Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
Everyone is welcome here.
(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)

Mon, Oct 31 2005

Thoughts On Rosa Parks

I've heard about Rosa Parks all my life and I've been fascinated by her quiet determination to "sit down" for her rights. To the men reading this I would say that it's been especially important for women to have someone such as Ms. Parks held before us as an example. It's getting easier for young females now, but not so many decades ago, while little boys grew up with plenty of strong, very famous male icons and heroes to look up to it usually took an extremely well-educated, well-financed, outspoken (even aggressive) woman to get more than a line or two in the history books we all studied together. The famous female icons of our youth were usually beautiful young actresses or strong wives of statesmen who were smart enough to use their "sidekick" placement to an advantage. Maybe that's part of why Rosa Parks has meant a lot to me—not so much because of the race issues but because of gender issues.

Rosa Parks didn't run for president. She didn't become a film star or university professor and she didn't garner her bus ride of fame into a chance to endorse commercial products. She lived the rest of her life as she had lived the earlier part of her life, with quiet dignity. She did find ways to make her status mean something to others who might come after her and might need courage to buck the system when the system seemed to be working in an orderly fashion but was based on a false premise.

You good men out there have your presidents and quarterbacks, generals and movie moguls. You have your fighter pilots and your cowboys. If we women take this time to praise and enjoy the legacy of Rosa Parks, just understand and know that she appeals to us as one of those rare, famous female heroes who knew how to live life as both a woman and a lady.

posted at: 07:05 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Sun, Oct 30 2005

Grocery Stores: Real and Imagined

I did some grocery shopping this morning and it turned out to be somewhat of a scavenger hunt. Our local Nob Hill has been undergoing serious remodeling in the past few months and the big push is on to get things ready for a Grand Opening in about three weeks (just in time for the main holiday season). Things may be a little inconvenient right now but it's going to be really nice once the transformation is complete. Once that happens, I do hope they leave the basic layout alone for awhile.

Once I get acquainted with a store's layout I usually make out my shopping list according to that layout. That's a bit difficult to do at the moment. Every other week this or that aisle is being compacted, shifted, rearranged or reconfigured to accommodate the latest phase of the remodeling projects. I'm told that most stores have a method to their madness when it comes to store layout, with the most common staples being placed near the rear of the store. I suppose this is to coax us to walk past many other things as we travel back and forth to pick up milk and orange juice.

One of the things that has happened during the Nob Hill remodeling work is that the check stands have been isolated from all the impulse purchase items, so that when you approach the check stand you have tremendous room to make a line and you don't have to guide your cart between high racks of everything from tins of mints and shoelaces to the latest tabloid lunacy. You can see everything going on around you and see all the other customers and cashiers. (If you've been to a Costco store it feels a bit more like that, on a smaller scale). I really like that whole atmosphere. The spaciousness of the area is psychologically very freeing and it almost makes me feel like I've entered a great hall for a party. I'm hoping they won't crowd the check stands with those cluttered racks and pegboards when they get ready to present the Grand Opening.

Another thing I've wondered about grocery shopping is why stores don't ever think to put at least a few bags of marshmallows near the hot chocolate mix, or put a small display of fresh bananas and hot fudge topping near the ice cream freezer. No one ever seems to think of the food as a meal, but as components to be grouped by type. It's very organized I suppose, but if you're a right brainer you don't think of things that way most of the time. I've never been to a Bloom grocery store but the concept sounds like a good one. I love the idea of the Table Top Recipes, particularly if the store groups ingredients for those recipes together once in awhile. Can you imagine walking in and picking up a box with everything you need for that Citrus Chicken dinner with the items already totalled for quick checkout? (A nice plus would be samples of the featured recipes offered by cheerful store demonstrators.)

I guess what I'd really like in a grocery store is the equivalent of a concierge. We're not there yet, but I have a feeling we're not far off from seeing one. I am all for it.

posted at: 15:57 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Fri, Oct 28 2005

Found These Via Other Sites

A new browser has popped over the horizon. It's called Flock and looks very interesting. A tip of Stetson goes to iZ reloaded.

