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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 52,876

Journal Archives

Mayweather vs Pacquiao

“I’m a boxer who believes that the object of the sport is to hit and not get hit.”
-- Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

On May 2nd, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Manny Pacquiao will meet in a scheduled 12-round bout at the MGM Grand, in Las Vegas, Nevada. We are currently 17 days away from the biggest money-making event in sports. It is a title unification bout, with the Champion Mayweather putting his WBC welterweight and WBA junior middleweight titles on the line, and Paquiao bringing his WBO welterweight title to the table.

Floyd’s record is a perfect 47 - 0, with 26 coming by knockout. Pacquiao is 57 - 5 - 2, with 38 knockout victories, and 3 defeats by KO. At 5’ 8”, with a 72-inch reach, Floyd is taller by 1.5 inches, and has a 5-inch reach advantage. Floyd fights orthodox, or right-handed, while Manny is southpaw, or left-handed. Also, at 38, Floyd is two years older than Pac Man.

Manny turned pro in 1995; Floyd did so in 1996. Floyd has fought 363 rounds as a pro; while Manny has fought 407 rounds. One of the more significant differences is that Mayweather has taken relatively few punches in his career, and has rarely been “stung,” much less hurt; while Manny has had a tougher career, and has taken lots of punishment, including his devastating knockout lose to Juan Manuel Marquez in late 2012. While his other knockout loses came by way of body punches, he was knocked unconscious for an extended period just four fights ago.

Although the bout is being promoter -- correctly -- as a “super fight,” the majority of the boxing community’s experts are predicting that Floyd will most likely win a one-sided decision. If they are correct, it should take Floyd about three rounds to figure Pacquiao out, and then dominate him.

Many of Floyd’s opponents have, despite their pre-fight predictions and promises, found it very hard to compete with Mayweather in the ring. Tough guys such as Canelo Alvarez have actually been intimidated, to the point where he stopped trying to win, and was instead satisfied to go the distance. This is because Floyd is very difficult to hit, plus his speed and strength combine to make his counter-punches far harder than opponents’ have assumed they would be. Indeed, in boxing, speed is power.

Another school of thought is that not only is Pacquiao often reckless in the ring -- and I promise that you will hear the word “reckless” coming from the Mayweather camp as the fight gets closer -- but he isn’t cut out to be satisfied with a “safe” decision loss. First, of course, it is important to remember that this is Manny Pacquiao, an all-time great champion. So, not only will he roll the dice, but he will be extremely dangerous when he does so.

More than anyone that Mayweather has ever met before, Pacquiao likes to land the last punch in every exchange. And, with his extraordinary footwork, sliding from side-to-side, to create new openings, Pac Man delivers powerful punches.

I’ll likely change my mind again, at least once per day, but at this point, I’m thinking that Floyd will stop Manny in between nine and ten rounds. I think that after four rounds, Floyd will bloody Pacquiao up, and beat him up. I think trainer Freddie Roach will throw in the towel, to protect Manny from himself.

What is your prediction?

Awake: Tours & Doors

Shake dreams from your hair
My pretty child, my sweet one
Choose the day and the sign of your day
The day’s divinity
First thing you see.”
-- Jim Morrison; Awake

Not surprisingly, people are projecting their own being, when talking about Hillary Clinton’s current “listening tour.” Those who support her, see the tour as positive; those who oppose her, view it negatively. And, of course, the undecided aren’t saying a lot; they are just taking it all in.

I’m not particularly familiar with the details of the tour, and so anything that I might say isn’t factual. Nor is it speculation. That combination tends to narrow down the options for discussing the tour, doesn’t it? But I still have something that I want to say.

No one doubts that Ms. Clinton is highly intelligent, and has an organized mind. Or that she recently became a grandmother. Or that she really wants to become the President of the United States.

I will speculate that the planning of this tour involved input from both her campaign staff, and Hillary Clinton herself. I think that I’m on safe ground, so far, and that no one of consequence would dispute what I’ve said thus far. So, what the heck: I might as well give my opinion now!

