Tag Archives: The Wall Street Journal

Paper Or Plastic

Remember the good old days when supermarket cashiers used to ask whether we wanted paper or plastic bags? I always preferred paper, for whatever reason. If memory serves, I think it was because the paper bag was sturdier and better insulated for transporting home our frozen goods. Eventually, I guess “the man” decided paper would no longer be an option. I think it was due to us “killing too many trees” or something. I learned to accept plastic as my only choice, even pondering that if paper bags ever made a comeback I’d probably not switch back, but now there’s a full-fledged assault on not only plastic bags but all plastics in general. The man is at it again, and I’m not too happy.

California, New York, and Hawaii have already banned single-use plastic bags, and New Jersey and Maine are proposing to follow suit. California has also placed limits on the use of plastic straws, and Oregon is now following The Golden State’s lead. Oregon is also considering ridding the state of those evil plastic bags along with banning Styrofoam takeout containers. I can’t help but find it more than just a bit ironic, and even a tad disturbingly humorous, that those most vocal about banning plastics tend to be the same ones demanding options regarding abortion. They’re more concerned with our ocean and beaches than that of the unborn child. Please don’t get me wrong; I’m almost as environmentally friendly as the next guy.

When my lovely wife and I moved to Peoria, Arizona a dozen years ago, there was no recycling pickup program in place. The missus immediately contacted our city government inquiring as to what to do with our recyclables and suggesting Peoria should implement a recycling collection program. Week after week we inconveniently loaded up our car with our recyclables, hauling them to a drop-off site, until the city finally enacted a comprehensive recycling program a few years later. My wife even took charge of recycling at her place of employment after learning everything discarded there was treated as trash. She’s endearingly known as the recycling Nazi at the salon. And I recently informed the city when I noticed a neighbor had moved out and had incorrectly placed several bags of trash into his recycling receptacle. (We’ve been told, and then confirmed by a city official, that one piece of trash mixed in with recyclables contaminates the entire load.)

The point is this: I care about our planet, and I’m trying to do my best, but I think plastics are getting a bad rap. It’s not just parts of the United States opposed to plastics though. The European Union has joined the war on plastics, and as was reported in The New York Times (6/11/19) Canada is shunning the plastics industry and their supporters as well. Canadian retailers are allowed to charge customers, those opting not to bring in reusable bags, a fee for plastic bags and shaming them in the process. In central Vancouver, people who choose to purchase a plastic bag will receive it, but the bag will be decorated with a (presumably fictional) business name or logo intended to evoke embarrassment. A phrase such as “Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium” or “The Colon Care Co-Op” will adorn the sides of the taboo bag as it leaves the establishment with the “conscientiously lacking” patron.

I can appreciate states, countries, and even businesses desiring to lead the way in sustaining our planet, but many of them are less than disingenuous I’m afraid. I suspect it’s more about politics and profits than anything else. Regardless, they’re all misguided by focusing on the wrong thing. I think the results of actual litter collected during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup in 2017, paints a truer picture. The agency’s reported statistics listed in The Wall Street Journal (5/21/19) found cigarette butts to be the main culprit out at sea and washing up on our beaches. Next was food wrappers and then thirdly numerous plastics followed by foam takeout containers. By the way, plastic straws only account for approximately 0.025% of the annual waste flowing into the ocean (The Wall Street Journal 5/28/19).

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently said, “As parents we’re at a point when we take our kids to the beach and we have to search out a patch of sand that isn’t littered with straws, Styrofoam or bottles. That’s a problem, one that we have to do something about” (The New York Times 6/11/19). I sincerely agree with Trudeau’s words, but scapegoating the plastics industry is not the answer. The solution is conquering the obvious global littering epidemic. Instead of banning plastic products, maybe the answer is to have much harsher penalties for litterers. The death penalty may be a bit too severe, but I’d certainly lobby for an enormous fine and mandatory jail time – even for first time offenders.

Really, how difficult is it not to litter? I don’t think I’ve ever done that my entire life. The missus and I faithfully return our used plastic bags to the grocery store each week. We responsible plastic bag users should not be the ones being spurned in society – it should be the litterbugs of the world. I proudly surmise Peoria has figured that out since my city has just implemented a new program to curb littering. Residents are encouraged to file a “litter report” with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) when they spy a litterbug in action. The witness must present the offender’s license plate number to the transportation agency and they’ll do the rest. ADOT will send the vehicle’s owner a letter informing the person that someone caught them in the act, along with a small trash bag to keep in their car. Ouch! Now that’s justified shaming. So, paper or plastic? Plastic, please.

