Archive for the ‘News’ category

2012 Grammys

February 13, 2012

I think the correct way to spell it is “Grammys” although it could be “Grammies.” For some reason, “Grammies” sounds like a snack food for British kids.

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about how to spell Grammys. I’m here to talk about the ceremony: the one I slept through. This was completely unintentional. I was exhausted and lied down for a nap around 4 or 4:30 and slept, with only one interruption, until 4 in the morning, when I went back to sleep for another couple of hours. I noticed a tweet during the half hour that I was awake that was something about Chris Brown dancing with bats. That’s when I first realized that I missed the Grammys.

So apparently, Chris Brown was performing at the Grammys. This surprised me, because I could have sworn that he was nearly universally disliked and still under probation. Apparently, that’s not the case, at least one the disliked portion. Here’s the mix in the form of celebrity Twitter feeds.  According to less-than-irrefutable sources, Rihanna and Chris Brown are even back together. Some writers didn’t feel the need to point why that the choice to have Brown perform is controversial. Others only referenced it as a way to say how much of a recovery his career has made. An article on the show celebrating the life of Whitney Houston didn’t bother to mention the irony of Brown performing.

A writer for Philadelphia Magazine got it. The first thing that clued me in on this Grammy performance, though, was a blog on HelloGiggles. The entry chronicles the response to the the abuse since it was first reported. It seems a lot of the sentiments expressed at that time haven’t changed either. If you really want to get your blood boiling, look at the comments section of the link to the report that Rihanna and Brown are back together.

The most disgusting part about it is the statement that Grammy Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich made to ABC: “If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years and it may have taken us awhile to kind of the over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.” I’m really sorry you had to go through that Mr. Ehrlich. I’m sure that Rihanna is also sorry for getting beaten and choked, because she would never wish that on you. I’m sorry…. but this is a little bigger than your awards show. This is society accepting and promoting a man who assaulted his girlfriend. You only have so much control over how many people buy his albums and request his songs on the radio, but you have total control over whether you have him a stage to blow off his crime against Rihanna and by implication, every other instance of domestic abuse. People may want him, but you should feel a bigger responsibility to society and the stigma placed on the true victims of domestic violence. You may have, but probably didn’t, lose ratings from not having Chris Brown on your awards show for the past two years, but you are not the victim of his crime. The victim was the young woman, who was left bloodied and unconscious from Chris Brown’s violent attack. All you saw was that he sold tons of music and you couldn’t have him on the show because he had a restraining order placed against him by an artist he physically beat. You couldn’t have him then because everyone would talk about how she wasn’t invited. Now that the restraining order has expired, you’ve jumped all over the chance to jump on the Chris Brown money-wagon. The worst part is that you did it on a night dedicated to the memory of a woman, who dealt with the same thing for a large part of her life. It’s like you gave a large middle finger to each and every person who has been the victim of domestic violence, and a pat on the back to those who committed it. Well, I’m sorry… but you’ve lost a viewer of future awards shows as long as you’re in charge of them.

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ACLU et al v. North Central Regional Library

February 3, 2012

The ACLU is getting involved in a lawsuit against a library in Washington because it blocked access to online porn. The ACLU believes that the blocking of porn has infringed upon the 1st Amendment rights of the library users, or specifically, three library users. One is a college student, who says the access was needed for a school assignment, and another is a professional photographer, who wanted to look at art galleries. Nothing was said about the third in the articles that I’ve seen.

Let’s start with the 1st Amendment. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” There is no law being proposed. The library does get public funding, but they’re also required to follow the law. I’m pretty sure that allowing people to look up pornography on the public computers would likely result in children walking by and seeing. (The article, to which I linked, mentions such instances, which occurred in another library, in the tenth paragraph.) Perhaps it doesn’t in Washington, but I would think that such an event would constitute “corruption of a minor.” I would also imagine that if the library didn’t take steps to prevent it, it would be open to suit for damages in court for such an event, if it was pressed.

One of the library’s directors was quoted as saying “We believe having pornography in public places hurts our ability to accomplish our mission.” The library’s website claims “The Mission of the North Central Regional Library is to promote reading and lifelong learning.” I can see a couple of ways that allowing pornography on the public computers could hinder this mission. The first is that parents could start restricting their children’s access to the library in order to prevent them from seeing someone else’s internet usage. Further, potential lawsuits against the library due to the library creating a system that allows children to easily be exposed to pornography could severely limit the library’s budget and ability to function.