In my opinion, the content of the tour, and what Ms. Clinton has identified as her goal, is very different that what he staff has in mind. At least for the goals. I do not think Ms. Clinton is doing this, simply to be able to roll out some new ideas, and saying she got them from this tour. On the other hand, I don’t think it has the wild populist energy that Senator Robert Kennedy had in his all-too-brief 82-day campaign in 1968. It’s not that bad, nor is it that good.

However, I think it has a very real potential, one that I absolutely hope for. I’ll start by saying that much of the negative that I associate with the Clinton campaign isn’t the candidate, but rather, some of those around her. I felt that way in 2008. I don’t believe that her campaign was run well. That she came so close was in spite of, instead of because of, her campaign.

Even here on DU, an internet sight for political discussions, that was originally intended to appeal to progressive-liberal Democrats, I find that. Maybe somewhere around a quarter of the pro-Hillary folks here include quite a few of the people that I don’t talk to, and who don’t talk to me. I know that they are good Democrats, intelligent people, and committed to this election. Yet, just as with some of the people around her now, I think their behaviors will do much more damage than good for the Clinton campaign.

I’m not suggesting that Hillary Clinton “can’t win without the left.” I’m sure that she can. But I do not think that process would result in good for the United States.

I would rather think that Ms. Clinton will be listening with an open mind, as she tours and speaks to “common folk.” I believe that the combination of being a grandmother, running for President, and listening to the harsh, cold reality that defines so many people’s lives, can open new doors of perception.

Hillary Clinton has said that she wants to be the people’s champion A lot of us older folks here remember in the early 1970s, when the great Muhammad Ali was known as he People’s Champion. (Elvis even gave Ali a beautiful robe, with “The People’s Champion” on the back.)

The temptation to continue talking about boxing here is too great. I can’t help myself. But it’ll help me communicate an idea:

When a fighter like Ali went in the ring to win a championship, it was a different man who left that ring. The fight changed them. Likewise, the responsibilities of being champion changed Ali, too. Now, I’ve said all that, to simply say this: I believe that it possible that this tour will help to transform Hillary Clinton into being the best leader that she can be. For if she is elected, we all want that.

H2O Man

Those Darned Old People

An issue being discussed in the context of the 2016 election is “age.” It is one that I have not seen covered recently on television. Rather, it is coming up on DU, regarding one specific candidate, Hillary Clinton. It’s an issue that -- other than regarding this election -- might be a good one for members of the Democratic Party and Democratic Left to examine closely.

First, I’m confident that Hillary Clinton would not be running, unless she were sure that she could serve in good health. That has nothing to do with if I might support or oppose her in the primaries. It just isn’t an issue.

It is true that Ronald Reagan suffered in terms of mental ability while he served as President. While I strongly disliked Reagan as a person and president, his deterioration isn’t what bothered me. That’s a human issue, not a political one.

The fact that his staff covered it up was offensive. And not only for their disrespect for the public. It shows that they thought so little of him, other than his ability to deliver lines on stage, that they knew his condition didn’t matter -- as far as they were concerned.

I’m confident that any Democrat elected to the Oval Office would react differently than was the case with Reagan. I trust democratic administrations, in a way that I could never trust any republican administration.

Is this “concern” about Ms. Clinton’s age simply a sexist attack? There were people who expressed concern about John McCain’s age and health, especially after he picked Sarah Palin as his VP. In the current context, I think it’s more of a cheap shot that suggests desperation on the republicans’ part. It will, of course, go hand-in-hand with sexist attacks.

It provides an opportunity for Ms. Clinton -- or whoever the Democratic Party’s candidate may be -- to address an important social pathology, however. We have a culture that worships “youth,” and thus devalues both children and the elderly. While this holds true for both male and female human beings, it is safe to say that it is an unhealthy, life-denying plastic that is perpetuated by both sexes, and tends to target females in a more insidious manner.

I grew up in the margins of our society, and thus have a different viewpoint than most. I see the make-up and structure of “family units” as a product of our economic system. As I live in the northeast, I’d start with the Iroquois society. Extended families occupied long houses. Thus, children were exposed to multiple generations: parents were no less important then as now, but other relatives played a larger role. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents were available, for example, to provide support for children and young parents.

