I am a recovering idealist 13 August 2011Posted by splait in entitlement, Integrity, Lack of Integrity, Uncategorized.
Tags: bigotry, Cicely Tyson, Civil Rights, Democrats, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Republicans, Tea Party, The Help, Viola Davis
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I read the book and loved it. MBH and I went to see the movie today, and I loved it, too. However, both the book and the movie made me very, very mad and sad.
The Help is an amazing story, set during the height of the civil rights movement. I was living in the D.C. suburbs of Virginia at the time. I read about it all, but I truly didn’t understand what it meant. I didn’t see the bigotry where I lived. Northern Virginia might as well have been on another planet.
Why would white people treat others so badly just because they were a different color? (This question is posed by a Jew who had been through much Sunday School at the time and was taught about prejudice – we’re talking the Pharaohs of Egypt and Nazi Germany here.) I just didn’t get it.
Still don’t, really.
So the movie made me mad and sad. While I’m glad that I didn’t live in the South at the time (MBH did, and she has told me stories), I wish I had been old enough to join the Freedom Riders. Those folk had the right stuff.
Having said all that, if you (all three of you in the US) haven’t read the book, pick up a copy. If you have read it, go see the movie. The book comes to life.
Ron Howard’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, deserves an Academy Award nomination. She plays the incredibly bigoted villain of the piece, Hilly. Hilly rules Jackson, MS with a white, iron hand. She’s about as despicable a person as you’ll ever meet.
Emma Stone plays Skeeter, the lead, almost exactly the way I pictured her while reading the book. I hadn’t heard of Ms. Stone until about a week ago, when MBH and I saw Crazy, Stupid, Love. That’s another movie I enjoyed.
Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer ARE Aibilene and Minny. It was also good seeing Cicely Tyson as Constantine, the woman who raised Skeeter. All three are outstanding actresses who gave their all for this movie.
Go see it. You men see it, too.
So, back to the title of this post.
Being an idealist is hard. It has probably always been hard, throughout human history. I live in a country that, at one time, was considered the best in the world. I still think it’s the best place to live, but I watch the new “racial” prejudice, Right vs. Left, and neither gives a damn about Middle. It plays out in a similar way*, and it’s sad. Polarization is never good, and it is killing us.
I don’t get it.
* – Before anyone raises Cain about this statement, I know the two are not the same, and I don’t mean to imply that they are. However, I believe there are some strong similarities. Want to discuss that?
Does emotion trump science, or even “common” sense? 31 July 2011Posted by splait in corruption, Criminals, entitlement, Grrrrrrrrrr!, Lack of Integrity, Uncategorized.
Tags: AGW, Bad Astronomy, Climate Change, Corporate America, Dr. Roy Spencer, Finance, Financial Corporations, Forbes, Global Warming, greed, James Taylor, NASA
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There is an ongoing debate raging over climate change (GW – global warming) and whether or not human beings are effecting it to the negative. A recent article on the Fortune website by a creationist scientist (how is it even possible that that term exists?) referring to a single study saying that scientists are wrong about GW has inflamed the rhetoric tossing again on both sides of the argument. It doesn’t help that the guy who wrote the op-ed piece used inflammatory terms in his writing. He is trying to incite his readers.
The article has been deconstructed on several sites and shown to be incorrect in many places. MLB (my little brother) has written a post about it, and there have been many comments.
I posted a comment there that I am repeating here, because I think it’s important to say (at least it is to me):
“Just like in politics and customer service, those who scream the loudest win, while the rest of us (and our children) have to live with the remains of a despoiled Earth.
I’ve read several posts here which state something very similar to, “I want proof that mankind can do ANYTHING that changes this planet’s ability to sustain us.” I won’t state any science here, because I don’t have the background. However, I will say this:
Human beings have populated this planet in numbers very large compared to other beings of any comparable size, and that includes all of known history. We cut down the trees that support the life cycle required for us to live. We mistreat the soil to grow non-native plants wherever we please. We send megatons of smoke, both visible and not, into the air in great quantities in order to go from one place to another at our convenience, smoke that hinders the atmosphere and sun from doing their jobs that made this planet habitable for us in the first place.
I don’t care whether or not there’s scientific proof of whether or not humans are changing the livable environment of this planet. Anyone with any thought process that is functional should KNOW we are doing that. It can’t be otherwise, and that’s what blows me away about the statements from folk who say that climate change is hooey. How can ANYONE believe that we can pump environmentally damaging chemicals into the air, water, and land while simultaneously removing from the planet the very living things that can fight the damage we are causing (trees and other living things that turn the poisons into the air we need to live), and NOT affect our planet.
