31 January 2011

Why I don't really care about how Chick-fil-A hates gay people

My god, I must be seriously out of touch with the way most Americans eat. I was reading that article about how Chick-fil-A hates gay people, and it mentioned people who eat there weekly or used to eat there almost daily, and it occurs to me that I have not eaten a fast-food meal in years. Maybe even 10 years. And by "fast-food meal" I mean burger + fries + Coke, or a chicken or breakfast sandwich variation of some kind.

Part of it is the question of the money-nutrition equation. Fast food calories are inexpensive, this is true. But you don't get much nutrition for your buck, and you get so little fiber and protein that you feel hungry way too soon afterward for the number of calories you've taken in. So while I can't beat KFC's price if I make a home-made fried chicken meal box on my own, certainly I can make something more filling and more nutritious for that amount of money. And really, I can feed myself for two or even three meals for the price of one KFC box.

The other part of it is what I'll call the question of Fast Food Nation or Food, Inc. And by "question," I mean "really big, multi-faceted issue including but not limited to unsafe meat production, factory farms, globalization, multinational corporations, the FDA, the USDA, OSHA, HHS, the USPTO, and Karl Marx." I've distilled it for myself and my daughter into two things: One, I'll go out on a limb here and express my distaste for worker exploitation, agricultural animal abuse, environmental degradation, government corruption, untested and undeclared GMOs, and unhealthy food. And two, I want to put my money where my mouth is. One way to do that is to opt out. That is, opt out of Big Food. Skip convenience foods like shelf-stable boxed meals (except as emergency supplies in the pantry), baby foods, ready-to-eat cereals, frozen vegetable medleys, fruit cups, pre-sliced anything, and so on. Skip junk foods, which by definition don't provide much nutrition per dollar. Skip restaurants, from diners to upscale chains and everything in between, that serve pre-prepared, frozen foodservice dishes or components, reheated and assembled for your plate. And for the love of christ, skip corn syrup, the easiest way of doing so being to quit drinking sodapop.

I've been baking my own bread for a while now, because my local supermarket quit carrying the kind of bread I like (the family size all whole-wheat loaf, which is the same weight but has more slices -- and so more sandwiches and pieces of breakfast toast -- than the all whole-wheat loaves they continue to carry). I prepare just about all of my meals from scratch, starting with whole ingredients, a variety of fruits and vegetables and grains, and a good knife.

I have a crockpot and I'm not afraid to use it.

Households in so-called "food deserts" have a problem. A lot of socioeconomically disadvantaged people live in neighborhoods where there is no supermarket. At the risk of sounding like Scrooge -- "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?" -- where do these people go to work or school? Why not pick up groceries on the way home? Why not include transit fare to a supermarket in their shopping budgets? Why not spend some part of the weekend going food shopping and then preparing or planning meals for the coming week?

Some households in food deserts are truly stuck, I understand that. They're getting minimal welfare benefits and other assistance, and the money simply runs out mid-month. It is impossible to live with a good pantry when you don't have the initial capital to stock the pantry in the first place. I don't know how to solve that problem. This is where I start to sound libertarian, because I've lived on very little money at various times in my life but have still managed to eat healthily and cheap. I think a very, very large number of people in food deserts could at least partially address the problem themselves through education and working on making their households less chaotic. And by using the following principles that I adopted when I had food security issues:

  • Brown rice and beans is cheap. Start from dry beans and a $15 crockpot and it's even cheaper.
  • An orange a day keeps you regular and wards off scurvy. Even the corner markets sell oranges.
  • Here in Philadelphia, the Reading Terminal Market produce vendors and the farmer's market vendors take SNAP (food stamps) and WIC. You can get to the Reading Terminal Market from just about anywhere within the city limits on a single trip plus a transfer, if not a single trip without a transfer.
  • It is OK to eat the same damn thing several days in a row.
  • It is OK to feel hungry, and then really hungry, for a while before you put more food in your mouth.
  • It is OK to feel not completely satisfied at the end of a meal, or downright hungry because you had to skip a meal, unless of course you're diabetic or something.
  • Fast food is not your friend. It is not truly inexpensive, it is not truly filling, and it is absolutely not healthy.

