Friday, September 30, 2011

From Eva to Eddie and Back Again.


While I haven't forsaken my love of my silver fox collar, red-soled stilettos, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I find that I am inexplicably drawn to all things small farm. Specifically I want a small herd of dairy goats to make cheese, a pair of Randall oxen to pull stuff (and because they're beautiful), an Anatolian Shepherd Dog to watch over pastures, and enough land for them to all frolic in the fields surrounding my new super modern home.

Beautiful Baby Randall from Buttonwood Zoo.
I really shouldn't follow up a trip to the agriculture pavilions at the Big E by reading Dwell Magazine.

It confuses me.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wielding, Waiving, and Granting: Education Edition

No doubt, the No Child Left Behind law enacted in 2001 under President Bush has serious problems mostly stemming from false notion that percentages of test passing students equals educational success while resting on the even more destructive false premise that government-run schools is a proper function of government, but the President's recent proposal to grant waivers to the law does one thing of note and -- make no mistake about it -- it isn't for the children:

Under the waiver program, the annual identification of schools along with the mandate for changes would come to an end for qualifying states.


While wielding the power of government favors --"The Obama administration has said states can qualify [for waivers] if they sign on to the president’s education agenda, which Massachusetts did last year when it won $250 million from President Obama’s Race to the Top fund, a competitive grant program." -- for states who comply with his politics, President Obama also gets a pass for himself and teachers unions by removing at least part of the pervasive cultural dissatisfaction that arises from the constant and notoriously negative reminders of our failing government schools; it effectively removes public schools' accountability to the public.


It certainly appears to be a win-win for his administration as government education continues to be a lose-lose for the children, the taxpayers, and the rest of the country. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Strong Girls Are Fun to Watch



She makes muscle-ups look quite balletic.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Burdening Commerce

Or How to Make $5K in Your Jammies. 

From the American Jobs Act, SUBTITLE D – PROHIBITION OF DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT ON THE BASIS OF AN INDIVIDUAL'S STATUS AS UNEMPLOYED, employers may not explicitly dismiss currently unemployed applicants when hiring a new employee [Section 374 (a)(1) and (b) (1)]. This prohibition is disgusting! An employer should have the right to use whatever criteria he deems necessary in determining the best fit applicant for the position he is offering; he is taking all the risks in engaging that person for employment. But wait! It gets far worse. Explicit language prohibiting the hiring of the unemployed is easy to prove; what's threatening and will by all logic produce a chilling effect on any hiring is the second part of the remedies in that subsection.

(2) In any claim alleging a violation of any other subsection of this Act, an individual, or any person acting on behalf of the individual as set forth in Section 375(a) of this Act, may be awarded, as appropriate, the remedies available for a violation of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.), section 302(a)(1) of the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991 (42 U.S.C. 2000e-16b(a)(1)), section 201(a)(1) of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1311(a)(1)), and section 411 of title 3, United States Code, except that in a case in which wages, salary, employment benefits, or other compensation have not been denied or lost to the individual, damages may be awarded in an amount not to exceed $5,000.
This is the language regarding what constitutes a violation by an employer: 

SEC. 374. PROHIBITED ACTS.

(a) Employers- It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to--
(2) fail or refuse to consider for employment, or fail or refuse to hire, an individual as an employee because of the individual's status as unemployed; 

Let me highlight that for you: (2) fail or refuse to consider for employment, or fail or refuse to hire, an 
individual as an employee because of the individual's status as unemployed;

Tell me, how can one determine whether his previous unemployment is the reason I have decided not to hire him if I have not made it explicit - which is prohibited in section 374 (a) (1)? 

The most disturbing part of this Subtitle of the proposed legislation is its purported necessity:
This subtitle may be cited as the “Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011”.
 SEC. 372.  FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.
(a) Findings- Congress finds that denial of employment opportunities to individuals because of their status as unemployed is discriminatory and burdens commerce by--
(1) reducing personal consumption and undermining economic stability and growth;
(2) squandering human capital essential to the Nation's economic vibrancy and growth;
(3) increasing demands for Federal and State unemployment insurance benefits, reducing trust fund assets, and leading to higher payroll taxes for employers, cuts in benefits for jobless workers, or both;
(4) imposing additional burdens on publicly funded health and welfare programs; and
(5) depressing income, property, and other tax revenues that the Federal Government, States, and localities rely on to support operations and institutions essential to commerce.
(b) Purposes- The purposes of this Act are--
(1) to prohibit employers and employment agencies from disqualifying an individual from employment opportunities because of that individual’s status as unemployed;
(2)  to prohibit employers and employment agencies from publishing or posting any advertisement or announcement for an employment opportunity that indicates that an individual’s status as unemployed disqualifies that individual for the opportunity; and
(3) to eliminate the burdens imposed on commerce due to the exclusion of such
individuals from employment.
Someone found that not hiring unemployed people burdens commerce, undermines economic stability and growth, depresses Federal revenue, and imposes burdens on welfare programs, but that the threat of $5000 lawsuits every time an unemployed applicant is denied employment will encourage job growth?

