A simple girl in a complex world

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Be Wary, Potential Time Travellers!

It's always good to be wary of spam. It's even better to have twisted fun with it.


Ask and ye shall receive

I feel safe again thanks to Frank J's post about monkey pox.



Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Benton Harbor, MI

Benton Harbor is a mostly black American city located in Michigan. It's not an especially large city, possessing a population of 11,182. Situated very near is St. Joseph, a predominantly white (and affluent) community of 22,984. Race issues have raged between the two for longer than I have been alive.

My father was born and raised in Benton Harbor. My grandfather worked his career for Whirlpool, which maintained headquarters there. My grandmother spent her days at Bendix. My mother relocated to Benton Harbor in the late 60's to teach at Hull School, an educational facility already sporting metal detectors in attempts to curb violent school-based acts committed with metal objects.

So, when I read this post on CNN, (how does Benton Harbor grab CNN's news attention in 2003?) I had to stop and sigh and get more of the story.

Here is Benton Harbor's Herald-Palladium with its take on the events.

The riots. We are a violent nation. Sometimes the microcosm - this community as a good example - serves as a good reminder of unchecked, uncivilized human nature. Though race appears to not be at the forefront of these riots, you can rest assured it resides sure and true somewhere as a supporting cast. In 30 plus years, this event in this area serves as a throwback, at least I hope, to the ailments of bigotry and lawlessness. Obviously, I'm not talking about Los Angeles. How does a community of 11,000 people chronicle such a storied history of violence and hate?

I leave you with these documented acts of violence and woe for the community of Benton Harbor.

1. A book, The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death, and America's Dilemma, written by Alex Kotlowitz in 1999.

2. "The war I didn't worry about" - an account by William Newmiller.

3. A look at Benton Harbor and St. Joseph (and their disparities).


Intelligent Seats

Lazy me, I didn't blog this yesterday when it was fresh news, but...here we have the CNN article about Intelligent Seats in passenger airplanes.

Since it's not wise to take things at face value, here's how I see the things really being used in 10 years.

1) You're a nervous flyer, so that auto injection of liquid Valium dispensed to only medicate you through the remainder of the flight - godsend.

2) Person in seat 14A forgot his deodorant. Oh, no hassle for the Smart Seat. Genitalia sensor will ensure the stinky ladies are dispensed a feminine scent and the men receive a masculine version to mask the offense.

3) Flight crews dispense electric shocks for malicious entertainment on long flights and create "personal turbulence."

4) The top two sensors, at brain level, read your every thought and record it on a CD for your personal flight memoir (and sell it to you for $19.99).

5) Real terrorist threats and immediately isolated by bulletproof glass. The rest of the cabin is properly pressurized, and purported threat is ejected through the bottom of the plane. If it's a domestic flight, the seat is equipped with a parachute. International, well...

Careful of those blood clots, too. Don't sit too long.



Monday, June 16, 2003

Fat: A New Vice

Hey, check out these silly Brits.

    Hamburgers, soft drinks and cakes could be hit with a "fat-tax" in a bid to combat Britain's growing levels of obesity, doctors said Monday.
Hmm, first, soft drinks are full of sugar, not fat. This is important because of a later quote.
    But Breach said the tax would hit food manufacturers hard and have little effect on the poor.

    "A fat-tax will remove food manufacturers' incentive to pump food full of fat. Instead they will fill processed foods with healthier ingredients and better selections of meat," he said.

    "Fat is a cheap by-product of the meat processing industry -- they have mountains of the stuff and are desperate to use it, so they use it as cheap padding in foodstuffs," he added.

Fat's cheap? You betcha. Try comparing potato chips to Soy Crisps (Genisoy), candy bars to fresh fruit. You bet it's cheap. But what's the goal here (and forgive me, I know I have little room to criticise (proper spelling for the argument) the British government, not being a Brit and all)? It sounds like a nice, happy American scheme we all know as the vice tax.

Problem is: we all have to eat. We don't all have to drink, and we certainly don't have to smoke.

So, British government, perhaps I should send you a nice big package of Oreos. Your people still have free will, and if they, like many Americans, want to eat their way into larger sizes, there really is precious little you can (read: should) do. Oh, you could borrow a page from tobacco control and refuse to sell food to minors.

Perhaps you should move all your citizens to Colorado? Knock 'em down (er, or, up) to the rest of the states' level.



Sunday, June 15, 2003

A Tribute to My Father, James A. Igert

It's Father's Day, 2003. I last had occasion to gift-give on Father's Day in 2000, of course not realizing that this would be the case. We humans don't know these things. I gave him a fishing-themed remote control apparatus, and I learned that he did indeed enjoy it.

Our parents impart so much knowledge to us, but with my father's special way of providing guidance, I really didn't see too much of him in me until I was a few years into adulthood. Every time I curb my type A personality and tell it to take a rest, that's my father speaking. And he does so gently, usually in a silent and reserved fashion, at least that's the behavior of his visage in my head.

My father was a peacemaker and a simple but honest person. He preferred the outdoors and tried to teach me so many of the things I would like to know now but didn't have the patience for at earlier ages. My gardening stint of late is descended from my father's experience and success with gardens when I was younger. He planted a lot of corn, tomatoes for my mother and me, green and wax beans (which he peppered every night with generic pepper because he swore this kept the rabbits at bay), watermelon, and piles and piles of strawberries. I remember blisters from preparing these strawberries every late May.

When I was a child in Michigan, my father would construct an ice rink in our back yard every winter. And he'd use it, too. There would be dad and daughter, twirling on skates on our rink, radio rigged outside to pipe in the music of the day. He'd build sled runs out of snow and ice them down with the water hose to provide that extra sledding thrill.

And in the summers, there was softball, something he always encouraged. Any skill I have I can attribute to his working with me.

It's hard to synthesize the general memories into a short blog post. The only gift I could think to give would be another long, long day fishing, maybe 13 years ago.