Kudos to New York City Mayor Bloomberg for having city investigators go undercover to expose the rampant federal gun law violations taking at an Arizona gun show. Follow this weblink to the story on The Huffington Post. Why does this not surprise me? Given the choice between public safety and profits, greed will nearly always win. Sad, sad, sad and shameful.
Archive for January, 2011
Have you ever tried to determine if a plastic item is recyclable? I have 20/20 vision for reading, but often the recycling symbol and corresponding number is so small I could use the help of a magnifying glass to read the number in the logo. On other plastic items like lids there is often no number on it whatsoever. Why not?
The conspiracy theorist in me sometimes wonders this is purposeful so people give up trying and throw the items away instead of bothering to recycle them. I sincerely hope this is not the case.
If a product is recyclable then it should be celebrated, not hidden in some far-off corner, written in hieroglyphics, or printed so small or lightly that you cannot tell whether is is a 5 or 6. C’mon plastic producers and molders, there has to be a way to create clearer, larger, more readable, and more uniform logos on your products to help promote the recycling.
- Today, 80 percent of Americans have access to a plastics recycling program.
- More than 2.4 billion pounds of plastic bottles were recycled in 2008.
- In 2007, more than 325 million pounds of wide-mouth plastic containers such as yogurt cups and butter containers were recycled.
- In recent years, the number of U.S. plastics recycling businesses has nearly tripled. Today, more than 1,600 businesses are involved in recycling post-consumer plastics.
- Plastics in the U.S. are made primarily (70%) from domestic natural gas.
- Recycling one ton of plastic saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space.
- During Keep America Beautiful’s 2008 Great American Cleanup, volunteers recovered and recycled 189,000,000 PET (plastic) bottles that littered highways, waterways and parks.
Hopefully, everyone will keep up the good work and more readable recycling labels will increase participation in plastic recycling programs across the country and around the globe. By reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign petroleum products and reducing the waste stream going into our landfills, recycling is one of the most patriotic things you can do. Remember the R’s of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
Now, if we can just get rid of those annoying plastic bags.
You wouldn’t think such a basic fact would be controversial in this day and age, but unfortunately it is. Conservative Christians get all up in arms over books like “Heather Has Two Mommies” being in libraries, and don’t think gay people (like this student teacher who was removed from the classroom after acknowledging he was gay) should be anywhere near their children. They think there’s some kind of “gay agenda” that’s being pushed.
However, as Johann Hari lays out so well in “Why is it wrong to protect gay children?” the only goal of the “gay agenda,” if there were one, would be to make sure gay people have all the rights and guarantees heterosexual people do. He wrote the column after hearing about Jonathan Reynolds, a 15-year-old who killed himself by lying on railroad tracks after being bullied mercilessly for being gay. No one knows whether he was actually gay or not. As he was lying on the tracks, he sent a text message that said in part:
“I am human just like them.”
But apparently acknowledging that gay people are people too is a radical concept that our children just can’t be exposed to. It’s those types of attitudes that lead to the suicides of so many youths and the murder of people like David Kato, a Ugandan activist whose picture was published on the front page of a newspaper with the tag “Hang Them.”
You can oppose their rights all you like, but gay people exist. They have for all of human history, which means they’re not going away anytime soon. The religious right just can’t accept that they have lost. More and more people are in favor of gay marriage with each poll that is taken, and there’s a huge generational divide. Young people are much more supportive than their elders.
Let us also not forget some of the most strident anti-gay campaigners don’t live in heterosexual bubbles. Karl Rove’s father was gay. Dick Cheney’s daughter. George Bush aide and former National Republican Committee chairman Ken Mehlman. Larry Craig. Ted Haggard. The list goes on.
Of course, the easiest thing for everyone to do in these situations is recognize gay people exist and it’s OK to be gay. But no one has ever accused the religious right of making sense.
This past Wednesday I had the sincere pleasure of seeing The King’s Speech. In today’s era of dazzling special effects, improbable stunts, overblown egos, and huge movie budgets, this endearing and elegant motion picture was a charming delight. The King’s Speech tells the true story of a very brave man whose destiny was to become the king of England. For all of our sakes, it was through God’s good grace that he was elevated to rule Great Britain through some of its darkest, yet finest hours.
