The Weeds Of War — Flower Honors The Fallen

Weeds have a bad rep–they invade our beautiful landscapes, grow unbidden in strange places like sidewalk cracks, and require constant eviction from vegetable gardens. So why is a weed front and center in celebrating Memorial Day here in the US? Because the beautiful red poppy is the perfect symbol to honor this country’s fallen in service to their country.

Although they may not look the part, poppy flowers are actually weeds that grow in the wild around the world. The beautiful red poppy with tissue-like flowers connected to Memorial Day is the Papaver rhoeas (don’t ask me to pronounce that), also known as the red-flowered corn poppy. Despite its beauty, the red poppy is deemed an agricultural weed. This poppy is to be distinguished from its black sheep cousin, Papaver somniferum, an opium source. (Boo hiss!)

A red flower, weed or not, is certainly appropriate as a token as remembrance on Memorial Day since red symbolizes war’s bloodshed. But why choose a poppy, especially if it’s a weed? Throughout history poppies have served as a symbol of sleep, peace, and death. Poppies were connected to sleep because the opium extracted from the opium poppy is a sedative. In ancient Egypt, poppies were associated with Osiris, the god of death. In Greek and Roman mythology, poppies were offered to the dead. While this historical background is interesting, it isn’t the reason for the red poppy’s selection for fallen soldiers.

World War I, also known as The Great War, took place between 1914 and 1918. Most of the fighting occurred in the fields and wilderness across Europe with 8.5 million soldiers dying as a result. This conflict included trench warfare in the poppy fields of West Flanders, Belgium. Of course, the skirmishes destroyed not only human life but plant life as well. But out of the decimation came beauty in the form of a weed–the red poppy.

While presiding over services for a fellow soldier and friend killed in the Second Battle of Ypres, Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D. spotted bits of red sprouting up between the rows of graves; they were red poppies. This sight of new life and color arising from the decimation of war inspired him to compose “In Flanders Fields,” a three-stanza poem about death and war which is perhaps the most famous wartime poem ever. Written May 3, 1915, the poem was published the same year and remains well-known to date. The opening two lines reference the emergence of the weeds of war: “In Flanders field the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row….”

Indeed, the hardy red poppy flourished in post-war Europe. Why the boom of these blooms? Scientists attribute it to soil enrichment in France and Belgium from the rubble left from the war. The abundance of lime in the fields led to fertile soil for red covering them, this time in the form of poppies and not the blood of fallen soldiers.

The American Legion adopted the poppy as its official symbol of remembrance in 1920. The flowering weed represented all the fallen soldiers who had given their lives for their country. Displaying or wearing a poppy (real or artificial) came to be promise never to forget those service members who’d made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. This symbol became so powerful that a red poppy shortage occurred in 1924. People did not want to forget and wanted to make their remembrance visible.

Remembering was put into action in 1924 when the distribution of poppies became a national program of the American Legion. The Veterans of Foreign Wars also jumped on the poppy bandwagon. Its members began handing out artificial poppies around Memorial Day in exchange for donations to veterans’ service programs. In addition to bolstering honoring the fallen, this program also benefits veterans who are disabled or in need. These individuals in VA facilities are paid to assemble artificial poppies for distribution through the Buddy Poppy Program.

Poppies have continued to star in Memorial Day activities. The Friday before Memorial Day has now been designated by Congress as National Poppy Day. Falling on May 26th in 2023, this day of recognition offers yet another opportunity for Americans to honor their fallen by sporting a poppy whether real, artificial, or a pin.

School children can learn about the meaning behind the poppy with a Poppy Poster Contest offered by the American Legion Auxiliary. Open to students in grades 2 through 12, entrants exhibit their artistic talents on an 11”x14” poster board using the poppy.

Those in Washington, D.C. are able to view USAA’s Poppy Wall of Honor on the National Mall, a part of Memorial Day observances since 2017. This wall holds 645,000 poppies in honor of America’s war dead since World War I, providing a stunning representation of the amount of sacrifice by those wearing our country’s uniform.

While Memorial Day is about the perspective of the living, what about that of the fallen? McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Field” attempts to capture their thoughts in his poem which is written from their perspective: “We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived…now we lie In Flanders Fields.”

And what do the fallen expect for their sacrifice? According to Mcrae’s poem, “If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.” It’s up to the living to make their deaths meaningful. The fallen should never be forgotten, and the lives we lead every day should make the most of what their sacrifice has allowed us.

If you didn’t wear a red poppy over Memorial Day Weekend, ask yourself why. And what would those in Flanders Fields say about omitting that beautiful weed from your holiday?

WONDER-ing Woman:

Have you lost a family member or friend to war? If so, how do you remember and honor them? If not, do you still have a duty to remember those who sacrificed for you generally? How do you feel about wearing a weed, even if it’s a pretty one?


Literal Storybook Setting For Sale Off English Coast

Usually murder mysteries involve sleuthing to determine whodunnit. In real life, the current question is “Who’ll buy it?” The object in question isn’t a dead body but a small body of land just off the southwest English coast. Burgh Island, a favorite retreat of the “Queen of Crime” and the inspiration for the setting of two of her books, is up for grabs. With a price tag around $19 million, the list of suspects is likely to be shorter than those in one of Agatha Christie’s crime novels.

The pricey real estate for sale is a 26-acre tidal island off Britain’s southwestern county of Devon. At low tide, Burgh Island is accessible on foot or by car from Bigbury-on-Sea, a town facing the eastern side of the island. At high tide, however, the connecting land is submerged. Those wanting access then may take a sea tractor across. This vehicle’s wheels are submerged for the crossing at high tide while the driver and passengers stay dry sitting on an elevated platform above the water.

Britain has over 6,000 islands around its coast. So, what makes Burgh Island off the rugged Devonshire coast so special? And special it is. Over the years, this small island has been a popular escape for the rich and famous who have flocked to the Burgh Island Hotel originally built in 1929. Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson frequented the site, and the Beatles stayed there in the 1960s when playing a concert in Plymouth, some 13 miles away. The hotel’s website describes the place as where Agatha Christie made her “second home.”

But Burgh Island’s history stretches back long before the hotel was built and the wealthy descended. Included in the sale of the island and the hotel is the over 700 year old Pilchard Inn. This 14th century tavern originally served local fishermen and was a haunt of smugglers. The pub is one of the oldest in the UK.

