Monday, November 24, 2008

Pass the Turkey Pardon

In the spirit of change, could our next President please consider doing away with the ceremonial pardon of the Thanksgiving turkey? This annual ritual is just embarrassing. The person with, what is generally considered to be, the most important job in the world, should not have time for these fowl photo-ops.
Following this year's pardon, the turkey and its alternate will fly first class - on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel days of the year - to Disneyland Resort.
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According to Snopes.com, the first official presidential pardon of a turkey was bestowed by President George H.W. Bush in 1989.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Don't Blame Cell Phone for Low Self-Esteem

In his November 13th article, "Dial 'S' for Shame," Boston Globe staffer Christopher Muther writes about a seventh grader from the Jamaica Plain neighborhood who is so embarrassed by her non-state-of-the-art cell phone that she actually leaves it at home when she goes to school. Although the paper names the young lady, I will not. Some day she is going to grow up and realize how silly she sounds and she doesn't deserve to have her typical tween nonsense live on in perpetuity on the Internet.
The rest of the article, unfortunately is filled with actual adults - chronologically, at least - who, without the excuse of youth, are either ashamed by their older phones or truly believe that their cutting-edge models elevate their status in society.
"An iPhone is like the Rolex of phones," Muther quotes Steve Kidera of the Consumer Electronics Association. "You want people to see you on your iPhone or your BlackBerry to show your status." No, Steve; you want people to see you on your iPhone or BlackBerry. When most people use their phones, they just want to make a phone call.
An "image consultant" named Doris Klietmann insists that you can size up a person's worth by the kind of phone they carry. "If you have someone with a BlackBerry, you can usually assume they're educated and they either earn a good salary or they have an important job that requires them to be in constant communication."
But we all know what happens when we assume. . . Maybe the guy posing with his BlackBerry is just some loser who hired an image consultant who convinced him that that's what he needed in order to appear educated, financially successful and professionally important.
As I read this article, I kept waiting for the Voice of Reason, some sage expert to explain what went so wrong in these people's up-bringing that they are depending on an electronic device to define their sense of self. But there was nothing along those lines. The piece read as if this were perfectly normal human behavior. So much the sadder.
Image courtesy of http://www.clker.com/
Boston Globe Article: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/fashion/articles/2008/11/12/dial_s_for_shame/

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Free Treats for First Pup



When I read that Wagatha's, a Vermont-based maker of organic dog treats, is offering to donate four years worth of premium treats to the yet-to-be-adopted first pet, my first reaction was, why give something away free to people who certainly don't need anyone's charity? Aren't there shelters filled with needy dogs, who would love to sink their teeth into one of Wagatha's certified organic, certified kosher biscuits baked with human-grade ingredients and available in six chef-inspired flavors? As I read on, however, I learned that Wagatha's owners, Neil Reilly and Norman Levitz already had that covered. Last year, they donated over 2000 pounds of treats to canine-friendly causes such as shelters, rescues organizations and therapy dog programs. In addition, if the Obama family adopts a shelter or rescue dog, Wagatha's will take care of that group with a steady stream of treats. So, if Wagatha's grabs some publicity by pampering what will already be a pampered pet, who am I to judge? Besides, do I really think that the President pays for his pet supplies with his own personal money? No, we, the taxpayers do. So, actually, Wagatha's is doing us all a service by picking up our dog treat tab for the next four years. Thanks guys!
Illustration courtesy of http://www.clker.com/

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Insulin Pump vs. the Over-Zealous Proctor

Sara Kingsley, 24, showed up to take the G.R.E exam last month in Lowell. She is diabetic and wears an insulin pump. The exam proctor spotted the pump, with its digital screen and vaguely iPod-like appearance, and, suspecting that it was some sort of high-tech cheat sheet, instructed the young lady to remove it before entering the exam room. After Kingsley explained the device's crucial function, that it stabilizes her blood sugar by injecting insulin into her body, and went so far as to lift up the back of her shirt to show him that the pump's tubes were actually attached to her body, he relented and allowed her to enter the exam room, pump and all. But not so fast with that cranberry juice and blood-sugar monitoring kit. Kingsley was made to leave them outside of the room, even though they are essential tools she uses to keep her blood sugar levels stable. Once the test was underway, the over-zealous proctor hovered around Kingsley and told her, during a break, that he was still suspicious of her so-called insulin pump. I'm sure Sara KIngsley was able to focus, full-tilt, on her exam. I'm sure she aced it.
What could she have done differently? She could have asked for prior written approval to bring her medical equipment and the cranberry juice into the exam. Thousands of special accommodations are made each year.
What could the proctor have done differently? Once he had grilled her about the pump, he should have just left her alone, no hovering or snide remarks. And he should have made darn sure that that blood-sugar monitoring kit and cranberry juice were within easy reach. What would he rather have on his conscience, someone who cheated their way into grad school or someone who went into insulin shock?
Read the Boston Globe story here:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Two Too Seldomly-Used Scholarships


Aren't today's college students willing to make a few sacrifices to help pay for their education? Here are two shameful examples of available scholarship dollars going to waste.
At Vassar College, students who can prove they are descendants of benefactor, Calvin Huntington - or who are willing to change their middle name to Huntington - are eligible for a full scholarship. This scholarship has been awarded only twice in the past 25 years. Tuition at Vassar this year is $39,635 , plus another $9040 for room and board. Isn't that worth changing your middle name for? It's not as if you have to change your major to bagpipes or something. That would be a requirement for a seldom-sought scholarship at Carnegie Mellon University. This school offers the only bagpipe major in the United States and a $7000 a year scholarship to the student willing to pursue it. In the program's 16 year history, only six students have chosen the major. Three of those six ended up dropping it before graduation.