Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tears of Winter Days and Winter Nights

If you click on the title of this post, you will be taken to a story by a woman named Pythia Peay who wrote an article on the HuffPost that was somewhat about winter depression. It just really got me thinking...my psychiatrist warned me about this...my fiance warned me about this...maybe it's true!

I've definitely been feeling more down than usual since the snow has begun to fall heavy on the poor sprigs of grass in my tudor's backyard. I don't want to go outside. I don't want to go to work. I don't want do much of anything except sit on the couch and drink hot coffee. Winter sucks! I should be the happiest person on earth right now. I just graduated with my first B.A. on 12/13, got engaged back in October and I just got my first full-time reporter job. I should be on top of the world. But every morning when I look out the window to see that another two or three inches of fresh snow has fallen on the four or six inches of slushy crappy snow that my idiot snowplower left behind, it makes me ask myself some questions. Who wants to go out and feel brisk winds against our faces? Who wants to get salt stains on the bottoms of our favorite jeans? Why would you want to subject yourself to the turmoils of winter time when you don't have to?

Because you do have to. We have to go to work to make money in this god-awful economy, and we should go outside to WANT to get the exercise and we should WANT to get some fresh air. But who wants fresh air when you can sit in the warmth of your home with a hot cup of tea? See...that winter blues has already kicked my butt and put me back under the covers! (I got back out and went to work though)

It's called Seasonal Affective Disorder:

"Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression or winter blues, is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or, less frequently, in the summer,[1] spring or autumn, repeatedly, year after year. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), SAD is not a unique mood disorder, but is "a specifier of major depression"." - Wiki

Don't let the definition scare you. You should be able to tell on your own or with some help if you may have a case of major depression that may need medical attention. In other cases, it could just be because it's not so lovely outside as it was a few months ago. And you may not get all the symptoms either. Some people have been shown to overeat, oversleep (which is never bad in my book as long as you are on time for whatever), or crave junk food. If you knew me, I'm not an over-eater, I'm an under-eater. But I have been wanting more sleep and I have been craving more junk than real meals.

If you really want to, you can get help for seasonal affective disorder. If you live in a place like Cleveland (where I'm at), you may want some. You can get some light therapy if you want, which could help you with other problems that you may not have known were affecting you. You can also try getting some over-the-counter Melatonin from Walgreens or CVS or whatever drugstore you frequent to help with your sleeping cycle. Of course, if you feel like it's just winter blues then just let the winter time run out and go on about your days. Maybe you will be inspired by your sadness like Peay was.

I recognized it affecting me with the help of my fiance, but I know it'll be okay once the sun comes out again.

Monday, December 28, 2009

So Why Exactly Do You Want Me Dead?

I don't understand why other countries want to kill people in the United States. I've asked around, since I was still in middle school when September 11 happened, to try and figure out how this whole thing got started. I didn't come up with much because no one has a definitive answer as to why people from Afghanastan and Nigeria want us dead. Some people say it's religion. Others say its because we have too much power in this country and they don't like that. Some people say that there are simply lots of reasons why we have this "War on Terror" as they so like to call it. But I want to know why. I want to know why I have to be afraid to get on an airplane to go see my family in Atlanta because some crazy religious, doesn't like the power we have, and so many other reasons person wants to kill me to make a statement to Al Queida or the Taliban or whoever else is involved in this mess. So who's going to do it? Whose going to give me my answer!?

Not even old Uncle Sam. All he can tell me to do is just support it...support it no matter what. And you know WHY no one can give me the answer? Because no one knows. Isn't this how the world has worked forever? Kill each other for some reason and then forget what the reason was later. But even when you do forget, kill kill stab stab has been ingrained into your brain so much by that time that that's all you know. It's what those soldiers out there eat, sleep and breathe. Death. Do you want that for your children? I'm 21 years old so children will be on the way soon enough. This thing won't be over in 4 or 5 years. They'll still be there eating, sleeping and breathing the stench and horror of the death of their loved ones, or friends, or even enemies. And that will stick with them. And they'll share their stories and instill that into there children so that when the time comes, all those little boys and girls will run off with high technology weaponry and kill kill stab stab. Kill. Kill. Stab. Stab. It's like a video game...except it's real.

I don't know what I'm more pissed off about: the fact that this Nigerian dude could get on a plane coming to the United States or the fact that this guy felt like he had to get on the plan to prove something to someone. Which one makes you more angry? Have you even considered that? I know you don't want to forget the ones who left to die for you, but have you taken a second to think about WHY THOSE PEOPLE WANT US DEAD? Have you really taken a second to see it from their point of view? And after you do, did you find out why they want us dead? Can you explain it to me? I can think about it all I want but I don't know the background. I haven't been following this thing since I was in 8th grade. All I remember is my mother coming to school, picking me up, sitting me next to her in front of the TV at home, and she held me like she needed to protect me from something. I didn't understand it then and I probably still don't fully understand it now. I may be older, but that doesn't mean I know what's going on. I still don't know why people are dying from being murdered, or committing suicide or from getting blown up. Do you?