War interrupted the glitz and glamour which had been offered by the island’s hotel in the 1920s and 1930s. During World War II, the site was transformed into a recovery center for wounded Royal Air Force personnel. President Dwight Eisenhower is rumored to have met with Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the hotel before D-Day.

The Burgh Island Hotel is a Grade II listed white art deco hotel. In the UK, a “listed building” is a structure of particular architectural and/or historic interest which is deserving of special protection. “Art deco,” as it is familiarly called, is an influential arts design style taking it name from the “Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industrials Modernes” held in Paris in 1925. This style favored clean lines and colors which were often bright.

Twenty-five bedrooms and suites are available for guests at the Burgh Island Hotel. These rooms and suites are named after famous guests who’ve stayed there. Planning approval has already been obtained to add twelve more guest rooms. And for pampered pooches, dog-friendly rooms are an option.

For Agatha Christie fans Agatha’s Beach House, built in the 1930s as a writer’s retreat for the famous author, is a big draw. This retreat was situated right on the sea nestled in the island’s rockface. Burgh Island clearly spoke to her as it inspired the settings for two of her books, Evil Under The Sun and And Then There Were None.

The hotel, which is situated on 21acres of the island, offers sea views from all rooms, fine dining, and cocktails in an area with a grand glass ceiling. But the natural beauty of the island also offers guests much to appreciate. Wildlife may be observed, and walks may be taken along the cliffs. An extensive network of footpaths along with a mermaid pool, a naturally enclosed body of seawater, provide ample opportunity for delightful physical activity. And when it’s time to leave, the tide isn’t necessarily a consideration for transportation; a helipad allows arrivals and departures by helicopter.

As grand and amazing as Burgh Island sounds, staying there, much less purchasing it, isn’t in the cards for me. While I’d revel in its natural beauty and be thrilled to see what inspired the incomparable Agatha Christie, I’m not sure I could truly relax. If readers learned anything from her Evil Under The Sun, it’s that, well, evil is in beautiful places just like Burgh Island. Could I walk along the cliff’s edge wondering which other guest might be pushed over the edge to their death below? Could I be a target? And if Poirot’s curtain has gone down, who’d solve the murder?

In any event, $19 million for a writer’s retreat simply isn’t in my budget. Even if my Word Weavers writers’ group pitched in, we’d still fall short of a reasonable counter-offer. Alas, I’ll need to get my Agatha Christie fix another way. I’ve got tickets for a local theater group’s production of “And Then There Were None” in early June. While the set will sadly not come close to Burgh Island’s beauty, I do have a good imagination. And a $25 ticket to see Stagecrafters put this play on is affordable. (For info on their production, go to:

If you can’t afford purchasing Burgh Island either, why not consider spending $19.99 plus tax to buy my annotated version of Agatha Christie’s The Secret of Chimneys? The book’s available at: Sorry, the main setting is an English countryside manor instead of an island, but the book is still an entertaining read with much to be learned from the annotations and bonus material. I’ll even set aside money I make from the book towards purchasing Burgh Island some day. And if I’m successful in that aim, those who bought my book will get invites to an Agatha Christie party there.

WONDER-ing Woman:

Who do you think will buy Burgh Island? Have you ever stopped to wonder what places inspired the settings of fiction books you read? How would you feel staying on an island that inspired settings where murders took place?

Hot, Hot, Hot! — Jury Rules McDonald’s Fare Too Hot To Handle

Hot off the press last week came news that a jury found McDonalds liable for selling a chicken nugget too hot to handle. The tasty tidbit was so hot it caused second degree burns on a four year old’s leg. But she didn’t deserve a burn that day, so a verdict against the company known for its golden arches resulted. What nuggets of information and observation can we “take out” of this food fiasco?

The Happy Meal a mother ordered back in 2019 at a McDonald’s in Tamarac, Florida didn’t have a happy ending for anyone. After receiving her order at the restaurant’s drive-through, the woman passed the food to her children in the back seat. As she drove down the road, her four year old started screaming, so the woman pulled over and check on her child. The problem? A hot chicken nugget was burning the girl’s leg. The quick-thinking mom whipped out her iPhone and took a picture of the burns and recorded her daughter’s screams.

To no one’s surprise, a lawsuit soon followed. The complaint named both McDonald’s and the franchise owner, Upchurch Foods, as defendants. The plaintiff claimed these defendants had failed to warn customers about the dangerous temperature of the chicken nuggets. While all parties agreed the nugget caused the child’s burns, they disagreed on the nugget’s temperature. The girl’s mother claimed the chicken nuggets were “unreasonably and dangerously hot” at around 200 degrees. The defendants took the position the food had to be hot to avoid salmonella poisoning; according to them, the temperature was only 160 degrees. Both temperatures sound hot, hot, hot to me.

A two-day trial ensued. The victim, who was left scarred by the burns to her leg, did not testify as she is autistic. In good news for the fast food giant, the jury determined McDonalds had not been negligent and dismissed the plaintiff’s argument the product served was defective. Nevertheless, McDonalds was found liable for failing to provide instructions regarding the safe handling of its food. Additionally, the franchise holder was found liable for negligence and failure to warn customers about the risk of hot food. Further court proceedings will be held to determine the amount of damages which must be paid to the plaintiff. I’m betting it won’t be chicken feed.

What a sad event in the history of chicken nuggets. Debuting in 1983, the fast food favorite came into being as a response to a 1977 government report urging Americans to eat less red meat. Too much red meat could cause a heart attack. To avoid killing customers by its burger-heavy menu, McDonald’s turned to chicken to combat this peril.

And McDonalds was serious about producing good chicken nuggets. It hired world-renowned, Luxembourg born chef Rene Arend to create this new menu item. If the chef who’d been called upon to make dinner for Queen Elizabeth II and for the King of Belgium could make royals happy, certainly he could titillate the taste buds of the common throngs eating at fast food restaurants.

These poultry morsels sold as McNuggets are made from ground chicken–boneless white meat taken from the breast, rib, and tenderloins. The ground meat is seasoned, mixed, and pressed into molds with one of four shapes: ball, bell, bone, and boot. The shaped chicken mixture is covered with a light tempura batter. Although McDonald’s menu item McNuggets contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, deep-frying is involved. Please raise your hand if you do NOT understand deep frying involves placing meat in extremely hot oil making whatever is pulled from it hot as blazes for awhile.

