Category Archives: News

Let’s Call A Truce For International Women’s Day!

It’s International Women’s Day, but you’d hardly know it from the way endless arguments about women’s choices keep exploding the internet.

In fact, many women are on strike today, which will undoubtedly receive ample criticism in the days to come.

Why? Because we keep shaming each other like it’s an Olympic event. Both the left and right accuse recent women’s marchers of showing their privilege, Adele fans are fighting with Beyonce fans, and Emma Watson made everyone clutch their pearls at her topless Vanity Fair cover, many demanding that she hand in her feminist card.

And the mommy wars haven’t stopped either….

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Hey, we all have to make tough choices in our lives, each involving unique hardships and challenges. So instead of fighting, I’d like to take a moment today to appreciate all the other women out there. Especially the ones who are typically at war:

Child-free Women

You guys are bucking the trend, facing criticism from everyone who believes any “normal” woman’s primary focus should be on having children. You’re changing ancient stereotypes about women being walking uteri while creating more independence and career opportunities for future women everywhere.

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If only you had the right lipstick…

We don’t ALL need to have kids, and I thank you for bearing with those of us who are trying desperately to calm ours down at the restaurant or grocery store. Your taxes help pay for the next generation’s education too, so I thank you for being team players who are contributing to the group at large.

 

Plus, there didn’t used to be many options for women who didn’t want to focus on being moms, and that’s unfair. Our wages were pitiful, we were locked out of many career tracks, and were eventually viewed as old maids trying our best to scrape together something resembling a life after clearly being unable to land a man.

Thank you so much for helping to change this.

Single Moms

You guys have it ROUGH. You’ve got the pro-life crowd demanding you see every pregnancy through, regardless of circumstance, while experts demand you leave dysfunctional relationships or marriages, and then your morality is considered questionable after following everyone’s advice.

I have a hard enough time raising kids with a supportive partner, so I can’t imagine dealing with a screaming kid for hours, day after day, all by yourself… no one to shoulder the burden for a bit, while you regain your sanity. I honesty don’t know how you do it, but I’m impressed as hell that you keep it together the way you do.

Stay-At-Home Moms

Kids are a nearly-endless pool of energy and irrational desires. It’s DRAINING to take care of kids all day, Sisyphean at times… you slave over meals they refuse to eat or even throw on the floor. You clean out bodies and butts that get dirty five minutes later. You spend hours trying to either figure out why they won’t stop yelling, dumping out every jar in the house, or trying to stick silverware in the light sockets, only to relive the cycle again and again.

Trying to keep a house with little kids in it clean is like trying to file a huge stack of papers in front of high-powered fans. You can spend the entire day on your feet: chasing kids, putting out high-priority fires, and never getting a break, only to feel like you’ve accomplished nothing at the end of it.

And meanwhile, everyone’s rolling their eyes about how you’ve probably been eating bon-bons and watching soap operas all day, while assuming you’d undoubtedly be doing something more important (i.e. better paid) if you had the skills for it. It’s tough to be a SAHM in a society that equates work with identity, but you’re still doing important work. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have to pay other people to it.

Working Moms

You guys are troopers, taking on a full work week during the day, then spending your evenings raising your kids. While SAHM’s don’t always get to take breaks, they do get some control over their own schedules, whereas you’re locked into a sunrise-to-sunset grind from the moment your alarm first starts screaming.

The American workplace doesn’t accommodate parenthood nearly as well as the rest of the developed world. You weren’t necessarily given much maternity leave, if any at all, and may have a brutal time reconciling your work schedule with the needs of your family without either shortchanging your kids or damaging your upward mobility. It’s a constant tightrope walk.

Meanwhile, you’re being shamed about letting strangers raise your kids, as if it were always a choice. Keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table is probably a higher priority, right?

And even if it is a choice, what’s wrong with being invested in your career? Maybe you’ve worked long and hard to get where you are and didn’t stop caring about it the moment you had a baby. Why doesn’t anyone question working fathers like this?

