An Ocean of Plastics

I’ve read that there is an island of garbage floating in the Pacific that is twice the size of France.  True?  Not sure.

Actually, hold on.

I was wrong, it’s three times the size of France:

A huge, swirling pile of trash in the Pacific Ocean is growing faster than expected and is now three times the size of France.

That’s a lot of garbage.  A. Lot. Of. Garbage.

Makes you wonder, where does this all come from?  Well, it turns out that it comes from 10 rivers:

Up to 95 per cent of plastic polluting the world’s oceans pours in from just ten rivers, according to new research.

The top 10 rivers – eight of which are in Asia – accounted for so much plastic because of the mismanagement of waste.

Fascinating.

And how do we do?

The only industrialized western country on the list of top 20 plastic polluters is the United States at No. 20.

Which certainly means that we are not top 20 per capita.

Let’s Grab a Cup of Coffee

This is a post on race.  As such, it’s important that I acknowledge that as a white man, I have it easier in America than had I been born black.  That’s just a fact.

Okay, now,  Starbucks is in trouble.  On Thursday, April 12th, two men were arrested for not leaving a Starbucks store after the manager told them, that they could not stay without ordering something:

Ross [Police Commissioner] explained police received a 911 call around 4:40 p.m. on Thursday from Starbucks employees saying that “two males were trespassing” and “refused to leave.” According to Ross, the two men did not order food and had asked to use the bathroom, but Starbucks policy does “not allow non paying people from the public to come in and use the restroom.”

Ross claimed the officers asked the men to leave when they got to the scene, but refused to. The men were let go after “Starbucks was no longer interested in prosecuting.”

When I first heard about this I was surprised that a Starbucks would call the police for someone not ordering coffee in order to use the restroom.  Partly because I can often stand in a Starbucks for EVER without being served, but that’s another story.  Digging into the story a little longer I learned that the men didn’t just wanna use the bathroom, they sat at a table waiting for a friend.

Now it became a little more clear as to what happened.

Three guys planned a business meeting and two of them arrived early.  They were waiting for their friend to arrive so that they could discuss whatever was on the agenda.

No big deal.

All the time I meet friends for lunch or dinner and we arrive at different times.  If I’m first, I tell the host that I am a party of 4 lets say, and will be waiting for the remaining three.  I get sat, brought menus and I wait.  This happens all the time.

Normal everyday stuff.

Now, another thing that happens all the time, is that I or someone in the family, need to use a restroom while traveling.  An away baseball game, a trip to the beach, maybe driving to camp – whatever.  Someone needs to go potty.

When ever this eventuality happens, and I stop at a gas station, a McDonalds or where ever, I always buy something.  Always.  Maybe just a Coke or a bottle of water.  I have, on occasion, bought something I didn’t need or want at the time, because using someone else’s bathroom is free for someone else.

Back to the restaurant and lunch with buddies.  So I’m early and get sat waiting for my friends.  The waiter isn’t gonna give me jazz about not ordering lunch because my meal would arrive before everybody else’s and that’s silly.  He may ask me if I would like something to drink – maybe I want a Coke, or a beer, or maybe, if it’s during the week, I just have water.

So back to the Starbucks.  The men, having been denied the code, go sit at a table when the police were called.  Maybe.  It’s hard to understand what happened and in what order.  Did they sit down and have the cops called straight away?  Did the manager ask the men if they were going to order food or coffee?  Did they say that they were but just not right now?  Or did they say, “no”?

At the lunch table, while it’s true that I am waiting for friends and may not have ordered anything, such a scene CLEARLY has the expectation that I and 3 friends will be ordering food.  And, ordering such food without my friends is outside social expectations.  But a coffee shop is different.

See, a coffee shop IS a great place to meet and discuss business.  In fact, the last 2 times I’ve been in a Starbucks has been to conduct business – not a pleasure visit.  And in each case, I arrived before my partner in one and the client in the other.  In both cases I needed a table.  And in both cases I ordered a coffee before sitting down.

