Saturday, September 26, 2009

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ARE THERE MORE HEROES NOW? Chao Mu-he, a 96-year-old Taiwanese man, received his masters degree in philosophy from Nanhua University in June 2009. After being told he was too old to continue volunteering at a local hospital, Mu-he was bored. He said the hardest part of his studies was coping with a poor memory. To compensate he got up at midnight before a test and studied all night to keep the information fresh in his mind. He specialized in the works of Chuangtze, a 4th century B.C. Taoist master, known for being at ease and fighting no one – words Mu-he continues to live by. Eric Sheptock, 40, is a homeless advocate for the homeless. He gets his message out via a Facebook page; a Twitter account; and using public libraries for e-mail and writing his blog, “On the Clock with Eric Sheptock”. He also has a cell phone for networking, paid for by being a part-time janitor. A full-time job wouldn’t give Sheptock time to also write for “Street Sense”, a D.C. paper for the homeless or work with the production group “Streats TV”, which advocates for the homeless. During these hard economic times, Sheptock’s work with the homeless is much closer to home. Lidia Schaefer, a Washington, D.C. manicurist, returned to her Ethiopian village in the 90’s and saw children walking 3 hours both ways to classes under a tree. In 1998 when a girl walking home was killed by a hyena, Schaefer started saving one-third of her salary and all her tips to build a school. The mother of two, who worked 6 days a week, lobbied the Ethiopian government to donate land. When Schaefer needed more money, she sold her house and car. In 2006 the $250,000 she raised not only built a school – an 8-building campus for 1,500 students – it built a dream. Major Nicole Malachowski was the first woman to fly in the ultra-elite Thunderbirds. WASP – Women Air Force Service Pilots – are Malachowski’s personal heroes. Because of her efforts, they’ve finally been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Wasp were the first women to fly military aircraft. During WWII they volunteered for non-combat duty as test pilots and trainers to free their male counterparts to fight in Europe. Because their contribution to the war was controversial, they were never considered part of the military. Their records were sealed and deemed classified in 1944. In 2009 Wasp are getting a heroes welcome.
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WILL GUNS AND ALCOHOL ALWAYS BE PROBLEMS? Ken Pagano, the pastor of the New Bethel Church in Louisville, Kentucky was moved by the church members’ concern about the Obama administration’s views on gun control. He invited the congregation to bring their unloaded handguns – in holsters – to the church sanctuary to celebrate the second amendment – the right to keep and bear arms. About 40 people attended the “Open Carry Celebration”, which included a handgun raffle, patriotic music and information on gun safety. At the same time a coalition of peace and church groups held a gun-free event across town. Obviously, all citizens of Louisville aren’t “gun-ho” about guns. The Arizona senate approved a bill allowing people with concealed weapon permits to bring guns into businesses selling alcohol. The bill needs the governor’s signature; but although Republican Jan Brewer has been a longtime supporter of gun rights, she hasn’t said that she will sign. Critics say that guns and alcohol are a dangerous combination. Supporters say that they have the right to protect themselves and their families. However, the measure bans drinking while carrying a gun; and restaurants can deny entry to gun-toters by posting a sign by their liquor license. Hopefully, disgruntled parties will just shoot off their mouths. In June 2009 Utah ended a 40-year-old requirement that customers must become members of a private club before entering a bar serving alcohol. The system had been created to shield Mormons from alcohol, while letting drinkers partake of the heavily taxed spirits. About 60% of Utah’s citizens and more than 80% of its state lawmakers belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which tells its members to abstain from alcohol. However, the new rule which turns private clubs into public bars will boost Utah’s $7 billion-a-year tourism industry – not too hard to swallow in a hard economy. Nevertheless, not even a badger in Goslar, Germany is safe from alcohol. It seems a motorist called the police to report that a dead badger was in the middle of the road. However, when the police arrived, they discovered the badger wasn’t dead. It was drunk. The nocturnal animal had feasted on cherries from a nearby tree that were overripe and had turned to alcohol. The badger refused to budge. Failing to scare the animal away, the police chased it off the road with a broom. After all, it is difficult to badger a drunken badger about being drunk.

Knight Pierce Hirst

I may be the only writer who has moved to Los Angeles for the weather.

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