Breastfeeding Moms

bf.jpgEven though it sounds like the most natural thing in the world, breastfeeding can be incredibly challenging. The technique is tricky to master, it HURTS for the first few weeks, and it’s very easy to get discouraged and give up.

It also takes an enormous amount of time. You have to breastfeed babies every couple of hours, which makes it tough to do much else. Doing so in public makes many people uncomfortable, which means you’re either living under house arrest for the better part of a year, or suffering lots of uncomfortable stares from people who find it disgusting.

But experts now recommend it as the healthiest way to feed your infant, so you’re working hard to do right by your kid. Good luck, and keep your chin up.

Formula-feeding Moms

food-drink-world_of_cow-cowtoons-forumla_milks-baby_formula-cow-01238016_low.jpgSince experts now strongly encourage breastfeeding, moms who use formula also face loads of social disapproval, even the unspoken suggestion that they’re lazy or don’t care about their baby’s health.

And that’s an incredibly painful judgment, especially if you really wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t build up enough milk or had a baby with latching issues. Beyond that, there’s a good chance you had to go straight back to work, which makes it exponentially harder.

Pumping enough milk takes more time than I can imagine being available to you at a full-time job, even with breaks, and women who try are looked down upon by their coworkers. It’s also much tougher to produce milk for a machine than a baby. Many moms smell their baby’s clothing or look at baby pictures when they try because the right mindset helps. I have the deepest respect for any working moms who manage it at all.

It’s easy to feel like a failure when you feed your baby formula, but don’t. Many, many generations of healthy babies were raised on formula and your kids will be absolutely  fine.

Liberal Moms

It’s a bad time right now for liberals in America. Our side lost, and the entire government is packed with members of the other team.

And now we’re fighting amongst ourselves as we scramble to understand how it all happened. There’s a lot of finger-pointing going on, many calling another subgroup the weak link in the chain as we splinter into warring factions. Was it racism? Was it elitism? Was it the failure to focus on the economy or the failure to do what we were doing even harder?

I don’t know, but I hope we don’t cannibalize ourselves in the process. We’ve got to keep our heads in the game, guys. That win margin was awfully narrow.

Conservative Moms

I may not be on your team, but I’m friends with many of your teammates.

In other words, we may not back the same horse, but we often have similar values. I think most of us want to live in a world where people don’t fear for their safety, where they can be productive and take care of their families, and where our kids can grow up with a good education and ample opportunity.

We both want less crime, fewer unwanted pregnancies, healthy people, and a healthy economy where we can live comfortably after putting in a hard day’s work.

We both want these things, even if we have different ideas about how we can get there. Maybe it’s naive, but I’m really hoping we can both learn to start talking to each other instead of demonizing the other side. I think we’ve probably got more in common than we realize, because it’s usually the extremists taking up all the air in the room.

Besides, we’ve kind of been forced to pick teams in the grand Super Bowl that is American politics. I’ll bet most Americans aren’t 100 % strict adherents to EVERY last position and theory spouted off by their political camp.  Most are probably more moderate than that, which means we have some common ground to logically hash out some of these issues.

In short, I think we’d all do well to recognize that while we face some hardships, everyone else has hardships of their own. We’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got, so maybe we could put down our arms and try to understand someone else’s perspective, while giving ourselves a break at the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Do Our Family Values Really Mean?

As anyone who follows my blog probably knows, I like to talk about the funny side of raising kids. That’s why I started it: I want to remember these wonderful things, years from now, after sleep deprivation and everyday life would’ve made me forget.

Plus, in a world of constant political debate, I figure the hilarity of parenting brings people together. No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, we all love our kids. So I mostly try to keep things light.

But tonight, I need to get something off my chest.

A fellow blogger recently wrote a piece about our health care system. She’s a hospital student intern trying to figure out who qualifies for Medicaid waivers and who doesn’t… struggling to navigate our complex health care system and deal with turning people away.

And her piece really struck a nerve.

My husband works for the State of California, which means we have health insurance. Unlike 13 percent of pregnant American women, we were lucky enough to have access to prenatal care when we found ourselves suddenly dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.

