Thursday, July 28, 2005

AARPing Up My Tree

I received an e-mail today. It asked me: "Are you 50 or older?"

I looked at who sent this e-mail to me. It was AARP. AARP, in case you didn't know, stands for "Association for the Advancement of Retired People"--I think. I'm not sure what's being advanced other than years in age.

One things that hasn't advanced is the age at which you are invited to join retirees, whether or not you actually are, indeed, retired! I remember when you actually had to be retired (at least 62 years old) to become a member of AARP. Then it was 60. My father joined when he turned 55, as did my mother.

Now the threshold is lowered again to 50. They must be in dire need of more members. Or fresh blood.

I'm 42. I don't meet that minimum requirement.

But I'm not worried. At the rate AARP is going, when I turn 45 that will be the new age one can join AARP and reap its benefits before the Grim Reaper comes. Who knows, my son might be able to join right out of college!

Will it still be called AARP, though? Or will the letter just stand for an amorphous entity with no meaning--sort of like KFC. Or STP. Just what does "STP" stand for, anyway?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Donald Trump Heard My Cry!

For about three years now I’ve had this dream about how the rebuilding of New York City’s “Ground Zero” should proceed.

It was my contention that functionality and memorials could co-exist. I wrote then, as was published in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, that the towers should be rebuilt. I suggested the floors that were directly hit by the planes be reserved as memorial museums of the atrocities of that day. One could be the FDNY Memorial and honored the firefighters who died that day. The other tower could have the NYPD/PA Memorial with the same honor for the policemen who died that day.

At each floor where the elevators take in and disgorge passengers large plaques could be erected that memorialize the deceased workers on that particular floor. And, of course, a replacement of the memorial to the dead from the 1993 bombing (I’m told that that memorial had been installed shortly before the events of 9/11).

I don’t know if Donald Trump read my letters, but he is now proposing the same thing. The difference? He is placing the towers in new spots and leaving the footprints of the collapsed towers for memorial pools. He also wants the new towers taller than the old ones (but not tall enough to become the tallest in the world). The buildings also wouldn’t have the distinctive vertical lines the old ones did; floor beams and vertical beams will create a crisscross effect. The supports at the lower levels that “branched” out will be there and the basic shape of the buildings will mimic the fallen towers, but the new design will have a slightly different look to it.

I wish Mr. Trump well. I don’t know if he’ll select a lead for this project on an upcoming The Apprentice, but I sure would like to see this plan implemented and built.

If you want to see the plans, go to and sign the petition if you wish to see this become reality.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Reality Bites

In today's (21 July 2005) Chicago Tribune was this piece of news:

A Lemont-area family featured last year on Fox's "Renovate My Family" filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the network, the Hollywood production company, an Illinois developer and DuPage County, claiming shoddy work created safety hazards in their home.

Gary and Sharon Rosier were selected for the reality show because their home needed to be made accessible for their son Steven, 18, who lost the use of his limbs after a snowboarding accident two years ago. When the seven-day project was done, the Rosiers say, they found wobbly railings, dangerous and incomplete electrical work and inadequately designed rooms.

"This family had already been dealing with the tragic situation of their son's horrible accident," said their attorney, Mark Belongia. "Then they went from the thrill of someone offering to get help to this situation, where their entire lives have been made worse."

The Rosiers signed a contract with Rocket Science to be part of the reality home-makeover show, which has been canceled but will air never-seen episodes starting Aug. 8. Their lawsuit says Rocket Science used pressure tactics and gave the Rosiers false information--including promises to find doctors to cure Steven-- to get their cooperation.

The producers, the Rosiers say, promised to bring joy to a family torn apart after Steven's accident. The goal of the show, according to Fox's Web site, was to make the home accessible to Steven by adding a wheelchair ramp, wider doorways and an exercise pool.

The work was done in seven days, which TV industry experts say was designed to create tension and bring viewers to the show.

When the renovated home was "revealed" to the Rosiers on July 23, 2004, producers had to re-film the scene a few times because the family didn't look happy enough, Gary Rosier said.

"We were horrified at what we saw," he said.

The suit also says that general contractor David Dressler Inc. performed "incompetent" and "negligent" work on their home. The suit lists some of the "hundreds" of problems with the renovated home: smoke alarms that didn't function; mold growing inside the house; exposed electrical wiring; the furnace installed in an inaccessible crawl space; and improperly installed plumbing, electrical wiring and railings along the wheelchair ramp. The Rosiers say the refurbishment also eliminated needed storage space, forcing them to use boxes throughout the home to hold their belongings.

Now, I can sympathize with the family's plight. They were hoping their home would accomodate their new reality of a disabled member of the household. Maybe they should have gone with Ty and the Extreme Home Makeover crowd at ABC (American Broadcasting Company). Or is their craftsmanship just as suspect?

