Thursday, August 28, 2008
Five Things We Learned in the Month of August
For many, August has been a whirlwind of a month…it’s own journey within a summer journey all by it’s little ol’ holiday-less self. Of course I didn’t count, Discovery Day; Picnic Day, or Liberation Day. Every month, without us even realizing it, we learn so many new, important and not so important things, and in honor of our informal, mental and spiritual education, this post is dedicated to reviewing 5 things we learned in August.
1. We learned that Isaac Hayes had 12 children.
We already miss brother Hayes as he passed away earlier this month. We've known his music and the younger generation is familiar with his South Park character, "chef." But what many of us didn't know was that all of those love songs were from experience. Hayes had 14 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, three ex-wives and a 2-year-old son with his fourth wife.
2. We learned what sarcoidosis is.
The day before Isaac Hayes' passing, comedian and actor Bernie Mac passed away as well. For many of us, this was the first time we heard of him being in sarcoidosis remission. Sarcoidosis is a disease characterized by the development and growth of tiny clumps of inflammatory cells in different areas of the body. Sarcoidosis can affect virtually any organ, but most commonly it affects the lungs, lymph nodes, eyes and skin.
3. We learned that there are rat receipes floating around Bihar, India.
State offical, Vijay Prakash, states that he has recipes to make rat eating a delicacy and wants to distribute these to all the hotels in Bihar. The official would also like to encourage rat farming, just as poultry is farmed to help erase the stigma of rat eating and to help alleviate starvation.
4. We learned that Venezuelans don't trust their government.
But who really does?
5. We learned that one in three women who join the US military will be sexually assaulted or raped by men in the military.
These are very scary statistics, and it paints a rather ugly picture of a lot of our military men. It's something I think we would prefer not to think about. Or even something we prefer to deny ever exists, just from the sheer injustice of it all, especially after seeing the overwhelming evidence that our government covers up the death statistics of women that follows several of these sexual assaults.
Oh we've learned so much more than these five. This is just a few quick things that have been on my mind this month. I've learned plenty of personal lessons as well, but these issues are not for blogging.
I feel like Mr. Rogers when I think about all the things we'll discuss in September..."I'll be back, when the day is new. And I'll have more ideas...for you... and you'll have things you'll want to talk about. I ...will...to.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The Junk Mail of Your Phone Lines...How to Deal With It!
I was forwarded a message today – I thought it was brilliant. It wasn’t a new idea, simply, a list of tips for handling telemarketers and junk mail. Quite frankly, I heard of people doing some of these things years ago, but unfortunately I never hopped on the bandwagon. I’m not really sure why – but I think I just may have changed my mind after reviewing them again today.
Tips for Handling Telemarketers
Three Little Words That Work
(I actually do this to handle the telemarketers that call my job.)
(1)The three little words are: 'Hold on, please...'
Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off (instead of hanging-up immediately) would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt. Then when you eventually hear the phone company's 'beep-beep-beep' tone, you know it's time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task.
For some reason, I don’t practice this at home, though… not sure why, but I think that’s all about to change.
(2) Do you ever get those annoying phone calls with no one on the other
This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone. This technique is used to determine the best time of day for a 'real' sales person to call back and get someone at home.
What you can do after answering, if you notice there is no one there, is to immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times, as quickly as possible This confuses the machine that dialed the call and it kicks your number out of their system.
I wonder if this really works? I’m kind of excited to try it out though.
(3) Junk Mail Help:
When you get 'ads' enclosed with your phone or utility bill, return these 'ads' with your payment. Let the sending companies throw their own junk mail away. When you get those 'pre-approved' letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and similar type junk, do not throw away the return envelope. Most of these come with postage-paid return envelopes, right? It costs them more than the regular 41 cents postage 'IF' and when they receive them back. It costs them nothing if you throw them away! The postage was around 50 cents before the last increase and it is according to the weight. In that case, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little, postage-paid return envelopes.
