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Thursday, April 27, 2017

LGBT Bain Center Film event May 4th

      "Thursday, May 4, 2017 Film & Discussion 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm Doors open/Refreshments: 6:00 pm The Bain Center 5470 Ruth Keeton Way Columbia, MD 21044 A free event but registration is required Social Work CEUs available About the Film: Directed by Andrea Meyerson and narrated by Meredith Baxter, LETTER TO ANITA is the story of Anita Bryant's infamous anti-gay campaign and its effect on the life of Ronni Sanlo. From having her children taken away after coming out as a lesbian, to becoming an activist for the LGBT community, Ronni's journey finally leads her to resolve and peace in the simple act of writing a letter. Discussion following the film will address the effects of anti-gay discrimination on individuals and families and the role of social activism as a tool for social change and personal resilience. "
     "Registration required by April 27; call Bain Center at 410-313-7213 About the Program: Cosponsored by the LGBT Older Adults Task Force of Howard County, the 50+ Bain Center, and the LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care. Refreshments provided by Somerford Place Columbia. Jessica Rowe ElderCare Consulting, LLC, is authorized by the Board of Social Work Examiners in Maryland to sponsor social work continuing education programs and maintains full responsibility for this program. This program qualifies for 1.5 Category II continuing education units."


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

If I had a hammer


    We have all heard the phrase "if you have a hammer every problem looks like a nail."  I am reminded of this when I see the Trump Administration's approach to any foreign problem.  From its "hard" budget with large increases in defense spending and its shortchanging the diplomatic resources by slashing the State Department's budget to its deploying a "naval armada" to the waters off of North Korea to trying to back out of negotiated agreements with Iran and most of the developed world on climate change this Administration seems to represent a leader who has issues with the "adequacy" of his manhood.  Diplomacy seems like surrender to a bully.
     Just look at the issue of bombing a military base in Syria to show that "there is a new sheriff in town" as the only response to the horrific chemical attack on innocent civilians.  I am not judging the wisdom of that military action to lessen the chance of chemical weapons being used again.  Maybe it will and maybe it won't.  But there is one action that will definitely improve the plight of Syrian civilians that apparently is never an option for this Administration.  That option it to increase our aid to refugees who have fled the country to escape the destruction of their country and to agree to accept more vetted refugees into the United States.  Apparently that is too "soft" an approach to an Administration that only has a hammer.   We seem to have become a Country that has a foreign policy that is to "bomb the sh** out of them" then to remember that we once were the Country that had a leader with a different approach.


Related image

    Maybe we should consider what the United States represents to the World when an "America First" agenda means more coal production and weaponizing the world instead of a "Earth First" agenda of improving our fragile environment and developing the resources for peaceful resolutions to conflict.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Gas prices in Columbia

     Occasionally a topic strikes a cord on Next Door Neighbor with many replies to a post.   This week that topic was why the gas prices in Columbia are so much higher than in surrounding areas.  Are we being gouged in Columbia because of our high median income?  What are the factors that are reflected in the price of gas?  State taxes are part of the issue as anyone who buys gas in another state. Last week I noticed a 20 cent drop in the price when I drove to Harpers Ferry and went from Maryland to Virginia with gas stations only a mile apart in the different states.   Of course this doesn't explain the difference between the prices in Columbia and Laurel.  There is something called zone pricing that wholesalers charge dealers.  Wholesalers undoubtedly factor income into this zone pricing and that could have a significant impact on pricing in Columbia.   Retailers in Columbia may have to pay more than retailers in Laurel.   Finally like everything else competition impacts price.  In Columbia you will never see two stations across the street from each other as happens in many other towns.  So blame the planners of Columbia for restricting the number and location of gas stations that lessens competitive pricing of gas.

