csberry: (pumaman)
Yesterday while I ate my lunch from 12:25-:45pm CDT, I flipped back and forth between CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. Here is what I saw:

Fox News - Megyn Kelly had a male and female on the air with her ("Fox News contributors" - whatever that means). They were talking about Richard Falk. Apparently he is on the UN Human Rights Council and is a professor at Princeton and UC-Santa Barbara. It seems he wrote an essay about how US foreign policy helps to breed terrorists, thus, the Boston Bombing is kinda America's fault. That is about all of the facts I ever heard on the story. Otherwise, it was the three of them sharing their disgust with the general gist of the essay and wondering why there isn't more of an outcry against the guy...whom I've never known of and a writer of an essay I will likely never see.

CNN - They had continuous check-ins with various reporters in Boston and Washington D.C. about the latest developments in the Boston Bombing story. There was a few minutes where they covered the tornadoes and weather going through southern Louisiana and New Orleans. Otherwise, it was reporters sharing facts and statements from sources.

MSNBC - Andrea Mitchell discussed a dinner Pres. Obama had the night before with the women in the Senate. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) was interviewed by Andrea about the dinner. The Senator discussed the food they ate, how hospitable the president and the First Lady were, how the conversation focused on finding bipartisan solutions to the nation's problems, and the camaraderie of the group. I think she said "bipartisan" over 50 times in 3 minutes.
csberry: (pumaman)
A group of professionals decide to start a business. There are three partners, three skilled assistants, and three low-skilled staff members. Being a group of progressives, the partners decide that all pay will be based on position in those three categories with no individual pay negotiations or bonuses. For the sake of easy math, let's say the partners get $20/hr, assistants get $10/hr, and staff gets $5/hour. No sexism there, right?

Well, two of the three partners are male. The same is true with the assistants. For the staff, all three are female. Well, since all positions are paid the same no matter the sex of the employee, that's equal pay, right?

However, if you take all the men and their pay and compare it to the women, the math goes like this:

Two male partners and two male assistants equals $60/hr going to men. One female partner, one female assistant, and the three staff only get $45/hr. Then, let's break it down a bit more and the 4 men earning $60/hr averages at the men in the company earning $15/hour. And that $45/hr divided by the five women equals $9/hr. But I thought the men were being paid the same amount as the women?

Sadly, the statistic about women in America making about 77-80 cents for each dollar men make is based on this last kind of math - adding up all the pay, adding up all the males/females, and making a sex-based average (the low end is when you put the entire population into the math and the higher end is when the numbers are broken down into general industries - software, manufacturing, law). But when studies put forth the effort to get statistics on men and women in the same jobs (not merely the same industry or career field) with the same level of education and experience, the gender pay gap is actually closer to women earning 88-96 cents for the male dollar.

At this time, men dominate the CEO and other C-level positions in America while women are the majority of the "low-skill" or entry-level workforce. That is why I made my example business set up with men dominating the top of the pay bracket and women filling the lower range.

So, while things aren't as bad as the 77 cent situation, obviously there is still more room for improvement when looking at the apples-to-apples comparisons. Essentially, much of the discrimination is on the jobs men and women go into (can get a job in) and not quite so much how much the employer pays the males vs. females. My hope is that we are in the midst of change. Women now outnumber men in colleges. It is only a matter of time for more of these college-educated women to stay in their careers and ascend the corporate ladder. As they ascend, the sexists shaving benefits and being more firm in negotiations with women will decrease. Also, more women are choosing child-free lives and more "high-risk" jobs (such as frontline soldiers getting combat pay, truck drivers, and oil riggers) that pay much more are opening up for women.

These factors should lead to Equal Pay Day moving earlier in the year.