I don't really have an opinion on this war. I don't like our people dying for it, but I'm one of those people who isn't pleased about other people from other countries having to die for it either. I don't want anyone to die. Is this supposed to be some sort of plan to decrease the population? Is it a plan to make people believe in things they don't want to believe in? Should I even care? Maybe I should just continue to live my life in oblivion...or maybe that's how we got here in the first place.

So, explain it to me. Explain to me why I have involuntarily volunteered myself to die for this country. Explain Kill Kill Stab Stab Death Now Questions Later...and when is later anyway?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Preist Tells Homeless it's OKAY to Shoplift

Best story of the morning about a British priest telling his homeless followers to shoplift if they don't have any money. This story found on the Atlantic Wire made me laugh out loud. His one quote says:

"advice does not contradict the Bible's eighth commandment because God's love for the poor and despised outweighs the property rights of the rich."

He must really be in the Christmas spirit since he wants to make sure that poor people get their presents for the holidays. I don't know how the religious practices in Great Britain work, but I'm pretty sure part of his sermon should not be encouraging homeless people to steal from other people. In the United States, I don't believe a priest would say this to homeless people because everyone is in a bind for money right now. I know a few families, including my own, who were scraping together pennies to buy a family member just something small just so that they didn't feel left out.

Also, because of this article I think I found a new blog to read called The Good Atheist. He had an interesting take on this story as well:

"My worry is that this douchebag is forgetting that shoplifting isn't without consequence, and his bad advice could lead his flock astray. To you and me, Father Jones is really only an expert in nonsense, but to his parishioners he is a man with a direct line to God, and this weighty position comes with a few responsibilities What happens when this advice lands one of his parishioners in jail?"

Oh, and if he didn't get it right! Apparently, that priest wants his followers to end up in jail on Christmas Eve for stealing a Zhu Zhu Pet out of Wal-Mart!  Or maybe it's all a plan just to get people to want to follow him more. I am sure there are tons of homeless people who have given up hope on religion because they are poor. But since this guy says it's okay to go get all "clepto" in the name of "God", maybe some people decided to go back to the church for such reasons. Church is free, and so is the advice. And manipulation can do wonders!

I hope I get to the read the police report stating ever robbery and shoplifting incident that occurred because of this guy's advice. I hope it's a long list too. Just because you have some kind of "connection to God", doesn't mean you are "God". All I know is that he better be able to pay bail for all those who did take his silly advice.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Today is a Waiting Day...

I do not have the right mindset today to try and express my opinions through this blog. I have been waiting since Friday to figure out if I got a certain job and today is the day that I am supposed to find out. It's a very nerve-racking process and I don't know if I should be optimistic or what. My mind is all over the place, so I am trying to keep myself occupied with other things. Today is just not the day...today is simply a day for waiting. And tomorrow might be the same. I will try to post on my other blog, but I will have no guarantees. Hopefully I get the answer today so I can cry (regardless if I get it or not) and move on with life and with this blog. But for today, this will have to be good enough. Wish me luck...even if I don't need it.

(This could or could not be me :-\)

Friday, December 18, 2009

68 Journalists Killed in 2009

It's not something that makes me want to go overseas and cover interesting stories about rape and prostitution. If you click on the title of this blog, you will be taken to an Associated Press article on the Editor & Publisher website, giving you the numbers and locations of killed journalists. None of the 68 journalists killed in 2009 were killed in the United States, but a lot of local foreign journalists were killed in the countries they lived in.

The Shocking Facts:
  • 60 percent increase in deaths from 2008. 68 deaths / 42 deaths
  • 67 deaths in 2007
  • 30 of those 68 were murdered in the Philippines 
 According to the article, these journalists are not all dying in the line of fire. Most of the journalists killed are being murder for doing their job. Nine of the 68 were killed in Somalia during combat conditions. Others were killed for the stories they wrote or for the blogs they wrote expressing their opinions. In Mexico, print journalists died for writing stories on drug traffiking and organized crime. 56 percent of the 68 kills were because of blogging about important stories that television or other print publications have yet to pick up.

When I have my own magazine, that's what it's supposed to be based on; stories that others don't want to cover because of the sensitive material. I know the risks of journalism; it's dangerous. It's not something to get yourself into if you don't expect there to be consequences for your work. And I don't plan on dying or anything, but I do plan to express my opinion about some things that conservative, closed-minded people don't want to hear about. Religion. Abortion. Arranged Marriages. Social Issues. Cultural Issues. Political Stupidity. Your Stupidity! These are just some of the things that I want to write to get your brain working and moving away from being closed-minded. I want to open the minds of the closed-minded. Am I will to die for it, though? Am I willing to die for my opinion? Are you?