I had regular checkups, blood tests, and ultrasounds, for which we paid nothing.

Proper prenatal care reduces the incidence and severity of a staggering number of complications. Luckily, I had a healthy pregnancy. Unlike many American families, we have enough means for me to eat properly, do prenatal yoga, and otherwise take good care of myself.

img_0504I also didn’t have to work right up until delivery, or get fired for trumped-up reasons because my employer didn’t want to deal with maternity hassles, leaving us in dire economic straights just before facing parenthood…

Even so, we found ourselves in a life-or-death situation when Brontë was being born.

Most first-time moms have long, protracted labors that take hours upon hours to complete. Not me.

No, by the time I realized I was in labor, I was screaming in the car while my husband desperately tried to drive us to a hospital in time.

By the time we stumbled in the door, it was too late for an epidural. They could feel our baby’s head as I was collapsing on the floor.

Something was wrong.

I knew something was wrong because the blur of doctors surrounding me felt panicked. They told me they couldn’t hear the baby’s heartbeat right before slapping a mask on my face that knocked me into total unconsciousness.

Twenty minutes later, I woke up in indescribable pain to see my baby next to me.

Her eyes were wet and shining. I clawed the air around her, trying to grab her, until they pumped enough drugs in me to make it possible.

As I held her on my chest for the first time, the doctors told me she had been turned backwards, that every labor contraction was slowing down her heart and they had to perform an emergency C-section before she went braindead.

If we hadn’t made it to a hospital, or got there fifteen minutes later, she would have died inside me and I would have probably bled out.

img_4278And I try not to think about that when watching her beaming 4-year-old face as she teases our kitties or perfects her Silly Dance. Because thinking about it means breaking into choking sobs, imagining her tiny eyes being cold and dead instead of blinking and shiny.

I know I’ve made cracks at the expense of women who love the idea of natural childbirth or having babies at home, but there’s fear behind these jokes.

Fact is, many American women resort to having their babies at home because of our staggering medical costs. America is, by far, the most expensive place to have a baby. Bills range from $10,000 for a complication-free, routine delivery to well over $100,000.

Of course, that doesn’t take into account the complications that might’ve been prevented with proper prenatal care.

Which is perhaps why we have embarrassingly bad maternal and infant mortality rates. Despite the high cost of delivery, the US has a far higher infant mortality rate than any of the other 27 wealthy nations studied by the CDC.

Our babies are three times as likely to die as those born in Finland or Japan. Even though we’re the wealthiest nation in the world.

And if I wasn’t lucky enough to have access to health care, I’d be part of that statistic too. Even as a married, educated woman of reasonable means, who appeared to have a healthy pregnancy.

We ended up being okay, by the skin of our teeth, but change one sliding door in our path to parenting and it all would’ve ended in tragedy.

As it does, all the time, in our wealthy country where people don’t have access to healthcare.

This is wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How a Single Childless Blogger Rails Against Feminism

I don’t know if any of my blogging buddies follow Jason Cushman at the Opinionated Man, but that guy is weirdly fascinating.

He blogs multiple times a day and has about 58 billion followers, a practically hypnotic feat to the rest of us trying to light up our miniscule grains of sand along this massive blogging beach.

Okay, it’s more like 58 thousand, but it may as well be 58 million to those of us trying to break a few hundred daily views.

At any rate, he blogs often enough it’s tough to keep up with him. But today, he reblogged a post  entitled Seven People That Need Punching in The Crotch and I just had to click.

Maybe it’s because the title sounded so similar to People I Want To Punch In the Throat, a hilarious blog I love, but I was intrigued.

Turns out, it was a post from a forty-something woman, called Skinny and Single. Her first crotch-punching-worthy listed group were those calling her a feminist.

I just had to read on…

She says she’d actually love to let some guy make all the money while she cooks, cleans the house and takes care of the kids. Alright…

#4 ended up being “actual” feminists, who want the same pay for the same jobs, despite their inability to move heavy tires as fast as many men. #6 was about “stupid bitches” who want access to men’s only areas. And #7 was about “stupid women” who want time off work for their periods.