The Subtle Safety defensive ring makes me think of an updated version of brass knuckles, designed as jewelry. A nod and more Stetson tipping goes to Techie Diva for the link.

posted at: 16:31 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Thu, Oct 27 2005

Covering the Story and Covering Up the Photo?

I missed the USA TODAY photo of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in which someone had manipulated the photo in a way that made her eyes resemble a promotion for Halloween . The folks at USA TODAY have replaced the offending photo with a more natural-looking shot and have placed a comment above the original article. If you missed the more demonic version you can still have a look over at Michelle Malkin's blog.

I know no details about the process of the photo manipulation or who was responsible for the resulting horrid quality or the motive behind altering or publishing the altered photo, but I thought what happened next was just as interesting. In the midst of criticism, the paper tried to do the right thing by removing the doctored photo, which had by then become somewhat of a story all by itself.

I realize that USA Today might not have wanted to detract from the original news story. It's just ironic to me that in order to openly present the orignal story in an honest fashion the folks at the paper ended up hiding another part of the emerging story by removing the altered photo altogether, instead of reprinting it with some sort of retraction or explanation. It's not a cover-up but it's not exactly full coverage either. Well, it's their paper, of course, and I don't mean to criticize their decision. I just think it creates an interesting ethical dilemna in the world of journalism.

posted at: 11:54 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Oct 26 2005

String 'Em Up—Then Tell Me The Details

The November 2005 issue of Deb's Monthly Review has been uploaded. This isn't a vanity post. It's more like a chance to take a break, which will be a short one. Now it's time to do the December 2005 issue, which lists not only December festivals and events, but holiday light displays. If your house is one of those that starts to look like it could put the state power grid in peril this time of year do let me know the address (or at least the street name and general block number) and I'll post it so we can send carloads of happy holiday gawkers your way. If you're going to go untangling strings of lights and then prancing about on the rooftop to hang them all you should at least get some recognition for your efforts.

posted at: 11:42 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Oct 25 2005

How Can We Stop the Bus Stop Blues?

How on earth could a noisy crowd showing up at someone's private residence at 9:30 in the evening be conducive to the resolution of union contract issues? I have a lot more respect for people who find more reasonable ways to vent their feelings.

An article from The Mercury News earlier this month indicated that there is high emotion from both those who support the striking drivers and those who feel the drivers should be more content with what they have now. The article also mentioned area businesses struggling to maintain sales when there are fewer customers coming through the doors. I've often wondered why various businesses in a neighborhood don't get together and work to provide shuttles for shoppers. If the Capitola Mall, for instance, operated shuttles that ran near my home, between the city of Watsonville and the Mall on 41st Avenue I would use them to go there and shop a lot more often than I shop there now.

Such a private business solution might be tricky and might involve a lot of liability headaches and other woes for business owners, but it seems to me that standing in your store and relying heavily on a public transit system that can just stop bringing customers to your door at any time is a big headache in itself. Isn't there anything at all you can think of to do to help get us, the paying customers, into your store? If I'm stuck here and you're stuck there, can't we find a way to fix that without waiting for some third party union and some third party management to make nice with each other?

There's one good thing about a transportation strike. If it goes on long enough people start to look around for real alternatives and we all start to realize that we are giving away too many of our decisions to people who don't have to answer directly to us for their job performance. I don't like the strike but I do like the fact that it gets everyone else to start thinking about new ways to deal with the issues.

posted at: 10:14 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Oct 24 2005

Time Flies, Leaps and Falls Back

I'm under a deadline today, but here are some sites to view, since we're going to "fall back" in time this coming weekend.

First, there's The Official U.S. Time, brought to you by our collective taxpayer dollars. Time zones are color coded and you can click a state and get a java animation of the exact time.

Because of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 we are probably looking at going on Daylight Saving Time from the second Sunday of March until the first Sunday of November, beginning in 2007. What will happen to our neighbors in Canada? It looks as though at least some of them will be joining us.

