Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Monday, September 19, 2016

Bayer, Monsanto, and Me

It's interesting to see what journey a single headline in the news can send me on. The other day I noticed that Bayer bought Monsanto for $66 billion. Ah, two companies that I particularly dislike. It's not a surprise that Bayer would buy a company that is genetically modifying crops all over the world. If you knew Bayer's history (and relationship to IG Farben) you would know that sometimes the interest of human lives doesn't rank up there with other pressing matters like money and expediency.
IG Farben Plant at Auschwtiz-Monowitz (borrowed without permission)

I would recommend that you google Bayer and take a look at their connection to IG Farben and Auschwitz during World War II. It's horrifying to know what companies were up to in the throes of Nazism and Hitler's regime. If you don't get a chance to read about it, here's an excerpt:
During World War II, IG Farben used slave labor in factories that it built adjacent to German concentration camps, notably Auschwitz,[27] and the sub-camps of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.[28] IG Farben purchased prisoners for human experimentation of a sleep-inducing drug and later reported that all test subjects died.[29][30] IG Farben held a large investment in Degesch which produced Zyclon B used to gas and kill prisoners during the Holocaust.[31]
After World War II, the Allies broke up IG Farben and Bayer reappeared as an individual business "inheriting" many of IG Farben's assets.[29] Fritz ter Meer, an IG Farben board member from 1926 to 1945 who directed operations at the IG Farben plant at Auschwitz, was sentenced to seven years in prison during the IG Farben Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. He was elected Bayer's supervisory board head in 1956.[32]
In 1995, Helge Wehmeier, the head of Bayer, publicly apologized to Elie Wiesel for the company's involvement in the Holocaust at a lecture in Pittsburgh
So the headline about Bayer sent me looking for information about the members of my mother's family who had perished in the Holocaust. I found myself looking at lists of names of the dead. There are so many, and I wasn't sure I had the exact spelling of the name. But it turns out I did, and I found this at the Yad Vashem website. I took a screen shot and then annotated it. My mother's mother's maiden name was Dienstfrei, three names here are her two brothers and her mother.

Finding the names Max and Jacob Dienstfrei, my mother's uncles, reminded that one of their sons, Micah, had survived and was found alive many years later by my my mother's family. He was living in Israel. I did a post about that more then ten years ago. Micah had a son who was living in California, someone my parents met, went to his wedding, and kept in touch with a for a while.

Well, I thought I should check Facebook to see if I could reconnect with these long lost relatives. And, of course, I did. Turns out that not only are they still in California, but their youngest son had just started his freshman year here at the university in Arcata. They were all here in August! What a crazy surprise. I wrote to say we hope they find some comfort in knowing that there is family here on the far north coast. Yes, family. This young boy's now-deceased grandfather was my mother's first cousin. And here we are practically neighbors. The history of our connection is almost beyond what I can convey.

So, Bayer and Monsanto, as much as I truly detest your presence on earth, I am glad you sent me on this journey.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

Our One and Only Earth

One of my favorite images found on the internet

I think the politics of my country and the world has finally overwhelmed me. Nearly every headline is a reminder of just how bleak things are. While we do go out for wonderful walks in our quiet and lovely spot on earth, I can't seem to forget just how crazy things are everywhere. I started thinking about a book we read several years ago called The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. So, I went and reread the post we did about it almost a decade ago. Wow, we were just as blown away back then, and probably much more eloquent about our despair than we are now.

Re-reading that post spurred me to see what Alan Weisman has been up to lately. I found a review of a book he wrote in 2013 called Countdown. If you don't go to the link, here's the first paragraph:

If we wanted to bring about the extinction of the human race as quickly as possible, how might we proceed? We could begin by destroying the planet’s atmosphere, making it incapable of supporting human life. We could invent bombs capable of obliterating the entire planet, and place them in the hands of those desperate enough to detonate them. We could bioengineer our main food sources — rice, wheat and corn — in such a way that a single disease could bring about catastrophic famine. But the most effective measure, counterintuitive as it may be, would be to increase our numbers. Population is what economists call a multiplier. The more people, the greater the likelihood of ecological collapse, nuclear war, plague.
I know this is a bleak subject, but do you ever wonder what the heck we humans are doing here on earth, our one and only beautiful planet? I think about it probably way too often. One of the things that I am reminded of is how hard it is for people to actually grasp what the number 7,400,000,000 humans actually means tangibly.  I once calculated that one million seconds equals twelve days; one billion seconds is 32 years, so seven billion seconds would take 224 years. If you wanted to look at each human on earth for just one second, it would take you 224 years. Does that even convey how many people are on the planet?

A dear friend posted this on Facebook the other day. It had originally been posted by Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd. I thought it was worth sharing.
What do you think the future holds for us on our one and only earth? Will humans wake up? And what would it mean to wake up? If you were going to help solve the problems, how would you begin? I sincerely have no ideas.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016