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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 is “fun” to you?

In Entertainment, Health, Local News, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on April 11, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

To me, the concept of “fun” meant to waste time in frivolous pursuits. I mean, I’ve probably had fun doing things but completely oblivious as to how to recognize it. As it turns out, a little fun can do wonders for the psyche, as most of you probably already know.

There are those of us out here who weren’t raised in a “fun” environment. There weren’t party or card game nights, elaborate social functions or trips to fancy resorts to jet ski or go horseback riding. The most “social” thing my family ever did were reunions and holiday parties, all motivated by my mother’s need for social interaction which my father thoroughly loathed.

Sadly, I’m more like dad than mom in that regard. I’ve never been much of a social butterfly, keeping my circle of friends tight and close and never really reaching outside of that for fun. I’ve learned over the years, however, that it’s not a good idea to isolate yourself so much.

Having fun through socialization doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, it should be thoroughly enjoyable or else it shouldn’t happen at all. For me, though, it has always been hard. I’m sure some of that comes from a working family, there simply wasn’t time for leisure fun when survival was so prominent.

Being the kind of person who doesn’t perceive “fun” the way others do, I can’t always relate to the way others experience it. For example, I don’t get the idea of putting your life in danger or even taking the slightest risk of injury or harm for the sake of having a good time.

I’m not a drinker, and I will never ever be a skydiver, bungee jumper, or anything else that requires signing a liability waiver because you could die from doing it. I’ve had enough risk in my life that I didn’t ask for without intentionally piling on a bunch of other hazards. So, I’m left being “no fun” for some people to be around because I won’t take idiotic risks.

The idea of people going to a bar and getting drunk for “fun” is completely foreign to me as well. I can’t wrap my head around any of that. It just seems, at least when it’s in excess, like immature, sad behavior. That might seem a little judgmental, but so be it, I’m judged often enough by the rest of the world for not drinking at all, so to each his or her own.

One thing I have learned is that in order to have fun, you have to let your guard down a bit and be open to experiencing the moment as it’s happening. That’s not easy for some people, myself included. I think that’s why alcohol is such a huge part of the social fun because some people need to knock down those inhibitions first, quiet (depress) the nerves, and take the edge off that normally keeps their behavior leveler.

I have always had a tough time attaching the word “fun” to anything I’m doing. Yes, there are activities and events I enjoy, but to label them as fun, by definition, would be hard for me. If I were to do something that added an element of danger just for the “rush” of it, I would be so stressed out by the risk, even if it’s irrational, I just wouldn’t get any fun out of it anyway.

No matter what your sensibilities, you have to choose what “fun” is to you. Most of what I consider to be fun is more about who I’m with and where I am than what I’m doing. I doubt that’s a strange concept, but trying to understand when and how I’m having fun certainly is to me.

What is “fun” to you? How do you relax or spend your down time? I think how we spend our down time and what we choose for fun says a lot about us as individuals and as a society. In a world where we spend so much of our waking hours trying to survive and provide for ourselves and our families, it’s important to take the time to re-energize the body and the spirit.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Catch the Deer In Headlines Podcast online at MyGreeneRadio.com! More at gerydeer.com

 

Don’t go changin’ to try to please me.

In Health, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on April 3, 2017 at 6:01 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

People are who they are, regardless of how we may paint them in our minds or want them to be otherwise. Some people are practical, pragmatic and detached, while others are driven by their emotions. You may know people who are defined by their occupation while others seem like any job will do, so long as it pays the bills. And then there are political, religious and sociological beliefs, about which we won’t detail in this short work.

What this all adds up to is that people are different and we can’t change each other and shouldn’t try. We have to accept our differences, or we should anyway, out of respect for the other person.

Even when someone exhibits dangerous, reckless or destructive behavior, it’s not our place to interfere. Of course we can always try to guide someone who’s harming his or herself or others to seek help, but we can’t make them, nor can we do anything to alter their personality or way of thinking. Probably one of the most common examples of people trying to change each other’s behavior or personality is in romantic relationships.

Even when they don’t intend to do so men and women try to change each other when they enter into romantic relationships. When we meet someone, an image of that person forms as we learn about them. Over time, the image alters as we get better acquainted and sometimes the person seems different to us than we initially thought. This is when a relationship can take a hard turn, for better or worse.

Probably the worst thing we can do is to try to change someone’s personality, outlook, basic behavior, or whatever it is that makes them who they are as an individual. Like it or not, we are who we are, and no outside forces can alter those characteristics.

