Sunday, August 2, 2015

Watching and Waiting

Watching California burn is a study in Man's ultimate insignificance; he can watch and react to flare ups but is helpless in completely extinguishing flames if the weather won't cooperate. 

Watching the Middle East erupt in the use of armament is a study in Man's inhumanity to his fellow man; killing to cleanse a culture of some other culture is truly an act of genocide. 

Watching the World cringe from the thought of drones becoming so commonplace in most facets of life is a study in Man's timidity to embrace and control progress 
before drones fly violently out of control.

Lastly, watching yourself sway left and right as the World, you feel, folds in around you in ways that you're existence seems unnecessary. Man's insignificance, his inhumanity, and his timidity has manifested finally in yourself when hopelessly you feel unnecessary and opt out of life's equation. 

Reaching rock bottom, now you have a chance to rise, since there's no other avenue of escape. Hopefully, the heinous acts of war bypass you so you can be part of the future in a society filled with vision and freedom.

Ronald C. Downie 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Bees, Now and Then

Not yet, it wasn't quite time for WW2 in 1940 when we moved to The Shoemaker Estate, Glasgow St. at the north end of the runway of the Pottstown Airport. The winds of war were stirring as Dad listened to the radio in the morning before he went to work. "Rambling With Gambling"on WOR, New York, was a staple in the early morning but I loved listening to Jan Peerce singing, "Bluebird Of Happiness" when I could wake up by 6AM.

Seventy five years ago before I entered grade school Dad had an episode with honey bees which had a nest in the eve of this house my parents rented. The exterior of the two story house was tan stucco but way up at the peek of the roof line the stucco seemed much darker for an unknown reason. We lived here only a short time when Dad decided to put in a back yard garden. He was slight of build, lily white, and not naturally an outdoors man but having a garden was his passion. So he and Andy, my older brother, grabbed shovels and began digging up the rear yard while I cheered them from my perch on the backyard fence. Gnats, flies, and misquotes swarmed around their sweating bodies so Dad decided to take a break on the screened back porch. Mom suggested Andy and Dad put on some bug repellant so they liberally applied some citronella oil, I think, which was all she had.

Bad news : bees went wild after whatever they spread on themselves. With swarms of bees zeroing in on them Andy and Dad made a literal bee line to the enclosed back porch. Swatting at them, trying to escape their stings they, after flapping and swinging, finally became clear of the bees. Honey bees in the eves of this old house on a aging estate of a once wealthy family seeking to retain its sense of grandeur was an indication of the clash of "old world" against the new. Always on the move, our next, shortly after this adventure was to Houck Lane near Harmonyville, Chester County.

Bees are endangered now, seventy five years later, most likely many killed off by people who disturbed their nests, got stung, and thought they'd get even by killing them. In the World of food production bees play an enormous roll in pollination of flowers necessary to produce a fruit or seed head that humans and animals consume. Like people, bees have an aggressive side, but it's their work-a-holic nature in pollination that makes them so valuable to life as we know it. Support bee health, please !

Ronald C. Downie





Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Channel Divides

Alive in person - "never been there, nor done that" - even though I am a consummate spectator, mostly by TV, I've never been in person at the scene of such sports events as The British Open or The Tour de France. Still, I revel in the actions of spectators, those who have the means and time to experience great sporting events in person. Last week, on either side of The English Channel, there were two completely different assemblages of spectators.

At the Open tens of thousands of tweedy, hardy fans positioned themselves in bleachers that were placed at strategic points on the course giving these spectator the best view of golfer's actions as they passed before them. Additional stiff upper lipped viewers on foot seemingly trying to follow particular players as they played their way around the course. These mobile viewers seemed at times to be like an accordion; stretching out, moving quickly until they bunch up at a choke point where they slow to a stop. Some filter through the log jam and replicate the previous hole until they run out of roped paths. Feeling their 80#s well spent they'll, no matter the weather, be back tomorrow, rain or shine.

While across the channel a modern menagerie of circus oriented spectators line hundreds and hundreds of miles of the Tour de France road course. If they don't have a camera or smart phone they're draped in some flag like material foot racing the bikers up the climbs seeking their own picture be taken by the army of TV cameras. By the enormous number of vehicle campers which are parked along the route many spectators must camp out a night or two and, by their antics caught on TV, French wines must be in great demand to rock them to sleep.

On the 20th day of Tour competition I observed a rabid multitude of lilly white, European spectators being whipped into the heightened anxiety of competition. Masses long displayed in history are pictured being driven into a frenzy by words of a powerful speaker, but this time, it's the constant rhythm of bike racers pumping their pedals at a rate but few humans could ever accomplish. 

Back across the channel at St. Andrews, Scotland stiff upper lipped, dower spectators keep behind the ropes as they obey every order of respectability. Their worshiped hush as a player addresses his putt becomes the act of ultimate civility. Whereas back in France free of spectator fees, a daily hoard of people line the route seeking individual recognition by the bikers, by their spectator grouping, and, especially, the media camera crews.

Spectators from both sides of the channel show the World through TV their opposites; one, like performing actors of a circus, the other are as an audience attending a coronation. Each adds validity to the nature of the game they are attending : golf is individual with a body of rules hundreds of years old ; cycling compared to golf is new and a team effort with relativity few rules I'm aware of. Many watch the players but I choose to watch the spectators as much as the contestants because in them we can get the feel of two societies, one on either side of the English Channel.

