Category Archives: In The News

Aries! Pisces? Both! Neither?

Astrological signs

Image via Wikipedia

Facebook was “abuzz” with the news that the zodiac sign we’ve been living with our whole lives is not correct, because the earth’s axis has rotated since the zodiac signs were named.  Friends claimed “I’m a Leo all the way” and “I’ll never be anything but a Virgo.”

I’ve always been an Aries.  Many of the Aries traits apply to me, but I’ve never felt like I was a true Aries.  I’m not as fiery, not as Out There as the Aries sign has always seemed.  So maybe I really am a Pisces.  Let’s take a look, shall we?  (All sun sign description came from about.com.)

Aries

  • courageous (yeah), pioneering (eh), brilliant (well of course!), adventurous (sure), dynamic (hmm), straight-forward (sometimes)
  • willful (can be), dominating (not so much), selfish (yes and no), ruthless (definitely not), insensitive (I suppose I can be, sometimes), impatient (Hell Yes)
  • Aries are gifted with a direct, fiery nature that makes them one step ahead of the crowd. (?) They take charge of a situation, and their sense of certainty usually makes others fall in line. (??) This makes the Sun in Aries a born leader. (???)
  • Often larger-than-life, they can light up a room with their charisma. (Really, not so much)  If a gathering is dull, they’ll quickly move on – and they’re among the ones with the stamina to party ‘til dawn. (Rarely) Aries craves excitement and their restless spirits seek out the next big thing. (Yeah, kind of)
  • Aries can rise to the challenge of any battle. Sometimes they go too far and scorch those they love with hurtful words said in the heat of the moment.  (It’s been known to happen)  They quickly forgive and forget (Big Fat No), but often deal with the fall out of their brusque demeanor.
  • Aries wants to achieve great things, and is propelled by an inner drive that is a force to be reckoned with.  (Not so much)  Their bright minds and ability to initiate can make them trailblazers in their careers. (eh)
  • At times, the rush to action can cause them to take unnecessary risks, or forge ahead without planning out crucial details.  (no, I’m kind of a planner) Some say the Sun in Aries learns the hard way, by leaping before looking. But being an active sign, the Aries learns best through experience.  (That’s VERY true)

Pisces

  • compassionate (I can be, sometimes), creative (I’d like to think so), mystical (not so much), sensitive (yes), romantic (mmhmm), dreamy (sure)
  • escapist (oh yeah), lazy (yep), self-indulgent (often), overwhelmed (occasionally), impressionable (not really)
  • As the last of the twelve Zodiac signs, Pisces is said to contain aspects of them all. This makes the Pisces Sun so changeable as to appear not to have one singular identity. It’s as if they’re just touching down in this human reality, and light enough to try on a few personas.  (Is this saying I have multiple personalities?)
  • Pisces can be so dreamy as to seem “somewhere else” half the time. They’re tuned into the spiritual side of things, and this gives them an otherworldly air. It can seem that they’re always sensing the emotional currents that run between people, as well as those connecting us to the great beyond.  (No, no, not so much)
  • The Pisces Sun leads with a compassionate heart, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Many are remarkably wise and self-sacrificing when it comes to helping the vulnerable or those down on their luck. (Not me)  But this noble trait can take them down a path of being used and abused before they learn to set strong boundaries.
  • This is the sign of the mystic poet, and a creative pursuit gives Pisces the motivation to be disciplined. And bringing structure to the vast imagination and shades of emotion flowing within the Pisces nature is a great achievement. Through art, they can bring a bit of heaven down to Earth for the benefit of everyone.  (I can hope!)
  • It’s important for Pisces Sun to find a sense of purpose to avoid just drifting. Their sensitivity makes them also a tad more vulnerable to escapism through addictions or personal dramas. (I don’t have an addictive personality at all)  Finding a sense of worth, self-definition and purpose seem to be some of their life lessons.  (Big Mm-Hm)

So, maybe I’m a little of both.  Heck, I’m probably a little of every sign.  I think we all are.  Does it matter if our signs have changed, if they’re not what we thought they were?

Then again, the story could be blown way out of proportion.  The media has a knack for doing things like that.

On a lighter note- TSA Humor

Stay Sweet TSA

Image by Blacknell via Flickr

Press Release:

WASHINGTON, DC-  Recent data has shown that women often neglect to do a monthly self breast exam, as recommended by their doctors.  In an effort to facilitate breast health, the TSA has begun training security personnel to check for lumps during their pre-flight pat down inspections of female passengers.  This will ensure more women are checked on a regular basis, as early detection is key.  Because breast cancer can strike males as well, men who are concerned about their breast health can also request the breast exam, as well as a testicular cancer screening, for a nominal fee.  Simply tell the TSA Agent during your pat down that you want to “opt in.”