Apparently Americans have a difficult time understanding food items served hot might possibly burn them and care should be used. Back in the 1990’s McDonald’s was sued by a woman who suffered third degree burns, ultimately needing a skin graft, from hot coffee that spilled in her lap. In that case, as in the recent McNuggets case, a customer purchasing from the drive-through window with the order being consumed in a car was involved. The coffee purchaser decided she wanted cream in her coffee and placed the steaming hot coffee between her legs to steady the cup while she pried the lid off to add it. She didn’t get to enjoy cream-enhanced coffee, but she did emit some screams.

Despite the questionable wisdom of the customer’s actions, a New Mexico jury awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages to the coffee-drinking plaintiff as a result of McDonald’s “reckless” actions in serving hot, hot, hot coffee. That monetary award, which was entered even though the plaintiff was found 20% at fault in the incident, was later substantially reduced. This “Hot Coffee case” became the poster case for what the public viewed as frivolous lawsuits.

Thirty years later society finds itself in the same position. Customers are upset when they are given what they ordered–hot menu items. Hello! Hot means that you might burn yourself and should proceed with caution. Isn’t supervising children who are eating hot food items and not placing hot beverages between your legs just plain common sense? Well, as they say, “common sense isn’t so common.” Is McDonald’s really expected to warn people to hold the coffee cup in their hands or put it in a cup holder–not between your legs?

What’s next? Will there be a lawsuit by a customer who gets “brain freeze” from eating a cold McFlurry? By one who chokes on French fry because they swallowed it whole without chewing it? Aren’t those consequences which might be expected? McDonald’s isn’t a customer’s mother and shouldn’t have to tell its customer something they should be able to figure out themselves. If it serves a defective product, such as meat containing salmonella, then of course McDonald’s should ante up, but it can’t be responsible for everything. Consumers need to act responsibly, and just because someone is hurt does not automatically mean the seller is accountable.

Let’s give the courts a break today by nipping lawsuits like the hot coffee and chicken McNuggets one in the bud by preventing them from arising. Think before eating. Blow first and avoid a lawsuit later.

WONDER-ing Woman:

What do you think a restaurant should warn you about regarding their food? Do you expect hot foods will be hot and might burn someone eating/drinking them if they aren’t careful? What’s the best way for a restaurant to give a warning about food to a customer?

Reading, Writing, and Raccoons–Masked Invaders Fall From Ceiling at Texas High School

As if parents didn’t have enough to worry about with gun violence at schools, now some Texas parents are concerned about masked invaders dropping into the classroom–literally. Nothing to disrupt the lesson like a raccoon falling from the ceiling. Yes, an Austin high school is faced with raccoons roaming the halls and scaring students. Well, at least the students are learning about raccoons in addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Yes, it’s furry times at Austin’s McCallum High School where sightings of raccoons soared in April. Six catches and releases were documented in the span of a three days. Some students witnessed an assistant principal and resource officer cornering a masked invader under a stool before coaxing it outside. Hmm. Do you think the released raccoons just came back to scamper down the hallowed halls of learning again?

One day three separate raccoons were captured within an hour’s time. Sounds like the basis of a great math word problem to me, i.e.. If the school resource officer nabs eight raccoons during the school day, how many raccoons does he capture in an hour?

Two of the critters entered the school’s main hallway together through a weak ceiling tile; they then proceeded in opposite directions to check out the campus. Another raccoon emerged from a school bathroom; however, it turned and ran the other way when it saw people. Maybe he had a guilty conscience from “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room.”

A close encounter of the raccoon kind occurred in a classroom. A student was startled during class when a raccoon plunged from the ceiling and landed on the floor within close proximity. What a great conversation piece when the student’s mom asked if anything interesting happened in school that day.

Not all of the invading critters the McCallum HS staff are forced to deal with are alive though. The rotting corpse of a dead raccoon had to be removed from the school’s walls. In addition to being a gruesome sight, the smell it emitted tormented the school’s students.

Why are the raccoons targeting this high school? Well, the building is seventy years old, so it likely offers holes and loose ceiling tiles which the furry omnivores take advantage of to gain access. Reporters for the high school’s newspaper researched the varmint problem and discovered articles about infestations from the 1990s, the early 2000s, and the 2010. Raccoons have, apparently, been around for awhile and like the premises.

Surprisingly (at least to me) the raccoon is an intelligent and inquisitive creature. Perhaps they are drawn to the school’s learning environment and are attempting to further their education.

But what are raccoons doing in an urban environment? Aren’t they forest creatures. Nope. They are now EVERYWHERE. Because of its adapta-bility, the raccoon is able to use urban areas as a habitat. To live in any area, all it needs is food, water, and cover. Schools such as McCallum HS fit that bill with the school building providing shelter, water available in bathrooms, and food to be found in the cafeteria. Who knows? Maybe the raccoons are drawn by the aroma of mystery meat and, unlike the students, enjoy eating it.

The raccoon invasion at the Texas high school offers the opportunity to learn about these animals. Native to North America, raccoons are easily identified by their “bandit mask,” black fur circling their eyes which assists against glare, and their ringed tails. Grayish-brown body fur leads to a ringed-tail. Usually raccoons are nocturnal, but they can be active during the day to avail themselves of food sources. Their small body, typically weighing between 11 and 26 pounds, is still big enough to scare students whom they fall next to from a ceiling.

While these furry invaders don’t carry guns, they might, some parents fear, carry rabies. Raccoons, along with foxes, bats, and skunks, are deemed a primary carrier of the rabies virus in the US. According to the Center for Disease Control, however, only one human has ever died from a raccoon strain of rabies. But would any parent want their child to be victim #2?

Raccoons do provide some benefits by their presence. With their broad taste palate, they help to control insects and rodent populations. Let’s give the McCallum HS parents a multiple choice test with one question. Which do you prefer: A. raccoons running rampant in the school B. insects and rodents running rampant in the school C. Neither A nor B. (If asked, I’d choose answer C.)

While school officials place humane traps, catch and release raccoons, fix loose ceiling tiles, and ramp up hallway and bathroom monitoring, McCallum HS could have some fun with the raccoons’ presence. Maybe a raccoon could become the school’s temporary mascot. Raccoon drills could supplement shooter drills.

