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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Justice served?

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

I'm sure most people recognize this as the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The part I want to focus on today concerns the freedom of speech.

Back in November of last year, I attended a meeting of our local atheist group. Two men, Ernest Perce and Carl Silverman, were in attendance. The pair told us about an incident that had occurred when they had marched in a local Halloween parade dressed as a zombie Muhammad and a zombie pope. They called themselves the Parading Atheists of  Central Pennsylvania.  Ernest, the man dressed as Muhammad, was physically attacked by a man on the parade route. The police were alerted and the attacker was charged with harassment. It seemed clear to all of us that all the victim was in the right in this case.  He even had a video tape of the incident as evidence that something occurred and the attacker had admitted to the officer who responded that he did attack him.

Imagine our surprise months later when we heard that the judge who heard the case had dropped the charges!  Worse, he berated Ernest for his actions!  One of our local TV stations did a story on this that can be found here. (Note: This story has now made the national news and was featured on CNN yesterday) The judge told Ernest that his actions were highly offensive and told him "you are way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights"

Oh, really?

Now let's think about this for a moment.  Speech that is not offensive doesn't need to be protected, does it? Certainly not.  One can babble on all one wants about things that no one finds offensive with no problem at all! Therefore it is obvious that the First Amendment doesn't exist to protect that sort of language.  Clearly, then, it does exist to protect offensive speech, doesn't it?

Yes. We have a right to express ourselves in this country even when it offends others.

This is not so in many other countries - as the judge pointed out.  He mentioned that Ernest could have been put to death for what he did in many other countries.  He is right about that, in any event.

I'm not sure what, if anything, will happen with this case. I can hope that, if nothing else, it serves to remind us how important our rights are here in the US and that we should not take them for granted.

Image found here

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Seven - February 26, 2012

Name your seven favorite FreeCreditReport.com spots from the list above. (well... on Patrick's site)

  1. Seafood Restaurant
  2. Rock Star
  3. Cell Phone
  4. Wide Open West
  5. Renaissance Fair
  6. Roller Coaster
  7. Two Wheel Ride

Saturday Six - February 25, 2012

(I'm late posting this week because we had a new arrival in our family yesterday!  My daughter gave birth to a boy so I now have a new grandson! For those keeping track, I now have one of each - a grandson and a granddaughter.  What fun!)
1. Consider the last time you went shopping to a single store: which store was it?  Costco
2. Consider the last time you went shopping at a mall: which store was the first one you went into? Carter's Outlet
3. Do you prefer to shop in a mall or in a strip of stores downtown? It depends, I guess.  I don't like shopping so I generally know exactly where I'm headed for each item I want so if all those stores were together in a mall, that would save time and I'd like it.  Unfortunately this is rarely the case.  
4. You have to go downtown to purchase something in a store there, but the only parking places are parallel spaces near the store or a parking garage five blocks away: which are you more comfortable using? I'd park on the street if it is near the store. *shrugs*
5. Have you ever bumped another car while trying to park your own car? Yes.  I did! I was so embarrassed!  I got out and looked for damage but didn't see any to either car, thank goodness!
6. If you bumped a car while parking and you noticed a small mark on the car’s fender that you might have caused, but saw that no one saw you bump it, would you leave a note, or just move elsewhere and pretend it never happened? I think I'd have to leave a note.  It would bother me if I didn't. If I were in the other driver's position, I'd want to be able to contact the other driver - if only to tell them not to worry about it.


These have been the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ripped from the Headlines V

I'll start off this week with a natural phenomenon! There is a waterfall in Yosemite Park called Horsetail Fall.  It turns out that at sunset during days in mid-February, the sunlight lights up the falls in such a way that it turns orange and resembles lava. Conditions do have to be right for this to be seen but I imagine it is really awesome to see in person.  Maybe one day I'll see this in person.

Moving on across the pond,  I found this story of a competition to find the most multi-lingual student.  The winner, 20 year-old Alex Rawlings, can speak 11 languages! (You can view a video of him speaking all 11 languages at the link.)  Absolutely amazing!

