Monthly Archives: March 2013

When the Law and Homophobia Marry…

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So here’s the deal.  Back in the days of the caveman, I’m going to take a wild guess that there were not a whole lot of social values and mores in place that prevented same sex physical union.  Those poor neanderthals (excuse the pun) didn’t have the advantage of Fox News or the Westboro Baptist Church to tell them that fooling around with a person of the same gender was “perverted”.

Enter today’s neanderthals…well spoken men and women, some carrying legal briefs in their thick leather cases, telling us poor folks that this SCOTUS argument today really isn’t about discrimination, it’s about the rights of individual states to decide if they want to allow same-sex marriages.  They argue that if the judicial branch rules for same-sex marriage, it would be a blanket imposition of a social agenda on all 50 states…rather than letting the individual states decide for themselves.  A very attractive argument in my opinion. Except it’s flawed.

Flawed in this sense:  marriage, despite all their attempts to moralize it, is at its core, a legal contract.   Currently, we do not allow members of the same sex to enter into this legal contract.  By any definition, this is discrimination based on sexual preference.  End of story.

Spare me the emotional religious arguments that marriage is a sacrosanct union between a man and a woman.  It is not.  If it was, you would not need to obtain a government “license” to enter into it.  It is, again, simply a legal contract.  To continue to deny a segment of our population access to this contract and all the benefits and responsibilities it engenders, is no different than telling them they need to sit at the back of the bus…or to drink from another drinking fountain.

Enough.

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I Stopped Watching Local News…and Lived!

local-news

Not too long ago, my son asked me on what channel I watched local news.  I told him that it had been quite awhile since I had tuned in to the local version of infotainment.  In fact, I couldn’t recall when I had stopped watching it, since it had been so long since I was graced with Susie and Dan exchanging witty repartee while dissecting the risks and benefits of liposuction.

Here in Los Angeles, there actually used to be some quality journalists: John Schubeck, Bill Stout, Warren Olney to name a few.  But as a lad I recall when we were introduced to “Eyewitness News”; and the era of “Happy Talk” journalism hit the ground running.

On the rare occasion today (usually a public T.V. while in an airport or at some other event) that I am exposed to this nonsense, I am sadly reminded of the decline of television news, particularly at the local level.  I specifically exclude  the local PBS affiliates and NPR as it goes without saying that they are the last bastions of “real” daily television journalism.

I guess what causes me the most alarm is the number of “adults” 18-65 that watch this drivel and actually believe they are watching news and being informed.  That Ronald Reagan and George Bush won two presidential terms sustains my belief that we are a nation of ill-informed (at best) citizens unwilling to take the time to understand what “real” journalism is.

It is:  unbiased, sourced, verifiable and editorially overseen by professionals with degrees in journalism from real journalism schools.  It is not: TMZ, ANY local news outlet, Fox, MSNBC and sadly now: CNN.

Yes, I’m generalizing and yes I’m oversimplifying.  But what I am not doing is being lazy and willing to submit my mind to the commercial pabulum force-fed us these days.  It’s easy to be cynical about this state of affairs (I am guilty of this more often than not) but submit that in this day of the internet, with a virtual encyclopedia on your damn phones, that none of us have any excuse to be NOT informed or ILL informed.

There are some great apps for your phone and tablet and laptop kids…Reuters, BBC, PBS, NPR, Washington Post, New York Times, even Al Jazeera and Haaretz offer solid journalism, albeit the last two must be viewed through the lens of their masters.

At the end of the day, we are all responsible for seeking and consuming responsible sources for the information we use in our daily lives to make decisions about what we want our world to look like.  If yours is the local news outlet, please consider educating yourself.  You may just learn that everything isn’t “Breaking News”…

 


Daylight Savings and the Sands of Time…

clock

Daylight Savings Time is unequivocally my favorite time of the year.  As a lad, it represented the ability to stay out and play later.  As an adult, its longer days brings back those sweet memories along with the ability to…well…stay out later and play=riding my bike while there’s still some daylight out.

But what DST also brings are seasons…cycles of the sands of time that remind me that I only have a finite number of these special times left. The aging thing has spawned a lot of introspection in my life lately.  It started recently when a young twenty-something co-worker was explaining to another co-worker that “older workers let these little things get under their skin and it makes them crazy”.  She wasn’t referring to me, but might as well have been.

Here’s the deal.  I like it when people show up and on time, return from their breaks on time, and simply do the MINIMUM that they are required to do.  If they do those things, I’m cool.  But where I work, those things are not strictly enforced.  Hence, I get to do a slow burn every time one of those younger workers ignores what I consider to be a pretty basic covenant of employment.

