About Wanderings

Each week I will post my current syndicated newspaper column that focuses upon social issues, the media, pop culture and whatever might be interesting that week. During the week, I'll also post comments (a few words to a few paragraphs) about issues in the news. These are informal postings. Check out http://www.facebook.com/walterbrasch And, please go to http://www.greeleyandstone.com/ to learn about my latest book.



Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Good Wife v. The Bad Congress


      For almost a year, the people of the critically-acclaimed and popular CBS drama, “The Good Wife,” kept a secret, one so powerful that viewers were shocked by the abruptness of what happened on screen, March 23.
      Will Gardner (portrayed by Josh Charles), one of the major characters, was killed by his client during murder trial. Within seconds, even before the show’s conclusion, viewers were texting and tweeting, shocked and confused and angry and upset and sad, all at the same time. There was no hint in the entertainment media that Will would be killed off.

Friday, March 21, 2014

An Injunction Against the First Amendment


Vera Scroggins of Susquehanna County, Pa., will be in court, Monday morning.
      This time, she will have lawyers and hundreds of thousands of supporters throughout the country. Representing Scroggins to vacate an injunction limiting her travel will be lawyers from the ACLU and Public Citizen, and a private attorney.
      The last time Scroggins appeared in the Common Pleas Court in October, she didn’t have lawyers. That’s because Judge Kenneth W. Seamans refused to grant her a continuance.
      When she was served papers to appear in court, it was a Friday. On Monday, she faced four lawyers representing Cabot Oil and Gas Corp., one of the nation’s largest drillers. Seamans told the 63-year-old grandmother and retired nurse’s aide that to grant a continuance would inconvenience three of Cabot’s lawyers who came from Pittsburgh, more than 250 miles away. He also told her she might have to pay travel and other costs for the lawyers if she was successful in getting a continuance.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lettuce Look at Some Prices


      I was resting at home when Marshbaum called to ask if I wanted to go with him to look at the lettuce.
      “The supermarket’s got lettuce for less than two bucks a head,” he said enthusiastically.
      “What’s so unusual about that?”
      “Because it’s going to be extinct in a few weeks.”
      “You’re buying up lettuce and selling it on eBay as antiques?” I sarcastically asked.
      “Don’t be ridiculous! I’m buying the best heads, storing them, and selling them for four bucks in a couple of months.”
      “What makes you think anyone would pay four bucks a head when they can get them now for less than two bucks?”

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Disposable Assets in the Fracking Industry


     The oil and gas industry, the nation’s chambers of commerce, and politicians who are dependent upon campaign contributions from the industry and the chambers, claim fracking is safe.
    First, close your mind to the myriad scientific studies that show the health effects from fracking.
    Close your mind to the well-documented evidence of the environmental impact.
    Focus just upon the effects upon the workers.
    The oil and gas industry has a fatality rate seven times higher than for all other workers, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control. (CDC). According to the CDC, the death rate in the oil and gas industry is 27.1; the U.S. collective death rate is 3.8.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

No Merit Badge for This Scout



      Rex W. Tillerson, a resident of Bartonville, Texas, like many of his neighbors was upset with his city council. That’s not unusual. Many residents get upset at their local governing boards. And so they went to a city council meeting to express their concerns that the council was about to award a construction permit.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Communicating the Atomic Fart


      My son’s best friend bought an iPhone shortly after they were first released in 2007.
      Not long after my son’s friend got his Apple iPhone, he got an app—the Atomic fart. It appealed to his—and millions’ of others’—junior high school sense of humor, although by the time they could digitally play a series of farts, they were long past puberty.
      The First Fart was a simple recreation. There were several upgrades, each of which added numerous possibilities. The current app has 30 possibilities, including a whoopee cushion fart, a fireworks fart, a drum solo fart, and the “1812 Overture Fart.” It was only less annoying than dogs barking “Jingle Bells” at Christmas time.
      For the complete prankster, high-tech programmers have given fun-seekers an app that has a time delay; anyone can secretly place the iPhone near an unsuspecting nebbish, quickly move to the other side of the room, and then wait.
      Far Apps has now sold more than 10 million Atomic Farts, most going for 99 cents. The return-on-investment for the iPhone is even better. Within seven years of the phone’s release, Apple would sell more than 250 million units, about one-fourth of all smart phones sold worldwide.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

