Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Ada Lovelace

In honor of Pi Day, shutterstock asked Aaron Coleman to create glass lithographs
of five scientists.  Go to the shutterstock blog to view all the lithographs and
biographies of the scientists.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Georgia on the Road To Keep Cars Smoke-Free

Last week, the Georgia State Senate passed Senate Bill 130,  the "Smokefree Cars for Children Act".  Basically, if a person under the age of  15 is a passenger in a car, no one is allowed to smoke in the car.  The car's driver is held responsible for enforcing this, and if found guilty, would be charged with a misdemeanor and possibly fined up to $100.

When I first read about this, I was torn because while I completely agree with banning smoking in a car with children, I feel trepidation about the government making rules about with regards to parenting.   There is a slippery slope waiting for us to fall down, where the government goes from passing laws about activities with no redeeming qualities (aka smoking) to passing laws about activities where parental judgment is required (e.g. how old is old enough to walk around a neighborhood) to passing laws in which the government has no right to comment (e.g. telling you which religion you must belong to if you want to have children).

But the other side of the coin involves treating children as if they are the property of their parents, with all the horrible implications of "property".   And to be honest, I think our society leans too far towards treating children as property instead of providing children with their own set of rights and responsibilities.

So in the end, I celebrate this particular bill and hope it will become a law this year, because I see this as society protecting children from a damaging situation.  But I will continue to watch what bills come out of the state Congress, because staying off the slippery slope requires vigilance from all of use.


Verbiage from Georgia General Assembly website:

 8  SECTION 1.
 9  This Act shall be known and may be cited as the "Smokefree Cars for Children Act."
10  SECTION 2.
11  Article 1 of Chapter 6 of Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to
12  general provisions relative to the uniform rules of the road, is amended by adding a new
13  Code section to read as follows:
14  "40-6-18.
15  (a) As used in this Code section, the term 'smoke' means to inhale, exhale, burn, or carry
16  a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, weed, plant, regulated narcotic, or other combustible
17  substance.
18  (b) A person who is the driver of or is in control of a motor vehicle that is required to be
19  registered under this title, whether or not such motor vehicle is being driven on the public
20  ways or is stopped on a public or private way, commits the offense of smoking in a motor
21  vehicle if the person smokes or permits another occupant of the motor vehicle to smoke in
22  such motor vehicle while a person under 15 years of age is in the motor vehicle; provided,
23  however, that a person shall not be charged with a violation of this subsection alone, but
24  may be charged with violating this subsection in addition to any other traffic offense.
25  (c) A violation of this Code section shall be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to
26  exceed $100.00." 15 LC 21 3672 S. B. 130 - 2 -
27  SECTION 3.
28  All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bloody Sunday - 50 Years Later But What's Changed?

Fifty years ago on March 7, a crowd of people marched in Alabama to protest excessive police brutality against a black man, Jimmie Lee Jackson.  Mr. Jackson was a civil rights activist working to enfranchise black voters in Alabama.  Local police mortally shot Mr. Jackson several times at an earlier, peaceful rally.

Ironically, police responded to the peaceful march with excessive police brutality and violence.

While bystanders took pictures and watched in horror, state troopers and local police officers attacked the people walking across a bridge, using tear gas and billy clubs, leaving people injured, unconscious, and bleeding in their wake.

Photos of the event rocked our entire nation, up to the White House.  People in other parts of our country felt shocked that such a heinous act could occur on American soil.  After a few more aborted marches,  on March 21st President Lyndon Johnson sent over 2,000 soldiers from the Army to accompany and protect the people marching from Selma to Birmingham.

The question is - have we learned our lesson?  Have we grown as a nation?

In my honest opinion, no.  No, we have not learned how to live with one another.

Over and over again, we learn of unarmed black men being shot and killed by police officers or even neighborhood watch activists.  Over and over, the media works to portray the slain as "bad" or "evil" or somehow deserving of the shooting.  Over and over, the white shooters are portrayed as simple men just doing their job or in fear of their lives.  Over and over, our judicial system lets the shooters go, sometimes without even a slap on the wrist.

