Thursday, November 29, 2007

Post Thanksgiving Post

Liberalpastor is gone visiting family in Pennsylvania and ProgressiveChurchlady has taken a week long break from posting. But it is time to return!

Last night I took a pause from a too busy day and went for the first time to the "new" (now almost 2 months old) Wednesday evening meditative service at Liberalchurch in Burnsville.

Joe led the service. He began the meditation time by reading, as the wind whistled through the trees around the church on this very cold November evening, verse he had written himself for the service.

by Joe Mayer
(copyright 2007)

The earth has turned away for now
From the hum of sunlit motion
To the inventing of autumn darkness
Moist roots continue to earnestly pull water
As leaves burrow into the cool soil
The earth churns them
Mixing them with its own bare flesh
Ready to unite them with seed
So as to burst up again into form
Bare branches witness these cycles
Millions of years of loving
Stretched out now to catch the snowflakes of the days ahead
The implausible orchestra of labor
All working for creation
In the secret of darkness now

So, too, this miracle is now happening in each of our human struggles
Carrying on inside of us
This rich darkness churning in our spirits
Birthing new forms
Moving us through our own creation cycle
Losses we weep into yesterday
Boundaries we reassemble
Abuses we need to reject
Vision we begin to imagine for healing, for new life, for new possibility,
For justice, for truth telling
Movement surges within us for courage to reach out and stand up for the vulnerable
Determination ferments in our hearts
To deeply forgive many, most urgently, ourselves

Lastly, this great cycle, this great planet, this great mother,
Brewing these beautiful new concoctions from our darkness, cries for
Our loving defense of herself, for she has left herself in our dreams
And in our hands

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Intelligence Allowed

My spouse and I used to watch "Win Ben Stein's Money" on The Comedy Channel every night for laughs. Even though Stein was once a speech writer for Richard Nixon, I forgive him and laugh at his jokes. He's a smart guy and the concept was funny and Jimmy Kimmel who was the quiz master on the show was just obnoxious and quick enough to make an interesting and humorous foil to Stein to embarrass him or keep him humble.

I just saw an Internet trailer of Stein's upcoming movie that he co-wrote and stars in. It is titled "Expelled" and the subtitle is "No Intelligence Allowed". From the looks of the trailer, it appears that it might just be a jab at either or both the "free exercise of religion" or the "separation of church and state" concepts as they get applied to education. I'll also guess it may have something to do with Creationism vs. Evolution debate.

"Expelled" has not yet been rated. Here's the trailer. It doesn't give you much to go on, but take a look at it and make your own guesses.

It's Jamma Day!

Last Saturday several members and friends from Liberalchurch went to a CD release concert at the Fitzgerald Theatre performed by the singer/songwriter Peter Mayer and his musical accompanists (band doesn't seem to be the right word for Mayer's group of talented musicial friends).

Mayer happens to be the brother and uncle of other Liberalchurch members so he had a built in "fan club"--not to mention he and his wife were generous enough to donate tickets and new CDs to Liberalchurch which generated some much-needed operating income. (Thanks to Liberalchurch's PLT member Lisa for working with the Mayer family to secure the donation of these tickets and CDs!)

Since first hearing Mayer's song "Holy Now" covered by another duo about 6 years ago, I've been waiting to hear him sing his own songs live. He didn't disappoint!

His new CD "Novelties" that he highlighted in the concert is a collection of songs which are humorous or have some ironic twist--novelty songs as the recording industry calls them. They are often one-hit wonders and something you play while waiting for the more serious stuff.

However there were several songs including one about his father's love for his mother's pie which were more than humorous. I particularly liked this song (Unfortunately I can't remember the exact titles of the songs. I didn't think about taking notes to write a concert review for Liberalpastor's blog until too late and I'm awaiting my own copy of the new CD) along with a song titled "Jamma Day". Jamma Day has a reggae beat and celebrates those days when you just don't feel like getting dressed.

Today is Jamma Day at my kids' school and I just got back from driving them there in my pajamas and robe. Since I'm volunteering to help serve and monitor lunch and to escort 3rd graders to the library later this afternoon, I've decided to celebrate Jamma Day with them today!

As a depression sufferer I've had lots of Jamma Days in my life. Usually these days were NOT celebrations. There was no choice involved for me. I simply didn't have the energy to get dressed on those days. Today happily I've got that choice! For the first time in months, I'm choosing to stay in my jammies.