Anyone who has ever done any home renovating knows that the process is time-consuming. And to have it all done in a week--what were they thinking? They should have had a lawyer involved up front to ensure all details were taken care of once the director said "Cut!", the lights were turned off, and the cameras stopped rolling.

Who knows, maybe this case will go before Judge Judy or Judge Joe Brown or even The Peoples' Court. Aren't those the actual venues to petition a complaint about a reality TV show? I would like to see a reality TV show about reality TV shows gone awry!

Linked to story:,1,3409010.story?coll=chi-newslocalnearwest-hed

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

How About Some NEW News?

Headline from the AP today:

"Battle Over Nominee May Center on Abortion"

Yep. That could be boiler-plate template text for the next 20 years for any Republican nominated Supreme Court justice--well, Democrat, too, but it is assumed a Democrat will always appoint a Roe v. Wade supporter. Ah, but I'm sure a Democrat will divert from the "party-line" at some point, so don't assume.

We have had Supreme Court justice nominees "borked," named for the treatment Robert Bork received when he was nominated until he withdrew his nomination. Clarence Thomas was accused of sexual harrassment--although it is interesting that Anita Hill waits until the nomination goes to the full Senate to come forward. And recently President Bush's nominees for lower courts have been denied or filibustered because the candidates were "too radical"--never mind that many of these candidates have won overwhelming majorities in elections and some of them even in Democrat strongholds!

Even nominating blacks and women haven't detracted from this debate. At the core of the debate will be be underway now that Bush has named a nominee is his views on abortion (couched, of course, in legal terms and positions the candidate has taken. But don't forget the litmus test from which all debate will spring is the person's views and any rulings in the past in regard to abortion or anything remotely close to abortion and Roe v. Wade).

So, yes, ever since Reagan was president "
Battle Over Nominee May Center on Abortion" has been a given. So why is it news today?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

What Women CAN Control

The name Susette Kelo probably doesn’t mean much to you. I’ll try and jog your memory.

Kelo v. New London.

Still no clue? Well, she was part of a landmark Supreme Court case. Of course it probably won’t get the fame and notoriety that another Supreme Court case has received: Roe v. Wade. I doubt many Supreme Court justice nominations and hearings will be fraught with possible perils of repealing Kelo v. New London. We won’t likely be celebrating/mourning Kelo v. New London in 25 years. The Wall Street Journal won’t likely be publishing their findings on a Kelo effect.

Yet both cases involve rights. And I found it ironic that a woman was part of this case.

You see, Roe v. Wade ruled that a woman has a right to control what happens to her body.

But Kelo v. New London has ruled that a woman (and, for that matter, a man, a church, an institution, etc.) has no right to personal property under eminent domain. Yep, a clause that made it possible for a local government to buy property at fair market value for the public good (roads, schools, government buildings, etc.) has been expanded to include private property that a private developer might want. The public good appears to be whatever the rich want. And I find it interesting that the Democrats and the liberals supported this Supreme Court ruling!

Or will they soon use this to seize property from churches, private schools, and the like? It might be argued that teaching Creation is not in the public good, therefore for the public good a Christian school is seized and it becomes a humanist center for humanist studies.

Eminent domain isn’t new. Baltimore and Oakland used this provision to try and keep National Football League franchises in town. They probably should try again. They have Supreme Court precedent on their side now.

The real travesty is that this nation was built on the concept of personal property rights. It was written into the Constitution that the government could not just seize one’s personal property. But a slippery slope appeared when this protection was breached for what was deemed good reason. If someone was caught will illegal drugs, according to the Zero Tolerance policy that person forfeited the rights to that property, even before having a trial. No one questioned it then—public good, you know. But now someone wants your house or my house, or the land my church sits on.

Now there is Supreme Court precedent for you to lose that property and there is nothing you can do.

Forget the Patriot Act. Forget about possible (and so far unproven) detainee abuses at Guantanimo. What the Supreme Court did in Kelo v. New London was undermine Constitutional rights—and this was done in broad daylight!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Dark Potato Chips

Today I want to share some information about myself, namely a matter of taste in food.

I like dark potato chips. You know, those random chips that somehow snuck past the potato chip factory quality control. I love those little devils. The seem to have more taste.

Unfortunately, they are a distinct minority in bags of potato chips--if you can find them at all. What I would really like to see is dedicated bags of potato chips specifically darker in color. You have the regular chips, the ripple chips, BBQ chips, sour cream and onion chips, etc. Why don't special dark chips and special dark ripple chips? I'd be in line to buy them!

So if anyone from Jay's or Lay's or O-Kee-Dokee or Old Dutch or any other chip fryer out there is reading this blog, help me in my pursuit of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of a dark chip" by considering this idea.