Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Climate Change Impact on Nuclear Destruction Infrastructure

 


 

If you don't have enough to lose sleep over at night, "Respect is the Hub" can fill your boat.

Respect is the Hub is all over the subject of Climate Change and how it is likely to increase the chance of nuclear war.  A few others are onto it also:

Susan D'Agostino

Is the U.S. Nuclear Community Prepared for the Extreme Weather Climate Change is Bringing? https://thebulletin.org/2021/04/is-the-us-nuclear-community-prepared-for-the-extreme-weather-climate-change-is-bringing/ 

 Michael Klare

 How Rising Temperatures Increase the Likelihood of Nuclear War.   https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/nuclear-defense-climate-change/ 

Matt Korda

When Talking About the Climate Crisis, We Can't Forget About Nuclear Weapons https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/climate-change-nuclear/ 

 The U.S. Nuclear Deterrent is not Prepared for Climate Catastrophe    https://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewkorda/2020/03/16/the-us-nuclear-deterrent-is-not-prepared-for-climate-catastrophe/?sh=1fdb41f63a1e 

 Do Young People Care About Nuclear Weapons? (Looks at connecting nuclear weapons to climate, health and social justice issues) https://inkstickmedia.com/do-young-people-care-about-nuclear-weapons/

 Jamie Kwong

A Troubling Forecast: Climate Change and the Future of Nuclear Deterrence. (This paper discusses 2019 flood at U.S. Strategic Command, potential disruptions related to thawing permafrost, etc. R.U.S.I. = Royal United Services Institute, a UK security think tank) https://static.rusi.org/201912_rusi_uk_poni_papers_2019_web.pdf Video Content Council on Strategic Risks: 

Can Climate Change Increase the Risk of Nuclear War? (security analyst panel discussion) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNrahMvbWVY Ira Helfand/PSR: 

 Dr. Ira Helfand: Risk of Nuclear War Increases with Climate Change (interview) https://youtu.be/3H5eltT4XIo 

Also: 

Seth Baum et al: "A Model for the Probability of Nuclear War" (60 historical incidents related to nuclear weapons) A Model for the Probability of Nuclear War by Seth Baum, Robert de Neufville, Anthony Barrett.

Respect is the Hub has a very active twitter account with over 1800 tweets.  Check it out:

 https://twitter.com/selfothersplace 

 

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Sunday, August 29, 2021

POTUS's Trifecta



 

Often, I try to post stories that are somewhat timeless.  Over the last 17 years, we post stories about Climate Change and advanced technology, about our move towards fascism in our politics, about the importance of respect, and the need for humanity to evolve on the planetary level.  But this Sunday is a trifecta of time and events.

It's the 29th of August and Hurricane Ida has come ashore as a class 4 hurricane with 150 MPH winds and gusts to 185.  Its eye is not quite to Houma, Louisiana, a town just west of New Orleans.  Landing at Port Forchon, it is going right through the oil and gas refining and shipping infrastructure of the region. Already, a half a million are without electricity and its just getting started. And four hours after landfall, it is still a class 4 storm that is traveling slowly.  This is a recipe for calamity.

Today is the 16th anniversary of Katrina.  Moreover, Ida is the second class 4 hurricane to hit Louisiana in less than a year.

Meanwhile, almost all the hospitals are packed with over 3,000 Covid 19 patients with 500 patients on ventilators.  With a 40% vaccination rate, Louisiana is 46th in vaccinations,  above Alabama, Mississippi, Wyoming, Idaho, and West Virginia. Because of the politicalization of the pandemic started by the previous administration and exacerbated by the current R establishment, the states that voted for the Rs are the states with the most deaths from Covid.

Earlier today, the POTUS and his defense team formally honored the 13 soldiers that we lost last Thursday at the airport in Kabul as a result of a 25 pound bomb attached to a Sunni Isis suicide bomber. Almost 200 locals were killed as they fought to find an exit from the 2 week old fledgling Taliban government. Over the last 2 weeks, over 5,000 troops at the the facility have managed  to oversee the departure of over 120,000 Americans, coalition partners, and Afghanis.

