Wednesday, June 30, 2021


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.  


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

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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Sunday, February 28, 2021

To be Governed or to be Ruled?




Earthfamilyalpha is now in its 16th year of publication. For many of those years, we published a broad range of stories about politics, technology, climate change, art, the human condition, and consciousness in general.  And I invite you to dig deep into this work that now has more words in it than the Bible.  One of the best ways is to go to the contents pages at the bottom of each post.  Or select a label and see all the stories in that subject.

But over the last five years or so, most of the content has been political.  We've written about energy and climate change and certainly the pandemic when we can, but the political stage has been so daft, that it seems to suck the air out of the clear issues and challenges that face us as a people.

Many years ago, I wrote a piece about Liberty and Justice, and how as we repeat our Pledge of Allegiance that we end it "with Liberty and Justice for all."  My thesis was that Liberty and Justice come out of the same bucket.  That we want the liberty to drive any speed we want, but justice says we must obey the speed limit or we endanger others who might lose their life due to your belief that your liberty is more important than their justice.  From this thesis I made the case that the two party system in this country was effective because the Meta "Rs" in their best aspect represented  "freedom" and the Meta "Ds" represented "justice".  With each party representing these great principals of American values, the parties could vacillate in power as the great pendulum of time worked its way through our history. 

And clearly, we see this today as "Rs" refuse to wear a simple mask in the name of liberty as "Ds" demand that masks be mandated so that justice can be served.  But something more important has occurred in these last five years.  Another Dialectic has developed that is not a great principal, but rather a psychological manifestation of our human condition.

Republicans for years have stated the best government is a small government; that in the words of their previous idol, Ronald Reagan,  “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.”  Since they don't want government to work well, they get elected in the name of efficiency but often just do their job poorly to prove their point.  Our government's response to the pandemic is a prime example.

Democrats, on the other hand, run on the idea that government, if done well, can be very helpful in developing many of the things we need:  like roads and water and security and freedom from want and fear.

Democrats wish to govern.

Republicans want to rule.

And this unhealthy dialectic is problematic for a functioning democracy.

It's not a big problem if most of the citizens want to be governed, but it is a huge problem if the electorate  actually wants to be ruled; by their party, their strongman, or the hate that has seized them as exacerbated by that party or strongman. It is ever so more dangerous when those who wish to be ruled use their power to disenfranchise those who wish to be governed.

Occurring exactly eighty years after FDR's famous Four Freedoms speech, the events of  January 6th are not a portent of the future.  They are a  manifestation of the present. The last five years have brought us a political landscape of alternative facts.  Alternative facts are lies. 

And as author Timothy Snyder says, "Post-Truth is Pre-Fascism."

Here is more from Snyder:

A nationalist, 'although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge,' wrote Orwell, tends to be 'uninterested in what happens in the real world.'

Nationalism is relativist, since the only truth is the resentment we feel when we contemplate others. As the novelist Danilo Kiš put it, nationalism 'has no universal values, aesthetic or ethical.'  

A patriot, by contrast, wants the nation to live up to its ideals, which means asking us to be our best selves. A patriot must be concerned with the real world, which is the only place where his country can be loved and sustained. A patriot has universal values, standards by which he judges his nation, always wishing it well—and wishing that it would do better.” 

“The odd American idea that giving money to political campaigns is free speech means that the very rich have far more free speech, and so in effect far more voting power, than other citizens.”  

“Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.” 

Do not be blinded by this light.

In a perfect Union, We become the light. 

To be Governed or to be Ruled

Is not the question, 

but our outrageous fortune.

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Respectism and the Kinder Community











"Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms..." Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, 1948

 I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Martin Luther King (Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, 1964

 When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide. John Lewis (Farewell Essay, 2020

There is a community that believes in community. There is a community that believes in mutual respect for all and for our delicate life sphere. There is a community that believes in the common good for all. There is a kinder community that has always opposed cruelty and neglect and degradation of the natural. Our kinder community has always been here, part of the human community. It is time for this community to focus. 

This is like no other time in human history. 

We all live in a tiny bubble of air inside a very narrow strip of life. We are threatening our only home with destruction. The engine of destruction has many parts including nuclear weapons, climate crisis, resource depletion and mass extinction. 

The fuel for the engine is any human culture based on hatred, greed and fear. It should be clear by now that technology alone cannot save us, but can destroy us. It should be equally clear that only rapid, kind, and mutually respectful change in our human culture can save us from disaster. 

Our kinder community may wish to focus on the following hypotheses of life affirming cultural change: 

1) Following and universally advertising a model of respect for others, self and place. 

2) Separating abusive leaders, large and small, from power as respectfully as possible. 

3) Promoting fair dealing, justice and accountability based on listening dialogue, honesty, and equality. 

4) Using a rigorous, scientific metric of decreased violence, detention and neglect to measure our success. 

5) Using the clearest and simplest language possible. 

We are on the brink of a vast cultural change. Either enough of us will work together to build a better culture based on kindness and mutual respect, or a new culture formed by immense shared disaster and trauma will adhere to those who survive. 

