Homebodies In The Rust And Bible Belts
Posted on 03.09.15 by Danny Glover @ 6:48 pm

Last fall, The New York Times published some interesting data in an interactive map that shows how U.S. residents migrate by state. I just discovered it in my Facebook feed today and was most curious about the data from my home state of West Virginia.

According to the graphic, 70 percent of people who lived in the Mountain State in 2012 were born there, down from 81 percent in 1950 and 1900. I know that many more West Virginians, including myself, move away for work these days than used to be the case, but I was surprised to see that the state has an increasing percentage of people from other places.

Only a few states have a greater percentage of homebodies than West Virginia — Louisiana at 79 percent, Michigan at 77 percent, Ohio at 75 percent, Pennsylvania at 74 percent, Mississippi and Wisconsin at 72 percent each, and Iowa at 71 percent. Like West Virginia, Alabama is at 70 percent.

The takeaway is that people in the Rust Belt and Bible Belt love to stay close to home.

Filed under: Culture and Media and Religion and West Virginia
Comments: None

What A Weasel!
Posted on 03.03.15 by Danny Glover @ 8:13 pm

Here’s the hijacking that had everyone on the Internet tweeting today:

The weasel terrorist lost this battle, according to photographer Martin Le-May, who captured the once-in-a-lifetime flight in England. After the bird climbed about 10 feet with the baby attack weasel on its back, he said, the bird landed, ditched the weasel and fled.

No weasels or woodpeckers were harmed in the making of this meme — unlike the incident in West Virginia earlier this year when the roles were flipped and a hawk snagged a squirrel in its beak.

Filed under: Human Interest and Photography and Technology and Wildlife
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Why We Home-School, Lesson #51
Posted on 03.02.15 by Danny Glover @ 8:45 pm

We believe the most important lessons in life are moral. Government-run schools long ago stopped feigning even the slightest interest in acknowledging God, let alone teaching biblically based values, and now most of them are even worse. They actively promote competing worldviews like moral relativism:

Our public schools teach students that all claims are either facts or opinions and that all value and moral claims fall into the latter camp. The punchline: There are no moral facts. And if there are no moral facts, then there are no moral truths. …

Facts are things that are true. Opinions are things we believe. Some of our beliefs are true. Others are not. Some of our beliefs are backed by evidence. Others are not. Value claims are like any other claims: either true or false, evidenced or not. The hard work lies not in recognizing that at least some moral claims are true but in carefully thinking through our evidence for which of the many competing moral claims is correct.

Justin McBrayer, the college professor who penned those words in The New York Times, isn’t down on public schools. He simply encourages educators to be morally responsible in the way they teach impressionable students. But no such sea change is likely to occur in U.S. public schools anytime soon, so homeschooling often is the wiser option.

(Read previous “Why We Home-School” lessons.)

Filed under: Government and Religion and Why We Home-School
Comments: None

The Poor Man’s Diet: Potatoes And Tap Water
Posted on 02.25.15 by Danny Glover @ 8:52 pm

This personal finance philosophy, preached by a blogger who retired at age 30 and calls himself Mr. Money Mustache, is the way I think:

If you have credit card debt, you should feel like your hair is on fire. You shouldn’t be eating anything beyond baked potatoes and tap water or doing anything besides working overtime and sleeping until you get out of that emergency. I’ve never been that frugal myself, but that’s because I have never gotten into credit card debt.

Now if only I could behave the way I think.

Filed under: Culture and People
Comments: None

A Girl Scout Named Mary Jane
Posted on 02.07.15 by Danny Glover @ 9:02 am

Back in the good old days, when potheads existed on the fringe of society, no one paid much attention to the pet names they gave their various drug concoctions. But now that marijuana has gone mainstream in 23 states and the District of Columbia, their sales gimmicks may start to matter.

A case in point: Girl Scout Cookies.

To the 2 million Girl Scouts and 800,000 adults who lead the troops, not to mention the millions of people who binge eat the sugary snacks, Girl Scout Cookies is the umbrella brand name for Do-si-dos, Tagalongs, Thin Mints and all the rest. Girl Scouts of the United States of America has been selling the cookies for decades, both to raise money and teach girls how to be entrepreneurs.