Colonists in our region tended to live in hamlets and villages, that often reflected extended-family systems. For example, there is a “Smithville,” a “Knappsville,” and an “Ives Settlement” -- where the Smith, Knapp, and Ives families lived. Most relatives lived in a separate house, but the same general extended family support system existed. (Also, one can see the “additions” to large farm houses, evidence of where grandma and grandpa “moved” when they aged. This is the multi-generation household of “The Waltons.” Children were exposed to the wisdom of their elders. His is a good thing.)

With the industrial revolution, young adults moved off the family farm, into the city. They lived in single-unit houses, with the white picket fence, and saw relatives from the extended family on holidays.

The high-tech revolution created the need for employees who would sacrifice family for work. When people spend more time with co-workers than family, there becomes a tendency for people to put in a lot of over-time ….in order to pursue affairs that do not reflect the “family values” our culture pretends to promote. Children are more likely to grow up in single parent households. The extended family unit has been shattered.

Obviously, there is a heck of a lot more to it than the dynamics that I’ve noted here. But we’ve created a culture that warehouses the elderly, not unlike how it warehouses young black men. For the larger society, there is a bit of the “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to the elderly.

And that results in our attempts to deny the reality of that period of life, between our physical primes as young adults, to old age. “Middle age” is to be avoided to the greatest extent possible.

A while back, I spoke about my participating in a “health study” of a village in upstate New York, which has been poisoned by several large toxic, industrial waste dump sites. The rates of cancer are unbelievable. I became sidelined in the past year or so, due to factors outside of my control. But I’ve recently begun the work to complete the study.

One general description keeps coming up among the results. It would be a woman, from about 62 to 66 years old. They are grandmothers, and identify that as the most important feature of their current lives. More, they have had cancer; their parents both died of cancer; one of their daughters has experienced fear from a medical test result, or worse; and they have a neighbor or friend who has had a grandchild who suffers from a medical condition that has a high association with exposure to specific toxins.

These women have some other commonalities. For example, none of them has been represented by one of their own on the area village or town boards. When they have attended these boards’ meetings, to express their concerns about topics such as fracking, they are usually treated with disrespect. The community “fathers,” like the young men and women who are representing the corporations, are not interested in what these women have to say. In fact, they want these women to shut up.

Our culture is out of balance with nature. Part of that imbalance is found in family systems. Obviously, we aren’t about to move back into long houses, or to become cast members on an updated Walton’s series. But we can re-define what “family” and “community” mean. We can recognize that in a healthy society, everyone is valued, and each person has a voice. That means rejecting the anti-aging cultural forces. We need to embrace ourselves as individuals, even if we are not as young and “attractive” as the plastic people in commercials.

The Banality of Henry Kissinger

The presidential primary seasons are perhaps the least attractive times to read or participate in discussions on DU:GD. On one hand, I think it would be better to simply stop reading this part of the larger forum …..and perhaps limited myself to the sports forum, where I can enjoy debating the upcoming Mayweather versus Pacquiao fight. Yet, I am drawn to it, like a moth to a flame. It would likely take a 12-step program, with recognition that I am powerless when it comes to politics, to help me maintain what little sanity I’d like to think that I normally have.

Last night, for example, I read an OP by one of my best friends from the DU community. This wonderful lady stated that while she would vote for Hillary Clinton in November of 2016, that she wasn’t happy at that prospect. Her OP included a photograph of Ms. Clinton with Henry Kissinger. There were, not surprisingly, a wide range of responses to the OP. The majority of those from the pro-Clinton folks on DU ignored what my Friend wrote, and instead focused exclusively on the picture.

Of these responses, most correctly pointed out that in the world of politics, Good People do at times attend meetings or social events where horrible specimens of humanity -- such as Kissinger -- not only attend, but are treated respectfully. Indeed, a photo is shown of Nelson Mandela, an honorable man, along side of Kissinger. It happens.

Instead of focusing upon that, however, the majority of these responses included insults and atacks upon the character of the lady who posted the OP. She explained that she was a college student during the Vietnam War, and as such, had strong feelings about Kissinger. As a person who is of similar age, I can understand her feelings about Kissinger. It may be difficult for younger people to fully appreciate this. But Kissinger was as offensive in that era, as say Dick Cheney is in 2000 to 2015.

