Coal mines can be closed without destroying livelihoods – here’s how


Owen Douglas, University College Dublin and Kieran Harrahill, University College Dublin

Countries across the globe are trying to wind down coal production. While this will help in the battle against climate change, those communities that have specialised in coal mining may see their local job market decline or be eliminated entirely. Most of these places have mined coal for many generations. Given long-standing traditions, such communities will inevitably resist decarbonisation unless they are given appropriate reassurances regarding their economic and social survival.

We recently researched what did – and didn’t – work in coal regions of Canada, Australia and Germany. Our aim was to identify which policies have been most successful in halting the production of coal without placing the economic burden on coal workers and communities. Our results are now published in the journal Energy Policy.

Workers in extractive industries like mining or oil are often presented as the public face of opposition to environmental protection. However, research has shown that workers in “dirty” industries do tend to support environmentally friendly policies once their immediate interests are not negatively affected.

Furthermore, there is clear evidence that environmental protection and transitioning to the low-carbon economy has the potential to create employment just as much as it can cause unemployment.

The European Trade Union Institute has developed various indicators of a “just transition” away from coal – dialogue, retraining, and so on. In our paper, we used these indicators to identify what worked in our three case study areas.

Talk to each other

We found that active dialogue with communities is key. In North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, policy is jointly formulated by employees and employers, giving workers a voice which is largely equal to that of industrialists. The proportion of employees on supervisory boards is determined by the number of employees, which means there is one-third employee representation if there are more than 500 employees and parity on the supervisory board if there are more than 2,000 employees. This has meant coal mining has been gradually reduced and now nearly eliminated without major social or political upheaval.

In contrast, Hazelwood coal power station and adjoining mine in Victoria, Australia were closed with minimal consultation with unions or government, and after just five months notice.

Where dialogue does occur, it must be genuine and followed by action. In coal villages in Alberta, Canada, such as Forestburg or Wabamun, the industry did attempt to talk to workers and local officials but the structure of the talks was poorly defined, resulting in workers not trusting the decarbonisation processes.

Jobs after coal

We identified re-employment in “clean” industries as a way to maintain livelihoods. The German approach to re-employment has seen North-Rhine Westphalia reinvent itself as a leader in new energy technologies. Central to this has been a bottom-up approach involving co-operation between workers, communities, employers and government.

Essen, Germany, was once known for its coal. In 2017 it was made ‘European Green Capital’. Lukassek / shutterstock

In Victoria, the dominance of the coal industry has hindered the transition towards a lower-carbon economy. However, the establishment of the Earthworker Cooperative has provided a platform for various affected groups to establish sustainable enterprises such as Australia’s first worker-owned factory, making renewable energy appliances and components. This demonstrates how local communities can create employment and maintain profits within their area without relying on coal.

In Alberta, a number of production facilities are simply shifting from coal to gas. While this shift creates jobs outside the coal sector, it does little to secure employment overall, since natural gas extraction and production requires fewer workers than coal. For example, energy company TransAlta is converting its coal-fired Sundance power plant in Wabamun to natural gas, which means the overall workforce will be cut in half when the layoffs are complete.

Investing in people’s futures

Re-training allows workers to develop the necessary skills to work outside of the coal sector. In North Rhine-Westphalia, training programmes have targeted a number of different sectors including engineering, trades, business and technology. The industrial heartland of the Ruhr area – once the centre of Germany’s coal industry – has six new universities, 15 colleges and 60 research facilities since 1961. This Strukturwandel, or structural change, has developed a highly skilled workforce and demonstrates the potential for economic growth and diversification beyond coal.

Education and training has been made more accessible through subsidised retraining – in Alberta, through the Coal and Electricity Transition Tuition Voucher, and in Victoria through the Training Guarantee. This ensures that retraining does not place an additional burden on those facing redundancy.

