Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Category: My take

July
3rd

Confessions of a ‘domestic terrorist’

TrinityI wrote the following for the Fourth of July, 1991, when I was considerably less of a curmudgeon and my memories of boyhood were fresher. I’m not saying it’s great, but – given the enduring male obsession with explosives – it does seem to be timeless.

Americans have some crazy ways of celebrating their holidays.

In December we fell millions of baby trees, festoon them with strings of blinking lights, then heap Ninja Turtle dolls and other gewgaws beneath them. That’s Christmas.

At Easter we hide little baskets filled with tacky plastic grass, chocolate eggs and crusty yellow marshmallow bunnies. Kids go after these like bloodhounds and wolf down enough sugar to keep the dentists busy for months.

On New Year’s Eve we get falling-down drunk, wear paper hats and act like clowns all night, then stumble into our cars and hold a great big demolition derby.

Which brings us to the Fourth of July – and fireworks. Read more »

June
19th

Helping shelter animals, the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee way

Ninja, left, and Sasha Tucker
Ninja, left, and Sasha Tucker

One of my favorite websites is the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee, which documents the ongoing adventures of cat lovers Laurie Cinotto and Craig Miller, Charlene Butterbean and their new adoptee Wylla Stout.

The couple fosters litters of kittens from the Tacoma/Pierce County Humane Society until they’re old enough to be adopted. Cinotto regularly posts updates – complete with photos and videos – on how the kitties are doing and tells us about the new homes they’ve found. Much adorableness ensues.

Once a year, the IBKC raises money for the shelter in conjunction with the annual Dog-a-Thon fund-raiser. This year’s goal is an ambitious $100,000. A donation is forthcoming from my girls, Sasha and Ninja (the warrior princess), who were adopted from the shelter almost eight years ago after being fostered by a different family.

If you’d like to help, go to the IBKC donation page here. As explained there, all money goes to . . .

. . . help fund the foster program and in-house and off-site adoption programs. It will help make  shelter improvements for the cats. It will buy cats cozy little fleece beds. It will help reduce the cost of spay and neuter surgeries for pets of lower income families. It will feed and provide medical care for tiny kittens, adult and senior cats.

It’s a great cause. If you’re in a position to give, please do.

May
11th

You CAN go home again – virtually

Tomorrow’s Mother’s Day, and if you’re short on cash but are at least a little computer savvy, I may have a gift idea for you: Take Mom on a virtual tour of her past. Ask relatives (or Mom) for addresses of places she used to live, sit her down at a computer and show her what those places look like now. Or if she’s always wanted to visit a particular place in the world, take her there virtually. (Click here for ideas.)

I got the idea from my own experiences using Google’s Street View and how fun it is to look at places where I used to live or would like to visit someday. If your mom isn’t particularly tech-friendly, this will come as big revelation to her. I plan to surprise my very low-tech mom Sunday by showing her what I found about where our family lived more than 50 years ago.

For many years I’ve debated whether to go back to Northern Italy Read more »

May
8th

Congratulations, Pierce County Library

First lady Michelle Obama presented Pierce County Library Executive Director Neel Parikh and Jo Cruz of Spanaway with the 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service today in Washington, D.C. PCL was one of 10 institutions to receive the award, the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community, and the only Northwest recipient.

As a regular Pierce County Library customer (usually at the University Place branch), I much appreciate the resources available to me and the friendly folks who are called upon a lot for help.

According to Susan Hildreth, director of the

Read more »

May
2nd

Trending issues: Same-sex marriage, the death penalty

Today was an important one for those who watch social trends. Rhode Island became the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage, and Maryland became the 18th state to abolish the death penalty. It was also the first state south of the Mason-Dixon line to get rid of capital punishment.

Those trends are heading one way: toward marriage equality and no death penalty. According to the Associated Press:

Maryland State Sen. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat and constitutional law professor who opposes the death penalty, said he believes pressure is building around the country to focus law enforcement resources on things that are proven to lower the homicide rate.

“The trend lines are clear,” Raskin said. “There’s nobody who’s adding the death penalty to their state laws. Everybody is taking it away.” Read more »

April
25th

Amber Alert needs fixing

Wednesday night’s Amber Alert was a fiasco – for television viewers, at least.

First it came on, but didn’t give any information, just saying that an Amber Alert had been issued. Then it came on again, giving information about a missing Marysville boy and the two adults he was believed to be with.

Fine. Not much I can do about it sitting in my Lakewood living room, but I get why these alerts are important.

A few minutes later, however, the alert comes back on – but the announcement is covered up by static. It goes on and on –

Read more »

April
25th

Responding to a friend’s racist jokes

Ever been having a nice time with friends or family and someone tells a racist joke? It’s happened to me a few times, and I’ve struggled how to respond adequately in a way that conveys my discomfort but doesn’t cause some kind of scene.

So I was very interested when I saw this headline on The Root, an online source of opinion from various black perspectives: “How to respond to a friend’s racist joke.” I think the article by Jenée Desmond-Harris offers some useful advice, including this:

Take your friend aside before you leave and have a chat. “Something

Read more »

April
20th

The tragedy in West, Texas

aerial photo shows the remains of a nursing home, left, apartment complex, center, and fertilizer plant, right, destroyed by an explosion in West, Texas. Rescuers searched the smoking remnants for survivors of Wednesday night's thunderous fertilizer plant explosion, gingerly checking smashed houses and apartments for anyone still trapped in debris while the community awaited word on the number of dead. Initial reports put the fatalities as high as 15, but later in the day, authorities backed away from any estimate and refused to elaborate. More than 160 people were hurt. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Aerial photo shows the remains of a nursing home, left, apartment complex, center, and fertilizer plant, right, destroyed by an explosion Wednesday in West, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

What a horrific tragedy in the Central Texas town of West: 14 dead as of this writing, mostly firefighters and EMTs responding to a call at a fertilizer plant that went about as bad as it could.

In all the coverage, I haven’t read or heard anyone explain why this kind of plant was allowed to be so close to residences and a school.

Look at the photo: Those twisted things in the circle: playground equipment, less than 1,000 feet from the plant, virtually across the street. The field in the lower right: a middle school ballpark. The rubble just to the left of the playground: a nursing home.

It’s not as if we aren’t familiar with the potentially deadly explosive power of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer. Tim McVeigh only needed a Ryder truck’s worth to destroy the Oklahoma City federal building.

The worst industrial accident in U.S. history took place not all that far from West, in coastal Texas City. An accident aboard a ship transporting fertilizer killed almost 600 people in 1947. (Many believe the death toll was much higher.) Read about the accident here.

I don’t know how many other similar plants are out there, but I suspect property values nearby just plummeted. This accident should be a cautionary tale for other cities with this kind of plant.