Well, 2010, you certainly provided a wild ride. Highs, lows, and everything in between. I learned more about myself this year than probably any year in at least the last decade. Some of it was pleasant – like learning that I am, in fact, capable of running for considerable distances – and some of it was damned traumatic, but I figure I’m a better person for knowing myself. Part of me wishes that you could have been more like 2009, but I do believe the years ahead will be better for what you’ve taught me, 2010.
It’s now approaching 11:00 PM on New Year’s Eve. In a few minutes I will finish this blog post and welcome the first few minutes of 2011 working on my novel-in-progress, in hope that will inspire a year of productivity. 2010 was, among other distinctions, yet another year that I did not get anything published. I also did not finish my second novel as I’d hoped – but I’m planning to do so in mid-2011.
Rather than focus on what I did not accomplish, however, I’d like to take a minute to review the positive changes that came out of 2010. Continue Reading
As we approach the end of the tax year, I thought I’d share a brief list of the charitable organizations I personally support. Some of you can probably afford to make much larger gifts than I can, and I’d encourage you to give generously to support these causes.
While I am a meat eater, I don’t see why eating an animal after it’s dead requires that it be tortured while alive. Food labels like Certified Organic, Pasture-Fed, and Free Range are essentially meaningless these days, but one label can be trusted to say that the animal you’re eating was not made to suffer throughout its life: Certified Humane. These labels come only from the folks at HFAC, and they are rigorous in enforcing strict criteria before they’ll give out the label.
I will admit that I don’t always buy Certified Humane, but that’s because it’s still difficult to find. Supporting this organization will help raise awareness, and that will make Certified Humane products much easier to find. You can learn more and donate through HFAC’s web site.
Founded by an old friend of mine (now apparently known as “Doctor Ben”), the Cell Motion Biobus is a mobile science classroom that travels New York City, bringing sound science education, taught by PhD scientists, to students whose districts can’t afford expenses like microscopes and computers.
You may have seen the Biobus on the Colbert Report in March, when they stole Stephen’s blood. The organization reaches about 20,000 people a year, and they operate on a shoestring. You can learn more, volunteer, and make a much-needed donation at their web site.
As if I would forget my employer. As I’ve been known to say, I work for the ACLU because I support the cause, and not vice-versa. The ACLU was the first charity I ever donated to, back when I was about 17 years old. It is no exaggeration to say that the ACLU has not only defended, but in fact shaped the U.S. Constitution. Did you know that no court ever upheld a free speech claim until the ACLU started arguing cases?
I view the ACLU as the world’s most important non-profit organization, and every American, whether they support the ACLU or oppose it, benefits from the ACLU’s 90 years of work. Your gift to the ACLU is shared equally between the National organization and your state affiliate, no matter where you send it.
Incidentally, if you are one of those people who hates the ACLU, I’d invite you to learn more – particularly the articles on Snopes, and a list of the ACLU’s real work defending Christianity. Most people who hate the ACLU have entirely the wrong idea about what we do, because unfortunately there are a lot of people out there telling outright lies about the organization.
This was a banner year for Christmas cards at the ACLU of Pennsylvania. We didn’t keep an exact count, but the total was somewhere over 500 cards. Of those 500, perhaps twenty were kind thoughts from people who like us. The other 480 or so were angry, angry, angry.
In case you’ve missed it, there is an annual campaign to bury the ACLU under Christmas cards. A chain email that’s been circulating for a decade or more insists that if we get enough Christmas cards, we’ll have to spend all of our time and resources opening them (just in case they contain money!) and won’t be able to do anything else with our time. Shades of “Miracle on 34th Street,” I suppose.
This is all under the mistaken impression that the ACLU is fighting a War on Christmas, that we’ve told Macy’s and other department stores that we’ll sue if they wish shoppers a Merry Christmas, and that we’re somehow campaigning to have the Christmas Tree re-branded the “Holiday Tree.” It’s all a bunch of nonsense, of course. None of those claims are true, and we think people should be free to celebrate whatever holiday celebration appeals to them – just that the government shouldn’t be in the business of dictating what holiday that is.
So I present for you a gallery of a few favorite Christmas cards we received this year. As a nerd who has recently been studying a lot of ancient and Classical societies, I have to say that I especially enjoy the frequent theme that “it’s ALWAYS been a CHRISTMAS tree.” Perhaps a brief course in Western Civilization would be beneficial… Continue Reading