Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'm white, am I legal?

The recent legislation passed in Arizona concerning immigration brings up an interesting point; if it's illegal to be in this country already, why do we need a special law to enforce an already existing law? Shouldn't local law enforcement have been helping all along?

Rarely are issues as inflammatory as immigration as clear as black and white but each side promotes their view as the only acceptable answer. There are always shades of gray throughout. Those who oppose this legislation promote the notion it will be based solely on racial profiling. To a large extent that may be true but all of society and civilization is based on some type of profiling to a great degree. It is by itself a human trait. If someone doesn't look like 'you' it is common practice to place them in a 'class' whether you think you do or not. American's need to realize profiling, racial and otherwise lives a healthy life around the world.

Suppose you are African-American and live in an area where half of your neighbors are just like you. You wake up to see a Nazi symbol painted on someones door. Two blocks away a bald white teenager is stopped and questioned about it. Do you think that is profiling? If you don't you are wrong. You have just engaged in racial profiling. Perhaps the teen is bald because he is undergoing cancer treatments and has lost his hair. Perhaps not. Would you want the police to ignore this person based on looks alone? I'm not a black citizen, but I wouldn't whether that is politically correct or not.

The same situation happens all along the border. If someone with an eastern European accent is stopped for questioning for reasonable suspicion of a crime he should be asked about citizenship. In this instance he is 'out of place' to the norm. Is it right that male travelers from the middle east are scrutinized at a higher rate than eighty year old caucasian women on international flights? Yes it is. Eighty year old women are rarely terrorists hell-bent on blowing up a flight.

Profiling is a means to an end which is a safer society; it is a tool. I hope I am never required to live in a state where not carrying some form of ID will subject me to arrest. That is a slippery slope and a possible outcome of this type of law. But if being an illegal is illegal, that means it is against the law and the politicians should either enforce current laws or change them altogether. You can't have it both ways. That is simply fence-sitting as a means to garner votes for the next election.

Political correctness is nothing more than feeling guilty about possibly hurting someones feelings and soothing your own conscience.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Good Man, Remembered

This is not what I was planning on posting today, but, as has been said, life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

My father-in-law, almost 80, in pain from a back injury 2 1/2 years ago but still fairly active, passed away suddenly this afternoon.

He was a good and loving man, a throwback to the pre-WWII days of large families and heavy on working hard and raising a family the "right" way, with love, discipline (if needed), a rock-solid faith in God, and an unspoken but discernible love for this country.

He was a little reserved at times, but had his witty side. He had "only" a high school education, but managed to work hard enough and well enough to work for Ohio Bell (that was what we called the telephone company back then) for 37 years before retiring, spending many of those years in management. He had an artist's skill in woodworking, making cabinets, bookcases, furniture, and anything else he was asked to do. He also was an excellent handyman, working as easily with electrical and plumbing as he did with wood.

When his daughter-in-law was undergoing chemotherapy during her struggle with breast cancer, he spent many, many hours with her, taking her to her treatments and passing the time with her as he tried to help her through her ordeal.

He did not always specifically say "I love you" to us all, but it was readily apparent in his eyes and his smile, hug and handshake every time you saw him. He helped welcome me into his family as I began to date, then eventually marry his daughter. I could not have had a finer man to be my father-in-law.

Dad was a tireless worker, keeping busy even when he should have been resting his aching back and legs.

The heavens are a little brighter today, while we down here are wiping away our tears. He is no longer in pain, and he will be sorely missed.

R.I.P. Dad, from all of us. We love you and will miss you so much.

Growing up a boy

One aspect of child development I have never understood is the perception that girls mature quicker than boys. Now, being the age that I am, I have generally been around many boys and girls, having nieces and nephews, children around the neighborhood, and in my line of work seeing young people come and go in their first jobs in the working world. (At this point I will not be speaking about the physical aspects of maturing).

What brought this to mind was sitting through an episode of 'America's Next Top Model'. Yes, unfortunately I do not control the remote in my abode. That task belongs to My Beloved, although without her at home I rarely watch much television so what is actually on the screen is usually of little interest to me. I don't know what streets they drag these 'models' off of, however I have never seen a group of less sophisticated, urban-hip-wannabes in all my life. Practically none can speak without falling into street-slang mode and it is quite obvious the level of intellect is absurdly low. To be fair, every so often there are one or two that are educated and they easily stand heads and shoulders above the rest as it pertains to the interview segments. If these are what today's parents are churning out, I would hate to see a similar show casting boys. (There may be one but I don't know about it).

I know these are not the typical girl walking the streets. But what are we claiming as maturing? Boys and girls entering and growing through their teen years gravitate in different directions. Most believe girls are smarter and study while boys just play sports. Girls communicate to a higher degree than boys. I'm here to tell you (wow, that sounded like my parents) that's just not the case. Likely boys communicate as well, just differently as they tend to join more team activities than girls. It's more available to them. I think girls tend to be much more cliquish, generally drawn to smaller and more intimate groups than boys. To say boys don't study and achieve draws an inaccurate picture of how boys mature.