Make former coal towns great again

Investing in infrastructure is a further means by which to secure sustainable transitions for workers and their families. In North Rhine-Westphalia and Victoria, government funding has primarily focused on roads and rail alongside investment in community infrastructure such as sports and recreational facilities. This ensures that former mining areas do not remain synonymous with coal production, pollution and socio-economic problems, and makes them a more attractive place for other industries to invest.

Moving away from fossil fuels such as coal is central to achieving emissions targets. This doesn’t have to create huge social unrest. With the goodwill of policymakers and through measures such as those we have identified, decarbonisation strategies can be developed and implemented while maintaining livelihoods for those directly affected.


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Owen Douglas, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Environmental Policy, University College Dublin and Kieran Harrahill, PhD Researcher on the Bioeconomy and Society, University College Dublin

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Elvis’s voice: like Mario Lanza singing the blues


Adrian York, University of Westminster

Much of the mythology that surrounds Elvis Presley, who died 40 years ago, tends to surround his rags to riches story, his film-star looks, his outrageous stage outfits, his marriage to child bride Priscilla and his descent into overindulgence and drug addiction at his Graceland mansion. In death, Elvis has become to millions a kind of cautionary tale of celebrity, sex and scandal that has at times threatened to engulf his legacy. But perhaps the most important part of that legacy is his voice – a voice that has sold more than a billion records.

Etched into the grooves of all those records was the sound of an extraordinary singer with a range of more than two octaves, wonderful control, tone and vibrato and the ability to cross genres effortlessly. Record producer John Owen Williams says of Elvis:

People talk of his range and power, his ability and ease in hitting the high notes. But the real difference between Elvis and other singers was that he could sing majestically in any style, be it rock, country, or R&B – because he had soul. He sang from the heart. And that is what made him the greatest singer in the history of popular music.

Elvis grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, and moved with his family to Memphis, Tennessee, when he was 15. He was immersed in the pop and country music of the time as well as the gospel sounds from his church. Beale Street in Memphis was a centre for blues and R&B so those influences would have also have been a major factor in Elvis’ musical development. As Pricilla was to explain years after his death, young Elvis’ eclectic record collection included:

Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, gospel and black music. There was rhythm and blues artist Joe Turner, Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson, Chuck Berry, the Righteous Brothers … and even Duke Ellington and Glen Miller.

But it was their shared love of the star American tenor Mario Lanza, she added, “that was really the link between the two of us”. Lanza’s hugely popular “bel canto” classical tenor approach fused with the roots styles surrounding Elvis created the core of his singing style. Opera star Kiri Te Kanawa told Michael Parkinson that the young Elvis had the greatest voice she had ever heard. The tenor Placido Domingo similarly enthused in an interview in Spanish magazine Hola in 1994: “His was the one voice I wish to have had.” Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel told The New York Times in 2007 that Presley was: “… very classically orientated with his voice and diction and very sincere and wanting to get everything perfect.”

Return to sender: Elvis as everyday American hero. Stamptastic via Shutterstock

Learning process

Elvis’ musical career can be divided into four eras: the early years in the 1950s singing rock’n’roll, country and gospel; the transition to pop in 1960; the renaissance years surrounding the 1968 TV Comeback Special and the still glorious melancholy of his final work in the late 1970s. But what was it about his voice that spoke so directly to so many people across this time span? Cathryn Robson, a senior lecturer in voice and music performance at the University of Westminster, said:

Elvis was technically fearless and instinctive in his use of technique. In his early material in particular it is as if his voice is finding and creating the lyrics as he is singing them.

To really understand Elvis’ sound we have to go back to the recordings. One of the hallmarks of Elvis’ vocal approach is a combination of his large range with the unusual ability to move seamlessly between his tenor and baritone voices. Combined with his range, he has great control over the placement of the voice in the different resonant centres such as the chest, head and the pharynx at the back of the mouth which affects the vocal tone. https://www.youtube.com/embed/gj0Rz-uP4Mk?wmode=transparent&start=0

The rock’n’roll classic Jailhouse Rock from 1957 features a distorted high tenor vocal combined with sloppy lyrical articulation in an explosive performance. The contrast with the pure, clean tone of Elvis’ 1960 rendition of the gospel classic Milky White Way with its great blend of resonance between the chest and head voices is clearly apparent.