Emotion does NOT trump science. It just causes human beings to be lazy and continue on the paths we are already on, especially Americans, of which I am one. We see it in all walks of life, and we keep shooting future generations in the ass.
A perfect example of this is 09/11. People who live on hate (one of the most powerful emotions) fly planes loaded with human beings into building filled with other humans. Americans are outraged for a few months, then we start complaining about the efforts made to avoid such catastrophes in the future. Why do we do this? Simply because it inconveniences us. It really is that simple.
Financial corporations reward executives and employees who fail to do their jobs with lots of money, basically causing a global economic meltdown, and anyone who can do something about this is too scared to prosecute these criminals, so we are right back where we were just before the big fail.
How incredibly selfish we have become.
People choose not to vaccinate their kids against diseases for reasons based on a questionable study (ONE, totally discredited, study), when the odds of a child developing autism are orders of magnitude smaller than of that same child dying of the disease the vaccination prevents. How does that make any sense?
The answer is: it doesn’t. However, the reaction against vaccinations is emotional, not scientific. THAT’S the rub.
I don’t advocate that we become automatons, totally without emotions. Doing that would also wipe out humanity. It’s just a shame that we can’t control our emotions just a smidge better, so that we can use our minds properly when our emotions send us into dangerous places.
Some comments here have brought up the costs (Money? Really?) of fixing the problem without real proof that there is one. Would someone please calculate the cost to Humanity if the people who say that climate change is bunk are wrong? Why is it that we are so ready to not do anything as opposed to making a strong effort to heal our planet JUST IN CASE THE SCIENTISTS ARE RIGHT???
This debate is just so hard to understand. How can anyone support doing nothing, and delay the progress we could be making because scientists might be wrong? It seems to me we could change the global economy dramatically to the positive if we started initiatives now to reverse the damage we are causing daily. We could probably eradicate some of the afflictions (medical and financial) that have plagued us in recent centuries by making the air cleaner and healing the soil and air.
We need to stop looking at the best case scenario and focus on the worst ones. Otherwise, the worst case is what we will have.”
What do YOU think? I am open for discussion, as long as you keep it civil.
Integrity at the corporate level is totally dead 25 July 2011Posted by splait in Annoyances (me), Annoyances (others), corruption, Criminals, entitlement, Grrrrrrrrrr!, Integrity, Lack of Integrity.
Tags: Atlanta Public Schools, Beverly Hall, Madoff, Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch
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Corporate officers, especially at the CEO, CFO, COO, President, and COtB levels get paid the big bucks. For many years now, I have had a great many problems with how much they get paid, but that’s another point altogether different from what I really want to say here.
I’m pretty sure that, at least when I worked in Corporate America, the people who ran the companies were responsible for the actions that their employees took, no matter what. Of course, they were always responsible for the good stuff, the stuff that made their shareholders money. However, what ever happened to being responsible for the bad stuff?
It is interesting to hear Rupert Murdoch and his son claim that they are not responsible for their company’s current woes. I’m pretty sure that the people who tapped the phones of others illegally as they worked for the company were being paid by the company for their work. In my mind, that makes the people who run the company responsible for those illegal actions – under all circumstances.
So, fast forward back through time* to a year or so ago in Atlanta, where we first hear of a cheating scandal being exposed in the Atlanta Public School system here. The woman who ran the system, Ms. Beverly Hall, claimed (and continues to claim) she was innocent of the charges. Today, despite the evidence against her, she continues to claim that she was unaware of the problems that were going on during her watch and that she is not responsible.
Here’s the first paragraph of a press release you can still find online with her picture smiling back at us on the first page:
“When Dr. Beverly L. Hall became the 15th appointed superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) on July 1, 1999, she promised to transform the district into a world-class school system, using nationally proven reform models, facility upgrades and business operations redesign. Under her leadership, standardized test scores have risen, aging facilities have been renovated and a new blueprint for business operations is being implemented. The district’s vision is that APS will be one of the nation’s highest performing urban school systems, where 90 percent of its ninth- graders graduate from high school in four years ready for success in college or career.”
The good news is, she actually managed to accomplish a great number of those goals, as stated.
Part of the bad news is that she did it while teachers and administrators created a conspiracy of manipulation of grades and changing of test scores.
