Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sandeela vs. Caylee OR Ratings vs Real News

I have long been disgusted by media bias in reporting on abused, missing, or kidnapped girls. Soccer moms, young women, and the West at large thirst and beg for news stories when cute, white, photogenic, or socio-economically-matched girls are affected. Natalie Holloway is an excellent example. Caylee Anthony is another. Madeleine McCann is unfortunately another.

As far as I'm concerned, Natalie Holloway was a stupid partier who got drunk and agreed to "take a ride" with strangers. Social Darwinism and natural selection at work. Caylee and Madeleine are different cases--their situations are an unfortunate result of bad parenting and a dangerous world. And despite how this article may read, I do hope and pray that Madeleine and Caylee are found safely.

However, why do we hear about these particular stories? Women and girls go missing by the millions. 113-200 million women and girls are "missing" as I am typing this. Over 1.5 million lose their lives through violence or neglect every year. Why are these three special?

Moreover, given the recent premiere of Honor Killings in the US through the murder of an equally unique and important American girl, Sandeela Kanwal, why is Caylee dominating news coverage? If anything, the advent of this violent epidemic on American shores should dominate the news. Yet we hear very little to nothing about it in favor of another story of bad parenting and unfortunate mishap.

800,000 kids go missing in the country every year. How often do you hear stories of little Puerto Rican girls in New York, black girls in Birmingham, or Mexican-American girls in California being kidnapped or going missing? Ever? Can you recall one? I can't. Why is this? Are all the missing kids white and middle class?

Is it ratings versus real news? This is my argument. When America sees a non-white child go missing, they dismiss it as crime from the inner city or some other social evil that we don't want to talk about. When a poor kid goes missing, it's probably some white trash father or podunk redneck to blame. More than this, most people in this country are white and middle class--when a story hits close to home or seems like it could affect them (or their kids in this case), they watch. The need. The yearn for every detail. It becomes a soap opera that penetrates America's heart; deep down inside we want the Lost to be found so we can rest assured at night that our kids are safe.

Thus, the media ignores real news--Sandeela's demise at the behest of her "dis-honored" father--for the Soap Opera this-can-happen-to-you news--Caylee, Madeleine, and Natalie--so that we watch...and watch...and wait for news. To quote a graduate professor of mine: "The Press are whores to sensationalism and ratings." I hold this truth to be self-evident.

America's First Honor Killing

I remember reading about America's first honor killing in the news and almost wrote an op-ed on it. I never got around to it and instead am posting here.

For those that don't follow this, an honor killing is usually perpetrated against a women by her family because she has "shamed" them, either by wearing makeup, taking off her headscarf, have a non-Muslim boyfriend, drinking, or escaping from arranged marriages. It occurs almost entirely among Turks, Kurds, Afghans, Pakistanis, and Indians of Islamic faith, although some cases have involved Arabs and other ethnicities from the Near East, as well as Christians, Sikhs, and Hindus throughout.

Most people on this continent are probably oblivious to the proliferation of honor killings in Europe--so numerous now (in the multiples of hundreds) that Scotland Yard set up the Honor Crimes Unit and EU leaders have set up a pan-European anti-Honor killing squad.

What was shocking is that the US case didn't occur in L.A., New York, the Washington area, or any of the major population centers for Central/South Asians, Arabs, Kurds, and Turks. It happened, instead, in small town Jonesboro, GA, just down the road from where I grew up.

Thinking of some prominent examples of the 5,000 (UN estimate) annual honor killings... I remember reading a story about a young 16 year old Turkish girl in Germany. She wore some makeup. Her youngest brother--perhaps 13--shot her in the face in the schoolyard. He had been ordered to by his father and older brothers. Why? Because she was living a western life and he, as a minor, would have his record wiped clean at 18.

In 2003 in Britain, a Kurdish man, Abdalla Yones, stabbed his 16 year old daughter 11 times and then slit her throat because she had a Christian boyfriend.

One Turkish-German women, Hatin Surucu, had been married off to a cousin in Turkey at 16. She escaped at 22 with her son and fled to Berlin, where she took up residence at a single mothers home. She finished school and began specialist training as an electrician. Her family tracked her down and her 3 brothers shot her as she waited for a bus in 2005.

