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Including a glossaryfor a fantasy or science fiction epic is standard practice. Tucked away at the end of a book, they are useful references if you have set a book aside for a while and need to re-familiarize yourself with the language and culture of a story.

The first time I read the Lord of the Rings, it was a massive hard-bound copy I checked out from the Public Library. It included all three books, a biography of Tolkien and a glossary that rivaled the Silmarillion. I had a special bookmark for the glossary, and often lost myself tracing entries while assembling Middle Earth in my head.

Another epic that included a glossary at end of each book was The Wheel of Time. Here, though, the glossary tried to contain itself to the book at hand. Occasionally there was a term I was unfamiliar with, if it was not in the current book’s glossary, I would have to dig out an older book to find it, or read on, hoping the story would remind of the term's meaning.

In October, the Earth Observatory project posted a photo of the smog over China.  The haze was thick enough to completely hide the land or water surface below, and it extended far to the south and east. The air is so bad in Beijing that the US Embassy measures and shares the air quality on a Twitter feed.

I wanted to share this image to give you an idea of how bad the situation is. The problem with pollution in China is not just Beijing. It stretches for hundreds of miles. China’s pollution problem is so bad it is changing our climate. When you hear about a product recall, such as pet food contaminated with steroids, or tea poisoned by diesel truck fumes that is a side effect of China’s poor environmental regulations as well.

Following my post about the NRA being co-opted by the gun industry to expand and protect its market, I wanted to share some of the better articles about our national gun conversation.

The first comes from the always thoughtful Nick Kristof at The New York Times. Titled Do We Have the Courage to Stop This? Mr. Kristof reminds that about 300 Americans a year dies from a ladder falls, while guns kill 30,000. Yet, we have pages of regulations about how to build and sell a ladder, and almost none for guns. You might think that's because guns are mentioned in the Constitution, and ladders aren’t. But don’t forget that to maintain a well-regulated militia part, I know the gun industry hasn’t.

Copyright Troy Williams & The Walking Circle LLC