Thursday, July 25, 2013

As Seen About Town

There is another car in this area with the license plate Tardis 1, so apparently there are a lot of Doctor Who fans in this area. Also, don't forget the house that had the Tardis land on its front porch.


This young lady was standing outside the house of a classmate of the Musician's, late in the afternoon. There are way too many deer in this area, but too many people don't want the deer culled, for various stupid reasons. Some idiots have actually suggested driving slower, so when the cars hit the deer the damage is not as bad. O.o  Deer being hit by autos is not the only problem, however. They are eating too much of the local foliage, and there at least two almost albino bucks wandering around within a few miles of each other, which to me indicates there may be too much inbreeding.

Monday, July 22, 2013

I'm Goin' Off the Rails

Okay, Pauli, I see your Thunderbusters, and raise you Take Me on the Crazy Train.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Movies and Nostalgia

I was reading a discussion today about the success of the Transformers franchise versus the relatively poor showing of Pacific Rim, and had one thought: Pacific Rim did not have the built-in audience of grown men who played with Transformers as little boys. As the Dancer admitted, she will be going see the live-action My Little Pony movie when it comes out twenty-five years from now. And I'm sure the Musician will be going with her.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bad Signs for a Future

For a city, one of whose best attributes at times is that at least we are not Detroit, the news of Detroit's bankruptcy should leave the city of Cleveland wondering if we are next. I say should, because there may still be a chance to pull this city back. I'm not sure that's likely to happen, given how many people refused to acknowledge that Detroit was in such grave trouble, but at the very least we may gain some sort of timetable as to how soon Cleveland will also slide off of the cliff. It's discouraging to see Detroit's abysmal literacy rate ranked with areas of Cleveland, for sure. It's sad to see that children with Down's Syndrome have a higher literacy percentage, at least according to this site. Surely almost half of Detroit's population is not severely learning disabled, is it?

I'm not really an expert on Cleveland city schools, but I do know that the superintendent of said schools pulls in around six figures, which seems rather criminal, given the job results. I also know from personal experience that teaching a child to read does not need a teaching degree or fancy materials. In my case, I was willing to take a lot of time, had the ability to take as much time as was needed without the stigma of my daughter falling behind peers, had the advantage of one-on-one time, and had a child who was generally obedient about doing her work, and knew she was expected to learn. I'm sure all of these things are lacking to a certain extent in the Cleveland public school system, especially the one-on-one time. What would be useful would be being able to address a problem individually in the case of a child from a negative environment, or in a classroom in the case of a poor teacher. The parents blame the teachers, and the teachers blame the parents, but ultimately I think the responsibility should lie with the parents. The mayor is in direct control of the schools, and the mayor, in my mind, ought to be under the direct control of his constituents. But maybe I'm biased, because in our own case, faced with a parochial school which wasn't challenging our daughter, and a public school district in academic emergency, we decided to do it ourselves. It often seems to be the way to go if you want something done right.

h/t to Bookworm Room.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Taking Care of Business

On a international crafting forum, someone who does not reside in the US was complaining because her PayPal account had fallen victim to fraud. She was angry because PayPal was making her pay for the fraudulent charges, when there was no way she could have made them, because she was in the hospital giving birth! I sympathize with victims of fraud, and it can happen to anyone. It's a headache getting things sorted out, although usually you can work to get fraudulent charges removed without having to pay them. This person claims no one at PayPal is willing to work with her. Someone else said her husband had fraudulent PayPal charges show up, and although it took a lot of work, things did get taken care of in the end. Perhaps the fact that the original poster does not live in the US means she is getting poorer customer service, which of course is not right, but may help explain her difficulties. On the other hand, it almost sounded like she was simply expecting PayPal to take her giving birth story at face value, and that's just not what a business does. Does the general public not know anything about running a business anymore?

In the comments section, people were looking for all kinds of alternatives to PayPal. The problem right now is: there isn't any. Not that handles so many countries and so many different currencies, at a reasonable price. And why would a handful of people running a international forum site want to get into the difficulties and risks of handling international transactions anyway? Bottom line is that right now PayPal is the only game in town.