She concluded by assuring us she was neither a feminist nor a “social justice warrior” (a phrase loved so much by the MRA that it’s often used in abbreviated form). She despaired for the legacy of future generations, since these feminists types care so little about their feminine instincts that they’ve supposedly shucked their motherly responsibilities to spend time hating on men.

Wow.

Baffled by her rant, I couldn’t help but read some of her other postings. Turns out, she’s a single woman who doesn’t want children (because they’re all brats), who loves her freedom as well as the sense of accomplishment gained from fixing her own car and solving mechanical issues about the house.

Her lack of interest in raising children, of course, doesn’t stop her from proselytizing about the downfall of the modern family unit or telling everyone else how they should be raising their kids.

The most baffling thing, however, is how she seems like such a nice person. She’s funny, and yet I can’t quite how reconcile her outspoken hatred of feminism in light of her lifestyle choices it made possible.

I find it ironic that I consider myself a feminist, despite being a stay-at-home mom with girly tendencies, while this single woman, who boasts about her independence and rails against potentially having kids, rejects the idea wholesale.

It makes me wonder how we define feminism these days. Because for me, it means equal opportunity and equal choices. In a pre-feminism world, for example, she’d be considered an unnatural whore for rejecting her primary role as a mother and homemaker.

I support her choice not to have children, just as I expect society to accept mine. I believe the wage gap is a systemic problem… women still typically take on the chief responsibilities of parenting within a system that offers primitive parental leave options and no subsidized daycare. Not a conscious effort on the part of employers, per se, but a societal framework that doesn’t take families into account.

And whenever it makes sense for fathers to become primary caretakers (because of their individual natures or the type of work that they do), I support it entirely. I think stay-at-home fathers are great, believing paternity leave is also an important issue in a culture that used to deny fathers the respect they are clearly due.

I’d assume she was simply taking feminist movement gains for granted, except that she’s older than I. Not young enough to forget everything feminists fought for, to assume that proudly announcing her desire for an independent career over children could be anything less than a basic right.

If this woman, who is single in her forties, doesn’t want children, and prides herself in her independence, rejects feminism… then what do people now think feminism means?

Forty years ago, women had to include photos on employment applications. They had to report their weight and height, say whether they intended on having children and when they usually had their periods. Applications were color-coded in blue or pink, so employers would know instantly whether they were dealing with women or a men.

Nowadays, discrimination still exists though it’s less conscious. For example, when researchers at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences sent employment applications to chemistry, biology, and physics labs differing only by the gender of applicants’ names,  employers considered females less competent, less hirable, less worthy of mentorship, and offered them lower starting salaries.

Our biases may now be subconscious, which is far tougher to legislate than overtly discriminatory practices, but a handicap just the same. I don’t know the best ways to address it, but I’m guessing that promoting MRA arguments won’t help.

Maybe we’ve reached the point where all but the most extremist feminists will identify accordingly. Only the most irrational, angry, hostile-towards-men will still openly recognize any biases. I’m saddened by this, out of fear that anyone working toward equal opportunities will be summarily dismissed as a man-hating harpy.

So, I’ll just go ahead and declare myself a feminist, a stay-at-home mom who loves her family dearly and has no issues with the average guy. No group, whether male or female, black or white, rich or poor, holds a monopoly on righteousness, but that doesn’t make systematic discrimination any more fair.

And she can continue to reject the idea of marriage or family, brag about her independence, and make fun of feminists. They sacrificed quite a lot to give her the choices that she’s now making, but if she tries hard enough, perhaps she can roll society back a few decades and make her lifestyle obsolete.

After all, we don’t move heavy tires as efficiently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Cowboy Vigilante Lassoes a Bike Thief in the Beaver State

Have you guys heard about the cowboy who jumped on his horse and chased down a bike thief last Friday?