Have you ever listened to a group of teen girls chatting? The term boy-crazy doesn't do it justice. Yes, boys have their own rituals in speaking of girls but it's no less immature than girls.

Someday I hope someone explains this theory to me; I just don't believe it. Perhaps The Moustache will weigh in to his younger bro' an splain how the real world works as that is more along the lines of his chosen field of endeavor.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Are you smarter than a Saxon?

Most think of themselves as intelligent or well-schooled in various subjects. Some are book-smart, some are street-smart. But with only what the earth gives you, assuming you could decipher that, what could you make?

The telly was tuned to the National Geographic channel, one I watch with My Beloved out of the room, and a program about a tremendous hoard of treasure uncovered from the 'dark ages'. What a single man with a metal detector uncovered was over 1500 pieces of gold and other treasures in a farm field in England. That got me to thinking, how would one possibly imagine making such items.

Imagine yourself back in the dark ages or before, and with your current level of education and intellect. Could you figure out how to make iron weapons? What would you look for? What metal ore out of the ground would you take. I for one wouldn't have a clue as to what type of colored dirt is better for weapon making than another. Add to that, the hoard included various military and religious objects including helmets and crosses with layers of gold. How does one go about figuring out how to smelt gold? I doubt that I would have many more skills than the ancients with slate arrow points, rocks chipped to the desired shape to cut or slice.

And what about the ancient celestial clocks or calendars used by primitive mankind. They pop up all over the globe from Central America to Britain to the Middle East. How long would it take the average person to uncover the secrets of the rising sun at various points throughout the year and build a temple that followed this progression accurately? Most would starve before they figured out a reliable planting cycle.

We live in a world where we each function with relative ease but when it comes down to it, we only use things others created for us. The next game show should be 'Are You Smarter Than A Saxon? I'm guessing most aren't, I'm certainly not. Although perhaps Baby Sis and Appfilly7 (they're both engineers) could school the rest of us.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Just lie, it's easier

Not much irritates me more than commercials or ads, especially political that tell half truths and leave out all evidence of logical thinking. I recently heard a political ad on the radio attacking a local congressman. That in itself is not unusual however the blatant innuendo passed off as truth nearly caused me to wreck my car.

The ad which (I believe) was run by an opposing PAC stated this particular congressman was against US soldiers. How can that be you ask, a US congressman? Here's the logic they used.
Congressman was for a bill that would help the oil companies. Congressman therefore supports 'big oil'. Congressman therefore must want the US to keep importing all our oil from overseas. Big oil must have their profits protected which means having to send US troops into these areas where they get killed. Therefore this congressman is against US soldiers. (Sorry, I don't recall who the congressman was, however it doesn't matter).

I could use the same cluttered reasoning to promote the US using a nuclear device on the city of London, England. Here it goes.
I don't like the Beatles. Therefore, I must not like the British people. Therefore we should have a war with them which will ultimately escalate into dropping or launching a nuclear device on London.

The saddest part of this is there are many people out in the world who would listen to this thirty second commercial and use it for the basis of judgment against this congressman. Many would actually believe such a statement without hesitation, particularly if your party was the one backing the ad.

Apparently any political organization can put anything on the airwaves it wants without it being truthful to any degree. I thought the FCC had rules against this. Likely there are but the complaint would be that they are just not enforceable. If that's the case why bother checking any facts at all? Let's go back to the days of cigarettes are healthy, all processed foods are 'good for you', President Kennedy was a 'stand-up moral guy' and yes, President Obama was not born in the United States.

Just let anyone lie over the airwaves, it's easier to get the stupid people riled up that way.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Undercover Boss

Every once in a while television stumbles across a novel idea, full of promise. Let's face it, there are not too many undiscovered ideas left out there for the medium that are unique. The CBS show Undercover Boss was one such show.

I was intrigued from the start. The premise, the boss/CEO/president would leave his high pressure job leading said company and go undercover for a week doing the entry level jobs required by the employees of his organization. Interesting I thought, as I work for a large company and train entry level employees. Let's see all the shirkers and stumble-bums doing things wrong. That's reality TV. All gave the same reason for having a camera follow them around, a documentary of jobs or similar excuse for validation.

It started off with Hooter's restaurants with the president cleaning kitchens, waiting tables and all the other messy stuff that happens in a restaurant. One manager of a franchise made his waitresses eat beans off a plate with their hands behind their backs for anyone that wanted to go home early. Ahh, just what the viewing public wants; scandal! Then, at the end of the show he would call those he worked for to the corporate office and reveal himself and tell everyone what he learned.

After watching several episodes it was becoming very apparent the leaders of these companies couldn't hold a candle to his associates. (All company heads were men). They did everything from cleaning port-a-johns to boxing chocolates to packing trucks. Except for two instances shown what they found as a group were employees that worked harder than they could, performing jobs at which they were totally inept and overmatched. They found people passionate and driven no matter what the circumstances, forced to work with rules and conditions imposed by corporate leaders who had no basis of reality on how these rules affected actual people.

