Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Beware of rogues who promote the idea rules and regulations are the cause of America’s problems. Our federal government was led for too many years by a philosophy such requirements weren’t needed, that the American people could count on those in the financial and corporate world doing what was right for all citizens. Additionally, those at administrative lower levels were lax, possibly encouraged or instructed to not even enforce existing regulations. I understand the desire to do as we darn well please, but I draw the line at allowing my willful acts to impinge upon what might jeopardize the welfare of others. Unfortunately, there are individuals who don't share such concerns, so laws, rules and regulations are made for our own protection.

We individuals have been subjected to the undesirable consequences of those who exploit in the name of money by ignoring regulations. We’ve seen this to be true in the automobile industry, in childrens products, in the food industry, and in coal mine operations to name just a few business types. I recall news stories during the past months involving major corporations around the world. We’re still reeling from our nation’s financial status coming close to collapse, but saved only because of the dollars you and I paid to bail out the offenders.

Even now the legislative battles continue over making needed changes to prevent a repeat of such folly. Congress is currently in the process of creating changes into a single bill before submitting for our President’s signature. So far, bankers and Wall Street’s financial managers have initiated few voluntary corrections to right prior corruptive practices in their institutions and markets. So, we must expect our legislators to adopt needed reform and top level administrators to insure regulations are enforced. We must monitor and continually prod our congressional and executive branch officials to act on our behalf. Frustratingly, all too often parties “log jam” meaningful action. They rigidly adhere to ideological positions – in the name of garnering power -- instead of genuinely participating in the art of compromise.

Presently we are exposed to another example of company officials hiding behind their distancing from ordinary people by virtue of what I refer to as “corporate think.” Those officials apparent prevailing beliefs based on their behaviors justify actions that might otherwise be considered immoral, unethical or questionable at best, just because “it’s business.” (Sounds like organized crime’s approach – think, “Godfather” movie.) Such a state seems to foster lack of respect for rules, regulations, and guidelines generally established to ensure operational or product quality and safety. The unscrupulous ignore these protective measures against potential disaster as in the instance of deep sea oil drilling. Possibly this has been due to willful negligence, but ultimately the major impact is on people and our coastal environment.

Certain drilling standards have allegedly been circumvented causing the operation to go awry. Compounding this violation, there were no provisions as required to address preventing oil spillage in the event a worst case scenario happened. This is contrary to guarantees implied or given by the company. Disaster has resulted. We can’t trust such companies to be honest. Regulation must not only be required but responsible regulators must check and be accountable. I don't really like the fact circumstances persist that incite me to write about such negligence, especially deliberate offending actions taken in the name of acquiring money, gains for excessive profit -- but that is “corporate think” in action.

Listening to the BP President's testimony before our U.S. Congress regarding polluting gushing oil, following that notorious Gulf of Mexico deep sea oil drilling rig explosion for which his company is responsible, was appalling. I suppose we can’t expect him to be too forthcoming given the potential legal liability, as I’m sure his attorneys have cautioned him, especially since the investigative determinations about precisely what happened has not yet been completed. Are we to believe he was a renegade whose behaviors didn’t reflect his company’s approach to business? That company president has been relieved of overseeing day to day recovery operations following his taking time off to attend his yacht Bob’s race. What do we expect from his replacement? Better public relations acumen?

Consider BP’s safety track record. The Alaska Dispatch describes BP is paying fines in the millions from a 2006 Prudhoe Bay oil spill on land to which they admitted guilt. BP is fighting additional fines you can read more about in Jill Burke’s article:

“BP denies the 2006 spills polluted wetlands, shorelines, rivers or the Beaufort Sea. It also denies it mishandled asbestos, a federally regulated substance, during work to prepare the pipeline for inspection. And it denies dozens of allegations that it violated a handful of other federal regulations.”

Reading this gives me real concern for conditions in our Gulf affected States – so far Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama.

What is required to insure BP behaves responsibly? Our President’s expectation that BP establish a sizable escrow account is a meaningful effort to insure financial security for some incurred costs. Read more and view videos at this White House website link.

(The Congressman from Texas sullied the name of Barton with his apology to big oil so come re-election time voters know where his allegiance lies despite his later forced muddling apology. I wonder what his reaction would be if oil from the ocean were polluting parts of his State? )

See this BP history of pollution fines with a quick glance timeline chart beginning in 1960:

Is BP another corporation “too big to be allowed to fail?” Shouldn’t we continue to forge ahead at full speed to eliminate our nation’s oil dependence?

A Federal Court Judge’s ruling has negated our President’s 6 month moratorium on deep sea oil drilling. Presumably the ruling will be appealed. Some fishing and other businesses protest the moratorium as creating more financial loss and human hardship in jobs. Others believe the long range goal for businesses and the environment is best addressed by determining more effective preventative and corrective measures for possible future spills before resuming drilling. Legally the ruling may be just, but law application does not always result in fully moral and ethical results in every respect.