In Can’t Help Falling in Love from 1961, Elvis explores the richness of his baritone range moving to a gorgeous light baritone in the bridge of the song. Guitar Man from 1967 – the track that gave the first hint of his mid-60s “comeback” – features a “speak-singing” approach described by Robson as a singer’s “technical holy grail”. https://www.youtube.com/embed/DcJac6OykfM?wmode=transparent&start=0

The 1972 song Burning Love, Elvis’s final hit in his lifetime, features another sound altogether – a tight forceful vocal tone with the voice bursting out of his pharynx over a driving rock track.

Technical prowess

Elvis had a brilliant ability to control the attack and ending of each note. If we listen the 1954 Sun Records recording of Blue Moon of Kentucky we can hear Elvis using a technique known as “glottal onset and offset” – a technique in which the vocal folds in the larynx are closed at the start of a note and closed with extra emphasis at the end of the note – to achieve clarity of attack and an amazing rhythmic bounce in his vocal performance. That ability to drive the rhythm is also present in the 1963 hit Viva Las Vegas in which Elvis effortlessly accents the melody to give a rhythmic shape to each phrase. https://www.youtube.com/embed/ui0EgRsFVN8?wmode=transparent&start=0

The 1960 release of It’s Now Or Never marked Elvis’ transition to pop. The song was a reworking with specially commissioned lyrics of O Sole Mio, a signature hit for Mario Lanza. Alongside the operatic “bel canto” approach Elvis sings the song using a technique known as “devoicing” which creates sudden drops in the dynamic of the vocal. This allows Elvis to mark the emotional fragility in the lyric creating as Robson notes “a mix of assertiveness and vulnerability”.

A crucial element in Elvis’ sonic signature was his use of vibrato. The final Battle Hymn of the Republic’ segment of the 1972 recording of An American Trilogy features the sound of his vocal folds vibrating together in all their glory creating a sound that has been much copied in pop music but never bettered.

Elvis was much more than just a collection of vocal techniques – and as a singer had to overcome the sometimes mediocre material he was saddled with. As his legend fades we will be left with the multiple sounds of his voice: tender, aggressive, loving, uncertain, swaggering, pious and sexual – all delivered with a consummate technical virtuosity that was as much assimilated as studied. https://www.youtube.com/embed/WWVMXLSS1cA?wmode=transparent&start=0

But enough of these words. Go and listen to the recordings for yourselves – or, as Elvis sang in the 1968 movie Live A Little, Love A Little, let’s have A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action.

Adrian York, Senior Lecturer in Commercial Music Performance, University of Westminster

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Tobacco re-imagined as a future fuel source


Algal genes are introduced into tobacco cells that grow into plants. Peggy Lemaux/UC Berkeley

Peggy Lemaux, University of California, Berkeley

Tobacco doesn’t immediately conjure up ideas of fuel for cars and planes. But that’s precisely what a three-year, $4.8m project from the US Department of Energy’s ARPA-E PETRO (Plants Engineered to Replace Oil) program aims to rectify.

The tobacco plant does not naturally produce high levels of oils in its leaves, so researchers are introducing genes from blue-green and green microalgae, plants and bacteria that would allow the plant to use photosynthesis to directly convert carbon dioxide from the air into oils which could be used as fuel.

Rather than adding to the greenhouse gas problem, this approach, if successful, is a zero-sum game – it uses CO2 from the air rather than producing it. Additionally, by creating oil directly in the plant it does away with the costly processing and conversion required in other biofuel approaches used to turn biological matter into fuels.

