Thursday, March 28, 2013

A needed response

Real men treat women with respect

A U of O sophomore, Samantha Stendal, majoring in cinema studies, created the PSA in response to the Steubenville, Ohio rape case.

It's gone viral, as it's simple message says it all.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Equal rights

The right for same sex marriage has landed in the Supreme Court-
Humor me & take a walk down previous Supreme court rulings-- 
* note some of the verbiage has been changed to reflect the current court case:

Chief Justice Earl Warren's opinion for the unanimous court held that:
Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the sexual orientation classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious sexual discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of the same sex resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

 "it is simply not possible for a state law to be valid under our Constitution which makes the prohibition of marriage dependent upon sexual orientation, or gender of those wishing to be legally married. 

The case quotes above are from the Loving V Virginia landmark civil rights case about interracial marriage (1967). The State of Virginia had draconian laws that made it a felony crime to have interracial marriage and or sex. 

PBS News hour has some good discussion, but basically one speaker from the "Alliance for American Freedom (to discriminate", want to keep this a state by state feud. 
I contend it is not good enough to have this mish mosh of marital recognition, and would it be acceptable for the hetero crowd to have their marriages not honored natiowide. Cross the state line, lose your marital rights, how is that OK?

Just for fun...

Note in the below graphic--- Maine & Maryland have been added to the "gay marriage is legal" list. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Answer me this

For all the freedom loving, gun toting, "it's my right to be armed to the teeth" crowd, please, answer me this question:

If you take that "right to bear arms" to an international level, why does the US have the right to tell any other country what weapons they can & can't have?

The US is the first country to develop nuclear weapons.
The US is the only country to ever use nuclear weapons in warfare
The US uses spent uranium in warheads, which is kind of like "nuclear bomb light".

Another issue- that pesky problem of being self-declared "good guys".  The US (we) are safe & sane, therefore, we are justified in having the largest stockpiles of nuclear bombs, worldwide.
Problem is maybe having pre emptive war against a country not involved in the 911 attack, was not sane. Leaving bin Laden to roam freely in Pakistan, while destroying Iraq did not install freedom & democracy at gunpoint never did come to fruition.

The notion that we are the sane good ones, comes under scrutiny, when prisoner abuses took place (although Rumsfeld regrets pictures were taken & released- he regrets being caught, not the torture itself). The creation of the Gitmo prison-- not on US soil, but far, far away- so they are not technically "prisoners" but "detainees". So remote, that abuse is likely standard.
Remember when the newly elected President Obama signed his very first executive order in 2008?
Shut down Gitmo within the year's end.
Reality check, it's 2013 & Girmo is still up & running.
Let's face it when detainees go on starvation strikes & are force fed by feeding tubes, one can assume conditions there are so bad, those imprisoned would rather die, it can't be good.

There are the matters of water boarding, rendition, munitions embedded w spent uranium, accidental killing of innocents, and drone bomb strikes.

Actual postage stamp
Annihilation for Peace?

Who does determine which are the sane good guys & which are the mad men who should not possess such deadly weapons?

While I am questioning sanity-- have a glimpse of our own self imposed obsession of having the biggest, best (worst?) bombs.

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A time lapse of nuclear explosions/testing from 1948 to 1998- so the last 15 years of data is missing.

Until November 1962, the vast majority of the U.S. tests were above-ground; after the acceptance of the Partial Test Ban Treaty all testing was regulated underground, in order to prevent the dispersion of nuclear fallout. Between 1940 and 1996, the U.S. spent at least $8.63 trillion in present day terms on nuclear weapons development. As of February 2006, over $1.2 billion in compensation was paid to U.S. citizens exposed to nuclear hazards as a result of the U.S. nuclear weapons program, and by 1998 at least $759 million was paid to the Marshallese Islanders in compensation for their exposure to U.S. nuclear testing.

In 2010 the United States maintained an arsenal of 5,113 warheads and facilities for their construction and design, though many of the Cold War facilities have since been deactivated and are sites for environmental remediation. (Good luck w that! Hanford is oozing toxic/radioactive goo in 2013).

In closing, perhaps Gandhi's grandson has it right, you have to be insane just to want weapons.
At what point does good turn bad, and who determines the standard.

My point, I don't think Iran should have nuclear weapons.
I don't think any country should have nuclear weapons.
Self appointing one's country as official good guys means everyone can do the same.
I think this same theory applies to individual gun owners.
Put the kibosh on open flow of high capacity, rapid fire weaponry to try to steer towards sanity.