But my point, and I had one when I started, is that honestly I would care more about the "Chick-fil-A hates gay people" controversy if I cared at all about fast food. Gay people and their supporters should vote with their dollars, of course -- but more importantly, really nobody should be eating Chick-fil-A or any kind of fast food. It's no good for you and it's expensive and it's destroying the planet. Go bake some bread, instead.

(No) adventures in clinic defense

I've been out three times now to do clinic defense, and the protestors haven't shown up yet. Not once.

I'll never get any good war stories out of this gig if it keeps up this way.

25 January 2011

Driberally tonight

Drinking Liberally is a weekly social gathering where progressives talk politics and get to know one another. In Center City Philadelphia, we meet on Tuesday nights at José Pistola's upstairs bar, where there are drink specials from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. And the more we tip the bartender, the more frequently he hands out free dishes of chips and dips. I hope to see you there!

José Pistola's is at 263 South 15th Street (15th and Spruce) in Center City, near the Kimmel Center and the Academy of Music. There's a parking garage across the street, but as filthy liberal hippies naturally we suggest public transit; both SEPTA and PATCO will get you there in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

This week's topic: After our usual three hours of banter, why not stick around for the State of the Union Address, starting at 9:00? We'll be welcoming our co-hosts, the American Constitution Society, the National Lawyers Guild, and Philly for Change. Bring your suggestions for a drinking game, but check your violent rhetoric at the door.

"Come for the beer, stay for the check"

24 January 2011

American brothers and sisters

Here's one that made the Internet rounds last week. New governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley (R.), speaking to a congregation in Montgomery, said:
Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother.
Got that? Though Bentley has since apologized, that comment is precisely the reason that you can't pay me enough to live below the Mason-Dixon line, ever. A thoughtful, inclusive politician -- or Christian -- who actually believes in the fundamental values that formed the republic wouldn't have said anything like that in the first place. In any event, dig the apology news article and the comments by his constituents, who by and large don't disagree with his statement anyway.

Beck vs. DeBella on the "killing streets" around Independence Hall

Glenn Beck's radio show was canceled here in Philadelphia, so last week Beck went and complained that Philly "sucks" and that it's not safe to walk around the "killing streets . . . right there in front of Independence Hall," because it's "not a place you want to be" at 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. So the other day, local radio personality John DeBella took Beck to task with a cute little stunt:

When I fetch my daughter home from school in the evening, we get off the El at the 5th Street station and walk south -- directly past Independence Hall -- eerily, at precisely the timeframe Beck was talking about, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. The only thing dangerous about Independence Hall at dinnertime on a school night is the Jersey-bound commuters blocking the box or ignoring the "no turn on red" signs at 6th and Chestnut.

23 January 2011

Anti-choice protesting drives women to Gosnell-type abortions

At the risk of making this blog a one-trick pony lately:
When Davida Johnson walked into Dr. Kermit Gosnell's clinic to get an abortion in 2001, she saw what she described as dazed women sitting in dirty, bloodstained recliners. As the abortion got under way, she had a change of heart -- but claims she was forced by the doctor to continue.

"I said, 'I don't want to do this,' and he smacked me. They tied my hands and arms down and gave me more medication," Johnson told The Associated Press.

Johnson, then 21, had a 3-year-old daughter when she became pregnant again. She said she first went to Planned Parenthood in downtown Philadelphia but was frightened away by protesters.

"The picketers out there, they just scared me half to death," Johnson, now 30, recalled this week.

Someone sent her to Gosnell's West Philadelphia clinic, at the Women's Medical Society, saying anti-abortion protesters wouldn't be a problem there.
(MSNBC). Ms. Johnson says that she contracted an STI from Gosnell's clinic and has suffered four miscarriages since her procedure there.

