I am not a smoker except for the occasional good cigar. But I’m still trying to get my mind around why the stampede to ban smoking on beaches? Rehoboth Beach is one the most recent cases in point. Is it really worth the time, effort, expense? Will signs really effectively control smokers? Is it even feasible to enforce the ban? Will lifeguards be continually harassed and distracted by people complaining to them? I know, I know, the signs say not to bother the lifeguards, but are people really going to call the complaint number, and then wait for someone to show up? And who by the way will be responsible for showing up?
I realize that this campaign is an attempt to protect our populace from secondary smoke, which is defined as “the inhalation of smoke, called second-hand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke, by persons other than the intended active smoker. It occurs when tobacco smoke permeates any environment, causing its inhalation by people within that environment.” The operative phrase here is permeates the environment.
I fully agree smoking should be banned from restaurants, public conveyances, movie theaters, classrooms, office places, etc. These are all venues where, because of their confined nature, second hand smoke most surely permeates the immediate environment. It constitutes an environment where, over time, a person’s health is put at risk by smokers.
But we’re talking about beach environments where two elements mitigate against second hand smoke being injurious to anyone … the wind, the vast openness of the beach. The wind and vastness team up to dilute and dissipate smoke way before it permeates the immediate environment. I would challenge anyone to find in the annals of healthcare and medicine where an individual has been diagnosed to have been injured, health impaired or died from the inhalation of second hand smoke… At the Beach.
Banning smoking on beaches is unnecessary tokenism and modern day folly.
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Ever hear of a place called Nagorno-Karabakh? From what I can gather it appears it was once a sliver of the old Soviet Union and a piece of rock fought over by ethnicities that to western eyes all look alike. According to contemporary sources the people of the region today believe they handle their own affairs and for the most part neighbors don’t mess with the fiction. When Hillary Clinton was serving as Secretary of State for Barack Obama she championed self-determination for the people of the “Mountainous Karabagh.” I’m reminded of her efforts this week while reading an essay at National Review Online. A writer named David French (a link is included at page bottom) explains rural Americans are a forgotten people and no longer masters of their own destiny. He was writing as agents of the federal government were rounding up privately owned cattle on land seized by the federal government very much by fiat. Rural Americans are simply outnumbered at ballot boxes and by big political money. In my current home state in the Middle Atlantic Region there is an idea being promoted by liberal elites to remove the Electoral College from Presidential elections. Such a move would only complete the rural denouement.
I’m twice a rural American. I grew up in a small town in the northern Alleghenies and never saw a four lane highway until I was a teenager. I never saw a McDonald’s until I was ten and we had to drive some distance to get there. It wasn’t a short hop off the path. Most of my childhood friends dreaded Easter vacation from school. They had to spend the week “fixing fence.” After college I left the rural life for the city. There wasn’t much of a choice. Not very skilled at farming and with the little factories dotting the hill towns closing and moving south or overseas I had limited work prospects. I’m including a second link from National Review from a writer named Kevin D. Williamson. It’s called The White Ghetto and it’s about a vast portion of fly-over country forgotten by the merlot sippers on the two coasts.
At mid-life a career change brought me to Southern Delaware, which is a short drive from the urban and northern third of the state. A short drive and a world apart. I’ve concluded I was born in rural America and then left for street crime, traffic jams and high taxes. Now late in life I’ve concluded I’ve returned to rural America and will die here. Our own tiny state, second smallest in the union, is a microcosm of the larger national divide. With an exception. Sussex County Delaware is geographically by far the largest land mass of the state’s three counties. Fifty years ago the population of the county was 50-thousand (larger than my own native county then and now.) Now the population is somewhere in the range of 200-thousand and while still dwarfed by the more than one-half million in the northernmost county there are troubles brewing between old and new.
While I’m among the new I bought my first and likely only home in a small town called Millsboro. I did it because Millsboro reminded me of where I grew up (my native county has none of the dozen or so new housing developments and surely would appreciate the business.) I live in a planned community just outside the old business district. There’s a great diner downtown, a Post Office, an old rail station and a pub where you can eat delicious hamburgers.