After escorting my 3rd grader and her classmates to the Galaxie Library and back, around 3pm I will go home and change into "street clothes" run the retail/grocery store errands, cook dinner, take my daughter to tutoring, go to the Midweek Gathering at Liberalchurch, go home and get back into pajamas.

For this choice to wear pajamas most of the day today, I am extremely thankful!

The Supreme Court Chooses to Tackle the Second Amendment

Minnesota's own Louie Anderson wrote a priceless comedy routine about Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that he used to perform back in the 1980s. It all hinged on the limiting clauses to this amendment which relate the right to keep and bear arms in one's home to the sustainence of a militia for public safety. The Second Amendment was written at a time in U.S. History when the state of the art in weapon technology was a musket. Muskets took time to load and fire and reload. Current weapon technology is light years more advanced than the musket. The weaponry we have available to us today screams out for better gun control to protect people in their homes from careless accidents that lead to tragedies far too frequently.

The Supreme Court has decided to hear an appeal of a case where what appeared to be a very reasonable state gun control law was overturned on the grounds it violated the Second Amendment by a U.S. Circuit Ct. of Appeals. I am trying to remain hopeful and optimist that the U.S. Supreme Court will get this ruling right. Everyone, (including the NYTimes Op Ed writers) will be watching this case closely. Much is at stake--not the least of which are many lives of people who are killed by gun accidents on a daily basis.

Race for the Cure

Ten years from now, the scientific history that looks back on what is going on today in stem cell research will be fascinating. We are on the home stretch to gaining the ability to help cure some of humanities' most vexing illnesses. I am cheering all of these scientists on! The latest of their findings is reported in today's New York Times.

Inside Mormon Fundamentalism

Recently several books have been written revealing the pain and recovery by some individuals born to parents in the Fundamentalist Mormon sect. The book group I belonged to read one of them authored by the mountain climber John Krackhauer who had previously written a best seller Into Thin Air. (I unfortunately can't remember the title of his book about story of growing up in a Mormon family.)

Ever since a child, the Mormon faith has been a mystery to me. This feeling of mystery is shared by many others. In the 1980s my dad responded to the t.v. invitation to get your own free copy of The Book of Mormon just so he could try to gain his own understanding of how the hurtful practices of some sects derive from the Mormon text.

The cloud of cult mystery that shrouds Mormonism is one reason why the former governor of Massachusetts is having difficulty in his bid to be come the presidential nominee of the Republican party. This article in today's New York Times about the trial of a Mormon leader will not help much. At least it explains the difference between "mainstream" Mormonism and Fundamentalist Mormonism in broad strokes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Liberalchurch meets Classic Education

In October liberalpastor's messages focused on the historic unfolding of the Reformation and how it has led to the many facets of Protestant Christian faith we see around us today. It was a good education and taught or reviewed many concepts and persons that I had not studied or thought about for decades--if at all. As it turns out it was a primer for some of the children who attend Liberalchurch also!

My daughters attend a local public charter school, Paideia Academy. This school was created with a focus on the Core Knowledge Sequence curriculum developed by the Core Knowledge Foundation. This foundation was begun by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. the author of the popular book from the '80s, Cultural Literacy. The past few weeks, the 5th graders have been studying the Renaissance and Reformation. In their textbooks they have been learning how the Islamic teachings were translated into Latin and how liberal arts universities sprang up across Europe. They learned of the birth of the Renaissance in Florence and the contributions of the Medici family. They had also studied individuals important to this period such as Castiglione, Machiavelli, Martin Luther, Calvin, and St. Ignatious of Loyola. Today and tomorrow the 5th graders will be presenting their poster projects. My daughter and others in her group studied Gutenberg while her best friend and others in her group studied Zwingli.

I suspect the poster projects of Paideia Academy 5th graders will be on display after the Thanksgiving holiday break for readers who are interested in viewing students' work. If interested please contact me or Paideia Academy School Board and Liberalchurch member, Mary Hall, either of us will be happy to give you a tour of students' work displays.

Tis the Season...for junk mail!

Last night I came home after 9pm for the night to a 4" stack of mail. I am generous as to how I classify the mail we receive. My spouse considers e-mail solicitations from non-profits junk mail and would have considered at least 90% of it to be junk. I'm not so harsh. If the mail originates from an organization that we have had some connection with and is trying to contact us, than I don't classify it as junk. However, if it is from some place that has purchased my name and address from someone else--that's pure junk! (And, I'd like to know which company or organization sold my name and address so I can cancel my subscription or stop making a contribution.)

