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Rounding up a decade of Deer In Headlines

In Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, Local News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Religion, Technology, Uncategorized on April 16, 2018 at 8:12 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

I wasn’t quite sure how to start this week’s edition except to just come out with it. The week of April 30, 2018, will be the final print edition of Deer In Headlines. After 10 years, it’s time for me to focus on something new. I greatly appreciate the loyalty of my readers and the opposing views and letters of praise I’ve received over the years. If just one person each week looked at the world just a little differently and appreciated anything new, I’ve accomplished my goal.

I started this column to offer my readers a look at subjects from all sides, rarely giving a hint of my personal opinion, although it was evident when I chose for it to be.  But today clear, logical viewpoints no longer have value. People seem to listen only to blowhards, the ignorant, and people who would rather spew hate than kindness. That’s why I have decided to focus on more positive projects, out of the public eye.

This is not a decision I’ve come to lightly, in fact, I have waivered numerous times in my deliberations about it. Over the last decade, I’ve offered a look at politics, religion, education, science, family, and even given you a glimpse into my personal life as I cared for my parents.

We live in volatile times and some have argued that now is when we need a clearer, more rational voice in the media. They may be right, but mine is simply not loud enough to be heard above all the noise of anger, fear, and ignorance out there.

There is a lot of negativity out there and I have worked hard to bring you thoughtful content. I’ve always hoped you’d take away something from the effort, even if, especially if, you didn’t agree with me.

I’ve always said I like to surround myself with smart people who disagree with me because it means I am forced to examine my own convictions, and I hope I’ve done that for you from time to time. If you’ve enjoyed my work, thank you. I appreciate your time and loyalty. If you haven’t, then I’m not sure why you’re even reading this, but, thank you anyway.

For more than 500 editions and in some 360,000 words, I have shared my observations of the world around us. I’ve found that most people are good and decent and try to do their best to improve the world around them. I’ve also seen some ugly things in researching these pieces, information I kind of wish I had never learned. As they say, ignorance is bliss, but I’m afraid I don’t operate that way.

I will continue my work quietly, however, in the background, making a difference by other means. I serve on charitable boards of directors, care for my family, and work to affect change in more concrete ways.

The world is a mess and our country is too, but I can’t do anything about it in the rail column of a newspaper because the people who could make a difference simply don’t want to listen. Still, as ugly as it can seem at times, the world is also a beautiful place, one of a kind – a spinning ball of life making its way around the sun, year after year, as our galaxy moves through the vast emptiness of space.

It was here millions of years before us, and it’ll be here millions of years after we’ve gone. We are but renters and if I were the landlord, I wouldn’t give back the deposit. But that’s a discussion for another time.

As you can see, I’m not done with my opinions quite yet and there are two editions to go. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be summing up the last decade in a look back at a few of my predictions for politics, newsmakers, and various other areas I’ve touched on over the years. I hope you’ll join me in these last editions, and thank you again.

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Plastic and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

In Economy, Environment, Health, history, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, Science on April 4, 2018 at 10:43 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

Did you know that somewhere in the Pacific Ocean there is a gigantic patch of garbage that’s been growing for decades? According to a three-year study reported in Scientific Reports this month, it has grown to approximately 1.6 million square kilometers, 16 times larger than previous estimates. To put that in more familiar terms, it’s more than twice the size of the State of Texas.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Photo courtesy http://www.critfc.org/

Scientists used a variety of methods to measure the patch including aircraft outfitted with special sensors, crisscrossing more than 300 square kilometers of the ocean’s surface. Surveys estimate that half of the so-called, “Trash Isle” is made up of discarded, or “ghost,” fishing nets. About 20% of it is debris from the Japan tsunami of 2011, and the bulk of the trash is made up of large, plastic objects.

That’s a lot of garbage. For most people, it’s an incomprehensible scale and it’s just floating around out there. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been on the radar of scientists and environmentalists since the 1970s.

