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People Lie October 4, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Last night, John and I were sitting on the couch in our PJs discussing how people “Other” God when I had a life-shaking revelation.

We’d just finished a rolicking debate when I popped open the computer to look up something on the Internet.  Of course I ended up on Facebook, where one of our RELATIONS* had a status update.  Of course, it looked like someone had hacked his/her facebook account, but the status update read like this:

“UNNAMED RELATION sits on the computer and Skypes with his/her boyfriend/girlfriend all day and never goes to class.”

I laughed, because this RELATION is a freshman in college and, as we all know, freshman year is rife with mistakes.  Also, I’m not entirely sure that this RELATION’S status is a lie–honestly, not going to class and hanging out with the boyfriend/girlfriend sounds about right to me.  The only problem is that this RELATION’S parents are also on facebook, so they caught wind of the update and had some choice comments.  (By the way, how much drama must friending your parents cause?  Thank God both of mine are computer illiterate and I’ve blocked any other family member that might cause me problems).

I read the update to John, and I laughed about how, since RELATION doesn’t have a scholarship and has no academic distinctions to compromise, it would be impossible to know what his/her GPA is.  John just sort of snorted and laughed and was like, “Yeah, and even if s/he talked about it, there’s no way to know if s/he’s telling the truth.”

It was like two semi-trucks full of cymbals had collided IN MY BRAIN.

People lie about their GPAs?  I grew up in a city where I couldn’t go out alone at night after dark, and yet it had never occurred to me that people would lie about that.  GPAs are like…sacred.  It’s not like lying about your weight, which is really anybody’s guess.  It’s like lying about your innate character, your capabilities, and your competency.  It’s one of those WHOPPER of a lies, one of those lies that is so incredibly unethical at its center that it pretty much qualifies you as the scourge of the earth.  What’s the use of going to school and working hard if I can just fake how well I did on my resume, application, or otherwise?  I’ll just tell everyone I got a 6.0 because I’m awesome like that and move on.  I get that not everyone does well in school, sometimes through no fault of their own.  Fine–then leave your GPA off your resume, or make sure that you can address it with honesty, candor, and effectiveness in your interview.  It makes me think that students right out of college with no job experience should have to turn in transcripts to their employers or something, to keep them honest (don’t eat me in the comments, I know this is a poorly thought out and rash idea).  It makes me want to find people who lie about their GPAs and kick them in the throat.  Hard.

*Name unspoken because I cannot afford another one of those hoo-rahs**

**Last time I had a blog, I posted some things that John’s family found controversial and it was a big, awful, HUGE mess.

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So Now What Do We Do? June 1, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Oh, so you heard that BP’s top kill method of plugging up the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico didn’t work?  I’m assuming that you weren’t distracted by what is effectively the beginnings of The Korean War Part Deux Only With China This Time or that little tidbit of Israel Going Batcrap Insane And Boarding A Turkish Aid Flotilla In International Waters And Killing Some Folks (sidenote: John and I don’t agree on Israel.  He’s an Israeli sympathizer whereas I think their failure to compromise makes them big bullies).

Anyhoo, there’s still oil pumping into the Gulf of Mexico.  Just a little bit.  Over the weekend, BP announced that they’re going to cut below the damaged pipe to get a clean surface, then try to put another containment vessel on top of the leak.  You know, like that containment vessel that didn’t work the first time.  As of this morning, Gizmodo is reporting that this new method of correction could put 20% oil into the Gulf. Since BP has done such a wonderful, bang-up job so far, I think it’s safe to assume that we’ll be seeing a lot more oil in the Gulf of Mexico in the next few days.  Let’s just pray that those relief wells get dug sooner rather than later.

Sorry dolphins, sea turtles, and various avian life.  It was nice knowing you.

What the Crap, BP?! May 26, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life, Loathin'.
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OH MY GOD.  It has been umpteen thousand million days since this whole fiasco started (read: over a month), and still no solution.  An article in USAToday says that BP is trying a “top kill” method of plugging the spill that works on aboveground leaks, but it has never been tried underwater.  Their estimate for success?  Somewhere between 60% and 70%.  I don’t know about you, but those are unacceptable grades for a math test, much less the last desperate idea to stop ecological travesty.

Let me just get this out of the way before I continue on:  SCREW YOU, BP.

First, get a sense of the size of this spill.  One of John’s coworkers mocked up these images yesterday, and it really puts things in perspective, though you’ll need to click through to see the full size image:

Here's an outline of the spill in the gulf. It's already big, right?