The thing is a lot of the new neighbors don’t share my childhood experience. They’ve arrived from Philadelphia or the Washington-Baltimore complex and most of them only had a rural view while pop drove them to a cousin’s house in Scranton. They arrived here and immediately were disappointed when Aunt Bea and the welcoming committee didn’t show up at the door with a pie. After buying homes here they don’t want any other houses to be constructed. Never mind the boom has been a source of employment for young and middle age local men (and sometimes women) sorely in need of paychecks. I guess all the locals are supposed to work as gardeners and toilet scrubbers for the newcomers?
I live in Millsboro and not where I grew up because there weren’t any jobs in my own land. I was away when both my parents and my brother died. It’s a long and lonely drive home to bury people you’ve only seen at best 3 times a year. In fact I haven’t gone back “home” in almost 8 years. Distance, money, no one left to visit are all factors. I had plans at 18 to settle down near the lake and watch football on weekends with my dad. It breaks my heart it never happened.
Last year Vlasic Pickles closed its doors here in Millsboro. There is a large and well-kept facility at one end of town and it’s empty. A large chicken processor would like to occupy the space and put 700 people back to work. Not far away is a small development occupied by the suburban Philadelphia refugees. They’re apoplectic. Never mind the state’s office of environment (very much a liberal outfit) has signed off on chickens. The Philadelphians insist it would create competition for gardening help and, Lord, forbid! They could be forced to pay more for lawn mowing in the free market.
Saturday night a group of us were eating burgers at the pub when a fellow came by and sat with us. He’s the 9th generation of his family in Sussex County. In the fall a son heads for college in West Virginia. The man has concluded the boy will never return. It breaks his heart. May God have mercy on the souls of liberals!
From a faith perspective who is the master of deceit? It’s a question posed after seeing a story a couple of weeks ago about the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis rightly condemned clergy who abused children (mostly adolescents and teenagers) and he condemned the bureaucrats in his church who did their best to hide the shame. Good for him! His two immediate predecessors did the same but as they weren’t darlings of a fellow traveling media you may have missed the pronouncements.
I’m a voracious seeker of information and have signed up for newsletters about faith, politics and culture from all over the planet. I receive sources from a wide variety of political perspectives. The Internet is described as a double-edged sword because it plays often to our darkest nature and it also can provide me daily emails on the above mentioned subjects. Did you know the very same week the Pope denounced child predators he also called abortion an abomination and he re-stated his position on marriage and bringing up the children you aren’t supposed to kill in mommy’s womb. Francis made it clear, children need a mother and a father. Not two mommies and not two daddies (can we also mention the overwhelming body of academic research on parenting is in agreement?)
Did your friendly hometown newspaper tell you about the Pope’s other remarks? How about your fellow traveling pals at MSDNC and the assorted alphabet networks?
A lawyer friend is a devout Roman Catholic and also a voracious reader. In an e-mail exchange a few weeks ago we were discussing Evangelii Guadium. It’s a document that clearly spells out the views of Francis without any obfuscation (which the fellow travelers in media insist is a Vatican flaw.) My friend reminded me about a Papal comment, “Who am I to judge?” The lefties with notepads rushed to tell you after the remarks of Francis that their fellow traveling Pope was approving same-sex relationships. What Francis actually said was a re-iteration of what his predecessors have said for centuries. If an individual has a same-sex attraction but keeps “it” in his pants then he isn’t violating what the Church asks of its flock. Does it surprise you the same institution demands restraint from straight Roman Catholics as well? Would it also surprise you exactly twenty years ago Pope John Paul explained the scientific research of human sexuality might well explain same-sex attraction may not be a choice?
Where was the establishment media in 1994?
In the very same Evangelii Guadium this fellow Francis explains the media is an affliction with which he must endure. It will skew the story according to its own agenda. He recognizes modern media for the devil in its spirit. A sower of half-truths, untruths and quotes wholly unrelated to context. We can debate if these media types are plainly sinister or just hell’s useful idiots.
This weekend I read Allen West’s Guardian of the Republic. Two hundred pages in a matter of hours. West was raised a Methodist and as a boy attended Roman Catholic schools. He sums up the behavior of the press in his own country as treacherous and treasonous (my words and not his.) While Pope Francis sees reporters and believes you learn to adapt the same as you adapt to creeping arthritis I get the impression Colonel West believes we can overcome the disease.
