Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Bud Johnson, man of conviction

Friday, September 21st, 2012

National Empty Chair Day inspired us all in different ways, and perhaps that is when Austin, TX, resident & noted outsider artist Bud Johnson got the idea for his “yard art.” That’s pretty outside, all right! Outside the limits of…oh, outside all kinds of things. You see, Bud decided to hang his empty chair from a tree.

L'artiste

The artist interacting with local media

He’s not a racist though, and it doesn’t represent a lynching. He’s taken the chair down now, in order to move it to another location in his yard, he says. Maybe one where he can set up appropriate lighting for night viewing!

A Facebook page has been created to honor this brave, extraordinary man with donations to the Obama campaign. I can think of no better way to let Mr. Johnson know he has truly made a contribution to the national political dialogue.

 

 

 

Re: Jolly old elf

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

We traveled through Montgomery this weekend, and stopped at a lovely little coffeeshop called Cafe Louisa in Cloverdale.  While enjoying hot tea and a bagel with smoked salmon, I read this article in the Montgomery Advertiser. It seems that, as if today’s parents don’t have enough to worry about, now those smarty-pants kids are using technology to find out whether Santa is for real. To begin with, there are those commercials advertising robo-Santa calls, emails from Santa, and the like, which one station apparently aired during the Christmas parade (hey, what better time?) But this is the one that made me fire up Facebook:

Kyla Kelim of Alabama, caught her oldest, a 9-year-old boy, on her iPad playing Santa sleuth a week or so ago.”We’re so close with him this year, not believing,” she said. “He was Googling ‘san­ta,’ and I saw him type the word ‘myth’ when I grabbed it and said no electronics. I’m constantly having to follow my phone and iPad and stuff around right now. We’re try­ing not to debunk Santa for our 7-year-old.” (more…)

Nice one.

Monday, November 14th, 2011

We got a shoutout on Cialis Online 60 Minutes, y’all.

Connect the Dots

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Federal Judge Mary Scriven has issued a temporary stay of Florida’s new law requiring welfare applicants to take and pay for drug tests before receiving benefits (they get the money back if they pass, assuming they can scrape up the extra cash in the first place). Scriven, a George W. Bush appointee, expressed concern over how test results could be used:

The drug test can reveal a host of private medical facts about the individual, Scriven wrote, adding that she found it “troubling” that the drug tests are not kept confidential like medical records. The results can also be shared with law enforcement officers and a drug abuse hotline [emphasis mine].

“This potential interception of positive drug tests by law enforcement implicates a ‘far more substantial’ invasion of privacy than in ordinary civil drug testing cases,” said Scriven, who was appointed by President George W. Bush.

I’d heard about the drug tests – and about the less than rampant drug use they’ve uncovered thus far (out of more than 7,000 applicants tested, only 32 tested positive, mostly for marijuana).  I hadn’t heard that the law allowed the applicants’ test results to be shared with law enforcement. It’s not a stretch to assume those applicants wouldn’t be able to afford good legal counsel if this sharing resulted in arrests. Gov. Rick Scott campaigned for the law by claiming welfare recipients use drugs at a much higher rate than the general population. Did he think he could turn all those welfare-seeking druggies over to the police? And if so, to whose benefit?

During the same session that saw passage of the testing law, the Florida legislature voted to privatize 30 state prisons in the southern part of the state. Could there be a connection here? The legislature chose to go this “cost-cutting” route despite hearing good evidence that there’s a better way to reduce costs: actually rehabilitate people.

Unfortunately, a more productive and cost-effective approach to reducing Florida’s corrections costs appears to have been cast aside by lawmakers after some early enthusiasm. In January, Texas state Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano, was invited to Tallahassee to share the reforms that saved his state significant money by reducing recidivism while still protecting public safety.

The philosophy, embraced by many in the law enforcement community, including former Gov. Jeb Bush’s corrections director, Jim McDonough, is to invest in rehabilitation to reduce recidivism. This includes helping offenders control mental health or substance abuse problems and getting them the education and training they need to Pokies get jobs.

