Entries in the Category "Common Sense"

Supervisor Asks Woman To Take Down American Flag

Is it okay to show your patriotism at the office?

For one Arlington woman, the answer was "no" after she hung an American flag in her office just before the Memorial Day weekend.

Debbie McLucas is one of four hospital supervisors at Kindred Hospital in Mansfield. Last week, she hung a three-by-five foot American flag in the office she shares with the other supervisors.

When McLucas came to work Friday, her boss told her another supervisor had found her flag offensive. "I was just totally speechless. I was like, 'You're kidding me,'" McLucas said.

Link

* * * * * * * * * * *

Memorial Day is an important event to remember by everyone. I question the reasoning on the supervisor who was offended by the flag.

Being told that a flag pole outside of the hospital is sufficient enough is ridiculous. I wonder if a patient who wanted an American flag in his/her hospital room would get denied.

In my office, there are American flags everywhere, and we even got a huge one mounted on the wall on our trading floor.

Being all diversity minded may bring disunity

It comes down to the same thing: When liberty is under attack, everybody is at risk. We cannot pick certain freedoms we like and those that we dislike.

Remember Pastor Martin Niemoller:

When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews, I remained silent; I was not a Jew.

When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.

Remember Benjamin Franklin:

"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

The Christmas Attacks Begin

Every year, we will have a town or city or some festival choosing to fall to the evilness of political correctness.

We start with the folks in Patchogue, NY. This year, they have renamed their festival to the Patchogue Holiday Boat Parade. Last year, it was the Patchogue Christmas Boat Parade.

While we are used to these name changes, it got a bit more spark when a famed fireworks company, Fireworks by Grucci, decided not to provide fireworks for the event. Last year, the Grucci company donated $5,000 worth of fireworks.

Philip Butler, the company's vice-president, said parade organizers were "using all the themes of Christmas and plagiarizing all those themes."

According to organizers, the reason for the name change was due to complaints that the use of "Christmas" seemed to make the parade less inclusive.

News Link (provided by Sun Times)

So the name was changed, but the contents of the parade and remained roughly the same. Even the Santa Claus in the lead boat is still there. So how can this increase turnout? The argument may seemed stupid after all.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Afterword:
Overheard from my favorite local radio station, one staff member's kid was told that Halloween has been renamed Parade of the Costumes at his school.

Don't you hate that young kids these days (in school) are not being allowed to draw up Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty, or even Christmas trees. It seems snowflakes is the norm for these PC-converted schools.

Is 'black hole' politically incorrect?

When folks talk about "black holes," it is either a science term depicting a gravitational field which is so powerful that nothing, not even light, can escape its pull, or a term denoting a sucking sound.

It is also considered slang for hosting a black project (defense) or a place where traffic is sliently discarded (computer networking). In business, a black hole means any effort which consumes resources without yielding a useful result.

I think the business analogy fits the story in this case.

From the Dallas City Hall blog:

Fox station in Dallas-Fort Worth has the video of the exchange

A special meeting about Dallas County traffic tickets turned tense and bizarre this afternoon.

County commissioners were discussing problems with the central collections office that is used to process traffic ticket payments and handle other paperwork normally done by the JP Courts.

Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield, who is white, said it seemed that central collections "has become a black hole" because paperwork reportedly has become lost in the office.

Commissioner John Wiley Price, who is black, interrupted him with a loud "Excuse me!" He then corrected his colleague, saying the office has become a "white hole."

That prompted Judge Thomas Jones, who is black, to demand an apology from Mayfield for his racially insensitive analogy.

Mayfield shot back that it was a figure of speech and a science term. A black hole, according to Webster's, is perhaps "the invisible remains of a collapsed star, with an intense gravitational field from which neither light nor matter can escape."

Other county officials quickly interceded to break it up and get the meeting back on track. TV news cameras were rolling, after all.

* * * * * * * * * *

Is this much ado about nothing? How can "black hole" be considered racially insensitive?

Is Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield racist? Or are Commissioner John Wiley Price and Judge Thomas Jones playing race-baiter?