When abortions are stigmatized, unsafe, expensive, far away, or illegal, women will still get abortions. Here, protestors who call themselves "pro-life" chased Ms. Johnson away from a safe, legal abortion with compassionate practitioners who would have let her decline the procedure when she changed her mind at the last moment. In the end, the protestors got exactly what they say they don't want: although she would have completed the pregnancy had she been given a choice, she ended up terminating it, instead. And it appears that her fertility was permanently damaged in the process. The conditions the "pro-lifers" drove her to are exactly the opposite of what happens when women have complete, peaceful access to fully self-determined healthcare.

Where were the protestors at the Women's Medical Society at 38th and Lancaster before it closed? I'll tell you where. In Philadelphia, the anti-choice regulars picket two of the safest, most compassionate clinics in the region: a Planned Parenthood in Center City and an independent clinic on the north side of Old City. But although the Women's Medical Society was google-able and was listed in the phone book, and although a minimum of research would have led protestors to find out about its practice in late-term abortions, it was never the focus of protests. Its location, about a block and a half from Presbyterian Hospital in West Philadelphia, is perceived as a scary, dangerous, and predominantly African-American neighborhood. (In truth, it's full of Drexel University students, homeowners who were "urban pioneers" countering urban blight 30 years ago, and hospital and university employees -- as well as African-American households.)

Why weren't anti-choice zealots protesting this clinic? If anti-choice protestors are truly "pro-life," why do they spend their time holding up offensively graphic posters at Independence Hall or attending the D.C. "March for Life" on every anniversary of Roe v. Wade? Why were they not outside the Women's Medical Society every night since PPSP v.Casey in 1992, or since the clinic opened in 1979? Is their goal truly to end abortion? Or is it something else?

Are they showing off their faith with their signs and chants (Matt. 6:5)? Are they really so stupid that they can't see what they're doing? How many other women did "pro-life" protestors drive to Dr. Gosnell?

As a staunch pro-choicer, I've been called a baby-killer. I've volunteered at abortion clinics and women's rights organizations for years, referring women to particular clinics and helping minor women obtain judicial bypass orders. But I never sent a woman to the Women's Medical Society. Can all of Philadelphia's "pro-lifers" say the same?

21 January 2011

Adventures in clinic defense: Introduction

Over the past 20-odd years, I've done a lot of feminist stuff. I drove a carload of pals down to D.C. for a big ol' gay rights march one spring. I organized a contingent to attend a big ol' women's rights march a decade later. I spent much of my 20s honing my socialist feminist worldview by dabbling in Radical Women, the Freedom Socialist Party, and unshaven legs. Later, when my daughter asked me how her new baby cousin got into her auntie in the first place, I explained it by reading the relevant sections in Our Bodies, Ourselves with her. I put myself through law school as a single mom. And while I was in law school, I counseled women seeking protection from abuse orders and minor women who were stuck having to seek permission from a judge to get an abortion.

It's been a little while since I've put my money where my mouth is, and with the inauguration of our new governor I'm living in a red state now; so I recently started doing clinic defense for an abortion provider in the Philadelphia area. When patients arrive at the clinic, I offer to walk with them to the front door, help them with a newspaper if the protestors are taking photographs, and remind them that they don't have to take any pamphlets that protestors may try to shove into their hands. And I keep an eye on the protestors to make sure they're staying off of clinic property and stuff. It's a two-fold thing: one, it's about enforcing the F.A.C.E. Act; but more importantly, it's about making sure that women get full access to complete healthcare. (News flash: Not all clinic patients who arrive during termination procedure hours are getting abortions. Some -- perhaps many -- are there for regular reproductive health visits like pap smears, or STI screening and counseling, or other reasons.) Abortion is healthcare and when women cannot control this part of their healthcare they do not have full control over their destiny. A million American women get an abortion every year, and I aim to help.