For many of us of this generation, it wasn’t simply disagreeing with Kissinger on policy. It was having a brother, cousin, neighbor, or classmate who died in Vietnam, while Kissinger was inflicting his policies on both Vietnam and the United States. Thus, when one pro-Clinton person states several times on the thread that those who identify Kissinger as a war criminal are a tiny, insignificant minority -- because, gosh almighty, old Henry is invited to so many fancy get-togethers -- I can only shake my head. For everyone of my generation remembers that, on the infamous White House tapes, Henry himself noted that Nixon and he could be charged with -- and convicted of -- war crimes for their actions in southeast Asia. But, for good or for bad, US politicians such as Kissinger and Cheney cannot face such trials.

Those who note that having to meet such creeps as a Kissinger or Cheney is simply a reality of modern politics are correct. Yet those who find this reality extremely offensive are equally correct, and should not be attacked for expressing their frustrations with the system as it is. Again, the author of the OP clearly stated that if Ms. Clinton is the Democratic Party’s nominee, she will definitely vote for her. How odd that Clinton supporters would attempt to shame her for imply expressing her opinion …..for isn’t part of the strength of Hillary Clinton rooted in the concept that women of her generation do not need to be silenced? And that their thoughts and contributions to the national debate have value?

Training Day

There’s an old saying in the sport of boxing, that I would suggest can be applied to politics. I’m thinking of it, mainly when I read posts that express the belief that most republicans would be easy to defeat in the upcoming presidential election.

The only way to make a fight against a potentially “easy” opponent actually be easy, is to train very hard, and fully prepare yourself for the hardest fight of your life. Anything less risks making an easy fight hard. In fact, that’s the easy opponent’s best and only hope.

Do republicans run obnoxious, unintelligent, and repulsive candidates? Yes, of course they do. It is difficult to think of any person less qualified than George W. Bush to be President. I’d have felt safer with the Zippy the Pinhead cartoon character sitting in the Oval Office. (Of course, I’ve never actually seen George and Zippy together in either a photograph or drawing. Hmmmm!)

I don’t care who the republican candidate is: I will view that person as a serious threat to our nation.

H2O Man Survey #10 (Hillary Clinton)

The following survey is aimed towards two things: providing some insight into how various DU community members feel about Hillary Clinton, and moving our discussions in a more positive direction. It is not intended as my advocating, either “for” or “against,” Hillary Clinton Responses are, however, an opportunity to express your thoughts, and to advocate for your position in a positive manner.

There are no “right” or “wrong” answers. The percentages for or against Hillary Clinton -- or undecided -- are not intended to illustrate anything but the values of this community. It is not necessary to answer every question; only the ones that may interest you.

Assuming that anyone does respond, I only ask that we treat everyone with respect. A person might have very different views on the state of our nation, and what is required to remedy the problems we may see. At best, this could provide us an opportunity to present our position as a clean, sparkling glass of cold water; even if we view opposing views, and view others’ as having a filthy, polluted glass of water, we need not attack their’s. Trust thirsty people to be capable of deciding for themselves what glass they prefer to drink from.

Thanks! -- H2O Man

Do you support Hillary Clinton? Yes - no - undecided

Who do you think would present the toughest potential opposition in a Democratic primary? Why?

Who do you think Hillary Clinton would defeat most easily in a general election? Why? Jeb Bush - Scott Walker -- Rand Paul

Which one would present the greatest challenge? Why? Jeb Bus -- Scott Walker -- Rand Paul

On a scales of 1 to 10, how strongly do you support/ oppose Hillary Clinton’s positions, as you understand them, on foreign policy? With 1 being strongly opposed; 5 being unsure; and 10 being strongly support?

On economic policy? Same 1 to 10 scale.

On social policy? Same scale.

Which candidate did you most strongly support in the 2008 Democratic Party primaries?

Is the potential for Hillary Clinton to be the first female President of the United States important to you?

In your opinion, is having a female President important for the Democratic Party? For the United States of America? Why, or why not?

