World Leaders – Keeping Them Straight

world leaders

World Leaders – The Cast on Our World Stage

It can be daunting to juggle the names and titles of leaders in today’s stormy political climate.  The graphic is up to date as of May 27, 2017. The goal here is not to include every country, but rather those that have become focal points in today’s news.

Mind mapping helps me keep the dynamic political scene in order. I’ll begin posting a number of maps as I continue my research. Wait until you see the one on Trump. Oy vey!)

Just click on the mind map below to be directed to the original map for easier viewing. Or just enlarge on your screen. I will continue to update the map with links to additional information.

world leaders

 

Life in a Virtual World – Second Life

second life

A Second Life  Can be a Good Thing

You may have heard me mention that I participate in a virtual world and have for over seven years now. My grid of choice is Second Life.  I was tagged today in a Facebook memory. So, certainly a number of fond memories came rushing back.

For five of my seven SL years I was the curator of an amazing art gallery that was part of a palatial build by my SL brother, Kaya Angel. It was a wonderful time in my life and I’m sure I will never forget it or my brother.

I curated art from artists all over the world for placement in nine galleries and a grand exhibition hall. I recast the galleries and hall every month. Each exhibition started with me stripping the galleries to their bare white walls and building an atmosphere that was uniquely fitted to the artists’ work.  Back when I was completely nuts about this, I’d turn over all of the galleries in one 36+ hour day.  In my tenure, I worked with nearly 400 international artists and created nearly 600 unique gallery designs and won three Avi Choice Awards for my work.

I know that many have no idea that such worlds exist so I’m including a YouTube video that includes my life there. By all means watch the whole video if you have the time, but if not and you are just curious about what Kylie was up to “in world” then check out position 8:06 – 10:22 as that is the section that Kaya devoted to his middle sister and her life at Angel Manor.  Thank you for this beautiful memory, Kaya.

Angel Manor is probably one of the most impressive builds in SL and now occupies nine sims. If you get a chance to go in world, be sure to check out Angel Manor and The Rose Theatre.

Kylie Addison Sabra

PS:  I am still a part of Second Life, but live a more private life decorating my home and SL gardening.

 

SALE – 30% Off Dresses & Suits – Ends Saturday

sale

Time for a Sale

Sales starts Wednesday. Dresses, skirt suits, pantsuits — all are 30% off through Saturday, May 20th.

Includes items already marked for clearance. You enjoy big savings. I get to go shopping for new ones!

A good sale is the perfect reason for getting out and embracing or enduring this crazy, undecided spring weather. It’s retail therapy at a steep discount.

Sizes range from XS to XXL and come in a variety of styles from casual to formal. As always at reFresh, everything is in like-new condition and cleaned.

 

“On Tyranny” by Timothy Snyder – Recommended Reading

tyranny

Tyranny – Entered as Easily as a Warm Bath

Do you love studying history? I do hope so. Understanding what is in our past can help us safeguard the future. Changes can be subtle. So subtle that you can wake up one morning to find yourself in a pot of hot water, only to discover it’s too late to escape. Are we destined to be served up as fodder for a government based on tyranny? Is democracy on its way out? Whether you think so or not, it doesn’t hurt to know the signs.

There’s an old morality tale with many versions about boiling a frog.  This is mine.


Frog for Dinner

The frog laughed as the man tossed him into the pot of boiling water. It took him all of two seconds to leap to safety. The man tried again, but still the frog jumped out.

The man scratched his head and then there was a gleam in his eye. He turned his back to the frog and set to work. He tossed the pan of boiling water and brought out a  beautiful piece of heat-proof crockery. He filled it with cool water from the pump and set a lily pad in the middle of it. Just to set the right mood he lit some candles and placed a plush towel and small slippers by the new “tub”, tucking more towels around the bottom.

The frog watched curiously. The man had captured him a few days ago and that tub looked oh so inviting.

“Forgive me, Mr. Frog,” the man said. “I’ve been remiss as a host. I have plenty of food and there’s really no need for me to make a meal of you. Let me make it up to you if I may. May I offer you a nice cool bath to wash the road from you? Then, you can join me for dinner.”

The frog cocked his brow and dipped one toe into the water. He smiled. “Indeed, sir. It would be a great pleasure.” He slipped into the tub and lay back. He was justifiably exhausted from the ordeal of the past few days and in no time at all, he drifted into sleep.

