Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Random Ramblings...

  • Fame and fortune: Doesn't matter how high we climb, it's impossible to predict where we'll end up. Think Tiger, O.J., Heath, Chris B., or MJ. On the other hand, we should never give up hope that our fortunes can change for the better (if only temporarily, alas). Think Susan Boyle, Tyler Perry, Jennifer Hudson, or Fantasia. The lesson: Build our lives around things that mean more than fame or fortune--dreams, faith, family, and friends.

  • Baffling bureaucratic policies: I've had some experience with bureaucratic irrationality. After 9-11, NYC offered Medicaid and food stamps for all takers with virtually no paperwork. Normally, I wouldn't have qualified even with just a part-time teaching job. Nonetheless, I applied, and for six months I had medical coverage and food assistance. I received approximately $37.50 per week. At the end of the benefit period, I was encouraged to re-apply. I would have to complete a six- or seven-page application about every aspect of my life (and anybody who lived with me). Considering how much I'd receive (see above) and the fact that I'd have to go through this procedure every six months, I decided it wasn't worth it. I came away wondering, Why do recipients have to repeat all the paperwork every six months, rather than once a year (when they would merely attest that there's no change in their circumstances or report whatever changes have occurred--new address, birth of a child, work circumstances). Think of all the trees we could save. Green power!

  • Blessed are the rich is the societal mindset that leads to billion-dollar giveaways to corporate giants, while low-income families or persons with disabilities must jump through hoops for relatively little (or limited) assistance. Likewise, we shower celebrities (such as Oprah) and powerful people with free gifts and services; however, if you're homeless or poor, it's considered disgraceful to ask for help. In addition, when you do pay for something, you're likely to pay twice as much as others. Hmmm.

  • Just who's violent, anyway? Come on, folks. Let's stop paying lip service to non-violence--from bullying to killing--when every successful TV show--reality or otherwise--glorifies the use of force: "Dog the Bounty Hunter," "Operation Repo," "Jerry Springer," "Parking Wars," "Prisoners Out of Control," "E! Investigates: Rich Kids Who Kill," and "Most Shocking" (car chases, etc.). Unfortunately, violence is how nations and individuals solve problems. It's also what entertains us. Hence, the success of viral videos of teens beating each other up. I don't know the answer to promoting less violence, however, let's at least recognize our contribution to its pervasiveness.

  • "All-American John Wayne"? AMC is promoting a John Wayne movie marathon by describing him as an "All-American Icon." "What is an All-American?" Can someone be "Half-American," or "Part-American?" This is one of several terms frequently spouted by politicians and pundits that baffles me. Others are "patriot," "family values," "American values," and "true American hero." How does one qualify to be "all-American?"