(This video contains violent images. Proceed with caution)

It's a tough question, but it's got to be in the back of your mind if you are going to be in this field. As you can see, the numbers are rising. People don't like journalists. They expose you and they tell your business and most of the time it's without remorse. That doesn't mean we should die for it. When one person thinks you should die for writing an article, another person thinks you should be commended for writing that article. But as soon as you put your name in that byline, there's no turning back. The decision is then up to society. There is no journalist protection program.

I don't want to know that my kind are being killed while on duty, but I'm not going to kill people who are staff of the Associated Press because they wrote an article that was depressing. I'm going to take what I read, put it into prospective, and go on with my day knowing that I have one more piece of knowledge that I didn't have before. That's all it is. News. And you deserve to know what's going on in the world.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Already Making Next to Nothing? Here's How to Make Less!

Right now, minimum wage is around $7.25. It could be worse, but it's not great either. You can't really live a life comfortably by making $7.25 an hour doing 40 hours a week. You wouldn't be able to have any kids, you would be living paycheck to paycheck and probably asking friends and family for money for gas. Now, some people like Charles Lane from The Washington Post thinks that LOWERING minimum wage would stop job loss. Lowering it from $7.25...to something even more improbable to live on.

Heather Horn from The Atlantic made a very nice statement about this idea that Lane projected:

"You know, I generally like to start off my arguments by linking together two pieces of almost entirely unrelated information. Charles Lane works for the Washington Post. There were dozens of unsolved murders in Washington, D.C. last year. I'm not saying Charles Lane is a predatorial super-killer; far from it ... But Charles Lane really likes taking college students into alleys and savagely beating them with 2 x 4s. It is unwise for the Washington Post to continue to hire this man." 
I don't know much about Lane, but I did read his story in full on the Washington Post (which you can see if you click on the Charles Lane link above). He went from talking about fixing the sugar industry to lowering minimum wage. Those were his points to trying to fix the job market. It didn't make any sense to me, and it didn't make any sense to Horn either.

As I have stated multiple times in the past few days, I recetly graduated. But before that happened, I was sending out resumes left and right to everyone and everything. I sent them to newspapers, magazines, restuarants, convenience stores, diners, etc. Everywhere! The only job interviews I got were ones for me to sell things door to door or to start my own business through someone else's business. I was willing to take minimum wage because I didn't have a choice. If someone would've given me a job and offered me minimum wage, I would have snatched that up so fast because the market is already bad. There aren't many options, even for recent grads. Lowering minimum wage would simply make things even harder for the recent grad, or the high school student, or the retiree who is looking for something less stressful. If you can't live off of $7.25, then you can't live off of $7. Or $6. Or $5.15. You just can't do it. You need at least $10 an hour to be OK. And that's even a stretch. It's just not feasible and to say that it would be is a lie. And you know what...YOU ALREADY HAVE A JOB THAT PAYS MORE THAN MINIMUM WAGE. It really makes my blood boil when people who have warm and fuzzy, stable jobs think that they should try to make decisions for the poeple who don't have one or who are paid less. I'm already paid nothing. Now you want me to get less than nothing. You want me to get -$7.25? Will that help the job market, Charles? Charles Lane has nothing to worry about. But, with the newspaper industry not doing so great...maybe he does. I bet he would really love it if he got laid off and could only work an entry-level job at McDonald's. Ten bucks says he wouldn't try to write articles about lowering minimum wage then!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Writing a Blog about New Blog

I was going to write about Oral Roberts death and how ridiculous Benny Hinn is...but I don't feel like going into a rage while I'm at work.

Therefore, I'm writing a short post to tell all that I am going to try to start a new blog that focuses on the readings that I do. I have seen other blogs that focus on the books people have read, written and been inspired by so I thought I would do the same. I haven't been much of a reader for years but I would like to start that back up since I have all this free time now (recent college grad). Hopefully, I can make this a hobby that will not only advance me intellectually while I am not in school, but also give me some more insight into the workings of the world. I'm going to try to start by reading some short stories, just to get myself going. I will post the link to the new blog below. I will continue to post my angst-ridden blogs here at The Color in Black & White, but I will also try to keep another one going as well. Wish me luck!

First book to tackle: 50 Great Short Stories by Various Authors


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

DeMint: The Anti-Gay Republican

I don't know much about this Republican Senator Jim DeMint from North Carolina, but I do know that he would have a problem with about half of my friends.