Some resources:
http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc1/ComparableWorth.html

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/jun/21/barack-obama/barack-obama-ad-says-women-are-paid-77-cents-dolla/

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2010/09/are_young_women_earning_more_than_their_boyfriends.html

http://www.payscale.com/gender-lifetime-earnings-gap
csberry: (normal completely different)
I posted this as a comment a little while ago. I've been trying to think of the right words to convey my thoughts on this policy. While I have a philosophical opinion, I know there are many PR, practical, and "cultural" obstacles that this change will cause. It is up to someone else to decide whether these new obstacles are better than the current obstacles caused by the ban. Here are my thoughts on the issue in better words I wrote down and deleted the other day, but definitely not a definitive treatise on this.

The arguments on this policy basically rely on two concerns - practical and theological.

The Venturing program (which has co-ed, boy, or girl units) has been one of the few areas of growth for the organization. Because of the increase in female youth and adults and the reaction the organization had to the pedophile allegations a couple of decades ago, there have been a huge wave of policies, updated facilities, and training changed to nearly eliminate any time where people are in potentially compromising positions. While not all facilities around the nation have completely converted away from group bath/shower situations, those facilities are in the minority. When units are in those group bath situations, though, policy indicates that times of use are to be scheduled so no one of differing genders nor age (adults and scouts) are using those facilities at the same time. Of course, there may be folks worried about catching AIDS from toilet seats, but there isn't a "practical" solution for that kind of paranoia. I think the only area now where the boys will likely see policy change is the BSA is likely to go to a "no-share" rule when it comes to tents.

Secondly is the theological. The Scout Oath that each scout takes states he will do his "duty to God" and to "keep myself...morally straight." One of the points in the Scout Law is A Scout is Reverent. The BSA doesn't dictate religion and is has many policies about ecumenicism and being respectful of differing religious beliefs. Thus, if a scout's religious beliefs don't state that the scout's homosexuality is a sin or immoral, then the scout is living up to his duty to God, is being morally straight, and can be reverent (I believe there is more to "being reverent" than eschewing sin). If a boy is a gay Southern Baptist, then, yeah, that complicates things.

And let's get this "straight," too. The term "morally straight" isn't some code that you have to be heterosexual. The term "straight" didn't come to be used as slang for heterosexuals until the 1940s (where it was slang within the homosexual community). It didn't come out to the mainstream culture until a couple of decades later. There is no way that "morally straight" meant "sexually hetero" when it was put into the scout oath in 1911.

I think, one way or another, the BSA will be changing over the next decade. We could see a co-ed BSA with gay members, we could see a growth of co-ed troops/crews alongside traditional troops, and we could see the BSA continue its membership and financing decline. We are a country that is polarized on so many social and political issues and having a national policy that is guaranteed to tick off half of the country is not a good way to grow the organization. While conservatives chant "state rights" on many political issues, the policy that the BSA is making results in the decision on gay membership even more localized than the state level. Either people will embrace the diversity being allowed among the various BSA units or they won't. Somehow I've got to think that this "unit choice" option likely ticks off less than half of the population by not making this a national decision.
csberry: (Bong)
God gave us certain rights and the US Constitution specifically protects certain rights, but people not being responsible with their rights is what gives politicians the leverage needed to take away more and more of our liberties.

From Lesley Aileen Wells (friend of a friend):

Between the Newtown NRA heckler and the San Francisco urologist who was fatally shot in clinic, maybe it's time for us gun people to rein in our crazy. I know most of us are Southern and we like to put our crazy in its Sunday finest out on the front porch for the world to see, but there was a man in Georgia who shot a Hispanic person for turning around in his driveway. Why was he in the driveway? He was lost. We need to jerk the crazy back in the house, give it a whipping, a stern talking to, and stand it in the corner to think long and hard about what it's doing for us. Otherwise, nobody is gonna get to go the barbecue anymore and we certainly won't have fresh venison or hog to enjoy.

