Art and Climate Photos

Art Polanski was difficult to ignore. I was all about diversity and even I had difficulty with his acting out and belligerence. But he was a poet, a sensitive soul, and a fucking brilliant programmer. And this is a tribute to him.

Art smelled bad and looked bizarre. He wore zebra-striped pajama pants, printed tee-shirts over his barrel chest, and sandals. His hair was long and flowing, reminiscent of Sunday school pictures of Jesus, except Art’s hair was usually damp and probably greasy.

Art couldn’t sit still, especially in conversation, and would make grunting noises and seemingly uncontrollable editorial blurts.

I was told that after his first meeting with management, the deputy director erupted out of his office red faced,”Who the hell hired that guy?!?” Art had been hired, over the phone, by the chief scientist; Art was a graduate of MIT and knew the material.

His biggest crime was that he was gay. He wasn’t flamboyant; that would have been more acceptable. Art was just authentically Art. I never saw him more blissful and content than when he returned to work after the rainbow festival. But when that euphoria wore off he was back to acting out.

Art was lonely. The only family I heard him speak of was his sister; he said she suffered the same illness but hers was worse. Later, when he was arrested, the marshals found him living in squalor with cat feces on the floor.

But Art was also very intelligent. His disorder, or the medication for it, made him hot. When they screwed his window shut, he wedged a seed under the head of the screw and watered the seed. The judge at Art’s hearing, nearly a year later, said he would have done the same thing had he been smart enough to think up the seed trick.

Ultimately, Art was arrested for endangering the lives of others; he had a nose bleed and wiped blood onto the window in front of the exercise bike in the fitness room and he was gay. That made his bloody snot a ‘lethal weapon.’

Art was first put on administrative leave. I was given his project to finish. He called me late one day and he was quiet and subdued and said he didn’t blame the director; Art admitted that he had brought it on himself.

They held Art in federal prison for six months before giving him a hearing. He was charged with a misdemeanor and ‘time served.’ It was months later that he was found dead in his home.

While Art was in prison, he sent me a poem. I wish I still had it. He would stand at the window of his cell looking out at the field of yellow flowers…and watch as they were being mowed.

I took these photos of the draft climate report. My favorite photo is the one above. I first made the graph on the left in November 1997 when I finished the coding that was started by Art. My name then was Catherine S. Godfrey.

Art Polansky, this is for you.

Addendum: As a sworn civil servant, I took an oath, and because of that oath I feel bound by it to not “copy, cite, or distribute”. But I am also a photographer and writer. The draft says nothing about those activities. This is me, sticking it to the man.

 

Generalizations are Generally Wrong

I will make one generalization here:  The black people I know personally here in Upstate South Carolina, amazingly do not seem to alter their sense of self-worth in response to how they are treated.  I have been in the company of black people when they were dismissed, ignored, and summarily rejected for no reason other than their color.  That, to me, reflects a deep sense of true worth, likely stemming from their intimacy with God.  Those of us who have not known the extent of oppression and animosity that they have known, would do well to learn from them.

I am re-posting this because …well, I think it is worth re-stating.

I think it is safe to say that, for the most part, generalizations are wrong.  Now, notice I said “for the most part;” that is intentional because whenever I fail to include phrases like “for the most part,” “usually,” “some,” “almost always,” etc., I almost always make a fool of myself.

When people are in a hurry to make a point, they often use generalizations; politicians and others with agendas, do this a lot.  But, usually, what they say is inaccurate, if not flat out wrong, and usually mean-spirited.  For example, if I were to say “all Pit Bulls are mean and dangerous,” I know at least three people who would straighten me out.  I might be better off by saying something like,”all Pit Bulls have the potential to be mean and dangerous, especially if they have been mistreated or trained to be that way,” but I have used 7 words in the first statement and 23 in the second; too many words for a politician or a mother whose child has been mauled by a Pit Bull.

