Archive | March, 2010

Phoebe Prince Did Not Deserve To Die

30 Mar

Some of the South Hadley, MA students charged in the Phoebe Prince bullying case. Clockwise from top left, Sharon Chanon Velazquez, Sean Mulveyhill, Kayla Narey, Ashley Longe and Austin Renaud.

First of all, before I begin my post, I’d just like to say that the Children and Young Persons Act of 1939 ain’t got SHIT on me! Suck it. This is to clarify a law in England and Wales (where I am residing at the moment) that doesn’t allow the identification of juvenile defendants, including photographs. The incident that I’m about to go into some detail happened in Massachusetts, USA, so I can’t be done for, but British newspapers reporting are too pussy to identify these defendants.

Phoebe Prince did not deserve to die. In fact, like all young people, she deserved a chance to make herself achieve all that is possible for her. Instead, as an immigrant from Ireland to the United States, she got caught in the culture shock of cliques and the hierarchy that would not accept her as a human being.

Phoebe Prince, 15, killed herself in January after months of abuse from her peers which did not end until she died.

Instead of fulfilling a normal four years of high school, they gave her a reason not to live. The ongoing torment of ruthless name-calling and a never-ending slew of attacks in the school and on the Internet gave Phoebe a reason that this will never, ever end. She ended her life on January 14, hanging herself at home after a day of non-stop attacks where she was attacked in the library, the cafeteria and on the walk home.

The worst part: The school knew all along that the Irish girl endured this horrendous torment from her peers.

Now nine students are charged in this bullying case, ranging from statutory rape to violating her civil rights. While the motives for those who tormented Phoebe to her death are not clear, the accounts that she was called an “Irish slut” and the attacks in school under the watch of school administrators, who did nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Phoebe was denied that right to live from her peers and intervention from counselors would not stop those sick, demented human beings from making her life, or any other person’s life miserable. It’s one thing to call someone a disparaging name once, but to subject them through an ongoing gauntlet of attacks and harassment is not just school bullying as usual. It’s torture.

Granted, some will argue that the charges are too harsh and it’s just a really bad case of “boys will be boys.” Others may say that Phoebe has problems of her own and some information could surface as the investigation continues to state that case. How does that justify what she’s been through?

As a person who has been bullied intermittently up to high school, it’s hard to knew when the gauntlet will never end. I’m just lucky that I haven’t been driven to ultimate despair, but I really feel for the many kids who are unfortunate and I don’t blame them for thinking that way. However, it is important we make every effort to stamp out bullying to ensure that if cases like this happen, it should not fall on deaf ears.

We can all hope those who led Phoebe to her death will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Like Sheppard Smith said, “WE ARE AMERICA! WE DO NOT FUCKING TORTURE!” This should also apply not only in combat, but also in the classrooms.

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An Informed Opinion

23 Mar

Science fiction author Harlan Ellison (yeah, sue me) once told my interviewing class at UCLA that “everyone has a right to theirinformed opinion.” Of course, some people say things before they think. I’m guilty of that, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve made an effort to make informed opinions.

Whether you agree with the health care reform package that just passed the House of Representatives on Sunday (me, with some reservations on costs, implementation, etc.) or not, I’m sure we can debate the merits of the issue and still be in friendly terms. I have a friend of mine who’s quite the political opposite of me (except on issues such as fiscal responsibility, accountability and priorities) and he’d sometimes had a counter-argument on the subject, filled with quotes and facts, which, even if I disagreed 100%, made his point quite substantial. If I’m ever proved wrong, I will gladly admit it. I admire people like him because even though I will never agree with some things he touts, I know that he does make an effort to read the news or understand other points of view.

However, with a subject like health care, which fuels many passions, you’re bound to have people who have no clue what they’re talking about. Take this Facebook conversation last night. This guy posted an update on his page:

Best part of health care bill? No denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions.

He’s right. It’s quite possibly the best part of the health care reform. At least I have the peace of mind knowing that if I get some life-threatening disease, I won’t be denied coverage from my current insurer or denied coverage if I move to a different insurer.

OK, you’ve got some people praising it and blah blah blah. However the rationale of this conversation gets interesting. Out comes this girl with an Earth-shaking statement.

Best part of the health care bill? NOTHING!

Nothing? While we may not agree with the way it’s structured or funded, surely you’re for people with pre-existing conditions purchasing health insurance? I mean they want to buy health insurance, even if it will cost them in the long run? What’s wrong with that?

Then the guy shoots back:

so youre saying that if (and thank god this isnt the case) one of your boys was born with a congenital illness and could then not be eligible for healthcare, since insurance companies currently can and do deny service to those with any pre-existing conditions, then that would be ok? you would actually want to have an unhealthy uninsured child?

About 30 minutes later, she strikes back:

When there are circumstances for certain children in families, there’s always medical or cal optima. All this means is that now my kids are going to be paying for this ‘health care’ for the rest of their lives, simply because Obama had to ‘prove a point’ that he was not elected into office for nothing, becuase so far, he’s done diddly squat. There’s a reason almost EVERYONE voted against this! He’s pretty much saying he is smater than the majority of American people who are against this “plan’.. Making things like health insurance mandatory is just ridiculous. Obama is a big fat JOKE! I’m just glad he’ll be gone for good in 2012.