It’s a joke, people.

For more press release fun: 

WASHINGTON, DC—Seeking to address “the number-one threat to airline security,” the Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday that it will consider banning passengers on all domestic and international commercial flights…  (Grr – linking not working right at the moment – here’s the article:  http://www.theonion.com/articles/faa-considering-passenger-ban,44/

Now I know where to go to get some action!

2 7 10 Bearman Cartoon Airport Body Scanner

Image by Bearman2007 via Flickr

 

I got into a debate on Facebook last night about the new security measures in place at airports in the US.  It started when one guy, Cowboy, posted to his wall that he had one thing to say to all the people posting articles and complaining about the new security measures:  “don’t fly.”  He said this is being done to protect us from terrorism, and as long as he gets a pat down from “a hot female with TSA,” he’s okay with it.

Both sides weighed in on this, and it was, for the most part, a cordial discussion.  I was actually quite surprised that no one started hurling insults.  Both sides stated their opinion and made points, and argued against the other side’s points.  There was only one issue, I think. 

I don’t think most people who were arguing for scanners and enhanced pat downs had any idea what they were talking about.  I will admit, when this was first instituted, there was an email discussion amongst several friends.  Two were very unthrilled with the new security measures, and one who went through the scanner said she “felt dirty.”  (I hope I’m quoting her correctly!)  My opinion, at the time, was, “Eh.  Whatever.”  I wasn’t happy with it, but I didn’t really see the big deal.  However, since then, I’ve read more about them, done some research, and read firsthand accounts of the “enhanced” pat downs.  And now I can say, with full sincerity, that I am not okay with this, and I am not looking forward to the next time I have to fly (Christmas).  In fact, I’m starting to get a little sick about it – not quite to the extent that Nicole  is, but talk to me again as the date gets closer.

Here are the main points brought up in the FB debate:

I agree with the original Facebook post – If you don’t like it, don’t fly.  Some people don’t have that option.  This can affect people’s livelihoods – do I want to continue working to support my family (by traveling, as my job requires) and give up on these civil liberties, or do I want to stand up against it and not fly (and lose my job in the process)?  Here’s the point:  DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH.  Know what you’re facing the next time you go to the airport.  Have all the facts.  This is your body, your health, and damnit, the government has no right to tell you what to do with those two things.  Once you know the facts, then make an INFORMED decision based on your personal belief system.  If you want to debate the merits and/or faults of the new system with me, please have something more to say than, “TERRORISTS!  9/11!  The sky is falling!”

Wednesday, November 24th (yes, the day before Thanksgiving, yes, the busiest travel day of the year), is National Opt Out Day.  The organizers are urging everyone flying on Wednesday to “Opt Out” of the scanner and instead have the “enhanced” pat down.  They want people to understand what the pat down entails, and to determine for yourself if you are okay with receiving it…and if you’re okay with your spouse, mother, father, and children (the 15 year old girl, the 4 year old boy) receiving it.  

I was listening to the radio today, to some radio personality on AM radio (sorry, I couldn’t figure out who it was).  The guy was telling people, don’t opt out.  It’ll only slow everything down, and it won’t make a statement of any kind.  He was recommending, instead, that people go through the scanner and salute the TSA – with one finger (guess which one).  “Free speech!” he said.  “Make a statement!”

All due respect, but what exactly is that going to do?  I have nothing against the TSA agents themselves – they’re just doing their job (although, if it were me, I’d be looking for another job right quick).  Flipping off the TSA agent is not going to make any statement, other than, “I’m an immature asshole.”  Let me explain the idea behind Opting Out:

IT’S A FREAKING BOYCOTT!  Why do people boycott a business?  To make a statement.  To make the business sit up and take notice.  To make them realize that people don’t like what they are doing, people are doing something about it, and it’s going to affect the business’ bottom line.  This is what the Opt Out Day is for.  Although the organizers state that the intention is not to slow down air travel, it will obviously slow down the security lines if even half the people going through decide to opt out of the scanners.  It will show TSA (and the government) that we don’t agree with the scanners.  It will show other people that there are people willing to make a stand against them, which will in turn make others more likely to do so.  It will affect the airlines, possibly causing delays, certainly upsetting passengers when they miss their flight due to the long wait, who will demand some sort of compensation.  It is the American people, en masse, saying, “We are not going to put up with this.”  And just like with a boycott, if enough people do it, maybe someone will take notice.