Here's what the spill would look like on land in Northwest Arkansas

I feel awful that people died in this catastrophe, but their deaths are far outweighed by the outrageous awfulness that is this oil spill.  Scientists estimate that 7 million gallons of oil have already leaked–oh, excuse me, GUSHED–into the Gulf, and if this last minute attempt at plugging the hole doesn’t work, there will be “significant down time” before another alternative can be implemented.  That’s compounded by the fact that scientists say the oil plume is actually getting darker, which implies that the oil coming out is more polluted and even more dangerous.  The dispersants that BP originally used to try and break up the oil are just as flawed; now there are giant plumes of oil floating willy-nilly in the water column.

The water is so toxic that they won’t let divers go in with ANY SKIN EXPOSED.

What really pisses me off is that this whole disaster could have been avoided if the platform had redundant shut-off valves.  When oil companies–including BP–were approached about this by regulatory committees, they pooh-poohed it off as overly expensive and unnecessary.  Now BP is facing a piddling $4300 dollar per barrel fine (which, by my estimates, totals somewhere near $30 billion dollars in addition to clean-up costs.  Lots of people are wagging their fingers at BP, but we should also be looking at Deepwater Horizon (which owned the rig) and Halliburton (which set the lines).  Even more so, we should be glaring down a gunsight at OSHA, which is in charge of inspecting and regulating off-shore drilling rigs.

This should make Obama’s push to open new offshore drilling sites even more infuriating that it was when he backed out of his campaign promise to stop the expansion of such drilling sites.  This wasn’t an old announcement, either–this hit the wire a mere three weeks before BP blew the Gulf of Mexico all to heck.  Don’t read this as an indictment of the Obama administration, because I know full well that McCain would have done the same thing. Consider this an indictment of the American political system that has been sleeping with Big Oil for the past century.

People are screaming at the government to get involved in this process, but that’s not feasible, either.  What is the government going to do that BP isn’t’ already doing?  Obama has assembled a team of scientists to deal with this issue, but they’re going to need as much time as BP is to get in there and fix this thing.  Not only that, but why waste taxpayer dollars on this when you can run a company into the ground instead?  I really think that BP is trying to do everything they can to stop this leak to save the company itself.  Any more of this and they’re going to go under: hook, line, and sinker.  In an effort at self-preservation they’re going to do anything they can to get this mess cleaned up.  The government would be no faster, more efficient, or better.  The only thing it could do is get more manpower on the scene, but with 21,000 BP employees already on the ground and countless American scientists and volunteers, how many more people do you need right now?

The real tragedy here is that it doesn’t matter what we do now.  Even if we plugged the spill today, we cannot feasibly undo the damage to the gulf.  The ecosystem will take decades to recover, but with the current state of affairs–global warming, oceanic acidity, pollution, et. al–it may never, ever recover.  EVER.  All of the regulation, restrictions, and nay-saying that will come in the next few months isn’t going to fix anything.  It may prevent another spill of this magnitude, but it’s not going to help out the Gulf Coast now.

I hope you all are PISSED OFF at the lack of planning, initiative, and competency evidenced by everyone involved in the offshore oil drilling industry. I sure am.

Wherein I Refuse to Recognize Arizona as a State April 30, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Loathin'.
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Have you people seen this?  Today, the Arizona legislature passed a bill that would require police officers to ask for documentation if they suspect you are illegal, and it makes being in the United States illegally a state crime.  Additionally, it invests citizens with an inordinate amount of power

Other provisions [in the bill] allow citizen lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws, and make it illegal for people to hire illegal immigrants for day labor or knowingly transport them.

Holy God, Arizona.  Have you lost your ever-lovin’ minds?

The issue of illegal immigration is a conflicted subject for me.  On the one hand, it’s illegal to come into this country without proper documentation for various reasons.  First, and foremost, is the effort to keep out the riff-raff, like criminals who are trying to evade charges in their own countries.  I get that.  I don’t want murderers waltzing into the United States for safety.  Then there’s that whole thing about taxation and job loss, not to mention the vaccination scare.  In El Paso I had to get all sorts of additional vaccines because–obviously–I would be coming into contact with people who would not be inoculated.  So yeah, I get that you need papers for a reason.  On a personal level, my family was able to come into the country legally, so I think that everyone else should do it the right way, too.  Elitist?  Maybe.  Honest?  Yes.

