Archive for September, 2009

Morally Bankrupt

September 30, 2009

I’ve been debating with myself whether to write about the Roman Polanski arrest.  I just can’t believe that there is anyone supporting his release.  Yet, more than one hundred actors, producers and directors have signed a petition doing just that.  The petition has some of the most stupid logic that I have ever seen.  They claim that there is something special about international film festivals; the Polanski’s arrest undermines the freedom of international cultural events.

Never mind that Polanski pleaded guilty to a felony, then fled the country before he could be sentenced.

Whoopie Goldberg says it wasn’t a “rape-rape.”  Harvey Weinstein calls it a “so-called crime.”  I’ve read the transcript of the grand jury testimony of the 13-year-old victim of this “so-called crime”, “not a rape-rape.”  A summary of the testimony can be found at Steve Lopez’ Los Angeles Times’ column here.  I won’t go into specifics, but it is clear that a serious crime was committed.  Polanski was able to plea bargain the initial charges down to only one felony charge because the victim’s family wanted to spare her the trauma of a public trial. All the people calling for this thing to be dropped are either grossly ignorant of the facts or completely morally bankrupt.

Should it make a difference that this is a very old case?  Should it make a difference that the victim has forgiven Polanski and has tried to move on with her life?  Is Polanski’s self imposed exile from the United States (so he wouldn’t be arrested) be considered punishment enough?  Should the fact that he lost his mother in the Holocaust or that his wife and unborn child were murdered by the Charles Manson gang be taken into consideration.

No, in every case, I don’t think so.  Polanski committed a series of serious crimes  on a 13-year-old.  He needs to be held accountable.  Period.  End of story.  And to those who think this needs to be dropped:  How would you feel if the victim was your 13-year-old daughter.  I have a hard time believing that you would think that it wasn’t a “rape-rape” or only a “so-called crime.”  At least I hope so.

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A Letter to Potential Eagle Scouts

September 29, 2009

The following is a letter from a dad to Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs, and Mike’s response.

Clearly, Mike understands what the rank of Eagle means.  I concur completely with every word of Mike’s letter.  I pass it on for your consideration.

______________________________________________

Mike,
I’m not sure where I heard that you are an Eagle Scout, which brings me to my question. Could you PLEASE take a moment & post to my 13 year old son Kelby & encourage him to finish scouting (& anything else that’ll help with this?) Reason I’m asking is that he only lacks 1 1/2 – 2 years in reaching Eagle, but some of his buddies have got him to thinking scouting isn’t cool at his age.
Thanks much,  Gary

*****

Kelby,

Your Dad asked me to drop you a line and say something inspirational that might persuade you to dig down deep and find the determination to make the rank of Eagle Scout. It’s a reasonable request, from a father who obviously wants to see his son succeed. But here’s the thing – The Eagle Award is not really meant for people who need to be dragged across the finish line. It’s meant for a select few, and I have no idea if you have the guts to see it through.

Statistically, I suspect you do not. Only one out of a hundred Scouts make Eagle, so if you fail, there will be lots of other people with whom you can share excuses. Quitting now might disappoint your Dad, but I doubt that he or anyone else will be overly surprised. Anytime 99 out of 100 people do the same thing, it’s not exactly a shock.

I’m not trying to be cute with a bunch of reverse psychology. When I was 15, there was nothing that anyone could have said to me that would have inspired me to do something I didn’t want to do, especially a stranger with a TV show. So I’m not going to assume you’re any different, or pretend that I have some influence or insight that you haven’t already heard from a dozen other people who actually know and care about you. I’ll just tell you straight up, that doing something extraordinary can be very lonely, and most people simply aren’t cut out for it. Being an Eagle Scout requires you to be different than most everyone around you, and being different is really, really hard. That’s why the award is called “an accomplishment.”

Personally, and for whatever it’s worth, the best decisions I’ve made in my own life, are those decisions that put me on the outside of being cool. Singing in the Opera, working in home shopping, staring in the school play when the entire football team laughed at me, and especially earning my Eagle, were all choices that required sacrifice, hard work, and delayed gratification. I have no idea if you possess those qualities, or even envy them. But I can tell you for certain, that NOT getting your Eagle, will be one of the easiest things you’ve ever done.

Anyway, I have no idea if you would prefer an easy life of predictability and mediocrity, or if have the passion to follow the road less traveled. Only you get to decide that.

Good Luck,
Mike

A Recipe for Being ‘Widely Loved’

September 29, 2009

Talk show host Dennis Prager’s mother died 10 days ago.  He has posted “Reflections on the Death of My Mother” here.

