Thumbs up/down for Monday, Dec. 9, 2013
Thumbs up to the Janesville Jets. These young men do more than just spend time on the ice. When the hockey team signs them, it requires the players to give time to the community. Those still in high school must donate at least eight hours a month. Those out of high school must invest 12. Often, they donate more. As Shelly Birkelo reported last week, the players bring smiles to the faces of residents who live with disabilities at Riverfront Inc. The Jets also gather items for Toys for Tots, serve as waiters at restaurants to raise money for charities, bring awareness to breast cancer, and serve the Clinton Community Food Bank, the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross and LaborFest. It’s no wonder the club earned Forward Janesville’s 2013 Community Improvement Award. The players are not just learning how to hone their hockey skills; they’re learning the value of giving back to their community in ways that might continue long after their playing days.
Thumbs down to too much sitting. How much is too much? A UW-Madison community research project aims to figure that out. Sedentary people are at risk of obesity and developing many health problems, including some cancers, cardiovascular diseases and back trouble. The university has tapped 14 area residents, ages 55-75, through the Rock County Council on Aging to be part of this four-week pilot study. The intervention program will seek strategies so older adults spend less time sitting each day. The project, which uses two electronic monitors on each participant, is called Sit Less, Live Better. It will cull information on what works and what doesn’t that researchers can use to engage older adults in communities statewide.
Thumbs down to rising tobacco sales to minors. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports a 35 percent increase from 2009 to 2012 in retailers who sold tobacco to minors. The anti-smoking coalition Health First Wisconsin argues reasonably that the state should invest more in tobacco control programs that include retailer compliance checks. While youth smoking rates have fallen to a record low of 13 percent, the coalition sees trouble ahead. “Little cigars,” cigarettes wrapped in brown paper, escape the cigarette tax and sell for as little as $1 instead of $6 or $7 per pack of cigarettes. Manufacturers use chocolate, grape and cherry flavors to entice young smokers, and 2011 marked the first time high school students smoked more little cigars than cigarettes. Statistics suggest smoking kills 8,000 Wisconsinites each year and costs $4.5 billion in health care expenses and lost productivity. The state cigarette tax reaps more than $700 million, but the state spent only $5.3 million in 2012 on cessation programs. The Legislature also should pass a bipartisan bill authored by Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay, that would close the loophole and ensure little cigars and similar products are taxed like cigarettes.
Thumbs down to Erin Gloria Ryan of Jezebel.com. She’s the sort who gives all liberals a bad and unfair rap. In case you missed it, the Wisconsin Reporter chronicled the story. After “Fast & Furious” movie star Paul Walker died in a fiery crash Nov. 30, Ryan tweeted, “Why couldn’t it be Scott Walker.” That brought understandable howls of protest from conservatives. Ryan quickly deleted the tweet and then wrote, “No excuse. It was dumb. I’m sorry.” The damage, however, was done. Jezebel bills itself as a feminist blog aimed at women’s interests, under the tagline “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women. Without Airbrushing.” Gawker Media owns the blog. As the Wisconsin Reporter’s M.D. Kittle concluded, “Hatred, hostility and threats of violence have become all too common inside and outside the Badger State.” Such diatribes do nothing to sway reasonable minds to causes that liberals hold dear.