Monday, December 18, 2006

On PostSecret...

And the response:

Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2006 5:27 AM
I believe that a new religion could be based on this single postcard.

I don't know, we're only human but at the same time... maybe we're not so bad after all. The holiday season seems to be a popular time for people to forgive and reconnect and all of those things we do to reverse damage and enrich our lives. I wonder how many people want to say exactly that to so many of the people in and out of their lives... and they never do.

I wonder how differently my generation will deal with this kind of outreach, being the first generation to grow up with computers and email and instant messaging and voicemail and text messaging, and even blogging. We can say things to a gadget that we can't say to a person. We can reveal our most personal thoughts to an undefined mass of readers online which we could never in a million years divulge to some of our closest friends. Oddly enough, in a culture so concerned with privacy, we open ourselves up to all kinds of accountability for our thoughts. There are search engines which can find basically anything that was ever on a website. Ever. It's still out there. We have a false sense of security posting incriminating pictures of ourselves on Facebook, figuring that we set our Privacy Settings to "Friends Only" and that means only approved eyes may see. That is simply not the case.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Overheard in front of Olds Hall while walking home from class:

Dude: I can't believe it.
Dudette: I know! He would never actually have done that, he was just talking about it. And of course the State News jumps all over the story.
Dude: Yeah, "MSU's independent voice." If a liberal had been talking about that they never would have said anything.
Dudette: Thank God for Fox News.
Dude: Hah, yeah.

That's the only part of the conversation I heard as our respective sidewalks crisscrossed. I was tempted to follow for a while in order to figure out what the unnamed guy was talking about doing, but the temperature was hovering around 15°F so I decided against it.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

We like to think we go through life unwatched. The truth is that people are always being watched in one way or another. We can't help but look, stare, double-take, observe, study. Communication in a species so poorly evolved physically is one of our only assets.

On saturday I was heading out of town and stopped to buy gas. The man on the other side of the gas pump tossed a handful of things into the garbage can, some of which didn't quite make it in. He of course ignored it, but I noticed that what was left was a AA battery.

From a UC Berkley webpage: "The toxic heavy metals and corrosive properties of batteries make them unsuitable for disposal in the municipal trash. Alkaline and other batteries contain caustic electrolytes that can cause severe chemical burns if the electrolyte comes into contact with the skin or eyes. Many batteries also contain toxic heavy metals like lithium, silver, cadmium, nickel, and mercury. Toxic metals in landfills have the potential to contaminate surface waters and groundwaters."

Picking up the offending battery, I told him he "really shouldn't" throw batteries away, they're highly corrosive and should be recycled.

"Oh yeah? Well gas is bad for the environment and you're filling up your car right now."

Did I fail to mention previously that this man was driving a Denali? A luxury SUV which gets up to 16 mpg city, according to GMC's website? I don't know what my little Grand Am gets but I'm pretty sure it's more than that. What this arrogant bastard failed to realize was that he, of all people, should take more care with the little things like batteries. We lead toxic lifestyles and most people couldn't care less. According to one of my biology professors, 38.2% of all household waste is comprised of paper products which are completely recyclable.

Typical Household Waste
Paper............ 38.2%
Yard waste.... 12.5
Plastics......... 10.2
Food waste... 10.0
Metals........... 7.6
Rubber.......... 7.0

I'd imagine that in the not-so-distant future, landfill salvage will be a very profitable business.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Observed in McDonel Hall, East Lounge, last tuesday:

Boy with long goatee, wearing a bright green shirt and socks with sandals, orange hair. Coming from Totally Takeout. Sits down at table near my seat. Carefully removes a cup of soup, salad, Dorito and Baked Lays chips from bag, leaving nachos. Also has a pop. Looks over food, bends head, says a quick prayer of thanks. Procedes to eat.

I'm not a big fan of religion but for some reason I found that rather moving.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Oragutan. Malay and Indonesian origin, "Orang" meaning "person", "hutan" meaning jungle. "Man of the forest."

Watch: Orangutans on Computers

Monday, November 06, 2006

Those who know me know that I went to Nicaragua last year on a study abroad program with MSU. If you follow the news you would know that Nicaragua voted today. The following is an email sent by Dr. Gerald Urquhart, who led our trip last year, to all of us who participated.