Respectism is the belief that a mutually respectful society is a pragmatic necessity for our survival. Mutual respect is respect for self, others and place. Love is the soul of respect, and respect is the language of love. 

 Image: A view of the plenary hall in the World Conference Center in Bonn during a meeting of the UNFCCC. (Photo: IISD) 2017 


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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Jack H Osborne







Jack H Osborne (1923-1989)


It's New Years Eve.

And 2020 has been a year to remember. Or maybe forget.

But 31 years ago on New Years Eve, I was in Pampa Texas burying my father.

I was in Monterrey, Mexico playing handball at the Ambassador Hotel with one of the trainers in the gym and I was getting drubbed.  There was a knock on the door. I opened the door wondering what could be happening to interrupt my workout.  It was my young teenage son.  "Papa Jack is dead", he said with tears in his eyes.

Thus began our long trip back to Austin and ultimately to the Texas Panhandle where I was born.

Jack H Osborne was quite a guy.  Here is a piece from the Freedom Museum archives:

"Jack H Osborne was born 1 January 1923 on the Osborne Ranch in Roberts County, Texas. He attended schools in Miami, Texas, graduating in 1940 from Miami High School. He received appointments to West Point and Annapolis Naval Academy but chose to stay in Texas and attend Texas A&M University to study mechanical engineering.  

 On 17 August 1942, a volunteer group, “The Plainsmen” from 23 Panhandle Counties were entertained with their families by the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce and the Globe News Publishing Company. This patriotic event with dinner and speeches took place in the Herring Hotel Crystal Ball Room. The men left that night by train for Athens, Georgia. They were to become known in the Naval Air Squadron as the “Sky Busters”. 

 Lt. Jack Osborne, pilot of a Navy “Avenger” torpedo bomber, was awarded the Air Medal “for his action during the Saipan campaign during which he made numerous photographic missions over enemy held positions in the face of concentrated Japanese anti-aircraft fire”. Osborne was cited by Adm. Chester Nimitz USN, Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet, “For meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight as a torpedo bomber pilot in action with enemy Japanese forces during photographic missions...flying straight courses under prevailing low ceilings in the face of concentrated anti-aircraft opposition and exposed to naval gunfire. 

Osborne engaged in dangerous photographic missions over Saipan, Tinian, Aguijan and Rota Islands, providing our forces with complete and careful coverage of desired areas. His skillful and daring devotion to duty in the successful accomplishment of these important missions was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval service.” Osborne received the Silver Star for these missions and also the Distinguished Flying Cross “for distinguishing himself by heroism and extraordinary achievement in operations against the enemy while serving aboard the USS White Plains

He flew his torpedo bomber in a coordinated strafing, one enemy cruiser and two enemy destroyers in the battle of the Samar Island on 25 October 1944. Osborne handled his aircraft with skill, daring and determination. In spite of the enemy anti-aircraft fire, he scored three direct bomb hits on the designated enemy battleships”.   

Osborne's sister, Phoebe Reynolds, says of his World War II experience, “Jack kept a daily journal. The family was not aware of this until after his death in December 1989. It is a documentary of all the days of this training, various bases, friends and battles. His precise, artistic handwriting became a hurried dash across the page. His boyish countenance became that of a seasoned veteran.” 

Jack H. Osborne died 29 December 1989.

Clearly, Jack was a War Hero.

But he was an athlete too.  At 18, he was the golden gloves heavy weight champion in Chicago in 1940. Jack was about 6 foot 3 and his weight was around 185 when he was fighting. He also fought during the war and he was rumored to be the Navy Champion. His father, Johnson Polk Osborne had also been a champion that year with his Junior Prince Domino Hereford bull winning the Grand Championship at the Denver stock show.

I was always a little intimidated by the stories.  But Dad never talked about the War that much.  He did teach me how to throw a punch, which was pretty handy when I was younger.

It's pretty well known that Navy aviators were notorious drinkers and Jack was no exception.  He put that problem behind him in his later years.  We were pretty close in a distant sort of way.  When I was in the panhandle I would almost always stay with him in his apartment in Pampa. We built many a fire in his living room and just hung out; often saying very few words all night.   He would set out books for me to read on the bedside table. It was comfortable.

His daily life after he sold his share of the farm to Uncle Wiley was pretty simple- go to the Commodity Office and trade futures in the morning and then go to the Country Club and play a round of golf with his pals.  To have been such a strong, good boxer, he never got the hang of hitting the ball a long distance, but he was a very good putter.

Jack had his share of suffering and loss.  He had a stroke during surgery when he was in his forties.  While he was recovering, I had to work at his feedlot and farm to keep things going. And he later had throat cancer while in his fifties. He managed to recover reasonably well.  At the age of 67, he was in the hospital with the flu over the holidays. Somehow, he didn't make it out alive.

The trip from Monterrey to Pampa was a long one, but nothing like the trip he took from the Texas Panhandle to a WAR that would put him in the pilot's seat of a Torpedo Bomber headed to destroy other men in ships just like his. 

He never really got over it.

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