Back in the US, I'm happy to report that it appears that Maryland will be the next state to allow same-sex marriage!  The bill passed the Senate yesterday and will move on to the Governor who has promised to sign it into law!  Same-sex couples can currently marry in 6 states, 7 in June when the Washington bill kicks in.  I'm not sure when Maryland's law will go into effect but that will make 8!  I'm ecstatic!

Under the "WTF" category, there is news that Anne Frank - a well-known daughter of Jewish parents who was killed during the Holocaust - has been baptized by proxy by a Mormon in the Dominican Republic.  Baptism by proxy is not unusual in the Mormon faith but it is church policy not to baptize victims of the Holocaust who died because of their faith - or their parent's faith in this case, I guess.  In any event, an uproar ensued... people will be disciplined...  and so on.

Finally, in science news, NASA has noticed that astronauts start craving spicy foods after they've been spending a bit of time in space. They aren't sure exactly why but do have some theories.  One is that the astronauts actually lose some of their sense of smell so they just don't taste foods as well as they would here on earth. Scientists are trying to come up with some solutions to the problem. After all, we do want our astronauts to have a little enjoyment when they are up in space for a while.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Image is in the public domain and was found here

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Speechless

I want to apologize for the absence of my voice here recently.  I reached a point where I was so shocked, dismayed and disoriented that I couldn't even think about attempting to articulate what was going on in my mind. It's like someone has punched me in the gut. Yes, that's what I felt like. As if someone knocked the wind right out of me.

I've regained my composure so let me try to explain. Those who are at all familiar with me know that issues I find important tend to boil down to human rights - whether they be LGBT rights or civil rights or simply the right of all people to be treated as human beings - not objects or property or as if they are disposable.

As a middle-class, white, straight woman living in the US, I am not usually discriminated against - unless we are talking about gender issues and that boils down to not receiving equal pay for equal jobs with men and occasionally having some uneducated backwoods hick think that my opinion doesn't count because I'm female. I have to admit that I don't come close to having to deal with what gay people or transgender people or even people of color have to put up with.  I'm extremely lucky and, quite frankly, with the news I've heard recently that the military is talking about reassessing the role of women in combat, I was thinking that women could start to say that we are almost there. I thought that, if we could garner enough attention, ERA passage might just happen in the next few years.

Then I started hearing things that disturbed me. I tried to ignore them but, like mosquitoes buzzing around my head, they forced me to pay attention to them.
I feel like I went to bed one night and woke up in Bizarro World!!  What is going on?!?  It's just one thing after another!

Since when did it become alright- again - to imply that women can't help discuss and decide what to do when the subject is birth control?  Are we back in the 60s?

How the hell did a candidate who is so anti-woman that I'm surprised he doesn't make his wife walk 3 steps behind him become a favorite in the Republican primaries?  What's next?  Laws that don't permit women to leave the house without a male family member?  A repeal of the 19th amendment?  Burqas?

Wake up and smell the coffee, America!  It's time to pay attention and voice your opinions. If you see something you don't like, say something! You can write a letter to the editor of your local paper or to your representatives or senators!  You can talk to your friends and co-workers!  Most importantly, remember that your vote is your voice! If you aren't registered to vote, what are you waiting for?!? We simply cannot allow ourselves to move backwards on women's rights!  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sunday Seven - February 19, 2012

[Yes. I know it is Tuesday, not Sunday.  Patrick's website was down the entire weekend so we couldn't see his Saturday Six and Sunday Seven questions until yesterday.  I did the Saturday Six yesterday and now I'll do the Sunday Seven and be all caught up!  This coincides quite well with the huge case of writer's block I've developed so this gives me a bit more time to get my act together.]

Name the seven foods on the list of 11 immunity-boosting foods that you’re most likely to have on hand.

