Monday, August 30, 2010

We're all savages, aren't we?

Yesterday, I happened to run across a news article about Nicholas Pinto, a 29 year old prisoner in Pennsylvania who had been accused of being a child pornographer and was doing time at the Lackawanna County Prison, a notorious lockup that has been riddled with scandal lately.  Because of the crime Pinto was accused of, he was not well liked among his fellow inmates and guards.  Pinto was subjected to regular abuse, which he recorded in a 20 page journal he kept.

Pinto's journal chronicles the cold nights he spent forced to stand naked in his cell.  He writes about the repeated rapes and beatings he was subjected to by a fellow prisoner he calls "silverback", a man who not only stole Pinto's dignity, but also stole his belongings.  He describes the way prison guards would encourage other inmates to attack, degrade and harass Pinto... until August 8th, when Nicholas Pinto was ambushed by an inmate who was determined to beat the ever loving shit out of him.

According to the news article, Nicholas Pinto's skull was bashed in 15 times by a prisoner who had a history of violence and was supposed to be locked down, but wasn't.  The prisoner who did the beating was then able to get back to his cell and wipe the evidence of the attack off of his shoes. 

Nicholas Pinto is currently in critical condition.  He spent about three weeks in a hospital and is now in a long term care facility.  He likely has brain damage and may very well die.  Pinto's family is suing.

When I read this article, I was shocked and disturbed by the savagery that this inmate dealt with.  Indeed, when I read the article to my husband, he asked what country this abuse had taken place in.  He was surprised when I said "America". 

But what's even more shocking and disturbing to me are the comments that people have left.  It seems a lot of people are delighted that some animal in the Pennsylvania prison system has beaten the hell out of Nicholas Pinto.  They've actually said they hope Pinto dies and that he deserved every grisly blow to his head.  A few have even said he should have already been killed... someone should have taken Pinto outside after his verdict and blown his brains out.  No muss, no fuss.

While I won't say that I condone Pinto's career as a child pornographer, I will say that people who think he got what he deserved aren't a whole lot better than he is.  Nicholas Pinto went to court and got his verdict.  He's serving time in prison.  His punishment does not call for guards and inmates to be abusive.  It was not a fellow inmate's place to beat the shit out of him, just because he didn't like the crime he committed to be in prison.  And while Nicholas Pinto victimized children, it was every bit as wrong for other people to victimize him.

As sickening as it was for me to read news articles about Pinto's crime and the fate that has befallen him, reading the comments about the case lead me to believe that there are a whole lot of savages running around in the free world, too.  We have a judicial system for a reason... to promote civility and justice.  There's no place for individuals to exercise vigilante justice against those they don't think are suffering enough.  No one has the right to do what that inmate who beat up Nicholas Pinto did... even if the temptation to do so is very strong.

So... the upshot of what happened to Nicholas Pinto is this.  Pinto is now teetering on the brink of death in a hospital, not a prison.  He's racking up hefty medical bills that will most likely be paid by taxpayers.  His family is going to sue the state and will probably win, thanks to the evidence that stacks up against the folks that run the prison.  It's obvious that there was a major breakdown in security and people weren't doing their jobs.  And who pays for that judgment?  The taxpayers again... the same ones who are cheering what has happened to Nicholas Pinto, the child pornographer.  But aside from the money issue, the way people are reacting to Nicholas Pinto's assault is very disturbing and upsetting.  It reveals that there are a lot of crazy, violent people wandering around in society... folks who, if you were to take their words at face value, are capable of being just as savage and lawless and Pinto and his fellow inmates have been.  And that, to me, is very scary and upsetting.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sheltered kids...

It's only 12:30pm and I've already encountered a couple of things online that lead me to believe that a growing segment of today's kids are surprisingly sheltered.

The first incident involves an article I wrote on several months ago. Helium often has debate titles that people can write under.  One day back in March, I decided to write an article about why I feel we shouldn't have separate schools for kids who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered.  I kept my article fairly brief, noting that high school is a tough place for anyone who doesn't "fit in".  We don't create "separate but equal" facilities for other groups who feel oppressed by cruel people in school.  Why should we do it for people who aren't heterosexual?

