Archive for August, 2007

31
Aug
07

A minor “Hit and Run” with tragic consequences…

It never ceases to amaze me the lengths to which some people will go to avoid bearing the responsibility of their actions, as displayed by the ff article submitted by a friend:

A woman, fleeing the scene of a wreck that she was involved in, crashed her car into a tree Thursday night, killing her child, police said.

The woman, who was not identified, was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. But the boy, believed to be between 5 and 7 years old, died at the scene, said Atlanta police Officer James Polite.

Police said that minutes before the collision, the woman – who has not yet been named – was involved in a minor wreck on Jonesboro Road and Cleveland Avenue in Southeast Atlanta. – [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

You know, even though we don’t know the details of the original accident that caused this woman to decide to flee, and eventually careen out of control, it is easy to see the trail of bad decisions that got her there. First, a “Hit and run” is just plain irresponsible.

We may never know why she decided to run that day, but regardless of who is at fault, if you are involved in a traffic collision, to drive away from the scene without ascertaining the condition and well being of anyone else in the collision is just not acceptable.

But to then decide to drive your vehicle so fast that you lose control of it going round a curve with your young son in the car is just plain negligent. Plain and simple. I firmly believe that the most honest measure of our character can be seen in how we react when we are faced with difficult situations. And to be quite frank, I think this lady was of very poor character. And she paid for her bad decisions with the life of her young son.

Some people seem to think that responsibility is something that can be shucked when it is inconvenient. In fact, the opposite is true. It is at the times when it is the most inconvenient that being responsible is of the greatest value. Is is sad that such a small inconvenience had to cost so much. Had this woman understood that, her son might still be alive today…

Woman kills her child after fleeing minor wreck – [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

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30
Aug
07

What kind of kids are we raising?

I think that America, as a culture, we have started down a long slippery slope towards self imprisonment. We are stripping away from ourselves the very freedoms we hold dear. I see it every day. Even in some of the most innocuous things:

On the playground of a northern Colorado Springs elementary school, tag is not “it.”

The touch-and-run game and any other form of chasing was banned this year at Discovery Canyon Campus’ elementary school by administrators who say it fuels schoolyard disputes.

“It causes a lot of conflict on the playground,” said Assistant Principal Cindy Fesgen. In the first days of school, before tag was banned, she said students would complain to her about being chased or harassed.

Fesgen said she would hear: “Well, I don’t want to be chased, but he won’t stop chasing me, or she won’t stop chasing me.” – [The Colorado Springs Gazette]

Is this what we want our kids to do? How do we expect our kids to learn anything about people and life, if every time they run into a problem we ban it wholesale? How are they going to learn how to deal with each other? Learn how to handle people and their idiosyncracies? When will they understand that not everything is going to go our way, and that not everything is under our control?

And even worse, how do we teach those kids what they can and cannot do? How do we teach kids that you cannot harass someone just because? Banning tag isn’t going to teach that. All this teaches them is if you don’t like it, get it banned. No tolerance, no patience, no  understanding. Nothing else will be learned by this action. The playground will have one less game, and the children will have one less avenue  to learn about others and themselves.

 Nationally, several schools have done away with tag and other games because of the accidents and arguments they can lead to. It’s a trend that has rankled some parents and childhood experts who say games such as tag contribute to children’s social and physical development. – [The Colorado Springs Gazette]

Apparently, even childhood experts can see the flaw in this way of thinking. And yet we have schools, communities, cities, states and even federal legislation that allow exactly the same thing to happen on a national level. What’s the betting that this is all fueled by the same mentality? People don’t seem to be able to see the big picture. It may sound like an unlikely slippery slope, but at the rate we are going, sooner or later, we will legislate ourselves out of our own personal freedoms.

Believe it or not. Your choice. But I have seen enough insanity to tell me that it’s possible. I can only hope we either come to our senses, or I’m not around when we finally lock ourselves in and throw away the key…

Springs elementary gives tag a timeout – [Colorado Springs Gazette]

30
Aug
07

Mission NOT Accomplished…

Today, I read an article that, I think, basically confirms what I’m sure most of us already figured out.