Even better, the history teachers could offer a new unit–The Impact Of The Raccoon On US History.” Students would learn some interesting tidbits like raccoon meat was commonly eaten by Native Americans and early European settlers. (Yuk! I’d pass.) Raccoons also played an important role in the North American fur industry in the 19th century. In fact, having a raccoon coat was all the rage for the sporting set back then.

A raccoon even received a pardon from President Calvin Coolidge. The menu for an upcoming Thanksgiving dinner at the White House included raccoon meat. Coolidge stepped in to spare the furry animal and thereafter adopted Rebecca as his pet. Aww! Rebecca Raccoon. Don’t you just love alliteration?

Sadly, with all the violence in the world today, including and especially with shootings at schools, having a raccoon problem in a high school doesn’t seem so awful in comparison. In a perfect world, students could focus on learning and not worry about being shot by an assault-rifle bearing intruder or having a possibly rabies-carrying raccoon with insect and/or rodent breath fall from the ceiling on them. Let’s hope McCallum HS makes the best of a bad situation by being thankful they have the lesser of the two possible problems and take advantage of the chance to learn more about raccoons with whom we share the world–and sometimes a school building.

WONDER-ing Woman:

Be honest. What was your first reaction to learning raccoons were running around in a school? Did you laugh? Cringe? Scratch your head? Should teachers embrace the idea of “when life gives you raccoons, make a raccoon lesson out of it”? If so, how?

I Left My Goats in San Francisco–City Uses Herbivores to Avoid Brushfires

San Francisco brings to mind the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Chinatown. But now there’s something else to associate with the city by the bay–goats. Yes, you read that correctly. GOATS–the herbivores and not the superstars of whatever the chosen category is. These animals are employed in managed grazing in the area to minimize fire hazards.

Goats are reputed to eat anything, like tin cans and cardboard. (Yuk!) While the truth is they don’t eat inedible materials, they do consume plants man deems undesirable. One of the oldest domesticated animal species, goats have been used for centuries to clear unwanted vegetation. Chattanooga, TN and Spartanburg, SC have utilized them to control kudzu, an invasive vine prevalent in the South. Out West, of course, wildfires are a threat. Goat grazing is one way to remove potential fire fuel in the form of weeds and brush.

Managed goat grazing offers benefits in addition to reducing fire risk. Many of the Bay Area’s most undesirable plants, such as poison oak, English ivy, and fennel, are happily eaten by goats. (These are a goat’s San Francisco treat not Rice-a-Roni!) This grazing discourages the growth of weeds by sterilizing their seeds which pass through the goat’s digestive system. The removal of weeds encourages the regrowth of perennial native plants with whom they compete. And goat waste from the vegetation eaten is great for the soil.

Where does a San Franciscan find a goat to graze? No problem. Simply contact City Grazing, a non-profit organization with some 128 goats it can deploy in the city and the Bay area. The NPO started a decade ago with ten goats and has grown in size and popularity. Its goats not only graze to reduce fire hazards, but they make public appearances and attend school events. (Who’d want to skip school when the goats will be in attendance that day?) When not on on a job, the goats reside at City Grazing’s headquarters in San Francisco’s Bay District.

Goats will be especially useful this year. The unusually wet winter resulted in lush grass sprouting up. While it’s lush now, in the summer the grass turns brown and dry, becoming fuel for wildfires. City Grazing’s herd has thus been put to work on the city’s fields and hillsides to reduce the vegetation. The herbivores are also deployed by Bay Area transit authorities to eat grass along the rights of way and rail corridors where fires could be sparked.

Why goats though? Several reasons support their use. First of all, they are voracious eaters. If lots of vegetation’s to be cleared, they’re up for the job. And speaking of up, San Francisco is quite the hilly place. Goats are known for their agility and their ability to climb steep slopes. A steep rise won’t prevent a goat from getting to that delicious looking patch of overgrown grass or weeds.

Using goats is also cost effective. There’s no need to buy goat chow. The animals simply eat on the job and don’t even get in trouble for it!

Goats are hard workers that stay on the job site overnight until their job is done. There are no eight-hour shifts, coffee or smoke breaks, or calling out sick. The only calling out they’ll do is some bleating.

Using these herbivores is an ecologically friendly way to minimize a fire hazard as well as invasive vegetation. Their grazing promotes soil health and the growth of native plants. Employing goats allows them to be rescued. City Grazing’s herd consists entirely of goats who needed a new home or rescue. Some of their herd are retired dairy goats who’ve moved on from making milk to mowing down grass.

In addition to helping goats and reducing wildfires, the managed grazing conducted by City Grazing assists humans. The NPO hires from historically underserved populations. The goats have to eat a meal for their job, and the humans’ jobs tending the goats allow them to afford meals for themselves and their families.

The goats of City Grazing are available to rent by homeowners with an overgrown backyard or businesses/agencies concerned about fire risk. The NPO assesses the property size and determines the number of herbivores needed for the job. Enough goats are provided to eat the vegetation to be removed within 5-14 days. Don’t have a fenced area? No worries. City Grazing can install temporary fencing to keep the goats contained on the property or away from landscaped areas.

Goat grazing sounds great, but is there any downside? One issue is what happens when the goats get loose in a big city. A couple incidents have occurred this year with no real damage except slowed traffic (doesn’t that happen in big cities anyway?) and a trail of green poop.

On April 20th, some 40 goats made their great escape when a man suffering from a mental health issue cut their fencing. The goats gallivanted around the downtown area near Fisherman’s Wharf (maybe they were tired of grass and wanted some seafood?) until the goat site supervisor showed up. Apparently the goats recognized him and followed his truck back to the park from which they’d escaped. It also didn’t hurt that a worker used a bale of hay to lure them along. Part of the “Great Goat Escape” was caught on video by a pedestrian and can be viewed at:

Of course, no solution to any problem will be perfect. But managed grazing seems pretty close to an ideal way to handle vegetation overgrowth–goats are rescued, humans in need of a job are employed, fire hazards are reduced, invasive species are removed, native plants are given a better opportunity to thrive, and downtown pedestrians are treated to an occasional goat parade. Those pooh-poohing this idea really get my goat–a figurative one. Come on! It might be fun to use a goat to keep your lawn trim and then keep your body trim helping you with goat yoga.