The rest of the bad news is that the local political establishment ignored the amazing results she was turning in year after year as a sign that something might be terribly wrong (shades of Bernie Madoff!), and the people who are going to pay for this are the students and their parents, as well as students and parents of the coming school years.
Ironically, when Googling “beverly hall superintendent”, the link right after the link to the press release is:
The person in charge of an organization, corporation, event, or anything else is ultimately responsible for the good AND bad stuff that comes down on their watch. We can forgive them if we wish, but that is our choice. In the old days, a Japanese man was expected to commit hari-kari if the organization he ran (it was almost always a “he”) was dishonored by anyone in the organization. Today, the Japanese only expect the COO to resign.
In the US, they often do resign, but, if they are a member of Congress or a major corporation, they not only get Platinum Parachutes, but they often get more money running some other company or, in the case of the government, they get full pensions and insurance benefits, even if they only served one term.
I went into the wrong line of work.
It’s a really hot day! Asphalt walking is not fun!! 25 July 2011Posted by splait in Annoyances (me), Annoyances (others).
Tags: Alpaharetta, Fulton County, Ga, Roswell
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My wife and I decided to go to one of the local farmers markets (FMs) in our area. We live in the northern part of Fulton County, which houses the city of Atlanta in its heart. When we got up this morning around 8am, it was in the upper 70s on the way to a predicted 95 degrees F. Last week we went to the market in Roswell, so we chose the Alpharetta city market for today.
Alpharetta’s FM used to be in a small, tree-lined parking lot just off of the main crossroads in Alpharetta. It was a bit of an obscure place, not seen from any of the main roads, but really only a block from City Hall. The problem (I assume) with the location besides being a little hard to find for first-time visitors, is that the location really didn’t provide expansion room for the market.
So the City of Alpharetta decided this year to move the FM next door to City Hall, onto a treeless asphalt lot which is much larger than the original space. There are a few more vendors than before. However, in the summertime, we, the people who go to FMs to buy fresh produce, greenly raised meats, plants, and fresh-squeezed lemonade (good stuff!), are forced to walk on this very hot pavement, totally exposed to the sun, with no place to hide from the heat! We were soaking wet with perspiration after about two minutes of our arrival.
The kicker, to me, is that the lot hasn’t been modified for planting trees! I don’t get it.
Maybe they are planning to move the market to another location in the near future. I haven’t seen or heard anything indicating that is a possibility. Planting trees at this point on that space would either be expensive (buying trees large enough to make a difference in the short term, or useless (planting smaller trees that will take years to be big enough to help).
In the meantime, my guess is that the market won’t grow larger, even though there is space for it. They probably will never generate much foot traffic there, meaning the vendors won’t be able to sell their goods as much as they’d like. Why would buyers go there?
As much as I enjoyed tasting some of the pastries and salsas for sale there, and buying a few items, the overall experience was not terribly enjoyable.
In the US, many of us are ashamed of our political system. We typically don’t get too many good choices to elect for office, especially at a national level, and we really don’t know who to vote for at the local level (city and county governments) because no one has much of a track record. So, we get what we get – incompetence, political stalemates due to the inability of the different parties to get off of their collective platforms (read: asses) enough to make a positive difference for the average citizen, a shrinking middle class because we are obligated to carry the burden of government costs, increasing poverty, and political stupidity.
We get farmers markets in the middle of a big, asphalt parking lot with no trees.
It’s a raging tragedy.
Wherein technology makes me crazy (not a strange title, just true) 26 November 2010Posted by splait in Annoyances (me), Annoyances (others), Technology, Technology Issues.
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I recently acquired an HTC Evo Droid smart phone (from Sprint). My best friend (MBF) calls it a toy, but the previous phone kept balking at performing the tasks I required of it and, like many an executive in Corporate America, it was replaced. I’ll talk more about my last phone and the very interesting places it took me in future posts. Right now I want to talk about how technology that was designed to make MY life easier has affected my mother (???)
While I was writing the previous post, apologizing for my long absence from this site, my alarm went off. You see, I went to bed last night and set my alarm for 6:30am Eastern time (GMT -5:00), but woke up around 2:30am for no apparent reason. I then neglected to shut off the alarm setting.
Hey! It happens!
As I was saying, my alarm clock (which is my phone), alarmed (there goes another noun). It was in the pocket of my pajama bottoms, so I reached in to get it.