Almost everyone? Voted against what? If you mean they voted against Obama, you clearly haven’t read that 69.4 million people or about 53% of voters supported Obama in 2008. However, if you mean what the people think on health care, then the most recent poll before the vote in the House had 48% opposing the reforms, 37% supporting and 15% not sure.

The guy then counters her statement:

no theres not, those arent absolute and certainly are not all encompassing, efficeint or even easy to access. What hasnt he done? Who is this ‘everyone’ that voted against universal healthcare? is obama just proving a point like LBJ did with the civil rights act? Not all institutions and services should be privatized, could you imagine a fire department or law enforcement team that wasnt a service provided to us by the state?

Yeah I could imagine a law enforcement team that wasn’t a service provided by the state. Think Robocop, but I digress.

Of course, Ms. “Obama is a big fat JOKE!” doesn’t give up:

The VAST MAJORITY OF AMERICAN CITIZENS! That’s who! You know, all of us who will be paying for it for years and years to come, and BEYOND! He promised a LOT and has reneged on all of it. Where are our troops…? Where are our jobs…? Where the HELL is all this money going to come from for his “plan”? NOW he thinks he’s doing us all a favor by putting us all in debt for the rest of lives? Lovely. For those that don’t have health coverage, Im sorry. But there ARE ways to get coverage when you need it. It might take a while but there are ways. Obama has no idea what he’s doing in office and we’re all paying the price, Just watch, if you don’t see it now, you will.. And once you have children of your own, who will know exactly where I’m coming from.

The guy gives up trying to explain to the mother of twins his side because no matter how much he tries to rationalize this conversation, she isn’t taking any of it! But then later on she makes amends, and he agrees. Friends should be friends no matter how informed their opinion on the subject or where they stand on the issues, right? I was glad this debate didn’t turn into a personal slugfest.

But then along comes this other guy:

You’re wrong about the vast majority of Americans. A good part of the healthcare reform attempt under Clinton failed because of powerful insurance firm lobbying. This time, Obama struck a deal with them early, leaving him to just face the majority of Republicans. They didn’t help themselves either as they relied on anger (see Tea Party) and partisanship. Everyone agreed that reform was necessary, but as Obama’s healthcare summit very clearly demonstrated, the Republicans come up short on a clear and consistent alternative message besides “kill the bill.”

I also take issue with the statement that Obama’s a joke. That’s a personal attack. If he’s a joke, what’s Sarah Palin? A clown?

Personal attack? I’m not offended because I called Bush a joke. Fair is fair right?

But of course Ms. “Obama is a big fat JOKE!” goes back into fighting mode!

You’ll see why this is a huge mistake when your healthcare premium sky rockets,, unless you are one of those FOR the healthcare plan because you aren’t insured. I made my point, and that’s that. Im not going to argue with anyone (you) about it. A personal attack? Haha on who, you? Are you offended? And she too, was a joke. But she wouldn’t have been president.. I really wish we all coud have been blind when we elected Obama, cuz there’s only ONE reason he made it into office and we all know what that is. NOW you can be offended 😉 History has definitely been made, in more ways than one. Did you know who “Barack Obama” was or anything about him before he ran for president…?

You’re bothering me, go away.

“You’re bothering me, go away”? I’m assuming she never left high school. It’s something you say to that guy who sits behind you and ogles at your behind. Clearly this guy wasn’t acting that way. He was just stating something that you obviously didn’t like, so you had to tell him off the high school way. Nice one. Don’t you miss high school?

However, this guy had the last word:

To view me as annoying simply because I hold an opposing and valid opinion strikes me as disappointing.

I know many people who have opposing viewpoints and I don’t find them annoying solely on the basis of their opinions. However, if they try to make it a really, really big deal or use personal attacks, then they’re not my friend anymore.

Finally, from the guy:

And suppose I was uninsured. There are plenty of citizens in my position that lack healthcare. If I wasn’t so lucky to have parents whose employer has generous insurance benefits, I would, in fact, be uninsured. Does that make me less deserving of affordable medical care at a time when insurance companies gouge people? The issue at hand is whether or not citizens have a right to affordable health care. Apparently, you don’t think so. Perhaps you think “health insurance coverage” should be earned. I submit that it makes poor financial sense to burden tomorrow’s generation with huge medical debt in a highly flawed private insurance system. But what do I know? I just study a lot.

The good thing is this guy, while overpraising Obama, does “study a lot” when it comes to his arguments against Ms. “Obama is a big fat JOKE!”

Clearly Ms. “Obama is a big fat JOKE!” doesn’t have much of an informed opinion on this issue. While I understand that as a mother of twins you are concerned about your family’s future (as do millions and millions of American families), it wouldn’t hurt to go look at a news web site, wouldn’t it? Even if you do read the news more often and STILL disagree with health care reform, it would show in your arguments.

