I wanted to thank the Flyer for the article about the Salty Dogs downtown running group (The Fly-by, May 17th issue). As a result of the article, we have welcomed several new Salty Dogs to the pack. I have only been running with the Salty Dogs for about a year, so I missed out on meeting the group's founder, Jen Barker. However, despite her absence, the group has continued to thrive due to the hard work of some dedicated individuals, most notably Miles Durfey. Many in the running community know Miles as the guy who dresses up in a hot dog suit either to run or cheer others on at races. Without his commitment and enthusiasm, the Salty Dogs would not be the thriving running group — or the highlight of many people's Mondays — that it is today.
Bruce VanWyngarden's column about the New Orleans Times-Picayune (Letter from the Editor, June 7th issue) hit the very essence of my experience with The Commercial Appeal. I used to subscribe to the CA, but by the time I got home from work from third shift, my paper was usually gone, picked up by someone else. So I buy the CA every day now, unless I am out of town. I also like to go to the website to view the various comments and up-to-date news stories, but the CA stopped this for me by limiting me to 10 views per month.
Why don't they use the internet viewership just as television does? The more viewers you have, the higher your ratings should be. Then you can charge advertisers more for internet content. Newspapers are going to have to adapt the same business model used by television and radio. So now since I can no longer go to the CA online when I want to, I don't go at all.
One of my favorite lines from a musical is the question Herod asks Jesus when He is brought before him in the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar: "We both have truths. Are mine the same as yours?" Great question.
I was a member of an ultra-fundamentalist religious group for many years. I taught Bible classes, worked with singles, youth, and children's Bible hour. Our church claimed to be the "Only True Church." Ironically, there were about 30 divisions within our church, all claiming to be the "One True Branch of the One True Church." Needless to say, it doesn't take an Einstein to see the illogic there.
I eventually began to study world religions, science, and geology and realized that the Bible was so full of contradictions that it hardly seemed a reliable guide to my eternal destiny. All religions have "holy books" all claiming to be "inspired." Obviously none are. Hell was dreamed up to scare gullible people into not questioning the edicts of the clergy. Sadly, those scare tactics still hold sway over many people, even in these supposedly enlightened times.
I have no issue with people believing religious myths. There are 3,000 or so divisions within Christianity alone, so obviously there is room for just about any belief a person chooses. What I have an issue with is when members of those 3,000 different divisions of Christianity try to cram their beliefs down the throats of others.
Tax What's Bad For Us?
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to ban supersized sugary sodas has resurrected the age-old debate over the role of the state in protecting the public health. In recent years, this debate has involved bicycle helmets, car seatbelts, tobacco, trans fats, saturated fats in meat and dairy products, and sugar (or more aptly, high-fructose corn syrup). Public subsidies for tobacco, meat, dairy, and corn production have added fuel to the debate.
I would argue that society has a right to regulate activities that impose a heavy burden on the public treasury. National medical costs of dealing with our obesity epidemic, associated with consumption of meat, dairy, and sugars, are estimated at $190 billion. Eliminating subsidies for these products, as well as judicious taxation to reduce their use and recoup public costs, should be supported by health advocates and fiscal conservatives alike.
Benjamin Franklin claimed that nothing is certain except death and taxes. Ironically, death can be deferred substantially by taxing products that make us sick.