McDonough says statistics show that recidivism is reduced almost 40 percent with some degree of treatment, and it slides another 3 to 4 percent with every year of math and English literacy attained. The use of ankle bracelets and other forms of community control, instead of prison, also help keep nonviolent offenders attached to jobs and family while racking up major savings for the corrections system [emphasis mine].

It should be the state’s goal to keep the prison population as low as possible while still protecting public safety.  Raise your hand if you think private prison companies share that goal.  Anyone?

You may be reading this and thinking “duh!” I expect other people have made the connection before now. As mooncat notes at Left in Alabama, our very own Republican legislators are chomping at the bit to introduce their own drug testing bill. That and Alabama’s new immigration law, assuming it survives legal challenges, will pack our prisons to the rafters. Which will lead to calls for controlling costs. Which will lead to calls for “cost-cutting” privatization.  Which will lead to even more prison labor. Why pay a living wage when you can pay convicts a pittance? (Note the connections between the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Kris Kobach, author of Arizona’s SB1070 and Alabama’s HB56, and Corrections Corporation of America.)

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Florida’s mass privatization efforts have been blocked, at least temporarily, by a judge’s ruling that the legislature can’t hide its intent within budget provisions:

The legislature’s move to bury key details on privatization in the state budget is unconstitutional, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford in Tallahassee ruled. The 2012 budget provision changes the legal process for privatizing facilities and directs the Department of Corrections to replace state employees with private ones at certain prisons.

“This court concludes that if it is the will of the legislature to itself initiate privatization of Florida prisons, as opposed to DOC, the legislature must do so by general law, rather than using the hidden recesses of the General Appropriations Act,” Fulford said in the ruling.

So all the Republican majority in the legislature has to do is pass a law during the next session privatizing the prisons. If they get lucky with the Roberts court, they’ll get their drug testing back too. Then it’s full speed ahead. And coming soon to Alabama. Right now, neither Corrections Corporation of America nor GEO Group has any facilities in the state but I bet we’re in both business plans.

 

Lying down on the job

Monday, April 18th, 2011

I haven’t been following this story with breathless interest, but I did read a piece in this morning’s paper about revamping the rules for air traffic controllers’ shifts. It seems that the air traffic controllers keep dozing off on the job. This is understandably unsettling to a nation full of flyers convinced that the  only thing standing between them and a fiery death are the shrewd, battle-hardened agents of the TSA.  So, the FAA is revising the rules about how shifts are scheduled.

But absolutely no napping! No matter what Germany and Japan may do in those countries over there, with their “studies” and their “experts”!  “On my watch, controllers will not be paid to take naps,” thunders Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, oh and also controllers need to take “personal responsibility for the very important safety jobs they have.” Personal responsibility, that poor overworked phrase. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, it’s about been loved to death volume pills side attects.

Anyway, here’s the thing. My husband is responsible for training medical residents, and in the past few years, they have been forced to implement—with reams of paperwork to back it all up— increasingly lenient regulations governing how much sleep the residents get. The latest thing is something called, get this, “strategic napping.” Because it’s important for the doctors to be alert and well-rested when they  make decisions that could, like, kill somebody.

You’d think the same reasoning would apply to air traffic controllers. But no. In fact, “more managers will be on duty during the early morning hours and at night to remind controllers that nodding off is unacceptable.” I am reminded of the tithing men in Puritan churches, wandering the aisles with a pole ready to rap snoozing worshippers on the head.

I’m sure this will not result in the misuse of stimulants or drugs like Provigil. Oh, no. That could never happen.

Technology marches on

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

I am in the process of switching banks, which after eighteen years is quite the uphill climb – seems that checking account has its autopay tentacles into every aspect of our lives. Anyway, our new bank offers an internet service called deposit@home, by which I can use my home  scanner to scan checks for deposit. (If I had a smart phone, I could use that.) So yesterday I did this for the first time. It was pretty time-consuming — our scanner is a dinosaur — but impressive all the same.  I didn’t even have to open the scanner software. The applet detected  my scanner, and pictures of the checks I was depositing appeared on the computer screen. I boxed them in with a crosshatch thing and hit Submit, and the software congratulated me, credited the funds immediately, and told me I should now void the checks and dispose of them.  (Haven’t been able to bring myself to do that just yet. Way too weird.)