On the other hand, have you seen what daily life is like in Mexico?  I can’t blame anyone for wanting a better life than that.  The problem is that trying to get entrance into the United States is incredibly difficult.  The tests you have to take are in English, and this predicates two things: that you know how to read and write English, and that you know all about the history of the U.S.  I mean, the last isn’t so hard, right?  Oh wait, except that the poor who are running the border haven’t had any education to speak of.  The tests themselves create a barrier that keep out the people who want to come in.

But all of this is sort of beside the point.  The fact is that there are illegal immigrants in the United States, and under current immigration law, they should be arrested and deported.

In theory, Arizona’s law seems like a good idea.  The only real way to catch illegal immigrants is to figure out that they’re illegal, and unless they have contact with the police or a health care professional, that’s awfully hard.  The issue with Arizona’s law is really very small, really…nothing more than BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS.

Case in point: this morning on Good Morning America, political pundit Lou Dobbs was defending the Arizona bill.  When asked what an illegal immigrant looked like, this was his response: “Well, an illegal immigrant looks like someone with no legal documentation.”  (This is a paraphrase, but you can see the full video on the GMA website).  HOW do you know someone has no legal documentation, exactly?  Do those people have flatter pockets than others?  Perhaps your left eye turns green when you don’t have your license on you?  No.  People with no documentation look like poor, dirty, uneducated MEXICANS who have poor English skills.

This is racial profiling at its best.  All of you guys who might look like Mexicans better watch out–I’m talking to you, Native Americans.  Oh, and you Middle Easterners better wear headgear or burkhas or whatever to distinguish yourselves (and so you can be discriminated against in a completely different way.  Lucky you).  Even more terrifying is the power that the bill invests in the citizenry.  Under the bill, citizens can make “citizen arrests” of illegals.  Except…wait!  How will they know who is illegal?  The same way Lou Dobbs does, obviously.  I can’t wait for all of those “wrongful arrest” lawsuits to start piling up.

This law is terrifying, and it scares me that there are people in legislatures that think that this kind of categorization and violation is in any way justified.  I sincerely hope that one day they feel persecuted for something out of their control, and made to feel like an outcast in their own country.  May THEY be afraid to look underprivileged, have a certain color skin, or speak with a specific accent.

In conclusion: screw you, Arizona.

EDIT:  I just found this addendum to the Arizona bill:
“HB2281 states that any course, class, instruction, or material may not be primarily designed for pupils of particular ethnic group as determined by the state superintendent of instruction. State aid will be withheld from any school district or charter school that does not comply.”
This directly attacks Chicano studies programs.  Ummmm.  Really?  I’d like to see that bill get passed about African-American heritage classes.  This place would burn there would be so much outrage.  I dare you to tell me this isn’t racial profiling.

I Hate to Even Post This March 10, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Crazy Magnet.
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Today I was squirreling around the internet searching for birthrates out of wedlock.  The first link that came up led me to the Stormfront.org forums (I’m not going to link to it because, seriously, the site doesn’t need any more hits).

The source article was fine; it was just embedded a link to a New York Times article–40% of all American children are now born out of wedlock, according to this source.  But as I read through the replies, I was increasingly horrified.  One commenter blamed the increase on “race-mixing whores.”  I figured this guy would get lit into, but as I kept reading, there were all sorts of racist comments.  People were blaming the increase on Hispanics and African-Americans, citing their dependency on the white man’s tax dollar.  I couldn’t believe it, until I realized that I was on a white nationalist message board.

Oh. My. God.  I knew some crazy stuff happened out there on the internet, but SERIOUSLY?  A whole forum dedicated to WHITE SUPREMACY AND RACISM?  No lie, the boards were broken up topically and globally. Turns out, if you’re a racist neo-nazi in Switzerland, there are some folks who really want to hang out and chat with you.  The really disgusting thing was that there were, literally, tens of thousands of posts.  It wasn’t like this was Alabama John Doe’s backyard project.  It’s popular, and that’s terrifying.  Crazy people by themselves are bad enough, but crazy people en masse are dangerous.  Very, very dangerous.

Tim Tebow and Focus on the Family January 26, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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So, yeah.  Abortion.  Recently Tim Tebow, golden boy of the University of Florida’a offense, has agreed to be in a Focus on the Family commercial that will air during the Super Bowl.  Surprisingly, I first read the story on the E! News website (way to go, entertainment news!).  To make things easy, I’ll recap the issue:  Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam, are going to talk about how Pam refused to abort him despite medical advice.  Women’s groups are pissed, and lobbying CBS to pull the ad.