The only way someone can change is by doing so on their own. Yes, there can be external influences that may initiate or motivate some kind of transformation, but long term adjustments must come from within.
So what kinds of changes are we talking about here? Suppose someone does not respond to you the way you expect and that upsets you. Here’s an example.

John brings home flowers, candy and a nice gift for his wife Marsha’s birthday. He arrives at home to be greeted at the door by Marsha who is all dressed up for a formal evening out. John has either clearly forgotten about something or Marsha has her schedule mixed up.

If we ignore, for the moment, the obvious communication problem between these two – a much longer topic for another time – how would you expect each person to respond? Oddly, we expect someone to react to things exactly the same way that we do. It’s like being expected to gush over a colleague’s iPhone video of her cat doing something interesting when you just think it’s dumb.

So in the case of John and Marsha, she expects him to have been home a half hour sooner and dress for an evening out, and he thinks they’re staying in for a movie and pizza. But the reaction is what matters. Immediately, Marsha asks where he’s been and does he know what time it is?

She’s upset, confused and angry. She thinks he just forgot her birthday and made a drive by at the local convenience store for some fast birthday gifts. John, on the other hand, expects her to be appreciative that he remembered her birthday at all and made an effort to do something nice.

Expectations have a lot to do with communication problems and why we wish we could change someone’s behavior. What should happen is for people to be more understanding of each other, taking into account our emotional state, or even our lack thereof.

Communication is really the key. We can all be different and be ourselves if we’re willing to talk and accept those differences in each other. Our diversity is what usually brings us together as human beings, it’s high time we started to recognize it in our personal relationships as well.

 

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

Indie films offer originality and escapism

In Business, crafts, Entertainment, Media, Movies, Opinion, Uncategorized on March 25, 2017 at 8:08 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

“The Movies are great medicine. Thank you Thomas Edison, for giving us the best years of our lives.” – The Statler Brothers

In 2010, I wrote one edition of Deer In Headlines that discussed how a good movie can transport you to a colorful land somewhere over the rainbow, show you what it means to have true grit or take you into the final frontier of space. At the movies, you can travel through time in a DeLorean, see pirate ships battle on the high seas or even visit a galaxy far, far away. But in the short time since my first, brief exploration on the subject of film, a lot has changed.

The first known film production ever recorded was a British piece called Roundhay Garden Scene, filmed in 1888 by inventor Louis Le Prince. When first introduced, people hardly took notice of motion pictures as they were more a science experiment in optics than an entertainment medium.

Shot at only 12 frames per second, on highly flammable celluloid plastic, that first grainy movie lasted a mere two seconds but pioneered what would become one of the most lucrative industries of the 20th Century and beyond. From silent features starring Douglas Fairbanks, to the first talkies, movies have a special place in the history of American culture.

Many lines from feature films have worked their way into our cultural dialect. Who can forget Sean Connery’s first delivery of, “Bond, James Bond,” or Roy Scheider’s astonished look as he calmly noted, “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.” What about Clark Gable’s straight-forward parting line to Scarlet O’Hara, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a,” well, you know the rest of it.

Today, however, while I believe movies still offer a level of escapism, I don’t believe they’re as well done or memorable as in the past. There was a time when, whatever your taste, someone out there was making a movie just for you. For all of us there is that one, special movie or that single line of dialogue that we carry with us our whole lives, but it just doesn’t seem like the most recent generation of films have the same staying power.

One of the reasons, at least in my opinion, is Hollywood’s complete and total disregard for originality. Everything seems to be a reboot, either of a previously successful film franchise or television program. The best movie I’ve seen in a while was the “Lego Batman” animated film. It was entertaining, full of nostalgia, and just a fun movie. Oddly original too, despite its familiar characters and settings.

If you want originality today, you have to get away from the mainstream box office and explore the countless number of independent films being produced around the country. Distributed on a much smaller scale, indie films can offer the same escapism as the summer blockbusters, but usually with original stories told in a much more creative way.

Created by small production companies, and lacking the mind-blowing budgets afforded to mainstream movies, an indie film must be more solid at the story level, unable to depend on “whiz bang” special effects to keep audiences engaged. And they’re not really geared toward moviegoers with short attention spans. These films tend to be rich in storytelling and move more slowly.

Independently produced films are tough to find at your local multiplex, so you’ll have to scan local newspapers and event websites for listings. And if you’re a streamer, Netflix and Amazon Prime both have a great selection of indies, from romantic comedies to more dark features. You’ll have to read some reviews and get some background before choosing one because the titles are not always as descriptive as they could be.