Let me remind you a portion of the beast is already gangrenous. My state’s largest newspaper is now selling a Sunday edition with a couple of stories about sea-level rise and pumpkin festivals posing as local news. The rest of the paper is USA Today. Newspapers to no one’s surprise are experiencing death rattles. Broadcast news also isn’t faring well. Thirty years of spending cuts have gutted most radio news operations and on the TV side it’s all smoke and mirrors gussied up to look like news. What’s the best toothbrush to buy? Is coffee good for you? Will Jen and Brad ever get back together? Ratings for local TV news are abysmal and have been for the better part of a quarter century. The cable news operations brand themselves politically but suffer from the same expense illness as local TV. On a good night there may be 3 million people watching Bill O’Reilly out of a U.S. population of some roughly 320 million.
The public can increasingly follow my lead. Choose what it sees in the e-mail inbox or select the shows to watch on demand. Apparently most people don’t bother. We don’t appear any smarter in the Internet Age. A poll last week asked Americans to identify Ukraine on a map. Goodness gracious! My countrymen and women as a whole are dumber than boxes of rocks (a view shared by Colonel West.) Heck, I was surprised one-quarter of respondents at least put Ukraine in Eurasia. Many pinpointed Kansas, Nebraska and the sunny beaches of Florida. Those who believe Ukraine is closest to home also are the most willing to bash Russia with American force (Colonel West, by the way, doesn’t support overseas adventurism and instead suggests a military built for pure self-defense and quick strikes.)
I’ve come to a handful of conclusions. Before you’re allowed to answer any poll or
survey about current events you’ll be required to review several sources. You also will need to realize there are
forces that don’t mean us well and some are paid storytellers. And if you can’t pass a dang literacy test
(name your two U.S. Senators and what’s the difference between a U.S. Senator
and a State Senator) then you’ll be barred from getting anywhere near a polling
place. May God have mercy on your
The women folk were warned Easter is different. There were a houseful of people still asleep when I got out of bed Sunday a full five hours before church. Extended family occupying guest rooms and couches. One joined me for coffee and then himself readied for the big day. The others slept late. On Saturday night I warned them. Some years ago there were 22-hundred people for three Easter services and if you’re late there aren’t any seats. You stand on a hard floor and your back aches. In imitation of Christ, I agree, but this isn’t Good Friday. The mourning ends Easter and there is joy.
They told me to drive ahead and save seats. When I arrived 50 minutes early there were still plenty of available places to park the posterior. And I waited and watched the church fill row-after-row. Eventually I gave away our seats to a large family with small children. Should you be penalized for getting up early and herding the cats and getting there not only ahead-of-time but early? There are latecomers to the vineyard. They’re welcome. They also stand along the walls and in the back of the building. Which is where I found the wife of a friend. He was still looking for a parking space. As native Pennsylvanians they caught me by surprise. My road experience tells me people from the Keystone State drive everywhere at breakneck speed, although. They’re retired! I followed an apparent retiree down Route 24 and she was 12 miles under the speed limit. I kept my patience but wondered if she realized she was tempting drivers in the long snaking queue behind her. Then she made a quick left turn and a quick right turn. She’s one of ours. A parishioner at Mary Mother of Peace.
The wife of my friend smiled and told me it was wonderful to see the crowd. I grumbled, “Where are they the other 50 weeks of the year?” Ten years ago a new receptionist at work was telling her new fellow employees she was a dedicated Roman Catholic. When I asked where she went to Mass she explained she only went to church on Easter and Christmas. Her mother had explained the young woman needed to be at worship at least twice every year. It was mom’s approach! Optimists will maintain twice is better than none. They’ll also pose a question for a grumbler: “When were you elected Pope?”
This grousing grumbler missed church half-a-dozen weeks ago. Call it a confession. I was home with the Norovirus. No handshaking for me for a good week. I’m not a theologian by any definition but I’ve had the unique perspective of knowing hundreds of them at college, at work and at church. My network of clergy friends, Roman Catholic, Protestant and some assorted rabbis is extensive. This Monday morning I’m channeling them.
