Monthly Archives: October 2015

Is Recycling Really Worth The Effort?


I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a fan of recycling. It’s time consuming, and yes, I don’t like having to wash my garbage, because if I didn’t, I’d have smelly bottles and cans sitting in my home. So, when I saw this article, I was very curious. Turns out that recycling isn’t all it’s hyped up to be. From the article:

While politicians set higher and higher goals, the national rate of recycling has stagnated in recent years. Yes, it’s popular in affluent neighborhoods like Park Slope in Brooklyn and in cities like San Francisco, but residents of the Bronx and Houston don’t have the same fervor for sorting garbage in their spare time.

The future for recycling looks even worse. As cities move beyond recycling paper and metals, and into glass, food scraps and assorted plastics, the costs rise sharply while the environmental benefits decline and sometimes vanish. “If you believe recycling is good for the planet and that we need to do more of it, then there’s a crisis to confront,” says David P. Steiner, the chief executive officer of Waste Management, the largest recycler of household trash in the United States. “Trying to turn garbage into gold costs a lot more than expected. We need to ask ourselves: What is the goal here?”

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Iran Nuclear Deal Formally Adopted


The Wall Street Journal Reports today:

The Obama administration began implementing its landmark nuclear agreement with Iran with an eye toward lifting expansive sanctions imposed on Tehran in the past decade.

Concerns from opponents of the deal continued to grow, however, as senior administration officials during the weekend played down the importance of a United Nations probe into whether Tehran has attempted to secretly develop the technologies needed to build atomic weapons.

The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, is committed under the deal to release a report by year-end about the status of Iran’s alleged weaponization work. U.S. officials over the weekend said the IAEA report would have no bearing on moves by the international community to lift sanctions.

It boggles my mind how this deal went through.

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Clinton Praises Australian Gun Buyback Program. Says Confiscation ‘worth considering’ on a national level


Voluntary gun buyback program? That’s fine. If people want to trade in their guns for cash, that’s fine. Confiscation? Not in favor of that.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, and said the following:

VOTER: Back to handguns. Recently, Australia managed to get away, or take away tens of thousands, millions of handguns. In one year, they were all gone. Can we do that? If we can’t, why can’t we?

HILLARY CLINTON: Australia is a good example, Canada is a good example, the U.K. is a good example. Why? Each of them have had mass killings. Australia had a huge mass killing about 20-25 years ago, Canada did as well, so did the U.K. In reaction, they passed much stricter gun laws.

In the Australian example, as I recall, that was a buyback program. The Australian government, as part of trying to clamp down on the availability of automatic weapons, offered a good price for buying hundreds of thousands of guns. Then, they basically clamped down, going forward, in terms of having more of a background check approach, more of a permitting approach, but they believe, and I think the evidence supports them, that by offering to buyback those guns, they were able to curtail the supply and set a different standard for gun purchases in the future.

Communities have done that in our country, several communities have done gun buyback programs. I think it would be worth considering doing it on the national level, if that could be arranged. After the terrible 2008 financial crisis, one of the programs that President Obama was able to get in place was Cash for Clunkers. You remember that? It was partially a way to get people to buy new cars because we wanted more economic activity, and to get old models that were polluting too much, off the roads. So I think that’s worth considering. I do not know enough detail to tell you how we would do it, or how would it work, but certainly your example is worth looking at. [Applause]

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Facebook Debates: Not Always A Waste Of Time


I’m just a cop, and a retired one at that, so there are days I spend copious amounts of time online. A considerable amount of that time is devoted to debating with people in a closed Facebook group. A closed Facebook group is a group that requires an admin of the group to accept you. Anyone can request membership into the group and anyone in the group can invite someone else to join. Only members of the group can post comments in the discussion. What is the purpose of the group? To discuss things. If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, “Why do you waste your time arguing and debating with people on Facebook? There is no point, you are never going to change their minds!”, I’d have a couple of thousand extra dollars in the bank. Well, I hope I can shed some light on that question and refute that statement.

Let me begin by saying, I sometimes do ask myself, “What’s the point?” I sometimes do feel like the time I spend deliberating and rebutting points and counterpoints with other people online is ineffectual. It lacks the human element of face to face conversation, the personal interaction, the ability to hear inflection, and to see the facial as well as body gestures of the person you are communing with. This sometimes causes misunderstanding as anyone who converses with people online, or even texts people often, knows. Many times the way you intended something to mean isn’t always interpreted that way. Sadly, many times people are emboldened by this lack of person to person aspect, and they say or behave in ways that they would most likely not were you looking them in eye. It can be extremely frustrating at times, and sometimes, downright disheartening. So what’s the point?

