Thursday, June 8, 2017

What kind of advanced science degree do you have?

Once again, someone has asked me what my credentials are to argue about #TraceGasWarming theory. "What kind of advanced science degree do you have?" he asks. This is a question one gets from those who have no science degree and probably took few science classes. They take on faith whatever is said by "scientists," except when scientists run up against one of their prejudices, like GMOs or Roundup.

This is the fallacy of arguing from authority, and I run into it also from spokespeople for the theory that trace gases are destroying our climate, when I challenge their science. The last one said that she believes what the climate scientists tell us, a common response. One of the most famous of these non-credentialed activists, Bill McKibben, told me, "Carbon dioxide is the difference between Venus and Mars!" That's a funny claim, considering that they both have around 96-97% CO2 in their atmospheres. Venus just happens to be a lot closer to the sun than us and Mars a lot further away, and Venus is also a lot larger than Mars and holds a much thicker atmosphere.

I guess it's all right for the non-science-degreed activists to make the circuit of public radio talk shows supporting this theory, but not to argue against it on radio, FaceBook and news sites.

This man shared an article from another writer who starts out with sarcasm, and proceeds to proclaim the "fallacy of incredulousness"--or something like that, saying that not being able to believe something is not a logical argument against it. In the real world, an incredible story has a greater burden of proof. The tailors for the emperor who had no clothes said that anyone who couldn't see the cloth was just too stupid to see it and the emperor believed it.  Just because everyone but one little boy played along because they didn't want to be thought stupid doesn't mean that the little boy was wrong.

I don't buy the Big Bang theory either because it is downright impossible for all the matter in the universe to be in one place at one time. If your "facts" lead you to an impossible conclusion, as Sherlock Holmes said, you must check your premises. One of them is wrong. In this case, it is that the Red shift, which has been mistaken for a Doppler effect. Since this theory was brought out and accepted, we have figured out that light from distant stars can be bent and frequency thus lowered by the gravity of stars that they pass, but it has not been applied to the red shift by astronomers. The light of all stars passes by masses that tug on those photons and thus produce a shift toward the red.

My arguments against trace gas warming are basic and involve basic science, the kind that is being ignored by the so-called climate scientists. The first one is "Correlation is not causation." Correlation is about all that these folks have going for them. They searched for proof of causation for a long time, but when the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, a UN panel) came out saying that man definitely is causing global warming with trace gases, that search ended and the witch hunt began, based on "consensus," which is not science, but is a political term from a political body.

CO2 and methane, the two most abundant greenhouse trace gases, are products of decomposition, so a rise in temperature will cause more of these to be produced. I waited for years for them to prove causation of warming at the present level of these gases and they never did.

But they use the production of these gases from more heat to argue that we will reach a "tipping point" where the earth will have runaway heating from feedback. The world has been a lot warmer and had a lot more CO2, yet that has never happened at any point. At one point, before fungi were able to decompose lignin and the dead trees were piling up, being buried and turning to coal, CO2 got very low, but the earth was not colder for it. Nor did it warm up when trees rotted and it returned to normal levels.

I don't watch many videos, but these are interesting:

What does CO2 do?


Should we celebrate CO2?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0Z5FdwWw_c

I've been following the debate for about 30 years and started arguing against it about 10 years ago, when I realized that the proponents were ignoring the million in "parts per million" and did the math. Converted to percentages, CO2 has risen, as a portion of the whole atmosphere, about 0.012%, twelve thousandths of a percent, in the 250 years or so since the industrial revolution began. Methane is measured around 1800 parts per billion. It may be 25 times more powerful than CO2 as a converter of light to heat, but at only about 0.00018% of the air, it is only about 1/67th as abundant as CO2.

I've been told that the oxygen and nitrogen bulk of the atmosphere doesn't matter because they are transparent to light and do not convert it to infra-red wavelengths like CO2. I've read in science publications that CO2 and other trace "greenhouse" gases "hold" heat. They do not; they convert light to heat. They hold no more heat than their mass can hold.

