I Have a Gripe

June 18, 2016

My Take on the Gun Debate

An Orlando club was attacked this week by another radical Islamic terrorist. He gunned down 49 patrons at a gay club before the police shot and killed him. It was a terrible tragedy that has brought the country together to grieve and pray for the victims and their families.

It has also kicked up the gun debate and what should be done to curb violent acts in this country. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what should be done and they vary widely. Well, of course I felt the need to add my two cents. Here is my solution for federal gun legislation.

  1. No fly, no buy: If someone is on the terror watch list (no fly list), then you shouldn’t be allowed to purchase a gun of any kind. If someone is on the no fly list and it is incorrect, they need to follow up with the FBI to resolve the issue.
  2. Required training: When applying for a permit to purchase a weapon, the applicant should be required to complete a safety course. Gun ownership is serious and should be treated as such.
  3. Safety lock with every weapon purchase: When a weapon is purchased, the purchaser also needs to buy an appropriate gun lock at the same time. Before they leave the store, the gun lock must be in place.
  4. Waiting period: Some people want to make a gun purchase out of fear or anger. Maybe they were attacked and are scared. Maybe they are angry and want revenge. Whatever the reason, there should be a three-day waiting period between the time that a purchase is made and when the weapon is picked up.
  5. Background check: This point goes hand-in-hand with my previous suggestion. During the three-day waiting period, the gun shop can complete a background check on the person. This gives them enough time to collect any necessary information to make an informed decision as to whether or not an individual should own a gun.
  6. Mental-health assessment: This is a touchy one. Everything else so far has been based on “hard data.” This definitely falls under “soft data.”  I would never want a government bureaucrat to make a decision about someone’s mental health and if they are able to understand the seriousness of owning a gun and how to properly store and use it. I believe there should be some kind of check as to mental competence, but it needs to be in line with HIPPA law and not further stigmatizing “mental illness.”
  7. Ban the sale of “auto” kits: Many Americans are not aware that it is already illegal to ar-15own an automatic (“full auto”) weapon. In 1934 Congress passed the National Firearms Act, making it illegal for Americans to manufacture fully automatic weapons for personal use. In 1986, it became illegal for civilians to own newly made machine guns. When the media shows a weapon, such as an AR-15, after one of these horrible events there is an insinuation that it is an automatic weapon. It isn’t. And I think it is inflammatory for the media to do so. What needs to be outlawed are kits that allow someone to make their weapon an automatic weapon.
  8. Knowledge sharing: Every time one of these horrific acts takes place, I always hear from at least one professional, “if I had seen xyz information from such-and-such organization (FBI, local police, etc.), I wouldn’t have sold him the gun.” There needs to be better sharing of information between businesses and the government.

Obviously this is just the beginning of a larger issue, but when it comes to complex issues with high-charged emotions, it is easy to muddy the waters. My suggestion to politicians has always the same: take big issues bit-by-bit. Don’t handle a huge issue all at once. Let your constituents see you working and gain their trust. As you continue to move forward, cooperation will continue as long as everyone checks their ego at the door. By taking a common-sense approach to big issues, we can start to move forward.

April 24, 2016

The Absurdity of Eminent Domain

I hate eminent domain.

There, I said it. In my opinion, eminent domain is the exact opposite of what this country means. Shockingly, this is part of the Fifth Amendment which gives the state of federal government or by delegation to third parties to take control of private property, who will devote it to public or civic use with “just” compensation. While Thomas Jefferson rejected its inclusion completely, James Madison included a compromise of the idea.

The concept of eminent domain is actually a “carry over” from Jolly old England. Eminent domain is a younger ancestor of English property law. As a result, Madison chose instead to require compensation explicitly, and he used the term public use rather than public purpose, interest, benefit, or some other term in an effort to establish a narrower and more objective requirement than such alternative terms might require (Jones 2000, 290). This is a very different approach from the original English concept.

Still, I think it is, to use a generally English term, bloody rubbish.

I understand the importance of sacrificing for “the greater good.” However, the concept that a government can take someone’s property just makes my blood boil.

This affects people – individuals who have no way to fight the government.

Years ago I saw a film “Greetings from Asbury Park,” highlighting Angie Hampilos’ fight to keep her home of 50 years safe from waterfront re-developer Asbury Partners. She should’ve been living out her final years enjoying her life tending to her garden. Instead she and her niece fought against her home being bulldozed. Due to health reasons, Mrs. Hampilos sold her  beloved home to the city of Asbury Park in 2014. She passed away in June of 2015. This is not how her life should’ve ended. She should’ve been able to live out her years in the home she loved and leave that house to her family.