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, July 27, 2015

Stupid Is, As Stupid Does

Continuing to believe in a theory, only because it's what people have always done, is considered foolishness by an educated society who understands the dynamics of change. One of the few constants found throughout our lives is change. Another is death, something none can escape. Often it's taxes and death mentioned together that a person can not outlive. But it's change that drives life in almost every period of time we live through. What can't you do without today that was not around, say, ten years ago ? Change is accelerating at an ever increasing rate almost to a point of disbelief.

Why then, should we be complacent with energy generating plants fueled by a nuclear reaction, dirty coal, and deep well gas which required tracking ? Yes, we need energy (electricity) but at what cost to our World's environment ? Especially today, when solar and wind energy are providing so much of the rest of the World's energy requirement ? No longer are these clean means for energy generation a theory but they're a proven fact of life while becoming cheaper.

"Stupid is, as stupid does", defines our passive American society which will believe highly funded, slick adds made and placed before them by the extraction industry ( oil, gas, uranium ) rather than the World's statistics which shows renewables are the future both in cost and reliability. The future's in our hands and, only by actions of those we elect into office, will our vote demonstrate a future we will be satisfied with.

Ronald C. DownieI

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Movie Review

Defiance of conformity is the touch stone of an advanced comprehensive education which unveils its crude awakening in the movie, "The Dead Poets Society". Robin Williams portrays a poetry professor in a masterful roll set at a preparatory school for young boys. The Dead Poets Society was released into the movie houses many years ago and appears now periodically rerun on television as it was this morning. 

Heaven help us as a progressive society if a growing number of our citizens remain conformists rather than becoming free thinkers. The ability to think rationally, to understand complex problems, and to be able to arrive at reasonable answers are the foot soldiers of a good education. Rote learning once dominated the halls education but stunted many young persons who could memorize, even though, they were lost when it became necessary to think. 

Many live their lives in quiet desperation caught up in reposting what someone else said as in political rhetoric or slogans. This is how untruths get legs and are pasted on so fast. Passed on by unthinking people, those who never challenged conformity, those who blindly accept another persons ideas as gospel. 

Some movies, whether first run or rerun on television, are filled with meaningful thoughts if only we take time to absorb them. Of course, the lead actors have a great deal to do with desired watching of any picture. Robin Williams plays his roll with pleasures that only he has masters and good young actors feed off his work.

Ronald C. Downie

Friday, July 17, 2015

Beware of War Hawks

To live life always on the edge of destruction is a weight many of us of advanced age have endured far too long. We were just coming into the age of understanding at the end of WW2 brought about by the detonation of two Atomic Bombs on Japan. Weekly if not daily our grade school class practiced huddling under our desks in preparation for an airplane dropping bombs. At home, a Light Warden patrolled the street and if any light source escaped the window blinds the owner was notified to correct under penalty of the law. Young minds are very impressionable. 

As teenagers, little did we understand of the concept of "Mutual Assured Destruction". Growing older, we lived daily with Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, as well as, nuclear proliferation by Russia, China, Israel, and numerous other countries. The World seems awash in nuclear bombs that no sane country is willing to launch.

It's a scary feeling to think that the World has numerous 
means, nuclear warheads, of "Mutual Assured Destruction" which aren't launched because, if they were, others would fly right back at them. Life on Earth, in a twinkling of an eye, would cease as common Man understands it. I always ponder this question: what can I really do ?

In my limited time left on Earth, I can raise the concern that the USA must lean on diplomacy rather than ply bombast. Today the USA begins a 60 day review of a treaty with Iran concerning nuclear armliment. Do we talk or do we bomb is the ultimate decision we must face ? "Mutual Assured Destruction" is an alternative Man has devised to save our World, tenuous as it sounds, from an unspeakable debacle. Even War Hawks won't be able to hide from a world wide launch of nuclear missiles. Now they talk with bravado and gusto but when "the rubber meets the road" these Hawks will be the first to hide in some cave somewhere and die a horrible slow death. Maybe they need a desk to crawl under.

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mutual Assured Destruction

To live life always on the edge of destruction is a weight many of us of advanced age have endured far too long. We were just coming into the age of understanding at the end of WW2 brought about by the detonation of two Atomic Bombs on Japan. 

As teenagers, little did we understand of the concept of "Mutual Assured Destruction". Growing older, we lived daily with Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, as well as, nuclear proliferation by Russia, China, Israel, and numerous other countries. The World seems awash in nuclear bombs that no sane country is willing to launch.

It's a scary feeling to think that the World has numerous 
means, nuclear warheads, of "Mutual Assured Destruction" which aren't launched because, if they were, others would fly right back at them. Life on Earth, in a twinkling of an eye, would cease as common Man understands it. I always ponder this question: what can I do ?

In my limited time left on Earth, I can raise the concern that the USA must lean on diplomacy rather than ply bombast. Today the USA begins a 60 day review of a treaty with Iran concerning nuclear armliment. Do we talk or do we bomb is the ultimate decision we must face ? "Mutual Assured Destruction" is an alternative Man has devised to save our World, tenuous as it sounds, from an unspeakable debacle. 

Ronald C. Downie