Any light that gets to the ground or other solid objects also becomes heat if it is absorbed and not reflected. So what is the difference caused by the greenhouse gases? If they were transparent, the light would still reach the ground and warm the air and water.

And then there is more basic science, the kind taught in elementary school: the water cycle, with college physics added later. Water is the most abundant of greenhouse gases, at 1%-4% of the air. Water evaporates where it is warm, condenses on dust particles in the atmosphere where and when it is colder, and becomes clouds, fog and rain, which cools the earth with shading and cold water. Evaporation itself cools objects down to 40 degrees F, where it stops evaporating. Condensation reverses that, releasing heat absorbed by turning liquid water to vapor, often high in the atmosphere. Freezing of water vapor high in the air releases more heat, right up where it can radiate into space.

Water is also the most abundant greenhouse gas by far, measured in parts per hundred (percentage), rather than parts per million, billion and even trillion for some of these gases. On a humid night, you can feel the heat that 4% water vapor holds, because there is enough mass to hold it.

Proponents of trace gas warming never want to talk about any means of slowing warming but reducing CO2, or "carbon" as they like to call it, which brings to
mind black soot pollution, not an odorless, colorless gas that is not pollution at anywhere near the levels that exist. And most of them also want us to save water, regardless of local supplies and conditions, when using it for sprinkler irrigation and misting is the easiest way to share it with drier areas inland, cooling the immediate area and points downwind and uphill and even over the mountains with clouds, rain, and evaporation.


Josephine County is drying out:
http://gardengrantspass.blogspot.com/2013/10/statistics-show-our-county-is-drying.html  #WaterModerator v #ChickenLittleScience

But to return to the appeal to authority, my generation, the Boomers, has been shown all our lives that we must question authority and that scientists, doctors, food companies, teachers, preachers and politicians do not always have our best interests at heart, to say the least.  The history of science includes the fad of eugenics, which was wildly popular for decades early in the century and contributed to the Holocaust, which showed how ugly it could get and how wrong it was. Religions had holy wars, the Inquisition and witch hunts, and in our time, pedophile priests became a scandal. Politics is rife with scandals of all sorts. And then there are the food companies and the scientists that work for them.

In high school chemistry class, we learned what hydrogenation was: making oils solid by "saturating" the fat molecules with hydrogen on all the places it can hold it, or most of them for softer fats. It is used to make margarine and shortening from vegetable oils. I immediately realized that "polyunsaturated margarine" was a fraud, because the fat was artificially saturated. I also decided that naturally saturated fat, like butter, is probably healthier than the artificially saturated margarine we were eating every day, saving expensive butter for Thanksgiving. After I left home, I bought only butter and olive oil for cooking fats.

It took another 20 years for researchers to figure what I suspected: that hydrogenated fats cause heart attacks and strokes. But they immediately came up with a new name for them, "trans" fats, probably to save face for food companies, their scientists and all the doctors who had told us that they were healthier than butter, lard, and coconut oil.  

It took only a little longer for researchers to question the idea that saturated fats make bad cholesterol that clogs arteries, and just a bit longer still to question the idea that everyone should take statins to control cholesterol. In the last 10 years, it has been known that mixing acid blockers and antibiotics causes antibiotic-resistant gut infections like Clostridium difficile, but my dad died of dysentery last year because they gave him both in the hospital when he went in with pneumonia, because they are in the habit of giving acid blockers to every patient in a bed. They tried to give me acid blockers and blood thinners when I was hospitalized overnight with heart pain, which turned out to be from my heart skipping beats, which I inherited from my Dad.

I believe that vaccines are probably not harmful, but I can't blame people for being skeptical. I believe that some GMOs are bad, but don't blame people for avoiding all of them.  

