Beautiful Prose that I didn’t write

The theory arrived neither full-blown, like an orphan on the doorstep, nor sharply defined, like a spike through a shoe; nor did it develop as would a photographic print, crisp images gradually emerging from a shadowy soup. Rather, it unwound like a turban, like mummy bandage; started with the sudden loosening of a clasp, a scarab fastener, and then unraveled in awkward spirals from end to frazzled end. Several weeks went by in the unwinding. When at last it was stretched out, it looked like this:

Just plain Duh

Ok.. so here’s the story of the day for me. A teacher uses a computer in a classroom at the school she is subbing at. She leaves for a second and when she comes back the students are crowded around it and there is a porn pop-up potpourri going on that she can’t stop (porn-loop). She knows nothing about computers and can’t get it to stop so now she is facing 40 years in prison for “risking injury to a child.”. (read about it here on ARS).

I’ve got three issues with this. First off, if it is a school computer then they are responsible for filtering out whatever they find objectionable. That is a plain and simple fact. Charging the teacher with this crime seems about the same as charging the children themselves since they could easily have surfed to the porn themselves. The school could have (just like a lot of other institutions) filtered out whatever they wanted. Second, how in the world is seeing some porn flashed on a computer monitor considered injury to a child? And why would it have such a harsh sentence?  Seriously, is seeing a naked woman that horrific that a child will be injured for life? And finally, think about how much money is being wasted on the prosecution and the trial and the defense and the expert witnesses, etc. Isn’t this money that could have been better spent in the school itself? Isn’t providing the children with poor schools (in the form of old computers, bad textbooks, computer illiterate teachers) the most awful crime of all?

MASSACRE!!!

If you haven’t seen the cover of the Daily News today, the headline was huge and it read “Massacre at the Navy Yard”. In some ways I was happy to see it. I was expecting some super sensationalized story about our upcoming snow storm.. but instead some real news appears to have made it to the cover. On the other hand I ask you a simple question: How many dead would constitute a “massacre”? Although there is no number mentioned in the dictionary (or web searches for the definition), one thing appears common and that is that the killing is savage (ie. with a machete as was done in Rwanda) and that it occurs on many people.

Neither of these things happened at the Navy Yard last night. 3 people were killed with gunfire by a man who ended up shooting himself. That makes 4 dead total (but only 3 murdered).

Why do I care? Because this is a symptom of what is wrong in the media today. Every story has to be attention grabbing and has to seem important so papers can be sold and tv news programs can get more ratings.. It’s all about money and no more about the story. This is having a very negative affect on our society in that people are not able to discriminate on their own what is important and what isn’t.

I read something the other day that speaks to this (in a sense). As you all know, the world is in agreement now that global warming is real and that we caused it. But did you know that some scientists are saying that if we stopped all carbon emissions right now, there is nothing we could do to stop it? Some believe (and maybe more in the future) that we have passed the point of no return on this. If true, that would mean that we should have been doing something about global warming 20 years ago and not now. Who’s fault is this? It’s ours of course. Our media didn’t use it’s enormous motivating power to raise awareness of this issue when it was important and so we (being the type that only process data that is spoon fed to us by them) did nothing.

There is a movie I just saw by Mike Judge (Idiocracy) that wasn’t great in most traditional ways but made a point that was horrifying. The future (in this case 500 years from now) could turn out to be a very, very lame place, where the average IQ is under 100 and people are just illiterate, clueless slaves to the world they have created. Happy with their TV and fast food… It’s really shockingly plausible.

And yea, we can’t fix it in one place and everything is interconnected. I know that. But the thing is that we can change the world by changing ourselves. If everyone began to simply question the world and the media and their government just a little bit, if everyone would simply wonder a bit more about things, if everyone could be a tiny bit more creative and think of conspiracies (even though they may not exist).. maybe that would be the catalyst that we need to turn the world around and get on the path to a positive future.. maybe.

We’re fucked man

So. Is it possible to be happy about the world we live in today? I’m not sure.. Everything seems so fucked up. I write about here all the time.. I wonder if maybe I think this way because I’m critical of the world and if I just put on my happy person blinders and gave in to society I would feel a lot better. If I wanted to I could come up with 10 fucked up stories a day and post them here. Here’s one. Here’s another. I mean, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. When I was younger, the world was full of promise. The future was a place we wanted to get to.. Now, the future scares me. Well, actually it used to scare me. I’ve become resolved to our demise. Now I look forward to the decay of our civilization. I look forward to the day when people look back and say “what the hell have we done?”.. or maybe that day will never come. Maybe we will simply forget our potential and become complacent in our mediocrity.

