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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Repost: At the Garden of Gethsemane

While I write here often, there are in fact very few things I write in this blog which I actually re-read, ever.  What I've re-posted below is the exception to that rule.  It being Easter, it seems fitting to re-post this, knowing full well that any of us on any day may in fact face our own Garden of Gethsemane.  

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

At the Garden of Gethsemane

One of the most insightful (at least for me) biblical stories is found in the Gospel of Matthew, and deals with Christ at the Garden of Gethsemane. In case you are not overly familiar with the story, it takes place the day before the Crucifixion of Christ. The details aren't so important to this discussion, other than Christ goes to this garden to pray, knowing that he would be betrayed by Judas, turned over to the Romans, and ultimately put to death.

Now what's so insightful about that?

Consider This: According to Christian teaching, Christ...being God...knew that by going to Gethsemane He would ultimately be put to death. At any point He could have changed His path and spared His own life, but He chose not to. He consciously sacrificed His own life, if you believe in Christian teaching, for the greater good of all mankind.

Consider This: To this day, people make conscious choices that ultimately lead to their death. For example, Father Mychal F. Judge, a Franciscan priest, went into the south tower of the World Trade Center after it had been hit by an airplane to minister to the wounded. While history doesn't record whether or not he thought he would die, it's pretty clear he knew what he was doing was exceptionally dangerous.

In the final analysis, some of us will be faced with our own "Garden of Gethsemane", where we need to make a choice between self-preservation or preservation of the greater good. Ultimately that is the most personal of decisions that anyone can make, and furthermore I doubt any of us are prospectively capable of saying what we would do if put into that situation. There is, however, no greater love that can ever be expressed than through the thoughtful and conscious act of sacrificing oneself for a greater good.  

Friday, March 29, 2013

Dealing with door-to-door solicitors

A colleague at work posting the following on the Facebooks:

It gets warmer and all the solicitors thaw out and start walking the streets again. Must remind hubby to not answer the door and ignore them.

Which got me to thinking the following:  what else could be done to deal with door to door solicitors?  Well here are a few suggestions.

Answer the door and...

  1. ...say "I'm sorry, we're in the middle of sacrificing a goat to our Lord Satan.  Would you mind coming back later?".
  2. ...immediately just start reading from the Unabomber manifesto.  Don't stop until they leave.
  3. ...scream "No! Not again!" and slam the door in their face. 
  4. ...start scratching your arm and say "Damn scabies!" and then offer to shake their hand.
  5. broadly and say "Oh Hi! Can I interest you in a copy of the Book of Mormon?".
  6. ...answer every question they ask by saying "What's the frequency, Kenneth?".
  7. ...say in your best Freddy Krueger voice, "Ah, how sweet. Fresh meat!".
  8. ...just start sneezing, repeatedly and don't stop until they leave.
  9. ...speak in a made up language.  You can, for example, use quotes from the movie The Day The Earth Stood Still:  "Klaatu baraada nikto".
  10. ...say "I'm sorry, I'd love another cat, but I already have 48." and simply close the door.

You can thank me later.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The purpose of marriage, 03.26.2013

Selected quotations from Attorney Charles J. Cooper, arguing in defense of California's Proposition 8 in front of the United States Supreme Court today.

Citation HERE.  Red hi-lites by me.

* * * * * * * * 

MR. COOPER: No, Your Honor, we certainly are not. We — we are saying the interest in marriage and the — and the State 's interest and society's interest in what we have framed as responsible pro -­ procreation is — is vital, but at bottom, with respect to those interests, our submission is that same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are simply not similarly situated.

MR. COOPER: Yes, Your Honor. The concern is that redefining marriage as a genderless institution will sever its abiding connection to its historic traditional procreative purposes, and it will refocus, refocus the purpose of marriage and the definition of marriage away from the raising of children and to the emotional needs and desires of adults, of adult couples. Suppose, in turn -­

MR. COOPER: Your Honor, society's -­ society's interest in responsible procreation isn't just with respect to the procreative capacities of the couple itself. The marital norm, which imposes the obligations of fidelity and monogamy, Your Honor, advances the interests in responsible procreation by making it more likely that neither party, including the fertile party to that -­

* * * * * * * * 

Permit me, if you will, to translate what Attorney Cooper is saying:  The purpose of marriage is procreation.  Not love between two individuals.  Not a lifelong commitment.  No, it's first and foremost for making babies.  This, not so co-incidentally, is also a religious definition for marriage.  For example, according to teachings of the Roman Catholic Church:

Traditionally speaking, the primary purpose of marriage is the generation and nurturing of offspring; the second purpose is the mutual help of spouses, and the third is the remedy for concupiscence.