I know darn well that insecticides are counter-productive because they kill more predators than pests, to longer-lasting effect than on the pests, who can breed immunity with their great reproduction rate, while their predators disappear from both poison and lack of food. I know that bare-soil farming not only grows weeds but leaves many predators homeless, without mulch to hide under. I learned from the Plant Doctor on the radio that the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) is a powerful fertilizer and, having been taught exactly what it is, an amino acid with phosphate attached, I knew she was right, and it is specifically a broad leaf and annual grass fertilizer because of the added phosphorus. I saw as I used it that it breeds pill bugs and worms, which bring in moles, because of its amino acid nitrogen and phosphorus. I previously took Soil Science in college, and used their own facts about the nutrient/bacteria cycle to show that organic is better than chemical fertilizers.

So don't ask me what advanced degree I have. I cut my reading teeth on natural science. I took science in high school and 5 years of college, off an on. 25 years after graduating high school, I graduated from RCC with a certificate in Landscape Management, because that is all I wanted at that point. I read Science News, despite their obsession with climate change, because they still have interesting news and I can use their facts against their theory. If your incredible theory can't stand up to basic science, it isn't worth much.




Thursday, November 3, 2016

All-Non-Partisan Elections in Oregon

A Proposed Oregon Constitutional Amendment
To be included in Article II, “Suffrage and Elections:”
All-Non-Partisan Elections

(1)   All elections within the State of Oregon shall be non-partisan, with no indication of political affiliation on the ballot.

(2)   A candidate for any lucrative office shall be placed on the primary election ballot only after submitting a sufficient number of signatures of qualified electors. 

(a)The number of nominating signatures for the primary election ballot shall be: a percentage of the total number of qualified electors for that office in the previous general election in which a Governor was elected to a full term; shall be set by the legislature; shall be uniform for all offices; and shall be not more than 0.1%.

(3)   Only candidates who receive the highest and second-highest number of votes in the primary election for any office shall be placed on the general election ballot.  Nomination for the general election ballot by convention or petition will not be recognized by the State of Oregon. 

(4)   Groups or individuals may purchase space in the voter’s pamphlet for endorsements of candidates, at the same rate charged for ballot measure arguments, to follow the respective candidate’s entry in the Voters’ Pamphlet.

(5)   No less than 10 weeks before the general election, each candidate for President of these United States must submit the name of a candidate for Vice President of these United States to the Secretary of State’s office.  Said candidate for Vice President must be an inhabitant of a different state than the nominating candidate.  The name of each candidate’s Vice Presidential nominee shall be listed with the nominating candidate on the ballot, and shall be accorded an entry following the nominating candidate’s entry in the Voters’ Pamphlet.

(a)   Within 15 days of being notified by the Secretary of State that a candidate has received the highest number of votes cast for President in Oregon’s Presidential general election, said candidate must submit names and addresses of Electors, equal to Oregon’s total number of Representatives and Senators in Congress, to represent said candidate and the State of Oregon in its Electoral College vote.

(6)   The Legislature, counties, cities, and towns shall enact such supplementary legislation as may be necessary to carry the provisions of this amendment into effect.  This amendment supersedes all existing inconsistent statutes.  It shall take effect within 90 days of enactment. 

(7)   If any part of this section or its application to any person or circumstances is held to be invalid for any reason, then the remaining parts or applications to any persons or circumstances shall not be affected, but shall remain in full force and effect.

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener         541-955-9040         rycke@gardener.com

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Cheap Place to Shower and Sleep

