published Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

David Cook: Road more traveled and less trashed

Dropped the car off at the downtown mechanic Tuesday morning. Took Market Street and some side alleys on my walk back to the newspaper.

Along the way, I picked up trash. In about 10 minutes, I scrounged together a cornucopia of ...

One roofing shingle, a hot sauce packet, a scratch-off lottery ticket, some plastic utensils, an empty packet for peanut M&Ms.

Thirteen plastic bottles. Many gum wrappers. A yogurt-to-go container. A wrinkled copy of the Times Free Press classifieds from New Year's Eve. An empty box of gas station fried food that cost $1.39. (A greasy cellophane wrap lay in the grass nearby. Didn't pick it up).

An airplane bottle of whiskey. A pint gin bottle. A pint vodka bottle. A big brown bottle for Hurricane malt liquor. Lite beer bottles. Four brown bags, one with the beer can still in it.

And, if I had room in my garbage bag, about a dozen tires.

"We have such a problem with litter,'' said Marge Davis. "The state of Tennessee spends about $10 million a year in litter control.''

Davis is president of Scenic Tennessee, our state's chapter of a national group dedicated to the beautification of our roads, Main Street culture, preservation of our aesthetic heritage. Sort of like Norman Rockwell politics.

"Maintaining the natural character and scenic character of our state,'' she said.

How absolutely perfect, wonderful and important. When God was done rough-draft fooling around with places like Mississippi and New Jersey, he decided to get serious and create one of the most beautiful places ever.

Tennessee.

And for Davis, a cleaner Tennessee is a better Tennessee.

"Higher home prices. More business investment,'' she said. "There is a correlation between litter on roadsides and people's respect for property values.''

Litter is more than just an empty Cup-o-Noodles or pork rinds bag (both found on my garbage odyssey). The psychology of litter sends a message to residents and passers-by that this area is dirty, dumpy and reckless.

Trash begets trash.

"If there is a lot of litter, there is more littering behavior than if a place has no litter or just one piece,'' she said.

Litter isn't the only form of pollution.

"Signage,'' she said.

No city elder would ever encourage littering as a way to attract business, residents and attention. Why, then, do we allow billboards to bombard our eyes along certain roads?

"Amber waves of grain? It is more like a ride through the Yellow Pages,'' wrote Edward McMahon, former president of Scenic America, in a 1998 issue of the Planning Commissioners Journal.

"Billboards are a form of pollution -- visual pollution,'' he wrote. "Regulating billboards is no different than regulating noxious fumes or sewage discharges.''

Maine, Vermont, Hawaii, Alaska and 700 other communities (including Knoxville) have outlawed billboards or prohibited new billboard construction.

Picture one of the prettiest roads you've ever traveled. Now picture the crum-dumpiest. Bet you a used AT&T calling card (also found in my morning garbage) there's one big difference between your dream and nightmare roads: the overpresence of billboards, or what McMahon called "litter on a stick.''

"When you have too many signs, people see none of them,'' Davis said.

Thankfully, there are solutions.

First: Encourage towns to pass ordinances that limit or outlaw billboards and signage.

Second: Pass the Tennessee bottle bill.

The bottle bill, as it's nicknamed, would put a 5 cent deposit on certain beverage containers (beer bottles, plastic bottles) sold in the state. (A six-pack would suddenly cost 30 cents more).

Redemption, or collection, centers are built. Citizens, when they bring in bottles and cans for redemption, receive their deposit. Or donate it to charities.

Yet Davis says not every bottle or can will be returned, leaving what she predicts is a $12 million annual source of revenue for the state.

"Growth is inevitable,'' Davis said. "Ugliness is not.''

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

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nucanuck said...

There exists a poverty of spirit that runs throughout some of our culture. For them, tossing trash on the ground is normal, natural, and unnoticed. Go to the parking lots near McKenzie Arena after certain concerts and you will find litter everywhere... hundreds of bottles...food...emptied ashtrays...a huge mess. Other nights, with a different musical venue, you may find no mess at all. It is as though musical preference determines whether people are predisposed to litter.

Presumeably litter is also a class/education/nurturing issue. If you grow up within a group/family who hurl every disposable item out of the car window, then that becomes normal.

My daughter lived for a while in rural north Dade County. It was impossible to pick up litter fast enough to keep the roadways clean. I picked up so much litter so often over the years around three downtown Chattanooga blocks that an old high school friend once pulled over and asked if that was the best job I could get.

The answer has to lie within the educational framework of school and family, but that framework is reaching too few Americans.

My solution: divert massive amounts of money away from military adventurism and re-direct it towards education and health care. That is infrastructure that pays dividends.

January 23, 2013 at 1:59 a.m.
Walden said...

Let's face it, we live in a throwaway culture. Physical trash on roadsides is bad, but 54 million souls discarded since Roe v. Wade is ever more tragic.