Horrible, shocking, disgusting. I hope this archaic and inhumane practice is wiped out before more occur in our country (although the murder of two sisters in Texas is suspect). Paramount is the message that while we enjoy a multicultural open society with freedom of worship, this does not trump the secular, individual, and humans rights laws that we hold dear and which enable this country to prosper.

Update: Here is a well written op-ed by Fipp Avlon on the subject. Avlon is a big proponent of centrist independent politics and is a professor at Stanford University. He was formerly Rudy Guiliani's top speechwriter.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

4:86PM: Time has shifted to the metric system in the UK

UK civil servants use calculators to tell time.

This is sad. A meter maid in the UK wrote a guy a ticket despite the fact that the gentleman has plenty of time left on the meter. Why? Because the meter maid thought that time operated in the metric system. Didn't you know there were 100 minutes per hour?

When the victim of the stupidity protested that he had paid for 75 minutes of parking:

"The warden disagreed and tried to prove his point with a calculator.

He tapped in 14.49 and added 0.75 to produce a total of 15.24, claiming this meant Mr Alsop's ticket had expired at 3.24pm, some 17 minutes before he returned to his car."

The victim tried to explain, but the traffic warden ignored him and kept on ticketing. Coupled with my recent post on the failure of education standards, this story is not surprising.

Lunacy: 4 Common Sense: 2

Car Thieves Are Covered by Our Insurance

Read the absurdity here.

Seriously. A young guy in the West Midlands (UK) had his car stolen. The thief rammed a police officer trying to evade arrest. Following standard police procedures, the Police charged the victim's insurance for thief-induced damage to the patrol car. The insurance company, in turn, charged the victim £1,000 ($2000US)!!

Two things: 1) Let's explore the outer limits of this line of thinking and 2) let's talk about personal responsibility.

I can understand if a child's guardians or parents are held accountable or a vicious dog's owner is responsible for his misbehavior. I can also understand some instances of negligence (i.e. you place a loaded pistol on a desk next to a deranged suicidal maniac or otherwise enable a delinquent act).

So, when is one responsible for inanimate objects? Perhaps when they are in your possession?

I would not sue McDonalds because I spilled hot coffee on me--it's my dumbass fault.

You shouldn't--and have thus far been unable to--sue gun manufacturers for crimes committed with their products.

Specific to cars--If I lend my car to a friend, I understand--by law--that I am also lending out my insurance. However, if he steals it, I have no control and am thus absolved. I was neither negligent nor enabling.

Secondly, what happened to personal responsibility? If this criminal did it, he should have to answer for it. Bottom line. That's it. The idea that the government is specifically dispensing blame to those that a) they know can pay and b) had no part in the accident is disgusting.

Hopefully the citizens of the UK will take notice and lobby their MPs to end this nonsense.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Perfect Caption

I found this image online yesterday in the Post's Day in Pictures.

I was a bit traumatized, yet not surprised. These gentlemen are celebrating the Tour de France. Can you guess their nationality? I'm sure all you Brits can. Keep in mind that these grown Frenchmen are celebrating a national sporting event by dressing up like characters on one of the most popular French TV shows... so there is no excuse!

I could unleash a multitude of France jokes, but these are available at the link below. I will, however, offer a perfect caption and a timeless quote of relevance.

The perfect caption: The Tour de France is so popular with the French because it's the one sport where you don't need balls.

Brilliant. What would Napoleon say about his compatriots? Oh...wait, Bony was Corsican. Nevermind.

Secondly, literary genius and iconic American Mark Twain had this to say about our Francophone brethren:

"France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country. France has usually been governed by prostitutes."

Truer words have never been spoken.

For further comic relief at the expense of the Fifth Republic, go to google, type in "French Military Victories" and click "I'm Feeling Lucky".

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"Black Holes", "White Lies", "Yellow Journalism", and "Brown Noses"

Dallas County commissioner John Wiley Price and Judge Thomas Jones insist that the term “Black Hole” is racist. During a County Commission meeting, white Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield called the traffic ticket processing office a “black hole” in reference to its lack of organization and accounting. Antagonists Jones and Price immediately protested this “racist” comment and demanded an apology. Fortunately, Mayfield stood his ground. Aren’t we past this, people?