You heard me right. A guy named Robert Borba was loading dog food and camping equipment into his car when he heard a woman in the Walmart parking lot screaming that someone had just stolen her bike.

So Borba JUMPED ON HIS HORSE, Long John, to chase after the guy as he cycled away. Catching up with him, Borba then LASSOED HIM AROUND THE LEGS.

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This guy (Denise Baratta/The Medford Mail Tribune via AP)
Victorino Arellano-Sanchez, the thief, tried to escape. But Borba held him tight until the police arrived to apprehend him.

“I seen this fella trying to get up to speed on a bicycle. I wasn’t going to catch him on foot. I just don’t run very fast… I use a rope every day, that’s how I make my living. If it catches cattle pretty good, it catches a bandit pretty good,” Borba said.

Which is exactly what you’d expect a cowboy to say after apprehending a bike thief.

I LOVE that he called the guy a “fella” and a “bandit.” And that he had a horse and lasso at the ready in a Walmart parking lot.It’s like something straight out of the Wild West…

Except it happened in Oregon, not Texas.

I’ve never actually been to Texas, but we non-Texans have the impression that cowboy culture is alive and well in the Lone Star State. We get that idea from things like Texas calling itself the “Lone Star State” and Remembering the Alamo.

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Where some of us got our first Texas impressions
Oregon, on the other hand, conjures images closer to episodes of Portlandia. I don’t know if the rest of America knows this, but we Californians have a strange relationship with Oregon. They’re our neighbors and tend to be crunchy liberals like us (relatively speaking), but ON STEROIDS… a lot more Nader voters in 2000, for example.

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How DARE you out-hipster us, Oregon?
So Californians tend to either romanticize Oregonians, moving into their lush territory in droves, or see them as granola crack.

I’ve heard Oregonians don’t care for Californians much, on the other hand, believing our invasion drives up property values. And by “don’t care for us,” I mean chase us out with pitchforks and flaming sticks.

Either way, I never pictured a Old Western style thief wrangling to go down in the Beaver State.

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Fine work, boys. Fine work
Good for Robert Borbo. I think we can all agree that lassoing a bicycle thief from  horseback is mighty cool.

Hopefully, Borba celebrated his victory with a homemade slice of Miss Maybelle’s delicious apple pie before paying court to the lovely Miss Primrose on her family’s porch.

 

 

Where I Weigh In On the Cincinnati Zoo Tragedy

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Harambe

I assume, unless you live under a rock, that you’ve heard about the recent gorilla tragedy at the Cincinnati Zoo last weekend. The one where authorities shot a 450-pound endangered gorilla named Harambe who was dragging around a four-year-boy who had crawled into the gorilla exhibit.

Because tranquilizers would’ve taken too long to ensure the child’s safety, zoo officials killed the beloved gorilla.

The incident was very sad and many are downright angry about it. Some believe the child was in no danger (Jane Goodall claims the gorilla was protecting the kid) while others think the boy’s mother should be held criminally responsible (an online “Justice for Harambe” petition received over 100,000 signatures in under 48 hours).

Maybe it’s because everyone’s been talking about it lately, including my blogging buddy over at Midlife Margaritas, but I’d like to throw in my perspective as well.

Now, you’re probably assuming that because I’m a mom of two kids that writes a mommy blog, I’m about to defend the mom…

And you’d be right. Let me tell you why.

People who have never had children don’t really understand what parenting is like. There’s nothing wrong with that, because how could they? You may be extremely intelligent and have a great imagination, but until you’ve actually experienced something, you can’t truly know how it feels.

As a parent who was once a non-parent, I can tell you a few things about having kids that become crystal clear after you’ve made the jump:

  1.  Parenting is extremely difficult. Every kid is different, but they’re all irrational
  2. You have to make a billion choices, all the time, about how to best handle your reckless, irrational kids
  3. Every single choice you make is wrong, according to someone

It starts before the kid even leaves your body. What are you eating during your pregnancy? Will you breastfeed (and subject everyone to obscenity) or use formula (and pump your kid full of chemicals)? Will you return to work (selfish) or stay at home (lazy)?