January 23, 2013 at 10:21 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

"54 million souls discarded since Roe v. Wade is ever more tragic."

There's stem cell research for re-cycling tissue, not souls.

January 23, 2013 at 10:48 a.m.
Walden said...

dayton - I feel sorry for you.

January 23, 2013 at 11:08 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

"dayton - I feel sorry for you."

Don't waste your time. I'm sure there's better things for you to do, like worshiping an imaginary god, condemning gays, and telling people what they can and can't do with their bodies.

January 23, 2013 at 11:24 a.m.
Easy123 said...

Walden,

What about the septillion "souls" discarded through miscarriage?

Those are just the ones "god" didn't want, right? Every fetus is a baby, remember? Why aren't you lamenting those deaths? I don't see you throwing those things up to your god. But you'll chastise a woman that makes a conscious choice to put an end to her pregnancy? I pity you.

January 23, 2013 at 11:29 a.m.
Walden said...

Proof of evil abounds today.

January 23, 2013 at 12:52 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Walden said...

"Proof of evil abounds today."

Yes it does, and is most commonly found in fanatical religious fundamentalists around the world, cloaked in shrouds of dead gods.

January 23, 2013 at 1:07 p.m.
Walden said...

dayton said...

"Yes it does, and is most commonly found in fanatical religious fundamentalists around the world."

Yep, Islam.

January 23, 2013 at 1:12 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Fanatical Fundamental Islam, Fanatical Fundamental Christianity, and Uber-Orthodox Judaism all contribute to the evils in the world. Anytime people believe the myths as realities evil is the result.

January 23, 2013 at 1:20 p.m.
Walden said...

The myth is that there is no God. Fanatical Fundamental Christianity is also a myth -- and don't go throwing those Westboro Baptist jerks in my face -- they are a tiny faction of people and frankly aren't Christian.

January 23, 2013 at 1:45 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Prove that your god exists. Your claims need substantiation. Faith is not proof. If you have proof there is no need of faith.

Fanatical Christians sects abound — that you are unwilling to see them is your self-induced blindness.

January 23, 2013 at 2:26 p.m.
nucanuck said...

Walden,

To the degree we overshoot the carrying capacity of our planet, life becomes less precious. Add to that the neglect suffered by far to many children and abortion would seem to be an option in some cases.

How do we measure the years of suffering of a neglected child vs an aborted fetus? We men don't need to be deciding the abortion issue.

January 23, 2013 at 2:52 p.m.
Walden said...

"We men don't need to be deciding the abortion issue."

Utterly false. It is an issue of humanity and right vs. wrong. It is not simply an issue of a woman and her body. When conception occurs there is another life involved. Aborting lives because of overpopulation is a sick cliff I don't think we need to go over. Education of the poor and uneducated about non-lethal forms of birth control is the answer.

January 23, 2013 at 4:31 p.m.
Walden said...

"Prove that your god exists."

That is childish dayton. Prove God does not exist! Two can play this game. If my faith that God exists is foolish, then why isn't your faith that God does not exist? Leave the freshman philosophy crap to another misguided soul who frequently posts herein.

January 23, 2013 at 4:34 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

It is on the claimant of God to prove that God exists. Two can not play this game. Make your case for why God exists. Faith is not proof. If you have proof, you don't need faith.

I operate on proof, not faith. Science, not supernatural miracles and deities.

I've made my case many times here why God (as in Jehovah) is not real, but a mythic creation, that the Bible is a collection of non-original myths taken from other cultures, that the Bible is full of contradictions, fallacies, and phony miracles.

State your case, Walden. It's not freshman philosophy crap, rather your cop-out for your inability to provide your evidence for the reality of Jehovah.

"What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof." Christopher Hitchens

January 23, 2013 at 5:23 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Walden,

"Utterly false."

Wrong.

"It is an issue of humanity and right vs. wrong."

No, it isn't.

"It is not simply an issue of a woman and her body."

That's actually exactly what it is.

"When conception occurs there is another life involved."

Demonstrably false. At what point does a conglomeration of cells become "alive"?

"Aborting lives because of overpopulation is a sick cliff I don't think we need to go over."

It's a necessary question to ask.

"Education of the poor and uneducated about non-lethal forms of birth control is the answer."

No, it really isn't. Abortion will always be necessary whether more people are on birth control or not.

January 23, 2013 at 6:17 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Walden,

"That is childish dayton. Prove God does not exist! Two can play this game. If my faith that God exists is foolish, then why isn't your faith that God does not exist?"