The man pulled the towels away from the bottom of the bowl, revealing a wood pile ready for the lighting. The water grew warmer and warmer and the frog fell deeper and deeper into blissful sleep.

The sounds of a knife slicing through carrots and the scent of onion and garlic filled the air. The frog awakened, but by then it was too late. He couldn’t move as already he was being cooked. The man tossed the aromatics into the simmering pot — I mean bowl — and added some salt and pepper. The frog was too far gone to even sneeze, although he powerfully wanted to.

That night, the man chuckled at his own cleverness as he poured a lovely Cabernet and toasted his dinner guest.


As with any morality tale, there is a lesson. Be aware of what’s happening around you so as not to be a boiled toad.

I ran across this book as I was conducting my daily blog research. The title was eye catching, but even more so was the tagline — Twenty Lessons From the 20th Century. It didn’t hurt that it came highly recommended and quoted by many reliable media sources.

On Tyranny is a fast read and is only $3.99 on Amazon Kindle . If you’re expecting professorial high-speak, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Snyder’s writing style is straightforward and, as such, is powerful. He seems like the kind of man I’d like to know. He isn’t overly enamored with the sound of his own voice. Snyder says the book is, “. . . an attempt to distill what I have learned about the 20th century into a guide for action today.”

The book entails twenty key points and are well documented. It’s hard to say I have favorites as they are equally important, but here are a few.

Do not obey in advance.

Investigate

Listen for dangerous words

Take responsibility for the face of the world

Without dissolving into fear, we are well advised to recognize the signals that foretell the rise of tyranny in our world.

Kylie Addison Sabra

 

A Twitter Panic Attack In the Age of Nationalism

twitter
Artwork by DonkeyHotey

What were once simple Twitter choices bear subtle nuances in today’s political climate.

Our world is rapidly changing, and not particularly in a good way.  A few years ago I was sitting in my home office chatting with a friend. We were discussing a wide variety of issues from trifling to weighty. Then, our talk turned to Tea Party politics. Simultaneously we realized that even in the privacy of my home, we’d lowered our voices to near whispers. Why? It certainly wasn’t a conscious decision. Yet, on some level two intelligent business women were subconsciously fearful of speaking about a controversial sect that we believed to be a danger to our way of life.

That was then. This is now. I’m a tweeter. Yep I engage in social media via Twitter – to the tune of nearly 16 thousand followers. I hearkened back to my above story when I received a follow request from @IranPlus. I looked through the site and discovered it to be a photographic site showing Iran in a way that I’ve never imagined. I started to hit the follow button and then the adrenaline shot through me and I hesitated.

In light of today’s political environment I asked myself, “Do I want to be seen following a Twitter site about Iran? Could someone use that against me as I begin to speak out more and more about my concerns for our nation and the fitness of our current president to hold office?”

We live in an age where Russians hack into and influence our elections. At the same time our government  continues to attempt to gain access to our social media accounts, two-way televisions are within our grasp. (Read George Orwell’s  1984 and you may well decide this is a luxury you should forgo.) We live in a time, when the President’s annoyance with mainstream media leads him to declare that he’ll merely change the libel laws and has labeled mainstream media as “Fake News” — twice in the past 24 hours alone. On February 17, 2017, Trump tweeted,

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing , , , , ) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

In a February 24 meeting with conservatives, Trump again calls the media the enemy of the people and threatens to take away the long-held right of the press to not name its sources — a right that is supremely critical to getting to the truth.

As Trump systematically sets out to destroy America’s faith in its journalists, it troubles me that he has chosen this particular catch phrase — enemy of the people — as it seems to be a favorite of noted dictators from early Rome to today.

  • Hugo Chavez of Venezuela refers to a TV station as “enemies of the homeland” and proceeds to later shut them down by declining to renew their license — an overt attack on freedom of speech in that country.
  • Artists and politicians labeled enemies of the people by Joseph Stalin of Russia, were sent to labor camps or executed.
  • Lenin used the term to create distrust among his people — virtually ostracizing those that did not agree with him.
  • Hitler used the term “enemy of the people” as well. He was referring to the Jews.

These threats and aspersions against mainstream media are not as simple as yet another presidential  tantrum. If Trump is willing to thwart the role of the media, by changing laws and the very way in which journalism is conducted, and creating a climate of distrust; how can one not conclude that the next step will be to take action against any organization or individual who disagrees with him.