And what about that famous "leap second" that keeps atomic clocks in synch with the sun? It may be living on borrowed time.

posted at: 15:55 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Oct 21 2005

All Riled Up And No Rob To Read

I've been involved with Election Class and other tasks today, so blog posts have had to stay on the back burner. I have a task for those of you reading this today. Fellow blogger Acidman (AKA Rob) is going through some tough times and is taking a break from regular life to go take care of himself. I've been reading his posts for awhile now and we have a lot in common, though that wouldn't be obvious at first glance. Where I might use kid gloves in a piece of writing he doubles up a fist and strikes out with force. His writing hits you between the eyes. He'll make you laugh, flinch, frown and want to argue with him. You'll read something he said that makes you want counter it. He'll give someone a cussing and you'll probably start to leave, until you realize he's just pleading with humans to use common sense. And then you'll have to read just one more archived post. You'll listen to him chew up the universe and spit it back out and then you'll vow never to go back and read his posts again. But you will go back. I know I did. Some people have a way with words. Acidman has his way with words and he never lets us forget it.

Rivrdog has the details on how to wish Rob well. I hope you'll all let him know there are a lot of friends he just hasn't met yet.

posted at: 15:50 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, Oct 20 2005

Free Speech Is Priceless—But Not Without Its Price

When those of us who write blog posts use a lot of profanity and we resort to namecalling we may be placing our own integrity on the line. If I choose to maintain a blog and think I might ever have a job or position in the future that requires any sense of decorum or a lot of responsibility I feel it would be wise to pause before uploading blog posts that, for example, refer to President Bush as "Shrub". Free speech is a wonderful thing. But indulging in a lot of loose cannon verbiage could end up hurting the writer a lot more than the object of one's tirade. Most jobs that require interaction with the public require a certain amount of finesse. Even jobs that might seem not as public sometimes require a background check, which involves digging into a prospective worker's habits and public personna. Down the line any of us could end up applying for jobs with companies whose executives and supervisors care very much how we present ourselves and our thoughts. It's possible that some of those folks would be comfortable swearing a blue streak during a major press conference, or might even call President Bush "Shrub" in such a situation. But the majority of those executives and supervisors who would avoid doing such things would likely expect the people who work for them to also conduct themselves in a circumspect manner in public. And blogging is extremely public. It reflects who I am as a person.

Aside from the issue of possible future employment my own sense of responsibility keeps reminding me that I have to own what I say. My opinions can still be strong without being disrespectful. Actions may speak louder than words, but If I'm going to say something I'd better say it in such a way that I'd be willing to have it follow me around for a very long time. Free speech is only as good as what comes of it.

posted at: 09:58 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Oct 19 2005

Very Good (And Very Bad) Pumpkins

Some people carve pumpkins with simple faces. Scott Cummins creates portraits in pumpkin.

Some people drown their carved pumpkin. I suppose drowning your pumpkin might be a good way to get some use out of it if you made serious mistakes while carving. Of course, in an age when you can use fancy computer software to size and print your own carving designs there is really very little excuse to mess up a pumpkin's face—unless you enjoy doing that sort of thing on purpose.

If all this cutting and hacking is a bit too gory for you, consider a painted pumpkin. That last link even has a picture of a pumpkin painted to look like Hello Kitty. Now, that's scary.

posted at: 08:07 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Tue, Oct 18 2005

Looking Back at Loma Prieta and Looking Forward to...?

Yesterday was the 16th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which gave us a wild ride here and also affected much of the rest of the country's residents who had just tuned in to watch the World Series. Yesterday we had the annual local TV mention of the quake, but I didn't hear any of them say anything locally about the Eastern Shear Zone, which YubaNet (and other online sources) gave a bit of attention to on their site. Scientists have spent a lot of time studying the San Andreas Fault and other fault areas that have very specific characterizations, but the Eastern Shear Zone sounds as though it's not only mysterious, but potentially catastrophic. Any area or fault that is known to have produced a magnitude 8 earthquake deserves a little healthy respect and probably bears watching a lot more closely than the fault areas that seem to cut loose with more frequency. Earthquake zones seem to me a bit like humans. You've really got to keep an eye on the quiet ones.

posted at: 10:04 | category: /Science | link to this entry

Mon, Oct 17 2005

Great Expectations

California Business for Education Excellence (CBEE) put out a supportive press release (PDF document) a couple of weeks ago after Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 586, which involved disabled students, the exit exam and getting diplomas--and AB 1531, which involved alternate methods of evaluating students.