(Click on photograph to be taken to Huffington Post story on DeMint)

This guy thinks that homosexuality is immoral and that having an openly gay president would be the worst thing that could ever happen to America. He believes that homosexuality is "immoral" and that "marriage is a religious institution" and "Governments should not be in the business of promoting a behavior that's proven to be destructive to our society."

A behavior? Religious Institution? Destructive? Could he be any more insulting? Most likely, but he seems to stand by his words with pride and no remorse for the human beings he just criticized. I have a few issues with his statements.

One: Homosexuality is not a behavior; it's a sexual orientation. It's not the way a person acts, it's the way a person feels about the opposite sex and in my book there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. This is the 21st century if you haven't noticed, DeMint. According to the U.S. census bureau, 1.5% of Americans have come out as homosexual and those are just the ones that have come out. In all reality, we all are a little gay. Even you.

Two: Your whole statement about "marriage being a religious institution" is bogus. Yes, a good deal of Americans still hold their weddings in a church and have a priest and so on and so forth, but another good deal of Americans don't believe in religion and would die before they got a priest to join two atheist hands in marriage. And, according to the U.S. census bureau,  in 2001, about 12% of Americans identified themselves as either atheist, agnostic, humanist, secular, or non-religious. And the homosexuals that do believe in God have already told themselves that he loves them no matter what. Therefore, marriage is far from being a religious institution. That's just what you think.

Three: What part of homosexuality is destructive? If you are talking about like raves and techno and drugs, everyone who does that is not gay. If you're young and stupid enough, you'll do it. If you are talking about two homosexuals adopting or having a child together, that's not a course of destruction either. As long as the parents can give the child the love and support they need to get through the trials and tribulations of life, by the time they get to the age where they can have their own opinions and see homosexuality as a way of life for some people, they will be just fine. And, if you mean destructive as in like...bombing people or causing mayhem or tearing people down for their sexual orientation, I think you may be more at fault for being destructive, Sir.

I'm sure there are more Republicans out there that believe in the same things you do, and that's why we don't have a Republican president. That's why gay marriage is allowed in five of the 50 states of the United States. That's why people like you are frowned upon for being closed-minded. And that's why people like you will never ever make it to the top. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Modern Warfare 2 [[VS]] Reality

The only thing I know about Predator Drones is that it's really great when my fiance gets them from killing enough people in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 because he gets to kill even more people! That sounds great for a video game, but in real life it just sounds like murder to me.

Predator Drone Aircraft

I know that we have issues overseas; okay, maybe more than just some 'issues'. In this article, The Drone Dilemma, featured on Newsweek, the Obama Administration talk about possibly expanding their use of Predator Drones over more densely populated areas of Pakistan. Previous use of the missiles have been successful and some officials think it would be a great idea to start wiping out more people with them. President Obama is a little hesistant though.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Predator Drone Set Up

In case you don't know exactly what a Predator Drone is, it's a CIA search and destroy program that launches missiles from a remotely piloted drone aircraft. And, if the damage that it does in the video game is similar to the damage it can do in reality, a lot if people can die even if they are just in the proximity of where it lands. Obama is worried about killing more civilians for unnecessary reasons, which I think is comendable. I know certain people need to be 'taken care of', but not everyone in Pakistan is a terrorist.

The Predator Drones have succeeded in killing some top people in leadership positions for the Taliban and getting rid of some experts who know about 'weapons of mass destruction' (which should just be called bombs, or nukes, or whatever). I'm sure that makes Americans feel a little bit safer. But you have to think of all those poor women and children who have lost members of their family who may be in a direct line of fire without even knowing about it. We are talking about exterminating human beings like they were cockroaches. It's like taking that aerosol can of Raid and spraying it on a helpless ant colony. Ants can't do anything but walk around and try to feed themselves, while doing some occasional breeding. The innocent people of Pakistan who are going to get hit with that Predator Drone are like those ants: helpless, self-sufficient, and occasional breeders. Their just like us in a way, except we haven't foreseen any missiles coming our way without warning. We may be giving the Taliban some ideas though!

Predator Drone Missile

I'm not saying that using the Predator Drones is a bad idea, but it is a definite risk of just making matters worse. If more people are killed, more people who were attached to someone not involved in this mess, more people are going to get angry. If not angry, more people are going to get violent. But I'm not one for politics or weaponry or making decisions on who lives or dies. Apparently, that's the governments job. I'm just a writer.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Post-Racist America

If you click on the title of this blog, you will be taken to a very moving blog by Russell Simmons on the Huffington Post website. In Simmons' blog, you will find the kind of hope and fire that I wish to someday have for our nation. He talks about how people like Rush Limbaugh and other veteran Republicans will never win the war on racism. A war that has been going on since before my own grandmother was born.