As the 20 year war comes to a blistering stop as President Ghani unexpectedly leaves with his millions, the corruption ends and the religious rule of the Taliban begins. Somehow caught with their pants down, the administration is left with control of the Harmid Karzai International Airport and nothing else except for  the sky. The outside perimeter is controlled by our state department declared terrorist Taliban who have publicly stated that they intend to be less ridiculous in their treatment of women and those who worked in the previous government.  

We have promised to get all the Americans out that want to leave and to get as many Afghans out as we can before our drop dead date on the 31st. It makes my stomach turn to think that Biden's term is now in the hands of the Taliban. And it is a testament to the power of the crazy behavior of his predecessor.

It's hard for a president to survive humiliation, ask Jimmy Carter. Americans like kicking ass, but we viscerally detest getting ours in a crack. Ask Gerald Ford.  And we don't like it when a hurricane almost destroys a historic city and the response is slow and incompetent. And we don't like liars who don't talk to us straight about a dangerous virus. Don't ask, he's really not with us.

Oh and what else?

How about the IPCC report on Climate Change:

It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.

The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole and the present state of many aspects of the climate system are unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years.

Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Evidence of observed changes in extremes such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, and, in particular, their attribution to human influence, has strengthened since the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).

Many changes in the climate system become larger in direct relation to increasing global warming. They include increases in the frequency and intensity of hot extremes, marine heatwaves, and heavy precipitation, agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions, and proportion of intense tropical cyclones,as well as reductions in Arctic sea ice, snow cover and permafrost.

Sure you say that the R's will just continue their efforts to minimize climate change, their foreign policy mistakes, and their irresponsible response to Covid.

But I think there is a chance that the R's might fall short in their efforts to blame the War they started and abruptly stopped on the current administration.  They may find that their attempt to confuse their own followers with silly yet dangerous cures even as they refuse to take the actual  cure will backfire and erode their barely existent credibility.  They may find that this hurricane along with all the other signs of climate disruption evident in the fires in the northwest and the life threatening lack of water in the southwest will awaken some to the true enemy of our time and the coming generations.

If the POTUS can focus all of this into the infrastructure bills that are in the House and the Senate with their powerful approaches to the challenges before us and move with honesty and resolve, he might be able to arise from this moment. But we must protect the troops from the sky so they come home, we must rush supplies and help the storm victims, and vaccinations should be required to go anywhere.

A Trifecta is a bet placed on a horse race in which the bettor must predict which horses will finish first, second, and third in the exact order.

It's an unusual bet unless you really know the horses.

And you still need to get a little lucky.

Let's hope the POTUS does. 



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Saturday, July 31, 2021

To Spite Your Face

 

In the early years of this blog, I wrote a story about Liberty and Justice.  Now 17 years later, it is remarkably pertinent to our lives and to understanding the forces that are shaping them.

As Covid makes its return to our lives in the form of Delta, we have this remarkable political dialectic where a major party is invoking policies that endanger its own followers.  Rs have adopted a meta strategy where they must oppose the present administration by making its primary goal of defeating the pandemic a failure.  So, the "Right" and its Faux news outlets have adopted a whisper campaign to oppose taking vaccinations, to make masking mandates actually illegal, and to oppose formal vaccination identification and thresholds for businesses, educational institutions, and even cruise ship owners.

It is such a convoluted concoction of irrationality and self destructive behavior it taxes the sane mind. Their embrace of liberty may be on brand, but it also reminds us of the old proverb "to cut off your nose to spite your face"

Liberty and Justice

I pledge Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Most of us learned these words before we could write very well. They were written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister. Ironically, he was a Christian Socialist. Originally, although he was a minister, he did not include “under God” in his pledge. Congress added those words in 1954 after an extensive campaign by the Knights of Columbus. Earlier, in 1924, the National Flag Conference, under the leadership of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, changed the Pledge's words, “my Flag,” to “the Flag of the United States of America.” Bellamy disliked this change, but his protest was ignored.

It’s fairly short. But it is pretty packed. There is the “Republic” idea for which the country stands. There is the “one nation under God, indivisible” thing. I’m not about to touch that. And then, there is the “liberty and justice for all” thing. It is said the Bellamy would have added “equality”, but at the time of the writing, women still did not have the right to vote.

Since most of us learned these words before we really thought much about anything except maybe how much more attention our younger brother was getting than we were, it’s likely that you haven’t thought much about it since.