This is what really fascinated me: here we have technology contorting itself into knots to accommodate bits of paper that, and please correct me if I’m wrong, are virtually  unchanged from 1911, or 1811 if it comes to that.  “Pay to the Order of… “ conjures musty British visions of some younger son forging his pater’s name and being sent down from Oxford, or, you know, those stuffy guys in Mary Poppins who sing that clever song with all the adverbs, about investing tuppence.

Two of the checks were handwritten ones from friends, reimbursing us for expenses associated with Mardi Gras, which adds to the wonderfulness. One was a $5 rebate from one of those newfangled squirting floor mops – the cost of processing this rebate has almost certainly exceeded $5, which also adds to the wonderfulness.

All hail the 21st century!

He ain’t heavy, he’s my governor

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Sigh. And we’re on the national stage again.

“So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior…”  I don’t even have to finish it, do I? We all know how that one usually ends up. In the Dexter Avenue Memorial Baptist Church—how stunningly, ironically appropriate—Governor Doctor Doctor Bentley informed all us non-believers that while he may be our governor, he does not consider us his brothers or sisters.

My brothers and sisters over at Political Wire are all stirred up by this report. Predictable comments, the kind that make you cringe, about “why didn’t we just let the South go,” etc.  It hardly seems worth it to protest “Hey, I live here njoy electronic cigarettes. We’re not all like that!”

So what’s the course for Alabamians like me, who find this kind of speech quaint at best, and abhorrent when it comes from the lips of an elected public official? Do we continue to stay here, feeling like Margaret Mead documenting the behaviors and social customs of an alien tribe? Assemble our tiny crowd of liberal friends and hope that perhaps our grandchildren will see a different Alabama (although that’s not likely since our children have all fled the state)? Or do we upturn our lives to make the difficult move to some state where a man like this couldn’t make the primary even as the dark horse that Bentley was?

Moonpie madness

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Well, it’s chocolate coating and marshmallow filling…so I suppose in a way the Moon Pie is at least as good an emblem of racial harmony as black & white piano keys. Anyway, that was the experience our family had last night at Mobile’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration.

For the past few years now, we’ve dropped a Moon Pie in Mobile to mark the transition from old year to new. It was councilman Fred Richardson’s idea. Fred is something of a character, and his idea didn’t sit well with lots of folks who felt that a Moon Pie was kinda tacky. (more…)

A somewhat inspiring story from the Internets

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Earlier this year, after researching available devices and software, I made the switch from paper planning to electronic. I am currently using an iPod touch with WebIS’s “Pocket Informant” app. It duplicates what I was doing with the paper planner perfectly, backs up to online programs, and I am now a total convert to the electronic Way.

Well, there was a little snag this weekend.

(more…)

Harry Reid and the Negro Dialect Thing

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

It’s been hard to miss the flap over Harry Reid’s unfortunate remark about Barack Obama’s lack of “Negro dialect,” quoted in the gossipy soon-to-be-released book, “Game Change.” Even in Mobile, a city recently humiliated nationally by a film depicting its strictly segregated Mardi Gras celebration, the paper sees fit to print a cartoon poking fun at the “racist” Mr. Reid.

Well, this is my take on “Negro dialect.” Twenty-five years ago I worked for an insurance company in Metairie, LA. There was a girl there, I forget exactly what her job was, but it was low on the clerical totem pole. “Brenda” was a willing & hard worker, never late, never grousing, and furthermore she was an excellent typist, which was important back in the days before personal computers. She dressed professionally. She got along with everyone in the office. In short, she was the perfect worker – except for her speech. Brenda spoke AAVE—not the occasional colorful bit of slang or turn of phrase, but pure “Ebonics,” as the Oakland School Board would describe it.   (more…)