Clinic defense can be scary, so I'm not going to reveal any details that would give away where and when I'm volunteering: addresses, weather conditions that day, the number of protestors or what they looked like or what organization they were from, and so on. I'll aim to post my reports a little randomly, too, so that it's not clear what day of the week or what time of day I was there. But randomness and vagueness aside, I hope you'll enjoy the posts as much as I hope to enjoy my stint defending the clinic as a patient escort.

20 January 2011

Weighing in on the Gosnell case

So we have a national news trifecta happening in Philadelphia lately. They've arrested and charged a very likely suspect in the Kensington serial killings; a 12-inch gas main blew up a couple of nights ago, killing a 19-year-old PGW employee; and a doctor providing late-term abortions, apparently some of them brutal and horrific "fourth-trimester" procedures, in a filthy, substandard clinic filled with jars of fetal parts and smelling of cat piss has been indicted and faces eight counts of murder.

I'm still reading the grand jury report (281-page PDF). In the meantime, please take a moment to read my friend Amie Newman's take on the situation at RH Reality Check:
When abortion is stigmatized, and access to care blocked for many women in this country, women are forced to turn to "providers" like Dr. Gosnell and his employees [who are also under indictment]. Dr. Gosnell and others like him are offered easy access, in essence, to desperate and vulnerable women simply seeking to end a pregnancy.

But when we stigmatize the decision to have an abortion and keep discussions of this safe, legal option closed, as well as keep abortion care out-of-reach financially or geographically, we are not only telling women not to speak of this issue. We are also telling women they don't deserve access to safe, legal care and that they won't get access to a safe, nurturing environment either.
When abortion is illegal, or too expensive, or too stigmatized, or too far away, women will still get abortions. Until all abortions are safe, legal, and free on demand, there will be doctors or other practitioners who will be happy to provide unsafe, illegal, and costly abortions to the women who need them.

Final note: it occurs to me that the clinic was shut down in a War on Drugs operation, not because of any investigation into Dr. Gosnell. (It was raided because they were going after fake oxy prescriptions.) Why is the War on Drugs more important than inspecting and investigating a women's medical clinic, or following up on complaints of serious medical malpractice?

18 January 2011

Driberally tonight

Drinking Liberally is a weekly social gathering where progressives talk politics and get to know one another. In Center City Philadelphia, we meet on Tuesday nights at José Pistola's upstairs bar, where there are drink specials from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. And the more we tip the bartender, the more frequently he hands out free dishes of chips and dips. I hope to see you there!

José Pistola's is at 263 South 15th Street (15th and Spruce) in Center City, near the Kimmel Center and the Academy of Music. There's a parking garage across the street, but as filthy liberal hippies naturally we suggest public transit; both SEPTA and PATCO will get you there in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

This week's topic: It's an unholy union of violations of the Ten Commandments, the hearsay rule, and § 1983 when a priest in Florida gets the local constabulary to stop a parishioner and issue her a trespassing citation because someone told the priest that the parishioner's daughter tossed a piece of Eucharist onto the parking lot pavement. In Pennsylvania, it would be a bar exam fact pattern; in Florida, it's actual news. In my house, it's an occasion to use one of my favorite exclamations: Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and John the Baptist on a pogo stick!

"Come for the beer, stay for the check"

17 January 2011

Return of a prodigal

Well, that didn't take long. Just under a week ago, NPR reported that almost literally a billion dollars that Americans have donated to earthquake relief in Haïti has remained unspent in various aid organizations' coffers. Groups like the American Red Cross aren't standing around and whistling with their hands in their pockets, but a million Haïtians are still homeless and the number of deaths from cholera looks to top 4,000 any day now.

So, tons of money sitting around; a disease epidemic that will likely be proven to have been brought in by foreigners; stacks of money to be had; a country, usually in shambles, that's more in shambles that it seems as though it ever was in the past; and about a billion untapped dollars waiting to be strong-armed into officials' pockets spent on humanitarian efforts.

