Vaping is a dangerous habit that we need to take immediate steps to stop

Humanity must have a death wish.

As a species we choose to ingest substances which have been scientifically proven to have harmful effects on our bodies.

Over the years, we have experimented with LSD, cocaine, heroin, tobacco, and now, vaping.

For those who don’t know the mechanics of this new age vice, a nicotine- or THC-laced (THC is the chemical which causes the high produced by smoking marijuana) liquid is vaporized by an e-cigarette, and then inhaled into the lungs where it apparently has been doing significant amounts of damage.

Just last week, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, in its weekly update on vaping, attributed 39 deaths in 24 states and the District of Columbia to e-cigarette use. Further, it said that 2,051 cases of vaping associated lung injuries had been reported from 49 states (Alaska is the lone exception), the District of Columbia and one US territory.

According to the CDC, the symptoms of lung injury are cough, shortness of breath or chest pain, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills or weight loss. It can develop over the course of several weeks or in just a few days.

That weekly update from the CDC also contained this little nugget of information, the samples of fluid collected from patients suffering lung injuries who vaped contained vitamin e-acetate which, when consumed orally, or applied to the skin, does no harm. However, research suggests that vitamin e-acetate can interfere with the normal function of one’s lungs.

This research and these numbers have been in the news for the last several months but, for whatever reason, we continue to use these products.

The sales of e-cigarette devices have gone from 2.2 million in 2016 to 16.2 million in 2017 and the industry leader Juul forecasts its revenue for this year to be $3.4 billion.

It is estimated that the US market for e-cigarettes will reach $16.5 billion by 2024.

Apparently, as a species, our craving for the high brought on by consuming the THC in e-cigarettes overwhelms the common sense which is telling us that sucking this stuff into our lungs is damaging them.

Given the sub-glacial speed with which our government moves, there is no real hope of legislation to curb the sale of e-cigarettes. Besides, any such attempts would likely be met with a hail of lawsuits launched by the tobacco industry which owns most of the companies producing vaping paraphernalia.

It would seem that the bottom line is that we must be left to our own resources to combat this latest assault on our common sense.

Yes, the choice to ingest any harmful substance is just that, a personal choice. But what rightminded person would willingly make that choice?

It is the equivalent of walking blindfolded across the Indy 500 race track on Memorial Day. You might survive, but chances aren’t good.

So, let’s not take that walk across the race track. Let’s let common sense dictate our choices for a change and not find ourselves in a hospital faced with the prospect, as one vape using patient did, of a double lung transplant.

If we’re going to suck something into our lungs, let it just be air.

This is the last issue of The Settler which it has been my honor to edit. I have been extremely lucky to have had the assistance of a talented staff of writers, photographers and advisors.

Thank you.

–Jim

The day is about sacrifice not service

By Jim Hayes

With the publication date of this edition of “The Settler” being Nov. 11, or Veterans Day, it goes without saying that nearly every veteran will likely hear the platitude, “thank you for your service,” or some variation of it over the course of the next few days.

Although I am not certain, I believe this expression originated as a sort of national mea culpa for greeting our servicemen returning from Viet Nam in 1969 by cursing and spitting on them.

Thus, it has become fashionable to utter the phrase upon determining that someone in a conversation has served in the armed forces.

That being said, it is time to examine exactly what that service entails.

Service is an 18-year-old Marine spending his first Thanksgiving and Christmas away from his family at boot camp, learning to be a Marine.

Service is that same Marine spending the next Christmas and Thanksgiving standing guard duty over an armory in Okinawa, Japan.

It is a sailor battling to secure an aircraft while his ship is being battered by wind, wave and rain in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Or maybe it is the soldier hunkered down for two days in a field in Korea while he and his platoon are battered by a typhoon, leaving them to eat out of tin cans until the weather blows over and they can return to their base.

Air and coast guardsmen face similar hardships in the name of service every day of their military careers and here in the states, we rarely give it a thought.

Yes, military service is a choice, but it also is a calling.