So my advice is that if you want to see high quality movies with great storytelling and an emotional hook that really makes you feel and think, you’ll have to look outside Hollywood. Great, new films are still, and I was skeptical too. But indie films offer a great alternative to the unoriginal, one-dimensional movies now flooding the cinema. See you at the movies.

 

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

Pursuing your passion

In Children and Family, Health, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on March 18, 2017 at 9:36 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

I once read that great things are unique and unconventional. I’m certain that’s true and in order to achieve great things we, ourselves, must be equally unique and unconventional. We have to step outside our comfort zones. Or, as is often the case with me, run screaming outside them and be willing to screw up big time and embarrass ourselves in the process. To do any less will mean perpetual mediocrity.

I used to believe that everyone searches for purpose in life. But, what I’ve learned in my nearly half-century on this earth, is that there are people who just don’t care. That’s not meant to sound harsh, I just mean that day-to-day living is, for all practical reasons, their “purpose.”

Still, some can find meaning in the most superficial of accomplishments however self-serving others might see them. Achieving great things means different things to different people, some more superficial than others. But it’s all in how you look at it.

In my experience, finding that sense of self-worth is incredibly difficult and a constant personal journey for me. I have no real answers to how to get there, but I have discovered that the path begins with three steps – locate your passion, apply your talent and help others. Let’s look at the details.

First, “locate your passion.” According to Dictionary.com, the most accurate definition of the word “passion” in this context is, “a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.” Such as, “he has a ‘passion’ for music.”

My friend Jim Karns, and the rest of “The Brothers & Co.” and I find some of our purpose in bringing laughter and music to others.

This is probably the most difficult part of the process because even the very concept is ambiguous. I know it’s always been hard for me to nail it down and then figure out how that fits with work, family responsibilities and goals.

Finding your passion requires a great deal of personal exploration, reflection, and trial and error. The journey to discovering your passion is the search for that one “thing” that makes you forget to eat or go to the bathroom.

Whenever I hear someone talk about “passion,” particularly related to an occupation or job, it usually comes from some crunchy granola-type artist or non-profit worker. I’m not sure I’ve ever found a single, motivating passion in my life. I have several, all of which have equal importance to who I am. I’m still working on it, and it’s very likely to be a continuing effort of weeks, months, or even years.

Second on my list is, “apply your talent.” Here the idea is to take whatever talents you have – natural or learned, yes there are both – and apply that skill and energy to your passion.

For example, let’s say your passion turns out to be writing. You’ll probably first want to decide what kind of writer you want to be. Do you pen Shakespearean drama, or do your talents flow more towards “Fifty Shades of Grey?” What makes you want to write? What kind of writing makes you want to sit down and just let the stories flow onto your computer screen, to the exclusion of everything else? That’s where applying your talent to your passion really comes into play.

Third, and possibly the most rewarding and important of your first steps, is helping others. As you achieve a certain level of awareness and success, it becomes more important for you to share your knowledge and understanding with those less accomplished.

This in no way implies that you have to be an expert or have every aspect of your life’s pursuit nailed down. It just means that you should try to help those who may not be as advanced in their search. Mentoring is one of the most rewarding of experiences to come out of this process.

Mentoring is not the only way to help people while continuing your personal growth. I’ve found that volunteering to work in an organization or for a cause that falls within your passion interest can also be incredibly valuable to both the beneficiaries of the effort and to yourself.

Giving your life more meaning by pursuing a personal passion is not easy and it’s certainly not right for everyone. We only get one life and one future so don’t waste it.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd.  More at gerydeer.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

 

Even legal immigrants fear ICE raids

In history, Local News, National News, Opinion, Uncategorized, World News on February 27, 2017 at 10:18 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGODuring the third week of February, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), part of the Department of Homeland Security, arrested hundreds in operations across the United States. Raids on homes and businesses in New York, Illinois, Florida, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, resulted in the arrest of approximately 600 in a two-week period, 160 in Los Angeles alone.

So, who are those being arrested? Reportedly, 75-percent of them had felony convictions, the rest had either misdemeanor convictions or were in the country illegally. More than three dozen were immediately deported back to Mexico.

Officials have stated that these raids are part of routine operations and not necessarily a result of the presidential crack-down on illegal immigration. DHS Secretary John Kelly stated in a news conference that ICE is, “Upholding the law,” and insists, “No one is being ‘rounded up.’ The people being arrested are illegal immigrants, and then some.”