I’ve heard of this before! I’ve been tempted to do it, but I guess it’s just been easier to walk to the trash can than to the mailbox (much further away). I should stop being lazy and have a little fun and just do it!
One of Andy Rooney's (60 minutes) ideas.
Send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express. Send a pizza coupon to Citibank. If you didn't get anything else that day, then just send them their blank application back! If you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn't on
anything you send them.
I guess this would be what some folks would call, “giving them a taste of their own medicine.” I suppose the time is up for being bullied and just accepting any ol’ thing from everybody. I don’t know how much of an impact this will all make, but I’m willing to experiment. What do I have to lose? What do you have to lose?
Friday, August 22, 2008
Because I've been so incredibly heavy for the last few posts, I figured I should lighten it up a tad. So this time I'm only posting a video without much of a story, just an explanation.
When I was in elementary school, I just knew for sure that I was on the fast track to becoming a super famous...something. A writer, a singer, a something... I just didn't know what. And I remember reciting a song I learned in the fourth grade, that rung in my head for years beyond grade school:
I wanna be famous, for something I've done
I'm having a race with time, to show the world that I'm
Not just anyone.
I wanna be someone, whom everyone knows
so people will point to me
and whisper there the genius goes.
I'm not quite certain what I'll do
to make this crazy dream come true
maybe I'll write the kind of play
they cry for up and down Broadway.
When folks discover what I did...
they won't believe I'm just a kid...
I wanna be bowed too, and even cowtowed too,
I wanna make headlines, with all of my goldmines
I wanna feel ten feet tall,
but most of all...
I wanna be famous...
I wanna be famous...
I wanna be...
Thursday, August 21, 2008
This Is Your Government: Covering the Hate Crimes Against Military Women
My cousin sent an email to me today about LaVena Johnson. The young female soldier who died in Iraq, eight days shy of her 20th birthday, according to lavenajohnson.com. Officially, the military ruled it as a suicide, despite the overwhelming evidence suggesting that she was beaten, raped and murdered. Reading her story, how her parents are struggling to obtain a much more thorough investigation, and for congress to hold the military accountable for such atrocities against women; really breaks my heart.
The government’s own statistics from the Department of Defense shows that one in three women who join the US military will be sexually assaulted or raped by men in the military. This is alarming. However, CommonDreams.org points out an even greater terror are the rates of death of military women after being sexually abused in the US and in Iraq. The US military classify the sexual assault “non-combat related injuries” and then classifies the deaths as “suicide.”
There are even certain US Army units and specific Iraq military bases that have a high number of female soldiers who have died from “non-combat related injuries” and several identified as “suicides.”
Of LaVena Johnson’s death, 29-year retired Army veteran, Ann Wright (no relation to me) wrote:
The military criminal investigator's initial drawing of the death scene revealed that Lavena's M16 was found perfectly parallel to her body. The investigator's sketch showed that her body was found inside a burning tent, under a wooden bench with an aerosol can nearby. A witness stated that he heard a gunshot and when he came to investigate found a tent on fire and when he looked into the tent saw a body. The Army official investigation did not mention a fire nor that her body had been burned.
After two years of requesting documents, one set of papers provided by the Army included a xerox copy of a CD. Wondering why the xerox copy was in the documents, Dr. Johnson requested the CD itself. With help from his local Congressional representative, the US Army finally complied. When Dr. Johnson viewed the CD, he was shocked to see photographs taken by Army investigators of his daughter's body as it lay where her body had been found, as well as other photographs of her disrobed body taken during the investigation.
The photographs revealed that Lavena, a small woman, barely 5 feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds, had been struck in the face with a blunt instrument, perhaps a weapon stock. Her nose was broken and her teeth knocked backwards. One elbow was distended. The back of her clothes had debris on them indicating she had been dragged from one location to another. The photographs of her disrobed body showed bruises, scratch marks and teeth imprints on the upper part of her body. The right side of her back as well as her right hand had been burned apparently from a flammable liquid poured on her and then lighted. The photographs of her genital area revealed massive bruising and lacerations. A corrosive liquid had been poured into her genital area, probably to destroy DNA evidence of sexual assault.
