This is awesome! These sea lions are having a blast surfing the giant wave. Taken off the coast on Santa Barbara Island, California, this is crazy cool footage.
This is part of the Pacific Offshore Expeditions. Watch as these sea lions take the waves, jump out, and dive back in. It’s a rare catch to get this on video.
This is a repost of what I wrote for SMARTMD in June 2020.
What we’ve seen, we’ve been seeing for centuries. With technology evolving over the past decade, we’ve seen it with devastating clarity, but the story is the same.
A person is killed because of the color of their skin. They are targeted because they are black. They are treated harshly because they are black. And, ultimately, they are killed because they are black.
We say “Black Lives Matter”, and we think “of course Black Lives Matter.” But, it’s not that simple.
The foundation of our county was laid and nurtured for centuries at a time when Black Lives were not a consideration aside from their value as chattel. If this makes you uncomfortable, good. It should. It’s your humanity showing.
The issues of race in our country are deep and difficult. With many not even being aware, we have operated within a racist system. One where individuals of good conscience unwittingly perpetuate racist constructs. Think about things like standardized testing, financial redlining, policing techniques, or school financing to name a few. These things can’t be changed overnight. But, they must be changed.
The question many ask: “What can I do?”
The first thing we need to do is get comfortable being uncomfortable. The conversations we need to have are not easy. The realities we need to face can be gut-wrenching. For decades, people have avoided dealing with the issue of race because it is difficult. But, if we care as much as we profess, then the clarity of the story brought to our conscience by modern technology means we can no longer justify our inaction with falsely comforting thoughts like “it’s not that bad,” “it doesn’t happen that often,” or whatever other narratives we’ve clung to. It is that bad. It does happen often. It does happen in my town.
The next step, keep (or start) talking. Getting to know people and their experiences is an important step. Empathy is a powerful motivator. But, you have to be exposed to the realities of others. Conversations are the gateway to understanding and empathy.
By engaging people regularly, each conversation becomes less difficult. Not because the topics get easier, or we become numb. It gets easier because we get to know people better, more deeply, and our motivation, our empathy gets stronger.
These hard conversations, the ones that make you uncomfortable, also make you stronger. They make your connections stronger. They give you the strength and motivation to do what’s next.
When you see something, say something. Inertia is tricky. Little things can lead to big things and this goes in both directions.
Letting things go, whether off-handed comments or plainly racist comments, gives tacit permission to the speaker to continue to speak (and think) in racist terms. It gives others who hear permission as well. It gives other listeners (and yourself) permission to accept the unacceptable.
Addressing things as they happen drives the wave in the other direction. Perhaps the speaker will check not only their words but their thoughts going forward. For those who hear and say nothing out of discomfort or fear, they will see that they are not alone. They will see that we can challenge the thoughtless or outright racist comments.
In numbers, there is comfort and courage. But, someone has to initiate the wave.
This often trips people up. We get tied up because we don’t think there is much we can do. We think the problem is so big, no actions we take will affect anything.
The problem is big. It is ingrained. It is going to require us to overcome inertia to make things happen. So, don’t start trying to move the whole mountain. Use what you have, and start there.
We all have the power of the vote. Use it. Be aware of candidates’ positions on policies and institutions and vote for those who align with your beliefs. Policymakers have to be on notice that racial injustice is not an issue that you will let get brushed under the rug.
Once you’ve voted, follow policies locally, state-wide, and nationally. Write letters, send emails, and make calls to encourage representatives to follow up on promises made. Don’t stop with the vote. Hold them to task.
There is no single answer to the workplace.
Some organizations do really well in promoting diversity. If you are fortunate to be employed in such a place, be vocal about it. Share your experience to encourage other companies to follow suit. Spreading the word about your company will show support for the policies and be an example for others.
If your company is lacking, bring up the topic. It doesn’t have to be contentious. Racial diversity, opportunity, and proactive policies are good for companies. Broach the topic with management or human resources. Have specific items that can be addressed, and be prepared to participate in creating the solutions. Don’t just complain, help with positive actions.
There are organizations in almost every community that you can join to help publicly promote policies, address social issues, or help disadvantaged groups. The extent of your activity will be based on the organization’s mission and your role. Look for those whose focus aligns with your passion.