The End

A Thought About Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton will be “officially” entering the Democratic Party’s primary contest for the nomination to be our candidate for President in 2016. In recent times, this has been the source of some interesting discussions on DU:GD; however, more frequently, the OP/threads about Ms. Clinton’s candidacy have been acrimonious, more emotional that insightful. I haven’t made any decisions regarding who I might support in the primaries, and thus am more interested in the intelligent conversations, than the more common type.

My younger son stopped by tonight, to watch boxing with me. We also talked about politics, including Hillary Clinton. In my clearly subjective opinion, all of my children have a good understanding of politics. They have each been active in social-political events in our state.

This son probably takes the most interest among his siblings. A brief “biography” : he’s in his 20s; has been employed in various social work positions, including currently for Catholic Charities; and, as a solid amateur heavyweight boxer, is my #1 “body guard” when I run my big mouth at tense public government meetings. (grin) He has also proven an effective campaign strategist in our four-county region.

I like that he thinks for himself. For example, I asked him what he thought about Hillary Clinton’s running in 2016? Now, you may agree with him, or disagree with him. But I think that he made some points that -- at least in my opinion -- are of the general quality that DU:GD is capable of producing on a daily basis.

He said that the amount of money that is being reported as about what Ms. Clinton’s campaign will cost presents a unique opportunity for both her and the Democratic Party. He is aware of the massive sums that the republican party will be spending, both on the presidential and other races (congressional, state, and local). He noted that the Koch brothers and their ilk will be attempting to channel their millions into a coordinated, saturation campaign of lies. Hillary Clinton, he noted, has the opportunity to change the process; by using a method similar to judo, he said, she could use the current “corporations are people” mega-money madness, to bring a higher level of awareness to the public.

Could you imagine, my son asked me, if rather than enriching advertising agencies et al, she went to various communities -- cities and towns -- and used a large portion of her campaign funds to invest in them? If she said, “The American people have donated money to me, because they believe that I can institute change. It starts now: I am re-investing this much-needed money in your community. And that is exactly the approach that I will take as your President.”

He said some funds should go to charities, which would allow her to address specific social problems -- and solutions. It’s true that some problems can’t be “solved,” they must be dealt with on an on-going manner. (He was quoting his father.) Other funds could go to specific community needs, again allowing her to highlight problems, and solutions. He said that large segments of the country have accepted the problems that the bankrupt Bush-Cheney policies inflicted on our country. A great leader must change the way that people think -- about themselves, their value, and their relationship to community and country -- before those people can be expected to behave differently. And no single person -- not even the President of the United States -- can “solve” our nation’s problems: they require an on-going effort upon all of our parts.

I thought it was an interesting perspective.

Cell Phones & Siblings

“What you think, you become.” -- Buddha; circa 500 bc.

“What you think, you become.” -- Gandhi; 1860-1948 ad.

I was talking with my normal brother the other day. He had just picked up a new cell phone, in preparation for a trip to the Old Sod to play golf and watch horse-races. Because my grasp of technology generally stopped with my mastering the abacus, he went into great detail to explain the advantages of his new toy.

When I “yawned” -- a polite attempt to communicate my lack of interest -- he immediately said he would provide details so simple, that even I might grasp them. No matter where he happens to be ( Oregon, Boston, or Ireland being his three favorites), if someone sends him a message, his phone will pick it up. The invisible vibrations of energy, if I recall what I wasn’t listening to, will be received by his toy. For that wave-length is sent out virtually everywhere.

Life is both curious and strange, at least in my opinion. In many, if not most ways, my brother and I are very much alike. That is, I assume, due to the combination of nature and nurture: we have similar DNA, and grew up in the same setting. Our daughters frequently respond to our feeble attempts at humor by saying “tell that to your brother, he’s the only one who will ‘get it’.”

He was the best trainer - corner man I ever had in the sport of boxing. I trusted him 100%. I appreciated that he had the opportunity to learn from two of the best ever in the sport: Angelo Dundee and Manny Steward. I respect that he has, in recent years, come to despise the sport, because of the long-term damage that it does to so many of the fellows who participate in it.