10 pounds (4.5 kilograms)

19 Mar

Though I really shy away from talking about things like my weight or my body, I feel that I’m keeping up with my new year’s resolution of eating better and losing just a few pounds. Since Christmas I’ve lost roughly 10 lbs (4.5 kg). I’ve started somewhat of a regimen of working at least 3 days a week, but with more emphasis on lifting weights rather than running. I’m quite happy with myself, though I wish I did more cardio. My stamina’s shit, but it’s getting better. By the way, I’m drinking less too!

However, don’t expect those P-90X photos just yet. When I get settled back in the States, I’ll look into it.

Journalists Going Mad!

14 Mar

Journalists learn to work well under pressure, but sometimes we reach that boiling point when subjects or bosses become very unreasonable. Here’s a few of my favorites:

Sheppard Smith, Fox News: “We are America! WE DO NOT FUCKING TORTURE!” This was a discussion on whether torture is justified.

John Sweeney, BBC: “YOU WERE NOT THERE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE INTERVIEW!  YOU WERE NOT THERE! YOU DID NOT HEAR OR RECORD ALL THE INTERVIEW do you understand?” This was from his documentary for Panorama called “Scientology and Me” where he investigates the litigious “religion”, and yells at him after days and days of stalking and unwanted accusations by the Scientology spokesman, Tommy Davis. He apologized for yelling at Mr. Davis, but in my opinion, no apology was needed because Mr. Davis was harassing him throughout the taping of this documentary. Talk about mind control. Here’s a link to his outburst sans apology: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjlo4u_8g60

Mika Brzezinski, MSNBC: “Do you have a lighter?” Unlike the other two journalists, Ms. Brzezinski keeps her cool but make its clear she’s not putting the Paris Hilton jail saga as the lead story. She makes a good judgment there by burning and tearing the story to shreds.

Prison for Bitches (LMAO)

14 Mar

I’ve been watching Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” music video featuring Beyonce, and it’s really fascinating to watch this eccentric woman do what she does best–shock and awe.

It’s a great visual work of art. It really is. Only a genius like Gaga would get away with a dress made entirely of crime scene tape and dancing in jail wearing only a bra and a thong.

The only problem with the video is Gaga herself. While she mesmerizes in the singing and dancing department, here acting skills are, well, sub-par. She comes off more like an amateur actress found in those high school plays rather than someone’s who had more experience in that field, like Beyonce, the better actress of the two. However, Gaga’s got a lot ahead of her, so she’s got lots of time to work on her acting if she’s going to make more long-form music videos.

Uffie’s back? Yay?

11 Mar

In the time before I entered university, when predatory loans were abundant and the trifecta of Bush, Cheney, and Condoleezza ruled the land, I thought this artist would blow away the music world:

Her name? Uffie.

Don’t quite remember her? I don’t blame you, so here’s a few blurbs about her.

An American living in Paris, she’s an electropop artist signed to Ed Banger Records. Her songs were the reason I got into electropop. I was looking forward to a full album where she would pioneer this repetitive, funky beats that resonated from Paris’s electro scene.

Months passed, then years. Now it’s 2010, Obama’s in charge and Paris is boring. But…her album is FINALLY coming out (at least that’s what Ed Banger said). It’s titled Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans. Interesting.

The problem with albums taking years and years to produce is the ever changing taste of music. If she had produced her album in the time frame that Ed Banger promised, which was in 2006-2007, the electropop scene would probably be a lot different.

However, her album couldn’t have come at the worst time. Electropop is booming, but while she should have set her foot years ago, Ke$ha, who’s musical style sounds eerily like Uffie, is on top while Uffie is…well…not quite there.

Though the album hasn’t been released yet, a couple of videos have been made for songs like “Pop the Glock.” However, the videos seem like Uffie never left the pretentious world of 2006 while the rest of the world has moved on.

They say that “good things come to those who wait.” However, I feel this may not be the case. It may be too late for Uffie unless her album has amazing tracks, which I haven’t heard yet. The singles released for the new album have been stuff I’ve heard before.

But thanks to her absence, electropop and the like have been blessed with artists/groups like Crystal Castles, Little Boots and Ellie Goulding, who have far better name recognition.

On Education

5 Mar

Yesterday, while I was doing research on my presentation for a lecture on Monday, some of my friends in California have protested against budget cuts on education, especially colleges and universities. I fear that the same thing could happen to UK universities as well, which could face cuts over the next few years.

The funny thing is, with California’s budget ballooning into dangerous territory, you would think they spend a lot of money on services like education. Wrong. Even with Proposition 98, which guarantees funding for education in the California Constitution, it ranks low in spending. Then again, does spending huge amounts of money on education guarantee the best results? I don’t think so.

However, it’s important that politicians in California need to know their priorities. We cannot be proud of California unless we can make things better for its people. While cuts are inevitable in other department, it is essential that services that improve the quality of education should be protected as much as possible, and if cuts are needed, that it would not affect the quality of education.