I have heard "black hole" used on a frequent basis to denote political or business issues where things has gotten lost or nothing viable was produced.

What could be next for these race-baiters? If we call a snowstorm with "whiteout" conditions, is that insensitive? Or how about the White House? Is that insensitive too? Next would be the word "blacklisted."

Could folks like Price and Jones would get off their collective arses and start acting like adults?

Transformers T-Shirt deemed a security risk

A man wearing a T-shirt depicting a cartoon character holding a gun was stopped from boarding a flight by the security at Heathrow's Terminal 5.

Brad Jayakody, from Bayswater, central London, said he was "stumped" at the objection to his Transformers T-shirt.

Link

* * * * * *

I guess we need to be a bit more blunt and just wear a t-shirt that just says "GUN". Or maybe "GUNSMOKE" is offensive?

So if a t-shirt with a pictured gun is a "security risk" that's pretty much a misdirected use of resources.

This TSA screener - good or bad judgment

Link

Soldiers from Fort Lewis were escorting the remains of a colleague home to Virginia earlier this month.

At Seattle-Tacoma International airport, an honor guard consisting of Port of Seattle Police, airport fire and rescue, and military personnel helped placed the body on the plane.

A police officer then took the escort soldiers up to security.

The TSA screener checked everyone's ID, including the police officer, and then had the soldiers go through the metal detectors.

Their combat ribbons and medals set off the alarms.

The TSA screener then instructed the soldiers to strip off their uniforms, down to their tee shirts, pants, and socks.

* * * * * *

Clearly, were the actions of the screener inappropriate? Was there a supervisor at the checkpoint? Should the soldiers be waved through security since everyone knew that the combat ribbons and medals sounded the alarm?

Most of us would probably feel that the honor guard should not have been subjected to this. Some may feel that no one should be accorded special treatment. Would it be just courteous to take the soldiers through the crew-only line or some sort of special line, do a check on the medals and ribbons, and allow them through? It would only take a few minutes longer.

No more tag, it's harassment

A bit protective are we? It would seem that the Discovery Canyon Campus elementary school in Colorado Springs, CO has banned tag on its playground after some children complained they were harassed or chased against their will.

Link

Assistant Principal Cindy Fesgen: "It causes a lot of conflict on the playground." Running games are still allowed as long as students don't chase each other, she said.

I can interpret that to mean no basketball, football, soccer, and track. They are indeed chasing each other for the ball, but on a literal basis, they are definitely "chasing" each other.

Also, at a meeting about the ban, only two parents complained, but most others did not object. Hmm, a bit of majority-silent treatment. No one wants to be the whiner.

Back in 2005, two elementary schools in the nearby Falcon School District did away with tag and similar games in favor of alternatives with less physical contact. School officials said the move encouraged more students to play games and helped reduce playground squabbles.

Say good bye to dodgeball. Are we getting too fragile here?

Pinching or Sexual Abuse?

Update 8/20/07:
It's over! The judge has dismissed all remaining charges for the two boys accused of swatting the behinds of fellow classmates. This six-month insanity has finally ended. The four girls listed as victims by the prosecution had asked the judge to drop the charges against Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison.

The News-Register newspaper reported that a "civil compromise" reached by prosecutors and the defense called for both boys to apologize, to pay each of the four girls $250 and to complete a "boundaries education" program.

Update 8/13/07:
Presiding Judge John Collins has dismissed misdemeanor sex abuse charges for the two kids, which means both would no longer face the prospect of lifetime registration as sex offenders.

However, he let the sex harassment charges stand so the two 13-year old boys will have to go to trial.

Today, the judge will decide whether to throw out the statements made by the boys when they were first questioned by police. The defense claims the boys were improperly questioned and did not understand their rights or realize how much trouble they were in.

* * * * *

ouch_pinch.jpgI believe we are all capable of using some degree of common sense as our kids grow from kindergarten up to graduation from high school. It is complete nonsense to consider politicians suggesting that we teach sex-ed to kids that have not started elementary school. It is also ridculous for a school to consider a boy hugging a girl some form of sexual harassment. We have seen reports of schools going overboard for the most innocent things. One post I wrote about was a a school considering criminal charges against a boy for kissing a girl without permission in elementary school.