It’s no wonder I hesitated. It’s clear to me that our democracy is at risk. But, do I want to live in a state where I make choices based upon how they might be used against me in the future? Do I want to live a life where I lower my voice — or don’t speak at all — in fear of gaining another’s ire? Oh! Heck no!

Being an active participant in the global web community requires that we run what we’re reading through a fine mesh to throw off the chaff and ascertain the truth. Indeed, it is our individual responsibility not to perpetrate lies by blindly passing things along because they arouse some emotional response within us; whether it be on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media outlet.

So, keeping that responsibility close to heart, I continue to engage in this vast community of ideas. Did I follow @IranPlus? I did. And I want to thank the site owner for showing the faces of his people and landscapes that I didn’t realize existed. Iran is not just a pile of sand folks.

A climate of growing fear and distrust can be changed by each of us taking individual responsibility for our actions and reactions. Learn the language of state nationalism and fascism so you know when it’s slip sliding into democracy.  Fascism arises when individualism dies.

Respectfully submitted,

Kylie Addison Sabra

nationa

American Health Care Act Passes the House – Letter to Rick Larson

american health care

American health care is descending into a death spiral.

In an earlier post I encouraged readers to reach out to their representatives and Senators, so I did as well.  Congressman Rick Larson represents my Washington State district and upon visiting his website I found an invitation to share our personal health care crises as a result of rising costs, which I did.

Regardless of whether you are Democrat or Republican, Trump supporter or detractor; these numbers are frightening. Here’s an excerpt of my letter to Congressman Larson. Some is omitted as being too personal to share with the general public.


We have both worked hard all of our lives and yet  I fear that the next big illness we face could mean death, because with $600 monthly premiums we can’t afford to pay for doctors’ visits. And I pray we don’t end up in the hospital. I have put off knee replacement surgery for seven years now because we can’t afford it. My husband has to go without insulin from time to time. This is an utter nightmare to which I see no end.

With the proposed changes under the American Health Care Act before Congress, this picture promises to grow even darker, as premiums for older people are portended to skyrocket at the same time our wages have plummeted – if we can even find work. How are we supposed to survive?

The Republican’s claim the government has no obligation to ensure that healthcare is affordable. If not the government, then who?

According to the CBO (Congressional Budget Office), 14 million people will be without health insurance next year if American Health Care Act is signed into law. The AHCA allows insurance companies to charge up to five times more for premiums for the elderly and sick. “In 2026, under Obamacare, a 64-year-old who earns $26,500 a year and faces a typical premium of $15,500 would pay just $1,700. The AHCA would require a payment of $14,500, almost nine times as much, and not one some making $26,500 is likely to be able to afford.” – FORTUNE

 It seems the elderly have been deemed expendable.

This change would leave us with a monthly shortfall of $1,000. This, of course, means we would have to forgo health insurance at a time in our lives when we need it the most. Was this indeed the thinking of the GOP all along?

When a government deems segments of its population expendable and then sets policies in motion that would, even if indirectly, eliminate these segments, what do we call that?


Sadly, as I was composing my letter, the American Health Care Act passed the House.

Clearly the GOP consensus is that the poor, the sick and the elderly are indeed expendable. I wish I could ask each of them individually. “If you did not have the resources that you currently possess — a stable home, financial security — and you had to make critical health care decisions for your parents, your children; is this what you would have chosen for them?”

Things My Daddy Taught Me About Truth, Bullies and Speaking Out

Truth

 “. . . I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

The Value of Truth

Friday and Saturday nights would find my dad and me sitting at the kitchen table. We’d talk into the wee hours of the morning. My mother suffered from mental illness and this was really the only way we could spend some time together. Nothing was off the table. He shared his thoughts on life, love, religion, and politics. He taught me not by preaching, but by sharing softly. My dad rarely raised his voice.

He also fostered my love of words. For as long as I can remember, he started his day with the Webster Dictionary; letting it fall open on his lap and allowing his finger to land where it may. That was his “word for the day”. He shared them with me and we’d use them throughout the day in as many ways as we could think of. What fun when he discovered the word proboscis. How many nose jokes can a grown man come up with in one day? You’d be surprised.

truth

He taught me that truth is highly underrated and because of its scarcity is a most valuable commodity. He taught me to seek out the facts and draw my own conclusions – not falling prey to the ramblings of others. He never told me what to think. He taught me how to think. “Find your own truth, Kylie, and defend it if you must.”