No Honor in Killing God’s Dog


      A week before the opening of the Olympics, 759 Pennsylvanians paid $25 each to participate in a sport that would never be a part of any international competition.
      These Pennsylvanians carried shotguns, whistles, and electronic calls; most also used dogs to search out their prey. 
      The prey was coyotes. A “reward” of $100 was paid for each coyote killed; whoever killed the biggest coyote in each of the three-day hunt received $250. Most of the coyotes killed weighed 30–40 pounds, about the size of a Brittany Spaniel; the largest weighed 51 pounds.
      This hunt was organized by District 9 Pennsylvania Trappers Association, which covers seven counties in the north-central part of the state. Other hunts are organized by community organizations and volunteer fire companies in several states. January and February, the months when most organized hunts take place, is when the coyotes breed; gestation period is about two months.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Propaganda Olympics

by Walter Brasch

      For Vladimir Putin, the winter Olympics is not about sports or international camaraderie. It’s a carefully orchestrated propaganda opportunity to try to showcase the nation’s athletes and show the world a Russia that, even with its great culture and arts, may exist only in the imaginations of those who believe in restoring the country’s previous grandeur.
      Sochi itself is not typical city for a winter Olympics. It’s a sub-tropical city of about 340,000, located along the Black Sea. Its selection by Russia was to let the world believe that the country in winter is not Siberia but a resort, suitable for tourists.
      Under Putin’s personal direction, Russia spent more than 1.8 trillion rubles (the equivalent of about $51 billion U.S.) to build the Olympic village, with its buildings, stadiums, and infrastructure. This is a greater cost than all previous winter Olympics combined. It also includes cost over-runs and various forms of corruption. But, disregard that—that’s an internal problem. Here are a few of the real problems.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pets Are Nothing More Than Kitchen Chairs

by Walter Brasch

      In Johnstown, Pa., two abandoned puppies died from starvation and freezing weather in an unoccupied house.
      In Lancaster County, two puppies were left in a backpack in freezing weather.
      In Centre County, a dog was frozen to the floor of its doghouse.
      In Edwardsville, a woman abandoned 19 dogs after she was evicted from her mobile home. Seven dogs had died of starvation. The others were near death.
      In Monroe County, police found three dogs, each in a plastic bag, abandoned along the side of roads. Each was dead. One had been shot.
      All the cases were reported the past two weeks in Pennsylvania. Hundreds more cases of animal abuse were not reported.
      Four years ago, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) rescued 253 dogs from the Almost Heaven puppy mill near Allentown. “It was the most horrific house of horrors I had seen,” says Sarah Speed, Pennsylvania HSUS director.
      “When you walked into the kennel,” says Speed, “you got slapped by the stench of filth and disease.” The kennel had a make-shift “hospital.” “If they got better, usually without treatment,” says Speed, “they went back to the kennel; if they didn’t, they died.”
      The owner had been convicted twice before of animal cruelty. This time he was given a three to six month jail sentence.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Train Derailments Another of Fracking’s Problems


    The derailment of a 101-car CSX freight train on a bridge in a densely-populated part of Philadelphia this past week should be yet another warning to politicians who have become cheerleaders for oil and gas fracking.
    The train had been hauling crude oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota.  A severe snow storm delayed by several days removing the derailed cars and 80,000 gallons of crude oil from the decades-old bridge over I-76 and the Schuylkill River, which flows into the Delaware River. Oil and gas companies using horizontal fracking have made the Bakken the most productive oil shale in the country.
    Numerous articles and scientific research studies have already shown the link between horizontal fracking and health and environmental problems. But the transportation of shale oil and gas by trains, trucks, and pipelines poses more immediate threats.