I would offer that this country is founded on liberty and justice. These are the two great pillars of the Republic. But, the pillar metaphor is not really a good one. For it seems that liberty and justice come out of the same bucket so to speak. Liberty and Justice are two constituents of a single pillar. They are more like the yin and the yang of the Tao.

Liberty would hold that we should be free to drive down the freeway at whatever speed we choose. Justice would hold that we must drive at a safe speed so that innocent drivers are not injured or killed by your need to drive like an Indy want-to-be. Liberty would hold that we should be free to live as we choose; justice asserts that we must abide by laws that protect us all.

Liberty would hold that we should be able to discharge whatever we want into our air or waters with impunity; justice maintains that these emissions should be regulated to protect the health of those who breath the air and drink the water. Liberty would defend the right to use our private property any way we choose; justice says you can’t build a chemical plant next to an elementary school or a hospital.

Lovers of Liberty value their right to own guns. Lovers of Justice believe that gun manufacturers should be responsible somehow for the natural result of the use of their product. (or should just the bullet manufacturers be responsible?)

Whether the issue is States Rights, a woman’s right to choose, corporate behavior, universal health care, the environment, or the way we choose to build our homes, there is always a tension between liberty and justice.

It is this tension that has made the two party system function so well in this country.

In general, although it has not always been this way, the Republican Party represents Liberty, and the Democrats represent Justice. It is within this tension that good law and good public policy is conceived and implemented. Big business likes the Republicans because they want to be free of regulation. Big labor likes the Democrats because they want justice for their membership. Republicans don’t like big government. Democrats are not supposed to like unregulated corrupt corporations that pollute and steal, and then bribe our leaders to look the other way.

Look at any list of issues and see for yourself. The tension between liberty and justice is the foundation of our two party system and the Republic itself. Those groups outside of the margin on the right are called Libertarians. Those on the left are concerned with environmental justice, social justice and other justice issues. We just don’t call them Justicians.

And, like the yin and the yang of the Tao, one is constantly turning into the other.

To "not be able to use your land the way you intended when you bought it" turns into a justice issue. The justice of equal opportunity turns into a liberty issue for those who suffer from discrimination. It turns into a loss of liberty for those who wish to discriminate (Sometimes for justified reasons)

Republicans view the right to life as a justice issue for the unborn. Democrats see abortion as a woman’s right to choose, a liberty issue.

The tension between Liberty and Justice is the lifeblood of this Republic. The constant turmoil of these two basic rights makes our system work.

The system, however, does not work when those who should be arguing the virtue of their principles argue instead based on their desire to maintain power. Then, the system breaks down.

The President says he wants to “get to the bottom” of a leak from the White House that has revealed the name of a CIA operative. Yet, he has not publicly called for the resignations of those who participated in the crime. He has not called on those journalists who know the names of the perpetrators of the crime to help him preserve the rule of law in his own administration. His sense of justice is therefore subordinated to his need to maintain power.

When Democrats do not pursue justice for fear of the loss of power, we all lose.

When Republicans condone the loss of civil liberty in the name of national security in order to maintain their grip on power, they are abandoning their basic principles. When both sides of the aisle choose to confuse liberation with occupation, we are truly lost.

When we are no longer guided by our great principles, truth becomes a prisoner to the mendacities of power.

And the Republic is endangered.    

 

To cut off your nose to spite your face" is possibly derived from Henry IV who contemplated destroying Paris but soon thought better of it based on advice.

I suspect some Rs are trying to hold onto their own noses.

While the rest of us do the same 

to avoid the stench of their deadly folly.

 

 

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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

De-Evolution

As we enter the fourth of July holiday weekend, there is a lot to be thankful for.  Several weeks ago, we went to a vaccinated only fund raiser in a semi outdoor space.  There we visited and actually touched well over a hundred friends and political allies for the first time in 15 months.  Later that evening, we decided to actually go to a restaurant, our first inside eating experience since March 2020.

Here in the blue haven of Austin, the health authorities recently announced that we are 4,000 vaccinations from a minimum herd immunity threshold.  Masks have disappeared almost as fast as they appeared. The National seven day average of Covid deaths is down to 234; 20 times less than it was during our winter peak. That's about the same amount of deaths we get from our cars and our guns.