Reference HERE.

So, the next question is  this:  if you are married and... and your partner are not infertile
or marry at a later age
...for a variety of reasons you don't want children

...does this mean that your marriage isn't "traditional"?  

Someone want to explain that one to two individuals, say, Fred and Sally, who are both 64 and previously had spouses who passed away? I guess that if Fred and Sally got married it would be neither be "traditional" nor would it be within "marital norm".  In fact, according to Attorney Cooper's logic, their marriage is actually abnormal in that it focuses on the emotional needs and desires of two adults.  For shame!  Add me to the abnormal list, by the way, in that one day when I re-marry I will have no interest in further procreation.  

Also, precisely why would the "State" care who or why the Hell someone married?  Make the argument about "society", and while I'll disagree, I can at least see some logic to the point.  However, I hope that my Libertarian friends are bristling at the notion that the "State" somehow even gets a say in this discussion.  Personally I think it's none of the "State's" damn business who or why I marry, thank you very much!

Sometimes the best counter argument is to simply point out what the other person is saying.  Slowly.  In writing.  Parsed out for the logic...or percolate through.

Friday, March 22, 2013

This week: by the numbers

For no other reason than my own entertainment.

Number of pizza slices I was able to tolerate at lunch today.

Number of expense vouchers I completed this week at work.

Number of Albert girls I heard from this week.

Number of hours of sleep I got last night.

Number of hours I spent in large group meetings this week.

Number of minutes I spent on the elliptical at work today.

Number of hours in my official "work week".

Additional amount I probably need to have withheld from my pay so that I break even tax wise in 2013.

Cost to get my brother's computer cleared  of computer Herpes.

Number of entries in the company acronym list I have been compiling at work.

Approximate number of miles I drove this week.

(Longwood Gardens, October 2012)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Advice to my daugthers

A few thoughts on getting older, giving you the gifts I was never given.

As you get older... begin to realize that you are even an adult when it comes to your own parents. begin to see that everyone has their own dysfunction to deal with.  It isn't just you. see that no "thing" can ever make you happy. appreciate what the word "legacy" really means. begin to surrender yourself to what will happen, knowing both that you will deal with whatever happens anyway and that calories spent worrying were calories spent for nothing. begin to understand that what you say and how you say it matters. see the beauty in simpler things. see the shallowness that accompanies being young. realize that how you show up to a situation matters just as much as what you fact, it pretty much  determines what you do. realize that pride probably does about as much harm as it does good. see that if you spend too much time looking in life's rear-view mirror you will almost certainly crash into on-coming traffic. realize that it's important to be prepared. understand that you are respectful to others not as a statement about them, but rather as a statement about you. being to see that of all the emotions, arrogance is probably the most dangerous. realize that we allow annoying small things to bother us all the time, yet we don't always notice the small beautiful things that can inspire us. truly understand that what you surround yourself with is what you become.  Put another way, if you lay in sewer, don't be shocked if you smell.  This applies in equal parts to people, places and things. see that your efforts matter, if only to you. realize that while pleasing others is nice, you have to live with yourself 24|7|365.

In the end you are only given one life, so live it well, understanding that ultimately it is based on decisions you make.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pope Fallout

A few miscellaneous (and serious this time) comments about the new Pope.