There are times where the good old-fashioned trip to the detention office seems quite sufficient. Unfortunately, it seems we believe that such children are corrupted to the core and deserve civil and criminal punishment. It is quite idiotic when you see an adult who was convicted of sexual molestation and is required to register as a sex offender, but then you see a DA doing the same thing to a 7-year old boy for kissing a girl without permission.

If there was a school fight, usually the teachers or aides would escort them to the principal's office and they would be given detention or suspension. Today, we are likely to witness police being called to the school, the kids are handcuffed and brought to the police station, and of course the usual civil and criminal lawsuits. It is just getting too complex. Honestly, there are times where it can be handled within the school and there are times where it is justified to call the police to handle incidents that are beyond their control.

This takes me to an incident at Patton Middle School in McMinnville, Oregon.

Last February, Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison, both 13-years-old, were caught in the halls slapping girls on the rear end. Yes, it was inappropriate, and yes, the boys deserved to be punished. A trip to the principal's office and getting some sort of detention or limited suspension seems to be the expected punishment. However, this did not happen.

Police were called to the school and the two boys were arrested and handcuffed. They spent five days at a juvenile detention facility. Five days! By this stage, perhaps the school just wanted to give them a hard lesson, but it did not end that way. Then the boys were charged with several counts of felony sex abuse. The charges were then reduced to third-degree sexual abuse (5 counts) and harassment (5 counts). If convicted, they would spend years in juvenile detention or under supervision, and may also require sex offender registration.

Felony sex abuse? For slapping a girl's butt? I would kinda figure it would involve some sort of molestation, dirty language about their bodies, groping, or stealing their underwear and wearing them. Could a person really believe that a convicted sex offender was found guilty for slapping a girl's butt?

As for the swatting of bottoms, it actually was considered normal. While the behavior is against school policy, both boys and girls do slap each other butts as a "common form of greeting," or as one girl is said to have described it, "a handshake we do." I am sure the school knew this was happening and did not do anything substantial to curtail it. Now we have to wonder that if the school did crack down on this earlier, then this incident would not have happened or the level of punishment would be expected. Quite a reactive reaction, instead of being proactive about it.

So as it stands, Cory and Ryan face the prospect of 10 years in juvenile detention and a lifetime on the sex offender registry. The trial starts August 20. Yet would a jury consider this inappropriate horseplay or criminal nature? Why did these two get such a harsh form of punishment? It is found that other boys at the school came away from the incidents with misdemeanor judgments. Did they just drew the unlucky card in the deck?

Another question is posed to the District Attorney Bradley Berry. Are you seeking higher public office? The governorship? Perhaps maybe U.S. Senator? Maybe a chance to show the people of Oregon state that you are cracking down on misappropriate behavior?

First, it was the felony charges. Court papers allege that the boys touched the buttocks of several girls, including one girl's breasts. But at a court hearing, two of the girls recanted their testimonies and wanted to testify on behalf of the boys. Both girls stated that they felt pressured to give misleading statements. The judge released the boys but barred them from the school and to be under constant adult supervision. Was he afraid of them fleeing the state or even the country? Later, the DA dropped the felony charges, but he stayed with the 10 misdemeanor charges of harassment and sexual abuse. "We are seeking change in conduct," he said.

Berry has offered a plea where the boys will be given probation, but even that is not acceptable to Cory and Ryan's parents. While probation sounds lenient, it's not. Under these terms, the boys would not be allowed to have sexual contact with anyone or any contact with younger children. For Cory, it would mean he cannot be left alone with his younger siblings. Basically, it would give everyone a wrong impression if they did not have all the facts.

This does not mean that the girls that were touched inappropriately should be overlooked. Such action is not proper and it must be addressed, but the experience of being arrested at school, then five days later in juvenile detention is punishment enough. I would gladly believe that the two boys get the idea that slapping butts is bad. This is not the time to go about destroying their childhood.

Did the girls want to see the two boys paraded into a courtroom in shackles and jail outfits?