Now, to be fair, some generalizations are true, particularly when they are simply restating the subject or are simplifying the definition: All pine trees are trees; All black cats are cats, All white people are people, All General Motors cars are cars, etc.  (My son could probably argue with that last point but I’ll leave that up to him.)

Sometimes, what you may think is a re-statement of the subject is, in fact, a fallacy  (“a mistaken belief, especially one based on unsound argument,” a definition provided by Google.)  For example, a lot of people think Christians are automatically followers of Jesus; Not so.  One can be a Christian and not be a follower of Jesus just as one can follow Jesus but not be a Christian.  There are similar misconceptions about Christians being ‘nice’ people, or ‘church people’ being ‘good people;’  I daresay, a large percentage of them are but I have also been told that, “Church people can be some of the meanest people in the world.”  Notice, that observer included the words “can be” rather than ‘always are.’

It is not nice to make untrue generalizations about people; remember, God don’t like ugly. In fact, it is downright dangerous in an eternal sense, because number 9 of the Ten Commandments, says:

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

I don’t think I need to enlighten you that “your neighbor” means ‘everybody else but you;’  That includes people of your own race, as well as all people of all other races.  Now, before you hit the reply button I want to include what Ask.com says about races:

“Although all races share over 99% of the same genetic material, the classification and division of races is largely subjective, and all races belong to the same species – Homo sapiens. Scientifically, races are defined as a group of people that are separated and grouped together due to the fact that they have common inherited traits that distinguishes them from other groups.

“The notion of race is also divided based on geographic separation, social and cultural differences and distinguished physical differences. Human typologies are commonly differentiated based on the following physical axes:

    • skin color
    • hair texture
    • jaw size
    • facial angle
    • cranial capacity
    • frontal lobe mass
    • brain mass
    • brain surface fissures
    • body lice

“These physical attributes do not necessarily have a strong correlation with genetic variations. As a result, the United Nations has opted to drop the term “race” and replace it with “ethnic groups” instead. According to a 1998 study published in the Scientific American, there are more than 5,000 ethnic groups in the world.”

(body lice?)

That’s a lot of people who are different from each other.  However, they are ALL “your neighbor.”  If you don’t believe me, ask God.

Like I said before, people with agendas like to make generalizations about people who are different from them…politicians, especially, because they are short on time…or short on something.  For example, when he said that,

“When Mexico (meaning the Mexican Government) sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you (pointing to the audience). They’re not sending you (pointing again). They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.  And some, I assume, are good people!”

…at least Donald qualified that SOME are good people.  That’s what I am suggesting; we should avoid making generalizations by including qualifiers, like “some.”

(I would like to add, Donald, that if those are SOME of your “best words,” dear, I suggest you consider taking a vow of silence.)

Unfortunately, I grew up hearing a lot of non-qualified generalizations…particularly about black people, but also about Jewish people, as well as Asians and Native Americans.  I recall hearing the explanation that”all black people are bad; that’s why God made them black.”  (What?!?)  First of all, I never understood what was meant by “bad.” Were they bad drivers?  bad spellers?  I don’t think that’s what was meant.  I think it meant that they were inherently dishonest, corrupt, and dangerous.    And, he was wrong, incorrect, inaccurate, and, to be fair, probably spoke out of fear.

Before I go any farther, I have never known, personally, a black person who was ‘bad.’  The black people I have known personally, from the time I was a child to the present, and I mean people I have known well…people I worked with for 22 years on a daily basis, for example…have been kind, generous, polite, friendly, helpful, honest, trustworthy, decent, not dangerous…all those descriptions I use when referring to people who are ‘good.’  I met one young black man in the hospital last year whom I would not trust, but I did not know him well, and based on his words and actions, I don’t think anyone would trust him.  Black people I meet on a daily basis down here in Anderson, South Carolina, have been … without exception … gracious, polite, courteous, and when I pass on information about my writing, they usually say, “Thank you, ma’am.,” which to me shows good manners and up-bringing.  Furthermore, when I open a conversation about faith, Christ, or spirituality, there is immediate affirmation; Black people ‘get it.’ They KNOW God which tells me a great deal about the purpose of hard times on this earth.

Thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.

Carolina Pride – North and South

These thoughts were originally posted on my former website The View From 5022.  As it is timely to note that the struggle for respect is still going on, (Go Tigers!), my pride in my home state(s) continues to grow.

February, 2016

It hasn’t been easy being raised in the Carolinas…but it is getting better.  There is so much stigma associated with both North and South Carolina and so few people are willing to look below the historical or political surface.  I have lived in both North and South Carolina 99% of my life and I can tell you, I have found much to be proud of.

Until my recent move, I lived in Western North Carolina for 35 years.  Those who don’t know better, make a generalized assessment and say I lived in Appalachia.  Whether that is geographically accurate or not, is not my concern; my concern has to do with the fact that most people who don’t know better, also think the term Appalachian is synonymous (or interchangeable) with ignorant, being backwards, or poorly educated.

I was born, raised, and educated in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.  The people who don’t know better, consider Charleston to be the birthplace of slavery and the Civil War.

Trust me, it is not easy being from states formerly represented by Strom Thurman, Jesse Helms, John Edwards, and even some lesser-known, local scoundrels.  We’ve had flag issues, scandals, corruption, and, yes, ignorance.  I recall years in a row when South Carolina seemed to come in 51st in the list of SAT scores, by state.

By the way, I just did an internet search on the term Bible Belt, and according to Liberapedia, “The Bible Belt is the part of the United States where strict fundamentalist Christianity dominates life (Also known as the deep south).”  Excuse me?!?  I will not get side-tracked by how much is wrong with that definition.

The people of North and South Carolina have had to fight, tooth and nail, for respect.  Even the beloved inspirational speaker Dabo Swinney remarked that, even after being totally undefeated, the Clemson Tigers were still considered ‘underdogs,’ unknown, and unrecognized as worthy opponents.

So, while I am on the subject, has anyone noticed how the Carolinas are, and have been, a seat of Athletic Excellence?!?!  Let’s look at the record.  Basketball:  Duke (spit) and, yes, Duke is in North Carolina, right down the street from (fanfare, please) The University of North Carolina (GO HEELS !!!);  Football:  South Carolina (spit, but not too shabby), North Carolina (again, a very strong performance), and CLEMSON.  My orange heart pounds proudly.  Even The Citadel made me proud this year.  And, now, the Carolina Panthers are going to Super Bowl 50.  I’m not much into professional sports, but, hey, I am proud!  Take notice, you who are ignorant; the Carolinas are an athletic force to be contended with.

And we have so much more to be proud of.  Let’s start with Appalachia, again;  The people in the back ‘hollars’ of the mountains of Western North Carolina have a sense of music, poetry, and wisdom that goes unrivaled, in my opinion, (and my opinion counts because this is my blog.)  In Charleston, grace trumped evil in the actions of the blessed souls of Mother Emmanuel AME Church, last summer.  And the flag did come down for the right reasons.

Furthermore, we have beauty, culture, and gentility.  Get off of the interstates (and beyond the ‘Title Loan District’ of Travelers Rest) and you will find breathtaking beauty:  farms, forests, waterfalls, swamps, mountain ranges, ocean shores, lakes, and, yes, many many churches.  Even our interstates often present amazing vistas.  Influential artists, writers, musicians, philosophers, scientists, educators, doctors,… The Carolinas have raised them all.  Even today, Carolinians are known for their good manners, hospitality, and propriety.

You may think what I have said is baloney, especially if I count you among the ignorant, but be enlightened; the Carolinas are a wonderful place, held graciously in the hand of God, striving to do better, look better, and be better…than everywhere else.

Again, to quote Mr. Swinney, I’m ALL IN.

Addendum:  Ahem!!!  2017 National Football Champions…PROVEN the Best.  GO TIGERS And now the North Carolina Tarheels and the South Carolina Gamecocks are going to the Final Four.  Awesome.