Recommended diversions

The New Yorker

Waynesville’s James Joyce is not only an excellent writer (as evidenced in his latest work Use Eagles If Necessary). He’s also a guy who appreciates fine writing.

For months now, he’s been passing along used issues of The New Yorker to me. I’m so grateful. Generally, I don’t have time to keep up with weekly magazines. It’s easy for issues to pile up and go unread, but I’ve come to enjoy the style and writing found in one of America’s leading magazines. In addition to the clever cartoons, occasionally lovely poems, and savvy gossip on New York life, I savor the essays and in-depth profiles on such important figures as A.Q. Khan (former head of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program who shared nuclear secrets with other countries), Zalmay Khalilzad (the U.S. ambassador to Iraq), and David Addington (Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff and a key legal strategist behind the White House’s War on Terror).

My only beef with the Big Apple literary establishment is a kind of New York-centrism — the smug way in which critics dismiss non-New York City writers or artists with the underlying principal that if it’s not connected with New York, it’s not worthy. Southern writers are then dismissed as regional authors, while New York City scribes somehow enjoy more universal appeal. I’d argue that today’s leading writers who happen to live in the South hold their own with any in the Empire State’s metropolis.

Help stop the bag plague

As Americans we’ve come to expect that shopping purchases come with an extra — an unnecessary — gift: a new bag. But what do we end up doing with most of them? Throwing them away, never to be used again. For those who re-use bags for another purpose, that’s great. But if you really don’t need the bag, why bother? If you purchase something small enough that can simply be carried out by hand, do it. Bring your own canvas bags when you shop — especially at the grocery store. Save the landfill from more plastic trash. Those flimsy, two-handle plastic bags barely survive one-time use and end up stuck in trees, rivers and yards, or roll across highways to get stuck underneath cars. Help stop the plastic bag plague. Use canvas bags or request not to have items bagged. It can help cut down on waste, improve scenic beauty, and save local businesses money.

— By Michael Beadle

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