Did the girls want to see them found guilty by a court of law?

Did the girls want the boys registered as sex offenders so they cannot be in contact with any females as well as their younger brothers and sisters?

Did the girls want the boys' social lives destroyed?

I would bet the answer would likely be no. As usual, we must thank our educators and the system for deciding that this incident shall be considered the most dangerous form of sexual abuse ever committed in a school.

Everyone could have saved time and money by arranging school meeting between educators and parents to stop the practice of slapping behinds and touching private parts. All of this could have been handled reasonably.

I ask that the girls and families that are pursuing this case with the DA to stop this. I want you to ask the DA to drop all charges. Let the school decide the punishment. Suspension or a reprimand in the student's file is appropriate. Then work with the school to stop this silly practice.

To District Attorney Bradley Berry, drop the case. How can you equate this incident with sex offenders who kidnap girls off a sidewalk and forced them into sexual contact? Does the punishment fit the crime? This incident does not fit. Do not destroy two boys' lives because of this. I really doubt you can list this as a major accomplishment of your term as D.A.

Richard Ofshe, author of "Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria" said "The problem is that, like most good things, they can go to the extreme, and the extreme has been reached in several ways. The whole question of what constitutes sexual abuse gets defined and redefined to the point where it's absurd."

Another mess is that two of the alleged victims are planning to sue the school district because they face "significant expenses" for counseling to deal with the "sexual harassment and abuse."

We might as well close down every public school in the country, create single-sex schools, implement no touching policies, so no hugging or clapping each other hands. Sports will be cancelled because football involves pushing so that may considered to be abuse. No more celebrations and no more cheering. We can get sued for pretty much anything nowadays.

* * * * *

ABC News - Boys Face Sex Trial for Slapping Girls' Posteriors

Neighbor Talk - The McMinnville Two

The Oregonian - Unruly schoolboys or sex offenders?

Have tuberculosis, will travel

According to the Centers for Disease & Control (CDC), the man infected with a drug-resistant form of TB knew he was not supposed to travel overseas but did so anyway.

The man's excuse? He told an Atlanta newspaper that the health officials told he was infected but said they "preferred" he not travel.

He was placed on a no-fly list when the lab tests where confirmed positive for XDR TB. He was in Italy at the time. So he went around that barrier by flying into Montreal, Canada, and drove across the border in the states. Wow, what secure borders we have here!

The man said he sneaked back into the country because he feared "an unsuccessful treatment in Italy would have doomed him." Imagine if he had a more infectious disease like the one in the movie, The Last Stand?" We can thank him for bringing the plague back to the US.

Questions and an investigation into Homeland Security have begun in order to determine why this man was able to get through the Canadian border from Montreal.

CNN

Update 06/01/2007

This is very scary. Apparently, the TB person showed up on the border inspector's computer when he scanned his identification documents. The computer gave a warning to the inspector to stop him from entering the country and don protective gear, but he did not do so. Instead, he allowed him to pass through the checkpoint.

The inspector, who has been removed from border duty, explained that he was no doctor but that the infected man seemed perfectly healthy and that he thought the warning was merely "discretionary."

WTF?!?!? I do not want to make a big deal out of this, but such a warning from the computer system is a RED FLAG, so it is best to just detain the individual instead of just letting him pass through. Also, certain diseases can lie in an incubated state. Just imagine a person just infected with smallpox or ebola getting through our border just like that. They would look fine initially, but just enough time to get through the border before the disease breaks out.

MY WAY

"Freshmen" - is the word derogatory?

During the National Journal/NBC post-SOTU breakfast, attendees have learned that it is no longer politically correct in the House Democratic Caucus to refer to the newly elected members from '06 as "Freshmen."

This was discovered when House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn first referred to the "freshmen" and then corrected himself. Then he admitted the new policy.

According to Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA) (also newly elected "freshman"), he "suspected" it had something to do with the word "new" being more appealing to the public than "freshman," which can be seen by some as derogatory.