Alright, so I might have already commented on abortion on this blog, but I’m going to do it again.  I have to say, I find the statements by the Women’s groups really, really disturbing.  It’s this comment that’s upsetting:

Citing the history of violence against doctors who perform abortions and the recent murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas, the letter continued pointedly: “We sincerely hope you do not want CBS associated with this brand of un-American hate.”

Now, I can understand this kind of anger if CBS is not allowing Pro-Choice groups to run advertisements during the Super Bowl.  I agree with equal representation; if CBS is trying to block pro-choice commercials…well, then, that’s a serious problem.  However, from the articles I’ve read, this doesn’t seem to be the case.  Instead, women’s rights groups are hissing about a “hate filled” agenda.  Also, it’s important to note that no one knows what this commercial says, except that CBS has released statements that the 30 second piece never uses the word “abortion,” though one assumes it talks about “choosing life” and “keeping babies.”

It’s the continued, sustained violent rhetoric that I have such problem with.  Not everyone who is pro-life is also a crazy, violent, murderous nutjob.  In the same way, pro-choicers are not all passive, peace-loving, non-agressive folk (you should you-tube pro-choice violence.  There’s a video of a pro-choice woman taking out a peaceful pro-life protestor).  The fact that organizations on both sides of the picket-line keep using incredibly divisive, incredibly charged language is dangerous, in my opinion.

Additionally, I hate it when people who are pro-choice act like the idea of keeping a baby is a terrible option.  In one of the articles, a women’s group basically gives CBS the big wagging finger of shame for aligning itself with a pro-life political stance (though, if CBS believes in all the commercials it airs, it also thinks Axe body spray is basically female supermodel attractant).  It seems to me that Focus on the Family–which, I’ll go ahead and say it, is mostly a nutball organization–is presenting another choice to women across the country.  They’re not saying don’t abort, but they are saying that there’s a choice for life.  I think that real feminists would put a certain amount of value on the power of knowledge.  There was once a time when women didn’t have the option for abortion at all; there was also a time when a women didn’t have the right to choose whether she kept or aborted her fetus.  In a world where women are still wrestling for equality with men, we should be focusing on educating our daughters, not polarizing them.  What a sad world it is when someone who gets unintentionally pregnant thinks she has to abort or has to keep the baby to term because that’s what she’s been taught.

The real loser here is the Super Bowl, really.  When the station cuts to break, I want to watch ads with dancing frogs, or people falling down, not get inundated with the same political mumbo-jumbo that I see every day.  Come on, CBS!  Do us all a favor and keep politics separate from football.

Update on Offensive Facebook Status Updates December 7, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Crazy Magnet, Life, Loathin'.
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I’ve written three papers in six days.   Yes, you heard me.  My entire weekend was devoted to researching and writing two, and I have one more (as yet unstarted) that’s due on Wednesday.  Basically, by brain is slowly liquefying in its own literary juices.

So, for FIVE MINUTES, I hop on facebook to unwind and revel in other people’s finals week stress.  Do you want to know what the first thing on my status feed was?  DO YOU?

Anonymous Poster is I listened to her scream for about 7 minutes while she searched around for the shield. I continued to pinch my nipple, so it would protrude, and she finally did it! I got her to nurse on both sides without the shield… Now, it took A LOT longer than normal. We’ll see how it goes in the middle of the night :o)

I. Am. Not. Kidding.  I have no idea what a shield is (and I’m way too afraid to google it for all the ta-tas I know I’ll see), nor do I care.  Nipple pinching?  ON FACEBOOK?  Totally inappropriate.  Good Lord.  If you want to talk about the challenges of motherhood, there are PLENTY more avenues to use–your own personal mommy-blog, private notes on Facebook, the telephone. Just…please.  Spare the rest of us (who, again, don’t care) the gory details.

Daddy Drama November 13, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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I try not to post sob stories on this blog.  I mean, you don’t click on posts to join a pity party for one, after all.  But there’s been some ongoing drama associated with my father lately, and it’s so crazy I can’t not share it.  My family is a collection of nutcases, I guess.

Anyway, this all started in August when my dad called me out of the blue.  I hadn’t talked to him since April, which really isn’t unusual for us.  My grandfather has been in poor health the past couple of years, so I immediately answered the phone hoping that it wasn’t “the call,” you know…the “your-grandfather-is-dead” call.  Turns out, not so much.  Dad let me know that not only had he been dating some lady he met on the internet for three months, he’d proposed to her.