Hi Everyone,
Today marks the return of hope to Nicaragua, with the FSLN's victory in the 2006 presidential elections. Daniel Ortega won because of the Nicaraguan poor, so disenfranchised during the recent regimes that they found Daniel their only help. Some of the estimates were that 30 out of the 38% of the vote he got came from the extremely poor (about 75% of his votes).

Although the FSLN has many negatives, I think they will do much more for the poor than the previous regimes. Neoliberalism does nothing directly to help the poor, and its "trickle down" really flows in reverse. Over the next couple years we will have to wade through the propaganda from both the US and the Leftist South to see if things actually improve. For now Nicaragua will be added to the list of Rogue Nations and Ortega, Chavez and Castro will be portrayed as looters, dictators, or worse. Coming from the Bush-led US, it's like the pot calling the porcelain bowl black.

Oddly, Vietnam and China are tearing up the global economy, but Nicaragua's elected government will likely be ostracized immediately from global economics. Wealthy Nicarguans are rightly worried about incredible inflation under Ortega, which might become a reality if the World Bank and IMF reject the FSLN govt or vice versa. Ortega is probably going to have to continue paying the IMF and following Neoliberal structural adjustment to avoid getting into a cash-flow problem and not having anyone to turn to. I guess if Ortega rejects the IMF, we'll see how far Chavez's charity can go toward saving an economy.

El Che called for a United [Leftist] Americas as the only way for Latin America to move forward. His dream is becoming a reality, now let's see if it really helps the little guy.

Hasta la victoria siempre! (with guarded optimism)

Gerald R. Urquhart Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Lyman Briggs School of Science

Here are some pictures from BBC of voting today...
Nicaraguans go to polls

And if you want to see some pictures from our trip...
A Week in the Jungle Pt. 1
A Week in the Jungle Pt. 2

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I was driving to an area of Ann Arbor over the weekend, by way of US-127 and I-94. I've never driven farther down 127 than Mason so it was an enjoyable drive, light traffic, everything. Good day for driving.

There is construction on the bridge which connects 127 and 94 so I, along with a line of other cars, got to take a nice detour through the middle of who knows where. Also referred to as "somewhere close to Jackson, but not." At any rate... I saw lots of Confederate license plates, jacked-up trucks with enormous high-tread wheels, and "Deer Processing Here" signs. Like I got off the highway in Michigan and landed in Alabama somewhere. Michigan is a strange place.

Once I reached my exit I misread the poorly-written directions and headed the wrong way. I suspected this mistake when the road I was on turned to dirt and gaping potholes, but being unfamiliar with the area, I continued. After passing an old barn surrounded by fleecy sheep, and then what appeared to be a castle, and then driving over a one-lane bridge, I decided that this was, in fact, the wrong direction. I turned around and headed back from whence I came, and eventually came to my destination, but I was going the opposite direction compared to what I thought.

That was strange for me, being someone with a fairly accurate sense of direction, but it was an overcast day and impossible to get bearings. Makes you appreciate those who sailed the world in search of new lands all the more.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Tradition and change
passing on the street with barely a hello
that is what the world has come to today
and probably tomorrow too.

note: I found this picture somewhere on the web but I don't remember where... hence the lack of credit where it's due. My apologies.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I checked out a book from the library today which has never been checked out before. Date of publication? 1977. Administrative problems in metropolitan areas: a case study of Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Area. On the problems of urban development in the Poona metropolitan area. I wonder if it will ever be checked out again, I wonder if it has ever been read before.

It may not be the most interesting subject, I may hate the class and therefore the fact that I even know of the existence of this book, it may be 5:32 A.M. and the paper may be due at 8 A.M. and it's not even started yet. This book may live in the basement in those creepy moving bookcases and smell like mold, but not the nice old book kind, just the kind that makes me sneeze, and it may be impossible to read because it appears to have been typed using a typewriter.