Science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein summarized military service perfectly in his book, “Starship Troopers,” when he wrote, “The noblest fate that a man can endure is to place his own mortal body between his loved home and the war’s desolation.”

It is not only war that is desolate.

The Quonset huts shared by a company of Marines in the middle of the Philippine jungles are miles from anything resembling civilization.

Our servicemen currently deployed in the Middle East are in a land with morals, ethics and religious beliefs that are foreign to most of us.

They deal with those differences every day and face consequences should they happen to commit a faux pas.

Even those lucky enough to have assignments stateside are committed to services with which most of us are unfamiliar.

Guard posts are still manned regardless of the hour of the day or even if the day is a holiday.

Planes, trucks and tanks need to be serviced; ships need to be kept on course through weather that doesn’t take a break for the calendar.

Having said all that, “The Settler” wishes to extend a heart-felt thank you to every member of the Volunteer State Community College community who has ever laced up a combat boot, stepped aboard a ship, or flown or maintained an aircraft as a member of the military forces of the United States.

“The Settler” does know what service is and that, in the case of military personnel, service is usually a synonym for sacrifice.

So, thank you not only for your service, but also for your sacrifices.

When college is about learning, not money

To life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which Thomas Jefferson asserted are the unalienable rights of every man we would like to humbly add education.

Educators have been revered since the time of Plato, Socrates, and Jesus and those who impart their knowledge and wisdom to others are certainly following one of mankind’s noblest callings.

And while the idea of gathering teachers in one place where they can interact with their students is undoubtedly a good one, that idea begins to falter once the students stop being viewed as students and begin to be viewed instead as income streams for what has become the big business of education.

We have mentioned in this space before, the unregulated money grab that is the educational publishing industry, but the visit to the Volunteer State Community College campus by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) opened our eyes to another such scam which will be perpetrated on future generations of Vol State students.

Apparently, SACS has declared that student retention is an issue (yes, if the students leave school, the school no longer receives grant, loan or personal monies for tuition, books and fees) and thus has decreed that schools will take actions to encourage students to stay enrolled.

Vol State will be implementing two courses which all incoming students will be required to take (oh and by the way, pay for too).

Designated FYEX-1030 and FYEX-1030, the courses will, according to Vol State’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP),” provide students with the tools they need to be successful in the classroom and beyond.”

This is the sheerest form of gobbledy-gook.

At what point did it become the college’s responsibility to teach rudimentary skills such as note taking, studying, and even the three Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) to incoming students.?

In fact, it is the responsibility of high schools (or even earlier) to prepare students for higher education.

And while encouraging students to want to go to college is certainly within the purview of community and regular colleges (remember that crop of money to be harvested from each pupil?) the fact is that not everyone is cut out to attend college.

Yes, the world needs doctors and lawyers, but it also needs plumbers, electricians and construction workers (and in greater numbers than it does the doctors and lawyers) too.

It was suggested earlier that education should be made one of those unalienable rights which Jefferson wrote about, but that education does not always have to end in a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degree.

Earning knowledge to live one’s life does not always have to consist of writing research papers and cramming all night for tests.

The knowledge which will enable one to make a respectful living can also be acquired by serving an apprenticeship or in the armed forces.

By definition, most of the students at an institute of higher learning are adults, ergo, they should be treated as such.

Students who are motivated enough to enroll and attend, certainly should know how to take notes, read and even maintain a check-book.

Yes, many of the students arriving on the Vol State campus lack those skills, but when did it become the college’s responsibility to instill them.

That is the job of Tennessee’s high (and even middle) schools.

Students should not graduate from high school until they are capable of reading critically, writing an appropriate analysis of written material and performing rudimentary mathematical calculations.

These are the baseline skills needed for the successful attendance at an institute of higher learning.

Accepting students without these skills is nothing short of theft and a waste of those students’ time.

Forcing them to attend FYEX-1030 and FYEX-1040 is just adding insult to injury by sucking more money from the unsuspecting marks.

Instead of conning these unprepared students out of their money, Vol State should be honest with them, tell them they aren’t prepared for college and that they should come back once they have acquired the appropriate skills to succeed in the college environment.