But why tobacco? One frequent argument against biofuels is that plants grown for fuel compete with plants grown for food, with negative impacts on food security and prices. Using tobacco, which is widely grown but has never been a food crop, side-steps the food versus fuel argument. What’s more, this approach is made more attractive because tobacco is a high biomass plant, producing large amounts of leaf mass. The more biomass produced, the more oil is available. It will also allow farmers who have been growing tobacco for generations to continue that tradition – but for a different, more meaningful, purpose (and after all, tobacco markets in Europe, the US and most other regions are shrinking).

In order to improve the oil generation in tobacco, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, have turned their attention to certain algae that are able to convert energy from sunlight into oil. The aim is then to introduce certain algal genes into the tobacco genome to add to existing pathways to enable plants to produce biofuels. Another aim is to improve photosynthetic efficiency that would allow tobacco to convert sunlight into energy even more efficiently, and thus lead to larger quantities of oil.

To introduce the new genetic material, the researchers use very small pieces of tobacco leaves to introduce the desired genes. A naturally occurring bacterium, Agrobacterium that can inject genetic material into plant cells, is used. The result is that the new genes become a heritable part of the tobacco plant. The small pieces of leaf tissue are then placed on a culture medium where only those cells containing the introduced genes are able to grow. From the seemingly dead leaf tissue arise leaves and roots from the engineered cells, ultimately resulting in a new plant, every cell of which will contain the new genetic material.

Additionally, colleagues at the Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center at the University of Kentucky are examining agricultural methods. Large-scale tobacco growing practices and harvesting infrastructure already exist and the KTRDC researchers are examining how these can be improved to generate greater amounts of biomass. Current improvements are focused on increasing the amount of biomass produced per acre of land, which would result in higher oil production.

A year and a half into the project, the researchers have demonstrated that the engineered plants produce the desired oils and have developed techologies to extract the oils using organic solvents. Current thinking is that bio-refineries could purchase the tobacco to extract its oil-rich content. The crude product could then be sold, as is, to existing oil refineries for use as gasoline, kerosene, or biodiesel, processed separately or blended with fossil crude oil for high volume production.

The challenge for this project now is to increase levels of oil to make the process economically competitive with other fuel-generating approaches. Much more research is needed before tobacco plants produce biofuels at commercial levels and will be available to growers – but preliminary results are encouraging. If successful, this approach provides a shortcut to producing fuels by direct conversion of CO2 into energy-dense liquid biofuels, using energy from the sun. The humble tobacco plant could become a future fuel-generating factory.

Peggy Lemaux, Cooperative Extension Specialist, Lemaux Lab, University of California, Berkeley

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Random Thoughts 4/20/2022


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People wonder why there is so much low self-esteem in the world, if you take a good look at television shows, commercials, social media, movies, and even the news on cable news stations you just may see some of the reasons for low self-esteem, but then there is also how one’s family treats them, their peers and the educational system.

When you are constantly bombarded with images of thin, fit, and muscular actors, advertisements aimed to push miracle vitamins and supplements to fix all your shortcomings, it is very hard to hold on to a good self-image and even harder to build it up. Constantly being told that having a perfect body weight, toned muscles, the right clothes, and accessories makes one beautiful and successful is making it hard for most people to maintain healthy self-esteem.

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Unfortunately, fashion, the newest electronics, and possessions play a big part in teenage self-image, which makes it hard for those who don’t have the money to compete with their peers. Combining that with parents that have to work 2 jobs or inconvenient hours to maintain the quality of life they have only makes it harder on teenagers and kids.

The ones that seem to suffer the worst during school years are those that don’t quite fit the norm, the overweight, the below-average to average looking, and the sensitive passive individuals. Bullying from those who think they are cool, tougher, and better than others does not help the situation at all. The consequences of bullying are usually mild and it seems it’s hard to catch kids bullying or maybe some just overlook it.

