Friday, September 22, 2017

Environmental Stewardship

My dad has been writing a monthly column called "Environmental Stewardship" for the local Lutheran churches for the past few years. But as various congregations have merged with each other, sold their buildings, or turned Latino, the only church still running the column as far as I know is the one he attends.

I had been printing it in the newsletter of the church where I used to work, until the decision was made to keep articles down to a single paragraph or two in the interest of bilingualism and an arbitrary six-page limit. After that, I posted it on the church weblog; but since I'm no longer there, the weblog hasn't been updated.

Dad doesn't have his own weblog, but I do. So here is his October column. 

Are you practicing good environmental stewardship in the yard around your house? Or as one national organization would put it: Is your yard humane? Fall is an excellent time to make some of these changes to improve the environment that primarily you control.

Do you provide water and natural food sources for the creatures with which you share this environment? Birdbaths and ground level sources of water are important for just about every animal, not just birds. I see many squirrels up on our birdbaths and the bees so necessary for pollination also need a drink. A wetland behind our house is another source of water for much of the year. Native plants, bushes and trees are often the best, or only, foods that native animals will eat. The larva for the monarch butterfly only eat the several varieties of milkweed native to our area. Fall is one of the best times for planting trees, shrubs and perennial plants.

Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides on lawn and garden beds; insecticides frequently kill all insects, including the harmless and beneficial ones. Do you really want to get rid of those beautiful butterflies and moths? Many pesticides are also harmful to your pets if they are allowed out in the yard. Bees are some of the most beneficial insects that have been severely attacked by pesticides in the yard and on some plants as they come from the nursery. Check how the latter have been treated before you buy. I have never been an advocate of bee and butterfly houses, but many like them as decorations that may also be useful.

A major killer of birds is glass windows in homes as well as high-rise buildings. If you, like us, receive a number of window stickers from various organizations, sticking them on windows that birds may run into can be a major avian lifesaver. Birds either see a free pathway through the windows to the other side of the house or their own reflection which they may attack in mating season. Breaking up the space of clear glass with such decals is most important near bird feeders or bird baths.

That leads me to urging all cat owners to keep them in the house. Cats may be the top killers of song birds in this country. As President of the City of Racine Board of Health, let me remind you to license all your cats and dogs; it is the law in Racine and many other jurisdictions, even if they stay inside.

Native fauna need places to hide or rest. Therefore, it is generally good stewardship or humane to reduce the size of the mown lawn whenever possible. This might be with a rain garden accepting the water from the downspouts, an area of native ground cover, a small woods or copse of (native) trees. Another possibility, if you have the room as we do in the far back of our yard, is a brush pile. Fallen branches and trimming from trees and shrubs will quickly provide this extra cover for native fauna.

Another shelter that you may wish to include is a bat house. Bats have a bad reputation that they do not deserve. You may not need as much mosquito repellent if you attract bats to your yard to hold down the mosquito population.

If you have a swimming pool, take the necessary precautions to keep animals from falling in; presumably you have already taken the precautions necessary to keep those wild creatures called children and partying adults from doing the same. This too is good environmental stewardship.

John Berge

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Q Toon: Offer and Honor On and Off

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✍Sep 21, 2017

CIA Director Mike Pompeo abruptly and at the last minute cancelled an address at Harvard, telling the university that he did so because classified documents leaker Chelsea Manning would also be a speaker this year. Manning, along with former Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and seven others, had been named a Visiting Fellow of Harvard's Kennedy School, which is a fancy way of saying that she would show up to spend a day meeting students and giving a speech.

The former Bradley Manning was convicted in 2013 of releasing confidential military and State Department documents and sentenced to 35 years in prison. President Obama commuted her sentence to seven years dating from the beginning of her confinement in 2010, and she was released from prison this past May.

Prefacing that his actions had nothing to do with Manning's status as transgender, Pompeo told the university, "I believe it is shameful for Harvard to place its stamp of approval upon her treasonous actions."

Douglas W. Elmendorf, Dean of the Kennedy School, quickly knuckled under to pressure from Pompeo and the right-wing snowflake squad. After protesting that the title of Visiting Fellow isn't technically an honor, Dr. Elmendorf announced that Harvard was withdrawing the implied honor anyway:
I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a Visiting Fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility. I still think that having her speak in the Forum and talk with students is consistent with our longstanding approach, which puts great emphasis on the value of hearing from a diverse collection of people. But I see more clearly now that many people view a Visiting Fellow title as an honorific, so we should weigh that consideration when offering invitations. ...Therefore, we are withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a Visiting Fellow—and the perceived honor that it implies to some people—while maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the Forum. 
So Manning is still invited to come to Harvard and do what Visiting Fellows do; she just won't be a Visiting Fellow if she does.

For her part, Manning has turned down Harvard's invitation to be an Itinerant Person:
Manning said Harvard's decision signaled to her that it's a "police state" and it's not possible to engage in actual political discourse in academic institutions.
"I'm not ashamed of being disinvited," she said. "I view that just as much of an honored distinction as the fellowship itself."

Monday, September 18, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

You come in here with a skull full of mush;
you leave thinking like a p.r. flack.  

Saturday, September 16, 2017

German Cartoonists and the War

After last week's display of Louis Raemaekers cartoons, Spottenback Saturday now grants a few German cartoonists of World War I a chance to give their say. These come from contemporary issues of Cartoons  Magazine, published out of Chicago, which means they must have had to get past both German and U.S. wartime censors. As such, it is possible that they may not necessarily be the best examples of German wartime satire.
"The Blood Bath," From Der Brummer, Berlin, 1917
American troops joined the fighting in Europe in August of 1917, and patriotic fervor in the U.S. was at a peak, so the above cartoon very much misrepresents American popular feeling. The nations wading in the blood bath do not include Germany or its allies, which would have gotten this cartoon (and possibly its cartoonist) spiked.