  1. onions and garlic - I use these all the time when cooking.
  2. mushrooms - another one of my favorite flavors
  3. yogurt - I eat this daily for breakfast and sometimes make smoothies with it for dessert.
  4. honey 
  5. ginger - I keep pieces of this in my freezer so I can always pull it out and grate it for a recipe.
  6. tea - We have all sorts of teas - herbal and regular teas.
  7. chicken soup - or at least broth to make my own.  (I don't usually buy this type of soup as I prefer homemade.)
These were this week's Sunday Seven from Patrick's Place

Monday, February 20, 2012

Saturday Six - February 18, 2012


[Keeping in mind that I'm an atheist and therefore don't attend many church services, I'll still participate with this week's quiz.]
1. When is the last time you attended a church service? Christmas Eve a couple years ago. 
2. At that time, had you been attending regularly, or was this a one-time attendance? More of a one-time thing. My sister is a bell choir director and needed some extra ringers for the service.  Since I used to play bells, she asked if I could help and I did.    
3. Based on your experience, what do you think church does best? Brings people together into a community. 
4. What do you think church is particularly bad at handling? Different beliefs and those who lack religious beliefs.  Most denominations/religions teach that their way is the only way. This, of course, causes a conflict when they are faced with others who feel that way about their own religion.
5. To what extent do you think a pastor should speak his mind about a political issue or candidate from the pulpit: not at all, some (if in moderation) or as much as he likes? I don't like the idea of a pastor endorsing any particular candidate or speaking too much about a political issue. That isn't really what people expect from their religious leaders - or I don't believe it is.  
6. Remember the last time you were really angry or upset by something you saw or heard at a church service: what made you feel that way? Nothing comes to mind.  I really haven't attended church regularly since I was a teenager but I don't remember anything that really upset me.
These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place.  (Patrick's website was down over the weekend so I'm only able to participate now.  I'll do the Sunday Seven at another time)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ripped from the Headlines IV

[I'd like to apologize for my absence most of this week.  I'm under the weather and my cold seems to have sapped all my creativity and ability to think.  I think I'm on the mend, now.]

Let's start off with some local news today.  You may recall that I commented on the PA house of representatives declaring 2012 the Year of the Bible several weeks ago.  It seems that some state lawmakers are crying foul!  This resolution was part of a group of "noncontroversial" resolutions passed all at once by the PA house and some of the representatives were surprised to find that this particular resolution was included.  Now some of them want the resolution reversed.  I'll be writing my representative, once again, and asking her to support the reversal. One does have to wonder how many bits of legislation are passed without being read and whether this should serve as an eye-opener to our representatives.

Moving on, I have a sad story to relate.  A couple are being charged in their son's death in Virginia.  It seems that they belong to a church that believes in faith healing and chose not to seek medical help for their son.  He died of a burst appendix.
The first thing that strikes me about this story is the parent's assertion that they were following their son's wishes in not calling for help - as if a 17 year-old boy should be making that sort of decision!  It is his parent's responsibility to look after his welfare!
The second thing that occurs to me is that this sort of illness is medically treatable and hardly anyone dies of a burst appendix now days.
The third thing is that the poor boy was ill for 2 1/2 days and he had to be in severe pain!  How could a loving parent sit still and watch their son suffer that way! I cannot comprehend this no matter what your beliefs are!
This boy's death was totally avoidable and this story is so tragic.

While we are on the subject of death, I'm sure that everyone has heard by now that Whitney Houston passed away last Saturday.  As is not unusual when a famous person passes away, the Governor of her home state, New Jersey, has requested that flags in the state be lowered to half-staff in her honor.  Turns out that there are those who have an issue with this.
Some people feel that this honor should be reserved for soldiers, fire fighters and police officers.  This is not the case in New Jersey, it appears, as Gov. Christie ordered flags lowered when Clarence Clemons [a sax player for Bruce Springsteen's band] passed away.
Others feel that Whitney was a drug addict and that she should not be honored. I do understand their point - that she was far from perfect.  That is true.  It did appear that she was getting her life in order, however - or at least attempting to. We don't know what caused her death and perhaps she did fall under the influence of drugs once again. What I do know is that hearing her sing brought a lot of joy to a whole lot of people and will continue to do so for years in the future. What I also know is that not one of us is perfect.  I, therefore, see no problem with Gov. Christie's actions. I'm not convinced that her drug addiction totally overruled all the positives in this situation.