I know a lot of people say "well racism is only still around because people like you keep bringing it up". Well, the only reason I bring it up is because it means a lot more to me to stop these shenanigans, if you will, and try to bring our country to a place of peace. Why must we be at war with each other when we are already at war with others?

At this moment, I don't really see a future without racism. It's not that I have given up hope on our country, but I fear that people like Limbaugh will reach more and more and make them believe that people of color can do nothing but wrong. As Simmons quotes in his blog, Limbaugh made a statement on his show trying to interpret Reverend Jackson's words. He said that "the black frame of mind is terrible and Tiger's choice of women didn't help". Help what exactly? A black man cheats on his white wife with a white woman and all hell breaks loose? What about all the white men who have cheated on their white wives? Why don't they get called out only if their name is Bill Clinton? What about white men who cheat on their black wives? What about all the black men who cheat on their black wives? Why doesn't he care about them? What about the Asian man who lives next door with the latina? Is he going to get called out too? Is that going to make Jackie Chan any less attractive? The point is is that people like Rush Limbaugh have one purpose in the world and one purpose only...to make people think what he wants them to think. And he may succeed to a degree, but everyone won't follow in his footsteps. And thus, this war may never end.

I am a perfectly professional black woman engaged to a perfectly respectable white man and I, myself, do not get any sort of verbal thrashing because of the community that I live in and because of the people I surround myself with. But I know that there are some people out there who are not as fortunate as I am. And I wish I could apologize for the way the world treats you. It is truly unfair. But hopefully something will be done about it someday.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Way to Remind Myself of my College Years

So, I just wrote my final article for school about Christmas Shopping. I am graduating on Sunday, and this will be my official last paper of my undergraduate years. I like it enough that I am going to post it here. Enjoy.

Holiday Shopping: No Recession will keep them down
By Faith Larraine Hampton

            The holiday season is here and the shopping has already taken its chance to start emptying the pockets of anxious holiday shoppers. Even with the recession creating a job loss rate that is excruciating to look at, that will not stop the holiday shopper from gathering up the Christmas sales from their favorite stores. Whether it be a gift for the spouse, the kids, or a little something for the shopper, the lack of funds will not make anyone lose out on a little holiday spirit.

            American Research Group, Inc. has conducted their 24th annual holiday spending survey and came up with some interesting results. Holiday shoppers plan to spend an average amount of $417 for the 2009 Christmas shopping season. That is a little less than 3 percent lower from the 2008 statistics, coming in at an average of $431 for the holiday shopper. But that is nothing compared to the 50 percent decrease from the 2007 holiday spending average of $859. This year’s average has been the lowest since 1991 when the holiday spending average was at $419.

            American Research Group, Inc. also found out that 42 percent of holiday shoppers plan to spend their funds doing online shopping, compared to only 36 percent of shoppers who have decided to stay with the traditional catalog Christmas shopping. 23% of the surveyed shoppers stated that they will pay full price for their Christmas products, compared to the 53% of shoppers who said they would rather wait for the sales. Despite these numbers, a great deal of shoppers have already done their Christmas shopping. According to the Wall Street Journal, 195 million shoppers collected their Christmas gifts this past Black Friday and the subsequent Cyber Monday that followed. An average of over $300 was spent per person.

            Internet shopping has been soaring in the past few years as more and more shoppers take their chances with doing if not some then all of their Christmas shopping online. Shoppers have been using the web to find online vouchers and better sales than they can find in stores to get the best gifts for their buck. According to Online PR News, the number of internet Christmas shoppers has increased by a third in recent years as consumers become more tech-savvy. In 2009, 53 percent of shoppers were shown to do all of their Christmas shopping online.

            Despite what those articles have said, multiple store managers have said just the opposite. Tony Lark, an executive team leader at Target in University Heights, believes that sales made from the Target website have had no effect on sales in the actual Target retail store.

            “People like to see what they’re buying,” explains Lark.  “The online website does good business but people like coming in to the store for the atmosphere. I don’t think our guests want to go through the website unless they are buying something that is exclusively online.”

            But it’s not just Target who believes that their online counterpart doesn’t do their store justice. Nancy Carriggan, department supervisor and store manager at the Toys ‘R’ Us in Parma, also seems to believe that people would rather go shopping in store than out store.

            “The online Toys ‘R’ Us site hasn’t affected us here at all,” says Carriggan. “It hasn’t given us any trouble. That is probably because the website sells different things and our customers prefer to come into the store to get whatever it is they are looking for.”

            Michelle Davis, assistant store manager of the Cleveland Heights Wal-Mart, tells a different story about the competition between their physical location and their cyber location.

            “If you were to buy something from our Cleveland Heights store website, we do site to store,” explains Davis. “What that means is that when a customer buys something from that particular website the proceeds go to this stores physical location. In essence, there is no competition between the physical location here and the website.”