I’m all for free speech. I’m not in favor of censorship, even if I object to the material. This is not a case of anybody’s right to say something or assemble has been violated. This is a case where an institution, looking out for its own well-being, stated that certain information cannot be obtained on its premises. A library wouldn’t be sued for not carrying Penthouse (Sorry. No link.) in its periodicals, and it shouldn’t be sued for not allowing access to certain materials.

Civic Minded

February 2, 2012

Heather Peters has won her case against Honda in small claims court in California. There was a class action suit taken against Honda over the MPG that Honda customers were getting from their Civic Hybrids. The cars were advertised as getting 50 miles per gallon, but people were averaging only 30 miles per gallon. That’s roughly the same as a regular Honda Civic, which costs thousands less. The class action suit will award $100-200 to each member of the class. Peters was awarded $9,867, just shy of the $10,000 maximum award in California small claims court.

What’s my point? I guess I don’t really have one. I had just been curious about how this case would turn out. It really doesn’t effect me. I drive a 13 year-old, GM truck and get about 23-27 MPG while apparently dripping oil. I’m a much greater  environmental hazard that any Civic driver. I just like to keep up on these things for when I finally have to break down and get a new vehicle.

For what it’s worth, Honda has modified their fuel efficiency for the new 2012 model of Civic Hybrid. It now only claims 44 MPG.

It only goes to show what little people can do.

April 30, 2010

I thought I’d take a moment to share a couple of stories I’ve come across about young people doing amazing things.

The first of these comes from Widener University, where university president James T. Harris, III, traded places with senior Doug Shultz for a day on April 15.  Harris does this every year.  While Harris worked Shultz’s job and took his classes – he says to help stay connected to what students’ lives are like – for the day, Shultz made an admission decision, worked to enact new campus policy and landed a major donation.  Okay, so the last one was a bit of a softball, since the donor is the chairman of the board of trustees for the university but it was still quite an experience.  What a day to have!

The second story is that of Abby Sunderland.  Abby is circumnavigating the globe in a one-person sailboat… at the age of 16.  There are actually two 16-year old girls performing this feat right now.  Jessica Watson is finishing her voyage in Sydney soon and will become the youngest person to sail solo around the world.  Abby meanwhile has decided to put into port for repairs to her navigational equipment.  Despite starting late in the year, she successfully navigated Cape Horn, but with faulty equipment, bad weather and the vast Indian and Pacific Oceans ahead, the 16-year old made the very mature decision to go into port in Cape Town, South Africa, until the ship is fully functional again, possibly putting her chances of finishing at a younger age than Watson.  Hopefully the repairs will be quick and she can complete her goal of becoming the youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo, like her brother did last year.

These are stories of a 21-year old running a university and a 16-year old sailing alone around the earth.  I see these stories and am amazed at what these people can do.  I also feel like a slacker.  How about you?  Do you have any amazing stories to share?

the Kandahar Boardwalk

April 7, 2010

I came across an interesting story yesterday about part the US military’s plan to increase efficiency in transporting goods to Afghanistan.  At Kandahar Airfield, international military personnel can get a taste of home by visiting Burger King, Pizza Hut, TGI Friday’s, Orange Julius, Tim Horton’s, or Dairy Queen on base.  This will not last much longer though, as the military is planning to stop flying the food stuffs that these restaurants need to operate into the airbase.  This will leave room for more important goods, like traditional military supplies – ammunition, armor, rations, US Presidents.  Most of these on-base eateries will be closed soon.

My thoughts on this are mixed.  On the one hand, I’m amazed that the US military has been flying in food to run diners in a war zone.  Once upon a time, the military – or even the companies themselves – would fly in Coca-Cola and ice cream and various other pleasantries from Stateside to lift the spirits of the troops.  Have things changes so much that our soldiers need daily Whoppers to remind them of why they are fighting?  The military has cited a concern for the battle-readiness of our troops when they can have a Blizzard regularly as another reason for cutting off the shipments.  It would appear that they are getting too comfortable in the desert.

Normally I would say that the military shouldn’t be flying these goods over into a war zone to create restaurants to make everyone feel more at home.  Occasional shipments of Snickers bars – or perhaps something that wouldn’t melt in the heat – should do the trick and at a lot less expense.  However, now that these places have been established and our servicemen (and I use that term in a non-gender specific manner) have come to expect it, I would be concerned with the damage to morale when our soldiers can no longer get a virgin daiquiri at will if I was coming up with a plan for an active military theater.  I have concerns as to how these restaurants got started, but now that they are there, they should probably be supported.  At least the Canadians plan to keep their Tim Horton’s and their ice hockey rink on the base.  Maybe they’ll let our boys – and girls – over there share the rink and take up hockey for some international friendlies.  Then again, the Americans probably don’t stand a chance, and THAT can’t be good for morale!