Like daytonsdarwin said, the onus is on you to prove your outrageous claims. You made them and you must prove them to be true. You aren't playing the game. You are simply assuming what you've been asking to prove and have used a fallacious argument in rebuttal. Your faith is foolish because it unfounded. No one has "faith" that a god doesn't exist. Do you have "faith" that Vishnu doesn't exist? No, you've simply never seen any proof of that entity existing. Faith is believing something on zero evidence. There is plenty of evidence that the god of the Bible does not and could not exist.

"Leave the freshman philosophy crap to another misguided soul who frequently posts herein."

This isn't philosophy. It's logic. And you seem to be the only "misguided" one here.

January 23, 2013 at 6:23 p.m.
AndrewLohr said...

easy, a rock isn't alive. A "collection of cells" is alive and has to be killed.

My wife and her mother have experienced Christian miracles. Therefore atheism is false. Check out the evidence; don't rule it out a priori.

Would you rather be governed by the North Korean atheists than by, say, the Christian fundamentalist board of Bob Jones University? If not, then admit atheism can be the root of some evil.

January 24, 2013 at 2:10 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

What 'miracles,' Lohr? What support do you have of these 'miracles' other than your faith?

Don't forget that Bob Jones University, the forerunner of Lee University in Cleveland, was an extremely racist school, teaches creationism not science, and teaches a literal and inerrant Bible.

Exchange a North Korean dictatorship for a Christian dictatorship and you still have a dictatorship.

January 24, 2013 at 8:42 a.m.
Easy123 said...

AndrewLohr,

"a rock isn't alive. A "collection of cells" is alive and has to be killed."

I have no idea what you're talking about.

"My wife and her mother have experienced Christian miracles. Therefore atheism is false."

Miracles do not serve as proof unless everyone else can experience them too. First, your wife and mother would have to prove that the laws of physics were suspended for them i.e. prove it wasn't a coincidence. The claim of miracles don't serve as proof of anything other than delusion. They don't prove anything much less that atheism is false.

"Check out the evidence; don't rule it out a priori."

I have and there is none. You are the one using a priori assumptions, not I. Try again.

"Would you rather be governed by the North Korean atheists than by, say, the Christian fundamentalist board of Bob Jones University?"

North Koreans aren't atheists. Their leaders (Kim Jong Il & Un) are their gods. That isn't atheism. I'd rather be governed by my own conscious thought.

"If not, then admit atheism can be the root of some evil."

Atheism is not the root of any evil. There are no tenets of atheism. There is no dogma. There aren't any atheist teachings. Atheism is based on one fact: there is no evidence of any and every deity. Tell us all which parts of atheism lead to evil.

This isn't going to go well for you but I encourage you to keep going.

January 24, 2013 at 9:29 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

When I first saw that there were 21 comments I thought, "Wow, a lot of interest in billboard clutter and litter!" Silly me. I should have known better than to think that, with all the anti-abortion nuts among us, it would be possible to have a pertinent discussion without at least one of them managing to make it all about abortion. My god, you arrogant, self-righteous creeps can't talk about anything, whether it's sports or politics or celebrity gossip or even something like litter, without making it all about abortion. Can't you give it a rest for even a minute and deal with other issues at hand, WALDEN?? I know you think that you and all the other anti-abortion zealots are the proud trumpeters of justice for the precious unborn, but the only thing you're trumpeting is your insanity.

A friend runs into walden on the street: Friend: "Hey, Walden! How's it going?" Walden: "I'm not doing so hot. I keep thinking about all those precious little angels murdered in the wombs by their very own mothers."

Walden watching the news: Newscaster: "The death toll of American servicemen/women in Iraq has surpassed the 5000 mark." Walden muttering out loud: "That's nothing. Just think of those 54 million little babies who have been murdered in their wombs by their very own mothers."

Walden eating scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast for breakfast, thinking to himself and with a sad expression on his face: "Just think of all those precious little cherubs who could be enjoying scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast right now if only they hadn't been murdered in their wombs."

Walden reading a comment by David Cook on litter and then his immediate response: "Let's face it, we live in a throwaway culture. Physical trash on roadsides is bad, but 54 million souls discarded since Roe v. Wade is ever more tragic."

And so it goes, on and on and on...the monotonous, merry-go-round imaginings of the aborted mind.

January 24, 2013 at 12:04 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Rickaroo, Well said. Reminds me of the line from a Billy Joel song. "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints."

January 24, 2013 at 12:27 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

"My wife and her mother have experienced Christian miracles. Therefore atheism is false. Check out the evidence; don't rule it out a priori." - Andrew Lohr

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (Matthew 7:7)

"Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 18:19)

"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." (Matthew 21:22)

"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." (Mark 11:24)

"And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." (John 14:13-14)

Notice that Christ never laid conditions on prayer. He never said that sometimes your prayers will be answered and sometimes not. He didn't say that your prayers couldn't be petty or materialistic. He didn't say that it was entirely up to God's will whether your prayers would be answered. Christians have thrown in that little exception clause about "God's will be done" because they know that the vast majority of the time, their prayers are not answered. And those times they ARE answered, it's always in a way that can never be proven to be anything more than coincidental.