Currently, residents of Clifton and Little Falls, New jersey are fighting against an expansion of Rt. 46. The Genardi Family is losing part of their yard and pool to eminent domain. These life-long residents of Clifton have invested thousands to improve their home. Now, the second phase of the highway improvement project includes plans for a 12-foot sound wall that will cut out 21 feet of their property line and run straight through the center of their pool.

According to the plans, about 1,900 square feet of yard will be taken from the property’s 7,800-square-foot lot.

An independent appraisal of homes on Normandy Road that are being affected determined that none of the property owners would experience enough “damage” following the project’s completion to warrant the purchase of the homes themselves. NJDOT officials confirmed the majority of the Genardi’s back yard was acquired in 2012 and that the homeowner was compensated $175,000 for land required for construction purposes.

Not enough “damage?” Really?

So living 11 feet from a sound wall isn’t damaging? Forget that they had no choice about losing their property. The property they have invested in and have been raising their children. Yes, they were “compensated,” but who will ever want to buy a house that close to a sound barrier? Given the choice, I am sure they would prefer to have their home in tact than offered money for part of their property.

The Great Notch Inn of Little Falls, NJ has been affected by this project as well. A Jersey landmark, the business has lost approximately one-third of its property under eminent domain.

Is this America?

How can people fight this level of government control?

There are organizations that support those in the eminent domain fight. But it will take a thorough understanding of the law and lots of support.

If you are fighting against eminent domain, God’s speed.

March 8, 2016

International Women’s Day -Whatever

So this morning when I logged into Facebook, I was welcomed with the following graphic:

intl-womens-day

<insert eye roll here>

I think days like this are completely bogus. And I’m sure I am going to annoy many of my fellow femme fatales. Let me explain why…

First, I don’t need a day to “celebrate” myself. You should value yourself every day. Second, you are lumping me in to a class that require special treatment and quotas. I hate quotas. I shouldn’t get something (a promotion, raise, job etc.) just because I am a woman. I should get something because I deserve it. You are insinuating that I need the help of someone else to make things happen. All it does is create animosity within a workplace.

I’ve worked in male-dominated fields my entire career. I expected nothing but what I deserve. If I didn’t get something, I would go in and fight for it. I never expected anything to be handed to me just because I am a woman. Have I worked harder than my male counterparts in some cases? Yes. Have I dealt with men who felt I didn’t belong there? Yes. Did I care? Absolutely not. I worked hard and let that speak for me.

Let me give you an example.

I worked on a help desk – generally a male-dominated field. One of my counterparts (a man) had obvious issues with me being a woman (the only woman at the time) in the group. I dealt with it for awhile. When I got sick of him, I didn’t complain to HR or cry discrimination. I cornered him and told him “welcome to America, you’re going to work with women – deal with it.” You know what? He came around and we wound up being great partners at the office. I stood up to him and I think he respected it.

That’s exactly what I’ve always done.

Here’s another example. While still working in IT, I used to support publishing processes. I loved it. I was good at it. Others knew it. Except for one male manager. He was known for not being very forward thinking when it came to women in roles of authority. Now, I wasn’t a manager, but I did have some level of authority. Again, I worked hard. I proved I knew what I was doing and had the knowledge to get the job done. One day when there was an issue he said to me “they should listen to you – you know better than anyone.”

Wow. Just wow. I won the guy over. I proved I knew my stuff. And that compliment from him meant more than he ever realized. And I didn’t need someone wagging their finger at him telling him to be fair. I did it on my own.

So what exactly is my point?

If a company has a boss, manager, etc. that has an issue with women, eventually he will be dealt with. He’ll have a hard time finding people to work for him. He’ll get his. Quotas don’t work with this guy. He’ll just resent them and make it even more difficult for those that are part of his team.

Some say “we need days like this for young girls.” I say absolutely not.

Again, what are we teaching them? Because you are a girl you should expect preferential treatment? No. Tough it out. Work hard. Prove yourself and be confident. Don’t rely on a quota – in college; in the workplace; in life.

So what should we as women do? Encourage each other. Support each other. Celebrate success and acknowledge failure. Personally, I have had more issues with women stabbing me in the back at the office than men. Men are good at the game. They help each other out. Generally women are so focused on getting ahead they don’t care who they step on or stab to get there. You want to know why men think women in the office are bitchy? That’s why.