With all the yelling and screaming that goes on about public schools in a state where more than half the budget goes to education it's interesting to note that at least some employers who might hire today's students down the line want to see a harder line taken for graduates to meet certain standards. I do believe that kids come up to a high standard when they're treated as though they can achieve it. But I've also always been of the mind that not every student fits the mold of what many schools deem to be an honor student. Some children have skills that are not honed by sitting in a classroom with lectures and textbooks. However. when the businesses who actually hire people speak up about these things, as a taxpayers, I have to realize that their voice is definitely goint to affect the focus on where public school funding is likely to head in the next few years. I'd still like to see more alternatives for kids who don't fit the traditional student mold but who have the ability to be trained in other ways--especially when those very worthy students' parents don't make enough money to send them to a private school.

The businesses themselves can do a lot in this area by providing mentors and even offering classes in specialized areas. Some students who may not be on the fast track to that MBA degree do have aptitude to cast bronze states, repair tractors or paint houses with a precision many MBA graduates could never match in those areas. I hope business executives are willing to jump in and become a practical part of their own solution by encouraging and providing training in more than just "book learning" and business theory. If they're willing to provide mechanics and artists and construction workers to train students in more than just higher math and English literature they'll reap huge benefits. And so will the rest of us. We'll get a massive work force full of all kinds of talented young people who are really prepared to hit that California job market. I'm glad organizations like CBEE are at least getting the ball rolling.

posted at: 10:50 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Oct 14 2005

No, No. Bad Burglar. That's Not What Bail Is For...

It's interesting that so many stolen items were found at a home where at least some of the residents had been charged with other burglary and some were out on bail for past burglary charges. I'm talking to more and more people who are installing cameras and security systems to thwart burglary, and many of the homes equipped with these devices are not large, fancy places. They're modest, average homes with homeowners who are simply fed up with crime. And it's relatively easy and inexpensive now to set up cameras and other security measures that are discreet, but effective.

Of course, some folks also equip their homes with other kinds of more direct "security devices". Modern-day burglars had better start making certain no one is home if they're determined to steal. With more homeowners keeping firearms ready to protect their family and property, it's likely that we're soon going to hear about a whole lot more would-be burglars turning into very dead robbers.

posted at: 10:38 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Thu, Oct 13 2005

Are We Creating Communities Ripe for Gangs?

FrontPage Magazine published online a series of transcripts from a late-August conference on immigration in Beverly Hills, California. The focus was actually more on the problems of illegal immigration. This isn't a new issue, of course. But the way these individual speakers present the American reaction to it is interesting, particularly from a law enforcement point-of-view.

I can remember when illegal immigrant crime in a small town was usually someone taking food for themeselves or their family. Gangs as criminal groups were almost unheard of in farm areas or small towns. They were usually a problem in larger cities.

I live in an area that draws a lot of seasonal farm workers and all the related issues that go with that sort of local economy. But now we have less and less farmland as fields are increasingly sold to developers and built up for housing. Much of this push seems to come from the state level, and the blame goes up the line from there, even to all sorts of talk about the United Nation and how it's changing the face of America. I've written before of the ongoing battles over the increasing housing density of outside areas nearby that the city of Watsonville, California is attempting to annex.

Many of the newer jobs in this area are low-to-medium income jobs at places like Home Depot, but the jobs are still considered a big step up from the back-breaking work of agricultural fields, and when retail jobs do come open there are usually many, many applicants who hope to fill the few dozen positions actually available. There aren't many new companies with highly technical or highly skilled jobs being brought in as the new housing areas are being developed. So we aren't moving from a highly rural to a highly technical local population, but we are moving from highly rural jobs to jobs that require some degree of training and orientation.