WONDER-ing Woman:

Is managed grazing is a good option? Why or why not? How would you react to seeing a herd of goats traipsing around a downtown area? How amazing is it animals and humans can work cooperatively together to make the world better for both?

Pollen Storm Rages — Prolific Production Something To Sneeze At

Ah, the joys of spring–blooming flowers, warmer temperatures, the start of the baseball season. But spring also provides an upsurge in allergic reactions to pollen, the yellow stuff that brings you the blooming flowers and multiple soundings of AH-choo. Bad as any allergies in the spring are, worse is that a pollen storm is upon us, and it’s not limited merely to springtime.

Over the last few years allergists have noted a disturbing trend. New adult patients are seeking help in dealing with seasonal allergies for the first time in their lives. Even established patients are coming in with complaints of significantly worse symptoms than in the past. Allergy symptoms are affecting patients earlier in the year and the symptoms are more severe.

How many people are we talking about? According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 25% of adults had a seasonal allergy in 2021. I’m no math whiz, but this figure is about a quarter of the adult population. That’s a lot of sneezing and annoyance going on and a burden to those who must repeatedly say “Bless you.”

The telltale sign of allergic reaction to pollen is itching which impacts the eyes, nose, and throat. Allergies, in addition to making the sufferer feel miserable, impact sleep quality and cognitive function. As a result, those with allergies seek medical care (increasing the demand for medical providers) and relief from medication both over the counter and prescription. (And we all know how increased demand can turn out from the lack of toilet paper during the COVID crisis.)

Why are allergies worse now than in the past? According to scientists, a big factor pushing adult-onset seasonal allergies is climate change. Research published in 2021 established the pollen season now stretches three weeks longer than it did three decades ago. Climate change has caused the Earth’s core temperature to rise; thus, the ground thaws earlier in the year. The returning warmth triggers trees to flower and produce pollen earlier than ever.

Not only is the season longer, but 20%+ more pollen now contaminates the air. The amount of pollen contained in it has simply exploded. The explanation for this great rise? The combustion of fossil fuels increases carbon dioxide. (Or for those of us who took high school chemistry, CO2.) When carbon dioxide levels rise, trees and plants produce more pollen.

Atlanta allergist Dr. Stanley Fineman calls what’s happening a “pollen storm.” But storms come and go relatively quickly, right? There’s a thunderstorm or a hurricane, and in a matter of a few hours or days, the phenomenon is over. Not so with a pollen storm. It can last year round.

Spring isn’t the only allergy season. In the spring, which admittedly has the highest pollen levels, pollen typically comes from trees. These include the pine, hickory, and juniper trees among others. When summer arrives, grass pollen takes over. Those allergic to grass pollen are said to suffer from “hay fever.” (Don’t ask me why they didn’t call it the obvious “grass fever.”) When it’s fall, weeds, particularly ragweed, take over the pollen production.

Pollen, a fine powdery substance, is one of the most common allergens in the US. It’s an airborne allergen which can be picked up and carried by the wind. Although annoying to humans, this substance is crucial for the environment. It’s a plant’s only form of reproduction allowing fertilization of other plants of its species. Pollen is also an essential food for bees, providing the winged insects with both protein and nutrients. Can you imagine the world without plants and honey? It wouldn’t be a pretty or a sweet place.

Since getting rid of pollen isn’t an option, perhaps modification of human behavior is in order. Aside from lowering our dependence on fossil fuels, humans can also made decisions about where to live and when to go out into the big wide world where pollen is found. People suffer allergies to pollen from different plants, and different plants grow in different locations. Rain and cool weather drop pollen levels. So rainy Seattle might be a better location for some allergy sufferers. On the downside, the price of not sneezing is less sunny weather there.

If pollen is your body’s enemy, a helpful thing to do is to keep an eye on pollen levels. These are the specific pollen level in a particular location. Those who study pollen, which is known as palynology (why not achoo-ology??), can obtain a pollen count from the air to determine pollen levels. The count requires determining the number of grains of pollen in a cubic meter of air. Of course, some pollen must first be collected. How? Take a rod with a sticky substance on it and attach it to a roof and then analyze what’s collected under a microscope to do your count. (I’m not kidding.)

Pollen counts vary from day to day and hour to hour. They are lower in the morning, which would be the best time for outdoor activities. (Mow your lawn and walk your dog early in the day!) Information on current pollen conditions can be found online. According to, 57% of the country is in a medium-high status for pollen counts as I write this. The site provides information specific to your area (search by city or zip code), including what the top allergens are. My area is under siege from oak, hickory, and juniper.

Plants and trees are part of our world. If we want the shade, beautiful greenery, and blooming flowers, then we’re forced to deal with pollen. Knowing this airborne enemy is out there, we need to keep an eye on our surroundings (what the current pollen levels are), plan activities around the environmental conditions (be outdoors in the morning as opposed to other times of day if possible), and seek advice and treatment from an appropriate medical professional when required. While pollen may cause us to sneeze, taking care of ourselves in light of its existence is nothing to sneeze at.

WONDER-ing Woman:

What, if any, allergies do you suffer from? Have you noticed an increase in the pollen visible in your local area, i.e., on cars, etc.? Does the lengthening of the pollen season impact your view of climate change? If so, how?

Finland’s Admittance To NATO Brings Bullying, Beaming, and Beer

The number of domestic mass shootings isn’t the only thing getting bigger these days. The North American Treaty Organization, familiarly known as NATO, has grown too, welcoming a new member–its 31st–in early April. The expansion of the military alliance met with varying reactions across the world, spanning the range of bullying by Russia, beaming by Finns, and the hoisting of a special beer by beer drinkers.

For many adult Americans, NATO is a distant memory from history class during school days. But the organization, established on April 4, 1949 by the signing of a treaty, is alive, well, and gaining in size. To refresh your recollection, or perhaps enlighten you if you napped or passed notes during history class, let’s review some basic facts about NATO.

This defensive alliance was founded at the beginning of the Cold War. The crux of the organization’s existence is the agreement to provide mutual defense. The idea is that an attack on one member is an attack on all; member states must come to the aid of a fellow member who is attacked. NATO stresses it’s solely a defensive alliance; it is not out to “get” or attack any particular country. But, of course, anyone with a brain can figure out what country the group is worried about being an aggressor. (Did you guess Russia?)