  • Conspiracy BS - Don't buy the conspiracy stuff about how the new Pope had two Jesuits kidnapped, or killed, or whatever he is accused of; that just screams of nonsense.  Funny, but some accuse Priests and Bishops of putting loyalty to clergy before the safety of children (rightly so...) and now some of those same people are accusing the new Pope of failing to be loyal to his fellow Jesuits.  Serious claims require serious proof, and I've not seen any for these accusations.
  • Speaking of Jesuits - I have nothing but high regards for the members of Jesuit order.  As a young man I was an altar server at Holy Family Church (now a parking lot for the Commonwealth Medical College) and had the good fortune of serving Mass with Jesuits from Scranton Prep.  Each and every Jesuit I served with was kind and put me at ease.  I  couldn't say the same for my own Pastor.
  • Some things will not change - The Roman Catholic Church will not begin ordaining women.  It will not allow abortions on demand.  It will not allow married priests.  Sorry, not going to happen with this Pope or any Pope over the next 50 years (or more). Yours, my and any other opinions...other than that of the new Pope...don't matter here.  His Church, his rules.  Anyone who doesn't like it can become an Episcopalian.  I'm personally amazed at the outrage some people feel towards the Roman Catholic Church when it comes to these issues; it's as if somehow they are being forced to remain in a religion that offends them greatly.  Newsflash:  if you don't like the rules, you can simply play a different game.
  • Some things may change - Don't be shocked if the Catholic Church does get a tad bit more liberal when it comes to contraception.  No, it will not be open season on birth control pills and the IUD will still be viewed as a form of abortion.  What may change though is the view the Church as regarding some other methods of contraception, such as condom use.  The wheels are already in motion on that one.
  • Women - One thing I do hope to see change over the next year or two is the not-so-subtle war the Holy See has waged against women religious in the United States.  Enforcing doctrinal purity is one thing, cutting off your fingers because you have a few callouses is another.  This is a war that the Church shouldn't fight, as it's basically just fighting itself.  Besides, women religious in this country have done far more to promote the best ideals of the Roman Catholic faith than many of their male counterparts.  Put another way:  if you're being attacked by the enemy, it probably doesn't make sense to shoot the soldier next to you, even if you think he has bad aim.
  • Sexual abuse of children - Here's to hoping that the new Pope takes a firm, uncompromising stand against those who have covered up the abuse of children by clergy.  For the Roman Catholic Church to have true moral authority it has to act in a truly moral manner.  Failing to fully root out the cancer of child sex abuse is as immoral as it comes.  It is also a strong disservice to the vast majority of religious who, day in and day out, do good work.  
  • Vatican Bank - Modern banking requires transparency.  The Roman Catholic Church is as un-transparent an institution as an institution can get (...and that's okay...for a purposes of running a religion).  Maybe it should just get out of the banking business all together.  "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's" (Mark 12:17).

I truly do hope that the reign of Pope Francis is transformational for the Roman Catholic Church.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Popetastic: I give myself a grade of "B"


Here's how the new Pope shakes down, per my prior prognostication:
  1. Is he a he:  Yes.
  2. Is he old:  Yes (age 76).  
  3. Is he a white guy:  Yes.
  4. Is he from Europe (especially Italy):  No, but he's darn close*
(*) The Pope, while born in Argentina, was born to Italian parents.  He also speaks Italian fluently, with a slight accent.  I figure I get at least a third of a point for that one.

The big surprise, actually, is that he is a Jesuit.  I don't think anyone expected that...

More serious reading about Pope Francis can be obtained HERE.

I'll end this on a high/low note, courtesy of The Onion.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Newsflash: Carbon rod leads Tom Corbett in hypothetical matchup

Just when you think our governor's approval ratings couldn't get any lower, well, they do.

Public Policy Polling:  Pennsylvania

Tom Corbett has managed to instill a knack for bad policy with a personal vibe that can best be described as "Mr Burns meets Richard Nixon".  He just doesn't come across as a very likable guy, which, by the way, has nothing to do with his political affiliation.  Hell, Tom Ridge, for my money, was one of the most likable governors Pennsylvania has had in recent memory.

Quite the accomplishment if you ask me.

Papal Conclave 2013: Countdown to the next old white guy

Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church being their deliberations today that will ultimately lead to a (new) old white guy to run the Church.  Yes, this gets a lot of media attention, but remember that we have a dozen or so 24 hour news channels, so pretty much anything gets news coverage these days.  What's more, the Papal Conclave has three things going for it that make great fodder for cable news:

1.  Lots of men dressed in red, which makes for great video.
2.  Lots of cloak-n-dagger secrecy.
3.  That "foreign/European" vibe that Americans find so fascinating.

It all makes for great theatrics.  Then they pick a new Pope, who will be:  a man, old, with a 99% chance he will be a white and about a 98% he will be European.  Don't by the "Pope from Africa" stories.  That's just hype.  Trust is a function of credibility and intimacy, and never forget that more than half of the Church's Cardinals come from Europe (reference HERE).