Yet there are areas where we disagree. Often quite strongly, as brothers are apt to do. For example, he often tells me that I have to tell my younger son that he is “not allowed” to box. Sure, I tell him, that worked out so well when our parents attempted to stop us. He orders me to have my boy visit our older brother, a once highly-intelligent, respected member of the community we grew up in. Today, he is a still-breathing corpse, who talks non-stop about UFOs. My children are all familiar with their uncle.

My normal brother is a science-based atheist, something that I respect and endorse. However, I enjoy telling him that we both believe in the same God. He insists that my beliefs are actually almost identical to our older brothers: that there is some higher entity that lives in the sky, keeping watch over the human race that is “God’s” ultimate creation. Yikes!

We were raised in what was known as an “Irish-Catholic” environment, at least until as teenagers, we discovered that skipping church was as easy as skipping school. When he moved to the west coast in the 1970s, he stayed briefly at one of our favorite uncle’s houses. He was disappointed to find that this uncle, who ranked rather highly in the ONI, was a strict Catholic. Since then, my brother has assumed that everyone who is religious/ spiritual is cut from the same general cloth -- be they believers in Santa God, Stained-Glass Jesus, or violence-prone, hateful worshippers of another mythology.

Thus, I took the opportunity provided by his fascination with his new cell phone, to talk about my thoughts about energy and vibrations. While some in our extended family subscribe to a theory popularly known as “reincarnation,” I prefer the miracle of DNA, a living energy force that I suspect better explains certain “mysteries.” I’m able to provide my brother with contact information of some distant cousins -- for they are from a branch of our family that either stayed in Ireland, or came here in the late 1800s and eventually returned to Ireland.

The two brothers that he’ll be meeting are about as ugly as we are. They love horse-racing and golf. One boxes. And they share our deformed sense of humor. That DNA stuff is pretty powerful. I don’t advocate worshipping DNA, but I do think it is a topic that most people can find worthy of consideration, and even study.

Likewise, I think that human beings are, at very least, as interesting as cell phones. I often find myself thinking about how our emotions -- including “love” and “hate” -- transmit energy, or vibrations, that are both visible and invisible. And I find myself thinking of them in the simple context of ripples on the surface of my pond, when I toss food in for the many fish that inhabit my pond. Unlike my brother, who gets to spend 40+ hours each week inside a large university, interacting with highly intelligent men and women, I spend most of my time alone ….and my favorite spot is out at my pond.

Thank goodness that the weather is finally changing. Spring is upon here on the east coast. I’m able to spend more time out at the pond, filling the bird-feeders, and watching my dog Kelly enjoy himself running about, tail a wagging, sniffing every bush and tree, digging holes for who knows what. It’s a nice break from the long winter, and the weird vibrations that bring the “news” to my television, or the often strangely hostile vibrations delivered on DU:GD.

H2O Man

Regarding Rand Paul

I’ve watched the news about Rand Paul’s announcing that he has officially entered the primary contest for the republican nomination for president. This makes him #4 among republicans who have filed with the FEC to run; the others are Jack Fellure, Mark Everson, and Rafael Cruz. It’s worth noting that two of the other three do not merit serious consideration -- they are running for VP -- while Cruz can be trusted to self-destruct The fact that the republican machine has already unleashed the modern version of what were known as the “rat-fuckers” in the Nixon era on Rand Paul suggests that they consider him to be a serious threat to their candidate.

Most people could probably agree that Paul’s father ran in republican primaries for about the same reason that Rev. Al Sharpton ran in the Democratic Primary -- to give voice to a segment in his party that he felt was being ignored by the machine. But, as Chris Matthews has noted, Rand Paul believes that there is a way for him to not only win his party’s nomination, but also the general election. While current polling indicate he is unlikely to win the primaries, a lot can change in a year.

The republican machine is most likely to pick Jeb Bush. Their back-up candidate might be Scott Walker, with a Cheney-type VP candidate; surely, the machine wants a seasoned elder to make the international policies that exploit some nations, and invade others. And, in a sense, Walker might well compete with Paul better than Bush. Although the republicans are scheduling far fewer debates than in 2012 -- sad for us, entertainment-wise -- the republican audience would see that Paul can easily out-debate Bush. Expectations are key: what they expect from Jeb Bush is different than from Scott Walker.