Well... today, I got a respectful email from a young man who read my article and feels that as a homosexual, he should have had a special place to go to school, where he wouldn't be treated badly because of his sexual orientation.  I started to think about it and still came to the conclusion that it would be a mistake to separate homosexuals from heterosexuals.  After all, this fellow feels that he's been treated badly because he's different.  If he gets a special school because of his sexual orientation-- which, by the way, is none of my business-- he's really going to be treated like he's different and set apart.  What's more, I'm guessing that a special school is not going to solve the problem.  I bet he would find that people in the special LGBT school would divide into cliques among themselves.  That's how people are.   

It seems that once again, I've run into someone who laments being "special", but yet feels like he should get "special treatment".  It doesn't make any sense to me.  Separate but equal didn't work in the 1950s and 60s and I don't think it would work now.  What struck me about this guy's email is that it revealed that he hadn't really thought much about the issue.  He'd only thought about it from his rather narrow point of view... a point of view that supposedly came from someone already in their mid 20s. 

The next issue that came up involved porn.  A mother on a certain Web site for mothers wrote that she had blocked from her computer because her son is almost 8 years old.  She realized that Amazon sells lingerie and worried that her son would see women in their underwear.  This woman went on to say that she was going to make it her mission to see that this kid was sheltered from seeing any erotic images whatsoever before his 16th birthday.  And she said she was planning to talk to friends and relatives about her goal and let them know that her boy wasn't allowed to do anything at their house that might expose him to seeing someone in their underwear.

I'm thinking this lady is going to fail.  Sexual imagery is everywhere, even if you don't watch TV, read magazines, or look at  It's on billboards.  It's on people who don't dress modestly.  It's in music and in movies and books.  Sex is a part of life.  Growing boys will be exposed to it on some level, even if it's only in their imaginations.

But... to each their own, I guess.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

A little musical interlude...

This song was on my mind today...  It's full of filthy language, so beware.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Internet...

I recently turned 38 years old.  It seems like time has really flown.  Doesn't seem like that long ago that I was a child.  And yet I'm starting to look at my childhood as the "old days".  Indeed, a lot has changed, even over the past ten years.  The Internet has a lot to do with the massive changes in my lifestyle.

Back in the 1970s, when I was a small child, people enjoyed a lot of privacy that they don't seem to have anymore.  One could go to the grocery store and buy food without using a loyalty card to get a discount.  Granted, you can do that now... and some grocery stores don't actually have a loyalty program.  But it seems like a lot more of them do and they use those cards to track what you're buying so they can target advertising to you.  It's the same thing when you surf the web.  Pretty soon, you start to notice that certain sites start to pop up in advertising.  They know you've been on their site and they want you to come back and spend money.

Back in the 1980s, it didn't seem like the phone didn't ring unless it was from someone I knew or someone who had legitimate business with me or my family.  Now, every day I get phone calls from autodialers, despite the fact that I am on the DoNotCall list... a form I filled out online in order to get these idiots to leave me alone.  I don't usually answer phone calls from people whose phone numbers I don't recognize or come up "unavailable".  So calling me is not only annoying and intrusive and unlikely to get me to spend money, it's also pointless.

Nowadays, instead of going outside and talking to my neighbors, I sit online and talk to people from around the world.  I even found my husband in that manner.  I can remember sitting in a sociology class when I was in high school... in the days before the Internet, of course.  The teacher told us that we would likely marry someone who lived within 50 miles of us.  And yet, I married a man who, when I met him, was living in the central time zone while I was on the east coast.  I spend most of my time alone, except for my two dogs... and yet I don't really feel so alone because there are always people on the Internet.

I don't even need a TV anymore.  I can sit and watch programming to my heart's content on the Internet.  Televisions are becoming obsolete.  Pretty soon, televisions that offer live programming might be relegated to computer monitor status.  They're just there to show whatever can be beamed over the Internet.

I even find myself getting involved in other peoples' problems because of the Internet.  Read someone's blog or participate on a messageboard and see how fast you start to form opinions about other people and their issues...  It's amazing.

But the Internet is here to stay.  And before I die, I'm sure it will be even bigger than it is now.  There will come a day when I look at today as "the old days".     

Monday, August 23, 2010

Army Wives... a show that has totally jumped the shark!

So, I just watched the season finale of Lifetime's Army Wives.  I've really had my ups and downs with that show.  When it premiered in the summer of 2007, I was living in Virginia on an Army post.  I wasn't that excited about the show because I thought it would be unrealistic and moronic.  But then I ended up liking it, even though facets of it actually were unrealistic and moronic.