Whether discussing gun rights, abortion, or any other divisive political issue, the most common tactic nowadays to attack a position is to find the stupidest person supporting that position and use that person as a personification of everyone with that position. Alas, the supply of stupid people is more than enough to provide ammunition for attacking every issue.
csberry: (Default)
Whether we're talking national politics or inter-personal relationships, I do worry quite a bit about how fractured we can be on various scales of "society" when it comes to voicing and supporting our choices/opinions and the effort we place on understanding others' choices/opinions. That is a big enough concern, let alone going the next step of actually taking the time and effort to compromise and come to some sort of agreement on things. It is so easy (and lazy) to isolate ourselves in our own world where we surround ourselves only by like-minded people. Is it within our collective ability to think outside of our own opinions and put forth the brainpower and communication necessary to find common points and overcome the differences so we can get along together?

I just keep noticing so many instances lately where those that disagree or dislike something instantly choose the isolating or aggressive (reporting to police, personal attacking, PR/political ploys) option in a situation rather than working with the person of a differing stance to come to a mutual agreement or understanding. I'm tired of seeing people paint those that disagree with them as evil or stupid. I can tolerate people of opposing positions a lot better than I can people that are intolerable.
csberry: (giveblood)
As a libertarian with a lot of friends who are left-of-center, I'm frequently put in a position where I have to defend why my being a libertarian doesn't mean that I'm a selfish bastard. My biggest struggle with this is one of the icons of libertarianism - Ayn Rand. That woman did so much to illustrate the empowering aspect of minimizing governmental involvement and yet was a very...er, not-nice...author of melodramatic novels and screenplays who surrounded herself by a cult of followers that overlooked her hypocritical actions.

Thus, I found myself going into complete and utter mental distraction today when I read an article on CNN.com about Jesus vs Ayn Rand. For the most part, I agree that one cannot consider themselves a Christian and a firm believer in Rand's philosophy of objectivism. However, that is not to say that a Christian can't be a libertarian.

Libertarianism says that the best government is one that sticks to a few basic roles and otherwise leaves other matters to the marketplace and/or individual citizens (or to a more local government in the case of federal libertarianism). Libertarians do vary in how far is too far with deregulating business, but a minority go to the extreme as Rand advocated of complete government withdrawal from the marketplace. As Rand was forming her philosophy of objectivism, she added a motivation that isn't required in libertarianism - selfishness (as the article goes into detail about). It is that motivation that has always separated libertarianism from objectivism for me.

I believe that libertarianism isn't contradictory to my Christianity; instead it allows me to be a better Christian. Jesus wants us to love our neighbor and to help those in need. My friends on the left say that is done by everyone paying taxes and having government programs do those tasks. In that scenario, I feel we are no longer helping the poor, but paying someone else to do it for us. While I understand their intent, I feel that putting the responsibilities of loving our neighbor and helping the poor on our government is shunning our own individual commitments to God to do those things. I believe it is more spiritually rewarding to give to charities myself, to volunteer my time and materials to actively interact and experience what it is that the neighbors and the poor go through instead of sitting back and letting some government employee do it.

I believe that each citizen of our country would become less selfish and create a greater connection with our community by spending more time doing charitable work. But high taxes and some laws and regulations discourage that sort of individual charity. Cheap patriotism has stolen our sense of community in exchange for a government that assuages our guilt for not helping others by adding a program to address whatever concern a person might have. Whether that concern is being addressed by the government becomes how people define how much we care as individuals on those concerns. Paying taxes has become a penance for not helping people directly in our own lives.

When I see families that lose their homes in natural disasters or poor begging for handouts or read about an elderly person that died from lack of power during heatwaves or blizzards, I don't think, "The government needs to do something about it." Instead I think, "What can I do to help?" or "What can me and my community do to alleviate the suffering or solve a problem?" Is that thinking of mine selfish?