But as we approach the 70% vaccination goal that Biden wanted to achieve by the Holiday, there are many states and communities that are still well below 50%. Only 20 states will meet the President's goal.

Vermont, Massachusetts and Hawaii have partially or fully vaccinated more than 80% of their adults, while Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have all partially or fully inoculated more than 75%. 

New Hampshire, New Mexico, Maryland, Washington, Illinois, New York, Virginia, Minnesota, Delaware and California have all at least partially immunized 70% of their adults.  Washington, D.C. has also passed the 70% threshold. Colorado and Oregon are very close to hitting the  benchmark.

Mississippi has partially or fully vaccinated the least amount of adults of any state in the country—45.9%—while Louisiana and Wyoming have also at least partially vaccinated less than 50% of their adults.  

66%. 

That’s the percentage of American adults who have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Over half—57%—of American adults are fully vaccinated. At the current pace, 68% of American adults will be partially vaccinated by July 4, according to the New York Times. (Forbes)

See a pattern?

So are R's so lost in the drivel of the former guy that they can't take care of themselves or their children or their communities?

Apparently so.

And folks who can't or won't take care of themselves certainly cannot be trusted to take care of others. 

Thankfully, R's are only about 25% of the population.  And if 70 % of them believe that the election was stolen, then we've got 17.5% of our population that not only can't take care of themselves, they can't tell the truth from a hole in the ground.

But most importantly, they have evolved to become the party of de-evolution.  The money-makers in the party are as openly racist now as the segregationist were sixty years ago. The R's have embraced the politics of the worst of our human condition.  They inflame our lower centers with fear, hate, and lies.  

As the old joke goes, they pray on Sunday morning and then prey on everyone and everything else the rest of the week.

When the R's are led by a leader who knows that the politics of hate and fear are a dead end for us all, these de-evolutionary forces can be managed. But when they are freed from the bonds of their better angels by a ruthless psychopath, the results have the potential to bring Jan 6 again and again.

As the Northwest bakes under a heat dome giving them Death Valley like days, and a high rise Florida Condo collapses from salt water intrusion, and  our electric grid fails in both winter and summer, you would think that rushing down to the border to do a photo-op with a one term loser would be the last thing on a Governor's mind.

But It's Not.

It's De-Evolution


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Monday, May 31, 2021

Decoration Day



It's Decoration Day, or so it used to be called.

Starting after the Civil War, May 30th and now the last Monday in May was a time to decorate the graves of those who fell in this nation's greatest loss of life in War.  

This from the History Channel:

It is unclear where exactly this tradition originated; numerous different communities may have independently initiated the memorial gatherings. And some records show that one of the earliest Memorial Day commemorations was organized by a group of formerly enslaved people in Charleston, South Carolina less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865. Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.

Waterloo—which first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Civil War soldiers buried there.

Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor the dead on separate days until after World War I.

Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars, including World War II, The Vietnam War, The Korean War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 It was made a national holiday by Congress 50 years ago.  And you might not know this, but at three o' clock, there is a National Moment of Remembrance

Some of us might remember what was once a somber day where graves were decorated with flowers and not flags.  Now, we know the day for car racing, furniture sales and curiously enough, mattress sales. It mostly signifies the beginning of summer and the end of the school year.

But on the eve of this former sacred holiday, General Michael Flynn declared that an armed rebellion and a coup de etat is in order to reinstall his disgraced former president and to reinstate his now obliterated reputation as a sane former military general.

"I want to know why what happened in Myanmar can't happen here?" an attendee asked Flynn during a Q&A session at a conference called the "For God & Country Patriot Roundup" in Dallas, Texas, on Sunday.

"No reason. I mean, it should happen here," Flynn responded, to cheers from the crowd.

This has lead Eugene Vindman to say: "With these seditious remarks Comrade Flynn may have crossed the line for recall to active duty and court-martial. As a JAG I’m qualified and also happy to prosecute this case."

All through the country, the R's are on a full court press to make it harder to vote and to make the vote reversible by state legislatures and even the judiciary.  With no facts or even a scent of real evidence, 70 % of the Republican party believes that the election was somehow stolen, despite losing by 7 million votes. And because they elected a brand instead of a leader, they are now forced to buy his lie, if they wish to raise money with his name.  

For after all... Money is their brand. 