Ordering coffee while waiting for friends is not the same as ordering lunch while waiting on friends.

Okay, so, that’s a long way of saying that you have to order something at Starbucks to use the bathrooms or sit at a table.  And maybe the guys didn’t know this or didn’t want to have coffee or a muffin; maybe they just wanted to meet their buddy, chat and go on about their day.  But the manager, I think, asked them if they were going to order and when told they weren’t, asked them to leave.  And then when they didn’t, she called the police.  Who, from accounts, asked the men to leave.  And again, when they wouldn’t, arrested the guys for trespassing.

The question is, “Is this reasonable policy for a coffee shop or did the manager tell these guys to leave because they were black?”

Well, as it turns out, people using coffee shops as remote offices, study halls or general work spaces has been upsetting owners for years:

You can get an espresso at Bread Furst, or a baguette, or a perfect piece of pie. But if you want to get some work done, be prepared: Owner Mark Furstenberg just might ask you to move along.

Note, this is explicit policy.  This guy is straight to the point.

The James Beard Award-nominated baker sees his Van Ness cafe as a neighborhood gathering place — not a second office for ever more prevalent teleworkers. So during peak hours, when he spots laptop lurkers nursing now-cold cups of coffee and occupying precious table space, he asks them to leave. Politely, of course.

And this is his policy when he sees customers nursing cold cups of coffee that they purchased, say nothing of customers occupying table space without having purchased.

And how does Furstenberg handle the situation?

A typical exchange, as he describes it:

Furstenberg: “I’m sorry, this is not your workspace.”

Customer: “What do you mean? I just bought a cup of coffee.”

Furstenberg: “I know, and I’m glad you bought a cup of coffee, and I hope you like the coffee, but other people are waiting for tables.”

Customer: “It’s a public place, isn’t it?”

Furstenberg: “Well, no, actually, it’s not that kind of public place. It’s a place where people come to eat and talk, but it’s not your workspace.”

Customer: “You’re going to decide how I use the space?”

Furstenberg: “Well, yes, actually, I am.”

He asks them to leave.

Furstenberg doesn’t mind if people work in his shop when it isn’t busy, or if they conduct face-to-face business meetings there. It’s the ones he and other cafe owners call “campers” that get to him — you know, the types who buy one cup of coffee, plug in their laptop and earphones and proceed to act as if they own the place, hogging the tables for hours on end.

Now, to be absolutely fair – the guys in Starbucks hadn’t been camping for ‘hours on end’.  I’m sure it was less than 20 minutes, maybe less than 10.  I saw an article that described the time as being 2 minutes.  I maintain that the point remains; this is not a public space like a library is or a park is.  This is a private business.

Is this rare?  I don’t think so.  It’s common enough to be studied:

A common complaint from business owners is that campers act as if they own the place. According to University of North Carolina at Greensboro marketing professor Merlyn Griffiths, they think they do.

The feeling is that “as long as I have something that indicates that I’ve participated in an exchange” — a cup of coffee, or a muffin — “I have a right, quote unquote, to be here,” says Griffiths, who has studied customer territorial behaviors in coffee shops. It creates a sense of “temporary psychological ownership.”

My main point is that I think coffee shops are feeling frustrated at folks who use their space.  It’s a thing; not made up or fabricated by some racist barista.  But a more subtle point is that in all the cases I’ve brought up, the customer was actually a CUSTOMER!  They actually bought something.

In Philly – those two guys never did.

Now, do I think that a Starbucks manager would call the cops on me and that I would get arrested.  Nope, I don’t.  Maybe she called the cops and got on those guys ’cause they were black.  Maybe.  But I also know this – I would never have asked to use the bathroom without purchasing something, never mind sitting at a table.  And if, IF, I did and the manager approached me regarding such behavior, I would ABSOLUTELY have bought a coffee.  But even if I didn’t do that, there is no way, no set of circumstances, that I would have said no to a cop who asked me to leave the shop.