If you haven't done any charitable work lately (more than tossing a dollar in a bucket or donating the stuff you couldn't sell at your yard sale), please find some time to do something to help a charitable or non-profit organization in your area. Learn about homelessness by serving them food; handing out clothing; or assisting in educational, health, or morale- focused programs. Help the sick by visiting strangers in the hospital, assist organizations on creating and putting on fundraisers, or tell everyone you meet about the disease/illness/handicap of your choice and what they can do to help prevent that disease/illness/handicap from robbing people of happy lives. Experience what it is to address that problem and then share that feeling with others so they, too, may get a greater understanding of the rewards of charity. I wish Ayn Rand had that kind of experience.
csberry: (What The Joel)
If you haven't read about it:
http://thehayride.com/2011/04/westboro-baptist-church-goes-to-mississippi-and-loses/

The more I've seen people post about this story on FB, the more uncomfortable I get with what the folks in MS did. It is easy to praise their actions because of a shared dislike of the opinions and actions of the Westboro Bapt Church. But let's substitute that group with the Freedom Riders or Tea Party activists or Christian missionaries or (insert group you endorse here). The actions done seem less legal and worth praise once looked at that way - especially the taking into custody and questioning under false pretenses.

Freedom of Speech should never be restricted just because we don't like what others have to say. Certainly no one endorses a group of people at a gas station beating a man just because he's gay and was headed to lobby for gay marriage. Are those people who "forgot" any identifying information about the people who assaulted him worthy of praise? Do "good old boys" deserve praise for blocking in members of the NAACP's cars at their hotel to keep them from monitoring voting stations to ensure equal access to the polls? Does falsely taking you into custody and questioning you on bogus crimes justify the fact that you have an opinion that others around you despise? Those of you with the "I'm a blue dot in a really red state" stickers and t-shirts really should watch out if you endorse this sort of suppression of minority speech.
csberry: (Skip)
Despite what all of the election ads seemed to tell me, when I looked at my ballot, I couldn't find anywhere for me to vote for or against Nancy Pelosi, Pres. Obama, Indian gambling interests, the AEA, or integrity. Nowhere on the ballot could I find any reference to where I needed to check to vote for jobs, an ethical government, better schools, and less crime.

Instead, I saw a sheet filled with names of various humans. Each of them imperfect. Each of them with opinions - known and unknown, similar and dissimilar from my own. When the moment came to vote, none of the slogans or party affiliations proved to demonstrate the worthiness of each of the individual candidates. It is up to each of us to do our own look at the candidates and pick whomever we think will do the type of job we want done by our Congressman, state senator, county coroner (yes, we vote for our coroner in Huntsville), or state board of education.

I hope when you vote, you don't find yourself voting for the candidates with the slickest ad campaign, catchiest slogan, or least amount of mud covering themselves. If you want politicians that can actually govern, then YOU have to see beyond the candidates' soundbites and endorsements and look at that human being wanting the job and judge who will actually do an honorable job representing you at the various levels of government. It is one thing to prove yourself to be great at throwing mud, bloviating about opposing politicians, and making great promises...but it is an entirely different thing to be in the position of power and able to enact the changes or vision you pitched to the public. Good candidates aren't necessarily good at governing and vice versa.
csberry: (say rack)
A political candidate came to the door a little while ago. I'm not feeling all that swift, so I'm in a t-shirt and jersey shorts this morning. It took only a couple of sentences for me to realize that he thought I'm a teenager.

Walker McGinnis: (introduced himself and shook my hand)

Nigel and Harper came to the door.

McGinnis: Are you staying home today? Get to be the babysitter?

Me: Um, yeah, I'm feeling a bit sick.

McGinnis: What grade are you at Grissom (High)?

Me: I'm 37.

McGinnis: Really? You don't look it.

I didn't have the heart to tell him that I wasn't going to vote for him. After I revealed my age and that I graduated from Grissom in '91, he switched gears to handing off a copy of his flier and saying goodbye.
csberry: (bigmclargehuge)
There are local elections in Huntsville tomorrow. I'll be voting on two positions: my city council district rep and city schools district rep.