Want more ideas? Here are some real-world examples from around the country…
From every level, people are taking action. From pointing out issues to creating programs to directing investments, we are seeing actions all around. These aren’t all monumental steps. But, they are all important steps.
- Point out areas that need to be addressed
Medical Students Highlight lack of diversity and mistreatment.
LaShyra Nolen, a first-year student at Harvard Medical School, works to bring mistreatment to the forefront of the administration’s priorities.
White Coats for Black Lives.
In Indianapolis, and elsewhere, White Coats for Black Lives, brings the message to the street. Working against police brutality, and the healthcare disparity to which minority communities are subjected.
2. Create programs for the disadvantaged
Leading the way to bring healthcare, and health education to Houston’s poor communities, Ashley Howard works to end the health outcome disparities in minority communities.
Standardized testing has a bias against poor & minority communities, making entry into the healthcare profession difficult. Monash University has developed a program to address this by relying more on interviews and personal traits to determine entrance to the program.
3. Directing investments & marketing
We see some civic and company leaders taking a stand. Some are driven by their conscience. Others, by the market (why #1, pointing out issues, is so important). Here are some examples of money talking and leaders directing.
Major companies that have long supported racist brands are finally coming to terms with overdue change. And so is the public that has long accepted them. Though too long in the making, the tide is turning and companies not willing to face the uncomfortable truth will find themselves on the wrong side of history.
Access to capital is a challenge for any business. But, Black-owned businesses have an exceptionally hard time getting loans, and the loans are at a higher interest rate than their white male-owned business counterparts. Civic leaders and local business communities are taking steps to rectify this issue.
4. Being a thought leader/voice
There are people who have only their voices, but they are powerful voices. You don’t have to be a celebrity or national figure. Local voices initiate change that can become national. Little things lead to big things.
Dan Dunlop speaks up on the health outcomes disparity that is based on race and calls on us to change. His white paper is an example of the growing chorus calling for change.
Marcus Whitney, a Nashville based healthcare entrepreneur, calls on other healthcare leaders to lift up Blacks among the ranks of senior executives and investors. As a leading Black investor, his voice is sought out and heard.
Racism has lived long in our country. It has done so because too many people have been too afraid to speak out, to have conversations, and to speak their hearts. We can be better than we are. We can be what our hearts and souls know we should be.
Perhaps the past month has been eye-opening in some way. We have seen more courage from quarters that would have been silent just a decade ago. We have seen a force that challenges the inertia of systemic racism in new, and profound ways.
Our streets are filled with people of color and white people in the same group, not on opposing sides. Though not enough, we did see areas where law enforcement put down the shields and weapons and joined demonstrators in the streets. We are seeing companies take a stand with the people. We are having large, public conversations, and small intimate conversations about race and our responsibilities in correcting the wrongs.
The tide of racism is still on the move. But, many have joined the opposing movement. Though small at the moment, we have glimpsed it’s power to make change. We have seen that we can stand against the racism ingrained in our systems, and even instilled in our own thoughts.
As we continue the conversations, the small steps, and perhaps even some big steps, we will see the number of people joining the movement against racism grow. It will lend courage for others to follow. Solutions will not come swiftly, but they will come.
Your happiness depends on no other; the responsibility is yours alone.
But recognize when your path to happiness joins the path of another, that is when the magic happens.
The highs are much higher and the lows are much softer.
Where these paths join together is where love happens.
Medicare For All is a hot topic. To be clear, this is not a health care provider debate. It’s how health care is paid for, a single-payer system. These are two different (though related) things.
The AMA is against Medicare For All. The primary reasons for their opposition as they stated are:
Lack of choice for patients
Higher costs (taxes)
The vast majority of us do not have choice in the current system. Our insurance companies dictate to us who we can see, what they can do, and how much we pay. In many places, we do not even have a choice of insurance companies. For our family, the only company in our area is BC/BS. That’s it.
We don’t really have a choice of services. When my doctor said I needed a brain MRI and a neurologist, I had to wait for a week before the insurance company to evaluate and give permission, then I could schedule the MRI. Think about that. Even our doctors’ choice in the course of diagnosis and treatment is subordinate to an insurance company’s dictates.
Taxes will go up. They’d go up as a replacement for our premiums. For our family, our premiums have just about doubled over 3 years, and we cover one less person. The argument against Medicare for All based on the idea that a single-payer system will cause an increase in costs assumes that costs have been steady with insurance companies. For most people, they haven’t. And for many that have, stable costs are the result of their company increasing the support, not stable prices.