Late yesterday I heard that there is finally a close to the underwear bomber case.  Umar Farouk Abdulmutaliab was sentenced to multiple life sentences.  It is a shame that he feels that god told him to take the measures he did and that he still feels he did the right thing.  I'm just glad that it didn't turn out the way he intended and result in multiple deaths.  Still, it is a sad reminder of what religious fanaticism can cause people to do.

Moving on to politics...  There were no primaries or caucuses this week so I've not heard a lot about the Republican primaries but there is a bit of hubbub over a particular Santorum ad which depicts Romney as a gun-toting, mud-slinger. [You can view the ad at that link] I have to admit that I did chuckle over the fact that the Santorum camp was able to come up with a decent Romney look-alike and I thought the ad was humorous. [though it may not be totally accurate]

Late breaking news!  A while back I mentioned a lawsuit concerning a prayer banner hung in a public school that had been won by the plaintiff, a 16 year-old student.  The school board had not publicly stated whether or not they would be appealing the decision but made that decision last night.  In a vote of 5-2, the board decided not to appeal the decision - and rightfully so as past decisions of this sort have shown that they would lose and spend a lot of money doing so.  Congratulations, Jessica, on a job well done!  I hope she can finally relax a little and that her detractors will find someone else to pick on now that this is over.

Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Image is in the public domain and was found here

Monday, February 13, 2012

Extreme Weather

The temperature took me by surprise this morning when I stepped outside.  The weather channel informs me that it is currently 23°F [-5°C] so that explains it.  I know it was windy and bitter out over the weekend but I didn't do more than poke my head out to let the dog out and in so I didn't really experience it.  

I know I shouldn't be complaining.  It really isn't that cold and we've had much colder temperatures most winters here but we've had a mild winter.  It just didn't seem to want to stay cold. We'd have a day or two of below freezing - sometimes only below freezing overnight - then back to the 40s or even the 50s. We keep complaining that we haven't really had a real winter. It's ridiculous.  

It seems even more ridiculous when you consider other odd weather like the recent cold snap in Europe.  I simply cannot imagine temperatures of -33°F [-36°C].  I don't know how you deal with that sort of cold.

We certainly had an unusual 2011, weather-wise.  NOAA stated in June of last year that it was one of the most extreme weather years in history.  Yeah. Only halfway through the year they felt that way.  

I'd say that some of this extreme weather is continuing...  It makes you wonder what is yet to come, doesn't it?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Seven - February 12, 2012

Name the seven foods on the list of 10 foods causing the most salt intake that you like the most.
  1. Poultry - I'd better say this as I work in the poultry industry!  Luckily the poultry produced at our plant does not have the injected sodium solution that other brands might and I only eat the poultry from our company, so I'm not getting the amount of sodium others might in their poultry.
  2. Pizza - I'll admit it!  We love pizza at our house! We generally make our own from scratch, however, so we can limit the amount of sodium in ours - at least a little!
  3. Cheese - I love cheese.  (and it shows) I admit that I don't try to limit my intake of cheese as much as I should. It's so delicious!!
  4. Soups -  Canned soups can contain extra sodium and you have to watch the low sodium brands as they might just add something else you don't want to make up for it! You're better off to make your own soups (from your own broth), in my opinion, though I don't always have time.  I try to buy soups that have a lower sodium content when I do get canned soups.
  5. Breads and rolls - I try to buy healthier brands that are made from whole grain flours and don't contain high fructose corn syrup or too much sodium.
  6. Snacks - Who doesn't like crackers or chips now and then?  You just have to limit your intake and try to make healthier choices when you indulge!
  7. Pasta dishes - We have pasta about once a week.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Six - February 11, 2011


