Monday, January 21, 2019

Riddles and word plays on a cold January day

It's January and it's very cold in many places in the Northern Hemisphere.  If you live Down Under in Australia and New Zealand, it's the summer season, but you can still enjoy some riddles and word plays.  So, why don't you sit by the fire or keep yourself cool and try to solve some of the following riddles and word plays. 

QUESTION:  I am not alive, but I grow.  I do not have lungs, but I need air.  I don't have a mouth, but water destroys me.  What am I?

ANSWER:  Fire.

QUESTION:  People buy me to eat, but don't eat me.  What am I?

ANSWER:  A plate.

QUESTION:  What does a thesaurus eat for breakfast?

ANSWER:  Synonym buns.

QUESTION:  One big hockey fan claimed to be able to tell the score before any game.  How did he do it?

ANSWER:  The score before any hockey game should be 0-0, of course.

QUESTION:  What can be seen once in a minute, twice in a moment, and never in a thousand years?

ANSWER:  The letter “m.”

:"Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns.  He should be drawn and quoted."

- Attributed to Fred Allen (1894-1956), American radio comedian, Dictionary of Quotations in 

Fred Allen

Pupkis:  The moist residue left on a window after a dog presses its nose to it.

Santa's helpers are known as subordinate Clauses.

QUESTION:  How do construction workers party?

ANSWER:  They raise the roof.

- Joanne

Shame on U.S. Vice President Mike Pence

VP Mike Pence

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence serves as Donald Trump's lap dog.  He is expected to defend the president at the drop of a hat.  Trump demands Pence's undying loyalty at all times and in all circumstances.  However, that does not mean that Pence had to sink so law as to equate his master's border wall with Martin Luther King's campaign for justice and civil rights.  Such an analogy is absolutely revolting.  It is disgusting beyond belief.  It is an insult to the memory of Dr. King and to all Americans, regardless of race or colour.

On the eve of Martin Luther King Day, Vice President Pence appeared on CBS's Face the Nation.  He quoted from Dr. King's magnificent "I Have a Dream" speech.  Then he went on to make the following statement: "One of my favourite quotes from Dr. King was, "Now is the time to make real promises on democracy.  You think of how he changed America.  He inspired us to change through the legislative process, to become a more perfect union.  That's exactly what President Trump is calling on Congress to do.  Come to the table in good faith.  We'll secure out borders.  We'll reopen the government and we'll move our nation forward as the president said yesterday to even a broader discussion about immigration reform in the months ahead."

The Vice President used the beautiful words of Martin Luther King to brazenly advocate for the polices of Donald J. Trump.  He used the revered memory of Dr. King to play politics on behalf of his boss and the  Republican party.  Yet, the late civil rights champion's beliefs and principles are the exact opposite of Donald Trump's policies.  In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, dated April 16, 1963, King wrote, "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."  Trump's nationalism, his Fortress America outlook would never have been embraced by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who would have celebrated his 90th birthday on January 15th.

Dr. King built bridges, not fences.  If he were alive today, he would strongly oppose Trump's infernal 5.7 million border wall.  In fact, I am confident in saying that King would lead a march against it.  He definitely would not be in favour of Trump's anti-immigrant policies.  He would be appalled by the detention of children and their separation from their parents.

Today is Martin Luther King Day in the United States.  King was assassinated on August 4, 1968, over 50 years ago.  50 years hence, will there be a day in honour of Donald J. Trump?  What do you honestly think?   I think Dr. King must be turning over in his grave.  By the way, Martin Luther King's son, Martin Luther King III, said that his father would view the government shutdown as "inhumane," and blamed Trump for creating misery among federal workers.


- Joanne

Friday, January 11, 2019

Aerosol spray cans: Are they now safe for the environment?

Aerosol spray cans were created in the 1920s by U.S. Department of Agriculture.scientists for the purpose of pressurizing insect spray.  During World War II, the technology was used by American soldiers to prevent malaria in the South Pacific..  The original cans were large and clunky.  In the following decades, they became more compact and more refined.  They also became very popular with consumers, although they contained chloroflurocarbons (CFCs).  CFCs are non-toxic, nonflammable chemicals.  These chemicals are composed of atoms of carbon, chlorine and fluorine, which deplete the ozone layer, a region of the Earth's atmosphere which absorbs most of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation.  In effect, the ozone layer acts a protective shield, which CFCs destroy.

The environmental danger posed by aerosol cans first came to public attention in the 1970s.  In fact, there is an episode of the American TV series All in the Family (1971-1979) in which Mike "Meathead" Stivic informs his wife, Gloria, about how her aerosol hair spray damages the ozone layer.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the United States, Canada and other countries banned ozone-depleting CFC propellants for non-essential uses.  This action reduced CFC consumption in Canada by more than 50 per cent.  In the United States, consumer aerosol products have not contained CFCs since the 1970s because companies eliminated them voluntarily. Federal regulations such as The Clean Air Act, and United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restrictions, further limited the use of CFCs for non-consumer products.

Due to the landmark Montreal Protocol of 1987, an international agreement signed in Canada by 191 countries, many nations began phasing out ozone-depleting propellants and replacing them with non-depleting forms.  In 2014, five international organizations, including the United Nations Environmental Program and NASA issued a report that concluded that actions "taken under the Montreal Protocol have led to decreases in the atmospheric abundance of controlled ozone-depleting substances, and are enabling the return of the ozone layer toward 1980 levels."