NATO has added members as the years have passed. The organization’s current member states consist of 29 European countries and two North American ones (Canada and the US). The total number of members should rise in the near future as Sweden’s application to join is pending. It’s good to know who has pledged to have our country’s back should the US be attacked and to see who Uncle Sam is expected to help if the roles are reversed. For a complete list of countries who belong, see

Finland joining the NATO group may not seem like a big deal, but history says otherwise. The Nordic country was part of the Russian empire until the end of World War I. It then adopted neutrality after World War II. So, for some seven decades, the country has avoided joining the defense alliance. Why? Given that Finland and Russian are neighbors, remaining neutral seemed a logical way to keep peace in their neighborhood.

What happened to change Finland’s long-held stance of non-military alignment? Well, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine alarmed the Finns. (And it alarmed the Ukranians even more!) Could Finland be Russia’s next target? Joining NATO appeared to be a more and more attractive option. Emphasizing this shift in thinking are the results of opinion polls taken by Finnish broadcaster Yle. The poll results showed only ~33% of Finns desired to join NATO in 2018; however, by 2022, that number soared to almost 80%.

Accordingly, Finland applied to become a member of NATO. Following approval of its application, the country was formally added to the defense pact group in a ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels on April 4, 2023, the 74th anniversary of the organization’s founding. Woohoo! A double celebration!

Well, not everybody celebrated. This development came as a strategic and political blow to Russia’s president. Vladimir Putin had complained about NATO’s expansion towards Russia in the past. Even prior to Russia invading Ukraine, Put demanded NATO refrain from further expansion. Apparently Russia’s military actions spoke pretty loudly to Finland, triggering its application for NATO membership. Oops! That backfired on Putin, didn’t it? His declared goal was less NATO, and he succeeded in getting the opposite.

Needless to say, Finland’s choice to join the defense alliance went over like a lead balloon in Russia. The Kremlin stated Russia would be forced to take countermeasures. First up? Cyberbullying. A pro-Russian hacker group paralyzed Finland’s parliamentary website. The group, known as NoName057(16), claimed responsibility and noted their actions were in retaliation for Finland joining NATO. Undaunted, Finland remains a NATO member. (I mean, the worst the hackers could do was to lock down a government body website? Really?)

In contrast to Russia’s reaction, NATO leaders are beaming. Adding Finland to their defensive fold effectively doubles the border NATO has with Russia. The northern neighboring countries share a border of ~830 miles. Russia is now exposed a tad more with this expansion. Further, adding the Finnish military is a huge win for NATO. Although the country’s population is only 5.5 million, its military forces are well trained and well equipped to repel a Russian attack. In fact, it has one of the largest artilleries in Europe. Moreover, its very capable military could assist NATO in dominating the Baltic Sea.

The Finns, of course, are excited to have added protection from the defense alliance in case its big (bully) neighbor decides to become aggressive with it. How excited are they about joining NATO, you ask? Why they were so excited that a Finnish brewery in Savonlinna near the Finnish border with Russia launched a new beer to mark the auspicious occasion. Olaf Brewing created an IPA it named OTAN. This name comes from the abbreviation of French words for the pact–Organisation due traite de l’Atlantique nord. Cleverly, this name is also a play on words of the Finnish phrase “Otan ollutta,” meaning “I’ll have a beer.” Continuing its fun with the new beer, the brewery describes the product’s taste as having a “taste of security with a hint of freedom.” The freedom referenced? Finland is expected to follow suit with Norway and decline to allow forces from NATO allies stationed permanently in that country. But if there’s an emergency, those forces will be there to back them up.

The news that NATO has expanded is just the tip of the story’s iceberg. Why a long-standing neutral country chose to join and the reactions of NATO leaders, the Finns, and Russia add much context to the seemingly simple growth of an organization. Digging below the surface provides a better understanding of the development’s importance in world affairs and even offers information on a new beer to drink while discussing this current event. Cheers to NATO’s expansion and our learning the rest of the story!

WONDER-ing Woman:

Without clicking on the link above, how many of the 31 NATO countries can you name? Was Finland’s decision to join NATO a good one or has it simply poked the (Russian) bear? Is it reasonable for Russia to fear NATO expansion?

US Supreme Court Fetches Trademark Case Between Jack Daniel’s and Dog Toy Maker

It’s tough to be a US Supreme Court justice now. When the high court isn’t deciding controversial cases about abortion rights, members are fighting the fallout from Justice Thomas’ acceptance of free travel to exotic and expensive locations. Maybe what they need is a good laugh. And the March 22nd oral argument in Jack Daniel’s Properties v. VIP Products provided just that. I mean, could YOU keep a straight face discussing dog poop?

Slugging it out in the legal arena in this case are two large businesses. In one corner is VIP Products, the second-largest dog toy company in the nation with gross annual revenues of $15 million from its over 500 products. (We Americans do love to spoil our fur babies…) In the other corner is whiskey producer Jack Daniel’s whose Black Label Tennessee Whiskey is the best-selling whiskey in the world. The company owns the oldest registered distillery in the US and has been producing its whiskey under that name since 1875.

What could a dog toy company and a whiskey producer possibly be fighting over and take to the highest court of the land no less? The two are wrangling over a major trademark issue. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies a company’s goods and services. This mark makes the company’s product stand out and be identified with it; so, if another company has a product similar in such a way as to cause confusion in a consumer’s mind as to whom it belongs, a trademark infringement lawsuit could result.

What Jack Daniel’s is barking about is a VIP Products’ dog toy mimicking the shape and look of a bottle and label of Jack Daniel’s Black Label Whiskey Old No. 7. Its idea was to parody the distinctive label and square-shaped whiskey bottle and produce a toy for a dog and a good laugh for its owner. Their product? A squeaky dog toy dubbed “Bad Spaniels” that looks like a botte of said whisky bearing a label identifying it as “Old No. 2.” And the jokes about dog poop came rolling in.

The dog toy causing the brouhaha (or is that barkhaha?) is one in VIP Products’ Silly Squeakers line which began selling in 2014. The toys in this line are given parody names for liquor, sodas, etc. Other Silly Squeakers offerings are Mountain Drool (Mountain Dew), BarkParty (Bacardi), and Doggie Walker (Johnnie Walker Scotch). Apparently those companies didn’t howl about the audacity of VIP Products getting a laugh by parodying their product.