Still, though, what a lonely life for a book.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Today in my Asian Perspectives class, the prof talked for a while about "The Two Koreas." In light of the past few days it seemed fitting, and it was pretty interesting. I don't know much about either Korea, other than knowing some people who managed to escape from North Korea, and loving Korean food.

The Republic of Korea [South] has a population of roughly 50 million, whereas the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [North] has about half that, at around 23 million. Up until the Soviet era, North Korea was an industrial powerhouse and South Korea was mostly agricultural. Today, however, South Korea is one of Asia's "economic tigers," heavy in ICT and service-based industries. The people of North Korea, at least those who aren't high government officials, are for the most part starving.

Kim Jong Il puts somewhere in the area of 90% of the national budget into the military. Hence the nuclear test of the other day, and missile testing of a few years ago. We know that North Korea could hit Japan, parts of China, Russia, or other surrounding countries with missiles, and they could probably reach North America as well. North and South Korea never actually declared "non-war" and we have around 37,000 troops stationed near the border between the two Koreas, so this military posturing even more significant.

Kim Jong Il sounds like a bit of a man-child to me. I mean, honestly. FIRE ZE MISSILES! He actually had the Steven Spielberg of South Korea kidnapped along with his wife, and held them for a few years, because one of his hobbies is film and filmmaking. So he figured, hell, why not just kidnap a director so he can make movies for me? Childish.

So what we have now is a diplomatic nightmare... do we use military force? Sanctions? Should we cut aid? Personally, I think he leans a little bit crazy, and why can't someone just take him out? Don't pretend to be shocked, it's not as if that doesn't happen in and among governments. If any crazy leader deserves to be blown out of the water, it's probably Kim Jong Il.

In related news, I think my college years will disqualify me from the hope of ever being in politics. Things like the above are probably career-breakers. Oh well, these days politics isn't much of an aspiration.

Maybe President Shrub and Kim Jong Il should fight to the death in a cage battle.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sometimes I wonder... is the world coming to be a more frightening place, or do we just understand a little better now than we did before?

Maybe the problem stems from our greater understanding of one another... strengths and weaknesses, fears, those little things that include us in a larger entity. As we grow more interconnected and dependent on one another, each economic hiccup could set the dominoes tumbling.

For such a small world, such a chaotic existence. I don't understand it all, though my studies in the sciences [social, economic, physical] are beginning to draw a rough sketch of potential reasons. Not justifications, but excuses I suppose. And really, what is existence anyway other than a vehicle to produce another generation? Once we're dead it doesn't matter how many houses we owned or what our cars cost, because everyone save for poor Ted Williams is returning to the earth after death.

A map of estimated "spam" email volume...

... and of light pollution at night.

We are so complicated.

Friday, September 29, 2006

“Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me.”
— Sen. Trent Lott, following a closed-door meeting with President Bush and other Republicans at the Capitol

Nice. Very nice. The ugly American stereotype persists.

“The party of FDR and the party of Harry Truman has become the party of cut and run.”
— President Bush, criticizing the Democrats at a fundraiser for Alabama Governor Bob Riley

Doesn't this fool have more important things to do than further inflaming partisan name-calling? I mean... I thought he had a country to run. Maybe not.

“The Pakistani president claimed bin Laden is hiding in Afghanistan; the Afghan president said he's in Pakistan; and President Bush said, 'I like sprinkles on my ice cream.'”
— Conan O'Brien, on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden

"President Bush was upset and said, He's making it really hard for me to choose my Halloween costume.”
— Conan O'Brien, on Hugo Chavez calling Bush "the devil" and a "cowboy"

And on the subject of Conan, who I would say is my favorite late-night personality BY FAR... this is pretty interesting, something I'd never even thought about. From Wikipedia:

"His father, Dr. Thomas O'Brien, was a research physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, specializing in infectious diseases. His mother, Ruth Reardon O'Brien, is a former partner of the Boston law firm of Ropes & Gray.

After graduating as the valedictorian from Brookline High School, O'Brien entered Harvard University and, in his three upper-class years, lived in Mather House. Throughout his college career, he was a writer for the Harvard Lampoon humor magazine. During his sophomore and junior years, O'Brien served as the Lampoon's president, making him only the second person ever to serve as president twice, and the first person to have done it in 85 years. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1985 with a B.A. in the History and Literature of America."