There will always be mad men, and the mad men will probably always think they are sane & reasonable ~ therein lies the problem.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Papal Installation

Any religion is allowed to have figure heads, but I've always reacted negatively to this "kiss my ring" Papal gig. Funny, the new Pope is refusing to be transported in a bubble (aka the pope mobile bullet proof shield), and is a security nightmare, because he keeps mingling w crowds of people. 
It is refreshing to hear him say- help the poor, after so much of the message has been collect all the $ you can. 
But the core elements... the male dominated high holy appointments, which discriminates against women... it's a big deal to have a non-European based Pope.. when there is little to no hope a woman would ever get that job, and the judgement/mandates against birth control, divorce, and sexual orientation still plague the catholic church "leadership". 
What can I say, other than that this cartoon fairy tale pretty much covers it. 

One question though-- the media was flooded with all things Pope.... does any other religion get this kind of saturated media coverage???

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monsanto Monopoly

Mother Jones delivers this story

he's got the rifle, I've got the rack

Notice the Big Gulp is about as big as her head!

In all her glorified ignorance, Palin took to the podium with one of those giant Big Gulp soda drinks.
For a while she just took swigs of it, from a straw, and remarked "We're cool. Shoot, it's just pop with low calorie ice cubes in it. I hope that's OK."
One could argue government intervention can overstep, but Palin misses the bigger picture-- as when they changed the school lunch program, she spoke at a school and passed out cookies to everyone.
She may think that she is perky, but she misses the epidemic of childhood obesity & very early onset diabetes.
Someone is doing something about it, Ms. Palin, whose management style leans towards "when the going gets tough- she quits"

Bloomberg put through a no trans fats oils mandate in restaurants in NYC, and he wanted to put the kabosh on the swimming pool sized soda servings.
32 oz big gulp= 91 g sugar
364 calories (from sugar)

44 oz Super Gulp= 128 g sugar
512 calories from sugar

About the size of a gallon jug

52 oz extreme gulp
585 calories from sugar

64 oz=185 g sugar
744 calories from sugar

So Palin may think she's being cute about the topic, but she is woefully out of touch. She is an armchair spectator... likes to criticize others, but could not even finish her term in office. 

When Palin is at the podium, or her mouth is moving, you can expect zingers-- here are some "gems":

Rove came under fire from a number of speakers from the main stage, including Palin: "If these experts who keep losing elections keep getting rehired raking in millions, if they feel that strongly about who gets to run in this party, then they should buck up or stay in the truck. Buck up and run. The architects can head on back to the great Lone Star State and put their name on some ballot, though, for their sake, I hope they give themselves a discount on their consulting services."

 That's Palin's brand of folksy "word salad" Buck up or stay in the truck. 
It is just those kinds of off the cuff, brain droppings that make even the most conservative of voters cringe. 

Other snippets:
• evangelize a grass-roots, anti-Washington message to all Americans
• It's imperative to reach out and to share that conservative message of liberty and less government and lower taxes

Right! because lower taxes for the rich has not been on the agenda??

• We're here to restore America and the rest is just theatrics

• an anecdote about her husband buying her a rifle rack for Christmas, while she bought him a gun.

"This go-around, he's got the rifle, I've got the rack," she said. (OMG! This begs for a parody country folk song)

•  "And background checks, yeah, I guess to learn more about a person's thinking and associations and intentions? More background checks?" she said. "Dandy idea, Mr. President. Should have started with yours."

* As if the background check concept is not related to the mass murders by people who are mentally ill. 

• "Now is the time to furlough the consultants, tune out the pollsters, send the focus groups home, and toss the political scripts, because if we truly know what we believe we don't need professionals to tell us," she said, adding one final message to Washington.

"Get over yourself," she said. "It's not about you."

In closing, I think it is good Palin thinks she does not need professionals to tell her anything. Because the more she  speaks randomly, the more she is likely to be comedy fodder than a serious candidate or contender. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

What's that in the sky???

It's comet PanStarrs

* Photo credit- Mr. Ramblings

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Editorial rant

The most reliable statistics show that possessing firearms quadruples a person’s chances of being shot. Owning a gun in the name of “self-protection” is therefore something of a joke, in that gun owners really need protection from their own lack of logic and consequent behavior. Buying a gun because one is afraid of people with guns practically screams the message “Protect me from myself!”

Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson recently graced our community with his direct legacy of the wisdom of nonviolence. One of the first points he made to his overflow audience was that nonviolence is the opposite of passivity — it is an active force brought into play by disciplined practitioners.

The great lesson brought forth by the Gandhis and Kings of the world is that weapons of violent force are not equalizers at all. They instead cripple our natural ability to find intelligent, bloodless solutions to conflicts.

After his talk, Arun Gandhi was asked about the current attempt to conflate our society’s gun violence problem with mental illness. His response was,

“I am often asked whether we should be concerned about the mentally challenged having access to guns. My response is that anybody who goes to buy a gun is mentally challenged.”
Fear is our most deadly affliction. It is contagious and makes people stupid. Guns are a material manifestation of fear. Public health and safety require that we minimize exposure to these deadly pathogens.


