Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Protitutes teaching our children?

A New York elementary school art teacher is writing a memoir about her time as a stripper and sex worker in Mexico when she was 19 years old and for about a year (ending in January 2007) she advertised as a hooker on Craigslist.  She was 'outed' after someone videotaped her reading a portion of her memoir at an open-mic event.

Some parents are up in arms about a former prostitute teaching their children.  And Melissa Petro is currently on administative leave pending an investigation by the school authorities.

Should the background of a teacher be considered for suitability for teaching children?  Of course.  No one would think that a sex-offender should be an elementary school teacher?  But what about a previous sex-worker?  What if the teacher used to smoke marijuana?  Or if they were convicted of drunk driving 10 years ago?

Everyone has some past indescretion that they probably would prefer to forget.  Small or large, few of us have gone thru our younger years (high school or college) without doing something we think better of later.  Or maybe some don't.  Just because Melissa is no longer a sex worker, doesn't mean she would do things different now.  But how does this affect the children she teaches?

Unless Melissa is espousing her beliefs that all young people should become involved in the sex trade in some aspect, what's wrong with her teaching art to students?  Where is the line that connects the two items that precludes one from the other?

If someone is currently an avid mountain-biker and teaches math to elementary students, where is the harm?  If the person tells their students they need to get a mountain-bike and speed down converted ski-slopes, then there could be an issue.  They are in the classroom to teach math.  Telling students to go and do something potentially harmful could be an issue that the school should handle.  They ask the teacher not to bring up the subject.  And if they do, the teacher is disciplined.

So, whether I like or dislike what Melissa has done in the past and however she feels about it now, as long as she isn't bringing this into the classroom, where's the harm?
Bronx art teacher Melissa Petro blabs about exploits as stripper, hooker at open-mic events (NY Daily News)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sages? Wise Ones? JALOs?

My wife and I are both over 50 years old.  We have both embraced the term Senior and proudly show our AARP cards.  I don't recall us needing to discuss a replacement for the term Senior.

Which is why I found the following article more than a bit humorous.  Written in 2002, it talks about 'Aging Boomers' who are having trouble coming to grips with being 'Seniors'.  They are struggling to find another term that they can accept and announce to the world that doesn't make them sound old.

I san Senior, you say SeƱor (Suddenly Senior)

Everyone has their pet peeves.  The article above made me think of a term I dislike: Old Man.  As in "I'm gonna borrow the car from My Old Man".  I find the term derogatory and refuse to use it.  Same with Old Woman.  I would never call my wife My Old Woman.

What common terms do you find offensive or would never use?

Friday, September 24, 2010

New U.S. currency? It's about time.

In some countries around the world, paper currency has long been various sizes or colors or both for the different denominations.

Great Britain

A number of years ago, I went on a business trip to Malaysia.  I saw their colorful, different-sized money and commented on how cool it looked.  My friends mentioned how American money was all the same size and looked very similar and was hard to tell one bill from another.  I had grown up with it, so it wasn't a problem for me, but I understood what they were saying.


Now the Dollar ReDe$ign Project is proposing changes to U.S. currency.  I'm not keen on their reason for the change  -- "the 'only' realistic way for a swift economic recovery is through a thorough, in-depth, rebranding scheme".  It will make it easier for everyone to know, at a glance, which bills are being exchanged.  And visitors to the U.S. will also have an easier time.  As with any change, there will be issues.  But this change is the way to go.

One good-sized issue will be electronic money changers and vending machines.  These will need to be retrofitted to take the new bills.

Another issue is when the new bills hit the street, counterfeiters will take advantage of the fact that people aren't used to the new money, and do their best to pass phoney money.  A good educational marketing plan would take care of this.

Example DollarReDe$ignProject submission

Note: Having President Obama is a bit presumptuous, but I'm sure we can agree on a previous president to have on the $1 bill.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

No, I don't drink alcohol. Ever.