This king did not slay dragons, conquer foreign lands, or rule with an iron fist. Instead he inspired an entire nation by overcoming a debilitating speech disability with the strength, love, and perseverance of his wife and the guidance of his friend, speech therapist Lionel Logue. Imagine the frustration, the embarrassment, and the self-doubt a speech disability can cause for the most strong-willed person, let alone someone who is cast into the limelight 24/7. Add to that the years of teasing and ridiculing that he endured even from members of his royal family and their staff. This monarch had guts and earned admiration and respect through sheer will and determination.
When visiting the stunning St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in 2008, I saw the tomb where King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, and Princess Margaret are buried. I wish I had known their whole story prior to the visit, for the royal couple epitomize what great leadership is all about. They defied the Nazis and carried Britain on their combined shoulders throughout World War II by remaining in Buckingham Palace despite the terror of the blitz, despite the aerial dogfights overhead during the Battle of Britain, and despite the indiscriminate horrors of the V-1 and V-2 rockets raining down on London. Buckingham Palace was hit by bombs nine times during the war.
The king and queen met with the wounded, visited bombed areas of the country, and toured munitions factories during World War II to show support and help boost morale. And like their fellow citizens, they lived on the same water and food rations. King George VI regularly broadcast radio messages to the nation and visited troops on the front line during World War II. Both he and Winston Churchill even had to be dissuaded from participating in D-Day with British naval forces.
History is full of great and inspiring individuals who rose to the occasion during a significant event, only to sadly leave the world stage far too soon. Abraham Lincoln (Civil War), Franklin Roosevelt (WWII), Winston Churchill (WWII), Mahatma Ghandi (India’s independence), and John F. Kennedy (Cuban missile crisis) are just five examples. King George VI, who died far too young at the age of 56 from complications related to his lung cancer surgery in 1952, should be included in this elite group.
Congratulations to Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, and the balance of the cast and crew for a elegantly crafted showcase of this amazing story. When a movie about talking can captivate you for two hours, it is truly powerful. One can only hope it receives the praise and recognition it so justly deserves.
I adore Rachel Maddow for her witty, logical takedowns of conservative views. One of my favorite segments of hers aired last year, when record snowfalls had people ridiculing the idea of global warming. She answered with a monologue that included bits such as “When it rains in the desert, that does not disprove the existence of the desert. It’s still a desert, even in the place where it rained.” Or in other words, “Global warming isn’t the opposite of snow.”
It may not seem logical, but global warming actually increases snowfall because there’s more moisture in the air. Physics professor Michio Kaku explains this well in “Monster snowstorms still spell global warming.”
I would love for climate change deniers to be right that there’s nothing to worry about because frankly, the worst-case scenarios are terrifying. The effects we have seen just in the past year are devastating: Record flooding in Pakistan, Australia, Brazil, California. Record snowfall in the northeast United States. Some of the highest temperatures on record. It’s difficult to say with 100 percent certainty that climate change is responsible for all of those weather fluctuations, but it’s the most likely explanation.
So the next time 20 inches of snow falls in your area, don’t blame Mother Nature. Blame all of the cars on the roads and the huge factories and super farms that dominate so much of our landscape.
Today would have been my father’s 85th birthday. Sadly, he suddenly passed away much too soon in 1991. Looking back, I was not quite sure what to write about him. This is not because there is a shortage of reasons, but because there are so many stories to tell.
My father grew up in one of the wealthier families in his hometown of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. As with many things in life, the family’s wealth was fleeting. While he was attending college in the second half of the 1940s, the family cotton mill failed and their economic status in the community reversed a full 180 degrees. Just a few years later his mother passed away from breast cancer before either my brother or I were born. Later, his father passed away when we were both quite young.
His reversal of fortune made my father more prudent and fairly conservative with investing and spending money. As a teenager, it sometimes seemed like it took him forever to make a decision on buying a car. I can recall thinking and saying, “Gee dad, how many more cars do we have to look at?” My guess is that my own sons have had this same thought every now and then.
But, do not get me wrong, my father was also a very kind and generous man — to my brother and I, to our mother, to his older brother, his grandchildren, and everyone else in our family. He also gave of his time and talent to family, to friends, to his job, and to his alma mater.
With many years of hard work and long hours, my dad turned around his destiny by becoming a successful executive. I sometimes wish his parents had the chance to see more of this firsthand, but I am sure they were always smiling from above.
In light of the economic upheaval of the past decade, his prudent advice with money and investing turned out to be fortuitous. I just hope that I have passed along some of the same sound advice to my sons.