My guess, which I present without any research to back it up, is that it's tougher for an illegal immigrant to get work at a place like Home Depot than it would be for that person in a field somewhere. Housekeeping jobs probably don't activate the same level of background check that a bank teller might go through. As our local population shifts toward more unskilled-worker immigrants, the original ease with which such immigrants could once obtain work is disappearing. This would hold especially true for illegal immigrants, and maybe doubly true for illegal Mexican immigrants who speak no English. Again, this is just a general observation on my part and does not reflect particular statistics.

As the area becomes less rural and more urban, unskilled immigrants (both legal and illegal) will find it tougher to find a job. Unskilled illegal immigrants may be pushed out of the regular job market altogether. So far, this hasn't stopped illegal immigrants from coming to the area so they must still have hope of making the best of things in the future.

What's left for them to do if they can't get work legally and can't afford training to prepare them for more skilled positions? Maybe they can't even apply for training because they're here illegally. If the people in these kinds of situations are determined to stay, no matter what it takes, some will end up turning to crime. Some young people will be tempted to turn to gangs for a source of comfort and a sense of perceived superior status among their peers.

Let's not forget that some immigrants come here from a culture where corrupt officials and correspondingly corrupt citizens have become an everyday way of life. Just because they come here doesn't mean they will all suddenly adapt to some standard that American citizens consider to be more moral and more socially correct. Some will. Some won't.

I understand that crime isn't only an illegal immigrant issue. Crime isn't only an urban issue. Gangs are not only an urban issue. But in our attempt to provide housing--particularly affordable housing--for everybody who wants to live in areas that were once heavily rural we may be inadvertently creating a kind of social vacuum. That vacuum will ultimately fill itself with people who are willing to take what they can get from either end of the social, and economic, spectrums. We may, in effect, be fertilizing the perfect neighborhoods for gangs in the same way we once fertilized strawberry fields and apple orchards.

posted at: 11:33 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Wed, Oct 12 2005

Bow And Arrow Sniper

I enjoy the spirit of the Old West as much as anyone, but in this day and time, aiming an arrow at someone's bull is pretty ridiculous. The poor animal suffered several hours from the injury before it died. The worse news is that the sneaking buffalo hunter is still loose.

If the property where the bull was is as close to churches and schools as the article reports it's a good bet that the person who did this has no respect for life of any kind. That means they could become much bolder in the future, now that they believe they've achieved some success and notoriety.

posted at: 09:37 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Oct 11 2005

Unblocking Peace

Due to the on-again-off-again still-slowness of web connectivity I have found myself staring out the window a lot today while I wait for this or that site to load. In one of those moments when my browser was actually able to go somewhere in a timely manner I found a poetic thought at the Bird on the Moon blog. Whether it's due to a day off or the down time associated with waiting for other things to happen, a gaze out the window can be just the thing to refresh us and realign our thoughts to a place outside our own little annoyances. And it took only a tiny shift in attitude for me to switch from toe-tapping impatience to reflective observation. It's a much more peaceful, and much more productive, view.

posted at: 12:30 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Mon, Oct 10 2005

Folk Song Fun

If you're curious about old Amercian folk songs you'll have a good time listening to the Max Hunter Folk Song Collection. These were recorded by a traveling salesman and most are sung unaccompanied or with simple guitar accompaniment, by local residents Mr. Hunter encountered on his travels. I particularly enjoyed the cowboy songs, including Keep Your Saddle Tight, Lavender Cowboy, Lost Pack Train and The Cowboy's Dream. The same basic tunes tend to show up over and over as do typical song themes of love, betrayal and salvation (both human and divine). But the lyrics are often unique to a region or a period of time that knits the song into history. It also makes one wonder which songs from today will be considered classic folk songs in another hundred years.

posted at: 09:17 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Fri, Oct 07 2005

One Hare-Brained Post

A few days ago I mentioned an article from the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Cathy Smith had reported on a stand-off between local police in Boulder Creek and a pig named Kate. Cathy followed up her story today with word that Kate was tranquilzed and successfully removed from the property. Kate's temporarily being put up at a local SPCA shelter.

Another animal, Carly, was taken from the same property and also placed in a shelter. Carly's plight has no true relationship to another recent story about her kind, but I thought it might be best to avoid any mention of her particular species, due to the recent agitation over the new Wallace & Gromit film. Let's just say Kate's one of those "furry things".