Debating on Facebook, for me, sharpens not only my writing skills, but strengthens the opinions and positions I hold because when you make an unclear comment online, you are usually asked for clarification almost immediately.  Take for example what happened to me the other day. I was involved with a discussion about Bernie Sanders, and the “type of man he was”. As is often the case in online discussions, the topic meandered slightly, and we started discussing some of the issues he holds rather than the man himself. The topic of why America has more people incarcerated than most other countries was brought up, and I made a statement that “America has more freedom than any other country”. Now, in my mind, I knew more or less what I meant (or so I thought at the time), but another member of the group, Stan, replied, ” Obviously for the people being incarcerated they don’t have more freedom than any other country.”

My first reaction was, “It means exactly what I said, America has more freedom that most other countries in the worlds.” But then I started to think about it, and I realized that I wasn’t clearly expressing my complete thought. Yes, America does have more freedom than most countries, but why would that contribute to there being more people being incarcerated?  I gave it some thought, and realized that what I perhaps meant to say was because people have more freedom in America, they tend to be more resistant to restraints on that freedom, more likely to disobey restrictions on them, and thus more likely to be incarcerated. Then I came to the conclusion that even what I should have said was a terribly weak point, having no evidence to support it whatsoever. There in lies one of the ironies of debating online: on the one hand people sometimes behave inappropriately because of the lack of eye contact, but on the other hand this lack of eye contact, this sense of security, empowers them. Thus I find debating online often yields considerably more frequent and fervent opposition to my position. This is a good thing, because challenge and opposition to your views not only gives you the opportunity to hear new thoughts and ideas, it helps strengthen your convictions through vigorous defense and explanation of them. Sometimes it even makes you realize that on occasion, you make little sense. It humbles you.

The Internet also allows for a much higher volume of people actually engaging in a discussion. There are one hundred and twenty five members in our group. Have you had many conversations with one hundred and twenty five people at the same time? I haven’t. Yet every time I post something in this group, many people read it, and quite a few comment on it. People agree with me, and add things I was unaware of. People disagree with me, and add things I didn’t think of. In my experience, this type of discourse is uncommon in “the real world”, yet it is quite common on the Internet and Facebook. These are people of a multitude of ages, a multitude of backgrounds, and a multitude of points of view, which leads me to my next point.

People generally tend to socialize with friends, and generally speaking, friends tend to be of like mind. Even when they aren’t, many friends choose to not engage in a discussion about things they disagree on. What’s the golden rule at parties and family functions? Never discuss politics or religion. Well guess what? Not so on the Internet, and certainly not so in this particular group. The “real life” friends that I socialize with tend to be very close to my age, from my social background, or from my profession. My “online friends” are a varied mixture of ages, cultural backgrounds, races, and professions. In short, and to be honest, they are people I’d more than likely not have has as friends nor have in-depth discussions with in “the real world”. So, when I engage in discussions with them, I am hearing a wealth of different perspectives, and I believe that is enormously beneficial to both me and them. Stan, for example, is half my age. He is from a totally different generation than I am, and so, gives me a unique opportunity to see things from a younger generation’s point of view.

Finally, debating on Facebook isn’t a waste of time for me, because anytime an intelligent person hears an opposing view, he or she digests it. It might not immediately change their mind, it might never change their mind, but it makes them think. It drives home the fact that everyone is entitled to a point of view. Just because someone is half your age (or twice your age), lives far away from you, is from a different cultural background from you, works in an entirely different profession than you, and has views radically different from yours, it doesn’t mean you can’t listen with respect to what that person has to say. The truth is, you might not choose that person as a friend offline, but that fact alone shouldn’t disqualify him or her from being one of your “Online/Facebook Friends”. It teaches tolerance. I think we need more tolerance in this world, but hey, I’m just a cop.

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Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the Lion broke no rules, Zimbabwe says

“Palmer went into hiding and his Bloomington, Minn., dental practice closed for weeks as hate messages and threats mounted.”

I love animals. When people make threats against humans for killing animals, that’s wrong. When people who have no problem with abortion become enraged when animals are harmed, well, I think that’s beyond hypocritical. What do you think?

Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the Lion broke no rules, Zimbabwe says

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Hey Media: I Can Make Up My Own Mind


Bias in the media has been around for a long time. In fact, the term “Yellow journalism” as defined by Encyclopedia Britannica is “the use of lurid features and sensationalized news in newspaper publishing to attract readers and increase circulation.” It was coined in the 1890’s  and was used to describe the tactics used by two New York City newspapers that included the use of yellow ink. It’s nothing new. The sad part is, technically speaking, a reporter’s job is to report a balanced story, giving both sides so that the person watching or reading can make an informed decision. That kind of reporting is few and far between nowadays, and in fact, some of the bias is simply egregious.