And it continues with your newborn (sleep training or cry-it-out?) and straight into toddler discipline. There’s someone out there claiming every method will scar your kids for life: spanking is physically abusive, raising your voice is emotionally abusive, and time-outs create fear of abandonment…

Yet if your kids act up, you’re clearly a negligent parent who needs to control them better.

It’s like we have these TV sitcom-induced fantasies about how reasonable kids would be if we just said the right things to them while playing relaxing music, but it doesn’t really work out that way.

Trust me, parents believe it’s a good idea to keep an eye on their kids, but it’s MUCH harder than it sounds. Kids are quick, curious, and mostly oblivious to the consequences of their actions. You watch them 24/7 while needing to do a bunch of other things too, like eat, sleep, pee, and sneeze.

It’s a rare parent who’s never lost sight of their kids for a second. You’d have to live in complete lockdown mode, never leaving the house unless your children are kept on leashes. And for every parent keeping his kids on leashes, there are hundreds of angry people thinking he’s humiliating them by treating them like animals.

One time, when Brontë was almost two, she ran out of the park and into the street.

She just stopped whatever she was doing and bolted, without warning. We screamed for her to stop, but she wouldn’t listen. I chased her, sobbing, while I was very pregnant and couldn’t reach her. We heard cars screeching mere moments before John finally caught up to her and made her stop.

It was terrifying. All we could picture was what would’ve happened if those cars hadn’t stopped. Brontë was testing her limits in those days and had no sense of what the real consequences might be. We did.

Luckily, everything was fine, but what if it weren’t? We would’ve been negligent. We would’ve been called unfit parents who should have their kids taken away.

The Cincinnati incident didn’t turn out so well. The family was unlucky… a mother lost sight of her tiny child for a moment, like nearly every parent has done.

Only she wasn’t as lucky as the rest of us.

harambe2.pngOF COURSE, they had to shoot the gorilla. Maybe Harambe wouldn’t have hurt the child, but we can’t know that. We couldn’t have been sure. A lowland silverback gorilla can crush a coconut one-handed… that innocent child’s brains could’ve been splattered in seconds, and we can’t take that kind of risk.

The fact that it was a young child only makes it more critical, but I’d feel the same way if a grown adult had accidentally fallen into the enclosure.

I love animals and think we should spare them as much discomfort as possible, but when push comes to shove, we have to choose human life. If I’m ever in a survival starvation situation involving people and animals, I don’t want the animals drawing equal straws with everyone else.

Because it was so tragic, I think people need someone to blame. They want, for example, to hold the family financially liable for the cost of the gorilla.

But they aren’t considering the consequences. If we made families liable, then parents could never take their children to the zoo, or anywhere, because they couldn’t afford the possibility that something bad might happen. Everyone would grow up under house arrest, never learning, exploring, or facing the consequences of anything.

Unfortunately, bad things are going to happen. Life is unpredictable and sometimes the planets line up in just the wrong way. I think it’s extremely sad that Harambe had to be put down last weekend, but don’t think scapegoating the parents will help.

 

 

 

 

 

Female WWII Pilots Can Finally Rest in Peace

WASPsBookbyWilliamsYesterday, I was cleaning out my inbox when I saw this Smithsonian article fly by:

Female WWII Pilots Can Now Be Buried At Arlington National Cemetery

“Yay!” was by first thought, followed almost immediately by… Wait, you mean female WWII pilots weren’t allowed at Arlington National Cemetery until now? What the hell!?

So I clicked on it and you can too (I put in a link above).

But I’ll also summarize it for you:

In 1942, the Air Force started training over 1000 women to fly military aircraft during WWII. They were called WASPs (Women Air Force Service Pilots) and they completed military training, wore uniforms, and were stationed at Army air bases across the US.

They also very nearly fought the Nazis directly. The military planned to send the WASPs in a mass offensive against Nazi Germany as commissioned second lieutenants, but the media and public threw a fit, considering it “unnatural” for women to fly for their country.

