I Have a Gripe

September 17, 2017

The Charging Bull and the Fearless Girl

According to today’s definition of the word, I am not a feminist. I’ve regularly been told I’ve “sold out the sisterhood.

Do I believe women are strong and capable individuals and deserve to be treated and paid equally? Absolutely. Do I believe women should receive special treatment in an effort to “level the playing field?” Absolutely not. A perfect example of this absurdity is NYU Film School’s so-called gender equality. Selecting women over men in the name of equality is utterly ridiculous. The concept is basically saying “women aren’t good enough to compete on their own merits so we are going to tip the scales.”

Now do I believe the “boy’s club” exists? Definitely. I’ve experienced it first hand. Do you know what I did to combat it? I did my job to the best of my ability. I’ve worked in male-dominated fields my entire career. I proved my worth of doing my job. I’ve told stories of my work multiple times over the years so I don’t feel the need to repeat myself. You can read more about them here.

I will admit early in my career I avoided wearing my wedding band on interviews. I didn’t want to be looked upon as a “baby factory.” Did I need to do that? I really can’t say for sure. Would I recommend this to my nieces? No. I don’t think it is necessary.

So why am I telling you all this and what does it have to do with two sculptures in New York City? Let me explain.

Earlier this year a new sculpture was installed (at the time temporarily) called the “Fearless Girl” on Wall Street in New York City. It was placed facing the iconic “Charging Bull” the day before International Women’s Day. Fearless Girl was commissioned by investment firm State Street Global Advisors to advertise an index fund which comprises gender-diverse companies that have a higher percentage of women among their senior leadership. It is an extremely well-executed sculpture by the artist. It quickly, however, turned into a point of contention and became a new rally cry for feminists everywhere.

My problem with it? It has completely changed the definition of the Charging Bull. What is the history of the Charging Bull you ask? Allow me to clarify.

ChargingBull

Arturo Di Modica and his Charging Bull (source: chargingbullcom)

Sculpture and Sicilian Arturo Di Modica developed the Charging Bull as a way to celebrate America, and specifically, New York. It celebrates the opportunities the nation offers to people of the world who are willing to come and work for success. It’s the symbol of courage Di Modica saw as the perfect antidote to the Wall Street crash of 1986. It is a celebration of the human spirit and determination of Americans.

 

Now the Fearless Girl is placed facing the Charging Bull. Instead of the celebration of the ability to survive whatever is thrown at Americans, it is now viewed as a little girl facing down the big bad men of Wall Street.

Shameful.

The sculptor has voiced his concern over the placement of Fearless Girl, saying it distorts and politicizes his art and has asked that it be removed. Will that happen? Unfortunately, I doubt it.

I agree with Di Modica. The Fearless Girl has changed the meaning of his art.

If it is decided that Fearless Girl is to remain on display indefinitely, I hope it will be moved elsewhere so the meaning of the Charging Bull is returned to its true inspiration. Unfortunately, I will be shocked it that happens.

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August 7, 2016

Journalist vs. Commentator

This shouldn’t be semantics or money. People will read this, and they’ll believe us.
~Henry Hackett, The Paper

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. More specifically, I wanted to be a journalist. One of my favorite movies is The Paper and my favorite classes in college were my journalism and print production classes. I did well in those classes, and more importantly, I was good. I wrote for The Setonian, my college paper, and even elevated to News Editor at one point. I wrote some pieces that made me very proud. There was a racially-charged fight on campus that I covered. I did some stupid things, like go to a guy’s dorm room alone to get his side of the story. I went (well, I tried) to a BSU meeting to get a comment. They asked me to leave, but I got the story. I wound up getting threats and was assigned an escort to go to classes for awhile. I pissed everyone off. I knew I was covering the story right when I got hit from both sides. It was a rush. Too bad Hurricane Irene flooded my basement and all my clips went in the dumpster.

Layout nights weren’t always a lot of fun (yes, old school layout, like running galleys through waxers and making box corners with 2pt rule and a blade). They were especially painful when layout would last until 3:00 a.m., my news writing class was at 8:00 a.m. and I was allowed zero excuses to miss. I still loved it and learned a lot. I could read upside down and backwards so I could understand how typesetting progressed. I memorized the AP Stylebook (I still have my original spiral bound copy) and to this day when I read a news story or hear a reporter on television, I am mentally editing what they are reporting based on my learning from my advisor, Professor (now PhD) Gottlieb.