            It is good to see that some stores are not suffering from their subsequent online sales, but the real question is how the stores are doing in sales on their own. Was Black Friday the big success that all the consumers made it seem like that next Monday morning?

            “Black Friday went very well for us at this Wal-Mart,” says Davis. “I can’t give you the numbers but we actually did go up in sales. And, due to last year’s events with the one person being trampled at a Wal-Mart and a child who lost their life at another company’s store site, we felt that Wal-Mart should increase their security and add some structure for the event.”

            Davis went on to explain that the store’s Christmas sales go on throughout the season. They have some sales on Black Friday and some two weeks before Christmas. Carriggan at Toys ‘R’ Us explained that their sales have been going since September and Lark believes that Black Friday was the official start to the Christmas season for Target.

            But what was the big seller on Black Friday? According to all three sources, Zhu Zhu Pets are the hottest thing on the market, from Mr. Squiggles to Pipsqueek the yellow hamster. Each fluffy pet toy has their own musical tune and their own style. And, due to the lack of quantity that each store can get in, none of the sources can keep this item on their shelves for long.

            “They come in a very limited quantity,” explains Carriggan. “But I guess people like them so much because they are cute.”

            “Those Zhu Zhu Pets are impossible to find,” says Davis. “The demand is much higher than the supply. But we also can’t keep the Wii in-stock either.”
            Even though the Wii has been out since 2006, stores are still only getting it in quantities of 10 to 15 at a time. The console and its games have become more popular over time.

            With or without the recession, Americans have seemed to have decided that bringing Christmas joy to their spouses and little ones is a little bit more precious than crying over empty pockets. Retail stores have taken advantage of this fact with their multiple month long holiday sales and adjusting their store hours for the holiday season; Toys ‘R’ Us has changed their hours from opening at 10 a.m. to opening at 7 a.m. for the holidays. Recession or not, Christmas will never be cancelled.

(The last names are made up, but the first names of the sources are real. Everyone only gave a first name and their title)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Why You Shouldn't Be Happy That Ohio is 60 in November

Global Warming has been an issue that has apparently been a long time coming, but I have never put my two-cents in on it. Part of that reason is because I like the fact that Cleveland is warmer than it should be. I get tired of the slippery slopes and dangerous commutes to work from snow-covered streets. But, despite my own angers with wintery conditions, that doesn't mean that I should be happy about the neglect we have put on our planet.


Editor & Publisher, America's oldest journal covering the newspaper industry, had an article last night that talks a bit about the toll global warming has taken on certain editors. According to the E&P staff, 56 papers from 45 different countries have decided to write a connecting editorial based on the world's climate change scares and how we need to take cahrge, come together and try to make matters better instead of worse. Here is a snippet of what they said:

"Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year's inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted."
(Click on the Editor & Publisher link above for the full-story)

Well, someone's not happy. But I think they have the right idea. One point they made that really clicked in my brain is that we are running out of time to fix this situation. I've been hearing about these climate change issues for years now and I haven't really heard too many great ideas.

One idea I came across this morning to amend the situation was the possibility of "injecting particles of sulfur into the stratosphere—the upper layer of the atmosphere—to cool the planet and buy time for humans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions". Now, I'm sure that wasn't exactly a half-hearted idea from Nobel Prize-winning scientist Paul Crutzen. He must know a little bit about what he's talking about if he won a Nobel-Prize before (or at least you would hope). The idea might not be bad, but I would have fear for people who are allergic to sulfur. Whose to say that the sulfur could contaminate the air and start making people drop like flies? I'm not a scientist (obviously) but I don't think injecting things into the air that is already contaminated is a good idea, no matter what layer of whatever-sphere it is. And even if the idea is safe, whose to say we have enough time to wait for it to work? Whose to say anyone will change their behavior after the injection? The National Georgraphic article that this information came from states that Crutzen's injection would "imitate the cooling effects of volcanic eruptions". Other people who are like me are just going to be scared that something is going to explode and kill us all before the sun fries us like chicken wings! Volcanic eruptions don't sound good! Even if it is something that would just resemble it...it's all too scary.

I don't want to give up on believing that we still have time to right this wrong, but part of me is thinking that our time is quickly coming to a close. And I don't even know what will happen whenever something does happen because of these climate changes, but I know it won't be good. Otherwise, people wouldn't be making such a fuss about it. All we can do is try to cut down on the pollution and our own personal emission of greenhouse gases. I don't know if this thing will be a silent killer or not, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Here is one last quote from the E&P article:

"It is in that spirit that 56 newspapers from around the world have united behind this editorial. If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too."

