Town Hall Meeting

I wish we could have a real town hall meeting here in Texas, but I don’t think we know how. The whole point of town hall meetings is to discuss the issues that affect the entire community and arrive at a solution that will provide the best solution for the community — not what is best for “me” and certainly not what is best for whoever is spreading the lies. Presumably that would be either the insurance companies or just some people who like to make other people upset.

090810_dsc2689sI do know people are listening to and believing the lies (lies are statements that can easily be proven wrong by, for example, reading the proposed legislation) from the few conversations that I had at this meeting. I did not encounter anyone who was lying to me, or hostile, but listening is another matter, and a town hall meeting where nobody is listening to anyone else is pointless, isn’t it. We are not at a town hall meeting to convince everyone else that we are right. That would be impossible because nobody is completely right about everything.

The whole point of a town hall meeting is together to figure out what IS right for this community at this time. We meet together to share our knowledge, because a bunch of people with different skills and information together know more than any one person or group. And we don’t need Chet Edwards to do that. The minute we establish a true community consensus he will be listening and we will all have a common goal toward which to work individually and collectively. Or probably I should say we already do have a common interest and the purpose of the Town Hall meeting is to find it. Not to blame someone else because they won’t do what we want them to.

If we care about the future of our children we will listen to other people who also care about the future of our children and who understand things we do not understand. Nobody knows everything, but we really do all want the same thing, those of us who care about the children. By the time a real town hall meeting is finished everyone knows more than when it began. The value of a town hall meeting is to concentrate all the knowledge of the whole group into a decision-making activity.

If we only care about winning there is no value to it at all.

Fourth of July

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Buttermilk Pie likes to run out the door when the sky pinks up in the morning and we both set back on the front porch to listen to the birds wake up.

After the fresh brewed Ethiopean Harrar coffee, I enjoy an early morning ride on Mahonia before the day starts to sizzle. Mahonia would rather eat, but we don’t work hard. Just a nice ride, and then breakfast for us both.090208_dsc8819LSs

On a July past, when I came home after a long, sad search for my lost American dream, I was ill in body and mind. Several Julys later, I am now well and happy, and on such a pink-sky morning I can sometimes believe that I should have looked inside myself for the Dream. That it might have been hiding there the whole time — unrecognized.

And so I sit with BP over the second cup of coffee, relaxed and refreshed from my morning ride, listening to the Mockingbird sing from the top of the cedar tree:
“It’s a wonderful life; it’s a wonderful life.”

And I could almost recapture the Dream. If I would just stay right here on my own paid off property and collect my well earned social security.

And then I remember who paid the bigger price for my security.
Other lives around the world,

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Whose nightmares paid off

my American dream.

(Bottom photo by Zoriah)

Bio-Milk, Bio-Ethics

“We had a professor at Stanford who thought milk was manufactured.” Dr. Paul Ehrlich.

(For all you city folks, our commercial milk comes out of cows, and cows eat grass or hay to get the energy they need to stay alive and make milk, and the grass or hay gets its energy from the sun. The important point here is that we can not eat sunlight — all animal life on earth gets the energy it requires to live – that is food – from plants. The number of plants is limited.)

BUT THAT IS NOT THE SUBJECT OF THIS BLURB.

The subject of this blurb is ethics, the ethics of scientists who have not been telling people these important facts, and I want to quote Dr. Ehrlich because I agree with him:

” . . . I prefer to think of ethics simply as shared values, and one of our ethical tasks should be to try to speed the evolution of the values of biologists. I think the vast majority of my fellow scientists already share the value that we should give our fellow citizens the benefit of our best counsel on issues at the interface between science and society. That already fits under one dictionary definition of ethics—“the principles of conduct governing a profession.”

(Some references are omitted here that appear to no longer be available on the web, see modern versions below. LL)

“I’d like to see bioethics evolve further, toward all biologists considering it their duty to report to the public (which supports them) the essential findings of their research—and toward training their graduate students accordingly.”

Additional references:

You can get the entire letter above, in pdf format from Dr. Ehrlich’s web site:
Ehrlich, P. R. 2004. Values and bioethics (letter). BioScience 54: 484. [pdf]

The letter was written to and published by American Institute of Biological Scientists (AIBS)

It was a response to a discussion of “Scientific Integrity in Policy-Making” on the web site of Union of Concerned Scientists. UCS

Ethics in the Blogosphere

090422_dsc0492ssAs you all know, I am taking a course in Political Blogging.  I’m not really into political; I think it’s too much about winners and losers, but I wanted to develop a blog and it’s easy enough to claim that all human behavior is political, so I did.  My goal was to get up a blog, and here it is.  I think the professor’s goal was to arrive at a good discussion of ethics in the media, and he also succeeded.

It is a question, isn’t it, about ethics.  It’s a fine thing for each of us to express an opinion that someone else actually can listen to, rather than to have a few media bigwigs control our communal flow of information.  But it might not be so good for the community that we bloggers, as a group, have no written-down code of ethics to guide us.  The media, especially the long-standing newspaper sources of information, mostly took pride in a code of ethics that prevented a secretive bias of the information.

So I was thinking about ethics and blogging and various scenarios, and I thought of the Huffington Post, that seems to be trying to make itself into a newspaper on line, and its recent creative foray into public information gathering about the TEA parties that were held all over the country on May 15 — and here are my questions:

1.  Was it ethical to send out the word to everyone online that they are welcome to attend whatever local TEA party that caught their interest, and then to contribute pictures and news reports by email to the Post?  Even if the contributors don’t know anything about news gathering or codes of ethics?

My answer is – Sure, why not?  The amateur reporters get to have a lot of fun, they get exposed to ideas that may or may not be different from their own, and they are doing something that couldn’t be done by a reporter.  The Post gets a real bonanza of pictures and stories they can use any way they want without paying anyone for the time and effort.  And the TEA parties get advertising.  It’s a win-win-win.

2.  Is it ethical to sort out these media to represent the bias of the publisher?

I say sure, why not, if the publisher acknowledges its bias from the get-go, but this is only a win-win, which is not as good as a win-win-win.

3.  Is it ethical to claim that you have posted all the photos and then selectively edit which photos that you post — or don’t post?

I say No.  Honesty (or as one of the speakers at my TEA party said) “honor!” is a bottom-line essential component of a media code of ethics, no matter your bias.

Furthermore, as it is obvious there are no either/or answers to these sorts of questions, I say we should evaluate them according to the “win-win-win” system.  I’m really tired of hearing from politicos that everything in the world is a “win-lose” emergency. Almost nothing in the world is a win-lose emergency, and I say anything less than win-win doesn’t fly. If we care about our community.

(And besides, my pictures were better.)