I don’t think we’re getting the full truth.  I was going to do a summary of what TSA says about the scanners and what I’ve heard and found, but I’ve spent way too long on this post, and besides, this post does that pretty well.

Some additional interesting links:

  • Ron Paul has introduced H.R. 6416, The American Traveler Dignity Act, to the House.  You can read about it here.
  • FedUpFlyers was started by a pilot, and has several first-hand accounts from crew personnel and passengers about the security measures.  I suggest you read them.  Yes, they are touching your genitals.  If you’re a woman and you wear a skirt, they WILL slide their hands ALL the way up to your panties.  If you wear skimpy underwear, your labia may be touched.  Are you okay with that?  Are you okay with your wife, your daughter being subjected to that?
  • WeWontFly – Act Now.  Travel with Dignity.

As a final note, let’s look to the people who do this for a living – the pilots and flight attendants who go through this daily.  Pilots unions are urging pilots not to go through the scannersFlight attendants have contacted the ACLU and may file suit.  These are professionals, and they’re not okay with it.  I’m not either.

***ETA – OMG!!!   I just found this online, and laughed hysterically. 

Freedom of Speech – unless I don’t agree with you

I was reading an article in Time recently about “Islamophobia” and the public uproar regarding mosques being built in communities across the country.  One key paragraph stood out to me:  “Those railing against new mosques also use arguments of equivalence:  Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow churches and synagogues, so why should the US permit the building of Islamic places of worship?”

My immediate, disturbed, vocal response:  “Um…how about a little thing called freedom of religion?!”

I’ve been somewhat following the debate surrounding the building of Cordoba House, aka “Ground Zero Mosque.”  I say “somewhat,” because I can’t say I know all the ins and outs, who’s said what, and count off facts on the fingers of my hands.  I’ve been more interested in the broader issue.  I love politics and religion, the philosophical theory of each, though not exactly the practice of either.  The practice gets people involved, and it’s the people who spoil it.

Should they build a mosque in Manhattan, just blocks from the World Trade Center?  What if instead of being two blocks away, it was four?  Six?  Would it be okay then?  How far away is okay?  One of the main concerns is that if you go to the memorial, you will know that this Muslim Center isn’t too far away.  Does the fact that your loved one is dead, killed by extremists, become worse, because this center is two blocks away?

Is it insensitive?  Possibly.  You know what else is insensitive?  Blaming an entire group for the actions of a very small few.  I can’t tell you how much this issue is upsetting me.  It is showing how ugly and small-minded people can be.  Islamophobia – bad name for it, IMO.  Islamo-hatred, more like it.

On the other side, you have the Florida minister who intends to burn copies of the Koran on 9/11.

You know, there’s nothing that drives me more insane than hypocritical actions.  It’s hard to preach forgiveness when you can’t forgive.  It’s hard to teach acceptance when you can’t accept.  Turn it around – a mosque in Saudi Arabia is going to burn a bunch of copies of the bible.  Is that okay?  If the answer is no, then why not?

Who’s right and who’s wrong?  They are both wrong, and they are both right.  That’s the beauty of this country. Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech are two of the most incredible rights we have as Americans.  Black, White, Asian, Mexican, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, none of that matters.  We are Americans.  The laws of this country do not apply to this group only.  They apply to all of us.

Religion has been the basis of war and fighting and intolerance for thousands of years.  Seems to me it might be easier if we were all Atheist – then what would we fight about?  I’m sure we’d figure something out.

****

Postscript:  After writing this post, a friend sent me this article from Slate.  “This is how it feels to be judged by the sins of others who destroy in the name of your faith. You’re no more responsible for 30 Christian extremists in Florida than Muslims are for the 19 hijackers of 9/11.  Yet most of us, when polled, say that no Muslim house of worship should be built near the site of the 9/11 attacks. In saying this, we implicitly hold all Muslims accountable for the crime of those 19 people.”

Bingo.

Post-Postscript – Also after I wrote this post, we have *Breaking News* – The Pastor will not be burning copies of the Koran

Boobies!

This is an interesting conundrum.  What constitutes indecent exposure?

Obviously, in most parts of the US, women are not allowed to be topless in public.  (Side question:  at what age does this start?  When the female is no longer completely flat-chested?  There are some girls who could still go topless at 16, by that standard.  But, obviously, nobody raises an eyebrow if a 5 year old girl is running around without a shirt on.  It can’t simply be an arbitrary “when they become a sexual object,” because there are some serious freaks out there who look at children and get excited.  Puberty?  Again that’s different for every girl.  So at what age is a female not allowed to run around topless?)

