Monday, August 25, 2008

The Olympics are over, but it was quite a show!

Well we were mesmerized by record breakers Michael Phelps and Usaine Bolt (am I the only one who can't get over how great his name is?), and we have heard about the controversies. Will we ever find out if China's gymnasts are really of age? Should Kobe Bryant have been allowed to help us win the gold in basketball? The list goes on and on, but I just wanted to post a link that I found very interesting on Digg, and yes, again it has to do with Jon Stewart (contrary to what you may think from my last entry, I do think he's brilliant).

Here are the top 8 Best Daily Show Olympic moments. (My favorite is the Anti-Olympic update)

Friday, August 15, 2008

C'mon Jon

Ok so I forgot to mention yesterday that the very day I posted about the American media's perspective of China, Jon Stewart had a "Special Olympics" episode (yes, there's a joke in there somewhere). 
I usually think Jon Stewart is very funny and has some great wisecracks. But it got too be a little much when Jon started talking about China's woman gymnastics team and the age controversy. 

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Yes, these women look young. And maybe it is possible that they are not 16, which is the age you need to be eligible to 
participate in the Olympics. But the next comment by Stewart was unnecessary to say the least:

"We have to take these young girls out of this sweatshop type gymnast life and put them where they belong. Real sweatshops!
But don't worry- it will still be gymnastics related, they'll be making gym shoes for our American kids to wear."

Ouch. Now I don't agree with China's politics or government in any way, but I do feel bad for the crap they are taking.
At least Jon was decent enough to follow the statement up with "But American kids will just quit gymnastics because it's

Yikes. What's a world without stereotypes though, right?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rap isn't such crap with a message like this

Usually I am not a huge fan of rap, mainly because I prefer the lyrics and message of other types of music.
But this one caught my and the nation's attention...'Handlebars' by Flobots is the story of two young friends
who part ways. One goes the corporate route (The 'C' stands for corporate greed and power), and eventually 
becomes a dictator obsessed with power (they compare him to Hitler, and some say Bush in a more subtle
way). The other goes the way of the dove, or peace and lives a humble life. He tries to overcome his old 
friend and what he has done- but in the end, finds that it is a lost cause. Talk about reality.

Check it out.

Is the media being a bit biased towards China?

First of all I just want to make a correction on my last blog posting- UWM does get the U-Pass, I was misinformed by someone who was obviously misinformed!
But anyway.

Every time I turn to CNN or log on to different news sources, I feel like I am hearing about some new scandal going on in Beijing. And yes, I understand the U.S. is quite bitter about the Summer Olympics being held in a nation whose policies we do not agree with- and no, I am not saying I do agree with them. But isn't the media doing some over-reporting on this one? 

Just yesterday, people were "boiling over" in regards to a nine-year-old Chinese girl who apparently lip synched the anthem, because the girl singing did not have the stage presence necessary. They are calling her the Milli Vanilli of China. People are saying we cannot trust China because of this. Maybe we can't trust China- but because of this? That is just absurd.

Then there was the killing of Todd Bachman, an American tourist killed at a popular tourist site in Beijing by an assailant who afterwards jumped to his death. Obviously this man was a lunatic, but is the media possibly trying to portray him as a representation of all of China, and their hostile feelings towards us? Is it a tragedy? Yes, of course it is. But we are purposely trying to taint China's reputation by the way we report these incidents. 

CNN also included an article on The Daily Show's Rob Riggle, who traveled to China and felt the atmosphere was intimidating at times. Guess I'd have to go there to really find out, but I won't be able to do that. Here's the next best thing from The Daily Show. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Desert Oil

So today I looked at my tuition bill and something that has been pissing most of the nation off for a few months now has become even more real to me. It becomes clear that the world revolves around GAS not money like we all previously believed. I am positive that part of the incredible increase in my tuition bill has to do with the heating and cooling of those huge buildings on campus. Also, apparently UW-Milwaukee is no longer offering the bus pass students once received. I wonder why! And I'm pretty sure my energy bill might force me to live in an igloo this winter. Those, and the fact that I am not able to visit my mom because of ludicrous airline prices, are personal reasons this oil crisis has me down. But that's just me being self-involved.

