Saturday, October 09, 2010

3123 Bullying

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Americans are benevolently ignorant about Canada,
while Canadians are malevolently well informed about the United States."
-- J. Bartlett Brebner --


There was a discussion of bullying on the radio today. All of the participants said that they had suffered some degree of bullying in school. One said that schools are trying to address it, but are having difficulty defining bullying. Is it physical only? Does it include mental and emotional? In person or online, too?

I have no difficulty defining bullying. It is any action whatsoever, in any shape, form, or forum, taken with the sole purpose of hurting another person, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or socially.

(Of course there are things that must be done that result in hurt to another, like firing an employee or breaking up with a lover, but that's not bullying because there's a larger purpose. The hurt is not the primary motive, it's an incidental byproduct.)

I never experienced bullying in school. I don't know why. Maybe I went to school in an innocent time? Maybe the schools I attended, and there were many, from the deep south to the far north, were populated by nicer people? It certainly wasn't because I was one of the popular kids, although I wasn't invisible, either. Maybe I was too dense to recognize it or too numb to suffer from it? If there was ever any bullying, it came from the occasional teacher who was threatened by my questions.

I think Daughter did experience bullying. She complained of nasty kids on the school bus. I figured that if I attempted to do anything about it, that would make it worse. I do still feel guilty about that.

I don't understand at all why people bully others. I really truly don't. You get the response that "they feel inadequate and picking on weaker kids makes them feel more powerful", but that sounds too simple and doesn't really explain it. Why do they feel inadequate? Even people who feel themselves inadequate can have compassion, can't they?

The stupid kids pick on the smart ones. The poorer kids pick on the better-off ones. The fashionable kids pick on the less with-it kids. The good looking kids pick on the less beautiful ones. Some of those kids seem to have the attitude that other kids who aren't just like them don't deserve to breathe. Where does this attitude come from?

I think it starts in the home. It's not just what they are taught or not taught, but also what they have seen and heard from the day they were born.

I think we've got some nasty parents out there. Gossiping. Competition. Nasty talk. Hate. Intolerance. The kids who see, hear, sense that every day will be deeply influenced by it. If we are ever to cure bullying, we have to start with the parents.

....The current political climate isn't helping.

3122 Cats and Bats

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The wise person knows whose words carry weight and whose words are weights to carry.


This is a cute cat-think post:

Thursday, October 07, 2010

3121 The Mensa Disease #2, and Insurance Woes

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to
learn from the experience of others,
are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
-- Douglas Adams --


Back in the spring of 2008 I wrote a post about The Mensa Disease, my view. I still get a few search hits on it. You know, I think people looking for "the Mensa disease" actually want information on Asperger's Syndrome. Try searching for that, folks.


I was supposed to go out for dinner this evening, but had to cancel because of a crisis involving insurance on the new house. Surprise, surprise - almost no New Jersey insurer will cover a house within one mile of tidal water. The new house is a block from Raritan Bay.

I hoped I could use the same insurer as Daughter and Hercules, but their policy has special eligibility requirements - you have to have worked for the state of New Jersey, or for one of the insurance co-op's subscribing companies. I'm not eligible.

I spent much of the afternoon on the phone talking to agents, all of whom said goodbye when they found out where the house is. I finally found a guy who was able to get me a quote. He said it would be very expensive because I'd need a special risk policy. After he plugged in all the info, he said it would be slightly less than $1,000, with a company called Coastal Agents Alliance. Never heard of them. Found their website, but can't find ratings on them. They were formed especially to insure coastal properties.

I'll stop in his office tomorrow and sign whatever I need to.

I didn't ask whether that quote was for six months or a year. If it's a year, it's LESS than I'm paying now for insurance on this house, which is 2 miles from the nearest river, and several hundred feet above it. If it's for six months, it's $600 a year more than I'm paying now.

This is all getting very stressful.

I'm to meet with the builder tomorrow for the pre-closing walkthrough. I am very very VERY unhappy with the quality of the finish work on the house. Frankly, a lot of it looks worse than amateur. I have a lot of issues, and I'm not very good at diplomacy. Unless he commits in writing to fixing certain things, I may have to invoke the 3-week notice clause in the contract, and delay closing until the lawyers hammer it out.