Republican party congressmen are now openly speaking of second amendment remedies to  their democratic defeats. A white minority that is flailing to keep the past and their power at all costs is a recipe for a grave retreat from reality and the blessings of tranquility that most of us enjoy.

And no decoration day will be able to cover up that folly.

As we move into the future where most of us are vaccinated, and life as we have known it begins to return, we must be wary of the winds of history and the rising of those who choose not to accept a democratic pluralistic global society

Soon, we will be presented with evidence that we are not alone.

And we will see what we will be.



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Friday, April 30, 2021

New Rules



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's been a weird April.

Not bad, but a little unexpected.  One, a jury actually found the cop who pressed the life out of George Floyd  guilty of murder and manslaughter.  That does not happen often in any country.  And it might represent the beginning of real police reform.  Remember, it's not the apple, it's the orchard. And we need to figure out how to protect ourselves without endangering ourselves at the same time.

Be honest, I don't care if you are black, brown, or white, these people are scary.  Many are rude, power crazed ass holes that decided to grow up and wear a gun and a club and a tazer.  My solution is the same one they had in the TV town Mayberry.  We need the Barney Fife Rule

This from a Bullet for Barney:

The Andy Griffith Show aired on CBS from 1960 to 1968. The comedy centered on a sheriff and his deputy, “Barney Fife,” in a small, fictional town in North Carolina. A continuing theme of the show, and the source of much of the comedy, was Deputy Fife’s gun and bullet. In an attempt to protect both public safety and the Deputy himself, the sheriff gave him only one bullet which he had to carry in his shirt pocket. Barney’s attempt to get that bullet into his gun was the cause of many comedic moments in the show. But Barney’s bullet may not be so funny anymore. Today Deputy Barney can get a lot more than a bullet to maintain order in small town America.

In the 1980s Congress authorized what is called the “1033 Program” which enables the transfer of surplus military goods from the Department of Defense to local police agencies. 13,000 police agencies participate in the program and in 2012, $546 million of defense surplus was transferred to local police departments.

The equipment delivered to small towns across the country includes high-powered weapons and military assault vehicles. The list of available items includes “aircraft, boats, Humvees, body armor, weapon scopes, infrared imaging systems and night-vision goggles,” and some less lethal items like “bookcases, hedge trimmers, telescopes, brassieres, golf carts, coffee makers and television sets.” 

Rising Star, Texas, a town with one police officer, has acquired $3.2 million worth of equipment including nine televisions, 12 pairs of binoculars, 11 computers, three deep-fat fryers, two meat slicers, 22 large space heaters, a pool table, 25 sleeping bags and playground equipment.

The Oxford, Alabama, police force has received more than $10.4 million in equipment including a $1.5 million infrared surveillance apparatus for a helicopter. The problem, of course is, that the Oxford police department doesn’t have a helicopter.

And finally, as with all such government programs, there have been problems of abuse. The Bureau, IL, sheriff began lending M-14 rifles to his friends who were not in law enforcement. A North Carolina department was caught selling M-14 and M-16 assault rifles on E-Bay. And the Pinal County, Arizona, sheriff’s department tried to auction their equipment off.

 In Mayberry, Andy figured that Barney might be trusted with a Gun, but not with a Bullet.

And some version of the Barney Rule  is what we need in today's policing.  Like the comic says, "Guns don't kill people,  Bullets kill people."

 

Another big surprise is this Biden Administration. I thought he might be pretty good, but listen folks, Biden and Kamala are hitting it out of the park.

By the end of their 100th day, they had managed to set in motion what it takes to get 200 million vaccinations in the arms of eager Americans.  Now, almost 100 million are fully vaccinated and those who have some protection with one shot is over 55%.

In the same 100 days, a massive Covid relief bill was passed through budget reconciliation getting $1400.00 in the hands of all who made less than $75,000 in their last tax return.

And based on the ruling of the the Senate Parliamentarian, another budget reconciliation is in the works for Biden's massive infrastructure bill.

But most impressively, Biden's speech to a joint session of Congress was well received by over 27 million viewers.

According to a poll run by CBS News-YouGov, 85% of viewers said they approved of Biden’s speech with most of them using the adjectives  “Presidential, “Caring,” “Inspiring” and “Bold” to describe the President.