The war. I think we all know by now that this is not a war on terrorism (but it makes soldiers feel better if they think they are shooting the actual people responsible for 9/11)- this is a war geared at the world's cheapest oil and where it happens to exist. Obviously there are a million things I could say about the war right now- but let's just put it this way: if kharma exists, America is Screwed! But is it our fault for being blinded to what is really going on- I mean can you honestly answer this: Are we winning?

I'd say losing 4,000 men in Iraq (let's not forget the 100,000 that were wounded) and the highest gas prices we've seen in this nation is LOSING. Oh, but gas has gone down 15 cents! We must be winning now! In all seriousness, we have no clue what's going on over there. But I will say this: the people I do know who are in or have been in Iraq would rather eat dirt than talk about what goes on over there.

Out of Hibernation

Well, it's been one heck of a summer. And unfortunately, I did not keep up on my blog. But it is time to come out of blog hibernation and get this thing going! School is right around the corner and soon life is about to get busy, busy, busy. My last year...and I'm not going to lie, I'm gonna miss it! So here's to making the most of what I do. 

I guess this entry will be about wrapping up my summer in Wisconsin, really nothing to do with the usual viewpoints on current events. 

My summer (not necessarily in order of awesomeness):
  • Summerfest, where I rediscovered my love for Reggae at three very impressive outdoor concerts: Matisayuh (best rabbi rapper I've ever heard!), The Wailers (5 stars), and Slightly Stoopid (they were a little messed up, but still fun). Also was lucky enough to see fav. performers John Mayer and Colbie Callait at the Marcus. 
  • Camping and tubing at the Wolf River in New London, Wisconsin- need I say more?
  • Work, work, work
  • The Dells- Stayed at the Kalahari and tried out Noah's Arks' newest attraction Time Warp and wasn't so impressed- Black Anaconda is still the best
  • Country USA- Good performers, bad weather, crazy people
  • Began my collection of short stories (stay tuned for details)
  • Saw my old friends visiting from Iraq (and silently cursed George Bush at the same time. Well OK, maybe it wasn't so silent)
There's more, but like I said that will be for another time, another entry. Maybe later today ;)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Is it that hard to be a 911 dispatcher??

I have heard far too many stories in the news lately about 911 dispatchers who failed to do their jobs- jobs that to me, don't seem like they should be such a task.

First there is the case in Madison of Brittany Zimmerman, and the dispatcher who failed to follow up on the call that she thought to be a prank! It seems it was not much of a prank, as 21-year-old Zimmerman was found dead in her apartment. It was also reported that the dispatcher failed to hear crucial sounds that should have prompted immediate action. My question is: why isn't this dispatcher fired? She is being investigated, but it seems obvious that she was not doing her job. 

Then there's the recent case in Memphis that Nancy Grace has made famous, where a dispatcher FELL ASLEEP while a woman was trying to report a man breaking into her home. SNORING and EVERYTHING! Here is the YouTube link of the call...embedding was disabled by request...hmm, sketchy!

If someone calls 911, they are in trouble. It should never be taken lightly- never! Even if it does seem to be a prank, why would it be the operator's call to decide? Obviously our 911 dispatchers need some training in importance and just plain skill, though I wasn't aware much was needed! 

If people start thinking they cannot rely on 911 they will begin to take things into their own hands- and that is a pretty scary thought. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

God invented medicine for a reason!

It seems that the Polygamists are not the only religious group who are facing legal issues related to their faith.
By now most have heard about the shocking and preventable death of 11-year-old Madeline Neumann in Weston, Wisconsin. Madeline's health had been deteriorating rapidly for almost a month due to Type 1 Diabetes, although her parents did not know this because they refused to take her in to see a doctor. She stopped breathing on their couch after being in a coma for several days.
The Neumanns never considered taking Madeline in because they believe that illness is a test of faith and a spiritual attack that must be healed through prayer. This is a belief shared by Christian Scientists, although the Neumanns were not part of an organized faith and practiced these beliefs in solitude.