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Baby, It’s Old Outside

By now, I’m sure we’ve all heard about the great, catastrophic controversy surrounding the joyous season’s classic duet, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Supposedly, the Christmastime standard is nothing other than a date rape song and should no longer be celebrated or given any airplay on radio stations – if one is so inclined to believe what a few folks have been spewing as of late. Gerard Baker, editor-at-large of The Wall Street Journal, recently penned, “It is literally a cheerful, line by line, singalong guide to date rape, amusingly checking off all the devices that manipulative predators deploy to trap their female prey: excessive flattery, lies, guilt and a spiked drink.” Really? Is that what the song’s about?

As is usually the case in today’s world, there tends to be an equally extreme view in opposition to one’s radical take on any given subject. Marney White, an associate professor at Yale’s School of Public Health, seemingly counters Gerard Baker’s given stance within the pages of USA Today (12/14/18). She sees the holiday song as more of a feminist anthem. The professor states, “Our heroine is not saying ‘no’ to an aggressive man. She is saying, ‘I know I should say no, but really, I want to stay.'” Ms. White also contends, “At no point does she say, ‘I don’t want this.'” The Yale professor concludes her unique take on the matter with, “‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ is a song ahead of its time, and it celebrates a feminist taking control of her own sexual choices.” I don’t know about that. I think both Ms. White and Mr. Baker are reading way too much into Frank Loesser’s seasonal song.

It is my understanding Mr. Loesser wrote the now controversial Christmas song in 1944, and he originally performed it with his wife at parties. The line “Say, what’s in this drink?” may appear to be a bit suspect in these times, but to my knowledge “roofies” and other date rape drugs did not exist back in the 1940s. Common sense dictates the female companion was simply expressing that she was beginning to feel the (most-likely desired) effects of her alcoholic drink. And nothing more. The recent attacks on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” have surely been launched by no one but your committed instigators of the world yearning to promote more divisiveness in this country. And to think – at a time when the majority of us are desiring peace on earth, good will toward men.

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” can be found on several of my extensive collection of Christmas CDs. I’m fairly certain neither Amy Grant, Kelly Clarkson, Vanessa Williams, nor Barry Manilow envisioned their versions of the song as glorifying rape. I personally do not care for Frank Loesser’s Academy Award-winning song. And it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the Christmas classic offends the #MeToo movement clan. Maybe it’s my limited mental capacity, or maybe it’s because I’m getting up there in years, but I have one heckuva time even understanding what is actually being sung. The duet’s overlapping lyrics are just too distracting for me to decipher, especially when I only hear them a handful of times every twelfth month of the year. So why bother?

Regardless of my distaste for the holiday duet, I can’t find anything legitimately wrong, lyrically at least, with the song. Frankly, I’m appalled by how sensitive and easily offended we’ve become as a nation. How a presumably innocent, flirtatious holiday tune, written nearly three quarters of a century ago, can become even remotely controversial today is beyond the pale. I’ve grown extremely tired of all the political correctness engulfing our society. Inside my festive household, it’s quite nice and warm. But out there – baby, it’s quite old outside.


Our Coddling Society

It all began, I think, somewhere near the turn of the 21st century. All over the country the youth of that time were practicing their skills for upcoming games against their peers. It did not matter whether the sporting season was baseball, basketball, or soccer. When game day finally arrived the excited kids would lace up their shiny new cleats or expensive fashionable high-tops, grab their gear, and show up at the proper venue. The games began innocently enough, with the enthusiastic boys and girls proudly donning their typically oversized and itchy jerseys for all to see, but inevitably the hard fought contests would end with many players and fans alike feeling a bit empty inside – an internal sense of incompletion, if you will. A majority of the kids, and a few daring parents, would ultimately ask the pertinent question, “Who won?”

Most often though the question would not be answered. That once sensible inquiry had freshly become quite taboo and deemed as a politically incorrect question to ask. Somewhere along the way the idea of winning acquired a negative connotation. I believe the thought process behind this new way of thinking was that if there’s a winner then there has to be a loser – which I guess was no longer okay. Almost overnight that undeniable fact of life apparently grew unacceptable to many adults somewhere around the turn of the century. I think that is when our coddling society began. And it has only gotten worse (unless you’re into that sort of thing). Those children, first exposed to the unnecessary pampering, are now our nation’s 30-year-olds holding onto a sense of entitlement while shamelessly living comfortably with their parents.

Nowadays, everyone gets a trophy. Little Timmy finished tenth in a field of ten? Congratulations! The first place winner is no better than you, Timmy. Be proud of that shiny trophy (your parents undoubtedly had to pay for) atop your dresser. I’m proud that I’m old-school in this area. I subscribe to the more honest notion that 2nd place means you were the first loser. I’m sorry, Timmy, but the truth is you finished last amongst the losers. You can either be content with your placing, work harder for next time, or maybe find some other activity that fits your skillset better, but absolutely no trophy for you this time. (I suppose a participation certificate might be alright.)

