Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Oprah 2-22-07 Am I the only one?

On Thursday February 22, 2007, Oprah had a show with semi-obese people going on a Best Life Weight Loss Challenge and her personal trainer was supervising it. Did anyone see it?

One lady said she was so depressed over her weight, she stayed in bed and hated to get up. Her infant son would cry for her to wake up so he could eat and she said she would load up his bowl and then go back to bed. Oprah asked her when she would get up and she said when the child cryed to be let down from it's high chair and then she would go back to bed.

She then said she got up and went to the store, when she returned, she heard the child screaming from it's crib. She said she was so depressed, she just went back to bed.

Oprah said "Well, you are just rung out over this weight problem aren't you? You are at the end of your rope" (paraphrasing, as I don't have the transcript).

I thought, this woman isn't fit to be a parent. Leaving an infant unsupervised while they eat and then leaving the kiddo in the crib while she goes to store? Come on!

My question is this, since no one in the audience seemed to think the child was the victim: Am I the only one who thinks this woman is an unfit mother?

The bottom line is Oprah has the ability to make things socially "okay". She has a tremendous following and does a multitude of good, IMO, however, her silence on this one and the total lack of outcry by most everyone shows it is okay to neglect your child if your personal image is poor.

A lady friend of mine told me that depression is a terrible thing and I should understand the woman was in a fix. I told her that if it would have been the husband and his depression drove him to drink to the point he couldn't supervise the child and actually left the child in it's crib to buy booze, Oprah wouldn't of responded that he was out of control, but called it a crime.

The point here is not that it was okay for either man or woman, but the fact that Oprah (who is quite sharp, or very sharp) did not openly point at child neglect as the a greater sin than depression over being overweight.

Being overweight in most countries has always been a sign of prosperity and only in times of ample food and abundance has it come under scrutiny as something undesirable, negative health risk aside.

Oprah put her blessing on the mother's behavior over the child's welfare through her silence and Oprah pretty much decides what is socially acceptable and what is not, to millions of viewers every day.

Wait until the next Presidential election if you doubt it.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

When perception becomes reality

When perception becomes reality...what does this mean?

We are living in a day of an ever-expanding parody of the facts. A world or civic leader, actor, or preacher says something during the day, in front of cameras and by nightfall, it is spewed out on a faux-news program (no, not Fox news, but including them)with hilarious results. We all enjoy seeing these leaders being made to look like fools, at least occasionally. Some recipients of spoof or parody seem to invite it and that’s what keeps us coming back for more.

Dan Quayle is a good example and yes, so is George W. Bush. Truth be known, anyone in the public eye is fair game and that’s one of the things that makes living in America such a blessing. We have the right to criticize our leaders, and we do. I used to get a good laugh when I would read that Gerald Ford hit yet another golf ball into the gallery and then see it depicted on Saturday Night Live (SNL).

Letterman, Leno, The Daily Show, SNL, Mad TV, and the Colbert Report provide many laughs and I imagine the very people who are the objects of ridicule, laugh the hardest.

Enter the real world. We are living in a day and age where people confuse parody and imitation as the real thing. Their perception of fact is actually lampoon. They think Dana Carvey is George Bush Sr., because the only George Bush Sr. they’ve ever seen is Dana Carvey. George W. Bush is buffooned by almost everyone, as is Dick Cheney, Bill Clinton, John McCain, Condy Rice, etc., etc.

I laughed along with everyone, as Dana Carvey portrayed Ross Perot and Phil Hartman, Admiral Stockdale in the SNL skit. Never mind that Admiral James Stockdale is one the highest decorated officers in the history of the U.S. Navy and survived seven years as a POW in the infamous Hanoi Hilton. Routinely severely beaten and tortured, he cut up his own face and wrists to keep the North Vietnamese from using his image as a propaganda tool.

On SNL, he was “made the fool” and we all laughed. Most people thought he was a fool too, not even remembering the real man. The truth was, he wasn’t a polished politician and was totally out of his league in a public debate, where his every move was scrutinized ad nauseam. He may have made a great world leader, but we will never know. To most, he was just another character to be made fun of.

There is nothing inherently wrong with parody, but when folks do not recognize it for what it is, then perception becomes reality. The true person becomes a true joke of a person. Leading people is difficult, to put it mildly and ridicule can make any leader ineffective. I would wager that many people in America will not read or watch the news, but set their TIVO or DVR to catch every Comedy Central or late night show depiction of said news. Thus their take on world happenings is actually distorted beyond recognition.

Darrell Hammond effectively becomes Al Gore; Will Farrell is perceived to be the real George W. Bush and the list goes on into infinity. Hollywood actors become the true representation of who a person is, or what they said, so they ultimately speak for this person and influence voting. Many people are basing how they vote on how leaders are parodied on TV. Bizarre, isn’t it?

If they want the truth, they listen to Oprah…or Sean Penn, Steven Baldwin, Bono, Susan Sarandon and Madonna. Surely, these people have their collective finger on the pulse of the nation!

I love a good joke as much as the next person and have been known to pull a few fast ones in my time, but friends, I live by the old adage of “you can’t kid a kidder”. Almost on a daily basis someone is asking, or emailing me, if something is true, or an urban legend. I can almost always spot a fake, because I take the time to know the actual fact. It amazes and disturbs me what people choose to believe without bothering themselves by learning the truth.