Look whose plane just landed!

12 January 2011

11 January 2011

Is anyone surprised that a law professor touts old-school parenting?

You know what strikes me most about Prof. Amy Chua's "Chinese parents are better than 'Western' parents" article in the WSJ? It's the ultimate example of the "I went through it, and look where I am, so you have to go through it, too" argument. How ultimate? Prof. Chua is at Yale. Yale Law. Law school is the last area of the academy that continues to use a 19th-century model of teaching: lecture halls of 50 or 100 students; lessons led by a professor who likely never actually worked a job in the field he's teaching; the so-called Socratic method of badgering a student with questions on increasingly absurd, hypothetical situations until the professor has made a fool of them in front of their peers; and no actual training in the job of lawyering: how to run a law office, file documents in local courts, or even write a simple will. Once law school is done, you're facing the opportunity cost of not having worked for three years; you've got a debt that you could have used to buy a sizeable home instead; and you still have to pay for bar exam training. And there's a non-zero chance you'll fail that exam anyway.

The only thing that's changed in law schools since The Paper Chase days is that students have laptop computers and can play Scrabble or read Maxim during lectures.

And though some law schools trumpet their experiential teaching philosophy and their co-ops or internships, they still use an old, ineffective teaching model in the classroom: your grade in a course is based almost wholly on a single exam at the end of the term. Even for the hypothetical ivory tower nonsense you're learning, it's a pedagogically unsound way to learn and internalize material. But it won't change, because that's what the profs went through, and look where they are, so all the new students have to go through it, too. It's the same philosophy that keeps medical residents -- the doctors at the bottom of the totem pole -- having to endure 16- and 24-hour shifts. Never mind patient safety, or the residents' mental health or ability to retain what they're learning. The doctors before them had to endure their trial by fire, so by gum the youngsters'll have to do it, too. But while the medical profession is recognizing that it's a stupid reason not to change anything, even the law schools that are changing, or which are newcomers and promise a new way of approaching legal education, are doing so at a glacially slow pace.

All this to say, it's really no surprise that Prof. Chua would be a holdout among old-school believers in what she calls Chinese parenting versus "Western" parenting. She's had a double whammy of it: in her personal upbringing and in her professional life. And if her two trials by fire got her where she is, then it's good enough for her girls, too.

Driberally tonight

Drinking Liberally is a weekly social gathering where progressives talk politics and get to know one another. In Center City Philadelphia, we meet on Tuesday nights at José Pistola's upstairs bar, where there are drink specials from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. And the more we tip the bartender, the more frequently he hands out free dishes of chips and dips. I hope to see you there!

José Pistola's is at 263 South 15th Street (15th and Spruce) in Center City, near the Kimmel Center and the Academy of Music. There's a parking garage across the street, but as filthy liberal hippies naturally we suggest public transit; both SEPTA and PATCO will get you there in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

This week's topic: Yet more snowy weather is on the way, so why not come on down and keep warm with us?

"Come for the beer, stay for the check"

06 January 2011

Cheerfully greeting the end of the holidays

I don't know about you, but now that the holidays are over I'm feeling about 875% better than I'd been feeling since about a week before Thanksgiving.

This happens every year, and every year I can never remember the relief I feel about the time Epiphany rolls around again.

And speaking if which: Memorial Day is when you can start wearing white clothes, open shoes, and straw hats; Labor Day is when you quit wearing white until next Memorial Day; and Epiphany -- 6 January, or the 12th day of Christmas -- is when you take down the last of your Christmas decorations. Hop to it.

05 January 2011

"What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones?"