Junk mail is bad for our environment because it is wasteful and studies show that the average US household receives 41 lbs. per year. Now a nonprofit organization has been started aptly named 41 Pounds to help stop junk mail from coming to your mailbox. If you sign up for their service, they will contribute to another nonprofit charity!

Here's the address to the 41 Pounds website.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The War & Global Warming

My Newsletter article this week:

There are two great tragedies related to the war in Iraq. The first is the war itself with all of its human suffering and its mind-boggling drain on our nation's resources. Just to focus on the financial aspect, I think it is impossible to fully grasp its impact because the numbers are so huge. As an example this morning in the Star Tribune Senator Joe Biden had an editorial with suggestions about how we should respond to events in Pakistan. Among his suggestions was an infusion of foreign aid to the tune of $1.5 billion a year. An enormous sum of money, he acknowledges, but then he reminds us that this is what we are spending in Iraq every week. $1.5 billion a week. How is that possible?

The war is such a tragedy and travesty at so many levels. One of those levels is the way it is distracting us from addressing what is a real threat to the future of our planet: global warming. In my recent issue of Audubon Magazine, there is a distressing story about the rapid melting of the Arctic ice shield and the unfolding tragedy there as the food chain begins to collapse. What is already happening there could be a harbinger of what to expect around the globe. This is where we need to be spending our nation's vast resources of brain power and wealth.

There is plenty of reason to be down about the state of our country and world right now. We have big problems. And yet I remain hopeful. For one thing, I am hopeful that the political climate and direction of our country will soon change. Unfortunately, there is still plenty of time for more damage to be done, but the end-game is in sight for what I believe to be the worst political leadership in the history of our country.

But I am also hopeful because as threatening as global warming is to the future of life on our planet, there are very simple and concrete things we can do to address this issue. This is one of those problems that you and I can do something about today. In that same issue of Audubon Magazine there is, for instance, a reminder that changing the light bulbs we burn in our homes is the simplest and single-most important action we can take to make an immediate difference in global warming.

One incandescent light bulb requires 82 pounds of coal to keep it lit over its lifespan. One fluorescent bulb burns a tenth as much coal. According to the article "if every household replaced three 60-watt incandescent bulbs with CFLs, the nation would reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by an amount equivalent to taking 3.5 million cars off the highways."

I can do that, and so can you. We can also be mindful of our energy use in countless other ways. Of course, we are going to need real political leadership here too. But we don't have to wait for it to come. Everyone of us can respond today to what will likely be the biggest challenge our children will face during their lifetimes. We can begin making a difference for them right now.

Jesus, The Disciples, and Thanksgiving

That ecumenical purveyor of mirth, JibJab, has come up with their own line of videogreetings to create revnue. Here's a priceless one based upon DaVinci's "The Last Supper", and Jesus' take on Thanksgiving as it relates to one of The Seven Deadly Sins. Enjoy!

Politically Progressive Christians Unite with Politically Progressive Seculars

This morning I am happy to read an e-mail that tells me that African-American Ministers in Action are teaming up with People for the American Way to empower the progressive political movement. Here's what's happening due to the efforts of a member of both the organizations who is uniting their efforts:


Help me block the Right's Black Church power play.

Dear [Liberalchurchlady],

Right-wing political leaders think about building political power as a long-term process -- and one of their key strategies is to divide the progressive community where they can.

They've had their eyes on the Black Church for a long time -- believing that they can win elections and shift the long-term balance of power to the Right if they can just peel a percentage of black voters away from the progressive community.

As a PFAW supporter, you're probably well aware that my community is a favorite target of the Right for voter suppression because, let's face it, in addition to being vulnerable in many ways the African American vote is pretty solidly progressive. This progressivism comes from a rich tradition of commitment to moral issues like civil rights, public education and economic and social justice. That tradition is now under attack by the Right.

I'm writing to you today to tell you just how aggressively the Right is courting black pastors -- and why People For's African American Ministers In Action program is the best line of defense.