1. Which single brand of product — any kind of product — have you been loyal to for the longest? The one that comes to mind is Scott.  Please don't laugh.  I discovered Scott brand bath tissue in college and realized how much longer a roll lasts compared to many popular brands and I was sold.  I know I've saved tons of money over the years using this brand.
2. What is it about that particular brand’s product that has kept you as a customer for so long? As I pointed out, I believe I've saved money buying them.  A roll last so much longer than most brands and costs less so it's win-win as far as I'm concerned.
3. Which product that you used to buy by brand name are you most likely to buy generically now? Almost anything.  There are only a few name brands that I insist on.  I've discovered that I can buy store-brands of many things that are as good as the name brands.
4. Do you detect no difference from the brand-name version to the generic version, or was it more a case of cost that made you go generic? Most of the time, I detected no difference.  There are some name-brand products I insist on buying as there is no real good replacement.  I do enjoy saving money, however.
5. If you checked your pantry, which single brand would you have the most products from on your shelves? Amy's Organic soups, I believe. (unless you count cans of dog food but I'm sticking to people products) I don't often buy processed foods, but these are made without many of the preservatives that other brands have so I get them for a quick lunch now and then.
6. Of any kind of product, which brand is one that you feel means high quality despite the fact that you don’t own anything from that particular brand yourself? Mercedes.  This isn't likely to change, either, as I can't afford a car this expensive.  They do seem to be worth the money if you can afford them for the safety features alone!


These have been the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ripped from the Headlines!! III

The Good:   First off, A California court has over-ruled Proposition 8, California's gay marriage ban, as unconstitutional! The ruling states that:
“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”
Supporters of the ban say they will appeal.  I hope they do take it to the Supreme Court, to be honest.  I think that SCOTUS would agree with the lower court's ruling and perhaps we could put an end to this sort of discrimination once and for all!

In a second bit of good news,  Susan G Komen for the Cure reversed course on funding Planned Parenthood and Komen executive, Karen Handel, resigned in protest.  Turns out she really didn't agree that they should fund Planned Parenthood so she felt she couldn't stay on.

The Bad:   I do have to say that I really have heard some things about the Komen foundation that make me say, "hmm...", recently.  It appears that the organization considers "for the Cure" a phrase that only they can use and threatens legal action against other charities who use that phrase in their names. Other people question their executive salaries - though I've not heard factual figures so I'll refrain from offering an opinion on this [and also will mention that the Charity Navigator has given them 4 stars so they can't be all bad]- and why they partner with companies, like KFC, when that company's products might help to increase the risk for breast cancer. Frankly, I'm not sure that I trust them as much as I used to which is really a shame.

The Ugly:   Rick Santorum - the anti-gay, anti-choice, pompous, sanctimonious, hypocritical member of the religious right who most makes my skin crawl - has won big this week.  People, this man is so anti-woman I'm surprised his wife - and daughters - haven't smothered him in his sleep!

Have you heard him rail on about how he believes that Obama is taking away our religious freedom?  I'm pretty sure man has no idea what that term even means! Listen to what he says. He sounds like he wants to create a Christian theocracy, folks.  If you're fine with that I ask you to consider if you would feel the same if he was proposing a theocracy based on a different religion - something like ancient Egyptian polytheism, for example. That changes things, doesn't it?

One of the most recent things he's done to raise my ire is when he defended drug companies in a health care speech.  The man is seriously out of touch.  Just watch the video.  This quote really gets me riled up:
"People have no problem going out and buying an iPad for $900, but paying $900 for a drug, they have a problem with it.
Does it not even occur to this man that some people may not even have $900 extra for anything?!? Can he not comprehend people who live from paycheck to paycheck with little extra?  He makes me so angry I could spit nails!  I need to move onto something else...

And the Silver Lining:   Because I won't end on a bad note...  This isn't really "news"  nor is it "new" but it is fascinating!  It's a sunken bridge that takes you through a moat.  You just have to see it to believe it! Take a look.
Nope.  I'm still in a rotten mood. Looks like I need to pull out the big guns.  Go watch this video of baby pandas.  Now this one of a baby panda sneezing. Repeat as necessary.  Ah.  That's better.  So, so adorable! <3

Image is in the public domain and was found here

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Midweek Meme - Episode 3

It's Wednesday so it is time for another Midweek Meme!  We'll give this another go and see if I can get some participation this time!