Every year at this time, scouts hit the streets (and now the Internet) to enlarge the empire, and newsrooms across the country dig for fresh angles to justify yet another round of cookie stories.

But to marijuana lovers, Girl Scout Cookies means something entirely different. I won’t get into the pharmacological specifics here, but the gist of it is that Girl Scout Cookies is a strain of Mary Jane that hit the market in California back in 2010 and quickly became popular. It has won multiple awards within the marijuana community.

I learned all of that this week when news broke of the first marijuana vending machine. The machine’s promo for “Girl Scout Cookies” jumped out at me and made me curious. It also caught the attention of the first customer, who bought one gram of Girl Scout Cookies for $15.

The question is what the Girl Scouts organization thinks of its signature brand being associated with a hallucinogenic drug. One scout caused a stir last year when she sold cookies outside a marijuana pot shop in California, but the new vending machines raise the stakes to a whole new level, one of intellectual property rights.

The head of American Green, the company that owns the machines, seemed surprised and defensive when a radio reporter grilled him about the legality of selling pot as Girl Scout Cookies. Stephen Shearin’s responses included:

  • “There are a number of ways one could interpret the words ‘Girl Scout Cookie.’ It doesn’t look like a cookie … it’s not packaged to be a cookie, and it’s sold in a controlled environment.”
  • “[I] assumed there was some kind of common language once things hit the common sphere. …
    It’s been in pretty common use for well over a year at hundreds of locations. Long before we touched anything.”

But now that the vending machines are getting national attention, the real Girl Scouts are taking the apparent copyright infringement seriously. A spokesman told the station, “Girl Scouts of the USA is aware of our trademark being misappropriated. We take these trademark misappropriations seriously and, when applicable, will send a cease and desist.”

Filed under: Advertising and Business and Culture and News & Politics
Comments: 1 Comment

Why We Home-School, Lesson #50
Posted on 02.02.15 by Danny Glover @ 7:48 pm

We believe imagination is a part of education and don’t like to see it quashed like this:

Tolkien’s one ring won’t be used to rule the playground anytime soon. A 9-year-old in Texas was suspended after Kermit Elementary School officials called it a threat when the boy, Aiden Steward, told a classmate he could make him “disappear” with a ring forged in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional Middle Earth’s Mount Doom, the Odessa American reported.

The Stewards had just watched “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies” days earlier and Aiden was just using his imagination to reenact some of his favorite scenes on the playground.

(Read previous “Why We Home-School” lessons.)

Filed under: Books and Movies and Why We Home-School
Comments: None

Say Yes To Snow-shoveling ‘Solicitors’
Posted on 01.29.15 by Danny Glover @ 7:14 pm

When a snowstorm hit Bound Brook, N.J., this week, a couple of enterprising young men bounded from their warm homes into the streets to try to make some money by shoveling snow.

It’s the kind of energy we see all too rarely these days among teenagers who prefer soft bean bags and video games to hard labor, and it should be celebrated. Instead, a police encounter ensued when a grumpy, get-off-my-sidewalk citizen complained.

The police could have ignored this citizen and let the teenage boys serve their neighborhood, even if for a fee. Instead, Police Chief Michael Jannone made excuses for the stop when another citizen publicly chastised the police for intervening.

At first he said officers stopped the snow-shovelers because they were outside during dangerous weather. That lame defense wouldn’t fly once the boys told a different story. Then Jannone trotted out the tired and phony cliche I called out a couple of weeks ago: “We don’t make the laws, but we have to uphold them.”

Hogwash! Police never have and never will enforce every law on the books. And a good time for them to exercise discretion not to enforce a law is when an obnoxious citizen complains about harmless behavior like asking to shovel snow.

Anyone with common sense knows that anti-solicitation laws are aimed at door-knocking salesmen, not the young entrepreneurs in the neighborhood. The better police response would have been to ignore — and perhaps even scold — the whiner who deemed snow-shoveling to be a matter worthy of taxpayer-funded police intervention.

Filed under: Business and Culture and Government and News & Politics
Comments: 1 Comment

Martin Luther King’s ‘Dream’ Is For Sale
Posted on 01.19.15 by Danny Glover @ 11:56 am

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream he wanted to share. His heirs have a brand they want to milk for every penny they can get.