Here is a test for you: say a prayer for an amputee. Gather a large group of your Christian friends (group prayer is supposed to be even more powerful, right?) and pray long and hard for your God to restore his/her arms or legs. And then see if they get their arms or legs back. I think you already know how that will turn out. Ain't gonna happen. And how many times have people pleaded with God to let their loved ones come back to life after they have died? NEVER HAPPENED.

Your answered prayers are always so ambiguous and feelings-centered that you can't ever say for sure that prayer works. But your desire for it to work is so great that you make yourself believe that it does. Nothing wrong with that - if prayer makes you feel better, then fine. But don't think for a second that it proves that atheism is false. Your prayers are a crap shoot and your "miracles" are just wishful thinking.

January 24, 2013 at 12:57 p.m.
Walden said...

Calm down Rick, it's gonna be alright.

January 24, 2013 at 12:59 p.m.
Easy123 said...

It's not alright. It never has been. That's your problem, Walden. Be pretentious, sanctimonious, and willfully ignorant all you want but there are people in this world that aren't brainwashed like you. You're going to face opposition so get used to it.

January 24, 2013 at 1:08 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Good line from Billy Joel, Darwin. When I see who is supposedly going to heaven and who's going to hell, I'll gladly take my one-way to ticket to hell if it means not having to put up with their insufferable BS any longer. Twain said, "Heaven for the climate, hell for the company."

January 24, 2013 at 1:18 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Walden, I couldn't be calmer or finer. Thank you for thinking of me, though.

January 24, 2013 at 1:26 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Why won't God heal Amputees?

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

Twain is one of my favorites for religion, politics, and life in general.

January 24, 2013 at 1:28 p.m.
Walden said...

I flushed the loonies out of the bushes on this one! Mission accomplished, have a great day all (even you EasyGal)!

January 24, 2013 at 1:35 p.m.
Easy123 said...

See what I mean about being pretentious? You've been out of the bushes for a while now, loony. Mission accomplished on making you bow out like a coward.

And I'm not a gal.

January 24, 2013 at 1:43 p.m.
Walden said...

Coulda fooled me, SWEETIE!

January 24, 2013 at 1:58 p.m.
Easy123 said...

How did you come to that conclusion? I'd love to hear. LMAO!

I thought you were transgendered but I decided not to bring it up.

January 24, 2013 at 2:04 p.m.
Walden said...

Lame.

January 24, 2013 at 2:07 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Walden,

So it's lame for me to act like your gender is ambiguous but it's not when you do it?

You're digging your hole deeper and deeper. Keep going.

January 24, 2013 at 2:09 p.m.
Walden said...

No, it's not when I do it, because your gender actually is ambiguous. Isn't it time for Philosophy 101 class, so you can go learn about strawmen and fancy stuff like that? I've got work to do, I'll stir your bees nest up another day.

January 24, 2013 at 2:20 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Walden,

"No, it's not when I do it, because your gender actually is ambiguous."

And, for the second time, how have you come to that conclusion? How is your gender any less ambiguous than mine? Why should I perceive you as "female" and not "hermaphrodite"?

"Isn't it time for Philosophy 101 class, so you can go learn about strawmen and fancy stuff like that?"

You wouldn't learn that in philosophy class, moron. That's a logical fallacy. You would learn that in debate or logic class. Do you see how stupid you are? Only ignorant people demonize things like KNOWLEDGE. "fancy stuff"? LMFAO!

"I'll stir your bees nest up another day."

Don't flatter yourself. You said you were leaving almost an hour ago. I guess your bee's were too stirred up to leave.

Come back any time you want your ass served to you on a platter again. :-)

January 24, 2013 at 2:31 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Makes you wonder if Walden is Orr's sister.

January 24, 2013 at 2:41 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Dayton,

Could be Orr's wife!

January 24, 2013 at 2:43 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

It seems the Catholic Church has decided that fetuses are not people when it comes to money.

http://jezebel.com/5978696/catholic-hospital-conveniently-claims-fetuses-arent-people-in-malpractice-lawsuit?utm_source=lifehacker.com&utm_medium=recirculation&utm_campaign=recirculation

The Pope's funny hat must be doing a cartoon twist on his little Hitler Youth head.

January 24, 2013 at 3:28 p.m.
Leaf said...

Aaaanyway. I agree completely that most townships or whatever you call them around Chattanooga desparately need better zoning. The sprawl and abandoned areas around here are depressing. Signage is part of it. I would venture to say that most local government in this region is worse than the average comparable city, but that is just my impression.

January 24, 2013 at 4:13 p.m.
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