Oh, yeah. Nothing greases the wheels of expanding employment opportunities like the threat of suing the employers for not hiring someone who has been thus far unable to get or unwilling to accept a job. 

You can't make this stuff up. Oh wait. Someone actually did. And they are leading our country. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why I Volunteer to Drive, Alone



I can sing this - and others - at the top of my lungs.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Retarding Innovation

As part of his recent budget reduction plan, President Obama once again seeks to decrease the biotech drug market exclusivity from twelve years, as shoveled in under Obamacare, to seven years.

The biotechnology industry argued it needed 12 years of freedom from lower priced competition to recoup research and development costs. Any less, it argued, would retard innovation. The generic industry, as well as many insurers and employers who pay health care bills, said a much shorter period would suffice.

So if I read this correctly, the folks who develop new drugs say they need more time as the exclusive owner’s of their products in order to guarantee a return on their significant investment in the lengthy development process. On the other hand, the folks who want their formula to capitalize on their initial investments, the folks who pay for these drugs in service to their clients, and the folks who offer their employees health care plans, say they know better how much time/money is enough.  Therefore, the President is seeking to use the force of government, not to protect the innovators' rights,  but to benefit the other folks who say they have to pay too much for the benefit of other's innovation.  Once again, he decides how much is enough.

This may lessen the cost of some drugs in the short run (this is not definitive as other companies have not picked up the biogenic drugs after they were available for copy), but it is an excellent way to insure that fewer companies will risk their capital on the development of new life-saving drugs.

How the President's political pandering, never-ending energies toward creating an unknowable and chaotic business climate, and elitist drive for picking the winners and losers as only a messianic statist can is still seen by some as progress is beyond me. After all, once the government controls all of the producers' incentives under the guise of for the people, individual choices will be meaningless – as will the extraordinarily enlightened values once enshrined within the country founded on the sanctity of individual rights.   

Monday, September 19, 2011

Found!

Today. Three weeks later.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Today's Special: Squid Pro Quo


Proud to support the Let's Move! initiative championed by First Lady Michelle Obama, the White House blog hosts her recent praise of the Darden Restaurants (like Olive Garden and Red Lobster) in their efforts to comply with her healthy food suggestions.  In November, Darden Restaurants was exempted from provisions of the new healthcare law.

Connect the dots. Companies that use the force of government to further their business should be exposed. Government that grants special privileges to further its administration's goals should be voted out.

Follow the force and find out what that fishy smell is.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

239 Jefferson Ave.


Where I rocked that bikini like nobody's business. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Doesn't Seem So Funny Now, Does It?



See you Friday! I hope.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stranger Danger

I love Gavin De Becker’s Gift of Fear. It’s not about being afraid, it’s about respecting your sense of fear and deciphering between what is real fear, which should be respected, and what is not. It’s about examining your environment, assessing different signals, and respecting the inner voice that tells you to remove yourself from the threatening situation no matter how much the second-handed voice says, don’t be a silly baby.

I gave the book to my oldest daughter before college and have Protecting the Gift of Fear lost among the piles of book depositories strewn wildly throughout my house (some are more formally known as bookshelves – others, formerly known as clear horizontal surfaces).  Someday I need to find that one; it specializes in talking to kids about assessing risk without causing fear.  I could have used it on Sunday.

My youngest, 13, asked to go bike riding with a friend at the cemetery at the end of our street: nice paths, almost no cars, lovely trees.  We’d been there many times together and it is a quiet and peaceful place (so long as you are not mourning the loss of someone whose final resting place is there). Given her familiarity with the area, the relatively small size of the grounds, and the quiet neighborhood we live in, I had no problem with the plan provided they stayed on the paths and kept their voices to a respectful level especially if they saw people visiting the graves.

When she was gone longer than seemed appropriate for bike riding around the small area over and over and over again, I asked Stephen to give her a call on her cell phone. While she was on the phone with him she began to laugh, oddly and then hung up. Stephen called her back and she had that same odd laugh. He wouldn’t hang up and insisted she tell him what was going on. She reported that some guy was asking her friend where the “H's” where.

