Saturday, July 27, 2013

New Level Of Stupidity Achieved In Florida!

Florida preschool teacher Michelle Hammack was fired this week, shortly after evacuating a classroom full of kids so she could put out a fire in the room next door.  Why?  She's not allowed to leave the room during nap time. 

I just want to remind you all that it's this sort of petty-minded obliviousness to common sense that led directly to the Arab Spring.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Coming In On Chapter 9

In the FUNNIEST STORY YET about the City of Detroit's impending Chapter 9 bankruptcy, National Public Radio has been out interviewing Detroiters who have begged, pleaded and LANGUISHED IN VAIN hoping that the city will come around and accept their tax money.  Detroit's spotty tax collection is definitely not news at this point, but the problem has always been framed (at least in the articles I've read) as tax evasion by citizens and a bureaucracy that doesn't follow through reliably.  It never occurred to me that there might be hundreds or thousands of people trying as hard as they can to pay their tax bills, only to find the pertinent offices closed.  Other people never see a tax bill but vaguely know they must owe SOMETHING.  When they call to ask about it, ALL THEY HEAR IS CRICKETS CHIRPING. 

A city official said that they called in a collection agency at one point to collect some of these missing revenues, expecting about 3 million dollars.  They were surprised to get 7 million.  I'm surprised, too.  Whoever heard of a collection agency getting more than twice as much as the customer was hoping for?  I suspect the reason they did so well is that, unlike the City of Detroit, the collection agents MADE THEMSELVES AVAILABLE TO ACCEPT PAYMENTS THAT THE TAXPAYERS WERE EAGERLY WAITING TO PROVIDE.

A clerk in an unrelated office in the City-County Building complained on the radio this morning that people are leaving their tax money with her, because the tax office is closed whenever they go there trying to pay up.

One man they interviewed, who is attempting to get his city taxes paid despite having been out of work for several YEARS, pointed out that he's not sure the effort is worth it, because there have been no city services for so long.  "Water, tree removal, police, fire department," he said -- you could almost hear him shrug over the car radio.  " this city, you're on your own."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Calm Down, Everyone, It's Only A Game!

I am probably one of the last commentators to weigh in on this ageing news story, in which a July 7th soccer match in Pius XII, Brazil, ended in the stabbing of a player by a referee and the drawing, quartering and head-on-a-sticking of the ref by incensed fans.  When I got around to looking up the story on Google, I was more than a little surprised to learned that that was an AMATEUR soccer match, with NOTHING riding on it.

Except the players' lives, I guess. 

Was there anything special about Linda Abreu, the player who took a knife in the ribs after being kicked out of the game?  Or about Octavio de Silva, the guy who ended up in pieces on the field?  PROBABLY NOT.  There may not have even been a special beef between the two of them.  One thing I know for sure is that if there is a afterlife and they 'went into the light together,' da Silva and Abreu are probably STILL disputing that play, citing the crowd's reaction and their own violent deaths as evidence for their respective positions on who was right.  It's human nature.

Let me note that just two days before, on July 5th in Las Vegas, Nevada, a riot broke out on the field during a soccer game between Club America and Chivas, involving bottles used as projectile weapons, flares and lit matches thrown onto the field, and the deployment of ordnance normally intended for Independence Day festivities.  The oddest thing about this incident is that the two teams were Mexican, but for some reason they were facing each other down in the United States.  Unless the fans were also bussed in from Mexico, I find it remarkable that the crowd was able to get so upset about a shoving match between two players they may never have seen before in their lives.

Discussing the Pius XII debacle with a colleague yesterday, she asserted calmly that "Brazil is a very dangerous place to be," as if this were just a typical day in that country.  OK, then how do you explain the one in Vegas?

Saturday, July 06, 2013

I Apologize For Not Keeping Up With All These Developments...

...But Mohamed Mursi appears to be the most recent winner of the Bigwigs Ripped Off Their Pedestals And Stomped By An Angry Populace Sweepstakes. 

WHO WILL BE NEXT?  Another rabidly Republican state rep or senator in the USA, caught propositioning an undercover detective at a highway rest stop?  A Canadian PM on hidden video camera, smoking angel dust with a notorious porn mogul?  The President of the Church of Latter-Day Saints discovered with half a dozen dead infants buried in his backyard, exhibiting the marks of cannibalism?  Will the mayor of  a major city on Europe be proven to have misappropriated so many public monies that he has been able to purchase a Pacific island on the sly?   Will an angry mob of Chuppies armed with tasers and duct tape topple the Chinese Politburo?

I can hardly wait!

You Have To Like This!

I'm in the middle of reading Covering by Kenji Yoshino (ISBN 978-0-375-76021-1), about the sly discriminatory pressure on Americans to minimize anything that might make them stand out from the crowd.  He focuses on racism and heterosexism, but the issues in here apply to anyone who ever wondered if her hairstyle was too "ethnic" or thought about covering a tattoo before going to a job interview. 

This flies in the face of the other pressure experienced by every American, the one in which you are supposed to stand up and be what you are, and proudly dammit, but the two pressures (as many of us know) coexist cheerfully.  It's like being forced daily to eat a peanut-butter-and-sardine sandwich, with a smile.

Well, this example he gave on page 175 just wowed me:

Karen Sutton sued United Airlines for discrimination because they would not let her fly their planes unless she had perfect vision WITHOUT using corrective lenses.  The point of her lawsuit was that she could just wear contacts and fly perfectly well.  She was suing based on the idea that she could use her corrective lenses as a "reasonable accommodation" (a key phrase used in the changes required by the ADA) that would allow her to do the job.  The court ruled that anti-discrimination laws only apply to IMMUTABLE conditions, like -- I don't know -- being born without eyes, say.  If she can wear contacts or glasses to correct her vision, the courts ruled, she is not really disabled and does not deserve accommodations according to the wording of the law.  So United doesn't have to hire her.

This decisions warrants a BIG THUMBS UP on the grounds of Olympic-level hairsplitting, general absurdity and MISSING THE FRIKKIN' POINT.  I want you to notice that it also peels back a corner of the Americans With Disabilities Act:  if your wheelchair can get you around despite your paraplegia, that means you have a mutable condition.  In other words, YOU'RE NOT REALLY DISABLED, CHUMLY, so don 't expect us to widen the doorways so you can get into the library  And you can forget about the ramp you're asking us to build.