WASPs also faced enormous opposition from a lobby of angry male pilots who were afraid of losing their jobs to women.  So the female pilots were always considered “unofficial,” a paramilitary operation.

waspww2So despite the fact that WASPs were subject to military discipline and flew in top-secret missions, they had to pay for their own uniforms and lodging, and their families had to pay to bring their bodies home.

Which happened, because 38 of these women died for their country. Their families received nothing. Not even a flag.

WASPs were finally recognized as veterans in 1977 and were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor in 2009. They started being buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors in 2002…

Until March 2016, when Secretary of the Army John McHugh ruled that WASPs never should have been allowed in the military in the first place.

How infuriating is that?

Imagine we’re in the middle of WWIII and conditions get desperate enough to start drafting men over age fifty, even though we normally don’t. But we do, a bunch of men over age fifty die for their country, and afterwards are barred from military honors because  they “shouldn’t have been in the military in the first place.”

That would be ludicrous, right? What if it were children under the age of fifteen?

Another argument was that Arlington National Cemetery is running out of room. They may as well have said they couldn’t afford to humor women pilots anymore because we need space for real heroes now.

I’m surprised we’re still fighting these battles in 2016.

bilde

But thanks in part to this petition that gathered over 178,000 signatures, McHugh’s decision has been reversed. WASPs will finally be allowed to rest in peace along with their fellow soldiers.

And it only took 75 years.

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Shoplifted Item In the World

What do you think is the most stolen item in the world?

Jewelry? It’s valuable and seems easy to conceal…

Booze? It’s available all over and some folks are desperate for it…

Gold bars? Okay, maybe I watch too many pirate and bank heist movies.

Well, if you thought it was any of these things, you were wrong. The most shoplifted item in the entire world is:

cheeses.jpgCHEESE

While it seems to me that you could get your hands on more cheese with a gold bar in your pocket (stop it with the pirates already), it otherwise makes a lot of sense. My love of cheese is well-documented, and apparently, I’m not alone.

People are so desperate for the tangy goodness of cheese, they are willing to lie, cheat, and steal for it. Plus, it’s probably easier to conceal than roasted chicken.

I guess the great anti-dairy movement hasn’t been as successful as its advocates would like. Maybe it’s the “got milk” ads, but frankly, I’m surprised cheese needs any marketing. It’s incredibly delicious.

Now kale promotion, I get. Kale tastes horrible.

I keep reading about how fantastic kale is for you, how it will turn back the clock and do your laundry for you. People say it’s delicious, but I keep buying these so-called delicious kale chips then staring at them like they’re fried cockroaches.

I can only eat kale in morning smoothies because you can’t tell it’s there. I’m suspicious of the idea that Mother Nature intended us to eat kale anyway. Why would it taste so awful to us, if she did?

Cheese, on the other hand, tastes like the feet of angels.

And I’m not sure why everyone is claiming lactose intolerance all of a sudden. Yes, I get that some people are legitimately lactose intolerant… their bellies make it obvious. It especially makes sense in Asian populations because dairy hasn’t historically been part of the Asian diet, so lactose-intolerance wouldn’t have been weeded out of the gene pool.

But Europeans? We’ve been eating the stuff for thousands of years. It may even have cancer-fighting properties.

Still, we’ve been hit with much anti-dairy propaganda of late. A lot of cheese opponents, for example, like to point out that we’re the only animals that drink milk past infancy and harvest the milk of another species.

pirates

True enough, but we’re also the only animal that drives, uses air-conditioning and practices modern dentistry.

I bet plenty of other animals would eat cheese too if they could just figure out how to milk cows. It would probably be a high priority item, right after toilet paper.

And it’s tasty enough that people want to steal it more often than anything else.

Maybe organized crime should be expanding into dairy ventures. We could have cheese pirates, or a cheese mafia. They could specialize in aged vs soft cheeses to avoid a full-blown turf war.

I think I may have a business proposal.

 

 

 

Worst. App. Ever.