It got me thinking about the work ethic of this new generation and the differences with mine.  Am I wrong to let these transgressions get under my skin and react?  Without a doubt…I own my response to any perceived violations of policy.  But am I wrong to expect these youngsters to make more of an effort?  Or at least care?  I’m not sure.  I know what I expect of myself and it’s up to me to do that.  I’ve put a lot of effort this year into not reacting to the actions of others…keeping my side of the street clean, if you will.  In fact, I wrote that in my performance review’s self-evaluation.

What I’m getting at is maybe this is a normal, albeit tragically sad, consequence of evolution.  Maybe this is the best this generation can do and at their age, I was held to a different standard by my elders.  Either way…it sucks as it’s an indication of the changing seasons.

And then tonight…I was again reminded of the fragility of life.  One of my professors, whom I hold in high regard and respect, had what was likely a mini-stroke during class.  I rendered assistance because of my background until paramedics arrived but drove home experiencing a profound sadness.  He’ll probably be okay, but his fragility and utter helplessness reminded me that I’m not far behind, age-wise.  I am so glad I am no longer a Firefighter/Paramedic as I have noticed a greater difficulty separating myself from these incidents emotionally prior to leaving the department.  What used to roll off my back, suddenly strikes at my core.

At the end of the day, I know that intellectually this is all part of the cycle of life.  And I wouldn’t really trade where I’m at now (okay, I’m lying, I want another shot at my 20’s) but the sands of time can still sting from time to time.

My prayers are with you Mr. S…


Don’t Piss Off the Professor…

I’m 52 and going back to college.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been at this institute of higher learning.

34 years to be exact.  34 years ago, the perception I had of professors is apparently different from the one I have now.  I learned the hard way last night that professors are not perfect–don’t know everything–and get kinda pissy when you know more than they do.

I should have expected that 34 years of life experience and real-world education brings more to the classroom than the other undergrads I share elementary school desks with.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a know-it-all in any sense of the word, but one of the reasons I’m passionate about school is the opportunity to engage in an exchange of ideas and beliefs.

So last night, at the start of class, the Professor begins with a discussion of current events.  She led with the poor guy in Florida who was swallowed by the sink hole.  Sorry, Prof, but I can get this on American’s favorite infotainment news network–CNN, so I promptly changed the subject to the Attorney General’s unwillingness to rule out targeted Drone strikes on US citizens on US soil (he subsequently issued a statement recanting this).  She immediately became indignant and stated that she needed to know the context.  I briefly summarized the current debate over the Administration’s targeted killing program, and again, she hedged and seemed irritated and essentially dismissed my “current event”.

To say my ego was bruised is an understatement.  It took about an hour before I finally realized she didn’t have a clue what I was talking about and it apparently embarrassed her (speculation on my part, I admit).  Nonetheless it taught me a lesson.  I need to remember that Professors are human too and are subject to the same life stressors we all have and she may not have the same keen interest/passion in current events that I do.  Granted it is a US History class (1860-present) but hey, I’ll cut her some slack.  She’s a competent instructor with a passion for teaching and an engaging style.

I just need to remember to that not everybody see the world through my lenses…and moderate my expectations in junior college while maintaining my enthusiasm for learning.


And We Care Why?

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman hug in Pyongyang

The “Worm” recently visited North Korea and partied with Kim Jong (insert suffix here).  And I wonder…who the hell cares that a washed up former NBA rebound specialist visited a communist despot?

Seriously, why do we care about this?  Why did this visit warrant an appearance on a Sunday morning “news” program?

I honestly don’t know why Rodman was there, under what circumstances, or any of the details, beyond the fact that he was there.  Know why?  I don’t give a rats ass…that’s why kids.  And I encourage you not to care too!  See…isn’t this fun boys and girls.  You can try it at home…here’s how:

Every time a self-styled “celebrity” or person of interest (in their own mind) does something newsworthy…simply ignore it.  Don’t comment on it, don’t blog it, don’t tweet it, don’t  frickin’ acknowledge it.  That way students, these Donald Trump’s of the world will garner no more attention.  They have done nothing other than utter outrageous sentiments or act in an immature, socially boorish manner.  Here’s a thought…let’s stop rewarding this “Reality TV” behavior.

I know I’m speaking heretically here, especially to those of you who think “Honey Boo Boo” is important social commentary, but I ask you to step outside your trailer (cut me some slack, it’s a metaphor), head down to the local library, and check out a book for God’s sake.  You might find there are more important issues that we should be focusing on in this world.  Issues of economy, politics, social engagement and compassion, cultural divisions and the bridges we can build to overcome them.

But WTF do I know…my thoughts don’t gain a “share” in Nielsen’s world and I’m not selling soap so I’ll just crawl into my corner and shut up….


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