Here is the closing paragraph:  “My mother was universally adored — even her pharmacists and hair stylist paid a call during “shiva” — for three reasons, as I learned from everyone to whom I spoke: She was always happy; she treated everyone as if they were the most special person in her life; she carried herself with class and dignity. If you want to be widely loved, there’s the recipe.”

So here is Dennis’ recipe:

  • Be happy.
  • Treat everyone with respect
  • Have class and dignity

I have a feeling that Hilda Prager wasn’t trying to be “widely loved.”  She only lived a good life and the love was a natural result of the way she lived.

The Secret Good Turn

September 27, 2009

As a boy scout, I learned the power of Doing a Good Turn Daily.  The idea is to be of help to someone every single day, not so much for the other person, but to cultivate a better character for yourself.

Sometimes we can see the results of our actions.  More  often than not, I suppose, we don’t have a clue what kind of effect we have on others.

The other day, I learned from a co-worker that a mutual acquaintance had just gotten a new job.  It was a big change–a great future, a big increase in pay, and the opportunity to learn new skills.  I sent her a brief e-mail along the lines of “Just heard about your good news.  Congratulations!  I hope all goes well with the new job.”  Nothing fancy; just a quick Congrats!  The next morning, my co-worker called and said that I had made this acquaintance’s entire day.  It was just a quick note, but apparently it had a big impact.

We never really what is going on in another’s life or how our words or deeds will affect them.  Hopefully, our actions will all be for good and perhaps even “make someone entire day.”

Just a Little Different

September 24, 2009

Yesterday, I did a quick business trip to Las Vegas.  Arrived at 8:30, left at 1:15.  Whenever I fly to Las Vegas, there is a little culture shock.  You get off the plane and walk right into the slot machines.  It’s just a little different.

I was impressed with the rental car system at the airport.  All rental car companies are housed in a single off-site building.  A common shuttle bus takes you from the airport to the facility.  It’s a great idea.  Gone are the hoards of shuttle buses.  Gone are the long waits for the van you need while Hertz or Avis buses drive by 10 times.  It’s a very nice system.

Fire, Again

September 22, 2009

We are on fire again.  This time, the fire is in the hills between Fillmore and Moorpark.  At last count, 5000 were burned.  The view above is from the freeway overpass on Cochran and the 118.

Falling into the Middle of Summer

September 22, 2009

Today at 2:18 PM PDT, the Sun will cross the Equator and Fall will officially begin in the northern hemisphere.

Fall, Autumn.  Cooler days, crisp nights.  Yellow, orange and red leaves.  Pumpkins.  Cider.  You know the routine.

Except that’s not how it will work here today.  Today will probably be in the triple digits, with a Santa Ana wind.  The only thing crisp will be the dried out vegetation on the hills surrounding our home.  Hopefully no firebugs will try to celebrate the Equinox with a fire.

Welcome to Fall–or Summer!

While “equinox” means equal night, suggesting that the length of the day and the night will be equal today.  It’s not quite true.  The day when the day and night are both about 12 hours long is call equilux.  The date of equilux varies with both latitude and longitude.  Equilux in Simi Valley (and most of North America) will be about September 25-26, 2009.

A few interesting equinox links:

Balancing Eggs

Equinox on Wikipedia

Dates and Times of Earth’s Seasons

First Postcrossing Card Received

September 21, 2009

We received our first postcrossing card.  It came from Bianca, from Newcastle, Australia.

The card  shows a corrugated iron shed in Queensland.

The Law of Unintended Consequences

September 19, 2009

The City of Los Angeles is having a rash of water main breaks.  One of the worst was a pipe almost 100 years old.

Click here to see a map of the recent breaks.

I heard an interesting possible explanation for the breaks.  In an attempt to save water, Los Angeles only allows lawn watering on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  The theory is that because all the demand is at the same times, there is extra pressure on the system which has put extra stresses on the pipes.  Extra stress equals extra breaks.

If this explanation is turn, in the attempt to save water, lots of water has been lost, along with a lot of property damage.

86400

September 18, 2009

86400.  86400 seconds in a day.

Seconds are like pennies.  Individually, they don’t seem very important.  But when gathered together, they start to seem more important, more valuable.

Saving time.  Wasting time.  We can’t do either.  Time just flows.  The important thing is what are we going to do with the 86400 seconds we have in each day.  How are we going to use them?  Will you be a better person 86400 seconds from now?  Will you have learned something useful?  Will you have been kind to someone?  Or helpful?  Will someone else’s life be better because of what you have done with your 86,400.