And if you have kids? Don’t expect even more handed to you. You want to know what really grinds my gears – women who expect not only preferential treatment because they are a woman, but preferential treatment because they have kids. The built-in excuse. Can’t work late? Kids. Can’t take on an extra project? Kids. Then especially don’t complain when you get passed over for a raise or promotion. People used to tell me “well you don’t have kids, so you don’t know.” You’re right. I don’t have kids. I made that decision with my husband a long time ago. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have special circumstances. My answer used to be “well my grandmother is sick – should I wheel her in here like you do your kids?” Prepare for children. Yes, things happen, but it shouldn’t be an automatic excuse for everything. You want to be treated special because you are a woman and mother? Then don’t expect me to applaud you when you get something you don’t deserve because of a quota.

Can you tell I hate quotas?

Now are there situations when female-related issues need special attention? Yes. For example, insurance companies should cover reconstructive surgery for women with breast cancer. They should also, as they are now required to, allow women time in the hospital after childbirth. Both men and women should be allowed time home after childbirth. Beyond that? I can’t think of anything else, but I’m sure I’m missing something important along similar lines.

So my advice is simple. Be tough. Be strong. Be a woman. But don’t expect to be treated differently just because you are a woman.

September 8, 2011

American Atheists and the World Trade Center Cross

As we move closer to the 10th anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history, the organization American Atheists have filed a lawsuit to exclude what has become known as the “World Trade Center Cross” from the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, claiming separation of church and state.

I had an opportunity to review the American Atheists’ website and they are what I call an “equal opportunity offender.” They have quite a high opinion of themselves and belittle those of any faith – Christian, Judaism, Muslims (or as they refer to Muslims as “Mohammedans”), Mormonism – the list goes on and on.

According to an article about the lawsuit on their site, the buildings of the World Trade Center were made of steel girders, so it would make sense that “in the rubble some Christians found a pair of girders still welded that closely (not exactly, but closely enough) resemble a Christian Roman Cross.”

They continue to say that this Cross had been blessed several times by “so-called Holy Men” and “presented as a reminder that God, in his infinite power of goodness, who couldn’t be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists, or stop the fire, or hold up the buildings to stop 3000 people from being crushed, cared enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross. Ridiculous.”

Now, I don’t begrudge anyone who has a belief in anything – Jew, Pagan, Christian, or Muslim. As long as your belief is pure and not “warped” (a.k.a. terrorists), that is fine with me. But for these people to not only belittle someone else’s belief system, but claim separation of church and state on this issue is shameful and plain wrong.

Over time, the concept of separation of church and state has been molded into whatever a specific group is trying to push; when in reality, it is not what our founding fathers had intended. The original plan of separation of church and state was based on a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist organization in Danbury, CT in 1802 (from which the First Amendment was based). The letter notes the government shall “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

In the instance of the World Trade Center Cross, the government is not creating a law or prohibiting the exercise of religion. Therefore, their lawsuit is unfounded.

Ultimately, the World Trade Center Cross is more than a cross; it is a symbol – an artifact from a horrible day that brought comfort to many who toiled on that pile of rubble for months on end to try and bring some closure to the families that lost a loved on that day we will never forget. It is that reason alone why it should be included. It is more about  hope than a specific faith.

July 6, 2011

Casey Anthony Not Guilty…Seriously?

“Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”
~English jurist William Blackstone

Well, one of those 10 guilty persons definitely escaped today when the jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of the most serious charges against her.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect her to be found guilty of first degree murder, but I did expect her to be found guilty of all other charges. Like millions of Americans, I am stunned. I definitely have a gripe.

First, I’m sorry, she killed that poor little girl. Caylee definitely deserved a better mother. If you have a child, your partying days should be over. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in that house for the next Thanksgiving dinner.

Second, if that first police officer had thoroughly checked out the report of remains in a swamp, they might have been able to collect DNA or other evidence that could’ve helped to convict her. That was definitely a lost opportunity.

Third, I absolutely have a beef with the jury. I think part of it might have been that they wanted their lives back. They were tired of being away from their families, their jobs and their homes. When I heard they were back already, I was sure they were going to convict. I almost fell off my chair when I heard “not guilty.” Do you all think that a mother doesn’t report their child as missing for a month while she goes out partying, gets a tattoo, and lies to the police is normal? I’m not surprised that you didn’t want to talk to the press. Did you leave your common sense at home? Shame on you all.