As you probably know, most smart phones today have touch screen technology. In grabbing it out of its hiding place, I touched the screen. Within seconds of freeing my Evo from the pocket, I was able to silence the beast, but, apparently, I also touched something that caused the phone to dial the last number I called yesterday before eating a perfectly cooked turkey – my mother.
It rang twice before I could stop it. I ended the call and set the phone down, hoping I had not woken Mom, but there were two pieces of bad news – it was about 6:30am, and it HAD disturbed my mother…
…who then called me back in (I have to say it) alarm. I assured her that everything is OK and that the call was an accident. Hopefully, she was able to go back to sleep.
The touch screen technology that is so wonderful has its drawbacks. At least this phone doesn’t dial numbers while in its holster, like my last phone did. As far as I know, that phone (a series of Palm Pres – I SAID I’d discuss it later) never dialed a number at an embarrassing time (as far as I know), but it was a pain. I’d get a call later from someone saying I called but wasn’t there on the line. Not good stuff.
I don’t know of a good way to keep a touch screen phone from doing these things without causing myself other difficulties (like having to enter a password before the phone will unlock, and I don’t think that will solve this problem anyway). I just have to be as careful as I can when handling the phone.
I truly love this phone. It is the first piece of technology that comes close to helping me with keeping my life straight, and I’ve been through a lot of technology over the last twenty years trying to find something that is this effective for me. I’ve only had it a few weeks, but sometimes, you just know it’s true love at the beginning of a relationship.
So, as I told MBF, yes, it has its toy-like aspects. However, for me, its primary purpose is as a tool for my business and my personal life.
I just wish I understood why it keeps trying to look up someone name Royal Grundy in my phone list. I have no idea who that is!
The Silence of the Lions 26 November 2010Posted by splait in Uncategorized.
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I abandoned you, the people I like to chat with and share my ideas (and yours). It wasn’t you. You don’t smell funny or call me bad names (yet).
It was me.
I forgot my username and password to Word Press and had many other things on my mind, and I literally abandoned this blog for no good reason.
Anyway, I’m back. I will pick up where I left off almost 18 months ago.
I apologize, and I will make every effort to not do that again.
After all, we were (or at least I was) having fun here.
So I’ve come back to discuss those issues I run into or think about that I feel I want to change, or, at least, discuss with you, the four of you that were discoursing (another noun verbed) with me.
I will continue to create strange post titles and have fun.
My next new post starts…..now.
What’s in MY Wallet? Moths. 3 July 2009Posted by splait in Uncategorized.
I love eBay.
eBay has made it less expensive (as a businessperson) to buy the products I need for my clients and for myself. For most things I use, I can find a price on eBay that makes me happy.
In addition, eBay has made it easier to find things I want that, pre-eBay, were not easily found. Movies, books, filling in my comic collection. I can even buy whatever I am looking for from someone in Australia or England or South Africa. eBay knows no boundaries in that regard.
I hate eBay.
Ever since I was a kid, I have collected things – baseball cards, comic books, scifi books, coins, stamps, comic character figurines. I can’t tell you how many different collections of things I have had over the last 45+ years or so. There were times when I collected certain things because I was pretty certain they would have value in the future. Someone else would want my things and be willing to pay more for them from me than I paid originally so they would become their things. (Bwahaha!)
Only eBay makes it much easier for people to find the things they want now.
I took Economics in college. I know about supply and demand.
eBay didn’t change the demand, it changed the supply.
Now, if some kid wants a copy of Batman #101 (for instance), s/he just has to go to the eBay site and search for it. If there isn’t one available right now, wait a week. Someone will sell one. Or check it every day. It’s easy with the Saved Searches feature.
So, the 12,000 comic books I have in my attic aren’t worth much anymore, and that’s a bummer.
On the plus side, eBay has made it easier to sell, also. Now I have the entire world to sell to instead of just the comic buyers in Atlanta or at a comic convention.
Would I prefer to not have eBay? Nope. It’s just one of those unexpected (by me) results of progress.
You designed it to do WHAT? 1 July 2009Posted by splait in Uncategorized.
I have worked in the high technology industry for over 30 years, and it never fails to amaze (and sometimes amuse) me how a technology can be created with a purpose in mind, and then something no one expects to happen happens because of that technology.
There’s been a lot written about how Twitter has affected the political climate in Iran. It also played a pretty big role in the last Shuttle mission. Could you have predicted this if you had created Twitter? Maybe, but I doubt it.