Hard to argue these points. It seems that at least some of the mass murder/killing spree incidents, the killer used parental owned weapons. Both Kip Kinkle (Springfield Oregon), and Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook) used their own parents guns to do the spree and to kill their own parents first. 
The all look back later and say "there were troubling signs". 
What troubles me most, is the fact that the NRA has whipped up this constitutional right (to own any & all types of weapons), and that it is too emotional to enact gun reform laws just after a killing spree, or any other time, for that matter. 
The problem is the situation is only getting worse, and each incident is unacceptable, random & horrific. 
I watched some post Columbine footage, and amongst those who did not die... some will be wheelchair bound for the rest of their lives, with spinal cord injuries... they were not at the wrong place or time- they were in school where they should be. What was wrong was the 2 teens that were able to amass vast weapons at home, right under the noses of their parents, who had no clue. 

It is not any one thing that went wrong, but a series of wrongs that culminated in mass destruction. 
We really can't & should not wait for the next incident. Civilians don't need AK 47 type guns. 
We can statistically say as a fact, they have done more harm than good. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Unemployment- Manipulating the numbers

"The unemployment rate dipped to 7.7%, as 12 million workers were counted as unemployed. The drop was partly because more people said they got jobs, but also because 130,000 people dropped out of the labor force."

Way to manipulate the data!  The unemployment rate is lower because 130,000 people are no longer counted. 10,000 government jobs were lost & as the sequester kicks in, more will lose family wage jobs. Teachers & government workers will be hit hard.

14.3% are unemployed or "underemployed"- working part time in order to work at all. The 14.3% is considered by many to be closer to the real number.

In our family, we've got 2 out of 3 unemployed.
Both college grads w a degree.
One w 28 years of experience, the other fresh out of college.
Both seriously looking for work.

The local school district is holding special meetings to let staff know to brace for big cuts- in the form of a $10 million dollar shortfall. They announced they are closing school health clinics, but will add a few centralized nurses. A school nurse w no funded clinic... how does that work exactly?
The public college is also announcing a big loss of research funding, & the county here is already releasing prisoners wholesale because of budget shortages- that is expected to get worse.

"About 40% of the unemployed have been without a job for at least six months. The average length of unemployment now lasts nine months.
At 13.8%, the unemployment rate is highest for African Americans. Young people are also struggling. Workers ages 20 to 24 had a 13.1% unemployment rate in February, and for teenagers ages 16 to 19, it was 25.1%
Education still makes a big difference. The unemployment rate was only 3.8% for workers over the age of 25 with bachelor's degrees, whereas it was 11.2% for high school dropouts."
The classifieds are looking mighty sparse, and there seem to be a plethora of underemployed positions-- the $10 an hour job, before taxes & such are removed. NOT a living wage. 
They can put lipstick on the unemployment pig, & tweak the numbers, but those of us with family members living in the reality of unemployment, splashing headlines of better times does not quite hit home.  Furthermore, most employers in this sector charge an additional $300 a month to add a spouse to your workplace health insurance... of course co pays are an additional charge. 
For now, the college grad can still remain on a parental health ins plan, but once that ends, we can no longer afford health insurance for him , even though he is eligible. 
The prospect of no health insurance coverage scares the hell out of me- for any family member. Even though those family members are healthy (thankfully), things can happen & not having coverage can bankrupt you in no time. 
The whole scenario seems like mighty thin ice. I feel the pressure of being the only employed one, like I must really tow the line at my job, because it is the only one "we've got". It is a heavy load to carry, right now. The fact that there are a series of budget axes about to fly in the next few months, extended unemployment benefits are always on the chopping block- right at the time when we really need them. 
A new development is the length of unemployment benefits is determined by the % of individual state's unemployment rates. These manipulated numbers can change all that. even though they do not reflect real unemployment rates. 
A word of wisdom to those getting unemployment-- best to have them take taxes out of your unemployment up front, or you may be hit with a tax bill you can;t pay down the road. 
Seems so unfair they tax unemployment as earned income- albeit about approximately  1/3 or so of what your previous wage was.  If you wind up being unemployed longer than you had hoped, this can create a downhill spiral, having to delay or defer taxes owed, adding interest & penalties to the tax debt. 
As a glimpse into the job situation- there was an ad for a dog walker-- but they required years of experience!

"Employers have been adding jobs for three straight years, but still, it's happening too gradually for the labor market to return to where it was at the beginning of the Great Recession.
Overall, the U.S. economy has only gained about two thirds of the jobs lost in the financial crisis. "

So don't believe everything you read about the new & better unemployment rate. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013