Eastertime must be particularly stressful for folks on the British island of Portland, what with all those animal-tryouts for Easter Bunny on the Cadbury commercials. Maybe they just don't allow those commercials to be shown on Portland.

I guess Elmer Fudd would be acceptable because Elmer only mentions "wabbits". But fellow LooneyToons character, Yosemite Sam, must surely be banned.

Halloween gatherings surely include showings of the stewed-bunny scene from Fatal Attraction and all those giant furry things towering over homesteads in Night of the Lupus.

Please note: The animated characters and film titles mentioned in this post are owned by their respective trademark or copyright holders. No mean-spiritedness, libel or owner infringement is intended. I'm also sure the good people on Portland will take my post in the lighthearted spirit in which it is written. I'd hate to think one among their community might sneak up on me in anger and deliver a well placed bunny punch.

posted at: 15:37 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Slow Packets And Back Door Vandals

We don't know which came first--the general slowdown due to some ISP troubles in the greater system out there--or the attempts to do a denial of service attack on our web server. It's possible that the two came at the same time by coincidence. Or it's possible that the offending party knew about the difficulty in packet loss in our particular geographical area and decided to use his or her brain activity in one of those socially unacceptable ways that doesn't require actually having to look another human in the eye. In any event, we've been in touch with the technical people at the ISP. The other offending vandal's machine has been banned from the firewall. If other action is needed later we'll deal with that. In the meantime, we'll attempt to get on with life.

I suppose in the overall scheme of things denial of service attacks on small domains are a relatively mild way for these folks to vent their feelings and flesh out their lives a bit with a little excitement. It's better than having them take down big business sites, charitable pages or government domains. But it does make one wonder a bit. Was our domain chosen at random or did we do something specific that they twitched at? Either idea seems sad. I guess I just don't get the point of vandalism in any form. And since most of those who do this sort of thing are often young people it seems doubly sad.

Every generation seems to have its share of vandals. I'm glad every generation also has its share of hard-working heroes. I do wish they got a whole lot more attention than the vandals do.

posted at: 10:48 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Thu, Oct 06 2005

60-60-60: The Committee of the Beast?

I hesitate to point out the site where I found the link to a particular photo from the U.S. Department of State. That's mostly because I'm a wee bit discouraged by portions of the linking author's written content. In any event, the linking author points out that, if you choose to do so, you can see in the background of the photo a rather interesting placement of graphics that portrays the very provocative number 666. This number must actually be visually plucked from a linear series of graphics representing the 60th anniversary of the UN Charter, in June of 2005. But it does make a poignant photo if you look at it just the right way. Have fun with it or take it as deadly serious. But there it is.

In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, I'll dutifully tip the old Stetson toward End Times News and My Views.

posted at: 15:44 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, Oct 05 2005

Symptoms Presenting Themselves

President Bush's remarks concerning military personnel as police during a possible birdflu pandemic were disturbing to me in more ways than one. His mention of Tamiflu® might have sounded more reassuring if I hadn't been reading that that there is a high likelihood that the virus will become resistant to it in the near future.

The birdflu strain has the capability of a high mortality rate. But let's not kid ourselves. Handing out anti-viral drugs is not without consequence. The side effects of Tamiflu (PDF file) occur in a small percentage of patients, about one percent. But they're very real side effects. And if you're talking about handing the stuff out to millions of people you can expect a corresponding number of those to experience side effects. Different people do respond to the drug in different ways.

We still don't really know what will happen to babies who might be given these kinds of drugs. Will the drugs not be given to them at all because of that lack of knowledge? And what happens when babies consume breast milk from women taking these drugs? Do we know? This drug is excreted through the bladder, which tells me it goes through your kidneys. So we'd all better have really healthy kidneys to begin with. And for the stuff to be helpful, a patient has to start taking it within the first day or two of symptoms. I take it this means everyone with a sniffle would be encouraged to take the drug in the event of a real or perceived pandemic. Indiscriminate use of such drugs is partly what causes a virus to become resistant to them, from what I understand. But how will they keep people from wanting to take a drug for something they think they have that they're afraid will kill them?