When Dr. Gottlieb (who was also the advisor of the paper) would review my work for approval to publish and gave me a “good job” it was the ultimate high. In 1991 I received the Wordsmith Award for an essay I wrote. I was also a finalist in the photography category. It was awesome. I had grandiose plans of becoming a hard journalist and eventually an investigative reporter.

Well, I graduated into the worst job market in decades and took whatever job I could. I did wind up in print production, so it was at least an area I really enjoyed. My journalism plans, however, were put on the shelf. As the Internet rose in popularity and print began its slow descent, I had to find something else. I became the exact opposite of a journalist – a flack. I now work in digital marketing and specialize in SEO and analytics. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud that I am self-taught in all this technology and am always learning more. I am, however, very sorry I never had that chance to become a real journalist. At least I have my blogs that feed my writing outlet.

Why am I explaining all this? There’s a reason, trust me.

I hate columnists! Why do I have all these columnists? I got political columnists, guest columnists… celebrity columnists – The only thing I don’t have is a dead columnist. That’s the kind I could really use…. We reek of opinions. What every columnist at this paper needs to do is to shut the fuck up.
~Bernie White, The Paper

I read and watch a lot of news and every day I am increasingly ill. The profession I so desperately wanted is now a joke. Journalist, columnist, commentator – at one point in history they were all individual jobs. Now it is hard to tell the difference. For example, look at the following two headlines and ledes that cover that same story:

The New York Times
Can G.O.P. Tell Donald Trump, ‘You’re Fired’? Probably Not
We are in the midst of yet another of Donald J. Trump’s self-inflicted spirals of terrible news. And with prominent Republicans saying they will back Hillary Clinton and others announcing this week that they won’t endorse Mr. Trump, there has been yet another round of speculation about how the party could get rid of him.

ABC News
Senior GOP Officials Exploring Options if Trump Drops Out
Republican officials are exploring how to handle a scenario that would be unthinkable in a normal election year: What would happen if the party’s presidential nominee dropped out?

ABC News has learned that senior party officials are so frustrated — and confused — by Donald Trump’s erratic behavior that they are exploring how to replace him on the ballot if he drops out.

Neither of these pieces are labeled as an editorial. The New York Times piece, however, reads like a blog post. This is NOT news. It is opinion peppered with news. The ABC News piece is more down the line.

Here is another example.

Chicago Tribune
Body cams give close-up, disturbing view of fatal police shooting
Newly issued body cameras worn on the front of officers’ vests provided a disturbing, close-up view of the tragic events and questionable decisions made when Chicago police fatally shot an African-American teen trying to flee in a stolen sports car.

The word “disturbing” should not be anywhere in the headline and the lede is even worse. I was taught to ALWAYS take care when using adjectives and adverbs. This is NOT objective journalism. It is meant to incite.

There have been many different topics recently in the news that have been provocative. The presidential election, race relations, and a lot more. Unfortunately, many in the news industry and not hiding their personal opinions and biases.

This is not the level of journalism that sparked my soul. Maybe Dr. Gottlieb should teach some reminder classes.

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.

January 27, 2014

The NEW JERSEY Super Bowl

I love football. And even though my team isn’t in it this year (they were robbed by bad calls in Seattle), I was looking forward to watching the game taking place in my home state. Note the use of the word “was.” My gripe? The fact is everyone from advertisers, to the news media to the NFL seems to have forgotten that the game is actually in New Jersey – not New York.

From the moment I saw the logo with “NY” listed first, I knew we were in for an uphill battle. The Verizon commercial deciding if Terry Bradshaw or the little girl will go to New York sent my blood pressure to the stratosphere. And as much as I love Bradshaw, I turned off the post-game activity the moment he asked about how Seattle feels about going to New York.

Um, you realize if they go to New York they will miss the game, right?

The teams are landing in NEW JERSEY.

The teams are staying in NEW JERSEY.

The game is being played in NEW JERSEY.

New York is shutting down Broadway for a huge NFL/Superbowl event. Meanwhile, the parties in New Jersey were denied use of the logo by NFL.

Seriously?

As expected, New York will gain the majority of the financial windfall that comes with hosting a Super Bowl, meanwhile, New Jersey will get stuck paying the bill for security and logistics. It reminds me of co-hosting a party where one person does all the work and the other person, just because he or she is an extrovert, gets all the credit. Meanwhile, you’re out a ton of money and are stuck cleaning vomit out of the carpet.

Just like Rodney Dangerfield often said, “no respect.”