Go to Harvard, do late-night television. Rock on.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

So here we have another celebrity being checked out of a hospital, giving the ol’ thumbs up to reporters and being whisked away somewhere for debriefing and whatever else people-handlers do in these situations. “Celebrity” in this case is relative, as I’m talking about Dallas Cowboys football player Terrell Owens.

According to a Detroit Free Press news bulletin, Owens was cut by the Eagles [no, not the band, I doubt this guy can sing... maybe baritone?] and then signed on four days later with the Cowboys earlier this year. His contract? Three years for $25 million and a $5 million signing bonus. There are some mildly interesting, possibly significant things listed as well:

“June 8 — Owens arrives after 5 p.m. for a scheduled 3 p.m. visit with the roughly 60 campers attending the Terrell Owens Youth Football Camp. “I’m sorry I’m late. I’ve been playing for the Dallas Cowboys,” he tells the kids.”

“July 13 — At his first book signing, Owens claims he didn’t say his return in time for the February 2005 Super Bowl was “heroic,” even though that’s what he wrote. He called it one of the words chosen by his co-author.”

“Aug. 25 — Owens is fined $9,500 for missing a team meeting and a rehabilitation session, and being late to an offensive meeting. He later says he overslept. “It’s not a big deal,” he says.”

There’s some junk about an injured hamstring and a recently broken finger as well, but this is football. Injuries are expected. But alright, so here we are on the 27th and this dude has reportedly just tried to off himself with painkillers. The police report stated he had told a friend “that he was depressed,” and after someone tried to intervene he took another 2 pills.

“Publicist Kim Etheredge said in various interviews Wednesday with Dallas-area media that the police have gotten the story wrong. She said she was with Owens, who was having trouble because he'd mixed his pain pills with supplements. She said she called for help because he was becoming unresponsive. ... The Dallas police report said Owens was asked by rescue workers "if he was attempting to harm himself, at which time (he) stated, 'Yes."'

I’d like to know what kind of “supplements” these were. And here’s the kicker:

“"The fact that it has been reported a suicide attempt, he's laughed at that notion. It was a case that medication that was taken wasn't accepted well in his system with the other vitamins he's on," [NFL Network analyst Deion] Sanders said.”

I understand that football players are supposed to be these big, tough, strong, womanizing types but that doesn’t mean they aren’t susceptible to depression and the things that go along with it. Denying and attempting to make light of the situation does a grave injustice [sometimes literally] to people suffering from depression and/or suicidal thoughts. Suicides by toxification [overdose or poisoning] makes up roughly 20% of all cases, and about one million people commit suicide annually.

Couldn’t the NFL, for once, use a scandal to highlight an important issue? Something more important than Janet Jackson’s breasts, salary mal-distribution [they are ALL overpaid in my opinion], or who recently had sex with who and what steroids they’re all on? By turning their backs on “T.O.” they’re potentially turning their backs on hundred of thousands of others who might just end up “O.D.”ing.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The headline reads "U.S. warplanes strafe, kill Canadian soldier." And then "Canadian soldier killed, others wounded in NATO 'friendly fire'."

strafe |strāf|
verb [ trans. ]
attack repeatedly with bombs or machine-gun fire from low-flying aircraft : military aircraft strafed the village.
noun an attack from low-flying aircraft.

ORIGIN early 20th cent.: humorous adaptation of the German World War I catchphrase Gott strafe England ‘may God punish England.’

I think that is the first time I've ever heard the term "strafe" used in the media. Probably even the first time I've ever heard it. I had to look it up. A lot of people skim headlines when "reading" the news, and using a word like "strafe" in place of anything else might be an attempt to smooth over the harsh reality of what actually occured. I'm not implying that anyone is denying what happened— it's a question of presentation.

And then to go and deem it "friendly fire"?

friendly fire
noun Military
weapon fire coming from one's own side, esp. fire that causes accidental injury or death to one's own forces.

There's nothing "friendly" about that, and being "strafed" sounds like a rather violent end. Not just one errant shot.

"KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- U.S. warplanes mistakenly strafed Canadian troops fighting Taliban forces in southern Afghanistan, killing one soldier and seriously wounding five on Monday in an operation that NATO claims has also left 200 insurgents dead."

War is nonsense. We're aware of how big, almost exactly, the world is. We know what is where, who and how many live in any given area. And still we're bombing one another like children at recess playing a fast game of Dodgeball. To what ends will this continue? And is it not the 21st century?

Maybe I just don't understand the rules of the game.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"Rose Lake is a beautiful place, miles and miles of trails winding through a DNR State Wildlife Area. The nice thing about it, and its greatest drawback and eventual downfall, is that it is open to anyone who knows of its existence. In the winter I see only the "regulars," none of whom are recognizable through layers of clothing [though I know their dogs]. Summertime brings families, "seasonal" dogwalkers, partying highschoolers, and everything in between.

"Sunday was a first, however. Long story short, my dogs and I were followed by a fairly young raccoon [probably less than a year old]. I kept my dogs away from it, having no desire to find out about rabies firsthand, and chased it back with a stick. It kept trying to follow us despite my attempts to chase it away, and it mewed almost like an infant might. The thing probably followed us for 75 or 100 feet before we took off at a run [at which point it ran after us], and then it wasn't behind us anymore.

"We were out on the trail for a few hours, a good part of which I spent thinking about the crazy raccoon following us. Needless to say, that is an unnatural behavior to witness in any animal, unless it intends to make you its lunch. By the time the trailhead was once again near, I had worked out in my head the perfect way to tell the story to my friends.

"Then my dogs took off after something, and a little grey blur went streaking up a tree. The raccoon.

"I was glad it was at least smart enough to run up a tree, and after calling the dogs we walked the remaining distance to the parking area. I noticed some idiot had broken [and left] a lightbulb, and some other idiot had left a fast food bag, so I started to pick up the shards of glass. The dogs sat nearby in the shade. Then I heard a familiar mewing coming from some bushes, and a little bandit's face appeared.

"I grabbed a nearby stick and told the dogs to heel, and we walked back to my car so I could put the dogs in. It followed us, occassionally scampering back a ways as my stick dictated. After closing the dogs into the car, I looked around for the raccoon and saw it underneath my car, apparently playing with some grass caught near the exhaust. I stealthily grabbed my purse, keeping a wary eye out for grey blurs, and walked around in an attempt to find cell phone service. My plan was to call my father to ask if there was a DNR or Animal Control number I could call to come get this thing. No point in some seasonal dogwalker getting bit, I figured.

"After a static-y and short conversation with him, a woman emerging from the woods asked if it had been following me as well. I told her it had, and she told me she thought someone had been keeping it as a pet and had dumped it out here. In my zeal for adventure and a sensational story, I had completely neglected to think about any possibilities other than RABID RACCOON CHASES, DEVOURS YOUNG WOMAN AND DOGS."

I wrote the above a few weeks ago, soon after that Sunday afternoon. It is now August 31st. Since that day, my mind has been travelling back repeatedly to what occurred. I can't get the image out of my mind, him playing at our feet with pebbles as we discussed what his fate would certainly be. An owl, no doubt, or a dog— hopefully an owl, for that would be a surely swifter death.

It's not fair, really, that humans have such capacity both for good and destruction. While there are many among us who devote themselves to improving the standards of living among people and animals alike, there are far more whose thoughts never stray far from their material posessions and expensive upcoming vacations. Those who do care might not want to make a show of it, as is the case of President Bush who's a known "environmentalist" when his GOP buddies aren't skulking around nearby.

What do we have to show for our nonchalance, our inaction, our embarassment in potentially being labeled a "tree-hugger"? Increasing temperatures, violent storms, harsh droughts and unforgiving floods, the extinction of undiscovered species, mutation in frogs, depleted resources, rising energy costs, lower standards of living, war.

Maybe I should reevaluate what I consider to be important, because one potentially sick or potentially abandoned raccoon has occupied my thoughts so consistently. But that animal is symbollic of all the things wrong with the way we view nature and the world around us.