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Parents and siblings also play a large part in the development of a child’s self-esteem, they can be either a positive or negative force when it comes to a child’s self-image. Siblings usually are competing for the parent’s attention, love and favor so they tend to be very mean to one another. Parents on the other hand usually are trying to do what’s best for the child but don’t realize what works for one child does not always work for the other. Each child is a unique individual, they have different needs and need help in different ways. Some parents, unfortunately, don’t know how to deal with their children at all so they try to treat them as if they are adults way before the child or teen is emotionally and mentally ready to do so. This usually results in conflict and the child/teen becomes rebellious and has a poor self-image.

If the low self-esteem is not addressed and corrected during the child/teen years then it is carried into the adult years. That makes it very hard for the Adult to achieve a healthy relationship with a significant other and even harder for them to become successful in the work world.

Raising kids is not an easy task, being a parent means you have to be a caregiver, advisor, instructor, friend, leader, cook, counselor, and of course an ATM for the children lol. Helping a child navigate the battlefields of youth and preparing them for the many challenges they will have to face in the future is not an easy thing to accomplish. All you can do is give it your best shot and always be there for them when they need you.

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I myself have had self-esteem issues throughout my life, I have been battling low self-esteem for many decades. I could go down a list of all the things that caused my low self-esteem but what is the use of that now that it now falls squarely on me to repair the damage and improve myself. Plus the first step in moving on and building up your self-esteem/self-image is to forgive those who helped in destroying it and letting go of your own contributions to the whole mess as well.

Just know this, there is no one better than you, but then there is no one lesser than you. We all are unique, we all have our own gifts to embrace and shortcomings that we need to deal with. There is no one on this planet that does not have some emotional or psychological baggage to deal with. How much money you have, and how many toys you have has nothing to do with who you are or how good you are. What defines you is how you live life, and how you treat others and yourself.

Being successful sure feels good, being financially well off does make life easier in many ways, but money, possessions, and success are fleeting, they can be gone in an instant. Family and friends to me are far more important along with how I treat others, and how I live my life. Those things will be with me throughout my life.

Well, I wish you happiness, remember it does not matter what others think or say about you, it is what you know about yourself that matters the most.

Random Thoughts 4-17-2022


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During the last few years, it has really come to my attention that humanity tends to cling to hatred, fear, and selfishness far more than it should. The Ideal is that being compassionate, caring, showing love, and being nice in general are signs of weakness that are slowly destroying our societies. Too many hold on to the belief, that in order to be strong you must be callus, cold, and show no mercy.

I ask you this question, which takes more courage, which takes more effort and strength to achieve and maintain? Being a person who lets his fears, anger, and lack of trust guide his decision, being callous and uncaring so that you can achieve a goal, or the person who conquers his fear and puts aside all his anger and distrust in order to achieve his goal?

To me it seems far easier to give in to anger and fear, takes less courage and effort to follow the path of war and destruction. Takes a very strong individual to put themselves out there and do the right thing, to do the things that benefit others more than themselves. Regardless of which way you do things, you will have critics and naysayers, but I would rather be disliked for doing good and being kind than for being a warmonger or a bringer of hate and distrust.

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There is some hope for Humanity through all this pandemic and war business going on nowadays, look at those who have opened their hearts and homes to refugees, the people going out of their way to help protect others from the pandemic, and aid in keeping those infected alive. We have seen the worse of humanity and the best of humanity through the last few years and I really hope in the end, the best of humanity will outweigh the worse and become the light to guide the way for future generations to follow.

Try to remember, that we all are brothers and sisters on this earth regardless of our skin color, or religious or political beliefs. We all desire a peaceful and happy world for our children and the future children to come. Be compassionate, caring, and live in harmony, if not for yourself, then for your children and the future.

That said, May peace come soon to the Ukraine conflict, may the pandemic pass for us all, and Happy Easter, Passover, and Ramadan to you all. Happiness and peace to all of my Brothers and Sisters across the world.

Random Thoughts 4-9-22


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There are those in life that serve themselves and never serve others, they get so self-absorbed they lose the ability to feel empathy. They lose focus on the importance of life, the blessings of compassion and charity. The lust for power and greed consume them to the point nothing else matters beyond acquiring more wealth and power.