German government dismissed "America's worthless assistance" to the Entente powers. Gustav Brandt here offers one idea to buttress the official government line, a fine example of the jugendstil of bold, flat areas of solid color that became popular among German cartoonists of the early 20th Century.
by Gustav Brandt in Kladderadatsch, Berlin
Better known west of the Maginot Line as art nouveau, jugendstil gets its name from Jugend, a cultural magazine published in Munich. Brandt himself (1861-1919) was at this time a long-established cartoonist whose earlier cartoons conformed to 19th Century tastes for greater detail and verisimilitude.

Another Kladderadatsich cartoonist lampoons the refusal of England's Lloyd George, the U.S.'s Wilson and France's Poincaré to consider German armistice proposals; each had declared that an end to Hohenzollern rule of Germany was a prerequisite condition for peace.
"We Will Never Negotiate" by unidentified cartoonist in Kladderadatsch, Berlin

Speaking of Russia, Wilhelm Schulz in the brash satirical magazine Simplicissimus portrays Germany proffering a helping hand to its eastern neighbor. Russia, however, is threatened by its erstwhile allies.
"Helpless Russia" by Wilhelm Schulz in Simplicissimus, Munich
The U.S. was not the only Johnny-come-marching-lately into the Great War. In spite of its recent history with England and Russia, and the fact that its rival Japan had also sided with the Entente, China declared war on Germany in August, 1917.
"Oriental Eyes" by W.A. Wellner in Lustige Blätter, Berlin, August, 1917
Given British and Russian imperialist designs on China, there was significant support in military and government circles for an alliance with Germany; one such supporter was former President/future Premier Sun Yat-sen. But the government of Duan Qirui viewed an Entente victory as more likely than a victory by the Central powers and hoped to gain territory at any post-war bargaining table. (They would be bitterly disappointed.)
"Tremble, Germania!" by Carl Olof Petersen in Lustige Blätter, Berlin, July 23, 1917
The sinking of the Athos I with 900 Chinese workers aboard by a German U-boat off the coast of Malta in February, 1917, furthermore, served as China's Lusitania moment. Yet if Germany was officially unconcerned with America's entry into the war, it was hardly any more worried about the Chinese navy.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Toon: Yesterday's Gone, Yesterday's Gone

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
📘Sep 15, 2017

I confess: I still haven't made my way through my copy of Making History yet. So I'm not rushing out to buy Hillary Clinton's latest book, which joins a very short list of best sellers by electoral college also-rans explaining why they aren't living in the White House.

If Mitt Romney, John McCain and John Kerry have unsold manuscripts tucked away in a drawer about how they were mistreated by the media, the stock market, and the FBI, we've been graciously spared the spectacle of them hawking their excuses.

Al Gore, the last presidential candidate to come in first in votes but second in the race, wisely chose to write about Things That Matter when he decided to retire to the authors' studio. Bob Dole surely had a lot to say about the forces that kept him from reciting the presidential oath, but he chose to expose himself to ridicule by hawking erectile dysfunction remedies instead.

So, Mrs. Clinton, I'm really very sorry that you're not President of the United States. Believe me, I'm really, really, really sorry about that. But you've got a Clinton Foundation all set up that you could be running, and I'm sure the experience will give you lots and lots of material for a much more worthwhile book.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Q Toon: WeatherProphecy with Lauryl Sulfate

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
🌀Sep 14, 2017

Rain falls on the just and the unjust, as the Good Book says; but there's always some holy roller assuring us that the rain was intended for the unjust all along. It's just that God has crappy aim.

The crack about Hurricane Harvey pummeling Houston because of its lesbian mayor (who left office last year) came from Ghostface look-alike Ann Coulter, who was, no doubt, merely making a desperate effort to tweet something —anything— more outrageous than Donald Trump does.

But her tweet that former Mayor Annise Parker was a more credible explanation for Hurricane Harvey than climate change provides the launching pad for this week's cartoon.

I woke up the morning after drawing this cartoon to find that nearly every other editorial cartoonist on the AAEC site had drawn cartoons about hurricanes and climate change, but it's important to note that the destruction we've witnessed from Harvey and Irma cannot be blamed on one factor alone.  Nick Anderson penned an excellent long-form cartoon for the Texas Tribune on unfettered development contributing to flooding in and around Houston, and while 600 trillion gallons of water is going to wreak havoc on the best of ecosystems, I highly recommend Anderson's well-researched opus.

Houston isn't the only place where developers regard the wetlands in particular and the environment generally as a nuisance getting in the way of their profits. Here in Wisconsin, the Republican governor and his Republican-run legislature are greasing the skids for the building of a huge Foxxcon plant, legislating that any legal challenges from environmentalists must go straight to the Republican-run State Supreme Court for judgment. Since Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce has successfully packed that court with their paid stooges, the outcome of any environmental lawsuit is a foregone conclusion in favor of whatever degradation Foxxcon might have wrought.

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Incidentally, I have no idea where Hurricane Jose plans to go. I had been checking storm predictions on windy.com daily as Florida braced for Irma's assault, and the precise tracks predicted for the two hurricanes changed from day to day. The site originally had Irma blustering up Florida's east coast and crashing into the U.S. again where Georgia meets South Carolina, but it moved her path westward a little bit each day. As of this morning, windy.com has Jose brushing against North Carolina's outer banks, Cape Cod, and Nova Scotia, but mostly staying out to sea.

I think the good citizens of the landlocked state of Vermont may rest easy. Until the snows fall, anyway.

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Tune in again tomorrow for a bonus cartoon on another topic about which all the other members of the AAEC site have already picked the bones clean.

Monday, September 11, 2017