As American, we also are at a disadvantage when it comes to Papal elections.  Yes, I'm already conceding that the next Pope will not come from the United States.  That's a given.  No, I'm talking about the fact that Americans are, at their heart (and regardless of political ideology) a fair-minded people.  We have an almost inherent sense of propriety, so much so that fight wars over it.  This makes it difficult for us to understand a process by which the outcome is a forgone conclusion, but yet the process continues as if it were not.  Think about it:  we have presidential conventions every 4 years and the attendees are absolutely certain that their candidate will win.  Presidential elections have no such certainty though.  In over 200 years the United States has elected Presidents of different races, ethnic backgrounds and religions.  In less than 4 years we may in fact elect a woman to be the next President.  It's amazing.

Papal elections, on the other hand, have a sense of certainty. Every Pope has been white.  Every Pope has been a European.  Every Pope has been a man.  There is no sense of "endless possibilities here".  The notion of "anything can happen" does not apply.  The conclave is over before it begins.

Now could I be wrong?  Sure. The next Pope could come from Latin America.  I could also find a suitcase full of $100 bills on the way to work.  Both, however, are unlikely.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Road Apples, #135

The Sign of Spring in Scranton...One of the sure fire signs of least it is the annual St Patrick's Day.  For the un-intiated, this is where...

...120,000 people descend on downtown Scranton owners needed to be coaxed into NOT opening at 7am
...the local DA brags about getting bar owners to not open at 7am
...that smelly stuff in the gutter that you just walked in was, 5 minutes before, just in someone else's stomach can say "Up the Irish!" and it's somehow taken as a compliment

For the record, NO ONE needs to be drinking beer at 7am.  Anyway and as for me, I haven't been to the parade in decades.  And I'm really okay with that, thank you very much.  In Scranton warmer weather begins with the Irish (St. Patrick's Day Parade) and ends with the Italians (La Festa).

Brewing Idea for a Posting...dealing with performance appraisal feedback.  More to come.

Why do I pay $20 for tee shirts?...Three words:  Extra + Large + Tall.  Kudos to Eddie Bauer for being the source for extra large tall shirts.  That's why half of what I own has Eddie's name emblazened.  In fairness, the shirts I get from Eddie Bauer also wear like iron (I've had some 5 years and they show no sign of decay) and are very soft.  One of these days other stores will carry more tall sizes and I can go there and overpay for their stuff.  Until then, Eddie gets my sheckels.

Facebook Follies...I recently did some cleaning up in the Facebooks.  Now for the record, I've never had more than 110 Facebook "friends" (quotes to denote silliness).  Even that felt like too many though.  My children, for example, probably have enough Facebook "friends" between the three of them to staff an aircraft carrier, but I personally believe that NO ONE has 500 real frends.  Well maybe Bill Clinton, but not most people.  So in looking over my Facebook "friends" list I had some criteria I used to determine which "friends" stay or go:

...if I know you in the real world you were likely to stay
...if you had over 200 friends and I only marginally knew you, you were likely to go
...if I only marginally knew you and you had less than 200 friends you were likely to stay
...if you were a politican you were likely to go
...if you never posted on your own Facebook account then you were likely to go

None of this amounts to basically nothing really, other than the underlying fact, I think, that we all need to be reminded that virtual reality is just that..."virtual".  When that strays to far from actual reality then maybe we all need to make an adjustment or three.

The Strange Case of Cardinal O'Brien...You can read about it HERE.  What's remarkable about this case is that Cardinal O'Brien has been accused of sexual misconduct related to priests.  The result?  Well after he came out with a statement suggesting that the Catholic Church should allow for married clergy, he was almost immediately forced to resign.  Consider this though:  how many members of the clergy have been accused of sexual misconduct related to children but yet were not forced to resign?  As I have noted many, many time before, I do not believe that clergy...from any more or less likely to engage in the abuse of children.  That's not the issue.  The real issue is that the Catholic Church seems to act much faster when misconduct allegations are made against someone questioning core teachings than they are when it's just run of the mill children potentially being harmed.  I know that many devote Catholics choose a "I don't want to think about this" mentality when it comes to the abuse of children and Church corruption (as evidenced by the failure to act against credible accusations of sexual misconduct...see the case of Monsignor Lynn of Philadelphia...famous Church "bag man" for Cardinal Bevilacqua), but this kind of thing will never, ever change unless the faithful rise up and demand that it changes.  Period.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

On Dogs

I don't have a pet dog.  I am, in fact, a decidedly cat kind of person.  As evidence, I point to my Domestic Short-hair, who goes by the names JeanLuc, General Stirling Price, Friend, Bold Young Man, Good Boy, Pud and countless others.  It's important that your cat have many different names.  Just ask T.S.Eliot.  Besides, in my experience your cat either can't understand what their name is or, more likely, simply doesn't care.

