Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

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A rural Minnesota football team excels on – and off – the field

Argyle, Minn. – Farming is life here in Marshall County, where sugar beets and wheat grow thick across the flat landscape and small towns simply grow smaller. But in the midst of the troubles that plague much of rural America, two neighboring villages here take great pride in something that is forever etched in the ethics of work, play, and praise.

Football. More specifically, nine-man football. Kids from the towns of Stephen (population 708) and Argyle (656) attend Stephen-Argyle High School, which has become synonymous in Minnesota and the upper Midwest with championship small-town football.

A rural Minnesota football team excels on – and off – the field |

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America’s addiction to sports

New York – Last week, when a federal grand jury indicted baseball star Barry Bonds for perjury, it confirmed an ugly truth: America’s got a big drug problem.

I’m not talking about steroids, Mr. Bonds’ alleged performance-enhancer of choice. Instead, I’m talking about athletics themselves. Americans are addicted to competitive sports in ways that are profoundly unhealthy to our schools, our bodies, and ourselves. And until we confront that problem, head-on, steroids will continue to plague us.

America’s addiction to sports |

The DolFan in me wants to pooh-pooh this whole thing, but the 63-year-old who’s been watching the movement toward extremes for six decades knows better.  The philosopher wants to say it’s controlled violence, and that the energy could be put to better use for the good of mankind, but the anthropologist knows that it’s another example of the black/white, us or them, tribal need to watch the warriors perform that has bedeviled the human race for millennia, and that it discharges tensions that might come out in other ways.

What do you think?

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Odd One Out

My friend Valerie has written something wonderful.

I was responding to a friend I made online yesterday, a few minutes ago. When I got done, I looked back over the email and thought to myself,

“I ought to stick this in a column.” Thus, here we are.

She was telling me about her family; how all of her brothers are on varying levels of the autistic spectrum, and how she’s the odd one because she’s not.

So, being that I’m the Odd One Out and all, I thought I’d respond. Oh, and the reason for the interest in the autistic spectrum is because I recently got diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome. It sure makes things click a lot better than they did before.

Some of you may know some of what I’m going to write, but I don’t think I’ve ever written it completely out at one time.

Here’s my response:  Odd One Out

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Target Stores to Phase Out Vinyl Plastic Products

The retail chain is been persuaded by the arguments of the New York-based Center for Health, Environment and Justice and a coalition of health and environmental organizations that mounted an anti-PVC campaign in October 2006, complete with a blowup plastic yellow duck that is displayed at protest actions in front of stores

Testing has detected toxic lead and phthalates and in a broad range of PVC consumer products, including toys, lunchboxes, baby bibs, jewelry, garden hoses, mini blinds, Christmas trees, and electronics.

Target Stores to Phase Out Vinyl Plastic Products

There are even more cogent (although less compelling) arguments against PVC.

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Britney Spears’ Lawyer To Judge: ‘You’re Not A Pop Star’

Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Scott M. Gordon had given the pop singer one hour to respond when a lab calls her for a drug test.

During an unscheduled hearing Thursday morning, Spears’ lawyer, Anne Kiley, called that arbitrary and unconstitutional.

She said Spears should have six hours to make preparations to be tested. – Spears’ Lawyer To Judge: ‘You’re Not A Pop Star’

The judge may not be a star, but he clearly knows more about addiction than Ms. Kiley.  Six hours is enough time to clear three or four drinks completely out of her system.  It’s like having no testing program at all.

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Kite-flying in Darfur

Minneapolis – For Patrick McGrann, the sky isn’t his limit. It’s his field of play, his diplomatic space. It’s where he performs hand-to-hand acts of kindness and low-budget economic development for street kids in Kenya, rural kids in Burma (Myanmar) and, coming soon, orphans in a Darfur refugee camp.

Amid the sand, winds, and despair of Sudan, Mr. McGrann is poised to launch a unique effort in hope of rehabilitating traumatized children. He’s going to tell these young people of Darfur to … go fly a kite.

A ‘kite runner’ says it’s OK to have fun in Darfur |

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South’s public school children are now mainly low income

In 1989, Mississippi was the only state with a majority of students who needed free or reduced lunch, according to the SEF study. In 2006, 13 states had a majority of low-income students, 11 of them in the South. The only states in the South unlikely to hit the tipping point are Virginia, with 33 percent, and Maryland, at 31 percent. (North Carolina hovered at 49 percent last year.)