It makes me wonder – what makes breasts sexual objects?  I’ve seen men with some serious natural boobs.  I’ve seen some women that have almost no breasts.  And yet, the woman’s breasts are more of a sexual turn on than the man’s.  So is it only the fact that it’s a woman, as opposed to a man?  What happens when the man in question has some beautiful, well-shaped, womanly looking boobs?  If you put the man in a box where all you can see if the boobs, is that not almost pornographic?  And, once you know it’s a man, does that make the breasts in question less beautiful?  If so, why?

You know that scene in Notting Hill?

Anna Scott: What is it about men and nudity? Particularly breasts? How can you be so interested in them?
William: Well…
Anna Scott: But, but, seriously: they’re just breasts. Every second person in the world has them.
William: Oh, more than that, when you think about it: you know, Meat Loaf has a very nice pair.
Anna Scott: [laughs] But they’re… they’re odd looking, they’re for milk, your mother has them, you’ve seen a thousand of them… What’s all the fuss about?
William: Actually, I can’t think of what it is, really. Let me just have a quick look…
[peeks under blanket]
William: No, no, beats me.

In Rehoboth Beach (and I’m sure a lot of other places), the law states that a woman cannot show her breasts in public.  The law about indecent exposure for men does not include breasts.  Which presented an issue last weekend when some transgendered men ran around topless on the beach, with their implants out in all their glory.

So what happens when a transgendered man with breast implants runs around topless?  Well, they are boobies, but they’re on a man.  So is it indecent?  If yes, then, logically, you’re also saying that a man with huge, natural man-titties is indecent.  Again, logically, if you say it’s indecent for a woman to go topless, and yet a man with implants is indecent, then he is a woman.  

And once you start having to deal with this issue…if boobs make a woman, then what makes a marriage?  Some say “a man and a woman.”  But, again, logically, if boobs make a woman, then is a person with male genitalia (a man) with breast implants (a woman) allowed to marry a man?  Would that be considered “Gay Marriage?”

Ow.  I think I sprained a muscle in my brain.  I know what I’m trying to say, but I don’t know if it’s coming across correctly.  My point is, we, as a nation, as a society, need to get away from the concept that attraction can only exist between a man and a woman.  Or we need to get away from the concept that mammary glands are attractive.  It’s kind of hard to have it both ways.

Really? That was the best option?

“After days of public outcry,” Mecklenburg has revisited the decision to close half of the library locations.  Seems that was only one of three options originally presented when looking to cut the budget.  The other options included cutting library hours and cutting pay, each option with a different rate and number of layoffs. 

So, the board thought it would be better to close 12 locations and layoff 140+ employees, rather than cut hours and pay and layoff roughly 80 employees.

How was THAT the better option??

Wouldn’t it be better, in this economy, to keep people employed, and ensure access to a public resource?

It really makes me wonder if they did it specifically to get people riled up. 

Personally, I think the best option would be a combination of ideas.  I think that some locations can be closed without much of an uproar.  So, close some branches, cut some hours, cut some pay, and, if needed, lay a couple of people off.  It sucks, but shouldn’t the idea be to lessen the impact on everyone involved?

I love the idea of politics, or maybe I should say the ideal.  I hate the current practice.  Common sense is sorely missing in the public arena.  Kind of makes me want to (cannotbelieveI’mabouttosaythis) get into local politics.

Charlotte Mecklenburg closing 12 branch locations

On Wednesday, they announced that they would be closing 12 of the county libraries.  I was somewhat shocked – 12 seemed like an awful lot.  In fact, it’s a full half of the local libraries. 

I thought about the ones near me.  I have four locations within about 5 miles of me, so I figured three of those might close, and the biggest one, the Regional one, would remain open.

On Thursday, they announced which library locations would be closing.

All 4 of the locations near me are closing. 

From charlotteobserver.com

Here’s a map of the closings.

I live near 14, the Morrison Regional Branch that I thought they would keep open.  You’ll see that there is now a HUGE hole in the South Charlotte and East Charlotte areas.  They recently remodeled the Myers Park location (16), and it’s closing.  And the Hickory Branch location (8) is a new $5 million building that opened 6 weeks ago.  What a waste.

Meanwhile, they are keeping 7 (Freedom Regional) & 24 (West Blvd) open (see how close together they are?), as well as 11 (Downtown) and 18 (Plaza-Midwood), also close together.  (ImaginOn, 9, doesn’t really count, as it’s specifically a children’s library.)

And they’re closing 5 (Cornelius), but leaving 6 (Davidson) & 17 (North Co Regional)?  Why not close Davidson & North Co Regional and leave Cornelius open, since it’s in the  middle of the two?  (Granted, I think it’s a smaller branch, but you see my point.)

