Friday, December 21, 2007

Where valor sleeps

They shall grow not old As we that are left grow old, Age shall not weary them ... Nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, And in the morning, We will remember them!
– Lawrence Binyon

Have you ever seen Arlington National Cemetery? It’s an eye-blinking, jaw-clenching, throat-closing place to experience.

Early last week, an OOIDA member from Maine sent me an article that proved to be one of the best Christmas news stories I’ve heard this month. It involved an effort to truck thousands of wreaths to Arlington.

The Kennebunk Journal described a 40-vehicle convoy – two semis and dozens of other escort vehicles – rolling down U.S. Route 1. When that newspaper’s reporter did his story on Dec. 9, the convoy was south of Wiscasset. The convoy was carrying donated surplus wreaths to the cemetery to lay on the headstones of those patriots who rest there for eternity.

It was a weeklong mission in which veterans, truck drivers and other “Wreaths Across America” volunteers took thousands of wreaths to Arlington County, VA, from a warehouse in Maine.

Our XM Satellite Radio show, “Land Line Now,” found it riveting, too. News Anchor Reed Black called the man in Maine who began the project 16 years ago.

Worcester Wreath Co. President Morrill Worcester said it all started when his company had a surplus of wreaths back in 1992, and it was late in the season, too late to expect them to be sold. They were too beautiful to waste, and he decided they should go to Arlington to honor the veterans.

One really neat thing about this story: The convoy did not just zoom down the interstates. It took U.S. Route 1, so it could stop at places like veterans homes and people could line up along the road and wave. As The Kennebunk Journal reports, it was “slow but highly visible.”

The wreath convoy took a full week to work its way down U.S. Highway 1 from Maine to Arlington. As Worcester talked with Reed, the convoy was passing through Darien, CT.

Meanwhile, we found out the company doubled the greenery headed to Arlington, from 5,000 to 10,000. And for the first time in 2007, ceremonial wreaths were donated to 24 veterans’ cemeteries on foreign soil, and aboard U.S. ships sailing in all seven seas.

The wreath placement ceremonies took place Saturday, Dec. 15.

The charity now has a Web site, click here to see it. where you can see stunning photos and video of the red-bowed wreaths being placed up against the pristine white stone markers. You can even sponsor a wreath – something you might keep in mind for next year.

Reed’s radio piece aired Dec. 14. If you missed it, you can catch the repeat on Dec. 24. The story will also appear on our Land Line Magazine’s holiday Web news edition.

Is greed good for the green movement?

I saw an interesting story the other day regarding the launch of a new investment opportunity based on the green movement.

According to Reuters, Evolution Markets is working with the New York Mercantile Exchange to offer trade in global carbon credits beginning next year.

Heavy-hitting financial institutions such as Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch Constellation and several others will join to be partners in Green Exchange – setting up trading for futures of carbon credits tied to the “cap and trade system.”

It will work like this. Companies throughout the world are allowed certain credits for emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases through the Kyoto Treaty. Those firms that don’t meet the limit have leftover credits, which they can sell to companies that need them.

NYMEX and the host of banks associated with the green exchange apparently see global warming as the next hot futures market, supplanting past futures stalwarts like farm produce and interest rates.

California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols has been a vocal proponent of cap and trade systems.

Theoretically, CARB could set carbon emission limits per truck or company, and your right to purchase surplus credits from another company could be intercepted by investors who already bought futures in green credits.

Of course, the green movement is everywhere these days, which is nothing new for truckers to hear.

Culturally, going green and global warming seems to be on the tips of almost all of our tongues.

Just this week I’ve heard Denny Crane (William Shatner taking on environmentalists on “Boston Legal” (“Deep down, everyone hates the environment”) to the folks here in the office giving “Land Line Now” Host Mark Reddig a hard time for his house’s “festival of incandescence” Christmas light display.

It seems everywhere we’re urged to examine our lives and how they may be affecting global warming.

To calculate your own carbon footprint, click here.

But back to my original point.

So we’ll continue to change light bulbs over to CFLs, recycle printer paper and reduce use of bottled water. Let’s just hope the environmental movement moves its way into our lives in a way that’s a little less seamlessly profit-driven.

Otherwise, I can already picture the Times Square marquee buzzing with fast changing prices for carbon credits. Maybe the green exchange price on the electric board will be accompanied by a cute little green logo.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tough crowd there in Scranton

In what could be a redefinition of the phrase “Potty Mouth,” Scranton, PA, resident Dawn Herb escaped a jail term and a hefty fine. Her crime was swearing at an overflowing toilet.

Off-duty police officer Patrick Gilman overheard Herb shouting profanities and yelled “Watch your mouth.” Herb replied: “F... Off.”

On-duty Patrolman Gerald Tallo was called in, and after Herb admitted to cursing her toilet she was charged with disorderly conduct. A conviction could have cost her 90 days in jail and a hefty fine.

District Judge Terrence Gallagher has now ruled she did nothing wrong, reports the Scranton Times-Tribune. The language she used “may be considered by some to be offensive, vulgar and imprudent” but she was entitled to use it under the First Amendment, the judge ruled.

We can all breathe easier knowing that our First Amendment rights have been upheld in Scranton. But, I have several things that bother me about this case. My original question was, why was the offended Officer Gilman so close to Ms Herb’s bathroom to be able to hear the naughty language? It turns out that Officer Gilman and Ms Herb are neighbors. Have Officers Gilman and Tallo led such sheltered lives that they have never had contact with the F-bomb? Perhaps neither have been to the movies lately. That doesn’t make it right, but hardly an offense worthy of jail time.

It would seem that we are rapidly losing our individual freedoms, even the potential to cuss out the errant toilet in our own homes. Next, it will be the thought police.