Nearly 80% of viewers said the speech made them feel more optimistic about the country while 83% said they felt the coronavirus outbreak was getting better.

A CNN-SSRS poll reflected similar numbers as 78% of respondents had a very or somewhat positive reaction to Biden’s speech while 71% felt more optimistic about the country's direction.

The speech seems to have helped Biden’s favorability among Republicans and independents as the share of Republicans saying Biden's policies would move the country in the right direction grew from 13% to 27%, while among independents that percentage soared from 61% to 73%.

Many have expected the Biden presidency to be transitional.

It may instead be TRANSFORMATIONAL.

New Rule: Good Government governs.



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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Solomon Haws Osborne

 

                                                             



 

 

 

 

 

  

Solomon Haws Osborne (1974-2021)

 

 

 

A day after the advent of spring, I got a call from the best ex-girlfriend my son Solomon ever had:

"Solomon had a heart attack and he died," she said sobbing between every word. She gave me the phone number of his partner on the dock Sol had been working on, who was at the scene.  We talked briefly and he gave me the address.  In a haze of disbelief, I walked back to the office guest room where my physician partner has worked much of the last year.  I peaked in imagining that she was zooming and she was.

She turned in her chair with the non-verbal message that she was with her staff or a patient.  

I said, "I just got a phone call that said that Solomon had a heart attack and he died!" "For real" she said.

I'm afraid so.

We rushed out to 1515 Chipmunk in Lakeway, a lot right on Lake Travis.  The deputy let us through once I announced I was the deceased father.  When we got to the actual scene, I could see from our side of the yellow tape line his tricked out Jeep with the monster tires. It was parked a bit side wise on the road and the door was wide open.  He was obviously in a hurry.

The detectives weren't, and we waited more than an hour after talking with them and answering their questions.  Soon, the medical examiner arrived and they began their forensic analysis.  Meanwhile I slipped down off the road and moved towards the scene where I thought I might see my son. 

There he was under a crime scene tarp with his tennis shoes sticking out. It made a permanent impression on my mind and on my entire being. In another 30 minutes or so, after the examiner finished, they allowed us to be with the body before he was loaded into the carrier.  This was still an active investigation so we could only touch him through the blanket.

There, Dana and I said good bye to my 46 year old son.

They allowed me to drive the jeep with his phone and wallet and tools in the back to his house a couple of miles away.  All I could remember was the first time I drove him home from the hospital in that red Christmas stocking.  He was born 1 day before Christmas Eve.

There we began the process of rebuilding our lives without him. 10 days later, we hosted a small group of friends and relatives in the backyard pool area of his home and we produced a Zoom service for another 50 or so. We heard his mother speak, my partner read, and an old friend recounted his chaotic birth. Two of his friends talked of their love and admiration for him, a Buddhist Priest gave us higher context, and I gave the following Eulogy:

Solomon Haws Osborne was born early in the morning on December 23. It was 1974. Dee had gone through almost 24 hours of labor having starting early in the morning on the 22nd which was also the winter solstice. As you heard Jimmy explain, we invited all of our friends to the mansion in Taylor to celebrate the arrival of our first born. It didn’t work out.  By about 3 o'clock in the morning, after  emergency cesarean surgery I got my first look at my new son. Because he spent so much time in the birth canal, his head was greatly stretched like a pickle. When I said “oh wow we have a spaceman,” the doctor calmly assured me that the head would return to normal shape. Frankly I didn't believe it and I thought it was nice that he was trying to make me feel better about the situation.

We spent the next few days in Brackenridge Hospital and somewhere close to Christmas day Dee and Sol and I headed back home to the old cotton Baron mansion in Taylor.  At first, we were going to name him Sol but by the second day or so it turned into Solomon and we picked Dee’s maiden name to be his middle name. Somehow Solomon Haws Osborne sounded better than Sol Haws Osborne. And it paid off; his email address is Solomon Osborne@gmail.com.

He went home in a Christmas stocking that was given to us by the hospital, and I must say it was the most precious Christmas gift I've ever received.  I remember even today that feeling of leaving the hospital with a new being on board in my white Volvo station wagon and it took me a while to get accustomed to it.