Some friends of mine used to go to church and still claim they believe. They read the Bible. They pray. They believe their personal relationship with God will redeem them more than any large gathering on Sunday morning. Perhaps their presumption is correct. They’ve faith in a position you could label the endgame of the Reformation. Every man interpreting for himself (should I mention women for all the liberals aboard or do I make it clear with just a singular reference?) If I could counter for just a moment…
There are days when I’m reading scripture and I’m not quite sure what I’m to make of what I’ve just read. Am I better off in a discussion with others? Or how about listening to someone more versed in verse? I think so and I’ll also suggest, for Christians, the hierarchical structure of a church is a reflection of the Creator and His universe. Speaking of the Creator, if you indeed believe He’s all knowing, all powerful and can turn water into wine then why can’t you get out of bed early just once every week and acknowledge Him? Are you going to hell if you sleep off the hangover and then gobble some eggs, scratch yourself and then watch football the rest of the day? Certainly I’m not in any position to answer the question but it does describe my existence in my younger days. One of which I woke and wondered if I could purchase some insurance against the unholy reaches. Now I go to sleep early Saturday nights (heck, most nights the lights are out between 9:00 and 10:00 o’clock.) Does organized worship save me? Of course not. The personal relationship with the Lord, your acceptance and your supplication are winning strategies. It’s what clergy of many denominations have told me. With one major exclusion. Mine. No presumption. A bad guy repents and it’s great. If he continues sticking up banks then the Almighty could issue a grievance and, yet. The act of getting up early and finding a seat in a House-of-God is a great place to begin mending a relationship. Elvis Presley was once spotted wearing both a crucifix and Star-of-David around his neck. “I wouldn’t want to be kept out of heaven on a technicality,” he explained.
Let’s be honest. A great many people figure the occasional donation to Goodwill and being nice to neighbors most of the time are the keys to the Kingdom. Again, maybe, but I fear for a lack of additional coverage. Fifteen years ago I had dinner with a woman and she explained she was, “into spiritualism.” It’s one of those inventions designed to remove judgment from the equation. Since then I’ve taken hundreds of telephone calls on radio shows from liberals telling me a loving God wouldn’t judge them. You know, the hippie cartoon Jesus from South Park! He never says, “Go and sin no more!” He doesn’t fashion His belt into a whip and scatter money lenders. His Father’s destruction of cities and orders to Joshua to destroy cities and all the inhabitants is considered fiction. Superstition. Dangerous to our relationships with the Moslem hordes.
The other day I read a study not just about the impact of modernity on faith but of a lack of faith on culture. The writers claim there was a time when young people grew up and wandered away from faith. Then when they had children they returned at least on weekends and exposed the kids to God. We didn’t need social science to explain it because you could quite literally see it if you had any institutional memory at your church. The research team warns things have changed. The new parents aren’t coming back. Easter is now nothing more than chocolate bunnies and Christmas a retail bacchanalia. Decades in the making and now the rout is complete. Yesterday I had a conversation with our choir director. At the age of 44 I joined my current parish when I moved into town. I was among the youngest under the roof. In a few months I’ll celebrate the 52cond anniversary of my birth (God willing) and I’m among the youngest parishioners.
A dozen years ago I interviewed for a public relations job with a once large Episcopal Diocese. Not long before the interview I had been driving to work one summer week and passed a packed tent revival temporarily saving souls outside a closed grocery store. When I suggested the bricks and mortar of traditional faith were intimidating to people never before exposed to religion the search committee scoffed at me. I didn’t get the job. Most of the bricks and mortar churches those men administered are now closed.
Friends, it has to go into the empty parking lots, the streets, the fields, the beaches and the forests. If they aren’t coming then someone has to go looking.
This morning I had to take my sister to BWI to catch a flight to Buffalo. She flew down from Western New York (and, boy, are her arms tired) and spent several days visiting Washington museums and wandering the Eastern Shore. We hadn’t seen each other for several years and we had a great deal of news to share. That which we don’t already share via our smart phones and e-mail. The woman was flying Southwest Airlines this trip after getting some advice from a frequent flying doctor friend: What is the most efficient and passenger friendly carrier? Getting to BWI is easy and I’ll credit one of the designers. In another one of his business ventures he’s my employer. Parking is a cinch, directions throughout the complex are easy to follow and occasionally there is even a bathroom. After guzzling tea with my breakfast at a popular Kent Island diner Cindy’s flight wasn’t my first priority upon arrival at the terminal! All went smoothly until she had to pick up her boarding pass. I could’ve left her behind and headed for home but over the last eighteen years our once medium sized family of five is now two and I wanted to have a few extra minutes with my only remaining sibling.