Despite the bruises, scratches, teeth imprints and burns on her body, Lavena was found completely dressed in the burning tent. There was a blood trail from outside a contractor's tent to inside the tent. She apparently had been dressed after the attack and her attacker placed her body into the tent and set it on fire.
Investigator records reveal that members of her unit said Lavena told them she was going jogging with friends on the other side of the base. One unit member walked with her to the Post Exchange where she bought a soda and then, in her Army workout clothes, went on by herself to meet friends and get exercise. The unit member said she was in good spirits with no indication of personal emotional problems.
The Army investigators initially assumed Private Johnson's death was a homicide and indicated that on their paperwork. However, shortly into the investigation, a decision apparently was made by higher officials that the investigators must stop the investigation into a homicide and to classify her death a suicide.
As a result, no further investigation took place into a possible homicide despite strong evidence available to the investigators.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Sudan’s Justice is Called a Sham – But Are We Really Surprised?
According to Amnesty International, students, lawyers and journalists are among the 150 or so people who remain unaccounted for after a rebel attack back in May near the capital of Khartoum. Amnesty International’s deputy director for Africa, Tawanda Hondora, is calling Sudan’s special “anti-terror” courts a “travesty of justice”, after eight alleged Darfur rebels were sentenced to die.
An AI spokesperson stated that many of those arrested were held incommunicado at national security facilities and suffered torture. Some of the 109 who are being sentenced, only met their lawyers for the first time during the trial.
BBC News reported that more than 220 people were killed in the attack on Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city. This was the first time rebels had gotten so close to the capital. In response, the government reacted with a security crackdown and mass arrests, according to the report and during the crackdown, there were reports of summary executions.
The government had previously promised that anyone arrested for the attack would receive a fair military trial. Thirty eight people have been sentenced to death so far, including senior Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) official, Abd-al-Aziz Nur Ushar.
JEM is one of several rebel groups fighting against the government and pro-government Janjaweed militia in Sudan’s western Darfur region over discrimination by the government in favor of Arabs. It is estimated that about 400,000 people have died in the Darfur conflict and 2 million people have been displaced.
Those being held without charge or access to lawyers included women and a 9-month- old boy.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Venezuela and Their New Anti-Kidnapping Law ... New? Really?
Let me start off by saying that I have not done a lot of digging for this entry, and it is based off of one story I came across on BBC. However, I want you to note, that I will look into this further.
According to the report by James Ingham for the organization, although kidnappings have decreased by 44%, the Venezuelan government has made kidnappings a priority and by law, a kidnapper can now face up to 30 years in jail.
So was there no anti-kidnapping law in place before this recent one? The article is brief and doesn’t make any mention of the repercussions of kidnapping prior to recent legislation, but only hinted at the crime “not covered by a particular law.”
Also with the passing of this law, the family of victims will be required to disclose their financial worth to “help deter ransom paying” and to encourage victims’ families to approach the police for help. As far as I can see, there are several victims in this. The person who is kidnapped and their families, not only are being bullied by the kidnapper but also by their government. I have not made the connection about how the police knowing your worth can deter this crime unless it is the government who is doing the kidnapping.
The citizens of Venezuela reportedly, mistrust the police and often will pay the ransom to ensure a victim’s safe return. Mistrust the police and government? Hmmm, I wonder why.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
An Indian Official Says:
The Poor Should Eat Rats!
In the Indian state of Bihar, it has been recently reported through BBC news that the Principal Secretary of the state’s Welfare Department, Vijay Prakash, has proposed a plan to help low caste poor people with food shortages. His proposal? A campaign to popularize the consumption of rat meat.
On the very bottom of Bihar’s caste system, is the Musahar community, who are traditionally, rat-eaters. Prakash suggests that the popularization of rat-eating would not only save about half of Bihar’s food grain stocks, but it would also improve the economic condition of the Musahar.