Soon, we moved to the little House on the Prairie just east of Elgin where Solomon would spend his early years.  It was a tiny house but considering that we ran the goats out of it in order to live there, it was a pretty decent place to start a family. I built a little solar collector on the south Side of the house, and we put a woodstove in. The landlord had recently cleared the pastures around us and piled up the Mesquite so we had an endless supply of high-quality wood that kept us warm in those early winters.

Solomon was the favorite of his grandmother. And she was always glad to take him on when Dee and I finally started going out.  He was a good kid.  However, the first night we left him with Joan, he cried himself to sleep at the door where we had left and was asleep in the hallway when we got home from the movie.

One time, after we had moved to the house on dead dog road on Highway 95, Solomon came running out to me with some big news he had heard on the evening news. “Dad dad” he said, “the gorillas have overrun Lebanon”. That was pretty big news to a five year old.

Solomon did well in school but he didn't like it very much when his younger sister just 22 months his junior skipped the second grade.  Like most brothers, he didn't think his younger sister was that smart.

While we were living in Elgin, we pretty much behaved like normal folks, we went to the first Baptist Church, I went to Kiwanis club and did the pancake cook off's, and I was baseball coach for nine years.  For the last three years Sol was on my team and he turned out to be a valuable power hitter. He hit a home run in all star game and somehow I missed it.

Our years in Elgin were good years. We had a good network of friends which we have to this day. Sol made many friends, one of them,  Will Owen, you heard from moments ago.

Ultimately Solomon graduated from McCallum high school in Austin where he began his love of all things with wires.  He was the best guy around to hook up your phone,  stereo, your security system or your computer. He worked for a cable company for many years wiring up all kinds of schools and institutions in the region. But I think he really enjoyed wiring up breathalyzers for those folks who had gotten in trouble drinking and driving and who had a judge who ordered a breathalyzer on their car for it to start. It was the perfect mixture of wires, car, technology and misbehavior.

When he was in his thirties, Solomon adopted Alex when Hope passed away, and after a few years in Elgin they moved to Lakeway.  Living in Lakeway here for the last 10 years or so, Solomon was able to expand his love for radio controlled cars, airplanes, even boats and also to indulge in his passion for great big huge trucks. And in  the last five years or so he's been investing in classic cars and fixing them up and selling them to find some more. There is a 60s model Chevy in the garage right now. But to his credit, and in at least a small bow to his father, he bought a Tesla and developed a love for electric cars and electric transportation in general.

For as you know, the world will not be able to solve the crisis of climate change without a complete transformation of our energy and transportation sectors to renewables and electricity.

During his time in Lakeway, Solomon got to watch Alexander play football with the state championship team from Lake Travis, almost winning two championships in a row.  And Alex has the bling Ring to prove it. Over Christmas we had several dinners with Sol, and Dana and I agreed that we thought Sol was happier than we had seen him in a while. We kept close touch during the Snow-Mageddon as we discussed the electric generator that is installed at this house. And just a few weeks ago, I called him and told him he needed to get a Covid vaccination and to begin to start thinking about his health. I told him that he wasn't a young man anymore and that he needs to take care of himself.

Not three weeks later I was working preparing for my one-on-one meetings with my director of local initiatives at the Texas Electric Transportation Resource Alliance when I get a phone call from Solomon's best ex girlfriend ever. It was Devon.

“Hi Devon, long time no see”

Devon was crying.  “I’m so sorry, but Solomon had a heart attack and died.”

It was the call that all parents hope to never receive.

Dana and I jumped in the car and made our way to 1515 Chipmunk, arriving before the Medical Examiners.  The area was taped off but I made my way around the trees to see.

There was Solomon, under a police tarp with his tennis shoes sticking out.

A sight no parent ever wants to see.

I wrote to Dana’s friend in Central America, “At times like these it seems that we are in a sea of death, When in truth, we are just blown by the winds of life,  in a universe of light.

I am finding peace with this, as we all should, for everything has a purpose.

Ecclesiasties 3.1-8

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace.


Let us all find that peace as we honor this life
And remember the love and his life that we shared."

His son, Alexander Deems Osborne followed me with his own words of appreciation and admiration.

Then, we released 46 balloons into a slight south wind.  

They barely did clear the trees.

And we watched as the multi-colored balloons

merged into a late afternoon sky,

As we released him and his spirit

into a universe of hope and light.

 

 

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