I am disgusted with Casey Anthony’s legal team for their celebrating and Cheney Mason’s lecturing after the verdict. I know many attorneys and respect their work. There are many good lawyers and unfortunately, many ambulance chasers. As I joke often, “So tell me, when you are a defense attorney, do you go straight to Hell? Or do you have to change flights in Albuquerque?”

Finally, I weep for this poor little child who was tossed in a swamp like a common piece of garbage. Caylee Anthony certainly deserved a better mother and better protection. She did not receive justice. This was not some terminally ill child that a mother made an impossible, heart-wrenching decision to end that child’s suffering. She just wanted to party, plain and simple.

The saddest part is that there are children and innocent people killed every day that do not get the attention of this trial, which is just plain sad. It is just a reminder to all of us if you see something, say something. Be part of the solution. Stand up for what is right.

I do believe in Karma and it will definitely be a bitch when it comes around on Casey Anthony. This woman is a sociopath and will certainly do something again that will end her up in jail. I just hope that she only hurts herself and not anyone else. OJ Simpson is a perfect example.

Some day Casey Anthony will meet her Maker and I honestly believe she will need to answer for her sins. And for that she will rot in Hell.

January 25, 2011

Legislating to Protect Against Stupidity

Filed under: General Annoyances,Laws — alvb1227 @ 11:05 pm
Tags: , , ,

We’ve all heard about laws to protect people from their own stupidity. The latest is to actually ticket people who talk, text or listen to devices via headphones while walking. Yes, you read right…while walking.

This discussion has come to the forefront in light of the recent video that went viral when a woman fell into a mall fountain because she was texting and not paying attention to where she was going. She is threatening to sue, by the way. Not sure what exactly her lawsuit would be based on, since it was her own fault.

Now, I have been known to walk and read at the same time. How can I do these two tasks at once you may ask? I’m not an idiot. I can actually do two things at once.

There are also proposed laws around the county to prevent people from smoking on the street and selling food made with trans fats. My personal favorite is one that I heard just this morning. A father (and doctor) is on a one-man crusade to make bath salts illegal because his son sniffed them to get high and died. While I am sorry for this man’s loss, should people not be able to have a relaxing bath that includes bath salts because his son tried to use them to get high? From what I understand, people sniff a variety of different things in an attempt to get high, such as glue and inhalants. So should I not be able to finish craft projects or purchase Pam for cooking because little Johnny is looking for a cheap buzz?

Call me cold, but if you need laws like this on the books to protect yourself from, well, yourself, then maybe we should just call it thinning the gene pool and call it a day.

December 2, 2010

“It Was a Just a Turkey”

Filed under: General Annoyances,Laws,New Jersey,Outdoors — alvb1227 @ 1:04 am
Tags: , , ,

I just saw this story on my local news and I was compelled to write a post.

In Rutherford, NJ, two teenagers killed one of the borough’s wild turkeys in July of this year with a bow and arrow. The backlash has been so bad, the case has been moved to another venue.

Now many of you that know me personally or have read this blog regularly, know that I am an avid angler (catch and release) and thoroughly enjoy the outdoors. I am not a hunter or “catch and keep” angler, but do not begrudge anyone who is, as long as they hunt and fish responsibly and consume what they kill. This represents the large majority of hunters.

The two young men who killed this turkey, that was essentially considered a neighborhood mascot, are not even close to hunters. From what I have read about these two, they are essentially the neighborhood delinquents that even when confronted after shooting the turkey made snide remarks about the event. They received multiple tickets and summons from Rutherford and the state Division of Fish and Wildlife and the case will be heard in court soon.

Since the event, the court has received hundreds of letters from citizens outraged over the event, urging the judge to give out the maximum possible sentence. The two are also receiving harassing phone calls and people are standing outside their homes with signs.

When Jolyn Garner, one of the boy’s mothers, was recently interviewed, she said the following; “It’s just been nonstop harassment for four months,” she said. “I’m sorry the turkey was killed, but it was a just a turkey.”

Wow…good parenting example. Now I know where her boy gets it from.

The kicker to all this is while being interviewed, young Garner also informed the reporter he is a vegetarian for “personal and moral reasons.” Is he serious? Killing a turkey, or any animal, in a public place, for fun, is moral? He was in a park. He could’ve missed the turkey and shot a child!

In case you can’t tell, I’m furious. I hope these kids get whatever the maximum they can receive. What they should really do is give them community service with Fish and Wildlife helping with wildlife management of the state turkey population. That should help them understand what nature in New Jersey is all about.

It is because of idiots like this people have such a low opinion of Jersey.