I do not know if it is that they believe more power, possessions, and money will bring meaning into their life or that through such they can find some sort of happiness. To have some power and some wealth to give one security is something I can see all of us desiring to one degree or another, but it is hard to see it being more important than the well-being of others around us.

People like Putin that have way more than they need still seek more and put their dreams of a Legacy to leave behind above the worth of human lives around them. They see their own desires and ambitions as more important than the lives of others. Putin unfortunately has the power to take the lives of others, and it has cost the lives of thousands all in the name of his vision for his country and vision of a legacy.

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There is always a diplomatic solution to every political situation as long as both parties desire peace and stability. Unfortunately, diplomacy is a long game strategy, something that takes time, and some world leaders do not have much patience. Diplomacy also usually requires some give and take and a lot of the time one or both sides only want to take and never want to give. So diplomacy, the best solution to most political problems is not always the most desired because it takes too long and it means both sides must give something up in order to bring things to a close.

World leaders should be more focused on serving humanity as a whole than serving just their own ambitions, desires, and only the interests of their piece of the globe. We all should be focused on helping one another to be happier, healthier, and successful as well. Sometimes you serve yourself best by serving those around you, strengthening your community, and making a better world for everyone.

Just imagine if all the nations of the world were to work together to combat hunger, poverty, disease, and climate change. If they poured all their resources into improving the world we live in instead into weapons . We would probably see an end to most of those things fairly quickly and the rest in the short term future. Only if we could put aside all our political and ideological differences and combine our strengths to build a better future for all of humanity.

Well, enough Rambling on from this old midwesterner. Peace be with you all and may you create meaning in your life.

The Meaning of life or The Meaning of your life


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As one grows older they contemplate the meaning of life, what it all means, and what was the purpose of one’s existence in the grand scheme of things. The desire of having meaning in one’s life increases as you near the autumn and winter of your life.

Some fall into the trap of possessions and wealth, thinking life is all about what one can obtain for one’s own pleasure and comfort. Sure having plenty of money and nice trinkets and objects around you makes life a bit more pleasant in some ways, but do they really bring you happiness or do they just give you a temporary sense of achievement?

As long as you do not allow wealth and possessions to control your life and you avoid the addictive thing called greed you are fine. Having nice things and money is not wrong, just when you put more value on possessions and wealth than on human life and wellbeing you are walking a dangerous and addictive path.

Far as the meaning of life, or more precisely the meaning of your own life, it is something you create and chose. What you do, say, and how you live your life is what gives meaning to your own life. Being compassionate, charitable, and loving to others is one way to give your own life meaning. Far as the meaning of life in general, I believe it is to live, learn, love, and experience all life has to offer.

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The biggest challenge I have found in my life is keeping the self in check, the side of myself that is selfish, self-serving, and constantly viewing life as if it was only mine. It is hard not to think everything said or done around you isn’t somehow aimed at you or done for your sake one way or another. It is part of the way the human mind works to a degree.

So I must remind myself daily, that I am but one of the many, just another passenger on the great spaceship we call earth. Though I am just a grain of sand on the beaches of life, I am a part of those beaches so I am neither greater nor lesser than the rest. I do my best to remove the shackles of individualism while in turn, I try not to get lost in being a part of the great wholeness of life. The Great balancing act of being a sentient being in the universe.

So instead of trying to find meaning in life, go out and create meaning in your own life. Serve others more so than just serving yourself in life, and find a balance between being an individual and being a part of the whole. Be yourself and accept both yourself and others as who they are without condition.

Random Thoughts 4-5-22


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Democracy, In Greek, is demokratia which comes from 2 Greek words Demos which means people, and Kratos which means power. Thus, demokratia means rule by the people. This is where what we see as modern democracy from. Though the U.S. is a democracy of sorts, it is more of a democratic republic than just a simple democracy. We could get into all the details about how our nation works as a democratic republic but most people have a good grasp of the concept.