The oil pollution saga continues with many more unpalatable facts yet to emerge I fear. The hurricane season has begun with expectations the storms may be as severe as the year that brought the devastation of hurricane Katrina to New Orleans, Louisiana. Their effects of spreading oil on our nation’s Gulf shores do not bode well for either wildlife above or below the sea’s water. Deep in the ocean the oil keeps gushing at a rate far greater than BP officials led all to believe as the estimates have kept increasing with each pronouncement of company and government officials.

Live feeds from remotely operated vehicles (ROV) can be downloaded at this BP link

The consequences of this environmental disaster exceed any meaning the word tragic conveys, considering the number of affected human lives and the likely alterations for generations to come. Is it too much to expect that maybe – just maybe in the future.....

– responsible individuals will enforce established regulations at official governmental regulatory levels, in the financial world, and at corporations?

– elected officials representing the people will enact legislation to insure there are no loopholes enabling others to escape their legal, moral and ethical responsibilities?

- consumers can be confident in the quality and safety of products?

– voters will scrutinize the actions of those we elect to determine who acts on our behalf and who doesn’t, then vote accordingly?

What do you think?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Dogs, Cats and Their Humans

This human’s life has been filled with a variety of pets through the years, including numerous dogs and cats. Recently I heard some pet lovers describe what the pet we choose says about the human owner’s personality. The discussion included a viewpoint saying cats are owned by people who like to feel rejected. Dogs are purportedly more social and interested in establishing relationships which is presumed to be their owner’s trait. Dogs have larger brains than cats but this may not necessarily imply greater intelligence. I'm sure dog and cat owners have many more arguments from their individual points of view.

Dogs are usually not noted for being fastidiously neat with their eating habits, but Ginger at Breakfast does pretty well. Thanks to one of my writing class buddies for bringing this YouTube video to my attention.

My first pet recollection is of a cute little black scottish terrier. My grandmother didn't like that dog and he must have sensed her animosity. Those days before dishwashing machines grandma insisted on being ours as a way to contribute to our household when she visited. One evening as she was standing at the sink busily washing and rinsing dishes she began to feel an increasingly warm sensation in one of her felt slippers. Glancing down at her feet she saw this sweet little dog relieving himself on her. We suspect he was giving her a message, but he also succeeded in reinforcing her negative view of him.

A few years later, the only dog I ever disliked (though not initially) came into my life, a petite goldish-colored fully grown pomeranian. She merely tolerated everyone except our family member who had created her behavior by spoiling and catering to her. I recall us relaxing in the living room with an Aunt who was visiting for the first time. She shifted her feet ever so slightly on the carpet. This dog sleeping across the room was apparently startled and annoyed by my Aunt's action so rushed growling, snarling and snapping at her toes. She didn't bite my Aunt, but scared this woman whose pet at her home was a much larger friendly lovable German shepherd police dog. We'd never seen this behavior before from the prissy miss pooch and didn't see it ever again.

Eventually, our family moved to the country where we had a variety of pets including German pomeranians, cocker spaniels and a stock collie dog (read his story by clicking on these links: "Betrayal and Heartbreak" ; "King's History".)

We also had numerous cats of various colors and dispositions. We raised puppies selling them to carefully screened new owners, but the kittens had to be given away. The number of pets we owned diminished to two, varying through the years, then eventually decreasing to none as we relocated across the country and back again to a Midwest Great Lakes state.

By now I was a young, single adult, longing once again for a pet. I purchased a reddish golden-haired male pomeranian puppy that became quite self-centered as he grew to adulthood. I had to move away so wasn’t home enough to oversee his discipline. Another person with health issues assumed that responsibility but excessively indulged this cute little dog’s misbehaviors with the result being he became quite self-centered. He was seldom left alone, but following the death of this family member who had catered to him the dog’s care became a problem as he started receiving long overdue discipline. If he was left alone for even a brief time while we went to the nearby grocery market he made his rebellious or mourning statement by leaving a puddle on the floor by the kitchen table leg.

I wasn’t allowed a pet in my apartment, but we luckily found a home for the dog with the understanding I could visit a few weeks later to see how he was adapting to his new owners. Adapting! When I visited, he hardly paid any attention to me in his new urban environment that allowed him more room to run untethered outdoors, to splash about in a small wading pond and reportedly enjoy sleeping in the bed between this older couple. They were delighted with him as they had been grieving the loss of their aged toy pomeranians prior to acquiring him. I could immediately see he had trained them well and was clearly living in doggy heaven here on earth.