 Congressional auditors have determined that the Iraqi government has failed to meet the vast majority of political and military goals laid out by lawmakers to assess President Bush’s Iraq war strategy, The Associated Press has learned. – [Yahoo/AP]

I’m not going to go into all that much detail about it because it’s all in the article (the link is below)  But I will say this. As an American citizen I feel that we have been mislead, lied to, and flat out treated like imbeciles, by our government. No matter how much spin you put on a deception, it is still a deception.

The fact that our president could brazenly claim “Mission Accomplished” when so many of the goals we believed he intended to achieve had not been reached, is to me, showing a lack of respect for the citizens of this great nation. We have not accomplished our mission. I say we have been party to an “Epic Fail”.

Little progress seen on Iraq goals – [Yahoo/AP]

28
Aug
07

Astronauts: First drunk, now mentally unstable?

Given the frequency with which astronauts are being found to be in substandard mental condition lately, I am beginning to think we spend more money in the technology of space flight than we do in the well being of the astronauts in whom we entrust our billion dollar technological equipment:

Former astronaut Lisa Nowak is pursuing a temporary insanity defense on charges that she assaulted and tried to kidnap a romantic rival, according to a court document released Tuesday.

Nowak suffered from major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, insomnia and “brief psychotic disorder with marked stressors,” defense attorney Donald Lykkebak wrote. He said the already-petite woman had also recently lost 15 percent of her body weight and struggled with “marital separation.”

“This notice does not challenge competence to stand trial, but only raises insanity at the time of the offense,” he wrote. – [Yahoo/AP]

You know, I realize that astronauts are human beings, and have their ups and downs. I have no problem with them having a drink, or a mental breakdown, whatever. They’re human. Where I have a problem is that it seems like the people who administer our illustrious space program doesn’t seem to have the safety of the astronauts, or even the welfare of the equipment, at heart.

How can you let a person whose blood alcohol levels were so high they would not be allowed to operate a common motor vehicle, operate a multi billion dollar spacecraft? How do you let someone who is in the throes of a depression, and clearly mentally unstable, even remain an active member of the space program? I mean aren’t there periodical mental and physical evaluations done? How do these people pass?

Ex-astronaut planning insanity defense – [Yahoo/AP]

27
Aug
07

Here Come the Fashion Police. Literally.

Every time I see a law that is centered around the way a person dresses, I cringe. I cringe because, almost every law that gets passed in relation to clothing seems to be based on someones personal conviction of what they believe to be “decent”. Here’s a typical example:

Baggy trousers that hang way below the belt and expose what the wearer has on underneath could soon be banned in the southern US city of Atlanta, a city council spokesman said Friday.

“Many youngsters are walking around with their pants way, way below their waists, and you can see everything. Some people call it a fad or a fashion statement but it is simple indecency,” Dexter Chambers, the communications director at Atlanta City Council, told AFP by phone.

And by everything, you mean what exactly?

The trend of wearing oversized trousers that fall down and expose one’s smalls derives from the US prison system.

“It started in prison, where, as I understand it, belts are taken away from inmates. But it evolved into a situation where it was used by prisoners to let others know they were ‘available,’ and it still has that sexual connotation,” Chambers said. – [Yahoo/AFP]

And this is the basis of your objections? Why do people like to look at things and then infer a meaning from it without any logical frame of reference to do so? Even if wearing your pants low around your hips in prison might mean you are sexually available, that does not mean it means the same thing out here. How can you make that kind of leap?

Is he trying to say that all of the youth running around with low slung pants are basically advertising thier sexual availability? I’m no expert, but I seriously doubt that. Why does the idea of it being a fashion fad seem so unreasonable? They are quick to deny that any similar laws are aimed at exposed bra straps and athletic bras, but what exactly is the difference? They might as well.

Who decides what the dress code of the street is supposed to be? Why is it that you can have women walking around in thong bikinis, and men in naught but a pair of speedos, and that is considered “decent” but a fully clothed man whose only fashion faux pas is that his pants are so low that his underwear is showing is an abomination?