Not amused, however, was Jack Daniel’s. Consumers might (GASP!) confuse the dog toy with their (upscale) product. The liquor company turned its nose up at it–and not because it reference No. 2. Jack Daniel’s filed a lawsuit alleging trademark infringement, i.e., keep your dog toy out of our (sales) yard. Because trademark law is federal law, the court hearing the case was a US District Court.

Jack Daniel’s won round one in this dogfight with the district court ruling in its favor in 2018. Supporting that decision was evidence 29% of potential customers were likely to be confused about Bad Spaniels being affiliated with the liquor brand. Really? Who are these people? Sounds like some potential customers may have been imbibing too much JD if they reached that conclusion. Dog toy and iconic liquor brand. Why, of course, they’d go together–NOT!

But the dog toy had its day in 2020 when an appellate court in 2020 (yes, the wheels of justice grind SLOWLY) partially reversed the lower court’s ruling. Why? The parody was speech–as in free speech. Thus, the dog toy triggered higher First Amendment scrutiny as “an expressive work entitled to First Amendment protection.”

Jack Daniel’s wasn’t about to lay down and play dead after the appellate court’s ruling. The company appealed to the US Supreme Court providing the opportunity for it to hear a major trademark case in which free expression duels with trademark law. Is a parody of a trademark considered protected speech under the First Amendment? Or should the main federal statute on trademark, the Lanham Act, apply making the key inquiry whether a likelihood of confusion of the consumer exists? Only the Supreme Court can tell us for sure.

Before the oral argument on March 22nd, various individuals, businesses, and even the government took sides. Unsurprisingly, Nike, Campbell’s, and Levi Strauss aligned themselves with the liquor producer. Respectable business just don’t want their products associated with distasteful things like dog poop. Feeling strongly about this situation, Nike and Levi Strauss filed briefs supporting Jack Daniel’s. The Biden Administration urged the Supreme Court to hear the case; when the court agreed to hear it, the Justice Department sided with the liquor company.

A number of law professors are firmly in the dog toy company’s camp. Their logic? Reason dictates VIP Products wins. VIP’s attorney notes the Bad Spaniels toy is nothing but a parody involving a “pretend trademark on a pretend bottle.” UCLA law professor Mark McKenna agrees commenting “there’s no plausible argument that anyone is buying the Silly Squeaker toy thinking it is a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.” Should a potential buyer bother to look, a tag’s affixed to the toy stating the product is “not affiliated with Jack Daniel’s distillery.”

Oral argument offered the chance to hear high-powered lawyers and Supreme Court justices literally saying “dog poop” and discussing the acceptability of a specific dog toy. Now we can all hold our breaths (like when we’ve discovered dog poop on our shoes) until the high court announces its decision–an event expected to occur before the Supreme Court’s summer recess.

As an attorney, I lean heavily towards the First Amendment’s free speech protection. Even if trademark law were applied, I don’t see how consumers can reasonably confuse a squeaky dog toy with a Jack Daniel’s product. On a more practical level, I’d approach the case as a dog owner. I don’t care who produced the toy or who the product’s affiliated with. I want my dog to be happy; if she’d like it, that’s all I need to know to influence my buying decision if the money’s available to pamper her. And it’s pet owners who are buying these products. Panting to see which side will squeak by with a win (pun intended).

WONDER-ing Woman:

Would you think a dog toy that looks like a liquor bottle was affiliated with the producer of the drink? Does the First Amendment only cover “serious” speech as opposed to humorous speech? Had you heard of this landmark trademark case before this post?

Uproar At School When Students View Renaissance Masterpiece

Everything’s fair game as the source of controversy these days–even teaching students about Renaissance art masterpieces. An uproar erupted at a Florida school recently when sixth grade students were shown pictures of Michelangelo’s the David in art class without prior notification to parents.

Why would this lesson be so controversial as to require advance warning to moms and dads? The Italian artist’s statue features the Biblical figure in the nude. The result of this art lesson? Some enlightened students, a handful of enraged parents, and a principal forced to resign.

Before diving into the school drama, let’s learn about the art object in question. Michelangelo’s statue is an approximately 17 foot tall, 12,478 pound marble sculpture completed in 1504. The figure depicted is the Biblical character of David, the shepherd boy who slew the giant Goliath as told in I Samuel 17.

Why would the statue show David nude? Wouldn’t shepherds need some type of protection from bushes, animals, and the elements? The artist’s conception was David was facing the biggest (pun intended) challenge of his life armed (and apparently clad) merely with his faith in God, a novel and inspirational artistic expression. Previously, artwork portrayed David only post-giant-slaying and triumphant; Michelangelo, though, presents him pre-battle and tense.

The Florence Cathedral commissioned this piece of art intending to have it as one of a series of statues positioned along the church’s roofline. Religious leaders weren’t put off by David’s lack of clothing. In fact, they found the workmanship of Michelangelo on the figure’s body to be so beautiful they decided not to place high on the cathedral’s roof, but in the middle of a popular square, the Piazza della Signoria, for all to admire.

Although Michelangelo Buonarotti (familiarly known as “Michelangelo”) is the artist credited for the statue, he didn’t begin the work. An artist named Agostino di Duccio started the project in 1464, using a gigantic gleaming white marble block from a quarry in the Alps of northern Tuscany. But, alas, Agostino, didn’t complete the piece.

Fast forward to 1501. Michelangelo, then only 26 years old, was already the most famous artist of his day. He requested to finish what had previously been started on the huge block of marble. And work on it he did, sculpting away from 1501 – 1504.

After completion, the statue remained displayed in the Piazza della Signoria until 1873 when it was moved to Florence’s Galleria dell Accademia. The statue survived World War II intact to face an attack in 1991 by a hammer-wielding man which damaged its left foot. But given the statue’s age (over 500 years old), its (nude) body is in remarkably good shape.

Other than Mona Lisa, David is likely the artwork most familiar to the average person. So to find a discussion and viewing of the piece include in an art lesson is hardly surprising. What is surprising, though, is the uproar and fallout from a picture of the statue being shown to middle grade students at a charter school.

While David stood in an Italian art museum being admired by flocks of visitors annually (think millions), art students at the Tallahassee Classical School viewed an image of the marble statue. But some parents were outraged when they learned after the fact of the inclusion of a picture of this masterpiece in a lesson. A couple of parents complained advance notification wasn’t given that a “controversial” topic would be discussed in art class. Another parent went so far as to call the image shown “pornographic.”