3120 Disability and resentment

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running.
-- Groucho Marx --


Becs commented on my Clint Eastwood post #3117 - "...the big kerfuffle about making his Carmel hotel accessible to people in wheelchairs. His reply to the request was something along the lines of 'Why don't they all just die like they're supposed to?'".

I feel like I have to respond to that. His attitude has been misrepresented, probably to sell Mary Johnson's book, Make Them Go Away; Clint Eastwood, Christopher Reeve, and the Case Against Disability Rights. The title of the book is purposely inflammatory, and makes it sound like the sentiment comes from Eastwood and Reeve. It doesn't.

You can read the first few pages of the book at Eastwood comes across a lot better than the book title would imply, making it seem unlikely that he actually expressed a "die" sentiment. His argument was not against disability rights, but against the lawyers that file discrimination cases against small businesses without warning. Most of these cases are settled out of court, paying off the lawyer. They amount to extortion. Note that in those cases, the disabled person, under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), cannot win any award - only the lawyers get paid if they win! (Note also that Eastwood's hotel had installed handicap restrooms before the ADA.)

Eastwood's actual comment was that the lawyers drive away from the lawsuit in Mercedes, and the disabled person drives off in a wheelchair.

Eastwood decided to fight the lawsuit because he can afford to, where most small businesses cannot and are forced to pay inflated "legal fees" in the face of the threat of fabulously expensive litigation. He also took his campaign to Washington, NOT to overturn the ADA, of which he approves, but to make changes in the law to stop legal extortion on the basis of the ADA and create fairness.

(BTW - the lawsuit itself had problems. There is some question that the woman had ever actually been to the hotel. There is some suspicion that the lawyer conceived of the suit, and went shopping for a client. Kinda like most class action suits - where the lawyers decide to bring a suit, advertise for clients, collect a gazillion dollars in an out-of-court settlement, and the clients get $2 each.)

So if Eastwood wished death on anyone, it was probably the lawyers, not the handicapped.


Heard on the radio yesterday: New Jersey has decided to allow medical marijuana, BUT will allow only two producers, and only four dispensaries in the entire state. In other words, yeah, you can get it, but we're going to make it next to impossible to do so.

The people on the radio show seemed to think that New Jersey wanted to avoid the problems in California, where you can go to a storefront "doctor", who will diagnose glaucoma and give you a prescription, for a price. Their conclusion is that it's the abusers who make it difficult for the people who really need it, and that the state should strengthen regulation of the prescriptions, and relax the distribution.

Yeah, I agree.

And I think it's the same with those blue cards you hang from the windshield mirror that allows you to park in handicap spaces. Those need to be better regulated.

I'm especially sensitive to that because when Jay was in a wheelchair, I needed a van-accessible space to get the ramp down, and too many times, drivers who didn't need those spaces were in them.

Piper and I went somewhere a few months ago, and when we parked, he pulled into a handicap space, and pulled one of those cards out of the glove compartment and casually hung it on the mirror. I totally freaked. I shouted, "No! Don't you dare!" He's not disabled, spends time on the treadmill every day. I made him take it down and move. I told him I'd walk home before I'd get back in the car if he didn't take it down. He said he had it from his heart surgery - which I know was more than seven years ago, probably more like ten. Sheesh. When Jay died, I threw the card away. I had never used it when he wasn't in the van.

There was another incident a few weeks ago. A group of us went on a hike. One of the women in the car I was in is very heavy. When we arrived at the park, she told the driver to park in a handicap space, and hung the blue card on the mirror. I didn't object, because, well, she's huge, maybe breathing problems, maybe knee problems. I assumed she would not be going on the full hike. And then, having parked in a handicap space, she walked the full trail, probably almost three miles. Turns out the card was from her knee surgery, a few years ago.

I consider that abuse! It's been bothering me ever since. It pisses me off. I wish I had said something.


There's nothing wrong with accommodation, or with laws that provide accommodation, but it's the abuse of laws that makes people resent that accommodation.