City Council - District 3
I'm voting for James Lomax. Lomax is a freshman at UAH that was heavily involved in Ron Paul's campaign a couple of years ago and is a member of a youth organization that promotes libertarian positions. Philosophically, the guy is pretty much on the same boat as me. Now, while others may consider his youth a con, I consider it a pro. None of the candidates are old-hat city govt figures that have extensive networks and understand "the system." From Lomax's speeches I've seen, feedback I've heard from friends, and repeated comments from various press (pro and blogger), they all say that he has a passion and knowledge of local government and politics that belie his years.

Why not vote for Olshefski - who has amassed more campaign donations than his other 7 rivals combined? He's running on his being the former garrison commander of Redstone Arsenal, but I've only heard negative comments from military/defense contractors that worked with him and his office. I've heard stories of unprofessional behavior, over-delegation, and negligence of duty. Add to that prospective the fact that he's been non-committal against a sales tax hike, all of his positions are vague with no indication that he has a plan, and that every time I see a picture of the guy I get a smarmy, dirty feeling about him.

I wouldn't be upset if Barry Pendergrass were to get the position, he just doesn't really do anything for me.


School Board - District 3
I'm not voting FOR the incumbent, Dr. Jennie Robinson. I'm voting AGAINST Walker McGinnis. Yes, I'm upset with how the school board has run over the past few years taking tiny financial steps as the state repeatedly, drastically cut the funds sent to the city. BUT Robinson can't be scapegoated on this; the woman is consistently making the typical GOP-small govt arguments at the school board and backs that up with votes most of the time. No, I'm not happy about the superintendent getting a severance package (about $100k) to buy out the remainder of her contract. However, the school board basically had the choice of paying this compromise amount or letting the superintendent stay in position for the next year. Would McGinnis keep the superintendent or is he thinking there is some magical way to fire the superintendent with no severance? Didn't the city end up settling in the millions of dollars with the previous superintendent for doing that? I'll gladly pick paying $100grand over keeping her another year or paying out millions in a settlement (and about as much in legal fees)...thank you very much.

Whether you find my opinions informative, offensive, or whatever, if you are a Huntsville resident, I hope you will take the time to vote tomorrow.
csberry: (What The Joel)
There seems to be a lot of hubbub about Obama not attending the Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington is ONE of 146 national cemeteries for deceased veterans. The fact that Obama will be attending a ceremony at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery actually seems like a better idea to me than his attending the ceremony at Arlington.

When veterans returned from various wars this past century, not all of them were welcomed home with open arms and praised. Many came home and just did the best they could to get back to "normal." Then, when they died, they weren't all buried in the prestigious Arlington National Cemetery. Hundreds of thousands of deceased veterans lie buried in the cemeteries that are spread across our great country. Why are they less worthy of a visit by the president on Memorial Day? Millions of people (from families to curious tourists to international dignitaries) visit the gravestones at Arlington each year, but who visits the other cemeteries to give respect to those without the connections or luck to go to Arlington?

A lot of people like to label Obama an "elitist." But isn't only visiting Arlington and not going to other national cemeteries elitist? Why is it wrong for the president to take this opportunity to visit a different national cemetery to thank the veterans for what they did in service of our country and to help spotlight that you don't have to go to Washington D.C. to see acres upon acres of veterans' headstones?
csberry: (bigmclargehuge)
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No. When talking about issues within typical discussions amongst Americans/Western Europeans, I can understand why folks have differing POV. It is when things go more extreme, such as radical theocracies or fascism, that I see the person's opinion as little more than a perverted reflection of their own personal life demons and thus put that person in the untrusted & "can't respect" category.
csberry: (normal completely different)
JD recently reminded me of something a college friend of mine did. Michelle was concerned that she was talking too much and not really listening to others. I don't remember the duration, but think that for about a week, she decided to try an experiment. She found a small, smooth pebble. Michelle cleaned it and put it in her mouth. Keeping that pebble on her tongue was to be a constant reminder to listen and observe those around her.