These things make no sense. The law should not be used to enforce any indidivuals personal moral code. If the teachers don’t like it, then the schools needs to implement and enforce a dress code. The law should be used to enforce serious public safety issues. Not social dress code.

US city planning ban on low-slung baggy pants – [Yahoo/AFP]

26
Aug
07

The signs of successful terrorism. Or irrationality. You decide.

I keep running into stories that either prove that terrorism has truly changed our way of life, or that people aren’t particularly familiar with Occams razor.

Two people who sprinkled flour in a parking lot to mark a trail for their offbeat running club inadvertently caused a bioterrorism scare and now face a felony charge.

Umm,… OK…

New Haven ophthalmologist Daniel Salchow, 36, and his sister, Dorothee, 31, who is visiting from Hamburg, Germany, were both charged with first-degree breach of peace, a felony.

The siblings set off the scare while organizing a run for a local chapter of the Hash House Harriers, a worldwide group that bills itself as a “drinking club with a running problem.”

“Hares” are given the task of marking a trail to direct runners, throwing in some dead ends and forks as challenges. On Thursday, the Salchows decided to route runners through the massive IKEA parking lot.

Sounds innocent enough to me…

Mayoral spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said the city plans to seek restitution from the Salchows, who are due in court Sept. 14.

“You see powder connected by arrows and chalk, you never know,” she said. “It could be a terrorist, it could be something more serious. We’re thankful it wasn’t, but there were a lot of resources that went into figuring that out.” – [Yahoo/AP]

Riiiiiight. Basically what they are insinuating is that, were your average international terrorist, bent on distributing a biological agent to the largest possible group of random people in the USA, would make sense that I pour the distribution agent out in a neat trail through an IKEA parking lot, with and use chalk arrows to indicate for the obviously stupid Americans the best places to contaminate themselves…

I am going nuts here! Am I just really stupid? (Don’t answer that. Please.) Am I missing something? Does this sound plausible to anyone? And then we have the City planning to request restitution? For what? The chalk? The flour? Being paranoid? And exactly what resources were be required to figure out that flour and chalk does not a biological agent make? Especially given that the one who put it there came and told you himself?

Obviously someone panicked. And because of that persons fear, Dr. Salchow and his sister are facing felony charges. For pouring flour in an IKEA parking lot. How stupid is that? Knowing how this happened, how could anyone justify charging these people with a felony? And even more ridiculous, how can the city hold them liable for their over-reaction?

If every time we see a shadow, a forgotten lunch box, a broke down car in a parking lot, discarded groceries, etc we cry “Terrorists!”, then the terrorists have achieved their goal. To make us into a whimpering, frightened, paranoid and internally unstable country. I don’t know which is worse. The fact that people don’t seem to want to think rationally anymore, or that the terrorists may have already gotten what they wanted all along.

Running club members face felony charges – [Yahoo/AP]

23
Aug
07

Kids NEED discipline and guidance people…

I frequent a number of social help sites and message boards. I do it to help me understand people better. I do learn a lot, but I am constantly struck by how often people tend to confuse issues. Especially when it comes to raising kids. Like spanking. And discipline. Or never learn important life lessons for themselves.

I am all about letting kids learn to be their own person, but they need somewhere to start. A good framework to base their character on. If you want them to become positive, productive members of society, they need to be taught values/ethics and morals. They cannot learn these things on their own.

I have been quite vocal on this blog about the problems of society in general being the result of a lack of parental child raising discipline. Or, even worse, the parents teaching kids the wrong lessons. The results of this is all around us. And the evidence is equally salient. Here are a couple of examples:

A 12-year-old British boy appeared in court Wednesday charged with assault for throwing a sausage at a pensioner, police said.

Hmm. Odd… Let’s read on…

The youth, who can’t be named, was arrested after a 74-year-old man reported him to police for throwing a stone in Manchester, northern England.

The object turned out to be a cocktail sausage.

“Charging was the only option because the boy had previously been issued with three reprimands on separate occasions,” a Greater Manchester Police spokeswoman said.

