Novel Almost Finished!

Six months ago, my muse (Nikki Bountiful) and I, along with a good friend (the Real Uncle Tony!) who was born and raised and still lives in Puerto Rico, embarked on an ambitious journey. Our shared odyssey had five objectives:
1. To delve into the cultural roots of Puerto Rico portrayed in bona fide historical narratives and viewed through the distorted lens of our own politically incorrect rendering of Caribbean history.
2. To provoke a serious discussion about Hurricanes Maria and Florence and the dissimilar manner in which our Federal Government handled the recovery effort in the aftermath of both storms.
3. To raise public awareness of the ongoing recovery effort by Puerto Ricans, non-profit organizations and the Puerto Rican government through a website containing photographs, videos and rosters of organizations who are currently lending a helping hand. We’ve had over 5,000 visitors so far. Step up and be counted!
4. To educate the general population of American citizens about the very real human consequences of Climate Change, as evidenced by the magnitude of the disaster in Puerto Rico brought about by Hurricane Maria.
5. To write an entertaining novel that incorporates the historical narratives mentioned above interwoven with a lively tale that speaks to the trials and tribulations implicit in growing up in 21st century America. The novel, “Giants” is finished through the first draft. We expect the novel to be published in mid-June. “Giants” will be available in both premium paperback and Kindle formats. Go to Amazon.com and search for books authored by “Russell Hatler.” We welcome all our friends to participate in the celebration of a Puerto Rico well on the road to recovery.

Shh, Let’s Pretend Climate Change Isn’t Real

A hurricane forms when the temperature in the ocean water rises above fifty degrees Fahrenheit. The average ocean water temperature has been rising 0.13 degrees per decade since 1880. The size and intensity of North Atlantic hurricanes have increased since 1980. Between 1966 and 2009 the average annual number of hurricanes in the North Atlantic was six. In the present decade that number has risen to eight. Between 1979 and 1989 there were a total of sixteen Category 4 and 5 hurricanes. Between 1990 and 2004 there were a total of twenty-five Category 4 and 5 hurricanes.

Global Warming. Climate Change. Whatever. For every (1) degree Celsius rise in the temperature of the earth, corn crop yields diminish by 10%. And yet it sometimes snows in Florida!

When Donald Trump became President, the United States was a signatory and an active participant in the Paris Accord to combat Climate Change. On June 1, 2017 President Trump pulled out of the Paris Accord because it was “an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries.” Immediately after his inauguration he ordered the EPA to scrub all mention of Climate Change from its website. He also nominated Scott Pruitt, a vigorous Climate Change denier, to be head of the EPA. Scott got booted out, not because he happened to believe Global Warming is a myth, but because of his profligate spending habits, housing arrangements, security team and raises for political appointees.

A virtually unanimous consensus of scientists everywhere on the planet assures us that Climate Change is a reality. One notable exception is a bible thumper from Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a Ph. D. in Homiletics who insists hurricanes are a curse sent by God as punishment to be visited upon all mankind for Californians allowing gays to marry. A poker buddy of mine who’s a rabid conservative says I do believe Global Warming is real, but I don’t think there’s any way we can beat it. At least no way that’d be fiscally viable.

You could make a case for cow farts being primarily responsible for Climate Change. You could also make a case for dinosaur farts causing the Ice Age. Nonetheless I suspect there’s a dinosaur ghost wandering the earth today who wishes he’d exercised more control over his gastro-intestinal impulses.

The simple truth is this. We don’t have to save the planet. The planet’s doing just fine. It’s our time on the planet as a species that’s in jeopardy. Should we as a species perish from the earth there’ll be another species who comes along and gladly takes our place. The question is whether we should spend the money now to clean up the planet so it’s a place where our children can survive and flourish. I personally believe that’s the best possible way to invest our hard-earned dollars. You may disagree. But whether we agree or not, we can be sure of one thing. We’re all gonna crash and burn together. And that’s not a scientific theory, it’s a fact.

Have a nice day.

Declaring Victory Isn’t the Same as Achieving Victory

He said this. When he was down there in Puerto Rico on October 3, 2017, purportedly comforting his fellow Americans who had gone through Hell and were prepared for more Hell to come, El Presidente actually said “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you threw our budget a little out of whack. But that’s fine.”

“Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like [Hurricane] Katrina, and you look at what happened here,” Trump also said, before asking an official sitting nearby, “what is your death count?”

The official said 16 deaths had been confirmed.

“Sixteen people, verified; 16 versus in the thousands,” Trump continued. “You can be very proud all of your people, all of our people, 16 versus literally thousands of people, you can be very proud.”

The actual number turned out to be 3,057 American citizens dead. Close enough for government work.

A year later, El Presidente held a press briefing to celebrate the victory the United States had achieved over the evil forces of Mother Nature.

“I actually think it was one of the best jobs that’s ever been with respect to what this is all about,” Trump said. Noting that the island had problems with its infrastructure before the storm (and, falsely, that it “had no electricity essentially before the storm”), he praised his administration’s efforts.

“The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did” he said, “in Puerto Rico, I think, was tremendous. I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible unsung success.”

The President’s impartial assessment to the contrary much work remains to be done in the rebuilding effort. Hundreds of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed by the storm and an estimated 280,000 residents fled to the Mainland. Poverty rate on the island increased from 44.3% to 52.3%. This compared to an overall poverty rate in the United States of 12.3%. Hurricane Maria isn’t to blame for everything, of course. But she did make a significant contribution to the ongoing disaster.

There’s no question that progress has been made in rebuilding Puerto Rico. Nonprofit organizations have had more of an impact than governmental bureaus. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. But it’s counter-productive to declare victory when a significant amount of work remains to be done. Even though it may be politically expedient.