Right-wing attempts to forge alliances with black churches on wedge issues like gay marriage and private school vouchers have unfortunately been too successful. And don't think the Bush administration didn't play its part in the Right's wooing of black churches. Soon after creating the "Office of Faith-Based Initiatives" and funneling money to certain churches, it wasn't that surprising to see some pastors saying nice things about President Bush, and even his Supreme Court nominees.

The threat is real. That's why People For the American Way is pushing back hard. And that's why I'm helping.

We need your help too.

The Right's outreach to black pastors is built largely on lies. "Progressives are against religion and out to silence the Church." "Gay rights advocates have 'hijacked' and 'raped' the civil rights movement."

I'm deeply saddened that any of my colleagues would buy into this poisonous rhetoric. But as head of African American Ministers In Action, I'm fighting back. Our network already reaches 5,000 churches, but with your help we can:

Recruit more pastors into African American Ministers In Action
Give media training to more pastors willing to be strong advocates for progressive values and take on the false prophets of the far right
Create the toolkits and other materials that pastors and lay leaders can use to educate and mobilize their congregations and communities
Get more progressive African American voices into mainstream and Christian media
And much more...
Help us restore the historic prophetic role of the black church and the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr. to educate black pastors and mobilize them in the cause of justice.

As a young pastor, I worked in Dr. King's former church. And it infuriates me to hear right-wing politicians and pastors citing King to advance their agenda. Dr. King didn't cozy up to power -- he challenged it. He didn't try to use religion as a divisive political force -- he drew on his faith, and his faith in America, to challenge people of all faiths to make the nation live up to its ideals.

At the recent "Values Voter Summit," Bishop Harry Jackson -- one of the Religious Right's African American superstars -- hosted a workshop in which one panelist predicted that stronger partnerships between conservative white evangelicals and black pastors and churches could decide the 2008 election.

Let's make sure that if anyone's outreach impacts the 2008 election, it's ours and not the Right's.

Thank you.

Rev. Timothy McDonald III
Chair of African American Ministers In Action
Board Member of People For the American Way

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Big Democracy Chill

The Democratic leadership of our country continues to stifle actions launched by the progressives in its own party. The following article from Common Dreams reports how the Democratic party is treating one of its brightest and bravest progressive leaders.

Published on Monday, November 12, 2007 by
The Courage of Kucinich in Pelosi’s House of Wacks
by Linda Milazzo
Was it retaliation by the the Democratic Leadership that exempted Dennis Kucinich from appearing with fellow Presidential candidates at Friday’s Jefferson Jackson Day fundraiser in Iowa?

Was it Speaker Pelosi’s vindictive payback to Kucinich for his impudent dismissal of her “impeachment is off the table” dictum that kept Kucinich out of the Jefferson Jackson Day party? After all, hadn’t Kucinich introduced HR 333 on the House Floor just that week, calling for the impeachment of Vice President Cheney, in defiance of the prescripted cowardice in Pelosi’s House of Wacks?

Until that moment when Congressman Kucinich introduced impeachment resolution HR 333 on to the House Floor, members of Pelosi’s Democratic majority had fallen spinelessly in line, kowtowing to Pelosi’s disavowal of Article I Section 2 of the Constitution, which grants the House the authority to impeach.

Speaker Pelosi’s wanton subversion of the Constitution, which has subjected this nation and the world to the continued atrocities of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, will be far more relevant in the annals of history than her singular honor as the nation’s first woman Speaker of the House. Pelosi’s legacy (thus far), as the most powerful woman in the history of this land, has been shamefully tarnished by catastrophic failures in leadership and courage - predicated principally on her refusal to hold President Bush and Vice President Cheney accountable for their crimes.

On the heels of September 11, 2001, George W. Bush squandered his chance to capitalize on the support of the world by not taking the appropriate multilateral actions against the rogues who’d assaulted our nation from without.

On the heels of January 4, 2007, after becoming Speaker, Nancy Pelosi squandered her chance to capitalize on the support of the world by not taking the appropriate multilateral actions against the rogues who’d assaulted our nation from within - namely George Bush and Dick Cheney.

Pelosi’s failure to form the necessary coalitions to pursue Bush and Cheney for their crimes against America is as damaging as George Bush’s failure to form the necessary coalitions to pursue Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri for theirs. As Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri plot further assaults from without against America, Bush and Cheney plot further assaults from within. Some may argue the difference between the two-evil-duos is that Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri knowingly harmed America, while Bush and Cheney’s harm is unwitting. Unwitting or not, Bush and Cheney have done more long-term damage to the safety and stability of America than Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri had ever hoped to achieve.