OK, this kid obviously has issues. What was even more disturbing to me was the way this kids mother responded to all of this:

The boy’s mother described the decision to charge her son as “an absolute joke,”

The boy’s mother said her son was worried he might be sent to prison. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Now it may just be me, but it sounds like this kids mother is more worried about the penalties her son may face, rather than the fact that on 4 separate occasions (including this latest instance), her son has acted in an undisciplined and inappropriate manner? Didn’t she feel the need to discipline her child for that behavior? How about making him apologize to the pensioner? How about being a parent?

This kid is in court because he is unruly and inconsiderate. Or more likely, his mom has let him become that way. He is NOT in court because he threw a cocktail wiener at an old guy. Perhaps it is extreme to have to go to court for being a rambunctious kid, but if you’ve had the police called on you 4 times already, then obviously something has to be done.

I realize that there are cases where discipline is difficult, and I can only speculate on what is happening in that household, but from what I’ve read, I think MOM should be in court. Much better motivation to discipline her kid. Or not. But at least that way, when she shows up in court, it will be because she made the conscious decision to let her son do whatever he wants, and is willing to bear the consequences of both of their actions.

If I had done that to my Mom, she would have been mortified! She probably would have handed me over to the police herself! The thing is, the very first time I did something like that, I would have been severely disciplined. Regardless of whether it was a spanking, being disallowed to go hang out with my friends, no pocket money that week, whatever, I would have been taught that what I had done was wrong. It doesn’t matter what specific method was used, I would have learned not to do it again.

Instead, this kids mom probably defends everything he does, and he is now in court. He probably still doesn’t truly realize that what he did was wrong. What’s even worse is that he may still get off because he is a juvenile. Saddest of all, is the possibility that he will never learn anything from the experience because his mom will probably tell him that none of this was justified, and that he has been victimized by the authorities.

His antisocial behavior will continue, now with an added hatred for the police, and any/all authority figures. And when he finally grows up and decides to join some criminal organization, and a pursue a life of crime his mom will spend many a sleepless night asking herself where she went wrong raising him… Or not. She may keep cheering him on regardless. And yet we wonder why our kids are so jacked up…

Here’s another example, a worse scenario, with a rather blatant display of parental ignorance:

A mother and father are facing charges they encouraged their 13-year-old daughter to fight another girl. Debra Sue Grubb, 33, is charged in Kanawha County Magistrate Court with misdemeanor battery after allegedly forcing her daughter Gabrielle to fight 14-year-old Megan Willis near the Grubbs’ home on Aug. 15, Trooper J.M. Comer said Wednesday.

Are you kidding me? I could understand a parent telling their kid to stand up for, or defend themselves against bullying, but this?

At one point, Grubb allegedly grabbed her daughter by the arm and used her daughter’s body as a weapon to knock Megan to the ground.

Thomas Leon Grubb, 35, is charged with misdemeanor assault. Comer said Grubb is accused of threatening to harm two boys who were with Megan if they tried to break up the fight.

“It turned into a mess,” Comer said. “The two parents allowed this to happen when it should have been handled by the parents.”
– [Yahoo/AP]

You know, I almost don’t even know what to say about this. Obviously these parents never learned that violence is not the solution for everything. In fact it sounds like the kids may have been better off without their involvement. Much like the irate cussing YouTube parent I talked about before, the problem here is that even the parents don’t know any better. The only thing that might save the kids is if they end up being more intelligent than their parents, and figure this out on their own.

Then I run across parents on the message boards I was taking about earlier asking how to get their kids to do things like chores, dishes, cleaning, homework, even their own freakin’ laundry… It amazes me… Parents, your kids need discipline. The whole spanking /non-spanking issue is stupid. It’s in your head. Spanking is only abuse if you use it to vent your frustration. When used correctly, it is a tool, just like any other. And there are many of them. Use your head. Use what you know will work. Try a bunch of different things.

Just use them correctly. You can still psychologically abuse a child if you misuse a non-physical punishment. Do not punish out of anger, or out of frustration, or out of weariness or fear. Use these tools for discipline. To teach important life lessons. To teach them to be considerate of others. To be good human beings. Kids need this in order to become healthy adults. Do not deny them that opportunity.

Boy in court for throwing sausage – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Parents accused of encouraging fight – [Yahoo/AP]




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