Monday, October 16, 2017

Visitors from California

My brother-and sister-in law are visiting from California.  I’m having some difficulty explaining Pennsylvania customs to them.  For example:

Why are there so many villages?  There seems to be one at just about every crossroads.  Trachsville, Klecknersville, New Mahoning, Little Gap, and thousands more.

Why are some boroughs, like East Side or Parryville, smaller in population than many townships like Penn Forest or Mahoning?

Why must you go to one store to buy rum, another to buy a case of beer, and a third to buy a six-pack?

Why hasn’t Pennsylvania imposed a severance tax on fracked gas when every other state in the country has done that?

How can a township supervisor run for office and then work for the township, being, in effect, his or her own boss?

Why do judges run in partisan elections?  Shouldn’t they be non-partisan?

Why hasn’t Pennsylvania formed a commission to draw legislative boundaries that make sense?

Why do we have partisan “row offices” for what should be civil service jobs?

Why are our parks so badly underfunded?  

I have an answer for them.  I just shrug and say, “It’s Pennsylvania.” 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Palmerton Halloween Parade

“Save Carbon County,” an anti-PennEast/UGI pipeline group, participated in the Palmerton Halloween parade.  We had a Model A Ford, a 1942 jeep, and a contingent of ten people carrying anti-pipeline signs and a large banner.  

We received a good response from the people along the route, although that may have been in part because of the candy we distributed.  Our banner holders executed a complicated dance routine in front of the judges’ stand to wild applause.  

Overall, we got our message across.  The PennEast/UGI pipeline will harm Carbon County’s farms, parks, watersheds, wetlands, and forests.  It is a bad idea whose time has passed.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Boy Scouts

Before you celebrate how wonderful it is that the Boy Scouts are now accepting Girl Scouts, you might want to consider that while the Boy Scouts have an official policy against atheists and agnostics participating in scouting, the Girl Scouts are a secular organization. 

An estimated 20% of the Boy Scouts are estimated to be Mormons; individual troops are usually associated with churches.  Girls Scouts focus on social justice.  Boy Scouts were founded as a quasi-military organization.

In the last few years some conservatives have called for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies because Girl Scouts are too liberal.  The “acceptance” of girls by the Boy Scouts seems more like a P.R. move than a real change.  I hope the Girl Scouts don’t fall for it.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Taking a knee

I’m passing along a tweet you might like.  (It was not from Trump.)

Eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t salute the flag.

200,000 Amish don’t stand for the national anthem.

Some Quakers don’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

One black man kneels respectfully and all hell breaks loose.  

Now you know why he kneels.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Lehighton School Board

Small elementary schools have better learning results than large elementary schools.  Long bus rides for elementary students mean time wasted.  Local elementary schools encourage parent participation and “ownership.”  Local elementary schools often serve as community centers.

In spite of this, the Lehighton School Board voted to close down three local elementary schools and consolidate all the elementary students in Franklin, Parryville, Mahoning, East Penn, Weissport, and Lehighton into one large elementary school.  When a school board member who was an opponent of this policy unexpectedly died, his replacement was a supporter of the consolidation policy who had been defeated.

In three weeks the Lehighton Area School District will hold an election for the board.  Far fewer than half of the eligible voters will bother to go to the polls.  Fewer than half of the Trump supporters in that district who brayed about “Making America Great Again” will bother to go to their polling place and cast a vote.  A large percentage of the people who do vote will not know the candidates.  

It does get discouraging.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Steve Bannon the optimist

Steve Bannon told a Vanity Fair reporter that he thinks Trump has a 30% chance of finishing his term.  

Really Steve.  30%?  

No way.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

EPA announces repeal of greenhouse gas rules

That headline is important.  The UN estimates that on average 21 million refugees are created each year because of climate change.  Oceans rising, desertification increasing, droughts– all play a role.  Global warming is not some Chinese hoax or Al Gore conspiracy, it is here, now.  Today is October 10, and Carbon County still has not had a frost.  In the 50s we had a killing frost by mid-September, and no, I am not confusing climate and weather.

So what is the big news; that a movie producer is a sexist pig?  He is, but let’s keep things in perspective.  After all, our president is a sexist pig.  

While I am happy to see Mr. Weinstein fired, the news media needs to pay more attention to Puerto Rico, DACA, or China’s push to replace the internal combustion engine with electric cars.  People, we need to focus.