 

Wahoo and Ragnar

The Fighting Sioux was a distinguished and honorable legacy.  The University of North Dakota carried that name as a badge of honor – it was a source of immense pride to have worn the colors of the Sioux.

That’s gone now; replaced by the logo of a bird; a hawk.  By itself it’s fine.  We have the Eagles, damn them!, and the Falcons, the Seahawk and even the Hawks.  But North Dakota will always be the Fighting Sioux to me.  I never went to Mariucci to watch the Hawks.

Dumb.

We’re told that we can’t have the Sioux – not because we felt that we were being ignored or insulted.  Not because that we as white people didn’t feel included by our team being named after Sioux warriors.  No.  We were told that we couldn’t be Sioux because it was insulting to the Sioux.

What?

Anyway, I can’t win ’em all.  Snowflakes by the hundreds are happily graduating UND as Hawks.

But.

But then this morning:

Fallout continues from a decision made by the Johnston County School Board to approve a controversial mascot for Selma Middle School which will become a ReStart school in 2018-19.

The current mascot is the “Vikings” – the only mascot the school has ever known – and many teachers, current and former students and community members did not want the mascot name or logo to change.

Which got me to this:

Victor E. Viking is the face of Western, but some students and a professor are looking to change that.

The idea of changing the mascot was brought up at an Associated Students Board meeting earlier this month. Abby Ramos, the AS Vice President for Diversity, said that this conversation started in the summer to discuss changing the mascot to be a more inclusive figure.

Ramos and AS President Belina Seare received a letter from communications studies professor Michael Karlberg regarding the mascot.

“I think this mascot also reflects a sort of hyper masculine, hyper violent sort of image which is doubly problematic. I think we really ought to reconsider,” Karlberg said.

The Viking mascot has been in effect since 1923, University Communications Director Paul Cocke wrote in an email.

The letter was also sent to President Bruce Shepard, but neither responded to the email, Karlberg said.

“I was trying to invite a conversation about whether or not the mascot supports our commitment to diversity, our commitment to create a more safe and attractive and inclusive environment on campus,” Karlberg said.

Ramos had a personal interest in the matter, and decided to reach out to Karlberg when she assumed her position as vice president of diversity,

“[The mascot] doesn’t portray students of color on this campus and it can be very exclusive to students who are potentially looking at coming to Western,” Ramos said.

Blink.

Blink.

Are you shitting me?

We can’t be the Sioux because we are disrespecting the Sioux and we can’t be the Vikings because we are disrespecting the Sioux?

The people are LOOKING to be offended.  They are LOOKING for opportunities to divide.  They are ACTIVELY seeking out the opportunity to divide.

When you find these people in your life, don’t walk – run away!

Facebook

So, it turns out that if you post on Facebook your data isn’t gonna stay private.  You posts, your pictures and your preferences are mined.

And sold.

And used.

I know this.  My kids know this.  Everyone I know knows this.

So how is it possible that the news the Trump campaign used Facebook data is shocking?  Literally, I am shocked that people are shocked?

That aside, the same people who ARE shocked had no issue with Team Obama doing the Exact. Same. Thing.  in 2012.

Seriously.

Thoughts and Prayers – Parkland to Vegas

From Los Vegas to Parkland – so much tragedy.  So much grief; sadness.

I get it.  The images are burned-in painful.  The thought of my kid in that school, of your kid in that school.  At that concert.

I get it.

The horror is almost literally overwhelming.  If I let myself, while lying at bed at night, I can get that feeling in my stomach – like when you dream you are falling?

I get it.

But I ask you, right now, in the comments section, without looking at Google – type the names of 3 of the victims.

Or even just 1.

From either tragedy.

I’m guessing you can’t.  So, if you are protesting, or are mad and posting, or are demanding action be done – why didn’t you do that February 13?

I think your mobilization has more to do with the hollywood marketed outrage and less about how you really feel about people dying by guns.

Put another way, why are you not mourning Larenzo Smith?

Parkland, Florida – Solutions on the Spectrum

The horrors we witnessed in Parkland took place a week ago this afternoon.  For many of us, the tragedy is still fresh and frontal.  For a few, those horrors will never end; that day in mid-February 2018 will define their existence.