I’m sure the people around me heard tires screeching in my brain.

You heard me correctly.  The man with two failed marriages and children from two different women affianced a woman after three months of dating.  This is the same man who told John he couldn’t marry me after we’d been together for two and a half years.  Anyway, I told him that I hoped he was planning a long engagement, because no one can know anyone well enough to marry them in three months.  What I should have said was, “Seriously?  Are you TRYING to pay alimony?”  I didn’t.

I’d pretty much forgotten about the whole thing until three weeks ago when my dad sent me an email telling me he’d like John and I to fly to El Paso for his November 21st wedding.  I couldn’t believe the short notice.  Not only is it inconsiderate, but the decision itself is unintelligent.  But whatever.  The man is grown and can do whatever he pleases, for all I care, as long as he keeps me out of it.  So I tell him that we can’t afford the $1,000 tickets to fly to El Paso on such late notice and push come to shove, he offered to pay.  Since I haven’t seen my “El Paso family” in almost two years, I thought I’d take him up on the offer.

Since then, John’s been struggling to get time off of work to go.  In the ad business the end of the year is the busiest, so he finally nailed down the time a few days ago.  With all that’s been going on with school, I finally got around to booking the tickets yesterday.  Before I paid I called dad to confirm the travel dates, which he was okay with.  I booked the flights, and that was the end of it.

Or not.  So my dad emails me this morning to tell me that the wedding has been moved to the 28th, and that I needed to change my travel reservations accordingly.  Good lord.  Now I have to call him and tell him that we can’t make it, then go through the hassle of contacting airlines and such when I have other things in my life–i.e. school, family, a marriage–to focus on.

I really  don’t know why I’m posting this other than to share with you the insanity that is my relationship with my dad.  Everything works out this way; nothing ever goes smoothly with him, even when I do all of the arrangements myself.  This is reason number 839,045 that I try and keep my distance from dad.  Life just doesn’t work right when it’s cluttered with so much drama.

Y’all, I am READY to take it to some people September 10, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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I rarely discuss politics here, because…guess what?  The fastest way to lose friends and alienate people is by constantly harping on a) political beliefs and b) religious beliefs.  I know that I differ on both of these counts from most of my friends who, although tolerant of my backward ways, would promptly get sick of me if that’s all I decided to write about.  I love you guys.

But seriously.  I am so sick of having labels applied to conservatives willy nilly just because they happen to be conservative.  It also seems to me that most people are incapable of separating the talking heads on news stations and political figures from the average, everyday people that align themselves with the Republican party in some fashion.  It is unfair to think that every American who calls themselves Republican holds every tenant of the party as close to his heart as his Bible and gun.

I especially hate being called ignorant, stupid, classless, and anti-Obama because I remain aligned with the Republican party.  It is exactly this kind of agonism that keeps problems from being solved.  People spend so much time slinging cruel names at one another that actual issues–you know, those things that affect our daily lives, insignificant really–are either unresolved or resolved poorly.  Deborah Tannen wrote an article a few years ago called “We Need a Higher Quality Outrage” that sums up this problem in a completely bipartisan fashion.  It’s quite good.

Don’t think that this doesn’t go both ways.  Shame on conservatives for doing the same injustice to their liberal counterparts.  There’s no reason that we can’t respect each other’s opinions and engage in healthy debate.  I’m just sick of all of this awful name calling and mudslinging.

I’m Lovin’: Stranger than Eviction August 2, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Crazy Magnet, Lovin'.
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My sister Caitlin pointed out something great about this note:  I love that he clearly wrote, ‘Gabe, your are evicted!’ went back inside and thought, ‘WAIT! There’s something I need to add!’ got halfway back outside and then thought, ‘No, not in black!  This one needs to catch the eye!’

This is a kid-friendly example of a Gary correspondence

I was all in the middle of telling you about my campus cop story when John and I happened to stumble across this website.  (Warning: if you’re not comfortable with profanity, don’t click the link).  If you think my stories from the Red Bus are crazy, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  The blog details Gabe Dunn’s one month subletting experience from a criminally insane landlord named Gary.  Not only is the material hilarious, but Gabe’s insights are funny, too (even though I don’t think Gabe has the grammatical high-ground to stand on that he thinks he does).

The best part?  The saga is ongoing.  Gabe’s latest post was yesterday.