This week's meme has to do with music - and I have a short story to lead into it.

When I was in middle school, we were allowed to bring in records  [Yes,  vinyl records.  45s, to be precise]  for the teacher to play during art class while we were attempting to be artistic.

One day, one of my classmates brought in a record. It was "Beth" by Kiss which was quite popular at the time. [and now you can all run to Google and figure out about how old I am... Have fun. I'll be here when you get back.]

Anyway, my classmate [one of the popular girls] insisted on playing that record over and over.  We had to listen to that song at least 5 times and finally I objected.  I liked the song but I didn't want to listen to it over and over like that!  I wanted to hear something different!  She objected to my objection and then it was an "issue" and we finally had to sit through the rest of the class without music. Yeah. It was "all my fault". [Oh, I did have supporters but they didn't have the nerve to say anything until after class, the wimps...]

Now, oddly enough, there are songs that I don't mind listening to more than once at a time.  This leads us to this week's question which is....

Name 5 songs you like well enough to play over and over again. [or at least 2 or 3 times in a row]

The Rules: Either put your answers in a comment below or put your answers on your own blog and place a link to your post here in the comments.

Here is my list:
  1. "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen - I think it's the superb harmonies that make me enjoy this song so much
  2. "Freedom! '90" by George Michael - Classic George Michael.  That man sure can sing!
  3. "Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri 
  4. "Blister in the Sun" by the Violent Femmes - I've no idea why this song appeals to me so much! The lead singer's voice is so... odd.  Maybe I just have to listen to the song again to be sure that it was really like that!
  5. Rhapsody in Blue composed by George Gershwin - I had a difficult time coming up with a 5th one until I considered classical music - though I suppose this selection could be called jazz.
Which songs do you like well enough to hear over and over?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Foggy-brained Memories

My mind is a bit foggy this morning.  I'm blaming the cold medication I took at bedtime last night.  That sort of thing really knocks me out.

Real fog can be dangerous to drive in.  One particular incident comes to my mind when I'm thinking of driving in fog. My fiance and I were traveling up the highway - I was driving - and there were wispy strands of fog here and there but nothing that was a problem.  We rounded a turn and drove straight into fog so thick that I couldn't see more than a foot ahead of me.  It was horrible!  I slowed to a crawl.

Soon I noticed a car was behind me - tailgating me. It was annoying enough to try to see well enough to drive and even more so to have someone plastered to my rear bumper.  I considered pulling over to allow him to pass but I couldn't see well enough to safely do so.  I knew there deep gullies just past the shoulders at points on this highway but I wasn't sure exactly where we were so I didn't chance it.

After a little while, the driver behind me lost patience with my caution and whipped out around me and sped off into the fog.  I still wonder about the sanity of that driver. You couldn't see well enough for the speed he was going and wouldn't see an obstacle in your road before it was too late.  We didn't encounter him down the highway, so I assume that he didn't wreck but I wouldn't have been surprised to see that.  His or her actions were reckless and dangerous.

Why do people take such chances with their lives - and the lives of others?  This never fails to amaze me but we see this sort of thing all the time.  I have to wonder if they just don't even consider the possible consequences of their actions. Maybe they are they just focused on something else - like hurrying to get somewhere.  I sure don't know but I hope this type of person stays far away from me when they are driving too fast for conditions!


Image: Foggy woodland  © Copyright Jonathan Kington / CC BY-SA 2.0 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl Halftime Show

I don't know about you but I thoroughly enjoyed the halftime show featuring Madonna yesterday during the Super Bowl.   I didn't notice the obscene gesture that one of the performers flashed, by the way, so it seems silly that this is what most every news source was talking about today.  I have to wonder if anyone actually noticed it without being told it was there... but I digress.  I thought the show was fun, flashy and a terrific mix of older songs and new.