Weston community coverage
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Here are my problems with the Neumann's actions, and why I believe they should be charged and given some time in their daughter's death:
  • If religion covered human sacrifice, would we have to say that that is OK? There is a line where religious freedoms are involved, especially when it involves making these decisions for underage children (likewise for the polygamy case)
  • The Neumanns watched their daughter's health worsen with prayer, but still believed it would work- even after she was dead
  • God invented medicine for a reason! If he really thought it was the girl's time (which is what they believe if a death does occur), she would have been taken in some other way.
  • If these people don't believe in medical practice or drugs why on EARTH does their business involve selling a mind-altering substance (caffeine, they run a coffee shop). Does anyone else think this seems a bit hypocritical?
  • Everyone has sinned against their religion before- why could the Neumanns not choose this crucial time to do so? Ignorance of her diabetes is NOT an excuse, because it is their fault they didn't know.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Milwaukee college students and the people who prey upon them financially

I really think that certain people and institutions in Milwaukee view the students of UW-Milwaukee as spoiled young adults who will get Mommy and Daddy to get them out of any financial mess that occurs. But that is just not the case- and they need to stop preying on us financially.

These are a few of the culprits: 
  • Parking on Campus: It is impossible to park on campus for free without the worry of receiving a ticket. People often have to stay on campus longer than the 1 or 2 hour signs allow, and as a result many students rack up a hefty parking ticket debt. As a result, many students lose their car. Sadly, nothing will ever be done by the city because this is the income they rely on.
  • Theft: Crime is already high in Milwaukee, but robbers and muggers target college students because they know we have computers, iPods, etc. They also know that the houses in the area are old and easy to break into, and rarely ever have security monitors.
  • Increased evictions for too many tenants: Police are focusing more than ever on ridding tenants over the 3-person limit. Fines are also increased for landlords who allow this, and they are becoming more cautious about doing so. 
  • Slumlords: Many students are not getting security deposits back when they should, and landlords are not taking care of their units properly.
  • Raised fines for party and drinking violations: The fines are larger than ever before, and already broke students are not able to pay forcing them into debt.
When will enough be enough- and why is it that the bigger problem seems to be the city itself that is  draining our resources? They are targeting people who really aren't doing anything wrong and increasing poverty among Milwaukee residents. Sadly, this is one of the very reasons the robbers feel they have the right to do what they do. 

Here is an old article I found insisting that students are bad for the area...and maybe also forgetting to look at the fact that we are people too. Shame. 

Texas Polygamist Sect Update

I just wanted to mention that since writing about the raid of the Texas Polygamist ranch it is said that this is the largest child custody case in history. 460 children were taken from their mothers and administered DNA tests. It will be a very long process to finally decide what will happen with the children.

My question is: are the mothers really to blame? Isn't this a case of some extreme brainwashing tactics by jailed prophet Warren Jeffs? He must've been really good if they are still following his word when he is behind bars. And what about the women who are glad to be rescued from this life? 

Pregnant teenagers were discovered on the ranch as well as teens who already mothered children.

These children are being taken from everything they know and should at least have their mothers back- hopefully with social services supervising and giving some good counseling. I really hope the court makes the right decision, but it's definitely going to be a tough one. 

Monday, April 14, 2008

The crime that everyone gets away with

So I live in Milwaukee. And there is crime here just like there is in any other major city. Shootings, attacks, mugging, vandalism, theft. I want to talk about theft.

After living in this city for three years, it just feels like cops around here are just about useless! Now I know this is a strong opinion to just blurt out there like that, but I can't help but feel this way after what I have personally been through and what I've seen others go through.