Plastic is one of the lightest and most versatile manufacturing materials ever created. To say that it’s durable could be an understatement. But, while that can be an advantage when considering consumer products, it’s a detriment once the product is discarded.

For example, in the ocean, it can take more than two decades for a plastic shopping bag to decompose. Those disposable plastic water bottles everyone carries around are estimated to take 450 years to degrade, and the fishing line could be out there for more than six centuries. It could actually take a lot longer. The fact is, there is no way to know for certain. Click to watch the NBC News story.

What is certain, however, is that the world’s tenants need to do something to reduce the amount of plastic dumped into Earth’s oceans and slow the growth of these trash isles. Otherwise, they’re just going to keep getting bigger.

Managing the trash not only helps to protect the environment and marine life but the economy of regions affected by its presence. Fishing is more hazardous in these areas and tourism can be dramatically affected – who wants to go to a beach where this junk is regularly washing ashore? For some areas in the Pacific, tourism accounts for the bulk of their income.

While politicians, diplomats, and environmentalists debate toward no useful resolution, there are things that individuals can do to help reduce the problem. Plastic straws, grocery bags, and one-use water bottles are reportedly some of the items most frequently tossed in the garbage can.

Recycle plastic products whenever possible. Instead of dropping a water bottle in the trash, use recycling receptacles marked for plastic and other consumer packaging.

First, water bottles. Nothing’s worse than a flat of those thin, flimsy discount store water bottles. So, why use them? If every person in every gym in America chose a reusable water bottle instead of a throw-away, just one time, there would be thousands less plastic bottles in the landfills and tossed into the ocean.

Reusable water bottles are inexpensive, as little as $2.00, and can last for years. Hint – go with a metal bottle instead of plastic but avoid ceramic-lined thermal bottles for daily hydration. They’re heavy and break easily if dropped.

Next, when a store offers the option between paper and plastic shopping bags, choose paper. If plastic is preferred, keep them and reuse them as many times as possible. Try to avoid using them as trash bags, however, because they can slow the decomposition of their contents.

A better option is reusable cloth or nylon shopping bags. It might take some planning to get into the habit of reusing them, but they are much stronger than their plastic counterparts and they’re washable.

Lastly, drinking straws. Strange as it may sound, some cities in America are banning the use of plastic straws; Malibu, Seattle, Fort Myers, and Miami Beach, to name a few. Paper straws are inexpensive and decompose easily. One downside, most don’t bend, so if that’s a required feature, reusable silicone straws might be a better option.

None of these will totally solve the plastic waste problem. But it can certainly make a difference if everyone does his or her part.

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

The needs of the many

In Charities, Education, history, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Uncategorized on December 25, 2017 at 2:50 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

There is a quote from the Star Trek science fiction franchise that has been repeated often throughout the various television series and movies, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” The phrase was first spoken by Leonard Nimoy’s character of Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as he tries to reassure his Admiral Kirk about a command decision.

It might be a fictional source, but the sentiment carries a great deal of merit, especially in today’s self-gratification-focused society. The concept is based on a logical determination wherein decisions are made to favor the needs over those of a large population of just a few individuals or even a single person.

Much of the time decisions are made from a very personal, emotional point of view. And there are people out there who simply live in their own little reality, completely oblivious to how their own behavior affects others, so logical thinking just isn’t within their comprehension. But there are three areas where people can make a difference in affecting the lives of far more than themselves and the few who might immediately benefit from a single decision.

First, the needs of the many should be the primary concern of government officials – always. At the state and federal levels, members of legislature seem far less concerned with helping their whole citizen constituency but rather filling their own coffers and lining the pockets of their big donors.

The local level seems to be more about ego, people who want to have their name on everything and be the big fish in the small pond. If those who are sent to represent “the people” would actually do that for a change, the country would be in a far better state.