“People now prefer to eat rat meat instead of chicken or goat as it comes cheaper and is more tasty and healthy.”He also states that he has recipes to make rat eating a delicacy and wants to distribute these to all the hotels in Bihar. The official would also like to encourage rat farming, just as poultry is farmed.
As disgusting as this may sound to some, the idea is a great alternative to starvation. However, I had been concerned over the possibility of disease infestation of rats and how it could possibly effect human health after consumption.
On www.ratbehavior.org, I learned that wild rats and a vast majority of the rat population is infected Mycoplasma. According to Wikipedia, mycoplasma is a type of bacteria that lack a cell wall. Because they lack a cell wall, they are unaffected by some antibiotics such as penicillin or other beta-lactam antibiotics that target cell wall synthesis. They can be parasitic or saprotrophic. Several species are pathogenic in humans, including M. pneumoniae, which is an important cause of atypical pneumonia and other respiratory disorders, and M. genitalium, which is believed to be involved in pelvic inflammatory diseases. They may cause or contribute to some cancers.
Looking at rats as a means to survive, I’m totally on board. Starvation should be defeated by any means necessary. However, Prakash, and the rat-eating supporters will have to be sure that the scavengers that they scamper after will not do the citizens of Bihar more harm than good, especially the wild disease infested ones that nibble on Bihar’s grain stock.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Bernie Mac, Issac Hayes and Samuel L. Jackson in "Soul Men"
Bernie Mac and Issac Hayes - Their Legends Will Live On
I couldn’t have imagined that in one summer weekend, we would loose two great American Entertainers. On Saturday morning, we lost comedian and actor, Bernie Mac, age 50. The next afternoon, musician, singer and actor Issac Hayes passed away at the age of 65.
A week before his passing, comedian and Chicago native, Bernard Jeffery McCullough (AKA Bernie Mac), was admitted for treatment of a prescription he had taken that suppressed his immune system, which reportedly may have contributed to his contraction of pneumonia.
Of his last moments, Bernie Mac’s sister-in-law, Mary Ann Grosset told People Magazine,"He opened his eyes on his own and looked at [his wife] Rhonda. She called his name, and he opened his eyes and nodded to her. She smiled at him and told him, 'Don't leave me.' ... He shrugged his shoulders, and she said that's when she knew he was tired. He signaled to her that his body was tired."
According to MTV, Bernie Mac had four projects in post-production, including, “Soul Men” which Ironically featured Issac Hayes.
On Sunday afternoon, August 10th, singer, songwriter, musician, producer and voiceover actor, Issac Hayes was found on the floor unresponsive near his treadmill by his wife, Adjowa. He was later pronounced dead at 2:08 pm at Baptist East Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
Though no foul play is suspected, deputies with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department continue their investigation into Hayes’ death.
According to MTV News, Hayes was about to begin work on a new album for Stax Records, the legendary soul label with which he had a long association.
They will both be terribly missed, but their legends will live on forever!
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Yesterday I told my mother, “I wanna farm.”
She said, “What? What are you going to do on a farm?”
I told her, “I just want to own it. I’ll have someone else do all the work.”
Today I told my beau, “I wanna farm.”
For clarification he asked, “You want to farm?”
I said, “No. I want a farm.”
Then of course, he said, “Oh. Okay, there’s a big difference in wanting to farm and wanting a farm.”
Yes there is.
As I’ve been thinking about it, it never dawned on me that the AAVE compound word “wanna” was polysemous (definition: a word with multiple meanings). I’m quite sure it’s because one doesn’t have the opportunity to study AAVE in grade school classrooms– and only in college if you’re either a linguistics or ethnic studies major.
The slamming together of “want a” and “want to” are the exact same word, “wanna” - and though I know this is automated AAVE speak I’ve never paid attention to it’s grammatical rule. All who speak AAVE knows it, but today was the first time I actually knew it.
So today, instead of giving you a review of a movie or the latest news going on in the world, I chose to give you a little gem from African American Vernacular English. So that if you don’t know, now you know! You know?