Psst, I got a line on your noodle problem...
Psst, I got a line on your noodle problem…

Say you are in the mood for Vietnamese noodles… There are a ton of Vietnamese restaurants around, but you don’t know which ones are any good and don’t want to waste your money. What do you do?

Well, if you are younger than 90 and have working thumbs, you will probably consult Yelp. Yelp is a big deal, with over 83 million reviews and over 135 million monthly visitors. In the past few years, Yelp has become so popular that it’s becoming a verb (“You’ve been yelped.”)

But there is a dark side to this juggernaut… Though users appreciate unbiased reviews from actual customers, Yelp faces ongoing allegations of manipulated reviews for advertising purposes, as well as charges of extorting businesses into buying advertising, with a class action lawsuit filed in 2010. Though Yelp denies all of this, it receives about six subpoenas a month from targeted businesses.

Dubious practices aside, a grumpy reviewer can have a lasting impact on a business’s success. Maybe the reviewer was just in a bad mood, or having a bad day, or doesn’t happen to like pineapple in his garlic-fried rice. Maybe he just hit on the waitress and she turned him down, so now thousands of Yelp reviewers are going to read about the crappy service at Duc’s House of Noodles (not a real place).

Though business owners may struggle with bad reviews, many of which might be unfair, at least it’s not personal, right? Well, now it is…

Peeple

Remember how awesome high school was? We need more of that.
Remember how awesome high school was? We need more of that.

Meet “Peeple,” a new application that allows users to give personal reviews and ratings to actual people. Scheduled to launch next month, Peeple will allow anyone and everyone to say almost anything about you. There is no way to opt out.

I say *almost* anything, because Peeple does have a couple rules: you aren’t allowed to swear or to disclose someone’s confidential medical condition. But apart from that, anyone off the street could write a review about you that millions of people will read. Sound like a good idea?

To me, this sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen. Sure, there are times such a thing could come in handy… this app could be like an awesome friend at a party, warning you away from the guy you are flirting with (“Girl, he is bad news. He just got three women pregnant and pretends he doesn’t know them.”) On the other hand, the reviewer could be that twitchy-eyed stalker you rejected, now out for revenge.

The scary thing is that folks are more willing to say and do horrible things when they feel unaccountable. Just think about how people act in cars: cutting you off, flipping you off, talking smack, and otherwise behaving in a ways they wouldn’t dare if you were standing right in from of them. Just think about the playground bullies and high school clique mentality that could be unleashed by an app with almost no accountability but potential access to everyone you know.

Hell, the sheer number of internet trolls out there should tip us off that some people are just plain mean. They don’t even need a personal grievance to be jerks.

Nelson is all over the Internet
Nelson is all over the Internet (Trev Grant)

And the implications reach further than your social life.  A press release states, “This app will allow us to better choose who we hire, do business with, date, let babysit our kids, become our neighbors, roommates, landlords/tenants, and teach our children.” Developers Nicole McCullough and Julia Cordray clearly hope that your potential landlords, employers, and coworkers will be reading all about you.

What frightens me most, however, is that I will probably read it. Even when you don’t account for Schadenfreude, human curiosity is a powerful drive, and curiosity about other humans reigns supreme. There is a reason negative political advertising and reality television continues to thrive, despite how everyone talks about hating it… it works. People just can’t look away from a train wreck.

Peeple Rebrands Itself

In response to a massive backlash of criticism on social media, including death threats, co-founder Julia Cordray said that she will rebrand the app as a “positive only app,” which will “bring positivity and kindness to the world.”

Now, she’s claiming there will be no way to write negative reviews, since you will have to personally approve any review before it becomes visible on the platform. Her new goal? “I want the world to be positive and this is how I’m going to inspire it by creating the world’s largest positivity app.”

Awesome, except I’m not sure anyone will want to participate. Yelp wouldn’t be so popular if businesses could cherry-pick every review that it published, because that’s called “advertising.”

So now the developers are creating a giant advertising site with no actual content? Great. We’ll just sit back and see how that works out for them.