Which brings me to dogs.

While I don't have a dog, and probably will not ever have a dog, I don't have anything conceptually against dogs.  In fact I love the concept of a dog.  They are noble, loving and loyal creatures...unlike many of their owners.

To the extent to which I have a "problem" with dogs it's because I find that they are, well, stinky.  Given all the senses, my sense of smell is the one that works best.  God knows it's not sight or hearing.  I can't blame dogs for their olfactory impairment, as you or I would probably be stinky as well if we consumed what dogs consume.  Besides, I know plenty of stinky humans as well.  If the worst thing that you can say about a creature is that it "had bad breath" or that it "breaks wind a lot", then that's not so bad.  Again, I wish that were the case with many of the humans I deal with.

There is another reason why I'm probably not going to get a dog any time soon:  I just can't see doing the "walkies" early in the morning in January, for example.  That's not fair to the dog, and it would just make me cranky if I had to.  Having a dog means that you should be doing things like venturing out into the tundra before dawn in January.  You owe it to the dog.  That's your price for having such a noble, loyal creature in your life, and in all honesty, my sloth aside for a moment, it's a pretty reasonably cost.

So the bottom line is that I really do like dogs.  I'm just really not good enough to own one.  Which is okay.

Want to know what's not okay?  Well when it comes to dogs, I have a list.

(See story HERE)
  1. Evil Owners.  I am disgusted and appalled at how some people treat their dogs.  Is it me or is the owner of just about every starved dog you see on television bloated and morbidly overweight? What's more, anyone that would abuse a dog (or any other pet) has senses dulled enough to abuse a human as well.  
  2. Proclaiming Some Breeds As Being Bad.  This includes enacting laws against certain kinds of dog breeds, such as Pit Bulls.  Look, I'm a science kind of guy, and everything I've read, seen and discussed with dog owners tells me that, for example, some Pit Bulls are dangerous because they have been raised to be dangerous.  It's not the dogs fault, it's the fault of the evil humans that trained the dog to act against it's nature.  Hell, some children are mean and harmful; does that mean we should ban children as well?  I think we should ban idiots from owning dogs instead of banning some breeds of dogs.
  3. Unleashed Dogs  Dog's can't conceptualize the notion of drunk drivers, sick-evil humans or other such hazards in our world.  Why expose them to this kind of stuff?  If you have a dog, let it roam free in your house or, at worst, in your completely fenced in yard.  Don't let it run free.  That's stupid and simply asking for trouble.
  4. Eating Dogs.  I know, this will sound culturally insensitive, but so be it:  I find the idea of eating a dog to be something like cannibalism.  
  5. Puppy Mills.  This goes along with item #1.  If I were to get a dog it would come from a shelter.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Reply to Comments & Mail

I do appreciate people who comment on my postings and those that take the time to write.  Note though that in both instances I do reserve the right to both comment back (in fact I almost always do) or respond to emails in this public venue.  So here we go...

Various Email Replies

Reply to Heather
Thank you for the email and I do appreciate the sincerity with which you approach your cause.  However as a general rule I don't promote things on this blog unless they are causes that are personal to me.  My $10 to GoDaddy, my rules.  Best of luck promoting Lungleavin Day 2013 by the way.  Wait, did I just break my own rule?  Oh well...

Reply to Mike
I don't really care about gaining "more traffic and better rankings".  

Reply to Mona
Please don't tell me that I've won some kind of Microsoft prize via an email with a gmail domain.  I'm no genius, but even I could think of a better scam than that.

Reply to Subhash
No, you can not have my trust.  Ever.  Period.  

Reply to Robin
I do not know what "Organic SEO Services" are, so coming up with a snarky reply is proving difficult.  

Reply to several individuals promoting "Southern Pride" 
As I've said before, using the "Stars-n-Bars" to promote southern heritage is like using the swastika to promote German heritage.  I can think of dozens of better symbols of the south.  We can start with milt juleps and go from there.

Comment Reply
The comment text editor for is stinky (so is that of the other providers, by the way), so rather than continue my reply to "Another Steve" after the Rest in Peace Dr Koop posting, I'm going to reply here.  The original reply is pasted below (lighter text), along with my responses [dark red text].

