Something to Think About

"I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ripped from the Headlines XVIII

Well, folks, it appears that Virginia is at it again!  You may recall that I mentioned back in February that their state legislature had introduced legislation  that would require a woman seeking an abortion to get a vaginal ultrasound beforehand. If I recall correctly, they had to amend that particular bill because of the outpour of public outrage. Now Virginia's Board of Health is now considering requiring abortion clinics to meet the same regulations as hospitals in the state if they perform more than 5 first-trimester abortions a month.  20 out of the 22 clinics in the state would have to close if this legislation is imposed.  I find it hard to understand why these regulations - such as requiring 5 foot wide hallways and as many beds as parking spots - would need to be applied to an outpatient facility of this nature unless one was attempting to limit the number of abortions provided in the state. The medical advisory board consulted by the Board of Health does not feel these regulations are necessary so there is obviously some other reason the Board of Health is pushing this agenda, in my opinion.

Meanwhile, in Michigan, it appears that the state legislature has a problem with the word "vagina". State Representative Lisa Brown was speaking about an abortion bill and she ended her speech by saying, "Finally, Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no'".  This was apparently so offensive to the House Republicans that she was barred from participating in further discussion on the bill.  Seriously? I wonder what term they would have preferred that she use.

Moving on...   It appears that the remaining federal charges against John Edwards have been dropped. It seemed odd to me that he was actually charged as it appeared that they really didn't have enough evidence to make their case. I am glad for the sake of his family that this is over so they can put it all behind them and move forward.

And finally, I have a story from across the pond! A school student in Scotland started a blog documenting - and rating - her school's lunches. It is called NeverSeconds and has become quite popular. She started the blog to raise money for charity.  One reason for the popularity seems to be concern over the menu at her school cafeteria.  Once celebrity chef Jamie Oliver became interested in the project, it really took off.
The student, herself, has complained that they are not given enough food and that the quality of what is given to them is questionable.  The school maintains that they are following the guidelines.  After about a month and a half, her local school board decided to ban the student from taking pictures of her school lunches, effectively ending the blog.  This story does have a happy ending, however!  Outraged supporters of the blogger created a Twitter campaign to draw attention to the banning of the blog and the ban has been lifted! The best news is that the blog has generated over 30,000 pounds for Mary's Meals, a charity that helps to provide meals to needy children!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ripped from the Headlines XVII

I'm going to start off with a bit of science news this morning!  Remember back when you were young and your parents would take you to visit your elderly relatives?  I certainly do!  We'd visit my grandparents once a week and frequently went to see my great-aunt, as well.  One thing I remember from those visits was what my sister and I would call "old person smell".  Well, it turns out that scientists have proven that our body scent does change as we age! Not only that, but it appears that we are able to identify elderly people from younger people by their scent alone! I seriously always thought that this was because of the application of Ben Gay or other products that older people tend to use.  Now I know that there is more to it!

In political news, Governor Scott Walker has prevailed in the Wisconsin recall election. I was actually quite surprised by this until I heard that Walker's campaign spent so much more money than Barrett's did and that Barrett didn't actually campaign on union rights (Did he not get the memo?!?) and that 60% of Wisconsin voters disapprove of a recall except in cases of gross misconduct and 10% believe they are never appropriate. So... I'm not sure that this election tells us anything about what is going to happen in the fall in Wisconsin or any place else, for that matter. (Despite what some pundits would like us to believe.)

Moving on to what seems to be turning into a regular feature here (Would it be crass to entitle this section "Guess who died this week!"? Yes, I suppose it would be.) I was saddened to hear that author Ray Bradbury has died. I was first introduced to his writing when I was required to read Fahrenheit 451 in high school. I quickly became a fan.  Neil Gaiman has a lovely tribute to him on his blog.  Do take the time to listen to his reading of "The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury", a short story he wrote for Mr. Bradbury as a 91st birthday present.

And finally, some good news.  Another federal judge has struck down a section of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) as unconstitutional. A step in the right direction, certainly.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Ripped from the Headlines XVI

Wow.  What a week it has been for odd/gross/disgusting news!  Let's see... there's the Montreal man who killed his boyfriend, dismembered him and sent some of his body parts in the mail, a New Jersey man who stabbed himself and threw his intestines at police, a contractor in Georgia who bit two Lowe's employees, and, of course, the naked man in Florida who was killed by police as he was in the process of eating another man's face.  Did I mention all of them?  All I'm going to add is that I'm quite a bit annoyed at certain news organizations who insist on speculating on what that last man might have taken in order to behave so bizarrely.  First I heard angel dust, then LSD, then that substance they call "bath salts". Honestly, people! This serves no purpose!  Let's just wait and see what the toxicology report indicates.  You are merely guessing.

Moving on, the private rocket that left earth last week on a path to the international space station has safely returned to earth. I have to admit that I was more than a little skeptical about allowing private companies to run this sort of operation but this mission was quite a success so perhaps things will work out.  I am sad that NASA is currently not running manned missions right now, however.

I have often wondered whether it was entirely legal to flash your lights to warn other drivers of a speed trap police have set up.  A Florida judge has ruled that it is a form of free speech!  Now that I think of it, this makes perfect sense.  I'm sure it doesn't make police officers happy to have people warned in this way but, on the bright side, it results in temporarily safer - well, slower - driving so that's a win-win, isn't it?

Finally, I heard mid-afternoon yesterday that the jury had reached a verdict in John Edward's trial.  You may recall that Edwards was accused of misusing campaign contributions by funneling some contributions to his former mistress to keep her quiet. A while later I heard that the jury had reached a verdict on only one count and that the judge had sent them back to work on the rest.  I thought that would be the last we heard of them yesterday but I was surprised to hear the news later on that they jury had come back out to say that they were deadlocked on the rest of the charges. Edwards was acquitted of the one charge and the judge declared a mistrial on the rest.

I've read several opinions on this outcome and I have to say that I agree with this commentator. The jury was being asked, basically, to decide if Edward's motivations were personal or political.  A jury cannot read the minds of others and if there is not enough of an indication of motivation for a person's actions, then they simply cannot be expected to decide what a person was thinking.  I do have to wonder why he was even charged in this case.  While I don't in any way deny that what he did to his family was horrible - especially to his late wife, Elizabeth - this trial didn't solve anything.  His remaining family should have been spared having to hear, again, of his various transgressions.  I hope the government decides to just drop the rest of the charges against him so everyone can move forward.