Thursday, April 30, 2009

effective, but it doesn't matter

I just watched a news program where torture was the topic of discussion. The CIA type answering questions said it was effective, and the people being tortured weren't Americans so it didn't matter. WRONG.

The question isn't whether torture is effective. It might be. It might produce the best results in the shortest amount of time. BUT IT DOESN'T MATTER.

The question isn't whether torture is effective; it's whether it's the right thing to do, under any circumstance. And the answer is a resounding NO. It is never the right thing to do. It is a terrible action under all circumstances. You may still choose to do it -- people choose to do bad things all the time. But you also choose to accept the consequences of doing this wrong action.

Torture does not have a place in a civilized nation. Period. No question.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

that time of year again

It's that time of year again. The "I need this like I need a hole in the head" time of year. Yup -- it's term-paper time. Except this time, I have two papers due. So, I am writing about world-building in science fiction film, and civil rights and marriage for justice class.

I don't know why I never start earlier. And why I never have a clear grasp of what I am going to say. And why I never make enough time for research, or proof reading. I repeat the same mistakes over and over, without ever really improving my habits.

Perhaps I am addicted to procrastination. It works so well for me in my work life. If I wait long enough, projects tend to disappear as needs change. Or I would have spent weeks on something, only to have to re-do it a few months later because of new needs. While it works for me in some areas, clearly it is not working for me in others.

I think though, that habits are fairly difficult to change the longer you have had them. And this one has been with me for most of my life.

Oh well, I will work on it. Next year.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

money confusion

America is seriousl f*ed up about money. Yet again, a father has murdered his entire family, and then killed himself. Over financial troubles. He was in financial difficulties, which would have come to light very shortly. He just couldn't face being broke, and he couldn't face telling his family what he had done.
Earlier this week, another father did the same thing. Same reason.
WTF??? We seriously need to look at values and get over our love affair with money.

If you are broke, you are broke. Not a lesser being. Not worthless. Just broke. If you can't live in a 2 million dollar house, don't. It doesn't mean you are not worth anything in the eyes of the world. Money is nice. It isn't everything. If you need help, say so. To everyone, anyone. And stop judging yourself by an artificial yardstick of financial success.

Some folks don't have a roof over their heads. They don't get enough to eat. Help them when you can, and take help when you are in the same boat. There is a reason other people are in this world with you. To help and be helped. We are in this together, truly.

When a person can get several million dollars a year for dribbling a basketball, and a teacher can change the lives of hundreds of kids for less than $50K a year, it becomes clear that there is little real worth attached to income. If you were to lose everything, absolutely everything, you would still be alive, breathing, getting a chance to move around in this world. Priceless. If you had nothing, you would still be the owner of this most amazing gift of life. Don't squander it, and don't steal it from others.

Monday, April 20, 2009

a wee bit of a rant

OK. The weather is crappy, and it's Monday, and I am feeling pressured on all sides. So of course, things are bugging me today. I am mostly irked about the casual attitude people have toward bills and debt.

Where we live, a beloved local institution is in foreclosure. The postings and letters about this event are beginning to really tick me off. Apparently the bank is considered the bad guy in this transaction for asking for its money. They have worked with the business owner for YEARS and YEARS, extending deadlines, extending new lines, doing basically everything a bank can do to help the man out. And now they want payment. I don't find this unreasonable. Banks lend money, with terms, as a buisness transaction. They do not lend money to support the community. They do not lend money because they are "nice guys". And you wouldn't want them to. Banks would fail, and everyone would be in worse shape.

A loan is a CONTRACT. You are obligated to pay it back. If you put up collateral, you do so with the expectation that the bank can take that collateral if you don't pay your bills. It is sad when things go wrong, and people have a business fail, or lose their homes. But unless the bank was deceptive or fraudelent (not the case in this instance), or you were congenitally incapable of executing a contract, really, you can't blame the bank, and yes, you still owe the money. The bank should not "forget about it". That's how banks fold.

Item #2 on my list of peeves today. People are up in arms in the city because they are being hit with late fees for parking tickets. If you get a ticket, you can pay it, or you can go to court and appeal it. That's the law. If you don't pay your ticket for a few years, and you are aware you got a ticket, you owe fines and penalties. Also the law. It is not the city's fault that you decided not to pay, and now your $21 ticket is $620... that's the law. If you felt you got the ticket in error, it says right on it that you have x days to appeal. So appeal it, if you think you shouldn't have gotten it. Don't ignore it, and then whine about penalties.

Item #3 on my list, and it's the last one. Do not WHINE about your taxes and then take advantage of every government program in existence. If you don't want to pay taxes -- don't take any services. You can't have it both ways. I'm not saying taxes aren't wasted. That's what voting is about, and what representation is for. Don't like how things are going? Protest, write your congressman, VOTE.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

the beauty around us

Today we went to the McKeldin area of the Patapsco River Valley State Park. We hiked the switchback trail, a 4 mile trail that winds through the hills and valley near the river. It was rated moderate, meaning that in my current slothful state, it was very difficult. But oh so worth it.

We could hear the river gurgling. The first green plants were coming up in the marsh areas. We saw deer bounding through the woods. The turtles were out sunning themselves. The canada geese are nesting, and tried to drive us away with their honking. It was warm, 75 degrees and sunny.

Beautiful, beautiful.