Our decades of catering to a coddling society have led to forced diversity and all-inclusiveness, all of today’s silly political correctness, and in turn the pampering practice has ignored common sense, shunned Biblical principles, and diminished our “acceptable” personal preferences. For instance, I have no desire to see the blockbuster movie Black Panther. That does not make me a racist. I have no interest in watching the highly acclaimed Wonder Woman movie either. That does not make me a misogynist. I simply don’t care much for superhero films. I have not seen any of them since Batman in 1989, and I only went to the theater back then because my favorite musical artist, Prince, provided the entire soundtrack.

However, in our coddling society I’m expected to wholeheartedly embrace the recent aforementioned hit movies because they supposedly “broke the glass ceiling” for all the Black actors and women in Hollywood, regardless of my personal preference of cinema. And the guilt trip shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. I’m prepared to be callously labeled a homophobic for not wanting to attend the new flick Love, Simon. The movie is being lauded as the first major studio picture to focus on a gay teen love affair. No thank you. It has also recently been reported, via the Newton Daily News (4/4/18), “A new study finds the film industry’s move toward diversity has largely ignored people with disabilities.” Oh no, now I’ll surely be accused of handicapism if I happen to not be extremely enthused about whatever movie is first to cast a disabled person in the lead role.

I tend to mainly blame the parents of the millennial generation for creating our coddling society – which has over time incorporated the acceptance of irresponsibility, senseless premature celebrations, and quite frankly has led to today’s youth running the show. There are now an abundance of middle school, elementary school, and even kindergarten graduations to celebrate our youngsters’ glorious achievements. Kindergarten graduation? Congratulations, kid – you’ve mastered naps and playtime. I suppose conquering playtime might actually come in handy when you and your folks sign your first videogame contract. Wait, what? Last month The Wall Street Journal (3/15/18) reported that Tencent Holdings Ltd., a Chinese videogame company, will soon be introducing digital contracts which will allow kids and their parents to negotiate reasonable play times. The youngsters can even gather their friends to witness the signing of the contract. Here’s a novel idea: how about if parents just parent and make that type of decision on their own.

In somewhat related news, a California girl made headlines in January 2013, for drugging her folks just for the sake of being able to use the internet beyond her set curfew. Oddly enough, the American Psychological Association began identifying internet addiction as a disorder that same year. Therefore, we are expected to accept that the poor girl had no choice but to lace her parents’ milkshakes with sleeping pills due to her “condition.” Our indulging society simply does not recognize the tried-and-true practice of personal responsibility as an asset anymore. We should all know by now, in this day and age, once something is labeled an illness or an addiction, or a trend is declared an epidemic, then all blame seems to be laid at the foot of everything else rather than where it truly belongs – at the feet of the actual person whose choices led to their undesirable actions. Only in our coddling society can a man cheat on his wife, gamble away their savings, become obese, and get high – and none of it is his fault. The cheating, irresponsible, fatso druggie is regarded as the VICTIM of sex, gambling, and food addictions, and a sweeping epidemic.

Case in point, I came across an intriguing obituary late last year that I think unwittingly exposes our society’s perverse modern way of thinking and victimhood mentality. A young man died from a heroin overdose just two days before Christmas. Tragic, for sure. However, I was taken aback when the obit went on to point out that the 28-year-old Iowan was “preceded in death by 13 of his friends who lost their life to the opioid epidemic.” Thirteen! There may very well be an opioid crisis at this time in history, with enough blame to go around, but I find this particular situation to be something entirely different than what’s being proposed by the surviving family. I think it’s much more probable the deceased and his buddies were regular drug users, voluntarily in search of euphoria, rather than helpless victims of drug manufactures and negligent doctors.

Our children should certainly be heard (not just seen) and loved unconditionally, but we need to refrain from enabling them, making excuses for their unflattering behaviors, and prematurely treating them as our peers. For example, regardless of my preference for better and stricter gun regulations, I am not in favor of high school students taking on adult issues and skipping their classes in doing so. I happen to agree with the view William McGurn conveyed in The Wall Street Journal (2/27/18). The opinion page columnist wrote, “Quick show of hands for those with children: How many of you look to your teens for political wisdom, whether it’s the daughter obsessing over her Snapchat streaks or the son who would spend his day eating Doritos and binge-gaming ‘Grand Theft Auto’ if you let him?” By the way, many teens in favor of gun rights have been peacefully counter protesting the protesters, even though their stance has been (presumably) intentionally less reported by the often biased media. The truth is every generation will be divided on this hot-button issue.

While we’re at it we should also be honest and debunk the great American lie, we keep passing on to each generation, that contends you can be whatever you want to be and do whatever you want to do. In this life, all things are not possible. I unequivocally believe Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” but only within the parameters of the Scripture’s intended meaning. God can do all things, but surely I cannot be our nation’s next Olympic champion, Miss America, or a rocket scientist. I can’t even become a bona fide journalist because my mind is just not capable of comprehending STUPID algebra – which unfortunately is a prerequisite for obtaining a journalism degree. Only in our coddling society does one truly believe that anything is possible.