Bias in the media takes many forms. It can be the omission of facts, it could be giving only one side of a position, or it could be giving difficult questions to the people you don’t like, versus easy to answer questions to those you do like. Take for example, CNN’s Jake Tapper’s first question of the last republican debate to Ms Firoina:

Jake Tapper: Mrs. Fiorina, I want to start with you. Fellow Republican candidate, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, has suggested that your party’s front-runner, Mr. Donald Trump, would be dangerous as President. He said he wouldn’t want, quote, “such a hot head with his finger on the nuclear codes.”

You, as well, have raised concerns about Mr. Trump’s temperament. You’ve dismissed him as an entertainer. Would you feel comfortable with Donald trump’s finger on the nuclear codes

(Full Debate Transcript Here)

The very same news network, CNN, is set to host the first democratic debate this evening. It’s moderator, Anderson Cooper, has decided won’t pit democrats against each other. Said Mr. Cooper:

“I’m always uncomfortable with that notion of setting people up in order to kind of promote some sort of a face off. Look, these are all serious people. This is a serious debate. They want to talk about the issues and I want to give them an opportunity to do that.”

Could the bias against republicans and in favor of the democrats be any more obvious than this? It’s funny, I was thinking precisely the same thing Mr. Cooper, that the “serious people” in the “serious debate” probably would like to talk about the issues, rather than being goaded into mudslinging and attacking each other’s character. Yet, that’s not what Jake Tapper, of CNN as well, did, now was it? Shameless CNN, absolutely shameless.

Moving on to a newspaper’s bias. In this case, the Washington Times. It runs an article that declares, You have to see how many more people are killed by guns in America to actually believe it, and then goes on to mention how “when it comes to gun homicide, the U.S. stands out from the rest of the world’s wealthy nations.”, and puts a wonderful little chart with the United States showing the most gun deaths. Well, that’s all well and good, but it failed to mention some facts:

  1. 57% of gun deaths in the United States are suicides
  2. The United States has a suicide rate 11% higher than international averages
  3. 71% of the people killed with guns (not suicide) related have a previous criminal record
  4. 64% have been convicted of a crime in the past (statistics garnered by from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Statistics)

So what do those statistics tell us? Roughly 66.7% of all the people in the United States who don’t kill themselves with guns are actually CRIMINALS KILLING CRIMINALS. That means for every 10 people killed by guns in the United States, 6.7 (almost 7) are criminals. That’s sort of an important fact to leave out, isn’t it? This may or may not change your views about guns and gun ownership, but I think you’ll agree it’s a pretty important fact to leave out when discussing gun related deaths.

Sometimes people or positions that the media agree with lie, and the media doesn’t stop using their lies as evidence to support their cause. Case in point: the claim made by many in the media that “there is 97-percent scientific consensus regarding human-caused global warming.”

Unfortunately, that study was debunked, and proven to be not factually accurate:

Again, your opinion on global warming, and whether or not it’s man made is really besides the point. The point here is, the 97% claim was a misrepresentation of the facts. It was a lie. Yet many news outlets either fail to report that it was debunked as untrue, or, keep perpetuating the fact, knowing fully well it’s untrue. That is absolutely disingenuous, unprofessional, and wrong.

Those are just three examples of bias in the media, I could go on and on. In my view, journalists should be truthful and accurate when they report. They should be independent voices, declaring any affiliations or conflicts of interest if and when there may be any. They should be fair and impartial, trying in earnest to give all sides of a story, not just the one they agree with. They should admit mistakes and correct any errors in their reporting when such errors become known. Those are the standards that journalists should strive for.

In the end, I just want to make an informed decision. I cannot do that when I don’t have all the facts. The American people cannot make informed decisions when they don’t have all the facts either. Whether you are a liberal, conservative, democrat, republican, or completely independent, you deserve to know ALL the facts. You deserve the right to DECIDE FOR YOURSELF. Wouldn’t it be splendid if, after a hard day at work, the public simply could come home, turn on the television, or read a newspaper, or go to a website, and simply get the facts? Is that really too hard a task for our media too handle? Is that really too much to ask of them? I don’t think so, but hey, I’m just a cop.