My dad and I did not agree on everything, especially on certain political and social issues. I can clearly remember when I was assigned to read Mao’s Little Red Book in high school. He was not a happy camper about that, which made for some spirited dinner conversations. Despite the differences of opinion, we respected each other, which was very much appreciated. Knowing what he went through as a young man helped me better understand the basis of his beliefs and the context from which they were formed.
As I said at the beginning of this post, I was not quite sure what to write about my father on this four score and five year anniversary of his birth. As it turns out, I did not have to stew about it, for my father successfully wrote his own life story, albeit a shorter version than any of us would have preferred. All I did was to pass along some of the details of his life as a proud son.
There is a huge revolution going on in Egypt right now. People are protesting the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power for 30 years. Why should you care?
US military aid to Egypt totals over $1.3 billion annually. Your money, in other words, is keeping Mubarak in power. That government is now doing this to its people. Listen to the audio. It’s hard to say just what’s happening, given the media blackout, but clearly terrible things are happening in Egypt.
… The fact that we are supporting the Mubarak regime may not be immediately obvious to most Americans, but it is the central fact about America to every Egyptian alive–to 83 million people in the heart of the Middle East.
You can find coverage of the protests at the Daily Dish as well as Al Jazeera’s English language live stream. News may be intermittent as there have been reports that Internet access in Egypt has been cut, including social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
One thing I find very interesting about the protests is the prominent presence of women: Double X says they make up between 20 and 50 percent of the protesters.
Millions of people are watching Egypt as the situation unfolds. Will Mubarak be forced from power? Will the unrest spread to other Middle Eastern countries? Only time will tell.
Last week’s list of goofy and funny place names became one of our most popular posts since Progressive Blogic’s debut on November 1, 2010. This time let’s start off with Canada and then list those in the United States. Enjoy round two.
Hairy Hill, Alberta – wonder if they know Hank Hill?
Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia – aaah, nothing like relaxing in the warm water next to fuel rods.
Flin Flon, Manitoba
Burnt Church, New Brunswick – must have had a visitor from Pyro, Ohio (see part 1).
Witless Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador
Pugwash, Nova Scotia – it is important to have a spotless Pug.
Ajax, Ontario – it’s spotless from end to end.
Christopher Cross, Prince Edward Island – could have sworn he was a singer.
Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan – another very nice Canadian city I visited in 2005.
Opp, Alabama – so when you move away, do you opt out?
Surprise, Arizona – sorry, but nothing surprises me about Arizona anymore.
Angels Camp, California – do the Anaheim Angels have spring training here?
Last Chance, Colorado
Golden Spur, Connecticut – sounds like either a ranch, saloon, or a casino name.
Weeki Wachi, Florida
Talking Rock, Georgia
Picabo, Idaho – I wonder if they have a Picabo Street? Think about it. : )
Oblong, Illinois – those darn obs always take so long.
Lost Nation, Iowa
Agricola, Kansas – don’t think Coke or Pepsi need to worry.
Thousand Sticks, Kentucky
Cut Off, Louisiana
Orient, Maine – didn’t know Maine was that far east!
Public Landing, Maryland
Maybee, Michigan – or maybe not?
Castle Danger, Minnesota
Hot Coffee, Mississippi – the town sounds like it was founded by Starbucks.
Purdy, Missouri (see Washington)
Hungry Horse, Montana
Gross, Nebraska – Guess they will have to battle it out with Gross, KS (see part 1) for the grossest place.
Jackpot, Nevada – a logical name for a town in Nevada.
Christian Hollow, New Hampshire
Ship Bottom, New Jersey
Weed, New Mexico – Cheech and Chong’s favorite town along with Grass Valley, California, and High Point, North Carolina.
Big Moose, New York
Duck, North Carolina
Wild Rice, North Dakota
Fly, Ohio – wonder if it was left open?
Gene Autry, Oklahoma – they are back in the saddle again.
Swisshome, Oregon – why didn’t Lynyrd Skynyrd sing about Swisshome, Oregon, instead of sweet home, Alabama?
Scalp Level, Pennsylvania – Ouch!
Prudence Island, Rhode Island
Fair Play, South Carolina
Iron Lightning, South Dakota
Bell Buckle, Tennessee
Circle Back, Texas – wish a few more of their politicians would do just this.
Tropic, Utah – Utah is the first place I think of for tropical weather.
Purdy, Washington – wonder if it is “purdier” than the one in Missouri?
Nitro, West Virginia – Rico from the Penguins of Madagascar’s favorite town – kaboom!
De Forest, Wisconsin – wonder if they really meant to do that? May have to change the name to De Foliate. : )