In business, the idea is to make a buck and show a profit, and those aren’t bad things because they mean jobs and a growing economy. But when business benefits from bad practice, like unregulated pollution or any other activity that could cause harm either physically or economically to an outside population.

Commerce can be community-minded and still make money, the two needn’t be mutually exclusive. Everyone will benefit when a business focuses on the needs of the many, instead of the needs of the stockholder or management chasing the next bonus, whatever the cost.

Individually, each person can make a difference by just taking a moment to consider the consequences of every decision. When people consider the larger picture and understand how their choices affect those around them, the outcome can be far more appealing to everyone affected.

The first thing that comes to mind is intoxicated or distracted driving. Waiting to send that next text or check Twitter, calling a cab or Uber after a particularly “loaded” holiday bash could literally save lives.

What hasn’t been revealed here is that, at some point, the needs of the few, or the one, outweigh the needs of the many. Not because of logic, but because we are human, and we make illogical, emotional decisions and sometimes that’s a good thing.

As a family caregiver for a special needs child or an elderly parent, for example, you might need to adjust your day-to-day activity to accommodate your charge. One person, who requires that the world adjusts to them sometimes. And no one is perfect. But, most people will put the needs of that individual first, weighing how everyday decisions affect everyone involved.

Sadly, it is impossible to change some people and altering the “me” mindset of a culture could very well take generations. Plus, there will always be power-hungry politicians, self-absorbed celebrities, and that one neighbor who continually throws her dog droppings over the fence into the next yard.

In the end, the problem is all about people; illogical, unpredictable, impulsive, self-driven people. It would be great, though, if we, as a society, could start thinking in a more logical manner, something incredibly unlikely given the current state of entitlement and gluttony that has overrun America. Maybe with a little effort on the part of each individual, everyone might eventually, Live Long, and Prosper. See what I did there?

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

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.

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

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

 

Resisting the scientific ignorance of the GOP

In Education, history, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Technology, Uncategorized on May 15, 2017 at 6:44 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

I am the product of science. Well, the fact is, we are each a product of biological and chemical chain reactions that create human life. But, in my case, I was far more dependent on science than most people. I was born with myriad congenital defects that, without scientific research, would have otherwise left me, at best, hopelessly disabled, and at worst a lifespan of maybe 2 years.

While I do credit the faith of my doctor and family for their determination to see me through it all, I am far more grateful to the men and women who did the research and applied the science to my situation that saved my life and gave me a hopeful and healthy future.

Science is responsible for most things that we take for granted in modern, 21st Century first-world life. From penicillin and the electric light to computers and advanced cancer treatment, without science fact, our lives would be incomprehensibly different.

It’s for this reason that I cannot seem to grasp why so many Americans today turn a deaf ear to the scientific facts placed before them. Various representatives of the current presidential administration are continually making statements ignorant to known scientific facts, followed blindly by their supporters. None of this makes any sense.

So why do some people today seem to ignore scientific fact? That’s a very good question and one worth exploring. I have a hard time believing that people are just, well, stupid. It’s far more likely that a certain ignorance of scientific fact is a personal choice, based, I believe, on the following.

Trump and other Republican ignorance of science remind us of a child who doesn’t want to hear something a parent is telling them so he covers his ears.

First, I think that the average person just doesn’t understand most of the scientific information to which they are exposed. I’m not suggesting that people are stupid, but that most people simply aren’t trained or educated to understand the scientific jargon.

I wouldn’t expect the average person to have any clear understanding of factual climate change data. And once that data is encapsulated and truncated, even “translated” for use in a news broadcast, some of the information could be lost or distorted in some way.
Scientific data also lends itself to some degree of interpretation by the observer. If someone hasn’t the background to interpret the information being shown to them, it’s unlikely that an educated conclusion will result.

Next, comes politics, and a concept I find completely insane. What I can’t understand here is the staggering number of intelligent, educated people who follow the party line so blindly as to completely ignore facts in favor of rhetoric.