Charlie LeDuff of Mother Jones has written an in-depth article about current events in Detroit and how Detroit got to where it is. Read through to the end, and you'll find that he finishes with a couple of paragraphs that explain better than I can why I can't listen to WHYY 90.9 FM any more:
It would be easy to lay the blame on McNeal for the circumstances in which she raised her sons. But is she responsible for police officers with broken computers in their squad cars, firefighters with holes in their boots, ambulances that arrive late, a city that can't keep its lights on and leaves its vacant buildings to the arsonist's match, a state government that allows corpses to stack up in the morgue, multinational corporations that move away and leave poisoned fields behind, judges who let violent criminals walk the streets, school stewards who steal the children's milk money, elected officials who loot the city, automobile executives who couldn't manage a grocery store, or Wall Street grifters who destroyed the economy and left the nation's children with a burden of debt? Can she be blamed for that?

[ ... ]

I left McNeal's porch and started my car. The radio was tuned to NPR and A Prairie Home Companion came warbling out of my speakers. I stared through the windshield at the little boy in the diaper playing amid the ruins, reached over, and switched it off.
Spend your coffee break reading it, and don't get lost following the bouncing links to the articles and websites LeDuff cites to.

04 January 2011

Philly DHS-outsourced relief providers fail another child

This time, a 2-month-old boy named Quasir Williams starved to death at West Philadelphia's Travelers Aid Family Services shelter, which has a video on its website homepage showing kids learning how to make meals (starting at about 10:00), and which made over $4.7 million in the fiscal year ending June, 2009.

Also involved in Quasir's family's case was Lutheran Children and Family Service, which is a big player in local foster child placement, and whose website very carefully puts the accent grave on the second e in the word clientèle. Two of the organization's caseworkers have been suspended pending an investigation. LCFS made nearly $16 million in the fiscal year ending June, 2009.

How do two trained caseworkers not notice that a 2-month-old baby isn't growing and getting fat? How did the shelter workers and volunteers not notice? Where was the post-natal care for Quasir's mother and well-baby checkups for Quasir and his twin? (Quasir leaves behind five siblings, including a twin brother.) Does the shelter not keep a pediatrician involved as part of its "intensive array" and "full continuum" of services for families? Even bare-bones Medicaid acknowledges that a baby should have been seen by a doctor three times by the time he reaches 2 months of age (PDF). Where was DHS oversight in all this?

To be clear, I'm not exculpating the mother here. But she'd been in that shelter since September, she had four kids with her when she entered, and she gave birth while living there. The way I see it, that's a lot of people who knew about Quasir and his brother, and a lot of people who were paying more attention to their holiday shopping and New Year's Eve planning than to the Williams family and their struggle.

In October, 2009, after the deaths of Danieal Kelly and Charlenny Ferreira, I asked how many more kids were going to die before the city quits outsourcing services like this. Doesn't look to me that there has been much change.

Bank of America to pre-emptively pay a lot of money to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Looks as though Bank of America is scared shitless in advance of WikiLeaks's promised coredump:
Bank of America said it agreed Monday to pay $2.8 billion to taxpayer-funded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to settle claims that it sold the mortgage giants bad home loans.

The agreement is the biggest so far between Fannie and Freddie and lenders that sold them loans during the subprime lending boom and before standards were tightened.
The $2.8 billion represents loans that BofA bought from subprime lender-scammer Countrywide.

It's as if WikiLeaks is getting BofA to pay for 0.3% of the tax cuts for millionaires.

Driberally tonight

Drinking Liberally is a weekly social gathering where progressives talk politics and get to know one another. In Center City Philadelphia, we meet on Tuesday nights at José Pistola's upstairs bar, where there are drink specials from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. And the more we tip the bartender, the more frequently he hands out free dishes of chips and dips. I hope to see you there!

José Pistola's is at 263 South 15th Street (15th and Spruce) in Center City, near the Kimmel Center and the Academy of Music. There's a parking garage across the street, but as filthy liberal hippies naturally we suggest public transit; both SEPTA and PATCO will get you there in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

This week's topic: January is the month where I go through my files of paid bills and other serial paperwork, staple together the past year's worth of statements, and chuck the statements from the year before that. Uh, there's really nothing snappy or amusing about that. In fact, it's more of a personal "note to self" that I actually remember to make myself sit down and get to work on it around the end of this month. Happy new year!