     A few people who posted mentioned that they only buy gas at Costco or when they are out of town.  A few others mentioned buying a fuel efficient car and not worrying about the price as much.  It has always made me wonder when you see someone who buys a large SUV and then go to Costco to save money to fuel their gas guzzling vehicle.  Ever notice that most of the time these gas guzzlers only have one person, the driver, in the vehicle.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Suggested read for a rainy weekend

   I know that there are many different types of readers of this blog.  For those who read it for current information on our politics this blog might appeal to you.  Even if you have different political beliefs than the ones I express I would urge you to take an hour or two and read this article from the New Yorker magazine on the Russian hacking of our political institutions.  It is comprehensive and provides a good background to understand how world affairs with Russia and the West are being played out.  The 21st Century Cold War will be fought as much with digital weapons as with the nuclear weapons of the previous Cold War.   Here is a link to the article:

     For those who want to get just a taste of the article here is just some of the interesting parts:

"The American political landscape also offered a particularly soft target for dezinformatsiya, false information intended to discredit the official version of events, or the very notion of reliable truth. Americans were more divided along ideological lines than at any point in two decades, according to the Pew Research Center. American trust in the mainstream media had fallen to a historic low. The fractured media environment seemed to spawn conspiracy theories about everything from Barack Obama’s place of birth (supposedly Kenya) to the origins of climate change (a Chinese hoax). Trump, in building his political identity, promoted such theories.

“Free societies are often split because people have their own views, and that’s what former Soviet and current Russian intelligence tries to take advantage of,” Oleg Kalugin, a former K.G.B. general, who has lived in the United States since 1995, said. “The goal is to deepen the splits.” Such a strategy is especially valuable when a country like Russia, which is considerably weaker than it was at the height of the Soviet era, is waging a geopolitical struggle with a stronger entity.

Even with the rise of new technologies, the underlying truth about such operations hasn’t changed. They are less a way to conjure up something out of nothing than to stir a pot that is already bubbling. In the U.S., a strategy like the alleged hacking of the Democrats was merely an effort to deepen an existing state of disarray and distrust. “For something to happen, many factors have to come together at once,” said Alexander Sharavin, the head of a military research institute and a member of the Academy of Military Sciences, in Moscow, where Gerasimov often speaks. “If you go to Great Britain, for example, and tell them the Queen is bad, nothing will happen, there will be no revolution, because the necessary conditions are absent—there is no existing background for this operation.” But, Sharavin said, “in America those preconditions existed.”

Andrei Kozyrev, who served as foreign minister in the Yeltsin government, now lives in Washington, D.C. He left Russia as it became increasingly authoritarian; he now sees a disturbingly similar pattern in his adopted country. “I am very concerned,” he said. “My fear is that this is probably the first time in my memory that it seems we have the same kind of people on both sides—in the Kremlin and in the White House. The same people. It’s probably why they like each other. It’s not a matter of policy, but it’s that they feel that they are alike. They care less for democracy and values, and more for personal success, however that is defined.”

Putin’s Russia has to come up with ways to make up for its economic and geopolitical weakness; its traditional levers of influence are limited, and, were it not for a formidable nuclear arsenal, it’s unclear how important a world power it would be. “So, well then, we have to create turbulence inside America itself,” Venediktov said. “A country that is beset by turbulence closes up on itself—and Russia’s hands are freed.”

New suggested mottos for United Airlines

A little weekend humor:

New United Airlines Mottos:

“Drag and Drop.”
“We put the hospital in hospitality.”
“Board as a doctor, leave as a patient.”
“Our prices can’t be beaten, but our passengers can.”
“We have First Class, Business Class and No Class.”
“Not enough seating? Prepare for a beating.”
“We treat you like we treat your luggage.”
“We beat the customer, not the competition.”
“And you thought leg room was an issue.”
"Where voluntary is mandatory.”
“Fight or flight. We decide.”
“Now offering one free carry off”
“Beating random customers since 2017.”
“If our staff needs a seat, we’ll drag you out by your feet.”
“A bloody good airline!”