Will we ever start treating each other as equals? Will we ever give up the endless pursuit of pointless things? Will we ever decide as a species to improve ourselves? Will we ever stop and realize that we could be doing so much more? Will we ever stop killing? Will we ever stop exploiting? Will we ever care for our planet? Will we ever think beyond the next earnings cycle? Or the next election?

I sure don’t think so.

Sign to help save NPR and PBS

President Bush just proposed drastic cuts to NPR and PBS. Please click here to go to moveon.org’s site to sign an online petition asking congress to finally step up and save these organizations once and for all.

Michelle’s Law – A good law that we shouldn’t need

Many people who have had college students in their family have had to deal with group medical insurance rules regarding who is a dependent and how to maintain coverage for a student while they are in school.  Basically, after the student is 19 years old the policy holder needs to periodically certify that the student is a full time student in order to maintain their dependent coverage.  Once the policy holder can no longer certify the full-time status the dependent is dropped from the plan.  The alternative then is to either elect COBRA coverage where the full regular individual premium is charged and coverage is guaranteed for only 18 months or, alternatively, go without coverage.  Don’t bother lying about student status since in the event of a catastrophic illness the carrier will make you provide documentation of full-time student status and will undoubtedly deny coverage if it can’t be proven.

Consider this scenario.  A full time student is stricken with a grave illness and is forced for medical reasons to drop out of school even temporarily in order to recover.  Surprise.  Same result.  Because the dependent is no longer a student they are dropped from the policy.  They are forced to elect and pay for COBRA coverage and their membership in the plan is guaranteed only for the COBRA period, generally 18 months.  After that a gravely ill person would find it impossible to find new coverage.

Michelle’s Law is a model law that its sponsors are trying to get enacted in the states and a Federal version has also been introduced (see Michelle’s Law ).  It would provide that in such an event as I described a medically necessary 12 month period of absence would be permitted before the student’s regular coverage would stop.  This seems to be at least a fairer outcome for the student who only wants to get well in order to continue their education.  And what good is medical insurance if you can only be assured of having it if you don’t need it?  A modern day “Catch 22” if there ever was one.

In so many areas there needs to be a social contract that recognizes that in order to be able to sell a product or service the public must be treated fairly.  Dropping sick people from medical insurance doesn’t sound fair to me.  And discriminating based on family medical history or genetic markers when it comes to medical or life insurance coverage is a short step from promoting the superior species and abandoning the misfits.  Dithering over whether wind or water flattened someone’s house might be a multi-billion dollar decision that insurance companies can decide in their own favor but why should they even have that option?  Water surge of 10 feet along with 130 mph winds is a devastation that insurance should cover.  Sick students too. 

Sometimes social conscience and basic fairness need to trump the almighty dollar for the whole system to work.

Brendan States his Mind

I’m not always in 100% agreement with Brendan (Brendan Calling) but in this post he is totally correct. Anyone in our military that was part of torture of prisoners deserves any and all that come to them as a result. Years ago when we were in Gulf War I, I remember hearing stories of Iraqi soldiers giving up just so they could spend some time as POWs in our care. They got good food, beds, clothes and were cared for psysically.. I was proud to be an American. I thought something like “see, that’s why we’re a superpower, we care about people and even when we have to resort to war, we still play with honor”. Wow we’ve come a long way from that haven’t we? That GWB and Rummy aren’t being brought up on war crimes is simply repulsive to me!

The Devils Messages

So I was watching this documentary on HBO the other day (Friends of God: A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi .. was ok.. nothing great) and one of the things I noticed was that there were a ton of billboards out there in America that support christian values.. and this is in addition to the ones that you are used to seeing once and a while (the god ones.. “don’t make me come down there – god”, etc.).

I came up with an idea to have some fun and totally mess with the crazy religious and PC nuts out there and if someone runs with it, they have a guaranteed $100 dollars to their cause. My plan is to make a billboard that is written by the devil. We’d make it Red with gold letters and have it say something like “Have fun before you die! – Lucifer”.. how funny would that be? It could turn into a national thing (if Prince and his guitar can.. why not this)..

Other than being funny, perhaps it would stimulate a discussion of religion in America.. who knows.. what do you think?