I don't know what happened to him. He was gone by my next return to Rose Lake.

Friday, August 11, 2006

__ o'clock and all's well!

If you go to and search "time," the first result is After selecting the proper time zone one can find one what the official time is, accurate to 0.2 seconds. A map illustrates where the sun currently shines and which areas of the world are shrouded in darkness.

I don't know about the rest of you, but certainly I feel better knowing that, whenever I wish, I can figure out officially what the time is.

Oddly enough, it seems as though we spend part of our life wanting to grow up, and the other part wishing we were younger. My age seems like a good one, but at the same time I get tired of being referred to as "sweetie" and other such embarassing terms of faux endearment when I'm speaking to clients on the phone. Even people with whom I work call me sweetie sometimes. I'm not even all that sweet. But since I'm younger than they are, since I have nine or so months of "-teen" on my age, I'm still in that cutesy age bracket.

We are all separated by tell-tale signs of age— hairstyle, choice of makeup, dress, mannerisms, vocabulary and the ease with which one uses slang... Obviously as we age we adjust ourselves to what we consider to be the appropriate norm. My friends will seek to cover their tattoes and reverse years of sun damage. We will trade in our junker cars for something a little more, well, kid-friendly. Days of easy relaxation will turn into a lifetime of work, broken up by weekends and sick days.

At the same time kids are pushing one another to "grow up!" our parents and their peers will buy shiny sports cars and have their hair dyed and styled to fit the times. People ignore death, or fear it, and when the end comes it isn't to be dwelled upon. While humans are capable of living for many many decades, time both flies by and drags on. Are we never satisfied?

Time is an abstract concept, both "the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole," and "a point of time as measured in hours and minutes past midnight or noon." And yet we define what midnight is, when it occurs, and how exactly to calculate the moments which inflate a second or a minute into what is becomes to people. It means nothing, or it would mean nothing did we not give it meaning.

Amazing that I've been alive for 19 revolutions about the sun, and still the passing of years is as the passing of a moment, and the passing of mere weeks drags out to reveal and eternity.

Maybe time travel really is possible.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Dunegrass and Blues

Northern Michigan. Music festival. Late, after 1 a.m., following the last band. People collect their things— blankets, coolers, sunglasses, friends— and start to head home or to the campground for the night. The field is lit only by chinese lanterns in every color, and the stage lights.

Girl 1: Hang on guys, let me pick up these water bottles to recycle.

Girl 2 smiles, looks at Guy 1. They begin to pick up bottles as well.

Stage right, Man picking up empty beer cans scattered everywhere, placing into large garbage bag.

Girl 1 picks up cans, takes to Man.

Man: Oh thank you. I'm gonna use these for gas money.

Girl 1: That's a great idea, a really great idea. Picks up a few more cans, returns and places them in garbage bag. It's so expensive these days. But the concert was worth it, don't you think?

Man: Yeah. I haven't done a whole lot this summer so I fig'red what the hell, I really wanted to come down for this, so here I am. It's just been tough, ya know, finding work this summer. These cans sure will help.

Girl 1 notices he is wearing rubber gardening gloves. Smiles.

Girl 2, Guy 1, Guy 2: [together, not quite in unison] Hey! Let's go, it's getting late!

Girl 1: I'm coming! Hey sorry, I guess I've got to go.

Man: So are you in college?

Girl 1: Yes, I'm going to State.

Man: Whatcha studying?

Girl 1: I haven't decided yet... I just don't know.

Man: Well that's a really great thing. Work hard and get smart, ok?

Girl 1: I will.

Man: Well thanks for all your help. I really appreciate it. And thanks for... nice talking to you.

Girl 1 rejoins group, looks back to see Man stooped over picking up more cans.

Guy 2: So, have a nice talk?

End Scene.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Campaign Convictions

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican leaders are willing to allow the first minimum wage increase in a decade but only if it's coupled with a cut in future inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates, congressional aides said Friday.

"It's political blackmail to say the only way that minimum wage workers can get a raise is to give a tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts.