Theft. It's the crime that almost everyone gets away with in Milwaukee. The fact of the matter is that the cops can't catch them, and that is because they don't even try. Tons of houses get broken into on campus every year by some punk who thinks they deserve to own the stuff that other people worked for. But the theft that is by now quite obviously an organized crime is the theft of car stereos.

Just a few days ago, my car window was smashed for the second time and a second stereo was taken (the face was even removed from the stereo, but let me tell you now: THAT IS NOT ENOUGH). I also know many, many people that has happened to in Milwaukee, and the sad fact is that the people that have replaced my car window (twice now) say they see dozens and dozens of this exact same thing EVERY DAY.

It could be the people who don't call in and report where the theft is going on- but I know for a fact where I've gotten robbed is a target spot. The lot is littered with glass. Would it not be worth tax payers' time to catch the people that are involved in this obviously organized crime? We are talking about 400 dollars worth of damage so they can make a quick 30 bucks a pop...these people are obviously no strangers to crime or to putting aside any remnants of a conscience.

Meanwhile cops are wasting all their time bothering the college students- the ones who actually have a conscience- about things like noise violations, having one too many people living in a house, and underage drinking. Did you know, officer, that right now you could be working on something that benefits the community? But it seems they are working for the paycheck and not the city- however they can give the most tickets is what they are going to do.

Almost all college students in this city are no stranger to getting robbed, mugged, or conned. I hear stories all the time. Last year, my purse was stolen and my credit card was used. It would be easy to catch these people via the store's security camera but all this city does is tell you to fill out a police report. Shame.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Big Love or Big Problems?

Recently, a secret polygamous sect in Texas was raided and children were taken from their mothers due to a call authorities received from a 16-year-old who claimed she was in an abusive marriage to a 50-year-old man.

Coincidentally, I led a discussion on polygamous mormons and their way of life just weeks before news of this incident broke. The HBO show 'Big Love' and recent arrest of polygamous leader Warren Jeffs brought the secret religion into the spotlight, and many unsettling factors of the polygamous life came to light. 

I think that it is not the practice of plural marriage that is the problem, but the lifestyle polygamist's practice that should be outlawed. If there were a way to do so. 

Maybe there are some that could truly be happy in a marriage that involves one man marrying multiple wives. Maybe it can work and you do become one big happy family, like in the show. Better chances are it's not going to work, even if it is a marriage outside of the infamous Polygamist sects. But trust me, I'm not signing up for either any time soon. 
Here are the common problems: 
  1. The prophets. Prophets have always believed themselves to be gods, and because of this they believe that they have the right to force their followers into marriages. In many cases, these marriages are with girls as young as 13, and to relatives.
  2. As soon as these young girls are married, they are expected to procreate. At 13. Pregnant teen mothers were found all over the recently raided sect. 
  3. Women and children are often put through abuse for not submitting to their husbands, or to be "put in their place". And I'm talking all kinds of abuse...from emotional to sexual. One woman talked about the abuse of listening to her husband have sexual relations in the next room-with her sister. Girls have been beaten severely for trying to resist their marriage arrangements. Children of the raided sect were found denied of nutrition and reported being locked in closets for hours. This list goes on.
  4. It is all about the men. Children often feel a lack of fathering, women feel a lack of attention. These men are marrying up as many of them as they can, because the doctrine says only then can they become gods. Wow, I can benefit myself on earth and become a god if I'm a Polygamous Mormon? You can't lose! If you're a man. 
  5. The men can lose. If the prophet decides a man is competition or not suitable for marriage, the prophet excommunicates them from the community. Forever.
These are some of the big problems...but there are more, and plenty of them. The law says that polygamists will not be prosecuted until they break other rules. Sadly, they are, and far too many of them.
This is not a gay marriage issue, because it really does not matter whether plural marriage be legalized or not. What does matter is the abuse, the negligence, and the manipulation. 

This is a documentary I watched featuring ex-Polygamists and their stories. After seeing it, it becomes difficult to defend the lifestyle, if you had any doubts at all.