This show, short lived as it was (seven episodes), gave new meaning to how the real world works to those leaders. It brought to light how out of touch high paid CEO's are with their own companies and the human touch required. Every corporation needs smart people leading but seventy hours in an office, holding meetings and looking at budgets isn't as demanding as the entry level work performed day in and day out.

I hope this was viewed by many other high level execs who will leave their cushy offices and roll up their sleeves and learn what it takes to work in the real world without judging others based strictly on numbers listed on a spreadsheet.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Eldrick, Eldrick, Stumbling Around

When last we publicly saw Eldrick Woods he was apologizing and 'splainin' various things about his personal life.

This week The Masters golf tournament was played, a place of great success to Eldrick over the years, although not as much lately. Those who cared to speculate wondered: will his 5-month golf absence hurt him or will his legendary laser-like focus shut out all the distractions and enable him to again be the all-conquering hero?

The answer, to the mere mortals inhabiting this planet, was a bit of a mixed bag. He played well enough on Thursday to shoot a 68, his first round under 70 during his numerous first rounds at The Masters. He then proceeded to stumble around some, picking up a shot or two and just as quickly giving them back, before getting himself into position to be a threat on the leader board. Alas, it was not to be. He did manage to finish within 5 shots of the leader, but as erratic as he was he was not happy about his play, being as how he played like a mere mortal and not like his usual Superman.

And the "I need to better respect the game" statement he made (cut down on the swearing, banging clubs, etc.) needs a little fine tuning. On Saturday he mishit a shot and the microphones picked up his "Tiger Woods, you (inhale through a straw!). Gollygoshdagnabit!"

I will leave it to your fertile imaginations to fill in the real words he said.

All in all, I must say it was an impressive bit of golf he played, other than the fact that he said he is only interested in winning. Augusta National is a tough course, and the winner had his troubles, too.

Oh yeah, I forgot: Phil Mickelson won his 3rd Green Jacket today. That should have been the story.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The red menace returns

In my early years we did not yet have the wonderful invention of color television. That was not in my household until I was nearly a teenager. Yes kiddies, that is a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

To piggyback onto that, television was still a new medium and most did not understand yet its powers. My early viewing as a young child was a relatively few cartoons such as Mighty Mouse and Underdog, a puppet show called Fireball XL-5 as well as a few locally produced shows. Advertising was only directed to those who had the money, the parents. It was not yet understood how well a screaming child could influence those dollars.

As I have now completed my first year as a grandfather and tour the children's departments at the stores with My Beloved, I have come to notice likely what every other parent of a young child knows: Elmo is everywhere!

Sesame Street did not exist when I was a very young child. Upon my wedded bliss, my daughter was well beyond the lure of a big yellow bird. Therefore, I have had little contact with the characters associated with this phenomenon. But, as I look around, that fuzzy little red guy is everywhere.

Ragin Cage as his earliest vocals would only scream in terror at 'Dancing Elmo'. He was petrified of the thing. We then as saviors would pluck Elmo out of sight thereby restoring harmony and balance to the universe. However as times change and children grow, Dancing Elmo has become his favorite. He makes a beeline to the toy bucket at one year old and dutifully plucks him out dragging Elmo about the room from pillar to post. (Not that we have pillars or posts in the family room mind you.) Elmo is on his shoes, on his picture books, another stuffed Elmo, a pacifier and God knows what else not to mention clothing, clothing, bibs and more clothing.

I shudder to think of what else I will be subjected to in the coming years in reaction to a toddlers whims. A grandfather's heart goes a long, long way, not so for his wallet.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Would Madame care for a bit of cheese with that whine?"

Yesterday I was perusing one of the local weekly papers we receive when my eye was caught by this headline in the Letters to the Editors section:

"High school homework is excessively stressful"

This was (presumably) a letter from a female high school student who was writing in to complain about the difficulty of doing homework in high school, and how much stress it causes. Since our paper is part of a larger network of suburban papers, it is not certain that this young woman resides within our school district.

In addition to her main complaint about the difficulty of homework, she also states that when she resided in Maryland her grades were high, and that she attained said grades while "not having to work so hard", but since she came to Ohio she struggles to work hard just to get decent grades.

Hmm...maybe Ohio has at least one place where earning good grades actually means you have to work for them.

What a novel concept!

She also complains about having to squeeze in homework while also doing sports, working, and whatever else she has on her plate. She also complained about not getting help at home, especially since her sister is now away at college.

If Mom and Dad are unable to help, she can either call/text/e-mail big sister, or, better yet, seek extra help from her teachers! I wonder why she did not think of that?

I know of a very intelligent young woman who is a Senior in high school, plays two sports, works part-time, and maintains a GPA above 4.0; this young woman has been accepted into a prestigious private university with an intent on majoring in medicine.

If she can do it, why can't our precious little letter-whiner? I mean, letter-writer.

One of the whines of our letter writer was that there is not nearly enough time to relax. Seriously.

I have low expectations of the author of that letter once she emerges into The Real World. I envision a life of low-paying jobs, sponging off her parents while living in their basement. I can see it now:

"Hey, Boss, you gave me too much work to do; I need time to relax."

Boss: "Sure thing; you're fired. Now you can relax all you want."