A person working 40 hours per week at minimum wage makes $10,700, which is below the poverty line for workers with families. Inflation has eroded the minimum wage's buying power to the lowest level in about 50 years. Yet lawmakers have won cost-of-living wage increases totaling about $35,000 for themselves over that time.

...[T]he Senate GOP aide professed confidence the bill could advance through the chamber next week [saying], "It's the one chance for Democrats who want to get a minimum wage increase."

It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out. The GOP is known for their spin doctors, and for hating "liberals"... not that we don't hate them right back... but this development could go in a thousand different directions, with many repercussions for those involved.

If I ever posses a multi-million dollar estate, I hope someone taxes the shirt right off my back.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mental Illness and... Justice?

Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children in 2001 after suffering postpartum depression, was found innocent today by reason of insanity. I agree that she does not belong in a prison but, rather, in a mental institution, where she will likely spend the remainder of her life.

The tragedy of the case is lies in its preventability. She had a history of suicide. She had a history of depression, of postpartum depression. From the New York Times:

'One of her psychiatrists, Dr. Eileen Starbranch, who told the court that she ranked Ms. Yates “among the five sickest patients she had ever seen,” warned the Yateses in 1999 that Ms. Yates could suffer another psychotic episode if she had more children. Ms. Yates went on to have a fifth child after that warning.'

So I ask you, why has her husband not been held somehow responsible in this case? Obviously I am not a lawyer, nor at all familiarized with court proceedings, but my guess would be that he had the final say when they had that last child. They lived in Texas, the Bible belt, and she herself told police that Satan was inside her and she was trying to save the children from hell. It's reasonable to assume that she submitted herself not only to God but to her husband.

From, on the subject of Andrea and Rusty:

'They eventually moved in together and spent much of their time involved in religious study and prayer. They were married on April 17, 1993. They shared with their guests that they planned on having as many children as nature provided.'

'Michael Woroniecki was a traveling minister from whom Rusty purchased their bus and whose religious views had influenced both Rusty and Andrea. Rusty only agreed with some of Woroniecki's ideas but Andrea embraced the extremist sermons. He preached, "the role of women is derived from the sin of Eve and that bad mothers who are going to hell create bad children who will go to hell." Andrea was so totally captivated by Woroniecki that Rusty and Andrea's family grew concerned.'

'In March of 2000, Andrea, on Rusty's urging, became pregnant and stopped taking the Haldol [an anti-psychotic drug]. On November 30, 2000, Mary was born. Andrea was coping but on March 12, her father died and immediately her mental state digressed. She stopped talking, refused liquids, mutilated herself, and would not feed Mary. She also frantically read the Bible.'

So there you have it. Rusty wanted that fifth child. So essentially he ended six lives.

And today, he is living free, remarried.

Chapter 2

I don't like starting to write. Once I get going, smooth sailing, but my beginnings always feel so awkward and forced. Is it that I can't wait to get going, or that I'm afraid? Whatever the reason, the result seems to be the same. Were I to sit down and begin a novel, I would need to start on Chapter 2 to even hope for a decent intro. ... My favorite literary opening is that of Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. She just.. nails it. It is her Genesis to a true masterpiece.

I can't believe I just made a Biblical allusion. Thank you, AP Lit!

Anyways. This is supposed to be my more grown-up LiveJournal. While, certainly, adults can be pretentious, I would prefer not to classify myself as an adult just yet. I'd like to think of myself as too idealistic to be a "grown-up." Thus this should be an unpretentious, though serious and thought-filled, blog of sorts. Without writing, I have nothing by my smile and frown to convey my thoughts.

So here's something to start off the right way... or at all. Excuse my disjointed, rusty writing and hope it will improve over time. I took this lovely quote from a recent news article about a severed hand found in the home of an exotic dancer, along with a collection of human skulls. Here's the chick's mother's take:

"She has a flair for the dramatic," Patricia Ann Kay said. "I have never tried to stop my children from doing whatever they want. As long as they are happy, aren't hurting anyone, and it's keeping them out of the poor house."

Perhaps writing will keep me out of the poor house. Preferable to stripping.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

It's Time

to make a real commitment to this. Writing, like any other skill, corrodes as a result of neglect.

It's at least a new direction.