Foreign policy will be an important topic in republican primaries, and I believe Paul will gain more support from his policies on these issues than Bush and Walker. In terms of the other two major policy areas -- economics and social policy -- he could likely remain close.

Perhaps the wild card factor is that he can appeal to quite a few young republicans. Likewise, if he does win the republican nomination, he could be something fairly rare in Democrat vs. republican presidential election contests: the younger candidate, claiming to bring “new” ideas to Washington, DC.

In theory, there are a few people who would be worse as president (for example, had McCain won, died, and Palin became president). In real life, none of them has any chance of winning an election. That Paul does have a chance should concern us all.

H2O Man

Girl Scouts & Clan Mothers

I spoke to a Girl Scout Troop this afternoon, about the Indian history of their small town. It was interesting for me, in part because in over 30 years of speaking to schools ( K through 12), most all of the colleges and universities in this region, historical societies, environmental groups, and Boy Scouts ….I had never been asked to speak to Girl Scouts before.

There were 18 girls there, ages 7 to 9. They had just finished their school day, and so they had a lot of energy to burn. A quick snack, and we were ready to go! Holy cow!

I keep on file some basic outlines for presentations to different groups. However, I decided that it would be fun to focus almost exclusively on the role of women in Iroquois society. I brought about 50 artifacts -- most found at a site at the edge of their village. This was a site that James Fennimore Cooper wrote about, the Oneida village known as “Hutted Knoll.” Children in this age group tend to learn more when they have “hands on” experience;

The Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, or Haudenosaunee, are a matriarchal society. This is best understood as a system that recognizes women and men as equal -- though not “exact.” And it creates family systems in a manner with shared power and influence, which is not passed down by way of heredity …..for example, as with the Bush family, with father-to-son appointed positions.

We had an hour and 45 minutes to talk, so I did address the role of males, from childhood to adulthood. But our primary focus was on the roles of the females, from childhood to adulthood. This included discussing the role of the Clan Mother, who selects the clan’s chief, and who also has the power to remove him. I think that every one of these little children grasped the concept that Grandmothers are wise human beings, with much to teach others.

That led to our discussion of the Indians’ “schools” -- inside the longhouse, in the gardens, in the woods, and sitting quietly along side of a stream. And the idea of 13 months/moons per year, with a special holiday-festival for each one. The singing and dancing, and how they made drums and flutes. I had also brought a substantial pile of children’s books, included some by my friend Joseph Bruchac, Some of these girls told me about other books on Indians, that they have read a home and in school.

I had met one 8-year old girl a while back. Her mother had asked me if I could tutor her daughter, who had gotten a 54 on a test on the Iroquois in class. The mother knows my sons. I was glad to help; the girl raised her grade to a 98 when she re-took the test. This led to my being invited to speak to her Girl Scout Troop.

These children were smart. I was very impressed, and told them so repeatedly. For example, when I asked them about what pets Indians had, although they didn’t know about dogs and black bear cubs, they said, “Well, all kids love to catch frogs (snakes, toads, salamanders, lightening bugs, etc).” Man!

Then we ended by talking about water. We discussed clean water versus polluted water, and how life on Earth depends upon clean water. Again, they got it.

Chief Paul Waterman used to tell me that, when presenting to a group of 20 people, the goal is to really reach one of them. That’s success. Anything more is icing on the cake. I think that all of the 18 girls got it today.

Equally important, I remember Paul saying how, when talking to little children, to be fully aware of both their innocence and their wisdom. The Troop leaders were also mighty proud -- and mighty impressed -- when, after we finished, they asked each girl a question about what they had learned today. There were 18 different, equally good, answers.

From there, I traveled about 28 miles, for a school board meeting. Tonight, a group that included much of the local tea party came to complain. They definitely view us board members as “the enemy.” (And one of us, more than the others!) I kept thinking to myself that it’s important that I do this, so that our community’s children get a good education. It is a constant struggle, especially when there are adults who despise public education. But it is worth it.

H2O Man
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