In addition to skyrocketing premiums and higher deductibles, surprise medical bills are appearing all over the place. Some small, some huge.
Costs have been going up for decades. Since the ACA, insurance companies have had a stranglehold on our medical payment (and decision) process
If the AMA doesn’t want a single payer system, that’s fine. Their organization, their policy. But to argue that we’d “give up choice” when we don’t have any choice, or that costs will increase when they’ve been increasing dramatically under the current system rings hollow.
The current administration is shifting the responsibility in the pork industry for food safety from the regulators to the companies.
The Obama administration made a similar move with poultry.
There is an interesting difference between the American perspective and the European perspective.
In the US, policies tend to be a “wait and see” if the industry will do “it”, whatever “it” is (be safe in this case).
In Europe, policies assume companies won’t “do it,” and enforce more regulations, or take action.
In Europe, before drugs or new foods are approved, they have to be proven safe. This is a burden on the companies.
In the US, drugs or new foods are more likely to be approved with lower/no safety standard and then pulled once proven to be dangerous. In other words, people have to get sick or die before the burden shifts to the company.
As a general mindset, the recent events with the Boeing 737 Max are a good example. The rest of the World grounded the plane immediately (nearly) until it could be proven safe (still hasn’t). The US waited as long as it could, until pressure was too much, to ground the plane.
As a priority, the US wanted to lessen the burden on the company where Europe wanted to protect the people.
In the US, we assume:
1) That companies have the same rights as people
2) That companies operate with a conscience and they won’t hurt people (perhaps because they are run by people?)
3) That business growth is the most important thing
With this as a premise, it is easier to accept a loose regulatory environment.
Unfortunately, history shows that companies are willing to literally kill people to expand profit. From the dawn of the industrial age to today, this holds true.
– Slaughterhouses in Chicago ca 1900
– Railroads importing and abusing immigrants 1850-1900
– Mills in the Northeast and East.
– Mines throughout the Southeast, even today
– Superfund sites across the country (residential areas too polluted and now abandoned). 1950-1970s
– Koch bothers pipelines blowing up and killing people
– Firestone 1996-2001, hiding defective tire issue (270 dead)
– Enron shutting down access to electricity in CA to drive up prices.
– Mortgage companies knowingly writing fraudulent loans and literally initiating a worldwide economic meltdown.
– Epipen hiking the price of life-saving drug 5x with no cost-basis, just profit.
– Pharma increases the price of insulin for greater profit.
– Boeing wanting to keep planes in the air despite knowing there was a lethal problem, even after a crash and many reports of problems.
These are just a few that I am aware of. Some were cases of people deliberately planning or covering up. Others were done in the name of profit over people.
Perhaps the pork & poultry industries will do a fine job self-regulating the quality and balancing profits w/ safety. Unfortunately, we won’t know until people get sick or die. Our own history shows us that we’re likely heading for trouble.
More good news for coffee drinkers. This article in the New Atlas tells us that drinking coffee has been linked to a reduction in prostate.
The findings come from a study presented at https://uroweb.org/ conference in Barcelona. There are two compounds that the researchers linked to the effect of inhibiting prostate cancer in animals.
But, this aligns with observational studies over the years that have appeared to show a connection between coffee consumption and lower growth for prostate cancer in humans.
So, drink up coffee lovers. You have one more reason to enjoy your morning brew.
Illinois legislators are taking up legislation to tax human waste.
The proposed measure will tax households based on the weight of the sewage discharge. Weight and consistency will be analyzed with new “smart waste sensors” installed at the junction where each residence waste discharge pipe joins with the municipal sewer system.
The legislation calls for the sensors to be installed by the fall of 2021. While the installation job will be put out to bid, the estimates range from $2 billion to $6 billion. A special Bond issue is expected to cover the cost of the new system.
When challenged about the effect of additional taxes on Illinois residents, the bill’s sponsors said the tax burden can be reduced quite easily by simply eating less. One legislator went so far as to suggest that taxing human waste will lead to less eating and healthier residents, therefore they are doing residents a great service by taxing their waste.
A satirical article on a fictional tax so close to our experience that people should be forgiven for believing it is real.