If only it was so simple...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fondling the Presidential Primaries

I'm not one that has had much of a focus on trying to understand the issues, trials and tribulations of politics. There is a lot of terminology that I just am not certain of, and I'm sure there's a lot more that I don't understand. Despite these facts, I would like to try my hand it. Feel free to point out my flaws.

The most intriguing issue that caught my eye on the HuffPost today was on Democrats possibly revising the rules of Presidential Primaries.

This past election was the first one that I wanted to really get involved in. I didn't try to be an 'Obama Mama' or anything, but I went out and voted and put my two cents in when people were complaining about Obama's promises and plans. Even though he's not doing as well as we thought he would do, he is still better than Bush. And even though the Democrats are happy with their Obama victory, they still make the point that the primary rules need some altering.

According to the HuffPost article, the 2008 Iowa caucuses took place a couple weeks earlier than it did in 2004. Also, Michigan and Florida were two states that decided to move the date for their 2008 primaries. Even though this didn't really do any particular 'harm', it still made the Democrats a little uneasy because of the possible consequences.These situations caused a bit of party frustration, saying that this would give the Democrats an extra power boost for their candidate.

Now I'm not entirely sure how big of an issue this really is because I haven't done a ton of research, but I remember when Bush was going for one of his terms and Kerry had been pronounced the winner. All of a sudden, Bush's brother, the then governor of Florida, stepped in and then Bush was pronounced the President of the United States. I know respective Democrats had to be angry over that. Since that was multiple years ago I can't remember if it that situation blew up as much as this current situation...or should I say speculation?

So a few states got to go first. A few states got to decide who they were going to support first. Is that nearly as bad as someone's victory being stripped from them moments after they were declared a winner? And unjustly for that matter! I really don't think enough was done to right that wrong...obviously not because we had to deal with Bush for eight years. The Republicans obviously had a few more tricks up their sleeves than the Democrats then. This situation that they are covering now may have been planned, but I'm pretty sure Obama had enough support anyway to get him a victory. Bush knew he wasn't going to win without a back up plan.

My point is that fuss after fuss can be made, but at least Obama won without having to call in some favors. Go ahead and make your changes so that people won't think you've corrupted anything; that's fine. We all know it was a fair fight. Or at least most of us have come to terms with the fact it was a fair fight. Some others may have not come to those same terms. At least he didn't have to ask Michele to vote a few more times...

Chris Good wrote a story for The Atlantic this morning, stating what some of the suggestions were for amending these primary issues:
  • Grouping states in "regions" instead of "sub-regions"
  • Perks given to states that abide by the national schedule
  • Reduce the number of superdelegates
Well, that's all fine. Fix issues that could or could not be fixed. To me, it seems like that are making something that is already simple and in place somehwat conveluted. As long as who ever wins is fair and just about their victory, that would probably be fine with America.

The story also states that since Obama has stated that he will be running for a second term in 2012, these changes wouldn't take place until 2016.

Well, that may set off another round of stories.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Russian Roof on Fire

I woke up this morning around 9 a.m. Checked the news on my phone and came across this Huffington Post article:

As I read the article, I wasn't as astonished by the number of deaths as some other facts that I had come across. Apparently, Russian nightclubs and resturants think that covering their ceilings with twigs is a great way to bring in the crowd and make them have a connection to nature. Or [paraphrased from HuffPost] 'gives the building a rustic look'.

I also read that fire safety precautions are not entirely enforced as much as they should be. Officials have been somewhat lacking in the push of the safety codes, allowing twigs and plastic ceilings to fly with establishments, regardless of the possible consequences.

With those 109 dead, a good deal of the people died from smoke exhaustion, but also from being trampled. A quote from a Russian nightclubber stated that there was only "one exit". This nightclub had obviously broken more than one violation, but was still allowed to operate.

I never believed that pyrotechnics were good for close quarters. Almost like at wrestling shows when all those pyros and fireworks go off as the wrestler's wobble out to their favorite theme song. I always get a chill up my spine for the audience members who have to sit closest to where those fire hazardous materials are set off.

[Speaking of wrestling: For those wrestling veterans, Rikishi's brother (Umaga) died yesterday -

Those 109 were somebody's children, and I believe that is a part that should really be taken into account. The fact that some of the parents who still allowed thier son or daughter to live in their home will now have to deal with the fact that they either knew or allowed their child to go to this venue, despite possibly knowing what their child was getting into. Of course this is all assumption, but it is possible.

According to the Huff Post, this had been the largest fire massacre since Russia was known as the Soviet Union. Not to mention that there was a nursing home fire back in 2007 that killed 23 people, despite officials knowing of fire hazards and simply not doing anything about it.