What does not seem to be taken into consideration anywhere in this problem are the children of illegal immigrants who are United States citizens by birth, but whose parents are undocumented. When the parents are deported, kids are left with family members, often who are illegal themselves and may be sent away as well.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) SWAT officers.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) SWAT officers.

Still, people are scared. Immigrants, legal and otherwise, their American relatives, friends, and other immigrant family members are terrified. Parents are being ripped from children, and anyone who is here legally that may need to return to their home country for any reason is scared they won’t be able to return.

This is a sticky conundrum. The great majority of illegal immigrants have risked great danger are to come here and work and make a better life for their families. Are they breaking the law? Yes. Are they felons and rapists and murderers? No, not by any stretch of the imagination. Can they be helped to obtain legal status? Yes – easily. But no one working for the current administration is ever going to do that.

The fact of the matter is that when someone comes into the country illegally, they’re taking a risk, one made even bigger where other family members are concerned. The risk of being deported is always there and it’s hard to get Americans on board with the idea that these individuals should be allowed to stay and provided easy access to citizenship.

But there actually are some genuinely negative economic effects of illegals working in the country. According to a February 12 New York Times article, “Similarly-skilled native-born workers are faced with a choice of either accepting lower pay or not working in (a particular) field at all. Labor economists have concluded that undocumented workers have lowered the wages of U.S. adults without a high-school diploma — 25 million of them — by anywhere between 0.4 to 7.4 percent.” That’s bound to bring on some resentment by Americans.

 

But what Americans should also know is that undocumented immigrants are already taxpayers. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a research organization that works on tax policy issues, reports that, collectively, illegal immigrants paid an estimated $10.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2010. Apparently, the U.S. Government is fine with “looking the other way” on illegals, so long as they’re paying taxes.

The big issue here is awareness; awareness by Americans to the real problem with immigration – crime. Yes, we should be deporting criminals at every turn. Not a year after their convictions, but the instant the sentence is handed down. They should go from the court room to the authorities of their country of origin to be deported in custody, not released at the border like some captured raccoon from your trash cans.

Those who are here working and making a better life for their families have rights. To those people reading this I say, know your rights. An ICE officer cannot enter your home without your permission and a warrant signed by a judge. If you’re arrested, say nothing, sign nothing without talking to an attorney. Hang in there. America really is the place you came here for – it’s just that sometimes even good people make bad decisions. Have faith and stay strong.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Veterans do not want pity

In Health, history, National News, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized on February 27, 2017 at 10:12 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOThe way in which we care for military veterans in this country is shameful, to say the least. And, so far in the Trump administration’s first term, there has been no movement to correct it. Strangely, some people still think veterans are just whining or wanting some kind of pity from the rest of us.

Well for those of you who think they’re whining, here are some facts. There are more than 21.5 million living veterans in America. From that group we know that they are 26.3 percent less educated than the average citizen, earn more money on average, about $8800 per year more, and 71 percent of them vote in general elections.

Nearly 2 million veterans and almost 1 million of their family members, lack health insurance and more than one-sixth of all veterans have an active duty related disability that they can’t get the Veterans Administration to recognize. If they do recognize it, some veterans must wait up to three years for treatment to begin.

Veterans don't want pity - they want what they were promised.

Veterans don’t want pity – they want what they were promised.

The divorce rates for veterans is at record levels while declining among the civilian population. Veterans are half as likely to be homeless as non-vets and more soldiers have committed suicide this year than have died on the battlefield. These statistics are incomprehensible to any sensible, thinking person.

My questions are simple. Where is the outrage? Where are the protests? Where are the executive orders? None of the above have happened, nor are they likely to.
Sure, occasionally you get an appropriations bill coming through congress that’s supposed to shore up resources for veteran programs, update medical facilities, or increase money for benefits a bit. But that’s it, and even that money gets whittled down repeatedly until the overall impact is negligible.

Dozens of veteran-focused organizations are out there with the mission to assist individuals with problems like jobs, housing, welfare, whatever. But these are people who have protected us from at least one full generation that has done so voluntarily. No one conscripted them – they went willingly to take up the front lines.

While elected officials debate and

Those of us with veterans in our families understand the reality of waiting weeks for a doctor’s appointment or months for treatment of a diagnosis. But it’s not all about medical care.

