Archive for August 31, 2013

Earth Tip: Bike-Share…or Just Bike

So what if five San Francisco Bay Area cities, including San Jose (http://www.vta.org/bike_information/bike_sharing.html) and San Francisco(http://www.sfbike.org/?bikeshare), are launching their bike-share program?  Well, it encourages us to leave our car behind and rent a bike for an hour or a day while we run  errands, go sightseeing, or whatever. (More details can be found at http://bayareabikeshare.com.)

This reminded me of some figures I ran into some time ago about what would happen if all Americans aged 10-74 walked or biked half an hour a day instead of driving: we would save 6.5  billion gallons of gas and lose 3 billion pounds off our bodies.

Something to think about…and try.

Leaf 6

 
[For more easy, money-saving, Eco-friendly tips, download a FREE copy of Green Riches: Help the Earth & Your Budget. Go to www.Smashwords.com/books/ view/7000, choose a format, and download to your computer or e-book device. Or download a free copy from your favorite e-tailer.]

 

 

Movie Review: “The Butler”

You MUST see the movie “The Butler.” It’s an historical drama based on the life of Eugene Allen, who spent 34 years as a White House butler for 8 U.S. Presidents.  Forrest Whitaker plays the man who starts his life on a cotton farm and spends much of his adult life watching civil rights history being made and the Vietnam War take its toll on our country.  We see how his wife (Oprah Winfrey) and two sons are affected by his job and historical events as they unfold. It’s also interesting to watch how the various presidents are played by actors like Robin Williams (Eisenhower), John Cusack (Nixon), and James Marsden (Kennedy).

I don’t recommend movies often—I think the last one was “Lincoln”—but this one really affected me.  Maybe because it basically covers my lifetime and reflects my prejudices (I worked for civil rights and protested the Vietnam War).  But it’s more than that.  The emphasis isn’t so much on the history as it is on how people are touched by it.  That appeals to me.  And makes for an engaging story.

As I said, you MUST see this movie.

 

 

 

Thursday Thought: What We Give

Some things are much easier to give than others:

“May God forbid that we should present our gifts and withhold ourselves.”  (Unknown)

 

 

Would you do a selfie of twerking in flatforms and jorts?

Do you know what that means?  I used to believe that the Oxford English Dictionary was a guardian for keeping my native language relatively pure. Over the years, though, it has added some words that, well, are as clear to me as “Jabberwocky.”

Here’s a translation for the rest of you who, like me, are not up-to-date with OED’s current additions: 

  •  “selfie”– a picture you’ve taken of yourself, usually with a phone or webcam, and posted to a social media website
  • “twerk”—to do a sexually provocative dance, including thrusting your hips and squatting
  • “flatforms”—flat shoes with very high, chunky soles 
  • “jorts”—Jean shorts (denim) 

If you need a quick course on words sneaking into our language, you might want to sign up for a MOOC (another new OED word)—“Massively Open Online Course.”

Now, back to the question: Would you?

 

 

Miley’s Act Was NOT Out of Bounds

Poor Miley Cyrus is being unfairly criticized for being lewd and crude on the music awards.  It simply isn’t true…according to today’s music-world standards.  After all, everyone knows it is no longer enough just to sing, that is, if you want to sell your music.  You must give performances and produce a video in which you dress minimally, take erotic stances, thrust your hips provocatively, lick your lips while letting your gaze wander into Wonderland, and engage in suggestive moves with co-singers or back-ups.  It’s all part of the package.  Sometimes people take it to extremes, which Miley seems to have done.  But she has to if she wants to leave Hanna Montana behind her and be a success in the music world.  What’s a girl to do?!

Okay.  We old fogeys yearn for the day when we watched a singer perform and felt the emotion the words and music were trying to convey. We knew that sex was being implied in the romantic relationships being sung about.  But we had an advantage over modern music-lovers: we had an imagination.

 

 

Are You Unwittingly Committing Bee-acide?

Your bee-friendly plants may be killing bees.  According to a report from Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Research Institute, some of those plants (like sunflowers) that you thought were bee-friendly have been treated–before they reach  Lowe’s, Home Depot, and other garden centers–with pesticides that harm bees. The EPA’s new rules ban use of certain pesticides (those that contain  imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam) where bees are present.  But that doesn’t ensure that those lovely plants have not been infused with the stuff before they hit your store.

For more information, read the NBC Science News article “Bee-killing pesticide found in garden store plants: What does it mean?

When you shop for plants for your garden, read their labels and ask if the plants have been treated with nerve-killing pesticides that harm and kill bees.  If the answer is Yes, or if they don’t know, tell them you’ll shop elsewhere until they can assure you that their plants are not harmful.

 

 

 

 

Shoot, Teachers—KNOW YOUR JOB!

Hire better teachers by giving them a more thorough interview.  Ask prospective teachers about their education, experience, educational philosophy, attitudes toward children and learning.  Then take them to the firing range to see how they handle a gun.  If they pass all of your expectations, you have a winner.  If they pass only the first part but want nothing to do with firearms, they’re out.  Those who are just bum shots—you’ll have to decide how much it will cost to train them to hit the tall people instead of the short ones. 

I got this idea from the Arkansas Christian school (note that public schools all over are considering following suit) whose principal pointed out that it’s their “right as American citizens and Christians to protect [their] children.”  So, they’ve armed their teachers and have armed people at their church services, as well, so that God doesn’t have to work overtime to protect the flock while He’s being worshiped.

Gives new meaning to the old saying, “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”

 

 

Thursday Thought: Accepting Evil

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.– Martin Luther King, Jr.

[50 years since MLK’s historic march.  How far have we come? How far do we have to go?]

Our Girls are in Danger

Girls’ lives are in grave danger in our country.  When we think of gangs, we picture rough-looking, foul-mouthed, violent boys.  Yet, the U.S. has experienced a 15% rise in girls in gangs over the past ten years.  Why? They say the gang gives them a group to belong to, people who listen to them and care about them. They don’t feel that their families and non-gang friends do any of that.

I find that frightening and heartbreaking. Maybe some parents need to focus more on family and less on work–at least allow more time to spend with their daughters (hard in this economy but doable, necessary, and rewarding). Maybe schools need to engage girls more, providing instruction that draws them into areas where they can experience success and see a bright future. Maybe our churches should involve girls in more activities that show them they’re valued. Maybe there should be more opportunities for them to learn from a mentor or be part of volunteer activities or jobs that make them feel worthwhile.  Maybe some of them simply need more smiles and hugs.

I don’t know the answer. But we MUST save our girls!

 

 

Cheating the Elderly

“Last Will and Embezzlement”—that’s a film worth watching.  It describes the financial exploitation of the elderly.  The problem is widespread and can happen to anyone, even Mickey Rooney, and it is perpetrated by cleaver strangers, close friends, and “loving” relatives.  Yet, such abuse is often not reported.  Even when it is reported, prosecution is difficult—IF the legal system will even bother to prosecute.  This eye-opening documentary presents several cases, giving us an idea of what to watch out for with our loved ones.  You can find the 2012 film on Netflix and probably elsewhere.  If you have elderly friends or relatives, or if you’re aging (we’ll ALL get there), it’s worth the 1 hour 22 minutes you’ll spend watching it. (See the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJCDQpqHPEQ.)