Even vaccines, if developed, cause side effects in a certain percentage of the population. None of these things is going to be perfect. A lot of people will be adversely affected, not only by birdflu itself, but by the adverse effects of these countermeasures. Tension from the talk of miltary personnel acting as police may become secondary really quickly as the mortality rates become real. Military personnel and health professionals are not naturally immune to birdflu either, so we can plan on some of them falling ill and even dying.

Once you put together the fear of federal martial law, the fear of the birdflu and the fear of the drugs and vaccines used to fight the virus, the real pandemic we're talking about is fear. And frightened people sometimes react in desperate ways.

For now, I'm going to concentrate on some simple, practical things like getting myself into a bit better physical condition in order to increase my natural immunity. It may not be much, but it will give me something positive to concentrate on while our politicians spin the aftermath of Katrina into some movie-of-the-week vehicle for their particular party's benefit. There's definitely a viral fever going 'round that ought to concern us. But it's a fever we won't stop with drugs or vaccines.

posted at: 09:41 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, Oct 04 2005

Why Did Bill Bennett Pull Out The Race Card?

I've been quietly reading and absorbing the various reactions toward Bill Bennett's recent comment concerning what would happen if black babies were aborted. DeWayne Wickham in USA Today wondered if Mr. Bennett could have used a little more logic in his wild statement.

Les Payne in Newsday realizes that Mr. Bennett's remarks may only be a verbal expression of what a lot of other people feel but don't say.

William Saletan from Slate. Did the man who said these things a few years ago really make such a statement on the radio?

Joe Trippi said on his blog that he had doubts that Mr. Bennett was ever profiled for driving in a wrong neighborhood. Mr. Bennett's piece from the aforementioned National Review says he was harrassed, apparently partly because his vehicle sported Texas license plates at the time.

I read more online comments regarding Mr. Bennett's recent remark. One person, in this case Julius Hansen, believes that there has already been encouragement for more abortions of unborn black children.

I went back and read Mr. Bennett's piece from the National Review again. He seemed to be in favor of abolishing any form of practice that encourages favoritism or prejudice by way of numbers. This only makes his referral to all those black children more curious. The mention of any number used to set aside a group of people--be it school admission, housing restrictions, job advancement or abortion statistics helps no one, according to Mr. Bennett. Was he citing the ludicrous abortion idea in order to catch those who were prejudiced against black people--or was the remark intended to shame those in favor of abortion rights? Or both? Or neither?

I remained confused about Mr. Bennett's remarks, even after reading a transcript of the phone call. This man has a history of public service and has had a lot of practice with words, both written and spoken. I hadn't heard the original broadcast, so I went to Mr. Bennett's site, where I finally listened to a recording of the infamous on-air conversation. Neither the caller nor Mr. Bennett sounded overly emotional or agitated in their discussion. Mr. Bennett's voice was that of a calm, self-assured speaker--indeed, a consummate talk show host. I noted no hint of loss of emotion, nor did I sense that he went off on some wild imaginative scenario as I'd thought he might have done (after I'd read several reactions to his comment). He seemed very much in control.

Was this whole thing an unfortunate, off-the-cuff remark? Or was Mr. Bennett saying exactly what he wanted to say? He certainly has enough experience to know it would stir up listeners (and others). Did he let something racist slip from his lips or was it a carefully chosen phrase? Whatever his motivation was, there's no doubt that he's gotten plenty of attention over it. What remains now is to see what he, and others, do about it.

posted at: 12:21 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Oct 03 2005

How to Flip for Fun(?) and Profit

Due to some unexpected down time recently I had a chance to view several episodes of Flip This House. Since a few people I know have done this sort of thing it made the topic that much more interesting to me. Late last month RealEstateJounal.com reported that there seems to be an ideal time frame in which to flip a house if you're doing it to maximize profit. I'd always thought that buying a house, fixing it up and then selling it for a nice return would be a leisurely, creative project. After watching a few episodes of the TV show and then reading that particular article I'm seeing that maybe the whole practice has a lot more frenzied pace than I'd imagined.

posted at: 10:45 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

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