Find the article here.

Do the phrases “White Lie”, “Yellow Journalism”, and “Brown Nose” equally offend the multitude of ethnicities and races that this country encompasses?

Did Judge Jones and Mr. Price fail high school science? Did they even go to high school? Are they entirely removed from educated discourse? How can one possible imply that the term is racist?

Black is defined as: “the color of objects that do not emit or reflect light in any part of the visible spectrum.” (FYI: We “see” things through light reflecting off of them.)

As we all know, Black Holes are places in space where the gravitational field is so strong that light cannot escape from them. Therefore, because light cannot escape—hence reflect for our eyes to process—they appear as black voids.

I wonder what Stephen Hawking would say to such idiocy. I, for one, believe we should ostracize the people of Dallas for electing such fine public servants.

According to their logic, almost any word can be racist. I am offended by the equally fascinating stellar phenomenon of “White Dwarfs." “White Dwarfs” are defined as “degenerate Dwarfs” given the fact that they are in the latter stages of a star’s decay.

I can’t imagine what a Matt Roloff of Little People, Big World fame would say, given the fact that he is a Caucasian Little Person (implying through the Jones-Price equation that he is a degenerate).

Let’s get back to reality, folks—or at least start electing public servants who can compete in Who's Smarter Than a Fifth Grader. Fortunately, Commissioner Mayfield and bloggers are standing their ground, chalking one up for Common Sense.

Common Sense: 2 Lunacy: 2

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Offensive Puppies

Read this.

The Tayside Police in Scotland sent out postcards informing the populace that a new non-emergency number was being set up. On the postcard was the Force's "newest recruit", a 7-month old German Shepherd puppy named Rebel who just "graduated" from initial obedience training. He's adorable.

However, local Muslims are so offended by an "unclean" dog being shown on official government postcards--regardless of his positive civic intent--that they are boycotting the postcards/numbers, refusing to display them in their shops, and have lobbied Dundee city counselors enough to have an "investigation" called for. The police are backtracking, apologizing for not consulting their "diversity" expert.

Eight hours after the Daily Mail broke the story at least 64 comments had been left by our Cousins across the Pond--every single one was outright condemnation of the absurdity, lack of common sense, and government retreat. Some enlightening comments include: "What a load of old tosh! Since when have puppies been offensive?", "When will there be an end to all this stupidity?", "We're a bullied nation.", "No wonder the police are useless today when so much of their training is devoted to this rubbish.", and, most aptly, "I am outraged that they are outraged." They've got it right.

Unfortunately, the government hasn't caught it counts as a loss.

Common Sense: 1 Lunacy: 2

The Limits of Absurdity and the Failure of Education Standards

I was sent an article by a Scottish friend of mine. Read The Times article here.

For non-British readers: In the English and many related educational systems, the GCSE's are a series of tests taken around the age of 16. Further schooling beyond this point (referred to as "Sixth Form", which culminates in "A-levels" testing that qualifies one for Uni entrance) is optional. Thus, GCSEs are sort of final required tests showing that one is capable of functioning in society--a terrifying concept.

The sub-title of this article reads, "Write ‘f*** off’ on a GCSE paper and you’ll get 7.5%. Add an exclamation mark and it’ll go up to 11%."

The question was: "Describe the room you are in." The student simply wrote, "F*** off". Apparently, the Head Examiner for the English GCSEs awarded the student a 7.5% because the phrase conveyed "meaning" and had proper word order. Apparently, if the student has used an exclamation point, he would have gotten a higher grade since this required a more advanced command of the English language.

Is this honestly how we prepare our young people for adulthood? What has caused our standards to drop to such appalling levels? More importantly, where is the logic in the Examiner's actions? This is where common sense should have prevailed; unfortunately for Western civilization, it failed to overcome rigid insular grading standards. Fortunately, all my friends across the pond are as appalled as I am.

Common Sense: 1 Lunacy: 1