Vol State Police have quiet 2018

By Jim Hayes

The Volunteer State Community College Police Department had a very quiet 2018 according to the department’s 2019 Annual Security Report (ASR).

The ASR is a federally mandated report submitted to the federal government each year detailing the number of 20 specific crimes which occurred on college campuses.

The four Vol State campuses were nearly crime free in 2018 according to the report. Just seven incidents, all on the Gallatin campus, made this year’s report.

By comparison, last year, the Vol State Police Department reported 14 incidents in 2017, 10 on the Gallatin campus and four on the Livingston campus.

Most of this year’s offenses (five) occurred on the public property surrounding the Gallatin campus. The other two were on the campus itself.

Of the five off campus incidents, four were drug arrests and one was the theft of a vehicle. The two on-campus arrests were for drug law violations.

The ASR is issued each year to comply with the Clery Act which requires college campuses to publish their crime policy and statistics.

Under the act, campuses must disclose crime statistics, issue campus alerts to inform the campus community about issues which may impact their health or safety.

It also requires that programs and campaigns to promote awareness of dating and domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. Those programs focus on prevention and awareness.

The ASR also contains information regarding procedures victims of dating or domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault should follow.

Institutional disciplinary procedures for those committing those crimes are also part of the report.

In addition to the SAR, the campus must submit crime statistics to the U.S. Department of Education.

The department must also publish a daily crime log of alleged criminal incidents which is open to public inspection.

The Clery Act was enacted in response to the rape and murder of 19-year-old Lehigh University student Jeanne Clery in 1986.

Clery’s parents believed that, had she known about violent crimes in the area, she would have been more cautious.

According to the SAR, only four percent of colleges and universities reported campus crime to the FBI before the law was enacted.

Newspapers defend freedoms which define US

By Jim Zachary

Newspapers protect your First Amendment rights

With just 45 words the founders guaranteed five — no six — basic freedoms, fundamental American rights.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, was ratified to protect freedom, to ensure liberty and to define the Republic.

These fundamental rights of freedom declare what it means to be an American.

As Americans, we are guaranteed:

— The right to freely practice religion — The right to exercise the freedom of speech — The right of a free press — The right to peaceably assemble in protest — The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances — And the sixth — implied — right: The right to know, viz. the freedom of information.

It stands to reason that if the press is free to hold government accountable, if all people are free to openly express their opinions about government, to assemble in protest of government and to petition the government for grievances against it, that we also have a fundamental right to always know what government is up to.

Newspapers have a long and important legacy protecting the public’s right to know.

In that way, newspapers have always mattered.

The work newspapers do in communities has always been important.

However newspapers have never mattered more or been more important.

In 1841, Thomas Carlyle wrote about the power of the press, conjuring the words of Edmond Burke: “Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.”

Burke may have been chiding the press for its sense of itself, but Carlyle used his words to write about the importance of newspapers to democracy.

In an often-quoted letter to Edward Carrington, Thomas Jefferson wrote that if he were to have to choose between “a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Democracy is best served when the newspaper provides checks and balances as the Fourth Estate of government. Newspapers are not the enemy of government — rather they are the champions of ordinary men and women.

Newspapers are the most powerful advocate the public can have and for that reason should always provide an open forum for a redress of grievances and public expression.

Newspapers hold government accountable because at our very core we believe that government belongs to the governed and not to the governing.

If newspapers do not stand up for the public, protect the rights of free speech and the rights of access to government, then no one will.

The provisions of the First Amendment do not exist to protect the press. Rather, the press exists to help protect those freedoms.

Far from being the enemy of the people, the province of a free and unfettered press is to help keep government in check and to defend the public against any assault on the five — no six — basic American rights of freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.

CNHI Deputy National Editor Jim Zachary is CNHI’s regional editor for its Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas newspapers and editor of the Valdosta (Ga.) Daily Times. He is the vice-president of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation. He can be reached at jzachary@cnhi.com