Then we moved and I watched the next two seasons of Army Wives from abroad.  The plot lines got to be more ridiculous and far-fetched.  The characters started to grate on my nerves.  But I kept watching, even though Kim Delaney's lips were starting to take on a life of their own and Sally Pressman's Alabama accent grew more and more obnoxious... and what'shisname who plays Trevor became more irritating because he was so annoyingly earnest.  Every season ended with a cliffhanger that I had to wait almost a year to see get resolved.

Now season 4 has just ended.  And all the loose ends are tied up... I'm thinking that maybe there won't be a season 5 and I'm not that upset about it.  Last night's episode was basically full of quick and ridiculous plot twists, everything from General Holden being captured, beaten up a little, and then rescued by Delta Forces, to Emmalin graduating high school, to Joan being cleared for duty again, to Denise pushing out a baby daughter, to Jeremy, former mom beater, getting engaged... to Pamela either marrying Chase again or becoming a cop in Atlanta, a la Cagney and Lacey...

It seems like every season, I'm more and more disappointed.  Lifetime either needs to can that show, or get some decent writers.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wasted time...

There's an old song by The Eagles called "Wasted Time".  That could probably be the title for a book about my life, especially over the past few years.  I feel like I waste a lot of time. 

For a long time, I resisted joining Facebook, because I didn't want some other Web site to monopolize my attention.  But I had an old friend who kept goading me to try it and I did.  Next thing I knew, all these people I used to know in high school, college, the Peace Corps, and grad school started coming out of the woodwork.  It was kind of nice to see some of them and compare lives... which I guess is what Facebook's purpose boils down to, anyway.  We all want to see who puts out the most interesting image of their life.

Facebook can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a huge time waster.  For not long after I got on Facebook, I found myself sucked into some of the games on that site.  I'm down to just three now... with an occasional fourth.  I used to play Mafia Wars religiously, but sort of lost interest in it.  I haven't given up on Farmville or Frontierville yet.  Lately, Hooves of Fire has most of my attention.

Beyond Facebook, I hang out on YouTube, Epinions, Associated Content, Helium, and a site that splintered off from Second Wives Cafe.  Actually, I want to make a special mention of Second Wives Cafe.  I used to be a fairly dedicated member of that site, but left it some years ago.  Let's just say I got too hooked on the drama and compromised more of my status as an adult than I would have liked.  The funny thing is, I was pretty addicted to SWC, but once I got off of it, I found I didn't miss it that much.  I found a group of other ladies that I enjoyed more than the group at SWC.  I like not being censored and hanging out with people who don't have quite so much drama in their lives.

So, aside from posting on my blog, which for all I know, nobody actually reads, I spend a lot of time twiddling my thumbs and thinking.  Thinking about wasting more time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dr. Laura and her racist rant, part III and a pleasant experience at the local hospital

So today, it's come out that Dr. Laura has decided to quit her show by year's end.  A lot of people are happy about it.  I guess I don't care one way or the other.  I've never listened to her show and don't agree with most of her views.  I did read one of her books some time ago and it was better than I expected.  But I suspect her time has passed and a lot of people are going to be glad when she's off the air for good.

People are still talking about this incident.  Some people, surprisingly enough, were surprised to hear about her leaving the airwaves.  One guy I ran into this morning had not heard about the rant that put her in the news in the first place.  When I directed him to a place where he could get the lowdown, he said he was glad to see her go.

I'm sure that once she's gone, someone just as offensive will be waiting to take her place.  She and her ilk are not really about helping people.  They're about ratings, money, and entertainment.  She went too far, and the money stopped rolling in from advertisers.  So it's time for her to say goodbye.

Now, switching topics, I feel like raving about the ultrasound I had this morning.

Being a military wife, I often end up getting medical attention at military treatment facilities.  That's the way it's always been for me, since I grew up an Air Force brat.  I enjoyed a few years of civilian healthcare, then married an Army guy... now I'm back on Tricare.

So anyway, because there is a shortage of military sponsored healthcare where we live, I was sent to a local hospital for an abdominal ultrasound.  I normally get very nervous in hospitals of any kind, despite my healthcare training.  I did NOT get nervous at this hospital.  I felt like I was walking into a high class hotel.  The place was decorated with wood paneling and had a lot of natural light.  It was very pleasant, with nice, soothing lighting. 

