Saturday, August 29, 2009

Religion Explained. Finally. Now I Can Go Eat Some Soup.

Found at: Click Here to Read More..

Friday, August 28, 2009

"Big Brother" apparently wasn't Garrido's keeper

First, my "no-news" update:
Nothing stopped me from posting during the last week, other than busyness and lack of subject matter. I did cut back substantially on consumption of news, but there was no way I could miss the death of Ted Kennedy (and of Dominick Dunne) or the resurfacing of Jaycee Dugard.

I did keep NPR turned off for most of my daily 90-minute commute and enjoyed some oldies from the 1970s. Any news-perusal skirted subjects that seem to induce the most stress, and gave me an opportunity to analyze exactly which subjects fall into that category. It appears that issues that stem from religion-based ideology are the ones that push my buttons. This includes large swaths of Asia, Africa and South America; the health-care debate; prison reform, and workers' rights, to name but a few.

It helped my frame of mind - a little, so I may continue this routine for awhile.

Now, onto Jaycee. The more reports I read about this case, the more stupefied I become.

Sex offenders: They have to register; they get their names published on lists; they get hounded from one neighborhood to another, even if their "offense" has nothing to do with endangering the welfare of anybody. But, with all that, with all the news the subject generates, here we have a monster who got away with imprisoning and impregnating a child for nearly 20 years, even though the authorities knew exactly where he lived. The neighbors even knew he was a registered sex offender, yet they said nothing when they saw three young girls out on the front lawn! Hello??? Isn't the whole point of the whole "registered sex offender in your neighborhood" campaign that they should not be anywhere near children? And yet, the neighbor said "We just thought the kids were his sister's." SO WHAT? If that were the case, the "sister" would have been in violation of the law for bringing children there, if only someone had reported it. And if someone had really checked.

Why is our justice system so dysfunctional? Why did it take two almost-rookie campus cops to run a background check, followed by the guy practically turning himself in? He walked into someone's office and basically said "Hi, I'd like you to meet my bitches." He never moved from his house; all the parole officer and sheriff's deputies had to do was walk through the yard. With everyone raving and ranting about Google Earth violating our privacy and government knowing too much about us, with all these vast resources available, Garrido was sitting there on a platter, running a business, writing a blog, practically screaming to the authorities, Hey, here I am -- I'm a criminal with a twisted past. Would someone please come over and check on me?

I hope this case wakes some people up and brings about changes. Click Here to Read More..

Friday, August 21, 2009

Could "no news" be good news?

Since earliest childhood, I've prided myself on keeping up with current events. My mom always had a transistor radio on the kitchen table, and our stations were WHLI in Hempstead and WINS Newsradio. In grades one through four, everyone had to bring in a daily clipping from the paper. We all got Weekly Reader or Young Citizen. Not knowing or caring about what was happening on the local, state, national or international levels was unacceptable to me.

Still is.

Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bedtime, Sunday

Hope everyone has had a decent weekend. It seemed to go by quickly, didn't it? Relatively slow on the news, as well, and wasn't that a relief?

Busy couple of church-days, but still got all the domestic stuff done.

Messed up something in my back yesterday and shambled around like Igor both days. It feels better now, and I'm looking forward to using my massaging seat cushion in the car for the 40-minute drives to and from work.

Here's to a productive and satisfying week for all. Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, August 13, 2009

This Post Needs a Title

I caught this online yesterday while at work and e-mailed it to myself to avoid forgetting or losing it.

It's a long article that covers a lot of ground. I'm glad the writer got paid for ruminating publicly about so many of the issues that we, who grew up in religious households, grapple with here and elsewhere. For the first half of the article, I found myself nodding:

In other words, maybe it wasn't prayer that made my dad better -- maybe it was all that chemo. Or the scope with tiny scissors that removed nine moldy tumors from his bladder without his even having to check in to the OR. Or the meticulous doctor who managed his case with such vigilance.

I guess that "maybe" should have tipped me off, because when she gets within 4 or 5 paragraphs of the end, she drops the ball, and it rolls rapidly downhill from there:

Regardless of where I am on the spectrum from atheism to theism, I'd rather my girls be grounded in something, even something that seems too good or crazy to be true.

It seems to me that she's allowing her fear of losing her parents (and perhaps their love) to push her toward a more theistic view. Quite bluntly, she's willing to offer her children's intellectual integrity as some propitiating sacrifice to God -- "just in case he's really there..."

A classic case of what Sam Harris illustrates on page 39 in The End of Faith:

Clearly, the fact of death is intolerable to us, and faith is little more than the shadow cast by our hope for a better life beyond the grave.

Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, August 02, 2009

School (Daze)

I had an epiphany last night -- while doing some filing, I ran across a folder containing all my school records.

Fifteen years ago or more, I took all the original report cards that my mother had saved and transcribed them onto a word processor. Then I printed it. Everything from kindergarten through 12th grade -- actual subjects, then such measures as "makes good effort," "plays well with others," etc. How many absences I had, and so forth. I also saved most of my grades from the two colleges I attended between 1976 and 1986 (one full-time, the other evenings).

Grades in math and related subjects were consistently soft, around a C or a 75 in most cases (we used letter grades in elementary school, then switched to numerical in 7th grade). That was the pattern that persisted all the way through college. Of course, in college, I had a dandy little safety valve called an "incomplete," and I took a lot of those before managing to pass statistics. I have one D throughout my entire academic career, and no F's.

The math didn't surprise me, but here and there I would run into a 75 in science, or even social studies. And last night, as I sat there looking at these things, I found myself thinking such thoughts as "That's unacceptable." Bottom line is, those C grades showed where I just didn't make the effort and didn't push myself, because I could have done better.

The surprise was my disapproval of these grades. At some previous time, I would have shrugged and said "Oh well...I ended up with a final grade of B," or "There was probably something going on in my life that I don't remember now," or some other excuse for mediocre performance. But I've noticed that during the last 6 years or so, my approach has shifted from doing what was required to attain a minimum standard and keep people off my back, to setting the standards myself. I think those low grades in science and social studies bother me because I KNOW I had it in me to pull A's and B's.

All of this matters because I'm planning to go back to school and get that damn Bachelor's degree once my finances have stabilized a bit. I've gotten information on several schools, both local and online, and am starting to visualize what the process will entail. I no longer want to "just get the piece of paper," as I've been saying for so long. I want to get the piece of paper after having turned in a good performance to earn it. Click Here to Read More..