It’s this failure on the part of Pelosi to use her authority to thwart Bush and Cheney that has incensed Democrats, and growing numbers of Republicans, all across this land. It’s Pelosi’s suppression of the members of her House, and their willingness to be suppressed, that has incensed Americans all across this land. Sadly, to the lawmakers ensconced inside the Washington bubble, the intensity of Americans’ anger is likely not known - which makes the need to intensify the levels of activism, including outreach to their offices, that much more necessary. Constant contact is critical to make them understand.

If only both Houses of Wacks would empty in 2008 - to follow the Great White. If only we could replenish them all with real leaders.

During the dozen years the Republicans held the majorities in the U.S. Senate and House, there was ample sympathy from the frustrated constituents of the long suffering Democratic minority. It was believed, and certainly hoped, that if given control, the Democrats would summon the courage and moral authority to end the war and reinstate America’s Constitutional principles and respectability in the world. Now, a full year has passed since November of 2006 and nothing of the sort has happened. In retrospect, it was sheer whimsy.

Instead, over the past year, Congress members, under the leadership of the well-mannered, genteel Speaker Pelosi, and Senators, under the leadership of the well-mannered, genteel Senator Reid, are fodder for brawling Republicans. Instead of backbone, Democrats govern by courtesy. How does one quantify how many American lives have been lost in Iraq due to courtesy? Or how many limbs have been lost? Or how many Iraqis have been murdered, maimed and displaced? How many Iraqi children have been orphaned? How many emergency rooms in America would still be open? How many Americans would have health care? How many homes would be rebuilt in New Orleans? How many fire-fighting planes would have flown over California? How many? How many? We will never know.

In different times - less urgent times - there is much to be said for courtesy. But these are not those times!!!

Then there is Dennis Kucinich - the diminutive giant in the House of Representatives. The American Congressman from the 10th District of Ohio who refuses to be silenced. The Democratic candidate for President who passionately upholds his oath to protect the people and Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies both foreign and domestic. Not as an oral exercise when sworn into office - but as a moral exercise every day in office.

For Dennis Kucinich, nothing and no one will suppress his allegiance to his country and to his abiding principle of “strength through peace.”

So when Speaker Pelosi tells the cowards in her House that “impeachment is off the table” because the fight to impeach is too hard, Kucinich doesn’t believe her. No one ever told him being a Congressman would be easy. No one ever told him maintaining democracy was a cinch. When the President and Vice President commit acts as egregious as lying the nation into illegal war, illegally surveilling their own citizens, endorsing and allowing torture, and more, the strong don’t stay quiet. It’s the weak, like Pelosi, Hoyer, Emanuel, Clyburne, Boehner, Murtha, Blunt, and over 400 others in Pelosi’s House of Wacks - Democrats and Republicans alike - who do. As do Reid, Durbin, Lott, McConnell, Feinstein and around 93 more in the Senate House of Wacks - absent Boxer and Feingold who have earned our respect.

At the October 31st Democratic candidates’ debate in Philadelphia, NBC’s Tim Russert tried to discredit Dennis Kucinich by questioning him about a UFO. Kucinich, accustomed to being blind-sided by agenda-minded practitioners like Russert, fielded the question with resilience and cool. Working in tandem, the networks and Democratic Leadership were trying to force Kucinich out of the running. It’s amazing how much pressure the honest must endure, while the compliant seem to get a free ride.

At Friday’s Jefferson Jackson Day Democratic fundraiser in De Moines, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel weren’t invited. Gravel, in all likelihood, was persona non grata to the Democratic Leadership for challenging his “fellows” on their lies, deceits and inadequacies. Gravel never seemed to “get” that his “fellows” can’t handle the truth!!

Iowa Democrats, when challenged on Kucinich and Gravel’s absence from the Jefferson Jackson Day event, stated that Kucinich and Gravel were ineligible to attend because they didn’t have an office or staff in Iowa. Point of fact, Kucinich had garnered more than enough popularity amongst Democrats to warrant his inclusion. He’s been polling quite high over the past two months, often running 4th in the field of eight.

For those who understand the politics of Pelosi’s House of Wacks, it’s clear Kucinich’s dismissal of her no impeachment bray, ensured his own dismissal from her Jefferson Jackson Day. Particularly since, Pelosi, herself, was emcee.