Reported by The Hotline

* * * * * * * *

I guess at Case, it will be first-year students, or newly admitted, or fresh from high school, or the ones that can get freshman forgiveness... wait, that needs to change too!

Common Sense: Protect Voter Integrity

Opinion polls show more than a majority of Americans support the need for photo identification when turning up to vote. Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006 by a vote of 228-196. It would require voters to present a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot in federal elections beginning in 2008. The legislation aims to prevent election fraud, especially voting by non-citizens.

It seems to make perfect sense. During USG elections, each student must present their Case ID and sign their name before casting his/her ballot. Why would this be difficult for people to accept in our federal elections? Even after registering to vote, you do need to prove who you are when you go to the polling station. With a photo ID, we can make sure that Mr. John Doe is actually Mr. John Doe.

However, the ACLU believes this requirement imposes an unnecessary and undue burden on the exercise of the fundamental right to vote who are eligible, registered, and qualified to vote. Their reasoning is based on the premise that the photo ID requirement is a poll tax which disadvantages racial and ethnic minority voters, elderly, voters with disabilities, and certain religious objectors.

They cite the Department of Justice's (DOJ) conclusions that imposing photo identification as a prerequisite for voting would have an adverse impact on black voters. In 1994, the DOJ found that African-American persons in Louisiana were four to five times less likely than white persons to have drivers' licenses or other picture identification cards. In addition, the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) noted in its 1997 report to Congress that photo ID's entails major expenses, both initially and in maintenance, and presents an undue and potentially discriminatory burden on citizens in exercising their basic right to vote.

Now let's see if I want to get a photo ID in the state of NJ. The drivers license would cost me $24 initially after taking the examination and road test. It would cost me $24 to renew. If I wanted a non-drivers photo ID, it would also cost me $24.

In Ohio, a new license would cost $23 (if 21 or older) and renewal would be $24. The Ohio ID card would cost $8.50 for initial and renewal.

A US passport equivalent would cost you $97 if it's a new application. Renewing your passport would cost $67.

The reasoning seems justified since not everyone could afford the cost of attaining a photo ID from their respective state or country. Could it be possible for Congress to enact a law where getting your photo ID (non-driver) is "free" to all US citizens? Of course we would pay in order to get that drivers license or permits, but the standard ID card should be complementary. I wonder if this is sufficient enough to allay the concerns of the ACLU and the Democrats.

Republicans are advocating preserving the integrity of our elections. Democrats are more concerned about accessibility to vote in the elections. Why can't we merge these concerns and provide an "actual" solution?

Already, Republicans and conservative groups are accusing Democrats of wanting illegals to vote. Democrats reasoned that the new legislation would hurt racial and ethnic minorities who are unable to afford a photo ID, and these groups tend to vote Democratic, so they accuse Republicans of trying to reduce their voter turnout.

So how should we solve this problem?

It is definitely true that a person coming in to vote must prove who they are, and are eligible to vote for that specific constituency and federal election. It is also true that the person must be able to attain a valid identification with relatively little or no problems. At the basic minimum, each state must be able to provide a photo ID to a resident having proved the basic identity requirements without charge.

So should we ban everything else from your carryon luggage?

image_security_lines.jpgHomeland Security and TSA have announced that any liquid substance (i.e. water bottles, toothpaste, lip gloss) will be banned from customers' carryon luggage at every US airport starting tomorrow. So far the only exception to this rule is baby formula and perscription medicine.

There will also be double-screening in place. Once at the main checkpoint, and the second at the departure gate. Again, such procedures were done after the events of 9/11.

Airport security experts have indicated that laptops, mobile/cell phones, and watches can pose a potential danger to the safety of an aircraft. These plus anything else that uses a battery (electronic devices) should be prohibited from any flight.

Can this be a realistic scenario?

Laptops are pretty much the lifeblood of the business person. We also use laptops to play songs, videos, or games while on a long-haul flight. I usually bring my laptop on my holiday trips because I can upload my pictures from my digital camera memory card without the need to buy spare memory cards. Plus, since hotels offer free internet access, that laptop is useful for tourism and planning out sightseeing trips.

