Thursday, October 29, 2009

A future for Sikhs in the U.S. military?

I totally applaud the decision to allow a Sikh to keep his beard, hair, and turban while he serves in the U.S. military. Sadly, the decision only applies to this particular individual and is not a blanket allowance.

Why do we have to be so backwards and hide-bound? Are we that flush in recruits that we can afford to be so dictatorial in so many ways (facial hair, other hair, sexual preferences)?


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"...come tumbling down"

It's time to put more stimulus money into our literally crumbling infrastructure. It is amazing to me that a national icon like the San Francisco Bay Bridge can start falling apart before we actually sit up and take notice of this issue. Oddly enough, the bridge recently underwent some repairs. Maybe the workmanship was shoddy? Maybe the contractors were the same ones who worked on The Big Dig?

The bridge will remain closed until the structure can be fully inspected. 280,000 daily commuters are NOT going to be happy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Don't ask; don't tell... Phooey!

Call me a bleeding heart liberal, if you will. However, I am sick to death of the political banter over gays in the military. While I could paraphrase, I'm just going to lift this fabulous bit from the October 23rd issue of my favorite news magazine, The Week:

"...An essay just published in Joint Force Quarterly, a journal published by the National Defense University Press, shoots cannonballs through the argument that gays undermine troop morale and unit cohesion. Among its findings: Australia, Britain, Canada, and Israel, all of which lifted bans on gays in the military, have seen 'no impact' on troop performance, readiness, or cohesion. Did I mention that the essay's author, Col. Om Prakash, works for the secretary of defense and that the article was personally reviewed by Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? That's not the only sign of change, said Gabriel Winant in A discharged gay Arabic linguist, Lt. Daniel Choi, was even invited to lecture at West Point recently. In the end, it might be admirals and generals, and not Obama, who put 'don't ask' where it belongs: in the trash can."

Look around folks. American politicians are again showing that the U.S. is far from a world leader on yet another issue. Remember, don't ask them what is right. Tell them!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The next Chinese safety issue: Hummer?!?!

The Hummer line has been sold to a Chinese manufacturing firm. The firm, Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machine Company, has agreed to protect more than 3000 U.S. jobs in the deal. They plan to 'introduce more fuel-efficient models, including electric vehicles.'

While this deal sounds intriguing, especially electric Hummers, I can't help be wonder about safety issues. In the last several years, China has exported dozens of defective products and poisonous consumables to foreign markets. Considering all that can go wrong with a car (witness all the recalls of cars in America already) does the world really want China manufacturing one of the worlds heaviest and potentially deadliest vehicles?

More fodder for our nightmares.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Civil liberties verses public safety

The New Hampshire Department of Safety has ordered police to stop running background checks before returning confiscated firearms to owners. The National Instant Criminal Background Check system is supposed to be used only by federally licensed gun manufacturers, dealers, and importers, to research buyers before selling them firearms.

That's all well and good. However, if a citizen has a run in with police and that citizen is in possession of a firearm, it is in the public's best interest to make sure that that citizen has not done anything since the acquisition of that firearm to possibly revoke the privilege of firearm ownership.

While this may seem like a violation of Civil Liberties, let's consider a different scenario. A police officer pulls you over for speeding. He runs a routine check on your vehicle and on your driving record. He finds out that you have had your licensed revoked or suspended. Therefore you are not allowed to drive your car away from the scene.

THE NICS database tracks whether persons have any of the following disqualifications for having a firearm license according to the FBI NICS index:

1) Persons who are aliens and are illegally or unlawfully in the United States
2) Persons who have renounced their U.S. citizenship
3) Persons who have been adjudicated as a mental defective or have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution
4) Persons who have been discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions
5) Persons who are unlawful users of or addicted to any controlled substance
6) Persons who are federally disqualified when a record is not already included in the NCIC or the III.

Items in bold above are things that can change after you initially get a license for a firearm.

Considering how many factors can change, why on Earth would it be incorrect to check the database for someone who has a firearm who has recently garnered the attention of law enforcement?