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It’s the Steel: Bill Whittle’s Solution to Gun Control


I’m just a cop, and I normally try not to post on the weekend, but let me tell you this: THIS IS BRILLIANTLY STATED!

Click here to see It’s the Steel: Bill Whittle’s Solution to Gun Control Video

Says Mr Whittle: “Safety is an illusion. It is a temporary bubble of psychological security provided by loving parents to protect children until they slowly become adult enough to face the reality of a dangerous world.”

So aptly said in my view.

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Overprotecting Children: More Harm Than Good?


Consider the following yet another example of modern society’s attempt at sheltering it’s children to an unhealthy extent. According to the StarTribune, two elementary schools in Edina, Minnesota have spent $30000.00 to hire a company called Playworks to assist in creating a “more inclusive” recess experience for children. Why is there a need for such consultation? Playworks founder Jill Vialet opines that there is a need! She explains that while visiting a school in Oakland, Cailforina, the principal lamented about a problem with recess:

“it had become the most chaotic period of the school day, with kids getting hurt, getting into trouble and getting left out.”

Before you get too concerned and start to worry, rest assured, Playworks can help! They can assist your school to help prevent such overt calamities. According to the company’s website:

“We can change this. Recess should be fun and energetic and safe and inclusive for everyone.”

I’m more inclined to let children try to work things out themselves, because that was how I was raised, and I didn’t turn out so bad.

To be fair to the schools, the reality is, we live in an extremely litigious, rife with overprotective, overindulgent, and over-permissive parents who hold schools to a considerably higher level of responsibility than generations past. I’m not surprised that schools seek to minimize potential lawsuits as best they can. To be completely honest, I find it difficult to blame the schools. Under the circumstances, who really can blame them?  I blame the society that has necessitated such overcautiousness. I often wonder about the effect on our children.

When children are overprotected, they are often denied experiences that help them grow emotionally and intellectually. Instead of developing skills like problem solving and deductive reasoning, they simply run to the appropriate adult to have a problem solved for them. It is crucial for children to learn how to deal with adversity, in order for them to learn how to better cope with it. If everything is constantly being done for them, they are denied this experience. Let’s look at “the problem” with recess, as defined by Playworks.


What adults see as “chaos”, I’d imagine most children see as plain ole fun! This “chaos”, as Playworks puts it, is a great stress release for children. Consider the following conclusion from “Journal of School Health”:

“Recess serves a critical role in school as a necessary break from the rigors of academic challenges. Recess is a complement to, not a replacement for, physical education. Both promote activity and a healthy lifestyle; however, recess—particularly unstructured recess and free play—provides a unique contribution to a child’s creative, social, and emotional development. From the perspective of children’s health and well-being, recess time should be considered a child’s personal time and should not be withheld for academic or punitive reasons.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Children Getting Hurt

Children need to learn how and when to take risks.  Research from Norway suggests that “increased neuroticism or psychopathology in society if children are hindered from partaking in age adequate risky play.” In other words, getting hurt helps teach children that getting hurt doesn’t necessarily equate to serious injury. A scraped knee caused by a fall in a playground is not the same as a broken leg. Getting hit with a baseball is not the same as getting hit by a car. No one ever wishes to see a child get hurt, but children need to understand that it is going to happen, and they shouldn’t live in a constant state of fear of getting injured.

Getting Into Trouble

Children need to learn how resolve conflict with other children on their own. In doing so, they learn how to settle differences, negotiate, and compromise, all CRUCIAL life skills. When an adult intervenes, it supports the notion of looking to someone else to solve your problems. They need to learn the importance of thinking before they speak and act, and “getting into trouble” also helps to teach them that there are oft time consequences to their actions.

Getting Left Out

A negative emotion, without question, but don’t children need to learn how to deal with negative emotions in order to learn how to manage them? Could it be beneficial for a child to feel rejection, and learn to deal with it, rather than simply have an adult immediately intervene? If a child can’t learn to accept and/or address the rejection of not being selected for a game, how is the child going to learn to accept and/or address the rejection of more serious things?

Let our children be children. Let them relish all the experiences of being a child, both the good and the bad. Let them revel in their youth. Afford them the opportunity to rise to the occasion, and overcome challenges, but let them experience failure as well, and all of the lessons it has to offer. Watch over them, observe them, marvel at their accomplishments when they succeed, and offer comfort and support when they fail. But let them fail. Because everyone fails at some point, and they need to accept and understand that.

Winston Churchill once said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Well, if we do not let our children fail, we are most certainly limiting their success. But hey, I’m just a cop!

*UPDATE 10/12/215 – NYC has also hired Playworks, I read about it in the NY Post

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