We excused inappropriate bathroom behavior from our cat I describe later when we learned he had an infection. Cats can be quite independent with their personal habits. The video of this neat and clean cat is the first I’ve seen that not only uses the toilet, but also toilet paper.

After I wed, my husband and I became enamored with a kitten birthed by a three-footed wild mama cat living in a nearby woods whose confidence we won over a year's time. We adopted him and he matured into a lovable personable attractive handsome long-haired silver gray cat. Sadly neighbor dogs allowed to run loose later killed his mother. He accompanied us in all our moves about the country through his fifteen plus years lifetime.

A few years after his death a ten month old German short-haired pointer we rescued from the local animal shelter joined our household. She proved to be a challenge as we began to understand why her previous owners had given her up. Reportedly they had been unable to successfully train her to be a bird dog. I'm not sure how she had failed because she often pointed birds in our back yard which impressed us.

What didn't impress us was that she was hopelessly neurotic, chewing a bottom portion of our long saved for brand new living room drapes on a couple of occasions soon after we brought her home. She must have overheard me say if she did that one more time I would return her to the dog pound because there were no further incidents and she remained with us the rest of her life. Of course, the irreparable drape damage had been done. This dog's behavior clearly revealed she had been the victim of abuse, probably in the name of discipline, so we felt compelled to re-educate her in a loving manner and must have succeeded to some extent. She also grew a bit larger, plus she became a much more active dog than we had anticipated.

This high strung lady dog didn't tolerate other animals in our back yard forcing me to rescue more than one opossum. One time, hearing the sudden deep growls, barks and yips, we opened the back door to quickly discern she had tangled with a skunk when a most acerbic unpleasant odor permeated the evening air and her. She could not tolerate being alone outside for long if we were home. She persisted in behaving like a jumping jack, tirelessly leaping up and down on her back legs as if on springs, to peer at us through the living room window – very distracting and entertaining as she never tired. She was incredibly jealous of any other pet that might seek my attention.

She viewed herself as a lap dog which was a delusion on her part due to her size. When she couldn't sit on my husband's lap, she soon initiated the idea of squeezing in beside him on his reclining chair which he ultimately encouraged. She often sought attention behaving much like a puppy causing us to wonder if she had been separated from her mother at too early an age. She lived a long full life with us bringing our family overall pleasure, successfully recovering from one cancer surgery. A few years later recurrent cancer spread throughout her body to a degree life was no longer viable. We reluctantly and tearfully had her “put to sleep” as the euphemism is worded.

Individuals living in confined quarters probably prefer having a pet whose needs can be more easily met without the necessity of walking a dog outdoors so cats seem logical. Some individuals in need of exercise incentives might choose to have a dog to regularly walk outside. I'm seeing many more dogs walking their humans in our neighborhood this year -- all sizes and breeds from fluffy little Shih Tzus to handsome Siberian Huskies with all sorts of mixed breeds in between.

Travel and sudden trips become more complicated and expensive with a pet. I wouldn't take mine with me though I know many have begun doing so in recent years. I come from the era when people and children were the humans while pets, however dearly loved, carefully cared for, were pet animals. Now my impression is that distinction does not exist for many humans with pets. I'm still opting for no pet presently as my experience is the care and inconveniences associated with even the most healthy cat or dog outweighs the companionship I would enjoy.

The question of which is the best companion and most intelligent pet -- a dog or cat remains a matter of opinion, I think. Dogs may foster or require their human to adopt a more physically active lifestyle than cats. Dogs may need more attention and human interaction. I’ve found dogs to be more attentive including with eye gaze, feelings sensitivity, being emotionally responsive and better listeners attuned to the nonverbal aspects of their human’s language. I've shared my life with both type pets in apartments, houses in city, suburban, and rural environments. My experience indicates the answer about which is the best pet is partially dependent on the particular dog’s or cat’s breeding, disposition, human owner's personal preference, living situation at the time of adoption.

About some other pet preferences -- raccoons, ferrets, squirrels, hamsters, rats, snakes, birds, fish, reptiles.....then, there are the bigger animals, horses, cows, pigs.....if the creature lives, moves, someone will adopt it as a pet. Wait.....what about those pet rocks a few years ago and now we have robots.....what next?

Could my attachment to my netbook, cell phone, IPhone or IPad be considered some sort of pet? No-o-o, my refrigerator, oven, microwave, coffeemaker aren’t pets, are they?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Robots to Stop Gulf Oil Spill ???

The latest attempt by BP using robots to stop the Gulf of Mexico oil spill for which the company has been so ill-prepared to resolve is reported to be risky. Refer to today's issue of the L. A. Times and probably other major newspapers for further information. An Internet news search for current up to the minute specifics wll reveal the success or lack thereof which will be of critical interest in the hours and days ahead.

Refer to the previous post for broader discussion of regulation and supervision shortcomings involving government and corporations from my viewpoint.