I have never had a drink of alcohol.  Never.  I never 'snuck one' when I was little.  I didn't drink as a teenager.  And I don't drink alcohol now.  The typical reaction when someone finds out is 'You don't drink?  You've NEVER had a drink?'  It is unfathomable to them that someone in the world doesn't drink alcohol.  To them, drinking is almost like breathing.  It's something a person does in life.

Why don't I drink?  There are several reasons.
  • I don't like the smell, so I'm sure I won't like the taste.
  • I can see what alcohol does to people and there is no way I'm gonna do that to myself.
  • I don't need something to alter my brain/thinking or to drown my sorrows.
  • My father was an alcoholic.  Yes,  I say was, because he hasn't had a drink in over 30 years.
The following article hits it spot on for me.  She did drink and stopped at age 27, but she gets the same reactions I get.  But I've never been asked why I don't drink 'an adult drink'.

My not drinking bothers friends (CNN)

I love her husbands response.  "Listen," he said to her, "I'm a 30-year-old man. Whatever I'm drinking is an adult beverage."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Smoking? Not on my beach.

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is proposing to ban smoking at New York beaches, parks, outdoor malls, and plazas.  Back in 2002, he has successfully banned smoking in restaurants and bars.

Indoor smoking bans are obvious, everyone is trapped with the smoke.  Outdoor smoking bans are a bit trickier.  The smoke isn't trapped and disappates more quickly.  But according to some studies, the smoke outdoors is still unhealthy for people nearby.

Study: Outdoor smoke gets in your lungs (USA Today)

Yes, while you can move upwind from the smoker or farther away, non-smokers shouldn't have to do so.  If you are enjoying your book at a park bench, having a smoker sit next to you, or even just waking past, is distracting, obnoxious, and unhealthy.  The smoke still travels and is easily enhaled by non-smokers.

I have heard arguments about music can be played too loud and should also be banned.  While I haven't checked all municipalities in the U.S., I know there are 'noise pollution' laws around the country that prevent people from playing their music so loud it disturbs others within certain distances.  And a big difference is that music isn't harmful to your health while smoke is.

Another argument is that barbeques and campfires do the same thing that smoke from a cigarette does.  But I don't recall the last time I was even mildly annoyed with barbeque smoke or campfire smoke from someone else.  If this was prevalent, I could see the same type of ban being put into place.

Lastly, walking around the beach, with cigarettes littering the area is unsightly, annoying, and a health hazard (think babies putting cigarette butts into their mouths) and I am all for a ban at the beach.

Original article:
City Wants a Smoking Ban on Beaches (New York Times)

When Citizens (Gasp) Are the Smoking Police (New York Times)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Selling Edible Underwear? Better have a food license in Texas.

Opening your own Lingerie store?  Have everthing you need for your Grand Opening?

Sexy Teddies?  Check.
Body creams?  Check.
Colorful condoms?  Check.
Edible panties?  Only if you have a Food Permit from the Health Department.

So says the Texas Health Department when they told Shades of Love in San Antonio.  If it's edible, they require the business to have a Food Permit.  Silly?  You bet.  From what I have read, this isn't a 'lets squeeze all the money out of businesses that we can," but simply the Health Department 'doing their job'.  While I appreciate they not sitting around eating donuts instead of ferreting out food slacking restaurants, edible panties aren't going to be a large part of anyone's diet.

Texas Lingerie Store Forced To Get Food Permit For Selling Edible Underwear (LAWeekly)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Four-day or Five-day school week?

Would a four-day school week or a five-day school week be better?

It's a complicated question that gets more complicated when you add 'better for whom?'

Note that when schools reduce their school week by a day, they increase the time in-school for the other days. So, for example, if students spend about 6 hours actually in class each day for the five-day week, they would spend about 7 to 7.5 hours in class in class for the four-day week.

Let's consider the schools first. The reason this question even comes up is the universal problem of money for schools. Schools are reducing or looking at reducing school by one day each week to save money. Infrastructure costs for school buses and electricity would be reduced.

As for students, the benefits would be more time on each subject each day. Instead of 50 minutes on one subject each day, they could spend 80 minutes. Giving them more time to go in-depth with discussions or handling difficult topics. And they would have the fifth day each week to devote to study. The drawbacks for students could be that longer classes could be even more 'boring time'. If the student isn't engaged for 50 minutes, they certainly won't be any more engaged for 80 minutes.