Considering how many disturbed individuals go on shooting sprees every year, I think it ought to actually BE a requirement to check the database.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Interracial couples still face prejudice

Earlier this month, a Justice of the Peace refused to issue a license to or marry an interracial couple.

The Justice cited the problems children of such unions still face. Really? Tell that to the President. Tell that to Tiger Woods. In fact, the more mixed race couples there are, the higher the acceptance there seems to be of racial differences and mixed race people.

Catch up, Louisiana boy!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A mostly 80s workout morning

While not quite as good as yesterday's mix, today's didn't suck. Here's to a mostly 80's workout mix:

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Great workout music

I had another great workout this morning, again I must thank the iPod shuffle and skip gods. I even increased the resistance on my ride TWICE. Forty five minutes of heart pounding joy. had almost all the tunes. I had to substitute Excitable Boy by Warren Zevon for Dirty Little Religion; and I also had to substitute Block Rockin Beats for Leave Home by the Chemical Brothers. But, you'll definitely get the idea.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Bring on the mushrooms to fight breast cancer

In March, the International Journal of Cancer published a study stating that eating mushrooms daily could reduce breast cancer risk by 64 percent.

Since October is Breats Cancer Awareness Month, I had to share. Besides I absolutely LOVE mushrooms! Now I have an excuse to eat more.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Trying to be a more positive person

One of the reasons that I went of my vacation to Star Island was to spend some time alone to begin some deep personal rewiring. Most of my life I've been plagued by negativism. I know where it comes from (Yes, Dr Freud, it does have a lot to do with my relationship with my late mother.) However, that's no excuse for living with a aspect of your personality that you are not proud of.

Star Island helped me a lot. Unfortunately, I came back to a home and work life full of turmoil. I cannot go into the details of either, out of respect for my family on the home front, and due to confidentiality agreements on the professional side. As a result, most of the foundations I laid on Star for my own personal reworking were like fresh shoots in a garden that were trampled on by a marching band wearing combat boots. In the last month I've started seeing a psychologist in an attempt to start replanting that garden.

I've been doing a lot of reading on relationships and other self-helpish topics. Yesterday I was chatting with some friends at work about my attempt to be less negative. There was a lot of laughter since I have quite the reputation for cynicism. One friend said that there was nothing wrong with my attitude. Another quietly encouraged me to read Daniel Wallace's Yes Man (which he said is way better than the movie made of it). So, on the way home I picked the book up and started it this morning.

I've been a bit behind on my blog reading lately. So this morning I decided to try to catch up a bit. Imagine my amusement when I encountered a post on my good friend Dr Momentum's blog about strangers telling you to smile.

I do see this as connected to my starting to read "Yes Man", if only in a somewhat tangential way. In the one case there are strangers telling you to smile; in the other a stranger told Danny Wallace to say 'yes' more often. While I do not like strangers telling me to smile, or saying something cutesy like "It can't be that bad." when they see me walking around with a frown on my face, I really do not like the presumption or intrusion into my emotional frame of mind by a complete stranger.

On the other hand, I have quite the reputation amongst my work friends for acting like a goof in front of complete strangers in an attempt to engage them or to get them to grin. (OK, I will do this in front of people I know as well, but it only embarasses my friends when I do it in front of people we don't know.)

So, while I know that there is way more negativity in my personality than I would like, I am not all about the negative. Maybe I'm a clown with a dark side?

In any event there's more darkness in me than I'm content to continue with. No one's perfect and we are all a 'work in progress' whether we realize it or not. I'm just a little more focused on 'the work' right now.

Maybe I'll write a review of "Yes Man" when I finish and let you all know if I found any personally inspiring wisdom within.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Outting ourselves

While I'm not a prolific blogger these days, I do cherish my blog friends. While I'm not keeping my real world identity absolutely under wraps (photo links give some of my identity away), I don't want to publicize my name on this blog.

If anyone wants to connect with me over on Facebook, or via email, you can leave your contact information in a comment here. The comments on this blog are moderated. I have to approve them before they get published to the blog. If your contact information is in your comment, I will note it for my private usage and then delete the comment.

Hope to see some of you in other venues! But, I will continue to post here.

I love Fall, so I hope to start posting some photos soon.