The board says they looked at “overall cost of library operations, usage levels, proximity to other branches and library size.”  I don’t think they took the proximity issue into account, based on the huge holes on the map.

Future budget cuts may reduce the library system even further, to just the downtown branch, or maybe the downtown, a North Regional, and a South Regional. 

I was absolutely sick about this when I read about it on Thursday.  And based on the comments on all the news articles online, so is everyone else.  There’s a grassroots effort to raise the $2 million needed to keep these branches open, but the deadline is Wednesday.  So far, $35,000 has been raised.  You can donate here.  The problem with this, of course, is that it only saves them this year.  More budget cuts in future years will only put them back on the chopping block.

This isn’t simply about losing libraries.  148 employees are being laid off.  People who depend on the branches for internet access, meeting locations, children’s story time, and any of the other programs the library runs, will need to find an alternative.  It’s exacerbating a problem – the unemployed who can’t afford a computer or internet access go to the library to search for jobs, but now they won’t be able to do that, or will have to drive further (or find another bus route).  Kids who can’t afford books will now have a harder time checking them out of the library, possible leading to a decline in education and/or reading levels.

Why not cut hours, or days, like the postal service?  Sure, close a few locations.  There are other ways, I think, that this could have been handled.  Charge a nominal fee for internet usage ($1/half hour?), or charge higher fines for past due books.  There will still be operating costs on the closed locations – leases that need to be fulfilled, security and maintenance for the now empty buildings. 

I’ve always joked that the way I support the local library is by paying overdue fines, because I’m almost always late with books.  Now I’m looking for another way to support the library.  Where’s a damn petition I can sign??

Let’s do the Time Warp

This morning, I’m driving into work, wearing gloves because it’s cold out, listening to the radio.  They do a news story:

“So-and-so is at Pearl Harbor today to commemorate…”

And I think, why are they in Pearl Harbor? Pearl Harbor wasn’t until December – that’s MONTHS away.

And I thought that for a full thirty seconds, I am not kidding.

I thought it was May.

Where the hell did this year go?

Running away doesn’t absolve you from guilt

I’m sure Roman Polanski is sorry for what he did 30 years ago. I know the victim is over it and wishes the whole thing would just disappear. I understand that Polanski is a great director, highly respected by his peers both in America and in Europe.

However, none of that absolves him from guilt. None of that erases the fact that he fled the country and hasn’t returned, fearing arrest. No one, regardless of how rich, esteemed, privileged, or repentant, deserves absolution simply because of the length of time since a crime is committed.

I simply don’t understand the reaction of French authorities and Hollywood to his arrest. “It seems inadmissible…that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers, is used by the police to apprehend him,” said a petition.  I believe someone called it “a sinister plot,” the way they knew where he was going to be and waited for him. Well, it’s no different than knowing a killer is going to be at a local bar and waiting for him to show up to arrest him. “Why now? He’s traveled to Switzerland dozens of times.” Exactly, why now? Why not the second, third, fourth time he went?

People are upset that he was arrested, “astonished”.  French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterand said that he “strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them.”   Polanski has had a hard life, after all – his mother died in Auschwitz, and his wife was killed by the Manson Family. Of course, most serial killers have had an abusive family life, but we don’t think it’s okay if they drug and rape a thirteen year old, and then flee the country to avoid prison. Oh, and my favorite: he hasn’t been able to make films in Hollywood. Well, THAT’S HIS OWN DAMN FAULT! If he hadn’t run, the justice system would have run its course and he would have spent the last 2-3 decades making movies in Hollywood, or Idaho, or New York, or Wisconsin. The fact that he’s been a world-class director from outside the country does not absolve him of evading sentencing.

I understand, from what I’ve read, that Polanski feared the original judge in the case would renege on his plea deal. Okay, fine, I can understand that. I’m not doubting that the trial may have been unfair. But, if Polanski had come back at any point in time over the last 20 years and turned himself in, I have no doubt that the evading charges would have been dismissed, and the sex crime sentence would have become “time served.”  Especially this past January, when the victim filed papers to have the charges against Polanski dismissed.  If he had simply come back to the US, he probably would have been let off with probation for the fugitive warrant against him.

If this had been my neighbor Joe Schmoe from around the block, you can bet your ass that he would have been arrested 29 years ago and extradited immediately. But this man had money, and clout, and fame, and (as we all know too well) people can forgive a lot when you have those things, or at least turn a blind eye.

The French Foreign Minister is appealing to Hilary Clinton to have Polanski released.  I’m curious to hear her response.