What seems to have happened in the last century is slowly but surely the people started losing their power in the U.S. to the big industries, corporations, and those with the money to lobby congress. For example, Big Pharma as we call it spends a big chunk of money lobbying congress in hopes of keeping pharmaceutical prices high to keep their profits high. They claim it’s all for research and development costs, but insulin as one example costs around 30 or so dollars outside the U.S. but costs Americans a hundred or more dollars. Of course, this is an oversimplified example when it comes to Big Pharma or any big industry Lobby campaign is about.

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The point is, if any citizen group were to lobby for something that any big industry or wealthy lobbyist group disliked, the outcome would be more than likely in favor of those with the money to lobby congress and not for the lobbyist group with the most beneficial ideas. The question is how do we level the playing field between big money / big industry and the non-profit or civilian lobbyist groups?

Since it is supposed to be the will of the people of the United States and not just the rich and or powerful such as big industry etc. it is an issue that should be dealt with. I feel most of the time it is the ideals and agendas of the big money lobbyists that are being heard and acted upon and that the voices of the people the congress is supposed to serve are usually ignored or downplayed. It is all about the money I believe in the end and not about democracy or good politics.

In the end, I feel there should be some heavy regulation of the political lobby groups and term limits in congress as well. When people stay in power too long they lose focus and eventually lose touch with the people they are there to serve. Unfortunately, the house and senate both are starting to resemble the roman senate in their worst years before Rome’s demise.

Senators and Representatives are too focused on getting sound bytes and tv time, too rigid and uncompromising to get anything done that benefits the people they were elected to serve. But give them something to do to help their lobbyist buddies and their political supporters, then you will see things get pushed through. Both the Republican and Democrat parties are catering too much to the extremism and radical base of their own party which is not good politics.

I just find it funny, that if I were to act like some of those in congress, I would be viewed as a villain of some sort or someone that needs to be on medication. Oh, and more than likely I would have been fired from my job for some of the actions displayed and words uttered by those in congress. I guess I am just disappointed in how some of those folks are behaving and can not fathom why there are no consequences for such.

Maybe I will just chuck it up to the pandemic and trying times we are living in being too much for them to bear. Who knows, but they do need to remember they represent us all and the World is watching them and so are the voters.

Random Thoughts 4-4-22


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We are always living in History in the making, some years are more notable than others and sometimes there are worldwide incidents that will overshadow the rest. We are living in times where extremism has once again reared its not so pretty head, world superpowers trying to regain once lost territories with little regard for human life or freedom. And almost in every nation’s political system, there is a battle between the extremes of their political parties.

The civilian population is being fed political propaganda of one sort or another through opinion pieces often disguised as news which leaves them either divided or confused. Democracies are facing growing pains and some want to say that democracy is dying, though I just believe it is growing and changing. Any political system that is too rigid and/or too inflexible to adapt to change in the world is destined to fail.

So here we are at a pivotal and important time in history, will we navigate through it and come out the other side better as a whole? We are on the edge of what may be a world war, a war that could bring about the end of humanity and possibly all life. What we do individually is as important as what we do collectively in the end. Of course, the war scenario is more in the hands of the leaders of all the world nations, but it is the lives of each person that will be put on the line.

War is never a good option, though it will always be an option as long as we have militaries and conflicting national interests. Diplomacy is a better option but it requires all sides to be willing to compromise to bring peace. As we see in Ukraine war is a terrifying and ugly thing to live through. There is very little respect for life and/or compassion on the battlefield and most of the time civilians are looked at as unfortunate casualties / Fatalities of war if not cannon fodder by some.

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Extremism, Imperialism, and nationalism are all diseases infecting the world and may one day bring the end of humanity if we are not very careful. I am not saying one shouldn’t be proud of their nation or that you should abandon having your extreme ideals, I am saying you should also be open-minded to the possibility that there are other views and nations that could be just as good if not equal to your own.