3119 Do radio talk show people have no friends?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
-- Lao Tzu --


This article made me laugh - It says a study from the University of Colorado, Denver, has found that people "unfriend" others on Facebook for:

Harping/ranting about the same things over and over
Talking about politics
Talking about religion

What cracked me up was their observation that these are the same things that will get you a radio show.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

3118 Wow!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A baby is born with a need to be loved - and never outgrows it.
-- Frank Howard Clark --


I've had over 100 hits today on post number 3116, a few from people searching for the problem statement, but most from Europe, Asia, Australia, and South Africa coming in on a link from some forum. I wasn't able to go to the forum to find out what they're saying about my poor post, it requires approved registration and login. No one is leaving comments, and that's frustrating. I'd love to know what they find so fascinating.



I loaded a rolled-up queen-sized futon mattress and 10 plastic storage containers filled with silk saris and too-big clothes that I intend to sell into Fred yesterday, and I'm heading down to the storage facility today.

The Man asked how many of these moving stuff down trips I expect to make, and I answered, "Two or three million."

I'm already feeling overwhelmed, but I am very pleased that so far, my back is behaving well.

3117 HOTW - Clint Eastwood

Wednesday, October 5, 2010

"Nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as real strength."
-- Ralph W. Sockman or Saint Francis de Sales, take your pick --


Today's Honey of the Week is another older man who seems to have gotten sexier with age. I'd never much cared for the younger Clint Eastwood. There was something too tight and dismissive about him. No connection in the eyes. No way in.

The older Clint has become softer, more accessible. Rent or borrow 2008's "Gran Torino", and you'll see what I mean.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

3116 Wrong

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Men are like fine wine. They start out as grapes, and it's up to the women
to stomp the crap out of them until they turn into something
acceptable to have dinner with.
-- Dave Barry --


This is from Fail Blog, and my head is still reeling. Fail Blog posts are usually funny (mostly in a Juvenal Three Stooges way), but this one is more frightening than funny.

The test question is, "It took Marie 10 minutes to saw a board into 2 pieces. If she works just as fast, how long will it take her to saw another board into three pieces?"

The student answered 20 minutes. The teacher (I assume it was the teacher, if it were anyone else they would have been working from the teacher's answer key, anyway) red-penciled it wrong, explaining that if 2 pieces take 10 minutes, then 3 pieces take 15, and 4 take 20 minutes.


This reminds me of when my youngest sister was in high school in Florida (pre-internet days) and I was living in Gettysburg, Pa. She sent me a desperate letter asking for battlefield postcards. Her history teacher was teaching them that Gettysburg was in Virginia. Little sister told her that Gettysburg was in Pennsylvania, and that maybe she meant Fredericksburg, Virginia, where there was also a battle. The teacher got angry at her, refused to believe her, insisted that THE Gettysburg is in Virginia. "Maybe there's a Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, but that's not where the turning point was, and the "Four score..." speech. That was in Virginia."

Little sister didn't know what to do about the Civil War unit test.

Ok, sometimes teachers can be wrong. They're human, too. I just get crazy when they refuse to admit the possibility that they may be wrong.


Later --- Within minutes of hitting "publish" for this post, I had almost a dozen search hits, people looking for Marie and her saw. Sheesh. I hope people weren't looking for the correct answer!

[For any confused souls out there, the correct answer is 20 minutes. One CUT takes 10 minutes, so two CUTS will take 20 minutes. The number of resulting pieces isn't what takes the time, it's the cutting that takes the time, and she makes two cuts at 10 minutes each to produce three pieces. Ok?]


Oct. 6 - Wow! Somebody has apparently linked to this post in some forum, and I'm getting a bazillion hits from there. I can't see what was said in the forum, because it requires registration, so if any visitors would like to tell me in a comment (anonymous or a made-up name is fine, and Blogger doesn't give me access to the email address) why this post is so fascinating, why people are visiting, what they're saying in the forum, I'd appreciate it very much. Thank you for any info.