Worst of all?  The number of white people who buy into the lies - who want to believe that the black man asked to be shot, who want to believe that police officers everywhere are always on the side of angels, who want to believe that being white somehow makes you better, allows you to be forgiven for your mistakes, even if those mistakes kill someone.  Especially if the mistakes kill a black person.

Traditional media, once a champion of the truth, showing pictures from Selma despite the repercussions on the white police officers, now work to hide the truth from the public.   They distract the public with fear-mongering, creating issues and potential threats out of figurative thin area.  Take, for example, the "Ebola" scare.  The Ebola virus is a big deal in Africa, where people wash dead bodies by hand, according to tradition.  Here, well, that's not really an American tradition, and it's not an issue at all.  For Ebola to spread, we would have to have regular people actively touching the dead bodies of the infected.

So why did traditional media act as if an Ebola epidemic could break out at any minute?

Maybe they don't want you to learn that a shop owner in Florida installed security cameras to catch the local police officers harassing his customers and employees.  In fact, the police cited an employee there 60 times for trespassing - at his job.

Maybe they don't want you to learn about all the times black people get harassed for walking down the street and not having identification.  Because, you know, in America you must carry identification when you go walking.  Otherwise, you're a criminal.

Maybe they want to convince you that illegal searching of a black person's vehicle is okay, because "if you have nothing to hide, then why can't I search it?"  The fact that it's against the Bill of Rights has nothing to do with the situation.  In fact, mentioning to a police officer that you have civil rights usually forces the police officer to get pissy.  I mean, you must be asking to be searched and must be hiding something if you try to reference your civil rights, right?

But the problem of anti-black racism cannot be solved through government alone.  We, the people, must make the effort to eradicate racism in ourselves and in our local communities.  We must look honestly at ourselves and root out our own racist attitudes, and work to not impart these attitudes on the youth of today.

Because that is the only way we can overcome the racism in our country.  By stopping, acknowledging when an incident happens, and working to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Book Review: "The Rememberers" by C. Edward Baldwin

This book will be released
on June 8, 2015.
Disclaimer:  This is the first book I'm reviewing for NetGalley, a website that allows authors to release books early to reviewers.  NetGalley gave me a copy of the book for this purpose.

"The Rememberers" by C. Edward Baldwin offers readers a glimpse into a world where a few select people can remember the future.  Yes, I know that it sounds a bit crazy and a few times while reading the story I felt as if I was watching "The Matrix", when Neo is asked to choose the red pill or the blue pill.  Only instead of Neo, we have Kallie being asked to forgot what she knows about reality.

The book begins with readers meeting Kallie, a college student who is coping with the recent-ish death of her mother and a growing number of occurrences of déjà vu. In an effort to understand her problem, she goes to a university group that studies mental phenomena.

While this is going on, the author twines another plot thread with a secret organization, a government official who believes in psychic abilities, and two priests.  I won't go into more details, because I don't want to ruin the story.

While I enjoyed reading the first 9/10s of the book, the very last part felt very rushed, as if the author was working on a deadline and didn't have time to write the scenes out.  The characters go flat, the action is told to the readers instead of shown, and then BOOM!  The book is over.

I still recommend reading the book, if you enjoy urban fantasies.  Just remember that the ending isn't as good as the beginning.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Book Review: "Greywalker" by Kat Richardson

Greywalker (Greywalker, #1)Greywalker by Kat Richardson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Greywalker" is a wonderful beginning to what I hope is a long series. The protagonist, Harper Blaine, is a small-time private investigator who dies at the very beginning of the book. The paramedics bring her back to life, but her time in death has changed her in a fundamental way. One of the main plots of the novel is how Harper learns about these changes and how to cope with the upheaval in her life. The other main plot has to do with a missing piece of furniture, a missing trust fund boy, and an electronic guy who doesn't have a phone number, but who you can generally find hanging around the library.

I like how the author works through Harper's disbelief; I would have found it fake if she just accepted everything immediately. I also like how the author wove the two main plots together in such a way as to make the story flow smoothly from one event to another.

Overall, I truly liked this book.

View all my reviews

Freaky Friday News: Unicorn Licenses

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