The old Rays on North 7th Street is perfect for this project

I am Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener, and I have a dream: a no-frills hostel.
Grants Pass will soon have a place for intoxicated people to sleep off their intoxication, thanks to Chief Landis and company.  A Medford non-profit is proposing to start a juvenile shelter here like they have in Medford.  Grace Roots, a Medically Assisted Treatment Center (MAT-C) for opiate addiction, is in the works, thanks largely to Nancy Yonally and the people she has gathered to help her.  We already have the Gospel Rescue Mission with its showers, meals and residential rehab, and Faith House, a shelter for battered women and their children.  The Salvation Army soup kitchen is another long-established feature in Grants Pass.
Now we need a cheap place to shower and sleep for people who are not intoxicated, not juvenile, not seeking help for addictions, not battered, or for whom there is no room in other shelters.  It’s time to start a non-profit to build and run a no-frills hostel so people who are willing to follow a few simple rules can pay $5 to shower and spend the night.  It can be a soft place to land for those who find themselves on the street without shelter for whatever reason, or who are just passing through.
Getting people out of the weather and providing them showers and bathrooms is good not only for them, but for the businesses, residents, and police of our city, who otherwise have to deal with people who are cranky from lack of sleep and exposure to the elements and everything that comes with people living out of doors on other people’s property.
It would be a hostel, a pay shelter, so it will be sustained mostly by the people who use it, with no subsidies needed in bad times when it is fairly full, and occasional fundraisers in good times when it is not full enough.
The Restwell Center will have one large room full of cots, with low light for a guardian to watch over the sleepers, and eye masks and ear plugs available.  It will have restrooms, showers, a coin-op laundry, and a reading room with an information kiosk for local services.  It will have an entrance kiosk and a person there to take people’s money and tell them the rules, and outdoor kennels for their dogs.  It will have a parking lot for their vehicles, and cameras inside and out, watched by the person in the entrance kiosk.
The rules will be simple: 
·        No talking or eating in the sleeping room. 
·        No smoking or vaping indoors, per state law. 
·        No searches for guns, drugs or alcohol, but if you pull any out of your bags, you will be trespassed. 
·        No dogs indoors.  Dog owners will be responsible for feeding their dogs and cleaning up their waste.   
·        No loud voices indoors.  Headphones will be allowed, as long as nobody else hears them.
We will sell sleeping vouchers that people can give to people asking for money.  We will also allow a few people to clean the place mid-afternoon in return for vouchers. 
The Center will be open for sleepers 24/7, as some people may have night jobs, and when people need to sleep, they should have a place to sleep safely.  People with sniffles, coughs or sneezing will sleep at the opposite end of the room from the healthy, and will be provided cold masks to reduce symptoms and contagion.
It will also have gardened areas outside, because I want to teach people who want to work and can’t find jobs how to garden and start their own residential gardening businesses.  It takes cheap classified advertising, relatively few and inexpensive tools, and one can use customers’ tools when starting out.  It is work that felons can do on their own; nobody has ever asked me about convictions when hiring me to work in their yard or outside their business.  We have a severe shortage of gardeners, people who kill weeds rather than just cutting them, which does not stop them from spreading.
It will not serve food or have any available.  There is the Salvation Army soup kitchen, the Gospel Rescue Mission, and food stamps.  We want to keep this simple.
I first proposed the Restwell Center in 2011, but didn’t feel competent then to head or run the project, and couldn’t find a person or group willing to take it on.  Now I am more confident and see a path to get there, between GoFundMe, Facebook, Twitter, and people I have met in the last 5 years. 
The first step is to start a non-profit so we can apply for grants to build it, and only to build it.  We can be taken in by another non-profit to help us get it started while we do the work to be a registered non-profit, which can take a year or two.  We have an empty grocery store that would be perfect for it with a bit of remodeling. 
It takes time, money, and legal help to start a non-profit, so we need donations to do the research needed to figure out the costs of building and running it.  Money in our bank account will attract more money and interest.  Once the non-profit is started, of course, any funds left in this starter account will be donated to it.
I am only one stroke of bad luck away from losing my own home, and might need to use the Center someday.  If it is successfully established, it will give me and a lot of other people living on the edge of their income peace of mind, knowing that there will be a place to go besides the bushes.  It will make this a safer, cleaner, kinder city, both for residents and those without a residence.
Please donate to this seed-money fund, and help us plant the seeds to grow the Restwell Center at gofundme.com/RestwellCenter, or contact me to donate in person or by mail.

Special February 2016 proposal.  CurrentNewsYouCanUse.blogspot.com. 