Anonymous said...
What kind of blog is this? Well this is not a "political" blog. 
[Technically it's a "whatever I want to write about" blog.]
I would thank you for making the change to President Reagan's name but that wasn't a reflection on me but on you.  [Conversely, I didn't make the change to please anyone; in fact I made the change to please noted before, the reference was disrespectful of the dead, which is in no way, shape or form cool, good or proper.  Bottom line?  I appreciate being called out on it.  I may be rightfully called many things, but "incapable of learning" and "pigheaded"...even if charged...are incorrect.]
I posted your remarks on top here, not to be a wise guy, [I didn't take your point as being from a were, in fact, spot-on correct.] only to say that once in a while it's a bit difficult to tell that it isn't a political blog. I do realize that at times there is no avoiding it.

Though you didn't accuse me of being "hard right" I want to assure you that I am not. I've voted for plenty of Democrats in my 61 years. Both parties, in my opinion, leave a LOT to be desired and I keep saying I'm going to re register as an Independent but, what would that accomplish? I continue to vote for the person, NOT the party and I'm proud of that. [We agree 110% on that point.  I continue to vote for candidates from both parties.  Anyone who votes a straight party line all the time is, in my estimation, ill-informed and naive.]

You're correct in that I see things through my own lens and I'll be the first to say it's been scratched and clouded over the years but it's served me well. I don't limit my decisions to that lens though, I also go by sound and smell (limit my sense of touch, thank you). I won't comment more on that except to say I'm not referring to your blog. [Ahhhh okay.  Thanks.]

I also have a PHD in criticizing myself (and I appreciated your comment first hand) so I have to ask, were you attempting to give me a grammar lesson when you said, "Finally you give me far too much credit by saying I write like a 6 year old (I am assuming you meant me, as your sentence reads as if you were actually talking about yourself)or was it a "I'm rubber, you're glue" type of statement?  [I was being snarky.  My oldest daughter is an English teacher; I am not.]

No, I don't intend this to be a ping pong game of words. I don't normally leave comments but I decided to write that first one because your comments aren't what I've come to expect from you.  [I consider it to be an act of praise to be told that I have acted in a way which wasn't expected.]

I'll check back a few times in the future to determine if I keep reading. [If you do, that's great.  If you don't, that's great too.  Life is too short to spend too much time reading things blogs anyway.  Blogs are to writing as comics are to painting.]

Thanks and best wishes to you and yours,  [Thank you!]
Another Steve 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Rest in Peace Dr Koop

Dr C. Everett Koop died on February 25th; I believe that he was 96 years old at the time of his death.

Quick, can you name a Surgeon General...any Surgeon General...OTHER THAN Dr Koop?  I know, that was a trick question (bad blogger!), as I know most folks can't.  I can't.  Yet that little trick speaks volumes about just how great of a man Dr Koop was and what kind of legacy he leaves us.

Thinking back to the 1980's, I'll state for the record that I don't consider President Reagan to have been all that great, despite the near sainthood bestowed on him by many.  And I'm not going to talk about why I feel that way either, as it's not the point.  What is the point is the fact that I think President Reagan did two really great things while in office:

1) He brought the country together after the Challenge explosion.  I still remember his speech to the nation.

2) He kept Dr Koop in office, despite many calls by social conservatives for his ouster.

It can be said about very few of us that we truly made the world a better place after we depart, but that's most definitely true about Dr Koop.  More than any other single individual, he is responsible for our nation having become much less tolerant of cigarette smoking.  Enjoy smoke free eating in a restaurant?  A smoke free workplace?  Hell, like the fact that the vast majority of people who do smoke don't do so in their own homes?  You can thank Dr Koop.  As quoted from THIS ARTICLE in the New York Times:

"When Dr. Koop took office, 33 percent of Americans smoked; when he left, the percentage had dropped to 26. By 1987, 40 states had restricted smoking in public places, 33 had prohibited it on public conveyances and 17 had banned it in offices and other work sites. More than 800 local antismoking ordinances had been passed, and the federal government had restricted smoking in 6,800 federal buildings. Antismoking campaigns by private groups like the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association had accelerated."

I don't throw the word "Hero" around very often, and in fact I have an entire draft posting about who some people who get tagged as being a hero (just for breathing apparently, such as all firemen) really are not heroes.  However, Dr Koop was a hero for me.  He took risks not for his own glory but to simply save people's lives.  He did what was right, not what was popular.  He had convictions and he lived by them, even when it was detrimental.

Yes, we really can all breathe easier thanks to Dr C. Everett Koop.

Rest in Peace Dr. Koop.