Make no mistake. Veterans don’t want our pity but our respect and to have the U.S. Government fulfill its promise of lifelong care for their service. In this writer’s opinion, beyond race or gender, a veteran should be given first consideration for jobs, loans, business opportunities and so on. They’ve earned it. They put their civilian lives on hold, and sometimes their very lives on the line for all of us.

To put it into perspective, members of the U.S. Congress receive lifelong retirement and health insurance benefits befitting most other federal employees at the same pay level – on average around $220,000 per year. But it’s a sure bet that none of them would have to wait three years for any diagnosis or treatment but all of them get to decide on how much money goes towards caring for the veterans who will.

It’s disgraceful that any serving enlisted military member must survive on welfare of any kind. Then, once they finish their tour – or tours – of duty, they must depend on the V.A. for services that are so low in standard as to be laughable. And change is moving at a snail’s pace.

I’m not a veteran. I considered going into the U.S. Air Force after high school, but health issues made that impossible. Still, as a citizen, I’m constantly impressed and in awe of the level of which military men and women, active and retired, serve with no regrets, and who express unshakable loyalty to a country which has done virtually nothing to support them after the fact.

Veterans don’t want a handout. They want an opportunity; an opportunity to receive what they were promised when Uncle Sam accepted their signature. There’s nothing charitable about that – it’s just the right thing to do.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Catch the podcast version, free,  at MyGreeneRadio.com.

It’s not me, it’s you

In Children and Family, Local News, Opinion, psychology, Uncategorized on February 7, 2017 at 6:39 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAre the people around you accepting of changes you make in your life for the better? In other words, if you altered major factors in your life right now, in positive ways, would your friends and family support and encourage you?

That’s a problem many people face when they realize there are things they’d like to improve about themselves, particularly if they involve major changes in lifestyle, work, or personal relationships.

Let’s face it, when you decide to make a major transformation in your life, the world around you can also change dramatically. Those close to you may have trouble adjusting to your alterations. A good, albeit extreme, example might be when someone quits drinking alcohol.

Alcoholics or even people with a moderate level of alcohol consumption have reported that after they go on the wagon they lose friends and even family contacts because of it. In that situation, it’s most likely because those people also have a problem with drinking and are uncomfortable being around someone who has made the decision to stop.

Sometimes, making a change requires major alterations in lifestyle. You might change your eating to help lose weight or quit smoking or look outside your home area for a job change. All of this can be upsetting or even intimidating to people around you. And whether your closest ties will accept your changes and support you or not can affect your success. Case in point – my choice to create a healthier lifestyle for myself.

Because of childhood health issues, I’ve always felt I wasn’t as strong as I could be. And, with the half-century mark just around the corner for me, I’ve spent the last six or seven months thinking about how to shore up my overall health.

Watching my mother deteriorate from Alzheimer’s disease and my father’s struggle with Parkinson’s and diabetes, and knowing I really can’t do anything to prevent those things entirely, I am still determined to give myself the best shot at the longest, healthiest life possible. So, a few months ago, I started making more dramatic changes in how I eat, handle stress – that is, taking down time – and getting exercise.

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

I’ve always been a pretty active person, bicycling, general manual work, at home and around our farm, always felt like it was enough to keep me in decent physical shape. I was wrong, but it’s always been hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of “exercising” for no productive purpose. The thing is, I was my own worst critic. This was for a constructive and productive purpose – to help my strength and endurance so I could better handle aging and illness as time goes on. Once I accepted that, I was on my way.

I haven’t talked to family much about it, other than to say that I have started swimming. I’ve adjusted my work and home schedules around it – making all of this a priority because if I don’t, it won’t be successful.

But my close friends are looking at me sometimes like I’ve got three heads. Rarely has anyone seen me dressed in anything but boots, jeans, or business attire. I’ve never been one to sport an athletic wardrobe, yet suddenly, there I am in warm ups and workout shoes. Granted, I’m a bit set in my ways, so their disbelief is as much my fault as theirs.

No one’s been unsupportive, though. In fact, quite the opposite. I’ve felt better than I have in years, and that probably shows just in my activity level. Changes like this can be incredibly obvious and might only affect those around you in that you’re choosing a bowl of mixed raw veggies at the big game party, instead of downing a whole bag of Cheetos.

Also, I’m certainly not suggesting you should be all smug and superior like, “See what I’m doing? You should too.” What’s right for you isn’t necessarily right for them. Earnest Hemingway said, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” But if people can’t accept that you want to improve yourself then it’s their issue, not yours.

 

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

 

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.