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener          541-955-9040        rycke@gardener.com

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Auto-guilt: private parking enforcement

Three-hour parking on 5th next to First Call Resolution

Once again, Dale Matthews brings us useful news on the Bill Meyer Show on KMED.com.  We learned that, at the City Council’s January 11th workshop, the City of Grants Pass presented a plan to hand off downtown parking enforcement to a private company.  The main difference between this and our present parking code enforcement is that, if you are ticketed and want to contest the ticket, you have to pay the fine first and then appeal the verdict of the parking attendant.  You will be guilty until proven innocent in the name of “efficiency.”
The company will collect its contract payment from parking violators and pay any collections over that to the City, on a monthly basis.  While the company says that cities never pay for enforcement, there is no guarantee that they will pay anything to the city.
It turns out that separation of powers has long since taken a walk, not surprising in a city where the Manager is hired by the Council.  No need to involve a court in judging cases!  Presently, our Community Development Director hears parking “appeals.”  Code 6.02.030 also says, “Any further appeal or contesting of the violation, fine, delinquent charges, or collection fee shall be pursued through the appropriate court.”  According the format of the Notice of Violation in 6.06.050, the appropriate court is the “District Court of the State of Oregon for Josephine County,” which must an old name for the Circuit court. 
Staff wish to eventually have “someone more involved on a day-to-day basis” designated to hear appeals of downtown parking tickets once enforcement is given to a private company.  Presumably, that would be the company that issues the ticket, considering that they are presently heard by the City.
At least you don’t have to pay before contesting a ticket, if you appeal within 3 days.  Late fees are stopped until the appeal is heard.  Otherwise, if it is not paid by the 3rd day, late charges of $2 per day accrue until the 13th day, when an additional $20 collection fee is added, according to 6.06.050 Notice of Violation - Format.
Our Community Service (CSO) director said that we are having trouble collecting parking fines and fees.  Little wonder; Council doubled the fine in 2014, from $25 to $50.  Add on the maximum fees in the ticket format, and it becomes $90.  The employees being cited are low-paid, may have trouble paying a ticket within 3 days or 13 days, and are used to fending off collectors. 
Making us pay before contesting a ticket will not help matters.  It just shuts off the recourse of pleading “not guilty” and paying when found guilty.
According to GPMC 6.07.080 Non-Payment of Penalties - Wheel Locking Device, “When the total of all unpaid fines, delinquent charges, and collection fees amounts to $100 or more, which fines, delinquent charges, and collection fees are attributable to the parking violations of a single vehicle, Public Safety Officers or Community Service Officers are authorized to place on said vehicle (when it is discovered parked inside the City), a wheel locking device to disable the vehicle….” Under the fees in effect when this was passed in 2010, the threshold would be a third unpaid ticket.  Now, under the maximum of what is shown above, a “boot” would be installed upon a second offense before late charges.
Our head CSO wants to hand off collections to a private parking company.  He said that collections are hit and miss, with no actual process to collect them, and they are sent in for collections once a year.  It appears that we have a process that is not being followed.  I am sure that the private company will want to use it, after being authorized to “boot” the vehicles themselves.
The big problem with our downtown parking is that the City allowed First Call Resolution to locate their business and its many employees in the restricted downtown parking zone, in a big building with no parking of its own.  Its employees have been parking in restricted areas and getting tickets since they moved in.  They started parking outside the zone in the residential area across 4th Street, and the City restricted parking in that area to 3 hours, which residents on little lots without garages or driveways find pretty irritating.  The City opened up their 4th and F public parking lot to employees, but it is 4 blocks away from First Call Resolution.



3-hour parking signs recently have been removed on I from 5th to 4th; there are no parking signs past 4th in the residential area now.