The line moved quickly. For a spell. Then things slowed down. I suspect the airline doesn’t heavily staff its desks at 11:30 A.M. weekdays because the traveling crush would more likely be mornings and nights. Every few minutes someone would emerge from the mysterious place where your baggage goes and walk to a check-in desk. What looked like a supervisor would then spend several minutes speaking with the staff member while we waited in the queue. Cindy could hear me harrumphing and kept suggesting patience. I note a lack thereof is probably my greatest character flaw. I pray for patience daily. Remember, she still had TSA ahead. I wouldn’t be in any rush in her shoes. The ones she would soon need to remove.
As I’m writing this I assume she’s now somewhere over the middle of Pennsylvania. We had an action-packed week. We went to Annapolis on a day everybody else in the Middle Atlantic went to Annapolis. We went to Fort Miles near Lewes, Delaware. Oh, and Berlin, Maryland, Ocean City, Maryland and Assateague Island where we saw several wild horses and my new 12 month pass was only double a day pass. The beach on the island was twenty degrees colder than a few miles inland but after this long and bitter winter why complain? The horses didn’t. While we took their pictures they continued grazing as if we weren’t there.
There was one very rainy day and we decided museums would be a better alternative than sand. I drove to a Metro station outside Washington and we took the train to the Smithsonian. The skies were clearing and I left my umbrella in the car. I’ve rarely ever used the device. I bought it for the March for Life two years ago and when I got to D.C. the skies cleared as soon as John Boehner took the podium. Don’t assume any significance.
While standing this week in a long line with schoolchildren from North Carolina outside a museum the sky darkened and then we got soaked before getting inside. Then the first thing you see after the Star Spangled Banner are ruby red slippers and you wonder where the heck the rainbow is? When we got back to a Metro station it was 20 degrees colder and the rain was falling sideways. The escalators were turned off and the elevator was busted. So my sister, with one knee that is cartilage free, hobbled down a long stairway.
The Metro and I have a love-hate relationship. I’ve been riding it infrequently for decades. The last time I was on a New York City subway was 30 years ago and it’s an entirely different culture. You expected to see Charles Bronson gunning down ne’er-do-wells. In Toronto I rode the subway almost thirty years ago and fully expected someone was going to step out of the shadows and offer me tea (I didn’t need the toilet every 30 minutes in those days.) The Washington Metro isn’t as clean as Toronto’s underground but in comparison with my New York experience has always been quite pleasant. The trains aren’t as clean looking as they were twenty years ago but I never feel unsafe. Last spring Suzie and I took the train from Union Station to Mass at Catholic University and through some historically rough neighborhoods. No trouble, whatsoever! This week I noticed all the once restless young people often blamed for transit crime are distracted. They’re wearing ear buds and playing non-stop video games on their telephones. They never even notice people gabbing across the aisle and somehow still manage to get up from their seats at their stops and out the automatic door during the brief 13 seconds it opens before closing. On the platforms good looking young people walk around in hooded sweatshirts and always shadowed underground. You see them with backpacks and focused intently on devices couched in hands. They wouldn’t think of robbing you because they never realize you’re even there.
A friend living quite off the beaten path near Lake Ontario tells me the government has drugged us to become more docile. Even if it wasn’t intentional (and it’s not like anyone doping you to control you would admit it) the water table is filled with all manner of flushed prescription and non-prescription drugs. It may explain nearly forty years of plunging crime statistics. My sister’s last trip to Washington was the summer of 1973. It was a much more dangerous place some four decades ago. Yet here’s the thing; why dope people when you can control them with Angry Birds (and I realize I’m several months and hopelessly behind the technology) and texting?
Yesterday we visited the oldest church in Delaware’s oldest
town and walked the cemetery around the building. Dead have rested there for well over 300
years. On the headstones where carvings
remain visible it’s abundantly clear life on average was once much more brutish
and short, however. None of those people
had to stand in line at BWI this morning and then endure the constant lane
closures driving home. Oh, and I forgot
my phone at home. While in line at the airport
I couldn’t even check e-mail and Facebook.
Talk about frustration! We now live longer but with our technology fetish we resemble those ghoulish actors playing walking dead. Just stumbling along and always too slow for our prey.