As of now, Kucinich’s House Resolution 333 to impeach Vice President Cheney has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by former progressive hero, John Conyers. Hopefully, Congressman Conyers will be the fortunate recipient of countless letters, phone calls, faxes and emails asking him to give HR 333 serious consideration when it comes to his committee. He can change the House of Wacks to a House of Facts - and restore his nation to sanity.

Et tu John Conyers? Will you remain silent, as you have, since winning re-election on November 7, 2006? Or will you remember Article I Section 2 of the Constitution and the oath you swore to uphold it?

Support Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s House Resolution 333 to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney.

Contact Congressman Conyers at:


2426 Rayburn Building,
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5126
Fax: (202) 225-0072

2615 West Jefferson,
Trenton, MI 48183
Phone: (734) 675-4084
Fax: (734) 675-4218

669 Federal Building
231 W. Lafayette,
Detroit, MI 48226
Phone: (313) 961-5670
Fax: (313) 226 2085

Linda Milazzo is a Los Angeles based writer, educator and activist. Her writing has appeared in numerous domestic and international newspapers, magazines and journals. Over the past three decades, Linda has divided her time between the entertainment industry, community development projects and education.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Churches Chasing Money

After a hiatus from "hard news" I was reading the local and national online newspapers this morning to come out from hibernation. This story caught my eye. I'd not heard of a church that has sued over a memorial gift in a will to contest the donor's competency to change his/her will. I wonder how much money that the church wasted on attorneys' fees? Or did they have a litigation attorney in the membership who took this case pro bono? Either way, how sad this story is on a number of levels!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Environmentalism from the Bottom Up

Please don't squeeze the Charmin! That was the Madison Ave. ad campaign for toilet paper in the 60s & 70s. So how do we get the word out about which toilet paper is the most environmentally friendly--yet effective and efficient and "gentle"? Here's the results from Grist staff's unscientific test on toilet paper reported today in their newsletter article titled "The Bottom Line".

The Bottom Line

The Wipe Stuff
A review of recycled toilet-paper brands
By Sarah van Schagen
06 Nov 2007

Time for a new roll, but what's your type?

Deciding what kind of toilet paper to buy is a delicate issue. Perhaps most significantly because you want to protect those delicates -- but what about this delicate planet of ours?

According to the NRDC, if every household in the U.S. replaced just one roll (500 sheets) of virgin-fiber toilet paper with 100 percent recycled TP, we'd save almost half a million trees. So the question becomes: Is it possible to protect both the earth and your bum? I was determined to find out.

Grist's Pick
Seventh Generation Double Rolls

400 sheets per roll/100 percent recycled/80 percent post-consumer

$3.99 for a 4-pack at Whole Foods
To aid me in my quest for chafe-free choices, I enlisted the help of the Grist staff and a few unsuspecting visitors -- including eco-model Summer Rayne Oakes, who happened to be in town for Seattle's Green Fashion Week. To each bum, his own, right?

After doing some research online (try explaining to the IT guy the appearance of in your internet history), I decided on several nationally available brands of recycled TP: Seventh Generation, Green Forest, and Whole Foods' brand 365 Everyday Value. According to the NRDC's shopper's guide (and the TP packages), those three brands are all 100 percent recycled fiber, at least 40 percent post-consumer fiber, and processed chlorine-free.

A last-minute tip about two-plys from Grist kahuna Chip Giller got me thinking about double versus single rolls, so I bought both where applicable. I also picked up a pack of Cottonelle -- a zero percent recycled, zero percent post-consumer roll made by the oft-vilified Kimberly-Clark -- to have something to compare with the recycled brands in our blind test.

Though it sparked a slew of giggles and some interesting discussions (including a particularly heated one about which way rolls should unravel), the completely unscientific experiment went well, effectively wiping clean any misgivings staffers had about TMI.

Here are the results:

Seventh Generation Single Roll
2 ply/ 260 sheets per roll/ 4.5"x4" sheet/ 130 sq. ft.
$2.69 for a 4-pack at Whole Foods
Recycled content: 100 percent
Post-consumer recycled content: 80 percent minimum
Color: white (processed without chlorine)
Pattern: flowers
Absorbency: 3.7 out of 5 (8 reviewers)
Overall comfort: 3.7 out of 5 (8 reviewers)

"A good, clean wipe," wrote one reviewer of this roll. Receiving the second-highest ratings of all the recycled rolls, this one is a good buy, though the double-roll will keep you from hitting the store so often (and at a cost of 1 cent per sheet, will actually save you a dime or so).