Mobile/cell phones are practically a part of your daily life. We have looked at that phone as an emergency aid. When I was on a plane on the ground, we were delayed for two hours because of a stoppage, and the crew allowed the passengers to use their phones to contact their friends, relatives about the delay. If a serious incident occurred, that phone could be a life saver (i.e. how would the passengers on United 93 be able to figure out what was going on?).

Watches could be considered optional. But over time, it becomes an inconvenience if you need to buy a new disposable watch everytime you travel.

Other electronic devices (CD player, iPod, mp3 player, USB device) could be tolerated, of course what can you do if you are stuck on a 14-hour flight. Or a really long-haul flight from new york to sydney. Obviously, I am sure you can bring a book onboard (with the exception of today's crisis), but if your flight got a poor IFE, that long-haul flight becomes quite uncomfortable. However, if every other airline implemented Virgin's on-demand IFE system, then we would be quite content with being entertained.

The experts talk about the need for safety. Of course we know that. Passengers are more aware and vigilant in reporting suspicious activity. In reality, it is hard to enforce even the most stringent security regulations at the airport. Should we really ban flying altogether? Has the costs and risks outweigh the benefits? The end result is enduring a multi-hour check-in. Quite inconvenient! Of course we can adapt to these new security changes, but such change will need to expand to almost our whole daily routine. Like if you need to go on a corporate or leisure trip, instead of leaving 2 hours ahead of time, you may need to get their 4 hours ahead just for a domestic flight or in a worse case, take the whole day off for an international flight. Honestly, we are approaching the point where air travel becomes impractical. Instead of flying, taking the train or driving would be a better choice, but look at the scenario if safety steps taken on planes were done the same way on trains. Or what if that toll plaza when travelling from Jersey to Delaware becomes a checkpoint? Are we becoming a prison-like nation?

Duty-free shopping will practically disappear since travelers won't be able to purchase any perfumes or liquor products. Tourism would be impacted too. Some of your fragile souvenirs that cannot be checked into the hold would have to be left behind. Liquor and perfume products bought at tourist spots will have to be discarded. You might need to ship everything back home instead.

Security experts even noted terror attacks can occur in an airport terminal, not on a plane. How can we handle this too? A bomber could detonate an explosive device in the checkpoint area where hundreds of people will be waiting in line to get through. Should we build baggage drop-off points away from the airport?

Let's be realistic! We cannot ban everything. In order to make security more effective, we have to look at the security checkpoint process. In some airports, it is quite inefficient and dangerous if some incident were to happen. Banning everyday items is unenforceable. You might as well have everyone strip naked just to be sure everyone is safe.

Friday News

All airports have banned liquids and gel-based products such as toothpaste and makeup onto planes. They must be checked at check-in. Hmm, I have to wonder if duty-free products are also banned.

For Passengers Leaving the UK

According to The Sun newspaper...

BANNED

NO liquids other than those above are allowed — including bottles of duty-free alcohol on flights to the US. Travellers to other countries may still stock up on duty free.

ELECTRIC key fobs, mobiles, iPods and all electrical equipment, including cameras. Books and magazines.

MEDICINES in liquid form are also not allowed unless verified.

CONTACT lens solution and spectacle and sunglass cases. Wheelchairs other than the airport’s own.

ALLOWED

WALLETS and purses plus contents including money, credit cards and identity cards.

ESSENTIAL travel documents such as passports and tickets.

PRESCRIPTION medicines and medical items sufficient and essential for the flight including diabetic kits.

GLASSES and sunglasses and contact lens holders.

BABY food and milk for travelling tots — but the milk must be tasted by the parent or guardian.

NAPPIES, wipes, creams and nappy sacks — but only enough for the flight.

FEMALE sanitary products essential for the flight, unboxed — tampons, pads, towels and wipes.

KEYS and tissues, so long as they are not in a box, handkerchiefs.

The cursed "Region 1" DVD restriction

Being back in the states, all my Region 2 dvd's cannot play on my family's DVD players. Obviously, they only Region 1. The free region dvd player that I brought back is on the fritz. Seems the video output won't register on the TV, and on the other television sets show a rolling screen. I wonder if the trip from London to NJ via Air Freight caused some damage.