In a cemetery. Where are the “H's.”

Okay. The guy was on a bike, had stopped his bike and stood in front of them for a second. Moved on, and came back around to ask that question while Stephen was on the phone with our daughter.
  • Threatening? Lone guy on a bike? No.
  • Threatening? Lone guy on a bike asking children for ridiculous information? Adults do not need to gain information from unattended children. Ever. So this is suspicious behavior at best.
  • Threatening? Lone guy on a bike asking children for information when they are alone in an isolated area? Yes.

Stephen made his way to the cemetery as the girls were racing homeward. They were truly frightened and said the guy was following them.  Stephen told them to ride straight home as he headed into the cemetery.

He approached the guy, who may have actually been following them out of the cemetery, stopped in front of him and said, “Hi.” The helmeted and overweight guy mumbled a “hi” back and rode off in another direction. Neither Stephen nor the girls had ever seen him around before.

Assessment: Probably a mentally challenged adult.  This makes his asking about the “H's” less sinister, but it does not make his approaching the girls in an isolated area any less creepy or threatening.

So what did they do wrong?
  • Stopped to sit and talk in the isolated, empty cemetery.
  • Did not get back on their bikes as soon as they saw the lone male bike rider was interested in them.
  • Did not get on their bikes and leave as soon as the man approached them.
  • Laughed nervously instead of making a definite and defensive move away from the man.

What did they do right?
  • Assessed the man's behavior as creepy.
  • Got back on their bikes and headed home immediately after the man tried to talk to them (but it was also after Stephen told them to do so, so maybe it should not be in the plus column).
  • And as is her way, my daughter snapped a photo of the helmeted man on her cellphone as he left them.

So was he up to no good? Probably not, but obviously he was able to overpower two young girls.

Should a 12 and 13 year-old dismiss his odd behavior in their relative vulnerability? No.

Should they have assessed his first approach as a potential threat and moved away immediately? Yes.

Will they next time something similar happens? Most definitely.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

New Girl

Stephen and I watched this show On Demand last night and it did not disappoint.  Zooey Deschanel is so damn cute that even if the writing wasn't good, I still might like the show.  But it was hilarious!  A lot, but not all of the hilarity can be seen in this 160 second trailer.  I recommend it.

Premiering September 20th on Fox after Glee.



Damon Wayans, Jr. is so much like Damon Wayans (love him) and the Schmidt guy is a total. . . well. . . douche; the third character is iffy, but Deschanel is pure delight. Bonus for me: she completely reminds me of the some of the best quirky bits of both of my daughters. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

What does it have in its pocketses?

I love my giraffe print purse purchased on the streets of New York several years ago. It’s big and strong enough, and has a good top zipper and a bold, yet neutral colored animal print on it. What more could I ask for?

Sadly, it’s time to say goodbye to that purse. She has served me well, but my constant flinging her about onto rough surfaces has caused the bottom to fray. Sad. I know.  But I was all excited by the challenge of finding a subtle animal texture, but more boldly-colored purse, like my toxic green snakeskin.  How I loved that fake Prada purse.

Anyway, with the fall fast approaching, I had my heart set on orange or red. Red crocodile to be precise, with silver metallic accents (I don’t like gold plated things).  After weeks of online searching – and finding in the $200-$300 price range! – I decided to hit the local stores.  Lo’ and behold, I found a red croc cross-strap purse with excellent compartments that spoke to me.  It was only when I got it home that I realized it said, “There’s no way you can get all your stuff in here, bonehead.”

So I put my stuff back in the giraffe purse and tried again.

There was a larger purse, much like the one that spoke to me, but this one had a manly cross-strap and no croc!  No homage to animal imagery at all! But, like the croc bag, it had some lovely functional spaces for my different categories of things.

It was a really tough decision, but I returned Ms. Red-Croc Thang, and purchased Ms. I’m-Getting-Old-and-Sedate killer bag.  It’s killer because, with all my stuff in it, I suspect I could actually kill someone with a good swing and delivery in the right spot.

But this is just background for what I really wanted to let you know.

When I returned Ms. Red-Croc Thang, the clerk reset the tag, and I’m certain, put it back on the shelf. Clearly, I had in no way used or abused the purse, so she thought it was safe. And it was.

It was only later that I realized someone else would likely be the proud owner of one emergency maxi-pad and my pocket Constitution which I had stuffed into one of its secret pockets.

You’re welcome, whoever you are.