Well, what do I know? I am just an average man in the mix and these are just my opinions that were formed from my half-century worth of experiences. I could be wrong just as well as I could be right or somewhere in the middle. I do know that war is not a good thing, what happened in Ukraine to the civilian population thus far is an atrocity and should never have happened.

We are at a pivotal point in history, which way will we pivot? what will be the new direction of humanity as a whole? We will continue down the road of war, greed, and extremism? or will we find a better path for humanity and forge a future all of our children can be proud of and live in. The choice is not only in the hands of the Governments that rule our nations, the choice is in everyone’s hands in the end.

Random Thoughts 3/15/2022


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One must be awed, amazed and just plain overwhelmed by the courage, strength, fearlessness, and determination of the Ukrainian people. They are in a war/conflict where they are outnumbered, outgunned, and for most people would be considered dire or hopeless. To them, there is hope as long as there is life, something very admirable about people who face such overwhelming odds with such vigor and tenacity.

Does not matter what side you are on in this conflict, you must at least admire the people of Ukraine. They are very amazing people to take on such a big superpower and hold their own as long as they have. I myself support Ukraine, they should be able to decide their own destinies without interference from any nation be they from the east or west. To be honest though, who knows what is propaganda and what is not in this modern world. My trust in news agencies has gone way down in the last 10 years. So my support for Ukraine is less political and more of a Moral and personal opinion than anything else. Human lives are on the line and the right for a nation and people to choose their own destinies is as well.

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My message to Putin is, back off and go home. You made your point and got your message out and to the rest involved, give Putin a way out so this senseless war/conflict can come to a close. Peace is the best choice, Peace by diplomacy and sanity and not peace by destruction and death.

China, be the responsible superpower you should be, regardless of your political differences and your close ties to Russia you could be the broker of peace in this situation. We all need to bring this conflict to an end and find some common ground between us all before this escalates into a full-out world war. Because we all know if another world war breaks out someone will eventually make the mistake of using nuclear weapons and that would be the end of humankind as we know it if not total annihilation.

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It kind of confuses me to be honest why the two of the largest nations in landmass would be so concerned about expanding or reclaiming former pieces of land that are small in comparison to their own. They pose little to no threat militarily and their economies though good is not much of a worry to such industrious nations as China or Russia. Work on diplomatic solutions, economic ties, and instead of controlling those areas, befriend them and make this world a safer and happier place for the future children of all nations, including your own.

Democracies, monarchies, dictatorships, communist / Socialist republics alike are forms of government though different they all serve the same basic function. Just because we all govern differently does not mean we can not co-exist. We will, of course, have issues with one another, especially over human rights, but I feel not a single nation out there hasn’t at one point or another failed when it comes to the human rights and treatment of its citizens.

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The demonization of other nations and their political structure only leads to mistrust and conflict, not saying we shouldn’t call out a nation doing wrong, but do it responsibly and with facts only. Leave the opinions, propaganda, and rhetoric at home. People are far more intellectual nowadays than you may realize, the majority of us do see the propaganda, political agendas being pushed through news agencies, and so on.

We quickly point our fingers to the east and say propaganda news, the state ran tv, etc, and forget though our news may be corporate, it is still propaganda to a degree and is being used by both political parties to sway the masses here at home. Disinformation and Psy-ops as they call it is being used I believed in every country to one degree or another. That is The reason so many of us do not trust news sources anymore.

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My point is, don’t always believe what you read or see, think for yourself, and when you do read or watch news and opinions, fact check and tear it all apart to make sure what you are receiving is factual not opinion or political biased propaganda.

Well, it seems once again I have raved on long enough with my random thoughts. Right or wrong they are my opinions of what is going on in this world and my life. They may differ or may be similar to your own. But please think for yourself, don’t take what I say here for anything but what they are, the opinions of an average man.

Listen to the heart God blessed you with

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