I can’t imagine.  And, we’ve seen it before – we’ll see it again.  All of us, myself included, after the kids are in bed, are left with this question:

What do we do?  What CAN we do?

In the coming days I’m gonna explore my thoughts and my feelings.  I’m gonna think about what we can do, what I can do; if anything.

I’ve seen what seems like a never ending barrage of thoughts, and arguments, debate and anger.  Rage.  Despair.

And blame.

Which brings me to my point.  As I, we, explore feelings and define the problems looking for solutions – I want to do so from a position of mutual acknowledgement.  Namely that I love my kids, and yours, in the same manner that love your kids, and mine.

Period.

It’s likely, that as intelligent people with different histories and experience, we are going to arrive at separate conclusions after being exposed to the same body of facts.  And that, THAT, has to be okay.  It cannot be that those who shout loudest, most often and without regard to civility are allowed to carry the day.  Neither can we allow the debate to devolve into that place where we question each other’s motives.

This is too important to us.

 

Wherein Pino Solves Immigration

I have no such hubris, just my humble thoughts.

Borders have meanings.  The United States is wealthy because we embrace freer and more liberal markets than does Mexico or Venezuela or North Korea.  The laws we pass codify that relationship we have with such values.

When you pass the border between the US and Mexico you are protected by those laws we have passed.  In Mexico, literally 5 feet behind you, those protections may or may not exist.

Borders matter.

We are a welfare state.

This is undeniable, and to the point that it is worthy of debate, such debate can be had elsewhere.  For this exercise, this is considered a priori.

The welfare state exits, at least in theory, for the betterment of its citizens.  It is the citizen* that contributes to the system that allows the existence of the social programs that we have in place.  If we have in place an open border state that is also a welfare state, that state cannot sustain itself.

We must be able to control for the reasonable crossing of our borders.

It is my contention that:

  1. The United States is a nation of immigrants.  In fact, I believe that the United States is alone in the world in that anyone under the canopy of heaven can become an American in a way that is unique.  I do not believe that I can move to Russia and become a Russian, to Japan and become Japanese or to Zimbabwe and become Zimbabwean.
  2. We should open our doors wider to the immigrant than other nations do.  We are wealthier.  We are best able to assimilate.  We best embody liberty.
  3. We should be allowed to limit the number of people entering our country.
  4. We ought be allowed to distinguish which qualities we find desirable in the immigrants entering the US.
  5. We ought be allowed to know who those people entering are.
  6. We be allowed to distinguish between the rights of the citizen and the non-citizen.
  7. The sins of the father do not pass to the child – I am pro-dreamer.  This is different than pro-DACA.

I firmly believe that people be as free as possible to come and go to the United States as possible.  Limits surly apply where reasonable expectations of assimilation are no longer sustainable.  Further, I think that all kinds of legal status are valid.  For example:

  1. A Mexican citizen living Mexico, wants to remain living in Mexico,  sending his Mexican children to Mexican schools but who wants to work in the United States.
  2. A Canadian citizen who wants to remain a Canadian citizen but who wants to live in the United States, work and then return when she desires.
  3. A German citizen who wants to live and work in America, having no desire to ever leave America or return to Germany but does not want to become an American citizen.
  4. An Ethiopian citizen who wants to come to America, work and live, while attain her college degree.  At which time she may or may not return to Ethiopia.
  5. A Greek citizen who wants to live and work in America and then become a citizen.

I see no reason why each and any of these conditions would require much more than a simple application taking not much longer than applying for a cell phone contract.  We need only check for a few simple characteristics:

  • Is he a wanted criminal in his home country?
  • Does she have an infectious disease?
  • Is she on the terror watch list?

No?  Come on in and Welcome to America!

Of course we should apply limits to the number of people we allow in a given year.  And yes, we can, and should, be able to limit the number of people we let become citizens.