Since the City allowed them to locate there, it should work with First Call Resolution to move their business to another building with sufficient parking in another part of town.  There are several available. 
There is clearly not enough employee parking near this business.  Making people pay before contesting a ticket won’t do anything but hurt low level employees for their employer’s lack of parking and the city’s lack of planning.
What the City should not do is hand off this mess to a private company to enforce.  It will not work any better with a private company than it does now.  It will not, according to staff, reduce the number of CSOs working downtown, only free up some of their time to do more enforcement of other city code violations. 
Our laws should be enforced by police, not a private company.  We should not have to pay a fine before we contest it.  If we contest it, we should be judged by a court, not an employee of the city or a private company.   It should be treated like any other traffic ticket, to restore our right to a fair trial by an impartial judge. The answer to insufficient parking downtown is to provide parking, not penalize workers for their employer’s lack, or residents whose home parking is being restricted because of one big employer without parking.

Special February 2016 protest leaflet.  CurrentNewsYouCanUse.blogspot.com.  Sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/grants-pass-city-manager-aaron-cubic-leave-pot-growers-alone-target-litter-and-weeds.
Read the ordinance at http://gardengrantspass.blogspot.com/2015/09/chapter-572-homegrown-and-medical.html
Support the lawsuit at www.GoFundMe.com/HomegrownDefense

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener          541-955-9040        rycke@gardener.com

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Restwell Center Principles

This is a proposal for a no-frills hostel for those who just need a safe place to sleep and clean up:

For perhaps $5 per person per night, the Center will provide:

• A cot in a room full of cots: a dim, fairly quiet place to sleep, on a moment’s notice with no questions asked, and no searches;

·        Dog cages;

• Ear plugs and eye masks available for purchase, as some light is necessary for security and people do snore;

• A constant watch by camera and attendant on the belongings they carry in with them and store under their cots, and cameras elsewhere in common rooms for security;

• Restrooms;

• Separate shower facilities;

• Coin-operated laundry machines to wash clothing and bedding and help fund the shelter;

• A reading and dining room for food that people bring in, with a used book exchange and information on local services and employment listings.

Rules:
• Quiet. Do not bother the sleepers.

• No exhibition or use of guns, drugs, tobacco, or alcohol.

• Eat only in the dining room.

Employees:

• Guardian attendants will be paid at least minimum wage.
The best candidates for this job are tough little old ladies. Nobody messes with a little old lady in front of others. Even angry drunks respect them. And if anyone doesn’t, they’ll have people on speed-dial as backup, as well as other guests of the shelter.

• Volunteer janitors, recruited from among the guests, with free lodging and laundry.
Some guests will prefer to work off their nightly cot rent rather than go beg for it. One or two can be chosen daily to do the janitorial work that needs to be done mid-afternoon.

Financing and other Principles:

• No government funding except construction grants.  Government funding is not dependable enough for ongoing services.

• Grants, public or private, are for construction alone.  Large donors are undependable for funding ongoing operations, and leave a large hole when they quit. Small donors are more easily replaced, and are therefore more sustainable.

• The most dependable funding comes from those who care the most: the people who use the service. Therefore, the shelter should be built on such a scale that there are enough cots to fund the shelter when it is full. Fund-raisers can be conducted when times are so good that it is not full.

• Bed Vouchers can be sold to the general public to give to people in need of shelter. This provides a way for people to directly help the homeless without funding their addictions.  Some might like to purchase them and leave them at the Shelter to be handed to those who need them.

• Treat the clientele like customers and guests, not suspects. They are paying for this service.