It appears that many critics disagree with me.  I've seen reviews complaining that the show was bland, that Madonna is "too old" to be playing a cheerleader and that there was no overriding theme to the show. Oh!  and don't forget the compliant that the music was pop.

I'm afraid that I have to disagree with all of these complaints.  There is no way the show could have been "bland" with the Cirque de Soleil  performers all those flashy costumes! As for Madonna's not acting her age, that's ridiculous. She looks great and I hardly think she looks 53. As for a theme, the costumes seemed appropriate for the songs sung while they were worn.  Why must there be an over-riding theme?  And the complaint that her music was all pop?  Um... that's what Madonna sings.  You expected what?  Jazz?

Unfortunately, no matter what you think of Madonna's performance, it will be overshadowed by the obscene gesture by M.I.A.  I've no idea why the performer thought this was a good idea but seriously. She must have known that it would attract the wrong sort of attention.  Of course, they say there is no such thing as bad publicity and perhaps that is true. After all, I hadn't ever heard of her before and probably would still be unaware of her if she hadn't chosen to make that gesture.

Image courtesy of bilinkis

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Seven - February 5, 2012

Name the seven “coolest elevators” you’d love to ride at least once.
  1. The Gateway Arch - As you may already know, I'm a huge St. Louis Rams fan and I would like to visit St. Louis at least once.  Part of that trip would include a trip up in the arch!
  2. Luxor Inclinator - Friends of mine have stayed at the Luxor and were fascinated by the "inclinator".  I'm intrigued enough to want to check it out myself!
  3. Hammetschwand Lift - This looks really awesome!  What a view!
  4. Sky Tower - I'd love to visit New Zealand one day and this would be an attraction I'd like to see
    while there!
  5. AquaDom - This looks so cool!  
  6. Falkirk Wheel - Scotland is another place I'd like to visit one day and I'd love to see this!
  7. Bailong Elevator - Talk about a view!  Very neat!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday Six - February 4, 2012


1. How often did you attend football games — or any kind of sporting event — from your high school when you were a student?  I attended most of the football games and an occasional basketball game.
2. How often did you attend football games — or any kind of sporting event — from your college when you were a student? I went to a small tech school and we didn't have sports teams.
3. Since graduating either, how many games have you attended? None, actually.  I went to our local school's football games when my daughters were in high school to support them as they were all in the band.
4. If you had to choose any sport to really get into, which sport would you choose and why? I'm already pretty "into" football, so I'd choose that sport.
5. If you had to choose any particular team to follow, which team would you choose and why?  The St. Louis Rams since I've been following them since the late 70s.
6. Your prediction: Who’s going to win this year’s Super Bowl? The NY Giants.


These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ripped from the Headlines! II

Disclaimer:  These may or may not be the most popular news stories this week nor the most important ones.  Rather, this is a compilation of stories which have caught my attention over the past week.
The FBI sure made a huge mistake earlier this week when they raided the wrong apartment in Massachusetts.  They apparently used a chainsaw to break through the door and held the occupant at gunpoint. Their target actually lived in another apartment in the same building. They have since apologized and will pay for the damage they've done, but seriously!  How the heck do you make a mistake like that?!?  Thank goodness the woman was unarmed and passive but what if she hadn't been?  This could have gone so much more wrong.

Speaking of the FBI, it appears that they are looking for a company to create software so they can more easily monitor social networking sites. One has to wonder if this could result in even more people being detained and barred from entering the country like this couple was. If this keeps up, we might as well forget making money off of the tourist industry!

In other news, there is an uproar over the decision by the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the cure to eliminate its grants to Planned Parenthood.  You can read the article to see why they say they are dropping funding and some of what Planned Parenthood has to say about it all.  The important part - to me, anyway - is that many woman may not receive cancer screening now because they lack access to other health care facilities for one reason or another and I think this is a step backwards.  My personal opinion is that the Foundation is allowing a loud minority to dictate what they should or shouldn't do and this will only serve to harm the women who most need the help.  It's a real shame when politics has become more important than the lives of women.

