Friday, July 01, 2005

Weekly BlogScan: Huffing Nitrates on the Fourth of July



Monday is Independence Day in the U.S. We'll celebrate with picnics and flag-parades. Some may eat corn-bread; some may grill hot dogs. But nearly all of us will wind up the evening watching fireworks. And that means a good dose of inhaled nitrite fumes, and a splitting miner's headache.

You could watch them from indoors, of course—but then you'd miss out on the other joys of the fireworks display: bites from West-Nile-virus-carrying mosquitoes, the "ooh" and "ahh" of your fellow Americans, discovering that you sat in someone's discarded glob of condiment, and the heart-throbbing impact of the pyrotechnical BOOM!

Linda Roeder writes on her personal pages at About that family Fourth celebrations have changed.
I love fireworks. Every year we go to Dorney Park, about 10 miles from us, to watch the fireworks. This has become a family tradition for us. The past few years it's been difficult though. My youngest son has been afraid of the loud noise that the fireworks give off.

The Capitol Fax blog posts a letter from Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, a gentle reminder of the background to our celebration.
As we enjoy our barbecues and parades, let’s pause in tribute to those colonists who paid the initial price for our freedom, as well as the... men and women now engaged in the Global War on Terrorism. They won’t be celebrating July 4th at a family picnic.

Checkpoint Charlie Memorial in Berlin
    Memorial at Checkpoint Charlie will be razed.

Ray D. of Davids Medienkritik, a German blog, posted the news that the Berlin city government has decided to allow razing the Checkpoint Charlie monument, over 1000 crosses that commemorate those who died to reach freedom in West Germany during the Cold War. Originally scheduled to occur on the Fourth of July, the demolition has been moved to 4 AM July 5th. The blog generally warns about the direction being taken by Germany and other European nations.

Roger Pilon muses on the direction of the U.S. government in this year of our liberty. In an article posted in National Review Online, Roger asks us to "keep in mind that we're celebrating our independence from overweening government—British or American," and warns us that
in the name of helping us, government throws us all in a common pot and decides for us... Is it any wonder that so many of us are "unhappy" with the programs we get, with the choices government makes for us? Imagine if government chose our national religious program..."

If you want a choice, visit Your Vote Counts—"Love July 4th? Respond Now And You Can Get A Free Lawn Mower!" (It doesn't matter whether you vote Yes or No, you still get entered in the drawing.)

1776 is the year of U.S. independence, right? Not according to the British, as Danny Loss points out in no loss for words. "As far as Britain is concerned, the United States gained independence when Britain decided they had become independent," and that didn't happen until the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

To arbi at adventures of an arbitrary aardvark, July 4th is flag-burning day, because the House passed a bill to make this act illegal, but it hasn't passed the Senate yet. Cute cartoon goes with the message: "if the flag is sacred, it's a graven image, unholy idolotry. if it's not sacred, it can't be desecrated. meanwhile the bill's sponsor, duke cunningham, is under investigation for campaign fraud." [Capitalization sic.]

Fourth of July Fireworks
    Watch the skies! (and your eyes...)

The ACSH (American Council on Science and Health) blog has an admonitory post titled "Protect Your Eyes on July Fourth." Written by LASIK surgeon Emil William Chynn, it cautions us
fireworks, invented for war, hold great destructive potential, which I am unfortunate enough to witness each year. I am proud of my ancestors for their invention. I would be many times as proud of my fellow Americans if they joined together to end needless blindness caused by fireworks.

Not just eyes, but skin, too, says Every Topic in the Universe(s?) "With the July 4th weekend fast approaching, it's time to give a little thought to not getting fried by the sun at beaches and BBQ's..." Unfortunately, we then read
Many sunscreens only protect against UVB (or burning) rays because it was thought that those were the only beams that caused cancer. However, there's new evidence that UVA rays, which age the skin but don't burn you, are carcinogenic too, says dermatologist Nick Lowe... "A sunscreen that doesn't protect against UVA rays can be worse than none at all, because it allows you to stay in the sun all day without burning, but you're still damaging your DNA," says Sheldon Pinnell, MD, professor emeritus of dermatology at Duke University Medical Center.

The flash at the top of Weerd Events is not fireworks, but The Voice tells us about a planned pyrotechnic event 80 million miles away. On July 4th this year, "if all goes well the Deep Impact Spacecraft will release a barrel sized probe that will collide directly into Comet Tempel 1... The resulting collision should be phenomenal and will create a crater the size of a football stadium and... 14 stories deep."

The final words go to a blogger designated Upper Left, who posts on Words from the Well a poignant reminiscence about those whose names are carved into the Vietnam Memorial. "I missed a 4th of July in 1971. They've missed every one since... I have 58,228 reasons to celebrate, because they can't, and I owe them."

If you're in the U.S. on Monday, have a hot dog, watch the rocket's red glare, and ponder the fact that you're here and free to get those mosquito bites and the catsup stain. Hang the nitrite headache—Happy Independence Day!
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