When I was in eighth grade, I was bullied by a group of girls. The abuse was verbal and emotional and finally grew to be physical; sending me home bloodied and upset more than once. I’d always been taught to find peace and understood this to mean to mean that I couldn’t defend myself. This torment lasted throughout most of that year. One day I came home, again, bloodied up and frustrated. Dad quietly said, “Kylie if you come home like this again you’re going to have to deal with me.” Sounds cruel right? “You have to stand up for yourself and what you believe, Kylie. If you don’t, no one will respect you and you’ll constantly face bullies,” he said.

As we approached the end of term, the abuse escalated as if they wanted to get in as much torment as possible before they had to take a summer break. That next day, a girl sitting behind me in my science class stabbed me in the back with the tip of her pencil. I turned about and grabbed her by the hair and slammed her face down on the desk. I’ll never forget the look on my teacher’s face. He had watched these little heifers tear at me for months. There was just the slightest smile as he looked on and he kept right on teaching. She never touched me again, but she was just one part of this little clique, so I had a present waiting for me on my way home on the bus that afternoon. Of course there would be retaliation as the kitten swiped at the rabid dog.

There was no place to sit up front so I had to move to the back. The meanest of the group took out a hat pin. I know, right? What was an eighth grader doing with a hat pin? Well she made great use of it and stuck it deep into me just before we reached her stop. She laughed and made her care-free way down the aisle. I stood up, placed each hand on the seat backs, lifted myself up and kicked her down the aisle. Then I moved to the next and to the next and to the next with my last kick landing her out the door on her behind sprawled on the ground. Everyone on the bus clapped. And no. I did not get into trouble. It seemed that my entire little world had been waiting for me to rise up.

Funny thing about bullies, when you face them, they flee. A couple of weeks later the term ended and we all headed our separate ways for the summer. When I came back to school – a freshman – these same girls that had terrified me became my best friends. Come to find out, one of them was even a second cousin.

So, my dad taught me how to handle bullies, value truth and speak my mind. Why then, as a business owner, am I supposed to sit back quietly when our President makes decisions that affect us all, and many of these decisions are not only questionable, some are downright cruel? I’m not. My daddy taught me better. I need to take up my pen and do some proverbial ass whuppin’.

Dad would be sad to see the state of affairs today and just how scarce a commodity truth has become, what with alternative facts, political spin doctors and social media masquerading as a valid news source. I’m going to keep plowing through the facts and figures. I’ll draw my own conclusions and I will write about them. Because that is what I do. I encourage you to do the same.

Extend your mind beyond the four corners of your head space. Read as many reputable news sources as you can get your hands on. Compare. Contrast.

Re-read our America’s founding documents so you know which of your rights may be in jeopardy. Look at the Congressional Record and see how your representatives are voting. There is actually a Daily Digest to make things easier and many ways to search, whether it be by representative, issue or date. Research allows you to make your own informed decisions instead of relying on others to tell you what to think.

Know how to contact your representatives  and senator so you can express your views in a way that make a difference.

More importantly, go straight to the horses’ mouths. Read what they are actually saying and then look to see if it is accurate, if it makes sense. Does it hurt others? Are they following through on what they say? Is it in the best interest of the country, or does it favor a select few, leaving many others disenfranchised?

It’s wonderful to know what you believe. It’s imperative to know why you believe it. There are a host of free blog sites out there. Do your due diligence and share your truth – whatever it is. It’s a free country – so far. Let’s keep it that way.

Suggested Resources for Reliable News Sources

This is a small list and by no means all inclusive. Some lean left and some to the right. For a better overall understanding, it is good to examine both. I will be doing a post on left, centrist and right media.

Reuters, The Wall Street JournalThe Washington Post, BBC ,  NPR, Snopes (Great for fact checking.), The Economist, PBS News Hour, C-Span, The Associated Press, The New York Times

 

Respectfully submitted,

Kylie Addison Sabra

Breathe New Life Into Tennis Shoes — And Good Breath Too

Tennis Shoes

Tennis Shoes Are Like Teeth – They Need Polishing Too

You loved them to bits, maybe a bit too much even. And goodness don’t they show it. So how do you get your pearly whites clean again. And no. I don’t mean your teeth this time.