The ultrasound itself reminded me of a spa treatment.  The lighting in the exam room was very soft and the lady who took care of me really did her best to make sure I was comfortable.  I never once felt scared, anxious, or stressed out.  And if it turns out I do need to have my gall bladder out, I think I'd be very comfortable having it done at that hospital. 

I also want to shout out to my husband, who took such good care of me.  I don't deserve such a wonderful husband, but I'm so glad I've got him.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dr. Laura and her racist rant, part II

My husband and I were discussing this issue again this morning.  It occurred to me that as repugnant as Dr. Laura can be, she does serve a purpose.  I also think that some people are confused about what her job is.  Dr. Laura is billed as someone who helps people with their problems.  In actuality, that's not really what she does.  What Dr. Laura is, when it comes down to it, is a disc jockey.  Her job is not to help people with their problems.  Her job is to stir up shit.  And after saying the word "nigger" on the air, she has stirred up a lot of shit.  Therefore, she has done her job.

What's happening now?  People are talking about racism and race relations.  Some people are articulating why they think it's okay for one person to use the n-word, but it's not okay for others to do so.  Some people are explaining why they think it's not okay for anyone to use that word.  The one thing I don't see people doing too much of is listening, but at least there's some talking going on.  That's not a bad thing.

At this point in time, the n-word is considered a highly offensive word, just like the word "fag" is, to most Americans, a highly offensive word. If you choose to use highly offensive words, you run the risk of offending people. And given that the "n-word", "bitch", and "fag" are derogatory words that will upset some people, I don't think it's appropriate for anyone to use them in polite company unless they want to risk upsetting people. Of course, for some people, being upsetting is the goal... and in some situations, the words can be used without an intent to be offensive. I really think that's the core issue people ought to concern themselves more with, anyway. Rather than get upset that a certain word was said, we should look closer at what the person saying it meant by it.

But, I also think it's wrong to restrict word usage to certain groups of people, especially in a country where people are guaranteed the right to freedom of speech. If we really want true equality in this country, then we have to stop giving certain groups a pass for saying and doing things that society as a whole deems inappropriate.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dr. Laura's racist rant...

I never listen to Dr. Laura, but an online friend of mine linked to a blog about a recent show she did.  A black woman married to a white man called Dr. Laura's show looking for help in dealing with her husband's apparent racial insensitivity.  Dr. Laura didn't even give this poor woman a chance to state her problem in full.  She immediately jumped on the caller's back, accusing her of "having a chip on her shoulder", then launched into a tirade about how black comics on HBO use the word "nigger" at will.  Then she connected all of this to the fact that Obama is president.

I read the transcript of this conversation, then listened to a recording of it.  And I wonder how it is that anyone who calls up Dr. Laura thinks she will help them. Clearly her show is all about ratings and getting people so pissed off and outraged that they'll listen just for that reason.  If she were any less offensive, she would be out of a job. 

I suspect that a lot of people are going to be talking about this... or maybe they won't.  Maybe I have overestimated Dr. Laura's impact on popular culture.  But I already posted it on Facebook and it's gotten a heated response. 

Here's the link...

And here's my take on the whole issue...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Armadilloes and flight attendants who freak out...

So today, I read a little more about the Jet Blue flight attendant who freaked out because some woman who couldn't wait for the plane to stop taxiing was getting her bag out of the overhead bin before the plane stopped.  Evidently, when the flight attendant asked her to sit down, she told him to fuck off.  So he got on the intercom and started spewing obscenities, then grabbed a beer from the beverage cart, deployed the emergency chute, and escaped the aircraft.  He was later arrested.

Let me just say that I actually do feel kind of sorry for the flight attendant, even though he lost his cool and could have potentially killed someone by deploying the emergency chute.  I have worked with the public before and it's a very tough job.  And I have to admit to finding this story kind of funny.  It's sort of the stuff of fantasy, if you've ever had some jackass customer treat you like dirt.  It happened to me many times, especially when I waited tables.  In fact, there are a few customers I waited on for whom I still have a lot of contempt. 