The Internet changed how the music and book publishing industries work – shook them to the core, actually. Artists and writers that would never have seen the light of day for their works are now able to self-publish, and others, many well established as at the top of their professions are sharing some of their stuff free of charge (horrors!). Authors and artists are finding audiences for their work that they never dreamed of. Middle-men are being cut out and the creators of the art are able to keep more of the proceeds, which, IMHO, is the way it always should have been. People who create nothing shouldn’t get to get rich off of that nothing.
The Internet has provided a platform for us schlubs who want to share our thoughts with hundreds, thousands, and maybe millions of people who we will never meet and know. What a great thing!
So what’s the problem, you ask me?
There are those who hate. They have used instant communications and blogs and websites to find other disaffected individuals to spread their venom and create mayhem – even convince some to commit murder. Read this article about the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for more information.
Support the SPLC. We do.
There are also those who write malware that attack our computers with pornography and bugs that cause our operating systems to choke.
We have cell phones that let us surf the web and share pictures with each other, tweet, and post on FaceBook. Unfortunately, peer pressure and and a great deal of parental non-participation in our kids’ lives have created a monster almost impossible to control. Pandora’s newest box has been opened, and kids will no longer be the same. Why do 7-year-old kids have web-capable phones? For that matter, why do high schoolers?
Yeah, I know. I’m a communist or something.
Think about it, really – DO THEY NEED THAT TECHNOLOGY? HONESTLY?
In Carl Sagan‘s last book, Billions and Billions, he wrote on the speed of new technology development and humankind’s naivete. He was correct. Technology develops faster than our ability to cope with it. Are we humans mature enough (as a single race) to handle all this? Can and do we use the technologies at hand to make the world a better place to live, or are we just making the world a smaller and more “convenient for us” place to live?
Pick one. Both are correct. Does that make it right?
And sometimes we ignore what science is telling us, or we chose to lay the evidence out for future generations to deal with. And yet, aren’t the technology developers and users the ones responsible for maintaining the integrity of the planet and the lives of others? In other words, should they be developing technologies we really can’t handle? Who decides whether we can handle the stuff, anyway?
Are we so stupid that we are willing to continue on this path without regard for future generations, or even maybe the ones living right now?
A tough nut, truly. We are such a curious race. We want to know what’s out there and how it all works.
Billions and Billions was published in 1997. Many of the essays in it were published individually before that. Dr. Sagan calls for the countries of the world to seriously take a look at how we are damaging the planet and each other and take action before it is too late.
Silent Spring was published in 1962. Written by Rachel Carson, it was the first time anyone had written about the damage we are doing to the environment and picked up on by the general English-speaking public.
Our politicians and major corporations (and many of the masses, too) want to lay saving the planet from greenhouse gases and other pollutants on those future generations. That may be too late. Hell, it may be too late right now, although scientists believe that it’s not. However, the longer we put off getting away from fossil fuels, cutting down our forests for no reason (except money), polluting our rivers and land, and committing other general mayhem to the planet, our kids (or theirs) won’t have any place to live!
Why have we wasted 47 years? Why are we (as a race infesting this planet) so complacent? WHAT ARE WE DOING???
In my house, we recycle paper, glass and plastic as much as we can. Been doing that for years. As a technology consultant to homeowners and small businesses, I insist that all electronic equipment being replaced or just retired be recycled through me. I take them to a place that assures me that all rare earth elements, as well as any other part of the computer that can be reused is recycled, not dumped in the ground.
MBH drives a hybrid automobile, while I selected the most efficient fossil-fuel-burning small SUV as my means of transporting whatever I need for my clients. When a good hybrid comes out in the size I need, I’ll buy it, as long as I can determine that it does less harm to the planet than the one I drive now.
There are more things MBH and I can do, and as we become aware of them, we will take the responsibility on, because we know that WE ARE, EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US, RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FUTURE OF THE PLANET. We have taught our daughter what we know, and she also takes responsibility, as does her fiance (I’ll have to come up with some blog moniker for them).
What are YOU doing to repair the Earth? Let me know!
Tags: The Georgia Aquarium
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(Originally published – 06.29.2008)
Legacy Post – Come to Atlanta and see our wonderful fish! (originally published 06.29.08) 27 June 2009Posted by splait in Uncategorized.
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I worked at the Georgia Aquarium (GeAq) last Friday night. It is “the world’s most engaging aquarium exhibit”! In the summer, Friday nights are live Jazz Journeys nights, and the music is great. Also, you can buy wine and beer and carry it around with you (I bet that got some people’s attention!)