Impact to Parents could be positive and negative. The 'day off' could give parents a day to take kids to the doctor or other appointments without pulling them out of school. But since most parents work, this might actually be a negative since they will need to find day-care on the fifth day for the younger students. On a side note, if schools can stagger the fifth day (no reason it has to be Friday) then day-care facilities could be a beneficiary.

Here is some good information about the challenges and successes in Minnesota:  Four Day School Week

According to one poll, 65% Oppose Four-Day School Week (Rasmussen Reports).

For my money, schools should not adopt 4-day weeks.  There is no data to show that longer school days help students with their education.  And the extra day will not be used for 'extra study time'.  Government needs to find the money to keep schools open five days each week.  I am willing, for example, to give up mail delivery for one day each week if this will give more money for the Federal government to give back more money to the states and local school districts.  There are no easy answers, but we must have the determination to keep education in the top 3 priorities.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Penny for your thoughts? Make it a nickel.

Most places where I spend actual cash, as opposed to using my credit card, give change back, including pennies.  But a few places, and there are more and more over time, skip the pennies and either forgo the 3 cents of the $22.93 I am paying or give me 65 cents in change when I should actually get 64 cents.  When I actually do get pennies in change, before they can actually hand it to me, I say "save it for the next customer".

The penny is past its prime.  The current Lincoln penny (which has gone thru a few redesigns) was minted in 1909.  In 1909 you could purchase a postcard or a few eggs.  As Time Magazine says, now it can't even purchase itself.  It now costs 1.38 cents to manufacture a penny.

Yes, there will be some issues to work out, such as what to do about sales tax, which makes most purchases end in pennies.  Perhaps the rule of thumb would be to round off to the nearest nickel.  0, 1, and 2 cents are 0, while 3, 4, and 5 are 5 cents.  Not everyone will be happy with dropping the penny, but, as I read while researching this post, we used to have a 1/2 penny coin.  When is the last time you had one of those in your hand?  Unless you lived in the 1800s, never.

Is it Time to Get Rid of the Penny? (Opposing Views)

Also check out the History of the Penny (

Friday, September 10, 2010

When is the word 'boy' derogatory?

My family is from Arkansas.  I don't recall ever hearing them refer to a black man as 'boy'.  But while visiting Arkansas for many family reunions, I know that the word 'boy' is not used in a good way, though usage has waned over the years.  It's not always meant in a bad way, but is part of the language spoken in the South and, when spoken to an adult, is exclusively used when talking to black men.  Some people say it because that is what their family and friends do.  Not an excuse, but rather what happens.  I'd like to believe that once most people hear that 'boy' is demeaning to a black man, they would stop using it.

Which is why I found this article about the use of 'boy' at a Tyson Foods plant in Alabama interesting.  The Supreme Court said there were 'no racial overtones' in using the term.  Read the entire article and see what you think.

Appeals Court in Atlanta Again Rejects Racial Discrimination Claim (NY Times)

My question would be, did the managers call any white men 'boy'?  If they did, then there is probably not much of a case.  If they did not, as seems the case, then the case is stronger.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No government rememberance of 9/11...

Every year, on September 11, the country remembers 9/11.  3,000 people died in the attack and is the worst disaster on American soil.

Before 9/11, we had the Oklahoma City Bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building where 168 people died.

Currently, while it isn't an official holiday, the U.S. government remembers 9/11 with ceremonies.  Every year, the president, and other officials, talk about 9/11.

Official holidays are numerous in the United States.  Most, however, are for 'positive events' or people, such as July 4th, Independence Day (Wikipedia), and Thanksgiving (Wikipedia).  Two Federal holidays are for 'negative events':  Memorial Day (Wikipedia) and Labor Day (Wikipedia).

Why doesn't the government have a ceremony for the Oklahoma City Bombing on April 19th every year?  This wasn't done even before 9/11.  Why were 168 people not enough for the government to commemorate but 3,000 is? 