Now the site to go to: http://www.videohelp.com/ is quite useful if you need to make a DVD player region-free, or you could go to Amazon.com or some reseller web site and the DVD players they are selling come region-free. In any case, I really need to finish watching Alias Season 4 and it's good to watch it on the widescreen TV than on my flat monitor. =)

Update:

It seems my Pioneer DV-370 has a problem playing PAL DVD's (which unfortunately most of my UK movies fall under). It did play the NTSC discs fine with no problem. So it could be a problem with the video since the player should be able to play both NTSC/PAL formats. Given that the player is like two years old, and it is still giving me trouble with the PAL discs, I went to Best Buy and bought the Samsung HD-860 player.

As for the Region 1 restriction, a visit to videohelp.com offered a way to re-program the coding. Now I can play NTSC/PAL and any region I want. Success! =)

A College Student English Essay

Here's a college student's (attends school in New Mexico) essay on political correctness

http://foxhunt.blogspot.com/

Fetus in the Carpool Lane

The long debate about whether fetuses are human beings has now hit the carpool lane.

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Candace Dickinson stood by her contention that Arizona traffic laws does not define what a person is, so the child inside her womb justified her use of the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane on Interstate 10 near Phoenix.

On Nov 8 of last year, Phoenix police officer Sgt. Dave Norton stopped Dickinson's car after he found her vehicle driving on the HOV lane during rush hour. According to traffic law, sole occupant vehicles are not allowed to use the carpool lanes during morning and evening rush hours Monday thru Friday. The officer saw only one person visible in the car. When he asked Dickinson how many people were in the car, "she said two as she pointed to her obvious pregnancy."

Phoenix Municipal Court Judge Dennis Freeman used a "common sense" definition in which an individual occupies a "separate and distinct" space in a vehicle. Dickinson was fined $367 for improper use of a HOV lane, but she still believes she has the right to use the carpool lane. Even the officer who arrested her believed it would have been ridculous to have them carry pregnancy testors to find out if a female driver driving alone in a HOV lane during rush hour is carrying with child. The common sense idea of the carpool lane is to reduce traffic congestion.

So let's say if Dickinson's unborn child did count. She would have to pay for her fetus when going to the movie theatre. Let us get even more literal. If she comes to Cedar Point, the ticket person would charge her and her fetus for entering the park. Again, I have to throw this bit of ridculous news into the common sense trash bin.

Breitbart.com - Judge: Don't Count Fetus for Carpool Quota

Lottery Etiquette

Ok, when you get a group of people together to buy a batch of lottery tickets for the Megamillions Lottery or the Powerball Lottery, or even the state lottery, remember to do the following:

1. The organizer of the lottery purchase must get the required $5 or any specified amount from each participant

2. He/she would go the nearest convenience store that sells lottery tickets and make the necessary purchase

3. He/she would then make a copy of the lottery tickets and distribute it among the people that have entered the pool.

4. If any of the lottery numbers score, the group can choose to re-invest the winnings (if the amount won was really small), or ensure that each person gets the proper winning amount (if won 1st or 2nd prize).

Unfortunately, it did not happen for a group of Ohio lottery players in Warren. These ten people used to get together regularly for breakfast, and they would chip in five bucks apiece, and the organizer would buy the lottery tickets for the group. Sometimes they would win 10-12 dollars from time to time. But on October 7, one of the organizer's tickets did win -- $250,000.

The bad news is that the organizer said the winning ticket did not come from the group's batch but from his wife's who purchased them a few days earlier. The rest of the group investigated, got some data from the Lottery Commission, and confronted the organizer with evidence that the winning ticket was bought with the group's batch, not his wife. The result out of all of this -- LAWSUIT!

They are suing the organizer for $450,000 in punitive and compensatory damages. I guess that's one way to lose the group's friendship. This whole thing would not happen if the guy made copies of the tickets he bought to the rest of the players. It would have avoided any miscommunication or any mistrust. I know of some friends that would do a pool of tickets, then buy some on the side.