"Come for the beer, stay for the check"

03 January 2011

Kaiser Family Foundation study: nearly 20% of Americans are uninsured

Following up on a news report I blogged about in November, the Kaiser Family Foundation has released a study and accompanying set of data tables showing how 19% of Americans, or 50 million people, do not have health insurance (PDF).

Horrifying. I'm getting in touch with Senator Toomey's office as soon as I can -- he doesn't appear to have his office phone set up yet -- to ask his position on this report, whether he's looking to join in the House GOP's plan to repeal the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Toomey had problematic positions on health care and health insurance reform. I'd like to know if he has concrete data for how his positions would get more Americans insured.

Deeney on the local papers and TV news not doing their job in Kensington

Over at Phawker, Jeff Deeney on the media dicking around with the Guardian Angels yet not investigating how long rapes and OD's were occurring in Kensington before the serial killer showed up:
What is completely absent from the media coverage of the case is any serious discussion of the prevalence of sexual violence against prostitutes in Kensington that long predated the arrival of the Kensington Strangler. There has been no discussion of police attitudes towards prostitutes who work the Avenue, who universally testify to having previously attempted to make reports about rapes and assaults to unsympathetic cops who told them such reports were a waste of time because prostitutes were making them. Rape and assault, the women are told, is all just part of that "lifestyle choice."

There is a cause and effect between lax societal attitudes towards protecting sex workers and the increasingly violent environment sex worker are forced to work in. [...] Men know they can go to places like Kensington, pick up a girl, rape her, beat her up, and dump her back on the Avenue with little fear of consequences.
Same with Gary Ridgway (the Green River Killer), Robert Picton (the pig farm murderer in British Columbia), Dahmer, Bundy, and countless others. Their victims were drug addicted women and prostitutes -- but law enforcement has to be made to understood that there is no such thing as an "unsympathetic" victim.

02 January 2011

No TV is good TV

I don't really do New Year's resolutions, but I do tend to sit back and think about what I accomplished in the previous year and what goals I might consider in the new year. Not really doing that this year, except for the general, overarching goal of finding regular work in 2011, either in my private practice or with an employer.

On the 31st we took the TV out of the livingroom and stashed it in an unwatchable position on the floor of my bedroom. This isn't as big a change as it may seem. After the digital changeover in 2009, I hooked up a converter box to the TV -- a "subcompact" tube I got in the early 1990s for my college dorm room the year they first ran cable TV to that building -- but couldn't get a useable signal because I didn't have a good antenna. I never got around to getting the right kind of antenna, either, because I ended up not missing the morning TV news that much anyway. I kept the VCR and DVD player hooked up and watched a movie once. But it was There Will Be Blood, and when they show the title on-screen in that movie it's in a German gothic type of font, and do you know how small that phrase is on a 14" CRT screen when it's presented in a German gothic type of font? Way to make me feel like a geezer, Paul Thomas Anderson.

Long story short, I had an essentially defunct TV sitting in the corner of my livingroom for a year and a half, and now I don't, and now I like my livingroom better.

Don't get me wrong. I'd love to have a nice, big flatscreen HDTV and cable service and Netflix and all to go with it. But right now the only way I can justify even my bare-bones Internet access is that it would be an incredible penny-wise, pound-foolish way to prevent myself from working and looking for more work. To add another $50 or $100 to that monthly cost would be staggeringly stupid, and budgetarily impossible in any event.

So until I can budget for my own cable TV, I'll keep on going on TV binges once or twice a month when I'm at a friend's and he's saved up a bunch of Dr Who episodes on his DVR or OnDemand or whatever it is. And old episodes of Barney Miller on Hulu.com.