While 9/11 was a tragedy, the government should be directing its efforts to other items.  Let ceremonies for these tragedies be commemorated by individuals and private groups.

What happens when another, more terrible, tragedy occurs?  One where 10,000 people lose their lives on U.S. soil?  Will we stop commemorating 9/11 and start remembering the new event?  And if this tragedy is large enough or horrifying enough, will we someday make it a national holidy, as was done with Labor day when two men were killed by the U.S. government during labor strikes.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Do new car stickers make the grade?

Because of a 2007 energy law, the government must change the 'stickers' that are affixed to all vehicles sold in the U.S.  These are the stickers that show the Miles Per Gallon of the vehicle on the Highway and in the City.  These stickers haven't been significantly changed in over 30 years.

The new stickers will probably be one of two designs.  The first has 'comparative information' to show how the vehicle MPG and Air Pollution compares to other vehicles in its class.  The second has the same information but includes a large letter, A thru D, to show from a distance, how the vehicle rates.

I am a person who believes people should be given information about their purchases.  But they shouldn't be spoon-fed the answers.  The letter sticker should not happen.  Give people the 'comparative information' and let them make up their own mind.  If they need more information, that's why we have Consumer Reports and other information (such as plenty of web sites).

The one problem that I can see, brought up in the article below, is that Hybrid and Electric cars will not take coal-burning power-plants into account when displaying the 'greenhouse gases' the vehicle spews.  The stickers will only show 'tailpipe only' data.  I am a proud Prius owner and if I was shopping for a new vehicle, I would want to see complete information.
Then again, I can always look it up on the web.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What would your last meal be?

The article below is from the U.K. where the death penalty has been abolished.  But here in the U.S. it is still performed in nearly every state.  Put aside feelings on whether capital punishment should or should not happen.  Those put to death are allowed to choose their own last meal, though some states have restrictions.   Texas only allows food that is already within the penal system.  Florida limits the meal to $40 from the local area.

Here are some real last meals:

Texas - Patrick Bryan Knight
June 26, 2007
Fried pork chops and chicken, garlic toast, and ice cream

Oklahoma - Ernest Carter
December 17, 2002
Deep-dish supreme pizza, 7-Up, and one slice of cherry cheesecake

Indiana - Timothy McVeigh
June 11, 2001
Two pints of mint chocolate-chip ice cream

So what would I want for my last meal?  Would I go extravagant and order steak and lobster (assuming I wasn't in Texas or Florida)?  Or would I want comfort food of turkey burger and Almond Joys?

I think I would go the 'food I enjoy' route.  Probably something like a turkey burger (with ketchup and pickle relish), french fries, a whole pecan pie, and a whole pumpkin pie.  To drink, I'd go for bottomless iced tea.  Oh, and one Almond Joy.

Would would your last meal look like?

I've often pondered what to eat before I die (Telegraph UK)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Puerto Rico as the 51st state?

Current opinion: none

Over the years, Puerto Rico has been talked about as our next State.

Puerto Rico has been 'part of the U.S.' since it was ceded by Spain in the Spanish-American War in 1898.  Since that time, Puerto Ricans have fought in every American war since that time.  Puerto Rico pays Federal Payroll Taxes (but not Income Taxes), Social Security Taxes and other taxes, are under U.S. military protection, and, as of 1941, are natural born citizens of the United States.  They also have non-voting representation in Congress.

Puerto Rico has almost 4 million people with a literacy rate of over 94% (the United States is 99%).  President George H.W. Bush, in his first State of the Union address, said he believed that Puerto Rico should become a state, as long as it's citizens voted to do so.

What would becoming a state mean to Puerto Rico and the United States?

First, Puerto Rico would have allocated funds given to them as other states do now.  The standard of living in Puerto Rico is lower, and with additional funds, this could increase.  But they would also begin to pay Federal Income Taxes which could offset this.  They would also have voting Representation in Congress (six seats in the House of Representatives).

New Opinion: Puerto Rico should remain a protectorate of the United States since there is no big advantage to either Puerto Rico or the United States to change the status quo