We are what we read, hear, smell, watch and eat. If we choose to partake of something artificial, how will we know the difference, if we’ve never known the real thing?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Black history month? I love it!

I’m a perpetual student of history. I learned a long time ago, that if I was going to have an insight into the future, it wasn’t going to come through hocus-pocus, a crystal ball, or Nostradamus, but by paying attention to what mistakes we’ve made in the past. Only by looking back, can we see forward.

It’s a common belief that America is going to continue forward as a world leader regardless of what happens and we, who are living right now, are going to enjoy our lifestyle throughout our remaining years. History shows how easily all this can slip away and many times, it is gone in less than a decade.

America is still the place to be, regardless of what you see or read in today’s media and just like people in other countries view us as the hope of the world, we continue to squabble and fight over ethnicity, like the rebellious nation we are.

Take recent complaints about why “the blacks” need a whole month to draw attention to their history as an example.

Black history month is not meant to compete with anything, but to draw attention to the contribution of black Americans to society. It's a positive thing.

Right here in this town, a friend of mine grew up getting discarded books from white schools, when the new books were given to the white schools. You have to remember, many of us reader/writers are baby-boomers and older. We remember segregation and it wasn't THAT long ago. Black history was NOT taught in American schools at all until the last few decades, so the whole idea is one of education and who could fault that?

“Why should blacks have a “Black History” month and the whites not have a “White History” month, someone asked?

When almost 13% of our median population is black, it is not overboard to dedicate one month of our year to honor their accomplishments. According to the CIA’s excellent web site, (www.cia.gov) The World Fact Book, 81.7 per cent of this country is “white”, because “white” includes Hispanic peoples.

When a President dies, we fly our flags at half staff for a month and we do it to honor them. We shouldn't have a non-Presidents day also, so all the people who were not president can feel honored too, or a non-Veterans day, to honor all those who were never Veterans.

Each year, for the last 12 years, I have organized a Veterans Day celebration at the chemical plant where I work. I started this in the Clinton years because I felt Veterans benefits were diminishing with the military budget. Although about 15 per cent of the employee work force was Veterans, it was slow going initially and we celebrated in small groups.

The idea was for the Veterans (and supporters) to bring food to the break rooms and invite non-Veterans to eat with us. Some Vets felt we should enjoy this ourselves and exclude non-Vets and I carefully explained that the only way we could raise awareness for Vets was to educate people and enjoy their fellowship.

Taking this approach of educating and integrating Vets with non-Vets has paid off and last year, our plant manager, along with the maintenance manager for Austin Industries and other contractor groups banded together to feed everyone breakfast and lunch on all shifts. Vets bring in memorabilia and we salute and thank each other for serving and supporting our Vets and current troops. We now have one of the most patriotic chemical plants on the ship channel and our web page even has family members serving in the military.

All this began because one person tried to make a difference through education and integration.

I’ve heard people say that “whites” (whatever that is) are not welcome at basically “black” functions. It's been my personal experience that whites are far more welcome at black gatherings than vice-versa. I love many things about black culture and I hope the paradigm of negativity toward black people shifts positively in this country, in the future.

I've been a casual student of black history for about 15 years and it has helped me understand the culture and roots of black Americans.

I have a number of good books and have loaned out or gave away too many to count, but here are a few I found particularly enlightening. My favorite recommendation is "Malcolm X", a must read and seeing the movie doesn't count. “Black like me” by John Howard Griffin, “Sins of my fathers – The Atlantic Slave Traders 1441-1807” by James Pope-Hennessy, “From Slave to Statesman – The legacy of Joshua Houston, servant to Sam Houston” by Prather and Monday, and finally “The slave trade” – by Hugh Thomas.

Let’s celebrate the contributions of black Americans and while we’re at it, let’s do our share to learn more about this great culture that in many ways has influenced our individual lives for the better.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Islam, a religion of peace? You decide.

According to Nonie Darwish (Now they call me infidel) there is no such thing as a peaceful Islamic movement, contrary to everything we hear in the media.

They have one agenda and that is spreading Islam around the world, by force if necessary and this is why I claimed the local Mosque's open house was a proselytizing effort and not an educational one.

I was called a racist for saying that, but the more I study that religion, the more I realize their intentions. Every place on earth it gets a foothold, it turns to violence as a means of spreading. That's fact and to assume it will be any different here is a gross assumption indeed.

Our freedom of religion will be used to cloak their every advance.

Nonie Darwish says Saudi Arabian money (Wahabi Islam) is pouring into our large universities to fund Islamic studies and this money (of course) is being welcomed with open arms. Wahabism is one of the most extreme forms of Islam and practised by bin Laden.

This sounds like conspiracy theory stuff, but Nonie Darwish was an Egyptian Muslim for many years, growing up under Nasser and immigrating to America 30 years ago. Her father was a Muslim "martyr". In her recent visits to Egypt, she says Islam has become extremely intolerant of all other religions and on our American University campuses, Muslim women are using "covering up" as a means of empowerment. They are actually flaunting being covered up.

Her warnings about what is happening right now in America are shocking and beat anything you here on TV or the papers.

You can read about her here:

Her web site is here:

We don't know our left from our right.

I got my first real lesson on what being out of step means when I in was in Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, in ...