I feel a strong urge to buy several cubic yards of pebbles so I can mail them out to all of the politicians, pundits, and wingnuts that MUST HAVE THEIR VOICE HEARD!

I'm all for political discussion and debate, but just as Monty Python taught us, an argument isn't just contradicting what the other person said. Don't expect a lot of sympathy from those in the "center" or somewhat apathetic to your issue if you keep saying those that don't agree with you are (insert insult here - evil, unpatriotic, racist, socialist, psychotic, inhumane, etc.). On the other side of the coin, let us not forget that just because someone is ranting doesn't mean their arguments are invalid.

Please take a pebble and take turns listening for just a while. It may not be as exciting but I bet we could accomplish a lot more.
csberry: (Clean horn)
I think Wolf Blitzer is going to cum live on CNN before the election results are finished. The boy is all too giddy about the new computer/camera tricks they have been using tonight. I think Wolf's just overcompensating in some bizarre competition he has with John King.
csberry: (Beard)
Copy this sentence into your livejournal if you're in a heterosexual marriage, and you don't want it "protected" by the folks who think that gay marriage hurts it somehow.

A social contract shouldn't need religious "protection" in any case, but there you go.
csberry: (angrybum)
I've hit a second wind tonight that I fear may last a while. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I acquired an Obama sign for my front yard today. I decided to do this after feeling I had reached the point that McCain/Palin had no chance in wooing me (I overcame Bob Barr's sexy mustache long ago) AND after seeing that a yard just a few houses away from mine has had an Obama and another Dem sign or two up for several weeks/a month.

I looked out in the yard as I turned off our front porch tonight around 10pm and didn't see the sign. I didn't think too much of it because I had placed it so you were looking at its side when looking out the front door. Around midnight, I decided to take another look out front through the windows. I still couldn't see the sign. I sighed in resignation that I must satisfy my curiosity. Sure enough, the plastic sign had been ripped off the metal wire frame. I couldn't find any of the sign anywhere. I pulled up the naked upside-down metal U from the ground and placed it atop the yard debris waiting for trash pickup tomorrow.

In an act that may be completely stupid, I decided to thumb my nose at the vandal(s). I walked to my porch, grabbed the second sign they gave me at the Dem HQ, and posted it in my yard. Just a little closer to the house...not right next to the sidewalk, now. If that damned thing gets ripped up again, I'm going to the Dem HQ, giving a donation, and asking for another pair of signs.
csberry: (Default)
After dropping off AnteSpam brochures at HiWAAY's offices today, the boys and I walked down the building to the Dem HQ. We now have an Obama/Biden yard sign up in front of our house.
csberry: (Default)
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In a perfect world without need for "compensation," health care would be a right. In my next-to-perfect world, all hospitals would be charitable organizations as they once were...except with medically trained folks instead of nuns/clergy walking around just trying to keep folks comfy until they die.

Unfortunately, I think that emergency care is the only right that can be adequately secured via the Federal govt without converting to a socialist system. Unless being a doctor becomes a position of sacrifice (as one in our society typically expects of teachers, those that do charitable work, or actors/artists), the knowledge and equipment needed to work in medicine will demand extensive compensation. At this point, the debate goes to our society and how much people are willing to pay for themselves and for others. I would love the dynamic to evolve to society-supplied health maintenance programs better funded than the govt has them now with govt-assisted (but totally society-supplied) emergency care for all.

A blue collar family that has a member diagnosed with cancer shouldn't be in debt for hundreds of thousands of dollars the rest of their lives, but I don't think society should be paying for Bambi's chin implant and tummy tuck so she can get into the sorority she wants. Want vaccinations, sterilization, or a periodic physical - sure. I'd rather pay for those preventive measures than the emergency awaiting for that person down the road.

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Cory Berry

June 2016

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