The preliminary hearing is being held next Thursday morning at Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

WKBN News - Friendly Lottery Club Turns to Lawsuit

Airport Arrival

For international travelers coming into the US, in particular for Newark Liberty International Airport, we have to pay $3.00 for getting the baggage cart from the turnstile. Now, for some common sense, not all arrivals will have US currency especially quarters or dollar coins for the machine (though it does accept credit cards).

From the gate to customs, there is no change machine nor a Travelex currency booth so travelers can exchange their foreign currency for US dollars. Plus, in most cases, you would get mostly bills, not coins since US does not really hand out dollar coins (nor does it have two-dollar coins like the euro or pound).

Second, you are not allowed to use your mobile phone in the international baggage claim area because they conveniently placed the area right next to the customs section. Frankly, half of the people at each baggage claim area were trying to quickly talk into their mobile phones before security would tell them to stop. Also, the customs area is fenced off and you couldn't see through the walls anyway. This is especially a problem when your flight got delayed or you are waiting a very long time for your luggage, the people who are supposed to pick up are very anxious in finding out where you are, and what's the holdup.

There is really no danger of using your mobile in the baggage claim area. The immigration section was upstairs and the customs section was just on the far side of the area. Common sense would make it prudent to just to fence off the customs area enough so the travelers can make their necessary phone calls.

Anyways, happy xmas.

Another politically incorrect xmas incident

Third-graders in Madison, Wisconsin would not be allowed to ring bells to raise funds for the Salvation Army as they have in the past because one parent decided to complain that the kids are helping a religious-based charity.

Each year, hundreds of students would join the "red kettle brigade" and help ring bells to raise funds for the Salvation army at Christmas time. Also, many student groups volunteer to do their part for community service.

It is true that the Salvation Army was founded by a Methodist minister in England in 1865, but the goal of the organization is to help feed, shelter, and clothe people. Has it really promoted religion all this time?

Because of one parent, these students cannot do this nice tradition.

The Capital Times - Chavez students won't ring bells for Salvation Army

Christmas Tree vs Holiday Tree

If you happen to see a spruce tree covered with 10,000 lights and 5,000 ornaments displayed, do you initially say "Christmas" or "Holiday" tree? It so happens that this particular tree is on the Capitol grounds and House Speaker Dennis Hastert wants to make sure it is called the "Capitol Christmas Tree."

During the 1990s, the tree was referred as the Holiday Tree. No one knows why people started calling that. The Speaker wants to make sure that when the lights turn on Dec 8, everyone should think of it as a Christmas tree and nothing else.

Also, on the other side of the country in Encinitas, CA, the mayor of that town wanted to rename the annual parade from "Holiday Parade" to "Christmas Parade." Mayor Dan Dalager said he wanted to just restore the title that existed when he was younger. Somehow, someone changed it to "Holiday" for no particular reason.

Unfortunately, three local groups have told the town they will pull out of the parade if the name gets changed. A girl scout troop, the Leucadia Town Council, and the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Southern California were the groups named. Strange enough, the mayor did change the event of the "Spring Egg Hunt" to the "Easter Egg Hunt" last year and nobody made a fuss about it.

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year! Wait, before you read this line, you need to sign a legal waiver.

To Smoke or not to Smoke

Just as the title suggests, a stunned Italian actor had to put out his cigarette he had lit up on stage after a spectator complained, forcing the theater to change the script of an Arthur Miller play to make it smoke-free.

In Italy, smoking is banned in all enclosed public places since January.

In the script, the actor was supposed to be smoking in a scene from the play "A View from the Bridge" by Arthur Miller. After he lit up, a woman from the audience shouted "put out that cigarette." The play stopped for 15 minutes, and the performance resumed with a modified script and the smoking parts were taken out.

The article was found on Reuters.

Was this pushing the ban too far? Or how about if we were that overzealous we could decide to ban movies with smoking scenes at your local theatre since the building prohibits it? Drinking could be next on the list.

What was the woman thinking? It makes better sense if the woman had her mobile phone ringing, then we all have the right to tell her to turn it off.