Just going along with what party leaders are doing, whether right or wrong, is certainly one of the main causes most of the trouble in America’s political system. Where are the intelligent, educated, GOP members on the inside who could stand up for scientific fact and be the voice of reason in an otherwise incomprehensibly ignorant administration?

It’s as if they were all whisked off to some bunker to be kept quiet until properly brainwashed to be the robotic mouthpieces of the administration defending whatever destructive policy is next proposed.

Finally, and again this is my own observation of people rather than an official survey, it’s my opinion that science too often conflicts with religious beliefs. Many people choose to what I have come to think of as pick and choose what science they decide to believe in.
Try to keep in mind that all science is the search for fact, not truth. Truth should be left to religious studies and philosophy. Scientific fact is not something you get to “believe in.” It either is or it is not, there’s no middle.

Why would we, the most powerful, supposedly the most technologically and socially advanced country on the planet, completely ignore an area of study that has saved the lives of millions of people throughout history in favor of political ideology?

Makes one wonder, if the White House and Congress can ignore scientific fact on things like climate change and health care, then what other important facts are they ignoring in something like national security?
Yes, the interpretation of scientific data can be inaccurate sometimes because fallible humans are involved. But flat-out ignorance of that information is inconceivable.

 

Gery Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Greene Co, Ohio. More at deerinheadlines.com

 

 

Assault in the unfriendly skies

In Business, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized, World News on April 22, 2017 at 11:04 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

In recent weeks, United Airlines has been battling a public relations nightmare, to put it mildly. The video of 69-year-old David Dao being savagely dragged from the airliner by police has been viewed now millions of times and more details are emerging daily about the incident.

To bring you up to speed, Dao, a Vietnamese-born medical doctor who lives in Kentucky, was one of four people randomly selected to be removed from the overbooked flight just before take off from O’Hare International Airport on Sunday, April 9. When he refused to surrender his seat, Chicago Aviation police officers were recorded on cell phone video beating and dragging the man from the plane.

The video shows Dao insisting, quite politely and calmly under the circumstances, that he paid for his seat and he needed to be back at work the next morning and could not miss his flight. He resisted but put up no physical fight. All of his pleas fell on deaf ears and the Gestapo-like behavior of the police was clearly a grandstanding effort to make an example of him for the other passengers.

As you might expect, Dao’s attorney, Thomas Demetrio, has filed a civil suit against United Airlines citing excessive violence. “If you’re going to eject a passenger, under no circumstances can it be done with unreasonable force or violence,” Demetrio said during a press conference. “That’s the law.” And United’s troubles don’t end with this one incident.

Over the Easter holiday weekend, a couple headed to their wedding in Costa Rica was kicked off of a United flight from Houston. According to reports, Michael Hohl and Amber Maxwell had boarded the plane and preparing to take their seats but someone was sitting in one of their seats and fast asleep.

The couple said instead of waking the man, they took up empty seats a few rows ahead. But after being refused an upgrade for the change they were asked to return to the original row, which they say they did without argument. Once there, a US marshal came aboard and removed them from their flight.

Both of these incidents are, we hope, isolated and certainly atypical of the treatment of passengers by air carriers. However, there seems to be a growing trend in the air travel industry to treat paying customers more like baggage than human beings.

For quite some time after the terrorist attacks of 9-11, security is still on the minds of most travelers. But this kind of treatment is about business and money, not safety. It is the responsibility of the carrier to ensure that tickets are only sold to available seats on any flight.

And if someone needs to be bumped, chosen at random so they say, they should take into account the circumstances. By no means should force ever be used where unwarranted, as with the case of Dao. It’s being suggested that Dao’s beating was a horrific act of discrimination, and, given the ease with which the Houston couple was removed, there may be evidence to support that claim.

United’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, has made several public apologies repeating that no one should be treated the way Dao had been. But that is no consolation to the victim, nor does it do much to soften United’s reputation as an “unfriendly” business. Unfortunately, the airlines are becoming more and more powerful and there is no end in sight.