Monday, October 04, 2010

3115 Progress!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that
a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.
-- Dave Barry --


This weekend it occurred to me that I was going to need a storage unit near the new house, because without a basement.... And if I had a storage unit now, I could start moving stuff down. So I looked up storage facilities in the area, and today I went down and looked at some.

The closest to the house doesn't have 10x10s inside, and since I'll be storing mostly fabric, I'd worry about humidity and mildew. The next closest, about 12 minutes away, has a nice clean 10x10 unit inside on the second floor, with heat and A/C, and inside loading/unloading bays, so I rented it. I'll move the first load of stuff down on Wednesday.

Then when I got home, I found an email from my lawyer, Mr. L.

In its entirety, and exactly as written by his secretary:



ELLIE FOR MR. L[xxxxxxx]
Duh. I suppose I'll find out where, what time, and what checks I have to bring, in what amounts, made out to whom, sometime in the next week, eh?

I assume.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

3114 Lack of brainwashing can be bad, too.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold
two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time,
and still retain the ability to function."
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald --


I just got a Google search hit from someone in England searching for "older woman who likr to sniff other womans panties"[sic]. Sheesh! That's worse than getting hits for toe porn!


There was a liberal gathering in Washington yesterday. Conservatives are snorting because it was smaller than Glenn Beck's gathering a few weeks ago.

Well, hey! We heard about Beck's do for weeks beforehand. I hadn't heard or read one peep about yesterday's gathering until it was over. What the hey? Why the silence?

My tin hat is tingling again.


Everyone by now has heard about the suicide of the Rutgers student after his roommate broadcast his assignation on the internet. We've heard a lot about the victim, but very little about the roommate. Campus vigils are being held for the victim, but there's no word about (other than charges against) the camera boy. How are other students treating him?

As to the causes and cautions, there's a lot of talk about internet abuses of privacy, and how kids don't understand privacy issues, and how somehow it's the fault of the rapid expansion of internet socializing.

I don't see it that way, especially after thinking about the mind control stuff from the last post. Simply not understanding about privacy issues results in things like a kid putting an embarrassing photo that they think is funny on Facebook, without realizing that once there, it can be copied and circulated forever, even if they later delete it.

There is a larger problem in this case, and that seems to be a total lack of ethics, empathy, compassion, and caring. It's not just not understanding what you shouldn't put on the net - it's also understanding WHY some things just aren't appropriate. What goes on in the FLDS is active brainwashing. What that kid at Rutgers suffered from is passive brainwashing. Somewhere along the line, he was given NO ethical education, NO empathetic sensitivity training, NO lessons in compassion. It's just missing.

I'm seeing a lot of that, everywhere in the youth, and not just the youth. Take a look at power structures, including corporations and Congress. As the FLDS children learn their roles from their parents, so our youth learn their morals from our society.

That scares me.

3113 Mind control

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A person who is nice to you but rude to a waiter is not a nice person.
(This is very important. Pay attention. It never fails.)
-- Dave Barry --


The green quote above is very true. The current object of my affections is not only polite to all service people, but downright friendly. The previous guy was unnecessarily, and it turns out prophetically, nasty.


TV is on in the background. PBS. Discussion of a report on mammogram effectiveness for various age groups. I just heard a statement that strikes me as stupid. The expert said that treatment for stage 1 and 2 breast cancer has become so effective that early detection is no longer a goal.

Wait, what?

I translate that as, "We do such a good job with stage 1 and 2, let's wait until it's stage 3 before we bother trying to detect it."

There's something very wrong with that conclusion. I did not misunderstand. It was so startling when I heard it that I turned and paid attention. Please tell me I'm wrong.


I just finished reading Escape, by Caroline Jessop, who was one of the several wives of Merril Jessop, a leader of the polygamous Fundamental LDS sect. She escaped the sect with her eight children, and wrote of her life in the cult.

I figure one has to take some of what she says with some salt. It's her view, her experiences, from her viewpoint, and is probably colored by her own emotions - just like blog posts and all personal stories. As one learns in mediation training, you might get three different and conflicting versions of a story, but each version is absolutely true to the teller. It is often our own prejudices that lead us to believe one story over another. (Keep that in mind next time you're inclined to believe some juicy bit of gossip. What you believe says more about you than about the subject of the gossip.)