Now, how do we do this?  We do this by monitoring the border.  And monitoring might look like a bridge in certain cases, a physical wall in others.  Maybe drones here and laser detection there.  Guards here.  Dogs there.  And maybe nothing over there.  It is reasonable that a nation that has borders control those borders and understand who come.  And then who goes.

Finally the Dreamers.  I don’t find a single person I know that doesn’t sympathize with those people who, as children, were brought across the border by their parents and are, for all intents and purposes, are Americans.  It is impossible to not grant them legal status.  Maybe they want to remain in America and never become a citizen. Maybe they dream of going back to their native country.  Or, perhaps they wanna become a citizen.  All good.  Stay for awhile, stay for ever or, or, become one of us.

All good.

But if we’re being honest, we need to be honest.  The moral case for immigration and the Dreamers is fairly straight forward.  But not for a second do I believe democrats are ignorant of the fact that they believe such demographics will provide them a steady stream of voters.  Politics is politics.  And as such, we have to face the fact that this comes with a cost.

We have to stop the Dreamer’s parent from coming illegally in the first place.  The ‘wall’, as described above, needs to be built.

 

  • Yes.  I am aware that the taxes paid by the non-citizen in the form of payroll, state and federal income tax as well as sales tax represents an amount of  money not zero.This is so not because we want to tax and deny the non-citizen, but because our taxation method makes it so.

Noble Intentions

Health Care
Minimum wage
Immigration
Affirmative Action
Pay equity

The list goes on.  And on and on.

I don’t doubt the liberla’s intentions – they mean well.  Who doesn’t want medical care for the child, income for the poor, safe haven for the oppressed, equality for the marginalized or parity for all?

The problem isn’t the end, its the means.  It’s always been about the means.

Police Shootings

So, three things have happened:

  1. The calendar flipped to February
  2. A shooting occurred in my little home town involving a cop
  3. The Super Bowl ended

Okay, four things – I am beginning to study and learn R.

I’ve known about the effort at the Washington Post to record all of the police shootings in the US since 2015.  Because the requirements to self report are terrible, the Post relies on local news coverage, eye witness accounts and even social media to obtain the data they keep for each shooting.  This means that often all of those details are not available for days or even weeks.  I’m hoping that with us moving into February, the details surrounding 2017 incidents are complete.

The news out of my little corner of the world in Southwest Minnesota kinda nudged me back to this reality.

Both of these things were timed with the ending of the NFL’s 2017 season which, of course, carried with it the Anthem protests carried out by many NFL players.

As the Minnesota Vikings transformed their year from disastrous to glorious I bought a new vehicle.  This car had the advantage of Bluetooth connectivity which allowed me the luxury of listening to Twin Cities sports talk radio.  Which meant that my normal listening patterns were thrown into chaos.  The winner?  ESPN 1500 talk.  The loser?  1A.

But before 1A gave way to the Vikings I did listen to a number of shows that mentioned the kneeling protests.  From the interviews I listened to I understand the reason the players were kneeling was to protest the treatment of people of color in the United States, specifically treatment at the hands of police.

With the data now in for 2015, 16 and 17, the NFL season concluded and the violent reminder of such encounters, I am going to try and look into the data and see what there is to see.

Tarheel, Roy Moore, Democrats and Hypocrisy

For the record, I do NOT support Roy Moore for elected office, of any kind.  Without the benefit of a trial, I believe the women who are alleging misconduct.  I would have him drop out and be replaced as soon as practical.

In the event he cannot be replaced, I urge Alabama voters to vote for someone not Moore.

This is not to say that I would vote for the democrat.  Likely I would not. And when pressed by people I know why people continue to support Moore, I tell them this, “Because Liberal Democrats and people who vote for them.”

Due process for me – innocence by drowning for you.

As far as hypocrisy and the claims thrown as such by the left onto the right, I’ll take that burden.

No one would ever answer the question,”Which side of the political aisle is the side of family values?” by responding ‘democrats’.  We all know better.

We should be called out when we fail to live up to our moral standards.  And no one should be surprised when the left is unashamed when they don’t.