While I'm on my soap box, I have to talk about a bill that has passed in the Indiana senate that will allow the teaching of creationism in science class. Honestly, people!  Religion is NOT science and it does not belong in science class!  If you want to teach a comparative religion class, that's fine with me! Just leave the science to  science classes and religion to religious studies.  Why is this difficult?!?  Hell, no one cares what you tell your children outside of school so teach them whatever you want at home just let them learn science in school!  I know it sounds radical but what would be wrong with presenting them with all the information and allowing them to form their own conclusions?  What are you so afraid of? Anyone?

I don't want to end on that sort of story so I will end with one that might just help to restore my faith in human beings.  It appears that Washington State may become the next state to allow legal marriage between same-sex couples.  Hallelujah!  It's always good to know that there are reasonable people who understand that marriage is a commitment that should be available to same-sex couples as well as straight couples.  It is simply inhuman to tell a same-sex couple that their relationship is not valid.  I applaud the Washington State senate for recognizing discrimination when they see it. Good for them. Let's see... that's seven states down only... oh.  Well, I'll just depress myself thinking about that.  I'll concentrate on the good, instead.

And, hey!  It's Super Bowl weekend!  I'm looking forward to watching the game!  It should be a good match-up!

Have a nice weekend, all!

Image is in the public domain and was found here

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Trio of Deaths

I've become aware of three deaths of famous - or somewhat famous - people over the past two days.

First was Don Cornelius - the creator of Soul Train - who died of an apparent suicide at 75.  There is an excellent obituary in the LA Times online that can be found here.

The next death I became aware of was artist Mike Kelley, also a suicide, at age 57. His obituary in the LA Times can be found here.

Finally, this morning I heard about Wislawa Szymborska, the Nobel Prize-winning Polish poet.  Her obit from the NY Times is here.  She died of lung cancer at 88.

It's horrible, but I'm finding myself glad that Ms. Szymborska's death wasn't another suicide.  [And yes.  Dying from cancer is a horrible way to go. I'm not unaware of this.]

Hearing of suicides upsets me more than it used to.  Part of it must be because a dear friend of mine committed suicide last year and it's still way too fresh in my mind.  Another reason might be because I don't believe in any sort of "life after death" and so it seems so wasteful to end ones life early.

You only have the one life to live, after all.  How can you choose to end it before you have to?

I seriously think that if it weren't for the promise of some sort of life after death, there would be many more atheists in the world.  It is much more attractive to believe that there is something to look forward to rather than nothing.

Image is an illustration by Charles Allan Gilbert.  It was found here.  It is in the public domain as it was published in the US prior to 1923. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Midweek Meme - Episode 2

It's Wednesday so it's time for another Midweek Meme!

I'm still working on an image to use for the meme.  Obviously, I'm not very good at this.  I went from bland to boring. Perhaps I'll do better next week!

Anyways, this week the topic has to do with movies.  You know how there  are certain movies that practically everyone has seen?  Well think about that sort of movie but I want you to think about which of these you haven't ever seen yourself!

This week, we're going to list 5 popular movies that "everyone has seen" that we haven't actually seen ourselves. Here is a list of IMDb's top 250 movies of all time to help you out if you draw a blank.

The Rules: Either put your answers in a comment below or put your answers on your own blog and place a link to your post here in the comments or place them in a public post on Google +, if you have one, and leave a link to your account in the comments so we can read your answers!

My list:
  1. Ferris Bueller's Day Off  - I'm not sure how I missed this one, but it totally passed under my radar when it came out and I've never seen it.
  2. E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial - I know, I know...  but it didn't appeal to me!
  3. Citizen Kane - I saw the very end of this movie once when I turned on the TV and wasn't compelled to find it and watch the whole thing.  And yes.  I should watch it.  I really should.
  4. Fight Club -  I'm not a huge Brad Pitt fan (he's alright, I guess) and this movie didn't really seem interesting to me at all.
  5. Jaws - I was really too young to see this when it first came out and I never bothered to watch it since. I've seen bits and pieces but never the entire thing.
Okay!  Now it's your turn.  Which five popular movies have you never seen?