Unfortunately, the take away from this by the original commenter? Maybe some nice, crafting-friendly person will someday start an alternative to PayPal. I definitely wouldn't mind seeing a PayPal competitor. As I just said above, right now the business has a monopoly. However, if such a competitor actually enters the market, it won't matter if the founder is "nice" or enjoys sewing or woodworking. What a business founder really needs? Money. In the LEGO community, there was at least at one time a system where if two people wanted to buy/sell LEGO, but they didn't know each other, a trusted third person would agree to receive the funds and let the seller know it was safe to ship. But that's one transaction, in a community where the most trusted people were often known in real life to many in the group. Heck, Mr. BTEG and I even had dinner with one of the big names in LEGO collecting, when the Musician was just a wee little thing. But expecting to run an international business? You'd better have some start-up capital, and expect to gain trust slowly. And sharing a hobby with someone else in private life, does not change how fraud needs to be handled in public life. I do hope this woman can work through the fraud issues, but it won't be because the business is "nice."

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

What's in a Name

More Hollyweird stuff! This time it's a Rebecca Romijn, who says eventually she's going to change her last name to her husband's, because she predicts that eventually, her daughters will wonder why they don't all have the same last name (they're four.) Which led to several people in the comments insisting that you don't have to have the same name to be a family, darn it! Yes, it definitely feels good to be all inclusive and open and accepting of everything. But considering that many of these same people are probably also fine with the break-up of the family via divorce, or the aborting of a family member, should we believe them? Or are too many people just parroting the standard phrases of the day because they've been told that's how the "right" people think? After all, is the family stronger overall right now, or weaker? How often have you heard "straights" have already messed up marriage so much, that gay marriage won't damage the institution any more?

I happen to think that the name *does* make a difference. We are the Evil Genius family, and in being so, we are part of something greater than ourselves. By birth, I am linked by blood to all of my female forebears. But I am also tied to all the women who produced the men in my husband's lineage, by name. I am one of a long line of Evil Genius women, and sometimes I am sorry there will be no more Evil Genius women directly after me. But my daughters will take their identities of what the Evil Genius family shares, the things that make us the Evil Genius *family*, and carry that to their new families. They will still be part of their father and I by blood, but part of their new family, the family they create, by name.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Being "Equal" Can Mean Messing Up Equally Too

I have a confession. When I get too frustrated reading political news (which happens more and more often these days,) I take some time away and read celebrity gossip instead. Which lead me to a tidbit about how Natalie Portman's new movie project is in trouble even in the midst of production. What's hilarious is how the writer tries to keep any of the blame from actually falling on the star and producer of this film, Portman herself. First of all, Portman and her crew may just be too smart for us: "Because it seems like something that would happen with Natalie and her friends, like they are too intellectual to function in normal society, not to mention a film set where you actually have to make firm decisions." Um, yeah. Is this writer serious? I'm not actually sure. I mean, Hollyweird is not normal society anyway, and a great number of the elite in that society would be asking you if you wanted fries with that if they had to live a regular life. And being intellectual keeps you from making firm decisions? Uh huh. I'm sure all the emergency room doctors, for example, stand around saying "I'm sooo smart; I just can't deciiiiiiide! Do I intubate or operate or what?"

But of course, people may also be talking trash about her because she's... a woman! In other words, we poor little women are still suffering from evil stereotyping by men. In reference to her supposedly terrible temper, "maybe she's (Portman) just bossy and men can’t handle it." Or, you know, maybe she actually does have a terrible temper. Although why a man or a woman would want a supervisor that's bossy doesn't make sense either, so?

Bottom line, if women want be treated equally, they'll have to take the same chances men do of failing, as well as succeeding. Maybe Star Magazine just wanted a nice gossipy story. Maybe Natalie Portman really does suck as a producer. In any case, if the movie totally tanks, the producer should get a big share of the blame, man or woman.