• The Center should be open 24/7, because some people have to sleep and work odd hours.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Breathe easier on smoky days



The same mask that stops colds and flu in the winter can help you breathe easier when forest fires are filling our air with smoke.  Your breath moistens the inside of the mask; smoke particles get caught up in the moist cloth, greatly reducing the amount you take into your lungs.  A bandanna cold mask has more cloth to catch the smoke than a dust mask or medical mask, and more room inside it to breathe easily.
          You can breathe easier in your yard by using misters to clear the smoke by taking it to the ground, where it becomes good fertilizer.  The snakelike standing plastic misters with twin emitters that you can usually buy at the Grange Coop or Diamond Building Supply work very well for this, as they produce a very fine mist.  They also can be moved around, as they are made to be used on a hose.  (The hose should be heavy duty 5/8” or cheap ½” to take the pressure.)  Individual mist emitters that you can build into a drip line system, available at Grover Plumbing, put out too much water with too big of drops, and they can’t be easily moved around.
          I keep misters running in my front and back yard throughout the heat of the summer to cool the air, help my air conditioner and keep my blueberries happy and bearing big fruit.  Misters are critical for growing big blueberries in our hot, dry climate. 
Most plants benefit from a little more humidity and less heat in our area.  Misters keep the temperature in my yard about 10 degrees cooler, and allowed my tomatoes to set fruit last summer when it was too hot for pollination elsewhere in Grants Pass.  Pollen dies over 95° F. 
          People breathe easier with a little more humidity and less heat when the temperatures are near 100 degrees, and I can tell the difference when I get home.  When fires were burning nearby, it was easy to tell that there was less smoke around my house than elsewhere.
          One might think that misters getting plants wet all day and night might cause fungal infections, but I have seen no such problems.  Mold can appear on roses in spring and fall when we get too much rain, but in the heat of summer when misters are running, it doesn’t happen.  Powdery mildew is a hot weather fungus, but it appears in response to heat and water stress, not humidity.
          Misters don’t use a lot of water, but combined with sprinkler watering, they can make rain if enough people are using them to keep their yards green, by revving up the water cycle.  We used to make midsummer thundershowers in the ‘80s, when the whole town was watered and farms were in full production.  We need to reform our water pricing to encourage watering of landscapes and bring back wet thundershowers instead of dry lightning and forest fires.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Officers, respect our humanity

“A woman is a woman and a man ain’t nothin’ but a male...”
~Louis Prima, Jump, Jive and Wail

Honorable Public Servants,
          “Male” and “female” are properly adjectives, modifiers of nouns, not nouns themselves.  “Male” and “female,” when used as nouns to refer to people, are dehumanizing.  Any animal and some plants are male or female. We have perfectly good words for male and female humans that convey not only humanity, but age range as well: man; woman; boy; girl. 
The jazz tune from which the above quote was taken was written in the mid-fifties.  There is a long history of the words “male” and “female” being used to disrespect the people being referred to.  White, English-speaking men have a long called men and women of other races and cultures “males” and “females” and sometimes even the women of their own families.  
I first noticed the dehumanizing aspect of such words in the ‘80s, when a lot of feminists were calling men “males,” particularly “white males,” because they didn’t believe that they deserved the dignity of being called “men.”  I notice that black men and women rarely or never say “black males,” even when that was common among whites.  What’s interesting is that white men of a liberal persuasion still tend to talk about “white males” to refer to men who are conservative.  Some even refer to themselves that way.
          But the people I find using “male” and “female” to refer to people most consistently are police officers.  After that, there are reporters writing police logs from police reports verbatim without thinking about the disrespect they show. 
I have told enough reporters around this area that any animal is male or female, that they usually don’t use male, female, or that other dehumanizing police word, “subject.”  So I was greatly disturbed at the March 4th City Council meeting, when Chief Landis, before awarding medals of merit to officers who rescued a young girl from her mother, read the report of the incident, calling the mother “the female” many times, never referring to her as a woman and only once as the mother of the child.
          It doesn’t matter whether Chief Landis and his officers intend to offend when they use such language about the people they serve.  What matters is how the words are received.  People might not consciously realize they are being disrespected, but they feel it.
This may well play into our well-known and worsening lack of trust in government officials.  Police are the officials who are most likely to talk to us face to face and write about us.  They should respect our humanity and use words that show it.  How one speaks and writes comes from and becomes how one thinks.  We want our public servants to think of us as people, not male and female “subjects.”


Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener          541-955-9040        rycke@gardener.com