Some 54 percent of students in the region come from families who make less than $36,000 annually, the cutoff point to qualify for free or reduced lunch, compared with a national average of 46 percent.

“No new taxes!”  “No child left behind.”  Those Bushes really tell it like it is!

South’s public school children are now mainly low income |

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AMA, Pediatricians Condemn Bush’s Lack Of Understanding and Compassion

The legislation, said Jay E. Berkelhamer, M.D., of Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, president of the AAP, “specifically targets America’s lowest income children.” President Bush and other critics of the legislation alleged that it would expand coverage to include middle class children whose parents could afford private health insurance.

With this position, they “demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of the bill,” he said.

Show no hesitation, never look back, and for goodness’ sake, don’t ever get caught changing your mind! The Windshield Cowboy rides again!

And, time after time, people say they like that about him.

Medical News: AMA and Pediatricians Condemn Failure to Override SCHIP Veto – in Public Health & Policy, Health Policy from MedPage Today

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Rich Panoply of Giving Marks Third Clinton Global Initiative

NEW YORK, New York, October 1, 2007 (ENS) – When the formal portion of the third annual Clinton Global Initiative closed in New York on Friday, former President Bill Clinton announced that participants’ commitments will result in 170 million acres of forest protected or restored, plus millions of people with better access to health care, sustainable incomes, and education.

Rich Panoply of Giving Marks Third Clinton Global Initiative

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Saggy pants reveal more than underwear

Whether or not those who wear sagging pants are celebrating crime and headed for trouble, one thing is certain: American teenagers love to bug their elders, and clothing has long been a great way to do that. State attempts to control who wears what also have a long history. …

Those who support criminalizing fashion need to face the more challenging job of looking into the eyes of young people and dealing with the real problems the debates about these fashions raise: the sweatshops where they are made, the educational and career opportunities of the young men who wear them, and the conditions in prisons where the style supposedly originated. …

Saggy pants reveal more than underwear |

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Simply Put, Gay Marriage Would Cost The Bushies And Their Friends Too Much Money

The UK recently joined the small number of truly civilized countries that recognize love wherever it may be found, along with fairness and equality for all. You may remember it as the day that Elton and David tied the knot.

Currently, civil marriages between same sex couples are legal nationwide in The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with civil partnerships — equivalent to marriage in most particulars — existing in several European countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK) as well as in the U.S. states of Vermont and Connecticut, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia, the Australian states of New South Wales, Western Australia, and Tasmania (the Australian Capital Territory recognizes domestic partnerships with the same rights as civil unions), New Zealand and the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Dozens of other countries and states worldwide are considering legislation, determined to make places for themselves in the 21st Century.

This groundswell has failed to materialize in many areas of the United States, and is unlikely to do so until the conservatives are out of power. The reason? Business. Continue reading

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Hackles rise as jeans droop

Adrian Bustamante hasn’t given much thought to a city proposal to ban baggy pants. Regardless of whether officials decide to impose a fine for anyone caught with their pants hanging below their rear end, he has no plans to change his wardrobe, which largely consists of oversize T-shirts, body jewelry and saggy pants with the crotch dangling at his knees.

“It would be a stupid law,” said Bustamante, a 21-year-old construction worker from suburban Norcross, Ga. “Young people like to be different than old people. Our clothes are an expression of who we are.”

For generations, teenagers have defied adults with their clothing. From zoot suits in the 1930s to hot pants in the ’60s, hip-hugger jeans in the ’70s and the latest trend of low-hanging pants–a style inspired by prison inmates–teenage fashion has drawn the angst of adults who either just don’t get it or simply don’t like it.

So.  Whaddaya think?  I think it’s knee-jerk over-reaction.  I remember back in the early 60’s when us greasers wore our jeans an inch above our pubes.  Everyone screamed and said we were going to hades in a shopping bag.  Guess who are the judges, city councilmen and Presidents now?  And Buddhist monks…

Cracking down: Hackles rise as jeans droop — South Florida

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Disgruntled Youth?

NEW YORK — A new poll, the result of a partnership between the Associated Press and MTV, seems to dispel the popular notion of the perpetually unhappy or rebellious youth.

This unique survey of Americans 13 to 24 finds, surprisingly, that a vast majority say that they are very or somewhat “happy” overall and in many specific areas of their lives — 64% say they “wake up happy.” Almost half consider a mother or father a “hero” in their lives.

Disgruntled Youth? Survey by AP and MTV Finds Them Generally Happy — With Favorable View of Parents