June 17, 2011

Christie and Sweeney: Shame on You Both

As Governor Christie and NJ State Senator Sweeney made a deal with the Devil, I submitted yet another letter to both of them. I wanted to share it with my readers…

June 16, 2011

In regards to: Subject: Teacher’s Pension & Health Benefit Legislation

Governor Chris Christie

State Senate President Sweeney

Gentlemen:

I have contacted your office via email and phone several times in the past to express my frustration regarding this constant assault on teachers and their pension and health benefits. I am writing again to voice my outrage.

I am the proud wife of a 24-year band director. He became a teacher for all the right reasons – to give back, to influence the lives of youngsters, and to share his love of music with others. He has successfully taught thousands of students not just how to play an instrument and appreciate music, but what it takes to be a good citizen and adult. It is also worth noting he is not one of those “80K a year teachers” you hear about on the news.

This constant barrage “on union leadership” as I often hear you say Governor, has certainly trickled down and has turned into an “us vs. them” argument. Many people already have a negative opinion of teachers. You have certainly added to that negativity. And for the record, I voted for you. I believed you when I thought you were going to make positive changes on the state’s school system. In my opinion, your changes are far from positive. You should really try reading the bully legislation you signed into law, because that is exactly what you have become.

Today, teachers are much more than teachers. They are counselors, pastors, and sadly, all too often, parents. Add to that list since Columbine, police, hostage negotiators, and body guards. When I was a child, I was told the three safest places I could be were home, school and church. Now, that is far from reality.

You want the best and brightest to be teachers in order to continue the high performance of New Jersey’s students. With your constant barrage, why would anyone want to become a teacher? Being a teacher is not the easy job many believe it is. The teachers I know spend a sizable amount of their own money on school supplies, endless hours preparing lessons, tutoring students and being active participants in their communities. This battle of yours has put neighbor against neighbor.

What I would like to see is the state government acknowledge that the reason the pension system is having financial trouble is because politicians have been using that system as their own personal piggy bank. That would be a good place to start. Next, I would like to see those politicians fix this without hurting those who had nothing to do with the problem being affected.

I would also like to know why there is such outrage about limiting healthcare options on the federal level through “Obamacare” by the GOP (my party, by the way), when you, Governor Christie, are trying to do the exact same thing to teachers? According to what I have read, there is even a limitation in the proposed legislation that you will limit the ability to seek medical treatment outside New Jersey. We live across the river from some of the finest medical institutions in the world and we wouldn’t be able to do whatever would be necessary if my husband or I was ill? I wonder how Senator Lautenberg would feel about that, given his insistence on going to New York for his cancer treatment.

I would like to know if either of you have ever gone to a school and watched first-hand what teachers do everyday. No cameras, no entourage, nothing. Just you, teachers and students. I would like to see you really understand what a teacher does on a day-to-day basis. My hope is that you would have more respect for what they do and change this from an assault to a conversation.

Shame on you both.

March 11, 2011

Wayne, Flooding and Taxes

Filed under: Finances,government,Manipulation,New Jersey — alvb1227 @ 1:39 am

So as I sit here with my laptop listening to the pounding rain, I decided to check out the weather coverage on NJ.com. I came across the following caption:

“Paula Bush who has lived on Hobson Ave. in Wayne since the 1950’s crossing the avenue to check her brother’s house. They are hoping to have their houses bought out so they can relocate. Flooding along Hobson Ave. in Wayne, NJ, along the Passaic River. (Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-Ledger)”

I almost choked.

I remember reading awhile back about potential buyouts for Wayne and was able to find that article on NorthJersey.com and I am just as sick now as I was the first time I read it. I even did a blog post about it awhile back.

Now, I do feel bad for those who suffer through these floods year after year, however, everyone in Jersey knows that Wayne is the state’s flood capital. If you were stupid enough to buy a house in a flood zone, especially in Wayne, then I’m sorry, but you get what you deserve. Why should we as tax payers buy you out? Everyone is screaming about wasteful spending. Well, this is wasteful spending.

These are not people who suffered through a freak flood. We are talking about homes that flood year after year after year. I remember as a kid going to the Willowbrook Mall and watching my mother navigate the car through multiple small ponds in the parking lot. Mrs. Bush and her husband should know this, since according to the caption they have been in Wayne since the 50’s.

It is no secret that Wayne floods. The real secret is how the government is trying to push these buyouts through without people knowing.

February 22, 2011

The American Labor Movement – A Brief History

All that seems to be on television lately is the “war against the unions” and how they are bankrupting our country. I thought I would take a moment to remind everyone about what unions have done in the past and continue to do now.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I have several family members who are in a union. I am not and was actually turned down for the typographer’s union after graduating college because I wasn’t a “traditional typographer.” I believe the unions have done and continue to do a lot of good, however, at the same time, they have not kept up with the times. My rejection is a perfect example.