The for-profit company King Inc., which represents the family of the civil rights leader whose legacy America remembers today, has been enforcing its legal rights to his speeches and images so strictly that his story isn’t being told as widely as it could be otherwise. National Review told the story a couple of weeks ago in the context of the new movie “Selma.”

“Selma” still works because filmmaker Ava DuVernay was able to construct phrases that conveyed King’s oratory without using his actual words. … Recent court cases suggest that DuVernay would have had a strong “fair use” defense for using some excerpts of King speeches. But she apparently decided it wasn’t worth the risk of litigation. As recently as 2013, that risk prevented many media outlets from using anything more than the briefest of snippets in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the “I have a dream” speech.

King’s heirs are so adamant about licensing his powerful words that they demanded $20,000 from the personal lawyer and speechwriter who copyrighted King’s “dream” speech. And the foundation behind the memorial to King in Washington, D.C., had to remove his name from its own in order to avoid fees and further delays in building the memorial.

I support the right of MLK’s heirs to seek reasonable licensing fees for commercial uses of King’s intellectual property, such as in the movie “Selma.” But imposing fees on a nonprofit that built a memorial to honor him is ridiculous. The same goes for suing news organizations and documentary creators who tell King’s story.

King Inc. has the law on its side in most cases, but the money-grubbing behavior of King’s heirs undermines his legacy. Former King ally Bill Rutherford said MLK “must be spinning in his grave” because his family is selling the vision that King gave the world for free.

The actions of his heirs also expose the greatest flaw of copyright protection. Thanks in large part to Disney, which has lobbied hard and often to keep exclusive rights to Mickey Mouse, copyright terms today last more than 100 years in some cases.

Unfortunately, those terms are likely to keep getting longer with millions of dollars at stake.

Filed under: Government and History and Media and News & Politics and People
Comments: None

Hawkish On Squirrels
Posted on 01.17.15 by Danny Glover @ 10:07 am

Squirrels are rats with furry tails. Embrace that perspective and you won’t be like the West Virginia lawmaker who went into a rage when witnessing this scene, as reported by MetroNews:

It’s an awesome photo that captures a moment rarely seen in nature.

Filed under: Photography and West Virginia and Wildlife
Comments: 1 Comment

The Politics Of Police Discretion
Posted on 01.14.15 by Danny Glover @ 6:35 pm

Lawbreakers caught in the act of petty offenses often try to shift blame from themselves to the law enforcers who bust them.

“Don’t the cops have anything better to do than hassle me for going 5 miles an hour over the speed limit?” they might say. Or, “Shouldn’t the police be investigating drug dealers instead of stopping otherwise law-abiding citizens for jaywalking?”

Such refrains are either naïve for assuming that all officers have the same duties or, more likely, they are dishonest attempts at dodging responsibility. In either case, law enforcers don’t take these defenses seriously, nor should they.

Unfortunately, police officers are not immune to such flawed logic themselves. Dare to question the wisdom of when they use force and how much of it, and you’ll likely hear something like this: “We don’t make the laws; we just enforce them.”

That was one argument offered in defense of New York officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose use of a chokehold allegedly caused Eric Garner’s death on July 17.

Pantaleo’s critics said he used excessive force in taking down a man for the minor crime of selling loose cigarettes on the street, and he should have been indicted for it. Fellow law enforcers said Pantaleo had no choice but to enforce the law as he did against a man who was resisting arrest.

Law enforcers who spout such lines are being disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst. The idea that they enforce all laws equally in every situation is laughable.

Think back to the speeding example. Officers do not always enforce the letter of those laws. Police discretion helped me avoid a ticket in my hometown last year after two officers busted me for speeding. I was guilty and never questioned the charge but received a friendly verbal warning.

When I recounted that story to a friend who is a deputy sheriff, noting that I was surprised to get a break because my car was licensed in another state, he confirmed that some policemen do indeed prefer to ticket speeders with out-of-state tags. That practice doesn’t exactly square with the rhetoric that “we just enforce the laws.”

The police make excuses like that when they are on the defensive. Any other time, they readily admit that exercising discretion is part of the job.

Filed under: Culture and Government and News & Politics and People and Video
Comments: None

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