit into and confirm our pre-existing beliefs. That internal bias is a constant issue whenever you’re trying to win someone over with facts and statistics, there’s just not enough emotion involved to help move ideas forward. Until people stop ignoring any fact that doesn’t fit their bias, our country will continue to be ineffective in protecting our environment.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More online at deerinheadlines.com

 

Mourning the King of Comedy.

In Entertainment, history, Media, Movies, Opinion, television, Theatre, Uncategorized on August 21, 2017 at 9:05 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

The world lost a veritable comic genius this week as we mourn the passing of Jerry Lewis. From his early beginnings as a stage comic, to the magical fundraising power of his telethons to raise money in the search for a cure for Muscular Dystrophy, Lewis was many things to many people.

Lewis had his faults. He was said to be difficult to work with at times, a bit of a control freak, probably from the desperation he felt as an upstart comic in the 1940s. But the fact is he was a writer, director, producer and a technical innovator in film as well. He invented something called the video assist, which allowed a director to instantly watch what they’ve just shot.

Of course, it’s the French who are fabled to have loved Lewis’s movies and considered him a genius. But, like with so many tales of the famous, much of that is exaggerated or taken out of context. According to some reports, if you ask a French person to name a Lewis movie, they usually have a tough time coming up with an answer. Seriously? I mean, who doesn’t know, “The Nutty Professor?” (No, not that terrible Eddie Murphy remake. Don’t get me started.)

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were a comedy team for just 10 years.

You can probably find countless tributes and retrospectives on the King of Comedy, so I’m not going to lay out another laundry list here of his successes and failures. But I wanted to share my thoughts as somewhat of a student of his craft and fellow writer and performer.

If you follow my work regularly, or Google my name, know that I’ve led a dual life in the professional and stage worlds for most of my time on this earth. Beginning at the age of 5, as a budding ventriloquist, I have won awards for my talents, written comedy scripts and produced all manner of shows, from the musical stage to Vaudevillian-style variety shows.

Not much in my repertoire could even begin to compare to a giant like Lewis, but comedy was always the foundation for a great deal of my work. I’ve always believed that if you could make people laugh, no matter what you were doing, singing, dancing, writing, juggling, whatever, they would be entertained.

For me, Jerry Lewis was a one-of-a-kind, a true struggling artist, always trying to get people to take him seriously through laughter. You read that correctly. It’s tough to get people to take notice when your entire goal is to make them laugh. It’s even more difficult when your whole self-worth is wrapped up in that laughter and thunderous applause.

Gery Deer and Jim Karns in Whips and Wands …

Lewis’s physical comedy, funny vocalizations and incredible timing is what I enjoyed and what I have always emulated. I’m a one-liner, storytelling kind of comedian on stage. I do a little physical comedy, but it’s generally centered around hand gestures or other smaller movements. Jerry Lewis could leave an audience in stitches with a simple facial expression – that’s talent (and a rubbery face helped too.)

For nearly two decades, my dear friend Jim Karns and I have worked together on stage much like Martin and Lewis in their early years. Our timing and banter is very similar, as was that of Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy (after the silent days), and so many other comedy teams. The dynamic duo of Jerry’s goof to Dean’s straight man, which kicked off in Atlantic City in 1946, became a national phenomenon lasting a mere 10 years, though to many fan it’s unimaginable it was such a short time. Regardless, the pair was unstoppable during their run, and watching anything they did is still a pleasure.

I ignore the public negativity surrounding most celebrities I admire, whether they brought it on themselves or not. After all, they’re only human, good people trying to entertain people in an unforgiving and sadistic industry. I left the big stage behind many years ao in favor of smaller one with kinder audiences.

But no matter how large the stage, Jerry Lewis’s influence will be there, for me and for many generations to come. “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” – Jerry Lewis.

Gery L. Deer is a writer, producer and performer with “The Brothers & Co Variety Show.” More at thebrothersvarietyshow.com.

 

Film scores make the movie, enhance the imagery

In Education, Movies, Music, Opinion, Technology, Uncategorized on August 8, 2017 at 1:28 pm

Music gives us a common language. Images give us a common vision. Together we gain understanding … and peace. Who knew that in the 21st Century, film score composers would become rock stars? They fill arenas with people of all ages and ethnicities who come together for a few hours to be one people, one music, one heart and one spirit.

As I tap this out on the tiny screen of my iPhone, I am sitting in the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, surrounded by thousands of people who have come to listen to a kind of music that penetrates our pop culture. All over the country, Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer not only conducts but performs alongside a group of incredibly talented musicians to bring his film music to life for crowds of thousands.

An incredible concert of pieces from films like Crimson Tide, The Lion King and Batman Begins, plus an amazing tribute to Wonder Woman with all-female lead musicians. The crowd is totally enthralled with this presentation and I cannot help but be moved and the thought of, “Finally, people get it.” What do I mean by that?

If you follow my writings at all, you know that I am a musician. Scratch that, I’m not as much a musician as an entertainer. Musicians spend years of their lives studying and working and perfecting their craft. I literally woke up one morning and could play the piano. Not exaggerating, that’s how it felt. One day I couldn’t, the next I could.

    Film becomes more alive with the right orchestrated score. (Photo Courtesy TheHustle.co)

I mention this because the most influential music in my life was that of film – John Williams (Jaws, Star Wars), Jerry Goldsmith (Star Trek), John Barry (Dances with Wolves, Somewhere In Time), James Horner (Titanic, The Mask of Zorro), and, most importantly to me, Stu Phillips (Battlestar Galactica ’78). These composers shaped the music I would eventually play because theirs was the first to come to life at my piano.

I am an auditory learner, I play by ear, not by sheet music, so the combination of an image to go with the music was particularly powerful. I could see the images from the films in my head as the music came out and the first one was the theme to the 1978 Battlestar Galactica series. An elaborate piece of music that layered two themes on top of one another seems an unlikely choice for a 12-year-old budding pianist, but that’s what fell out.

And as I grew up, film music always kept a hold on my ear far more than any other genre. And my ear was drawn to scores, not soundtracks. The difference being that a soundtrack generally included vocal pop songs and such while the score was the more “classical” sounding background music and themes. In any case, sitting in this concern made me realize that what I’d always thought was cool had finally actually become popular.

Films bring people together. Music brings people together. A huge part of what makes a great movie is the music. Imagine Jaws without the “duh dum … duh dum …” of John Williams’ famous theme? It would just be water… and a mechanical shark.

As a Star Trek fan, I can close my eyes, listen to a score from one of the films and tell you exactly when the Starship Enterprise appears on screen just by the tone and use of various themes. It’s emotional, heart-pounding, drama-inducing sound that carries us along with the characters. Music makes the movie and it is part of what ties us together as fans of those films.

Like the movies themselves, film scores reach across political, social, ethnic and economic boundaries, allowing us to have a common ground in a way that nothing else can. Movies take us on trips to the stars, beneath the sea, into battle, and through the perils of international intrigue. But none of it would happen without the amazing music created by great and incredibly under appreciated (until now) composers like Hans Zimmer and company.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer and the producer of The Brothers & Co. music and variety show. More at thebrothersvarietyshow.com