The first labor law to protect working children was first put into law in Massachusetts in 1836. Massachusetts’ chief justice, Lemuel Shaw ruled in 1842 that a strike for a closed shop was legal. By 1886, the Knights of Labor was a champion for the unskilled laborer and encouraged and fought for its African-American membership.

Since then, unions have fought for safe working conditions, the eight-hour working day, supported equal rights and equal pay in the workplace for minorities and women, a minimum wage, healthcare and more. The concept of the “weekend” is because of unions. The entire country celebrates “Labor Day.” Whether or not you participate in, or agree with, the union and labor movement, you have benefited from it.

That is what they have done right. Unfortunately, there are plenty of things they have done wrong. I don’t believe that a majority of dues should pay for supporting political candidates. They have not kept up with the times in areas of education and training, technology, accepting membership from technology-based changes in the industry (like me) and of course, contributions to healthcare and pensions.

What is going on in Wisconsin, Ohio and my beloved New Jersey is shameful. I would think most reasonable people understand they have to contribute more to their pensions and healthcare benefits. It is disingenuous, however, to expect unions to give up collective bargaining or make a union member make a huge jump in contributions in one year when so many families are already hitting tough times and barely hanging on.

These Governors don’t understand that their hateful comments about “union management” ultimately hurt those who actually do the work every day. I guarantee, this is the new class warfare.

So both sides are right…and wrong. All this back and forth isn’t helping anyone. To quote my Grandmother: “fight nice children.”

February 7, 2011

NFL Players Union vs. Owners: The Ultimate Nonsensical Showdown

While the football season is over by less than one day, reports on the news about collective bargaining have already begun. Some are already even talking about a lockout for the next season. I’m sorry, but if you ask me, both sides need their heads smacked together like Moe.

So most of these team owners are billionaires and most of the players are millionaires, plus the  millions they make in endorsements. The NFL wants to extend the season by two games, the players want more money (big shock) and the owners don’t want to share (again, big shock).

So, let’s make the assumption that everyone doesn’t play nice and they go to the lockout. Who is this really going to hurt? The guys who sell the hot dogs, the people who take the tickets and all the other people with jobs related to the games, but don’t play in them. I seriously doubt that any of these individuals are millionaires.

So what is this really all about in my opinion? One word: Greed! The median salary for an “average” player is roughly $700,000. The median salary for the “average Joe” is $46,000.

Also, let’s think about the prices of tickets for a game. In 2010, Giants tickets increased 26 percent to $111 for an average ticket and Jets increased 31.8 percent to $114 on average according to an article on the New York Post website. So, when a father wants to take their child to a game, when you count up two tickets, parking, a couple of hot dogs and sodas and maybe some kind of souvenir, we are up around $500 for the day. Seriously, who can really afford that?

So while all the boys posture for position, I suggest they remember who their fans are and what it costs for them to attend a game. Ultimately, if they go to lockout, it will hurt the NFL big time. In today’s society of high unemployment and making tough family budget decisions, I think the fans will retaliate and just like the last lockout,  it will take a long time to win back the fans.

Trust me, the NFL, the owners, the players; they will gain sympathy from no one. They all need a dose of reality.

December 10, 2010

The Dream Act, 9-11 Responders and Common Sense

There are a lot of different pieces of legislation working through Congress in this lame duck session. They include extending the Bush-era tax cuts, the Dream Act, extending unemployment benefits and more. While these are all important, to one degree or another, there is one that was voted down yesterday that is absolutely shameful. I am talking about medical care for the 9-11 first responders.

From what I have read, this important legislation was voted down by three votes. There is obvious political posturing on both sides, but this piece of legislation should not have anything to do with politics. It is simply the right thing to do.

These responders put their lives on the line to work to save as many as possible and recover those who lost their lives. As a result, they have developed terrible health issues and in some cases, they have already passed away.

To me, these heroes should be treated just like the military. We should do whatever is necessary to help them. Period.

Now, depending on who you listen to, the Dems claim the GOP won’t entertain anything until the tax cuts are addressed. The GOP says the Dems are just trying to make them look bad. Whatever the so-called reasons, everyone should put their big boy pants on and do what is right for these heroes.

I urge all my readers to reach out to their Senators and Representatives and urge them to get this done so these heroes can have peace of mind that their health-related issues from working on the pile will be handled.

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.

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