Who knew a Biblical figure portrayed in a Renaissance masterpiece was controversial? Sure, the statute is of a nude man. But a naked body doesn’t necessarily equal pornography. Certainly by the time students are in sixth grade, they have seen an unclothed human body. If they can’t view a naked body, how can anatomy or sex education be taught? While the latter may be controversial depending on how it is taught, a naked human body is how God made us. Did He mess up and fail to give us fig leaves from the start? He didn’t seem to have a problem with Adam and Eve walking around in the buff.

By making a big deal out of seeing a nude in a non-compromising situation, what are we teaching students? That they should be ashamed of their bodies? That a human body isn’t beautiful? That a tasteful piece of art incorporating a nude figure is disgusting?

Nevertheless, rules are rules. If the school’s policy was to provide advance notice to parents when such artwork is shown, then protocol should have been observed. Further, parents who disagree with the content of a school lesson have the right to their opinion and to remove their child from the classroom during that lesson. In this case, the school board chairman indicated 97% of the parents were fine with the lesson while only 3% objected to it, which was their right.

Following the “controversial” art lesson, the principal resigned under pressure. According to reports, this situation wasn’t the only reason for her departure, but at the least it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Scratching their heads over the news story are Italians who can’t fathom why crazy Americans are criticizing a Renaissance masterpiece. Florence’s mayor, Dario Nardella, even issued a personal invitation for the former principal to visit his city and personally view the artwork.

Meanwhile back at the school, you can be sure more care will be taken to provide advance notification to parents when controversial topics are to be addressed in class. The staff’s homework? Figure out what is “controversial” and from whose point of view.

WONDER-ing Woman:

Were you aware how long it took Michelangelo to sculpt his statue and how big it is? How much input should parents have over the content of specific school lessons? Are both beauty and pornography in the eyes of the beholder?

Book Ban Requests Booming — Record Number Reported For 2022

The contents of American libraries are a hot topic currently, but that doesn’t mean readership is rising. A record number of requests to ban books from local and school libraries have tempers flaring and school and library boards on the hot seat. To ban or not to ban is the burning question on their agendas. Americans clearly can’t agree on anything, including what books are allowed on their library shelves.

A report released by the American Library Association (“ALA”) on March 23rd offered new data documenting demands to censor library books and materials made during 2022. A whopping 1,269 demands, some directed at multiple books, were reported last year. This number of challenges is the highest number of book bans sought since the ALA began compiling data on them more than 20 years ago. (And you thought librarians were merely concerned with whether library patrons were turning books in by their due date…) In fact, the number of challenges raised in 20222 was almost double the 729 reported in 2021. Consumer prices (think eggs!) and book bans are both soaring.

The number of titles targeted for censorship in 2022 came in at 2,571 books, a 38% increase from the previous year’s 1,858 targeted titles. Of those titles, 58% came from the shelves of school libraries. Hey, the schools wanted parents to get involved, but perhaps censorship efforts isn’t what they had in mind. Parents don’t have time to help with homework when they’re attending school board meetings and posting on social media about the (alleged) garbage being offered in the school library to which their children have access.

Are 2,571 books really all that much to target? A preliminary question should be whether ALA’s figures are accurate. Even the organization concedes the figure it reported isn’t an exhaustive compilation. The organization can only rely on challenges revealed through media stories and voluntary reports sent to its offices. Thus, in all likelihood, the number of challenges is much higher since no mandatory reporting exists. Surveys indicate perhaps 90% of challenges go unreported.

With between 500,000 to one million books estimated to be traditionally published yearly, even double the number of challenges ALA reported is a small percentage. What’s more concerning is how the challenges are coming about and on what basis. Undoubtedly, no matter what an author writes, someone’s out there who doesn’t agree with his opinions and objects to the writing on some ground. According to ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom director, the rise in the number of book ban demands appears to be an organized movement, often related to political groups. Yes, even quiet libraries aren’t exempt from the noise of clashing political opinions over the books they offer.

Although methods to attempt to ban books may have changed, censorship efforts are nothing new. In fact, they predate the founding of the US as they are documented to have occurred in Puritan times. Of course, in olden times, the desired result was physical destruction of the offending books, typically by book burnings. (Burn, book baby, burn!) Today, censorship proponents ask merely for a book’s removal from the shelves, removing them from the reach of potential readers.

Removal of books from library shelves detracts from the core mission of libraries, providing access to information, according to ALA’s President. And its director of Office for Intellectual Freedom states “The choice of what to read must be left to the reader, or, in the case of children, to parents.” A survey of voters conducted by the ALA found that a majority opposed efforts to have books removed from libraries. Isn’t it easier just to avoid/not read a book you don’t like or with which you don’t agree than taking the choice of what to read away from adults/parents? (Hmm, that’s just too much common sense, right?)

In addition to tabulating the number of book bans requested, ALA also compiles an annual top ten hit list of those books for which a ban is most frequently sought. The list for 2022 is scheduled for release on April 24th, to coincide with National Library Week. Maybe there could be an awards show with the most targeted book being presented with a “Banny.”

Past annual lists give some insight into the reasons censorship is sought and by whom. From 2000 to 2009, most challenges were based on alleged sexually explicit content in the subject book. And of the challenges made against all books, the vast majority of those requesting a ban were parents. The year 2022 evidenced a shift in focus on concern about subjects in books. Of those for which a ban was sought, the vast majority were written by or about people of color or members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Critical acclaim and popularity surprisingly don’t preclude censorship efforts against books. Would you believe the following books were in prior top ten hit lists? To Kill A Mockingbird; Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck); the Harry Potter series; The Bible (THE BIBLE????); The Hunger Games; Brave New World; Twilight; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; The Handmaid’s Tale.

Back in 1982 the United States Supreme Court weighed in on demands for book bans. In the case of Island Trees School District v. Pico, five students challenged their school board’s decision to remove books from the district high school and junior high school libraries. In ruling in the students’ favor, the highest court of the land noted, “Local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books.” Hmm. At least someone understands the idea of the First Amendment and the free expression of ideas.

WONDER-ing Woman:

Does justification exist for removing books from a library? If so, on what basis? Does the First Amendment require toleration of ideas with which someone might not agree? If you don’t like the content of a book, does that give you the right to take action to preclude someone (other than your minor child) from reading it?