However, I absolutely believed the background of her story, the beliefs that lead to the control of the people in the sect. I don't know enough about mainstream LDS to know how much the FLDS beliefs differ, beyond the polygamy thing, but the degree of isolation, brain-washing, and mind control in the FLDS was amazing. That things were accepted as "right" with no thought or question was amazing to me.

Men in the after life become gods. They are given a kingdom in Heaven. A woman gets to Heaven only by being taken there by her husband. If he chooses not to take her, she will go to eternal torment in Hell. So she must please him at all times or suffer the consequences.

A woman is assigned as wife to a man. She has no choice. Who she is assigned to is determined by the Prophet, from a revelation from God, so who is she to question it? She can be taken from him and assigned to another man on the whim of, oops, on "revelation" to, the Prophet. She is a commodity.

The duty of a woman is to obey her husband, to be in "harmony" with him without question, and to have babies. She has no right to refuse her husband anything. What others might consider submission to rape is merely expected of her.

When there are multiple wives in this situation (and of course there always are), and the husband has absolute control over a wife's fate in this life and in the afterlife, competition and jealousy is inevitable. The favorites are assured. A wife at the bottom of the totem pole is in danger, both in this life and the next. Women higher up on the pole could not only punish her, but her children, so she needed to please them, too. (I have seen in my own family what can happen when there's competition to be the favorite to escape punishment or curry favor. To escape my father's violence, my siblings would gleefully throw each other under my father's fists. If he's beating up on someone else, he's not beating up on them.)

The women had cars, but the cars had no plates, so if they left the community, the police would stop them, and they'd be returned to their husbands. Inside the community, the police were members of the sect, so there was no point in a wife reporting beatings of herself or the children. But it wouldn't occur to them to report anything anyway. That's the way things were supposed to be. A woman who so much as questioned her husband was seen as being "in rebellion", not being "in harmony", and she deserved punishment and correction which it was her husband's duty to provide. If it didn't suit a husband to believe anything a wife told him, truth or not, she would be punished for telling lies. A sick child or a difficult birth is God's punishment and proof that she is out of harmony.

Teenage boys may be kicked out, totally unprepared for the outside world, when women got scarce. Very young women were "assigned" as the tenth, twentieth, or thirtieth wife of very old men.

I've used the past tense here, but it's not past. It's now. Remember a few years ago, when a polygamous sect was raided by the Texas CPS? The women with the 40s hairstyles, and pastel pioneer dresses, and soft high voices that insisted everything was just wonderful? That's the group. The husband of Carolyn, the author of the book, is now the (disputable) leader of that group.

It strikes me that the women are nothing more than slaves, property, and brood mares. Some people might read the book and think, "Well, it's their own fault. *I*'d never stand for that! Seems like if a man mistreated 10 wives, he'd be likely to wake up dead some morning."

That's where the mind control, brainwashing, indoctrination comes in. Girl children are taught from birth that the ONLY way to Heaven is through the approval of their husbands or fathers. The only alternative is eternal Hell. Children are taught that the outside world is filled with sin, that everyone is infected by the devil, that there will be a time of war between themselves and the sin-filled world, but if they are faithful, God will save them. That all the outside world hates them, the righteous, and wants to destroy them. Periodic CPS raids only reinforce this.

I read the book filled with anger and despair. CPS takes the children, and then returns them because they want to go back, because they are deathly afraid of the evil outside, cannot trust anyone. The devil can be very sneaky. The women say everything is just fine, because they don't know any better, and to say otherwise risks the lives of themselves and their children in this life, and their own salvation later.

Now, is this a religion? I don't know what the technical definition of religion is. How does a religion differ from a system of philosophy, ethics, morality? It's not the existence of a god. There are generally recognized religions, particularly eastern religions, without gods.

It seems to me that many if not most religions have been perverted by men, for the purpose of acquisition of personal power, and the subjugation and control of others. (Of course, dear reader, I'm not referring to your particular choice of belief. Yours is fine. So no blasts, please.) I think Jesus would take one look at what passes for religion these days, and kick them all out.