On the other hand... maybe it's not so funny that people are celebrating what this guy did.  He could have hurt or killed someone by going down the chute.  Now he's getting fifteen minutes of fame and people are already starting to shout "Free Slater" and he's even got a fan page on Facebook.  It's amazing what will make someone famous in America, even if it is for fifteen minutes.

In other news... I saw an armadillo today, up close and personal.  The varmint wandered into our front yard, making our dogs freak out.  I grabbed a camera and got a video, since I'm so used to seeing them dead on the side of the road.  Not being from this far south, I'm not accustomed to running into armadilloes...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Been watching a lot of YouTube...

Some time ago, I discovered Weird Wilbur on YouTube.  I quickly became a fan of his because I love his ribald sense of humor and his very funny music.  Lately, Wilbur has been on a vendetta against the CPS.  His grandchildren were taken from their parents.  I suspect they were taken for a number of reasons.  Don't know how how valid CPS's case is... I do know that I like Wilbur, though, and I empathize with him for going through what he's going through.  It must be devastating.

So anyway, today I was watching one of Wilbur's videos and there was a suggestion to watch another video.  This one was by a guy who was pissed off about people who were posting hateful videos about the CPS.  It seems his significant other is a child welfare worker and he knows for a fact that she's not a child molester/pervert/murderer etc.  He was cussing a lot, very upset that the anti-CPS folks wanted to see his lady friend dead.  I guess I can't blame him for being upset about that.

For the record... I happen to agree with the dude who says not all CPS workers are bad.  I say this because I very nearly became one of those folks myself.  I have a master's degree in social work and, right after I graduated, I was offered a job doing child welfare.  I turned it down for a lot of reasons.  I do think it's a necessary job.  I also think it's a difficult and thankless job.  But it's a job that requires a certain type of person in order to do it properly.  In my heart of hearts, I knew I wasn't the right kind of person.  I also knew that it was a job I would truly hate... the kind of job that is very powerful, but very stressful.  I knew that every day I went to work, I would feel like throwing up.  I knew that on the way home from work, I'd feel like crying.

In retrospect, it wouldn't have worked out anyway.  Thanks to my husband's job and the fact that we move a lot, I doubt I would have gotten far in the field of child welfare.  I wouldn't have made much money.  About all I would have gotten out of that job, if I was lucky, was a license to practice social work and perhaps a few contacts.  I would have also made a lot of enemies.

I guess it's just safer to be an overeducated housewife...  God forgive me for that.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Much drama the other day at the vet's...

When you're an overeducated housewife, sometimes you have too much time to stress over things.  I was a little worried about my dog, MacGregor, who seemed to be limping slightly and woke me and spouse up four times last week, puking up bile in the middle of the night.  I made an appointment online, thanks to my vet's very handy pet portal. 

MacGregor and I set off for the vet's office on Tuesday afternoon.  On the way there, we ran into road construction that made a two lane road only one lane.  To make matters worse, I was behind a big truck, so I couldn't see what was going on.  We finally get past that traffic mess and pull up to the vet's office, only to see a bunch of police cars and an ambulance in the parking lot.

It turned out a police dog had been helicoptered to the vet's office after bagging two burglary suspects.  He went after a third suspect and collapsed in the extreme heat.  Unfortunately, the poor pooch died enroute to medical care.  Meanwhile, the police dog's handler was also dealing with heat injuries, so the paramedics were with him.

The vet examined MacGregor and gave me some anti-inflammtory pills for his limp.  He said MacG probably has a soft tissue injury.  He also told me to give MacG some Pepcid-AC before bed.  So far, that's been working well.  No more horrible retching in the middle of the night.

While I was waiting to pay the bill, a lady came up to the counter in tears.  I could only guess that she had just lost her dog or cat, too.  Two men who were with her apparently were wanting to pay, but the kindly receptionist told them they could pay when they "picked up his ashes". 

So then I went to my car and tried to start it, but the engine didn't turn over.  Just when I was about freak out, I tried again and the engine came to life.  I got to where the roadwork was going on and it looked like they were finishing up for the day.  Unfortunately, some dingaling had an accident and smashed up the front of their car.  So traffic was slowed down again so the cops, ambulance, and tow truck could do their work.  I imagine this happened because someone got impatient waiting in traffic and tried to make a U turn.  Either that, or someone plowed into the back of another car...

I'd say that was enough excitement for one day...