Unfortunately, this does not mean that the problem has been completely solved.  It also does not mean that hair sprays, deodorant and shaving cream cans are favourable to the environment.  Even without CFCs, aerosol sprays and aerosol cans still contain hydrocarbons and/or compressed gases known for contributing to global warming.

Even though hairsprays no longer uses CFCs to propel the stiffening agreement out of the can, they do contain other chemicals as propellants that are considered to be potent greenhouse gases - namely hydrofluorcarbons (HFCs.  The previously mentioned 2014 report found that "climate benefits of the Montreal Protocol could be significantly offset be projected emissions of HFCs used to replace " ozone-depleting substances.  Although HFC use "makes a small contribution" to greenhouse gas emissions each year", the authors of the report asserted that HFC emissions "are currently growing at a rate of about 7 % a year."  Growing demand could possibly result in HFC emissions reaching levels "nearly as high a the peak emission of CFCs" by the year 2050.

According to Scientific American, modern-day aerosol sprays also "emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs that contribute to ground-level ozone levels, a key component of asthma-inducing smog."  It's not only aerosol sprays that emit VOCs.  The list includes fingernail polish, perfumes, mouthwashes, pump hair sprays and roll-on and stick deodorants.

Sadly, it is difficult for the public to be properly informed when the current President of the United States, makes false claims.  Donald J. Trump is no friend to the environment.  He doesn't take climate change seriously, nor is he concerned with scientific evidence that the Earth is heating up at an alarming rate.  He also pulled the United States out of the Paris climate change agreement and he actively encourages the use of non-renewable resources.

So, it is not surprising that Trump has spread misinformation about hairspray and its effect on the ozone layer.  The president is apparently quite familiar with the use of hairspray by which he achieves his strange hairstyle, a blond combover look.  A former political adviser to the president told the New York Post that Trump "uses a weird bottle of hairspray." that's "bigger than the biggest can of beer."

On May 5, 2016, at a campaign rally in Charleston, West Virginia, Donald Trump declared that "hairspray's not like it used to be" because chemicals in it that affect the ozone layer have been banned.  He also claimed that using hairspray in his apartment, "which is sealed," would stop any ozone-depleting substances from escaping into the environment.  Yet, according to an article by Vanessa Schipani in The Wire, multiple exports told her that the chemicals would still make their way out.

At the rally in Charleston, Trump was presented with a hard hat from an official from the West Virginia Coal Association.  After trying on the hat. Trump couldn't resist talking about his hair and he implied that regulations on hairspray and coal mining are unnecessary.

Trump, May 5, 2016: Give me a little spray. … You know you’re not allowed to use hairspray anymore because it affects the ozone, you know that, right? I said, you mean to tell me, cause you know hairspray’s not like it used to be, it used to be real good. … Today you put the hairspray on, it’s good for 12 minutes, right. … So if I take hairspray and I spray it in my apartment, which is all sealed, you’re telling me that affects the ozone layer? “Yes.” I say no way folks. No way. No way. That’s like a lot of the rules and regulations you people have in the mines, right, it’s the same kind of stuff.

By the way, back in 2011, Trump suggested that the "eight-inch concrete floors" and "eight-inch concrete walls" of Trump Tower would prevent hairspray from "destroying the ozone that's 400 miles up in the air." Not  so, said Steve Montzka, a chemist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  "It makes no difference," he stated, if you spay those chemicals "inside your house or apartment.  It will eventually make it outside."  

SOURCES:  Scientific American, "Bad Hair Day: Are Aerosols Still Bad for the Ozone Layer"; The Wire, "Trump on Hairspray and Ozone," By Vanessa Schipani, May 17, 2016; Nature, "Ozone treaty 'must tackle CFC 'smuggling'." by David Spugeon, September 18, 1997

- Joanne

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 Wish List

Instead of making predictions about 2019, I have decided to make a wish list.  Here it is, folks.

I hope that far right populists lose ground in the New Year.

I hope that 2019 is not a good year for dictatorships and authoritarian leaders around the world, especially Vladimir Putin of Russia.

My wish is that 2019 will see a rise in democracy and democratic freedoms around the world.

I hope that 2019 marks the final year of the presidency of Donald Trump.  I wish that he would resign or that he would be impeached and convicted - the sooner, the better.  Every day he remains in office causes damage to the United States and to the rest of the world.  My nightmare is that he will be able to run again in 2020.

My wish is that Britain remains in the European Union.  I hope that Brexit doesn't happen and that a second referendum overturns the first.  There is evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 referendum.

I wish that the Toronto Maple Leafs would win the Stanley Cup, their first victory since May 2, 1967.  Here is my dream scenario:  Mitch Marner scores the winning goal with about 50 seconds left in the third period of the seventh game.

I hope that 2019 will be a good year for those who are concerned about the environment.and that some significant progress will be made in the fight against climate change.

I wish for a really major breakthrough in preventing, curing or controlling one or more of the world's
most harmful diseases such as Alzheimer's, cancer, Parkinson's etc.

I  wish for fewer wars and more civility in the world in 2019.

On January 1, 2020, I will write another wish list and I will let you know if any of wishes came true.

- Joanne