Maybe this will help those officials who have been so negligent to get back on the bandwagon and start keeping their Russian citizens safe while thier partying it up in the forest deck-out clubs.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Federal Shield Law Under Attack

I am a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and I have been getting a numerous amount of emails in my inbox about the Shield Law -- a legislation and 'privelege' of sorts for journalists that protects us from being forced to reveal an anonymous source's information that we have collected during our newsgathering. For quite some time now, the Federal Shield Law has been under attack by state senators and other government officials, trying to either get rid of the legislation entirely or (recently) make it apply only to 'salaried employess or independent contractors of news organizations". Freelance writers, students (like myself), and online journalists would not be protected.

As I did some more research about the origins and benefits of the Shield Law, the SPJ website made some very interesting points. I know that some parts of the government think that it is unfair for journalists to have so many confidential sources, but we do have a purpose. As the SPJ website states, it was anonymous sources that helped to reveal the culprits of the Watergate scandal. It was multiple anonymous sources that helped clear up debates about what is going on over in Iraq. In some cases, it is necessary to keep our sources confidential. If not for their own lives and family's sake, for our own.

I have said it many times and I will say it again; being a journalist is dangerous. Investigative reporting can be rewarding at times, but it can also put us in some serious sticky situations. Without the Shield Law, journalists would be forced to reveal their sources in court if asked to do so; no matter the consequences. It makes me wonder how long the government has actually thought about the consequences -- what taking away this legislation would be like for the journalists who are telling their families, friends, readers, etc. about the news that they really need to know.

For example, let's say you see a murder occur somewhere. Let's say...someone attempts and succeeds at assassinating a senator or congressman and you witness the entire thing. Naturally (if not too much in shock) you take a photo, video, have some sort of documented proof. You know that you can't keep it inside; you have to tell someone. So you tell me. You tell me the entire story, show me or give me your proof and you ask to remain anonymous for the sake of your own life and your family's life and your friends' lives, keeping them out of danger. I tell you that I promise to keep your name, whereabouts, etc. confidential. I write the story. Obviously, I would get called into court to state again (even though I already wrote a story on it) what you told me about the assassination. But, without the Shield Law, I would be forced to tell the court who you are or risk the dire consequences...most likely jail or prison time for not cooperating. And, because i told you I would keep you safe, I would go to jail for you. I wouldn't even think twice about it. But, if we can protect our legislation...our 'privelege' to keep our sources safe, all of that could possibly be avoided.

SPJ is trying to keep every journalist aware of ever step that is being taken for and against the Shield Law, but they can only do so much on their own. I support the Shield Law, and if you are a journalist I am sure you do as well, but we can't do this alone. A great deal of awareness needs to be brought to the table to secure our anonymous sources and our journalists. 49 states (excluding Wyoming) have some sort of Shield Law to protect the anonymous source and the journalist. Taking away this legislation could mean someone's life. I know that sounds...overdramatic...but in essence...at the end of the day...it's not. You can give two shits about protecting journalists, but you should care about protecting our sources. Some cases would still be mysteries without them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What the World Really Cares About...

I was going to go off on a rant about how the only people that should care about Tiger Woods cheating on his wife or not are Woods and the wife. But, I thought it was pretty pointless though since I'm sure tons of people already know they shouldn't care, but they care anyway. Well, as I perused my different news sites to find something else that might peak my interest, I simply found things that just angered me. "Matthew McConaughey goes Christmas Shopping". "LL Cool J to host the Grammy Nominations Show". Why are people so obsessed with PEOPLE?

I wonder if the general public realizes that Tiger Woods is just a somewhat attractive man from Cypress, California who has some talent while on the green and thinks its OK to cheat on his wife as long as he doesn't get caught. Do you realize this? Or do you see him as a celebrity first? I can name a few boys from high school who were somewhat attractive varsity golf players who thought it was alright to cheat on their girlfriends as long as they didn't get caught. Why aren't they in US Weekly? Because their girlfriend's not Tila Tequila? Because they aren't rich? Is it because they haven't been on the golf channel? I'm sure somebody recorded them for public access, so it can't be because they weren't on TV at all. Personally, I don't understand. Similar to what I said about Speidi (Spencer & Heidi Pratt), why do we care? They are just ignorant children playing house and we are the ignorant consumers of their stupidity (says the girl with a picture of Sean Connery on her desktop).

It's not that it's entirely a bad thing to want to read up on the people who are higher up or have more money than, oh say, Clevelanders like me. It should all be for just laughs and giggles and innocent jealousy. But we can't worship them. They certainly shouldn't be the first thing we think of in the morning and they certainly shouldn't be the last thing we think of before we go to bed at night. People need to take the time to think of themselves; to take pride in themselves and the works that they have accomplished. Sure we watch our television shows and gawk at Beyonce's thunder thighs, but at the end of the day it should be about you and your family. That should mean so much more to people than the age difference between Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.