November 22, 2010

Breaking News: Which is Right?

Filed under: Laws,Security — alvb1227 @ 7:52 pm
Tags: ,

So I signed up for both CNN and Fox News “alerts” a long time ago. They are simply a one-line breaking news story synopsis with a link to the complete article on their website. I received an alert from each news organization today with information regarding the same story. Each had a different twist:

CNN: — Ingmar Guandique convicted of first-degree murder in 2001 death of D.C. intern Chandra Levy.

Fox News: Jury convicts illegal immigrant of murdering congressional intern Chandra Levy.

As I said; same story, two very different ways of reporting.

If you look at the CNN alert, it fails to mention Ingmar Guandique is here illegally, as well as simply referring to Chandra Levy as a “D.C. Intern.” If you look at the alert from Fox News, it doesn’t mention the Guandique’s name and the year of the murder.

Obviously, the fact that one didn’t include the year of the murder and the other doesn’t mention that she was a Congressional Intern is hardly the point here. Personally, the fact that this murderer is here illegally is an important part of the story. Possibly CNN didn’t want to further politicize the story further by bringing a very charged issue into the alert, keeping the focus on the poor woman that was murdered. It goes without saying, I am just guessing here.

Personally, I think the fact that this dirt bag is here illegally is an important fact. If he wasn’t here, this woman would still be alive and her parents wouldn’t be grieving for their daughter.

I just found it interesting. I would like very much to hear your thoughts.

November 6, 2010

Reid and “The Dream Act”

So this past week, Harry Reid defied all logic and was re-elected to the Senate; and not just by a slim margin. At first, I was just stunned. However, once I thought about it, I wasn’t that surprised.

Harry Reid pandered obviously to the Hispanic community by pushing his “Dream Act.” That gave him approximately 63% of the Hispanic vote, which no doubt, is what pushed him over the top. Honestly, I don’t understand how legal Hispanics would support this measure after they followed all the rules to come to this country.

What is The Dream Act you may ask? This works to provide illegal immigrants with an easy pathway to citizenship that includes entitlements such as a free college education. Just in case you aren’t sure how I feel about this idea; this makes me completely nauseous.

This essentially rewards illegal behavior, just because they have been here a long time or had an anchor baby. In an economy where parents can’t afford to send their own children to school, Senator Reid wants to use tax dollars to create a huge new entitlement rewarding people who are here illegally by giving them a free ride to college. Shameful.

Let’s forget for a moment that our economy is imploding, millions are out of work, meaning the feds have less taxes coming in and our national debt is spiraling out of control. We definitely cannot afford a huge new entitlement program for a group of people who shouldn’t be here and certainly do not deserve it.

I really hope the current Congress does not fall on their sword for their leadership one last time and vote for this ridiculous program. It is because of the overall dissatisfaction of the general population of the agenda the Congress and Administration have forced down the collective neck of all Americans they were voted out. I hope they also realize that it is due to the obvious pandering of Senator Reid to his Hispanic constituency he actually made it through the decimation of the current Congress.

September 30, 2010

The Extreme in Bullying

In a previous post about bullying I spoke about a father standing up for his daughter with cerebral palsy who was being relentlessly bullied. Well, sometimes bullying can have deadly results.

This week it has been reported that two freshmen students at Rutgers University digitally bullied and humiliated a fellow freshman by streaming live two private sexual encounters online with another male. This proved too much for student Tyler Clementi and he took his own life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Reports this morning say that his body may have been found. A post on his Facebook page said, “jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”

This is simply sickening to many, including me. As I mentioned before, many of us were bullied as children, however, due to the emergence of the Internet, bullying has now gone global.

Tyler’s roommate, Dharun Ravi and  Ravi’s friend Molly Wei, both of New Jersey, were charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy for secretly using a camera to view and transmit a live sex scene, said Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan. Ravi claims he turned on the camera accidentally, however, his Twitter posts prove otherwise.

In my opinion, these charges hardly go far enough. The law has definitely not kept up with the changes to bullying in the digital age. This story reminds me of another digital-bullying case in Massachusetts where a child committed suicide after relentless bullying online.

I am sickened by this two and weep for Tyler. I offer my heartfelt condolences to the Clementi family. I hope law makers work to bring the law up to date and these two are prosecuted to the fullest extent they can.

I implore you, if you know of someone being bullied, or you are being bullied yourself, help them. Stand up for them. Reach out to parents, teachers, administration, police, clergy or whomever else you may feel comfortable with talking.

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