As a businessperson, I have flown extensively in my professional life, less so for personal reasons. But given the incredible cost of even a short flight, passengers on any flight should be treated the way anyone else should be, with understanding, humanity, and dignity.

The airlines have a strangle hold on customers since they were deregulated in 1978. The Airline Deregulation Act removed any governmental oversight over fares, routes or even market entry of new airlines.

It may have introduced a freer market for smaller air carriers, but removed any level of consumer protection. The government should be investigating United, or any other carrier company, with such egregious acts of assault or discriminatory treatment of passengers. I guess campaign donations speak louder than justice.

 

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

What’s in a label?

In Education, Health, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on March 18, 2017 at 9:22 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

One things that human beings have in common is an insatiable need to label each other, both individually and by groups. I’m no expert at human evolution or psychology, but I’d guess that categorizing our fellow man must have been a leftover from prehistoric times. Our instinctive ability to size up a potential adversary may have served us well as cave people, but today, those emotions can inadvertently damage our relationships in the civilized world.

For our discussion purposes, the term “label” generally implies a negatively-focused word that’s used to identify someone based on visible stereotypical characteristics, like behavior, clothing, language, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. It’s not a factual assessment but rather an assumption, and it’s nearly always wrong. I’ve never found labels particularly helpful and arrived at from a single action or characteristic.

It gets a little confusing when you think about how to accurately describe someone without bias or negativity. If I were a Muslim, for example, it would be OK to say, “He’s a Muslim,” if you are stating a fact. On the other hand, if it’s stated in a way that has a negative connotation behind it like, “He’s one of those Muslims,” that’s not a fact, it’s a label. It comes with images of terrorism or other undesirable stereotypes.

In fact, trying to find any unoffensive example of labeling was a challenge, but I figured if I use myself as the subject that would be OK, so here it goes. I was raised on a farm in a rural community. Some people have a predetermined “image” of what someone like me should look, act and sound like.

My corn-fed brethren might even be labeled with a term that I find incredibly offensive – redneck. Despite what some might think, it’s just as intolerant to pin a racial slur on a white person as anyone else. It does, indeed, go both ways.

People are people – not labels. (Infographic courtesy of TrustLifeToday.com)

The general assumption is that someone with my background is uneducated, ignorant, with a “hillbilly” accent, bad grammar, less than stellar dental hygiene and who prefers to date within his or her own family. Throw in some right-wing, gun-totin’, Bible-quotin’, racism and that’s pretty much the way the liberal left sees us too.

Absolutely none of this is accurate where I am concerned, nor is it for most people I know. I’m well educated, I have no discernible accent, I’m not racist and, while my grammar isn’t perfect all the time, I’d like to think I’m above average in that area. The point is that the “rural” label is usually so far off as to be laughable. In fact, when people meet me they generally have no clue as to my background. None of this implies anything positive.

All that said, a close friend reminded me recently that labels have a positive side as well. In some cases, when people are vastly different from ourselves, a label can sometimes give us a reference point to understanding.

If you’re like me, a rural-raised American, you may have never met someone from, say inland China. When that opportunity arises, a label might be helpful as a starting point. If I say, “she is Chinese,” you probably already have an idea of what that means in your mind and an image forms based on your past understanding.

This type of labeling can be helpful provided the assessment does not end there and you keep an open mind about the individual. We must be respectful of the fact that we are each far more than the sum of our parts. I’m a farm boy, but a quick Google of my name will tell you there’s nothing “typical” about me. And that’s true for most of the people I know who grew up like I did.

Remember that labels are generally bad, but could have a positive application if people are willing to look beyond the surface and learn about the individual. Categorizing anyone can be incredibly destructive and serve only to perpetuate nonconstructive stereotypes. Give people a chance and learn about them before you slap a tag on their forehead. Our diversity in the world really is our strength. Let’s start behaving that way.

 

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