Seventh Generation Double Roll
2 ply/ 400 sheets per roll/ 4.5"x4" sheet/ 200 sq. ft.
$3.99 for a 4-pack at Whole Foods
Recycled content: 100 percent
Post-consumer recycled content: 80 percent minimum
Color: white (processed without chlorine)
Pattern: flowers
Absorbency: 4.1 out of 5 (9 reviewers)
Overall comfort: 4.4 out of 5 (9 reviewers)

Some reviewers questioned whether this roll was even recycled -- quite the compliment for TP that boasts a minimum 80 percent post-consumer content. Though the tree-felling Cottonelle roll beat it by one-tenth of a point in overall comfort, this little recycled-roll-that-could ruled in absorbency. Even Summer said it was "nice on the tush!"

365 Everyday Value Single Roll
2 ply/ 180 sheets per roll/ 4.3"x3.66" sheet/ 78.6 sq. ft.
$1.69 for a 4-pack at Whole Foods
Recycled content: 100 percent
Post-consumer recycled content: 40 percent minimum
Color: white (processed without chlorine)
Pattern: hearts
Absorbency: 2.7 out of 5 (6 reviewers)
Overall comfort: 2.4 out of 5 (7 reviewers)

Since this roll received the lowest marks of any of the brands tested, I recommend keeping it off your TP repertoire. I personally had an unpleasant experience with this one, as it literally fell apart in my fingers. I will give this roll credit, though, for eliciting perhaps the most awesome staff comment: "Rough, but I deserve it."

365 Everyday Value Double Roll
2 ply/ 360 sheets per roll/ 4.3"x3.66" sheet/ 157.3 sq. ft.
$2.99 for a 4-pack at Whole Foods
Recycled content: 100 percent
Post-consumer recycled content: 40 percent minimum
Color: white (processed without chlorine)
Pattern: hearts
Absorbency: 3.1 out of 5 (8 reviewers)
Overall comfort: 2.7 out of 5 (8 reviewers)

While boasting twice as many sheets as its single cousin, this roll failed to impress the masses. One reviewer mentioned that more sheets were needed to do the job than expected. Note that both of the 365 Everyday Value rolls have smaller dimensions than any of the other sheets.

Green Forest Single Roll
2 ply/ 198 sheets per roll/ 4.5"x4" sheet/ 99 sq. ft.
$1.99 for a 4-pack at Whole Foods
Recycled content: 100 percent
Post-consumer recycled content: 40 percent minimum
Color: white (processed without chlorine)
Pattern: flower patchwork
Absorbency: 2.3 out of 5 (8 reviewers)
Overall comfort: 3.4 out of 5 (8 reviewers)

This roll was soft, but a bit thin and flimsy when it came to doing its dooty. It is, however, one of the cheaper four-packs -- but I say saving that ass is better than saving that cash.

Cottonelle Double Roll
1 ply/ 352 sheets per roll/ 4.5"x4" sheet/ 176 sq. ft.
$3.39 for a 4-pack at Rite Aid
Recycled content: 0 percent
Post-consumer recycled content: 0 percent
Color: white (chlorine!)
Pattern: vertical lines
Absorbency: 4.0 out of 5 (8 reviewers)
Overall comfort: 4.5 out of 5 (8 reviewers)

As expected, this non-recycled roll -- included in the mix as a control -- received high marks for overall comfort. While this one felt quite easy on the arse, some staffers reported feeling only guilt, as they suspected it wasn't so easy on the earth. Others had complaints about the vertical-line pattern on the 1-ply paper.

The bottom line: You can protect your bum without being a bummer for the earth. For maximum absorbency and (guilt-free) comfort, we suggest Seventh Generation double rolls.

Note--The staff of The Grist does not weigh in on how much toilet paper to use "per wipe" in their article. I'm awaiting that next column! As posted earlier on this blog, Sheryl Crow says 2 squares is plenty. It'd be a good Family Feud question!

"How many squares of toilet paper do you use to wipe after going to the bathroom?...One Hundred People surveyed said..."

Friday, November 09, 2007

ENDA Passes House--History Made Yesterday

Although I've not posted this week, I couldn't let this historic moment go by without noting it. Here's what the President of the Human Rights Campaign had to say about it yesterday...