I recently received in a pair of Dansko’s cute little Mary Jane-style, floral tennis shoes. The uppers and insoles were in great condition, but aaaargh the whites were — well — not white.

I could shoot myself because it seems I’ve lost the all important before picture, but I’m going to share the secret anyway.

I tried washing them with cleanser and even using a magic eraser, but what brought them around to like-new condition was Crest™ Whitening Toothpaste. I just squeezed some out of the tube onto a clean cloth and buffed them. It was amazing how easily the shoes came sparking clean.

Prior to treatment they were stained with some sort of brown and yellow stuff. That’s the technical term — stuff. The typical stuff that tennis shoes seem to gather in their day-to-day lives.

As they were, they were simply not up to reFresh’s standards and I was going to have to take a loss and donate them. Imagine how happy I was about that.

Here’s the “after” photo. Good luck with your efforts. Oh! And they may even smell a little better.

Tennis Shoes
These sweet little Dansko’s are at reFresh for just $35.70 (Retailed at $119

Kylie Sabra

 

Tweet Tweet Tweet President Trump

Trump

I feel like the crow in The Secret of NIMH. I try hard to focus on one thing, one aspect of the man called Trump. There are so many “sparklies” vying for my attention, I find myseIf constantly flying in this or that direction and having to circle back. I’ll try to reel myself in, perhaps tie a  restraint about my ankle to hold me down. Did you know a group of crows is called a “murder”? Seems rather a macabre beginning to my post, but somehow appropriate. Oh dear. See!  I digress.

I can’t help but love this quote from  Republican  Senator Bob Corker, who was once on Trump’s short list to become Vice President.

“I think it would be a good thing at this point if the iPhone was put in a safe, locked away and maybe returned in four years.” 

Am I the only one for whom the vision of an irate school teacher chastising a fifth grader for tweeting obscenities at school comes to mind?

The Trump Tweets are not merely amusing . . .

They are frightening and reveal a complete lack of emotional maturity on the part of this man we now call Mr. President. At this point, Trump is so desperate for a health care plan and Mexico border wall win that he said, “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!”  The cost of a government shutdown is not on par with a trip to your local Walmart. According to an April, 2017 CNN report, the last government shutdown was for 16 days in late 2013 and cost the US over $2 billion in lost productivity.

Yes. I follow @realDonaldTrump, but don’t think that makes me a fan. It’s just the best way to keep up with what he’s doing now — and every day, because believe me he’s going to tweet it. The man just can’t help himself. Some express annoyance at bloggers — like me — who bombast our “President”, but seriously he does a great job himself. We just have to call it out. 

Here are some of my favorites. Hmmm is favorites the right word? It’s kind of like hitting the Facebook “like” button when Auntie Marie kicks the bucket. Just doesn’t seem right.


This one is hot off the press today and begs the question. If the President can’t get his way with a proper vote of House and Senate, is he supposed to be able to just change the rules to suit his ends?


April 30th
The Democrats, without a leader, have become the party of obstruction. They are only interested in themselves and not in what’s best for U.S.

Am I the only one that recalls eight years of Republican obstructionist government?


April 27th

Democrats used to support border security — now they want illegals to pour through our borders.

This is apparently in support of a claim made by White House budget director Mike Mulvaney stating he didn’t understand the Democrat’s failure to support the Trump wall when they did just ten years ago. But that wasn’t a brick and mortar wall covering 1,000 – 2,000 miles, measuring 35 – 50 feet in height. It was a fence covering a selective 700 miles and was seen as the lesser of two evils at a time when it was that or declare all illegal aliens in the U.S. felons. Apples?  Oranges? Anyone?

I’m about 100% certain that no Democrat wants illegals flooding our borders, but then we don’t want to tear apart families or keep out people who have already passed our stringent requirements for entering the U.S. One really has to question the effectiveness of a wall over such a large area. It may be 35-50 feet tall, but how deep are you going to dig it? There is always a way.

I understand the need to control our borders, but question the overwhelming costs for such a venture when at the same time up to ten million people may go without health care and low-income families face loss of assistance. Check here for a complete lists of vital programs on the Trump chopping block.

Oh dear. I promised. I feel a jerk on that ankle chain. Focus woman!


May 1st

President Andrew Jackson, who died 16 years before the Civil War started, saw it coming and was angry. Would never have let it happen!