Today, I witnessed something that just a year ago seemed nearly impossible. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

We are one step closer to our ultimate goal of ensuring that all GLBT Americans no longer live in fear of losing their jobs.

The progress we've made today is historic - it is the first time either house of Congress has passed employment protections of this kind. It took over 30 years of lobbying and grassroots political work to get to this point, and while the bill that finally passed was not the fully inclusive version we sought, this represents a major advance - and the best way to move towards our long-term goal of protecting our entire community.

HRC first helped introduce ENDA 13 years ago, to prevent workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. This year, gender identity was added to the bill. Unfortunately, gender identity was not covered in the version that passed today, but this vote was a first and absolutely necessary step towards equality for GLBT people in the workplace.

That's why HRC joined with a coalition of major civil rights groups who declared support for the bill before the final vote, including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR includes more than 192 national civil rights organizations), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), and the National Education Association (NEA).

Supporting this version of the bill was a difficult and painful decision. But, without a doubt, the only path to achieving a bill protecting our whole community was by achieving the successful House vote today. A defeat of ENDA would have set back the possibility of an inclusive bill for many, many years.

HRC remains 100% committed to doing the hard work necessary to pass legislation that protects our entire community, including transgender workers who remain especially vulnerable to workplace discrimination.

Today, we continue our determined march towards progress. And we recommit ourselves to educating our leaders and our neighbors, to speed the day when our community will be protected, as one.

Your support has enabled HRC to lead the way in this struggle. We have formed strategic alliances in Congress, activated an unprecedented number of grassroots supporters, met with editorial boards, brought clergy to Washington to lobby their elected officials, and worked with the corporate community to expand GLBT workplace protections.

We spent years defending ourselves from anti-GLBT attacks from the radical right. Now we are on the offense. But make no mistake: the extremists who work against us every day will be working overtime to hold back our progress.

Our fight will not be won overnight - it will be won one step at a time. This has been a grueling few weeks for our community, but we have never once given up on achieving our ultimate goal of workplace equality for GLBT Americans.

Along this road, there will be challenges, but we must not allow them to divide us. We know we are working towards the same goal: equal rights for all.

We can get there, together, and we will.


Joe Solmonese

P.S. I would also like to share with you some insights of former HRC Executive Director Vic Basile - whose op-ed was published last week. I think it helps put today's victory into context as we continue down the road to a fully inclusive ENDA.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Daylight Saving Time and SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that stems from deprivation to direct sunlight and those of us living closer to the poles may be more prone to it during our winter months. For me, it hits hard in November after the daylight saving time change. When I was diagnosed with SAD back in the early 90s, I purchased a lightbox (then not covered by insurance, now it may be covered if I had to replace it). The Beyond Blue blog on Beliefnet today talks about SAD and refers to an excellent summary of the affliction and treatment options from John's Hopkins

Thursday, November 01, 2007

This is definately a LIBERALCHURCH!

The Human Rights Campaign's Equally Speaking newscast today reports about a church that allowed their transgenered pastor a name change.

Who You Gonna Call? Depression Busters!

This priceless list appeared on Beliefnet's "Beyond Blue" blog today.

The Day of the Dead--All Saint's Day

A good friend of mine from college and law school, Carol, told me about how she and her brother would torture their faithful--but forgetful--Catholic mother when they were kids. Catholics have Holy Days of Obligation which are days other than Sunday where attending mass is required for the saving of the soul. Carol and her brother on days like Ash Wednesday (always a Wednesday, but not the same Wednesday each year) and All Saint's Day (always Nov. 1 but could fall on any day of the week) would wait until around bedtime--always after the last mass of the day had ended--and question their mother, "Hey mom, today was a Holy Day, wasn't it?" This would of course send her into a fit of pique as she anxiously worried about the salvation of her family until she could drag herself and her family to the next confession.

Nov. 1 is All Saint's Day or The Day of the Dead one of the Holy Days. People around the world will "commune" with the spirits of their departed ancestors. I located this article on how to make your own Day of the Dead Altar in case you'd like to commemorate your departed loved one today in the Latino style.

Now its time to read my copy of The Complete Idiots Guide to Psychic Awareness that I picked up in the checkout line of the grocery store. I'm not sure which of my deceased family members' spirits I want to try to communicate with today...