Friday, April 10, 2009


Sen. David Vitter will tea-bag. Fox News will cover your tea-bag.... Do you tea-bag?

Bringing guns in classrooms back to the forefront

A few weeks ago, Supa posted that a Texas state legislator had introduced a bill making it legal to carry concealed weapons onto college campuses. This bill is meant ostensibly to give students and professors the opportunity to defend themselves against an armed individual assaulting the campus. I just read an update to this issue, and it looks like the bill is gaining a lot of support. The whole idea behind this seems very reactionary to me. I truly do understand the motivation to protect one's self and to protect others. But it seems to me this is the wrong way to go about it.

My dad is a retired military firefighter, and, thus, he knows a lot men and women who fought in Vietnam, the Gulf War, and in Afghanistan and Iraq. My dad is also a staunch supporter of guns rights, and he initially supported this bill and wanted to various versions passed in other states. He then had a conversation with me and with a young man he worked with who had recently returned from Iraq. I explained that knowing my students had guns wouldn't make me feel any safer; in fact, knowing that anyone I come into contact with on campus could be carrying a concealed weapon legally scares the hell out of me. My dad dismissed most of my comments because, after all, I'm a liberal academic who is in favor of strong gun control. But the young man he worked with had come under heavy fire in Iraq, and when he told my dad he thought laws like this were problematic, my dad listened. This young man argued that having a gun in a situation like the one that recently occured in Binghamton, NY or the one at Virginia Tech isn't going to help people. As he said, he had been trained to use his weapon in combat, but when he was under fire for the first time, he and many of his soldiers were often so frightened and disoriented by the noise and confusion that it took them a few moments to react. Eventually his training kicked in, and he did what he had to do to survive in a war zone. My father has since revised his stance on carrying concealed weapons on college campuses.

Most people carrying guns onto college campuses are not going to be similarly trained, and most are going to be too frightened to "take out" the shooter. Sure, there is a small chance that someone with a gun could save a lot of lives in such a situation, but it seems to me there is great chance for more gun violence on college campuses if such a law is passed.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Fox is at it again...

Somehow, I'm not surprised that Fox has found a way to capitalize on the current economic situtation. However, since I just finished reading an article about how last month's numerous mass-murders might be tied to the economy, I'm a bit horrified by this concept. Turning layoffs into a Surivoresque vote undermines the seriousness of the situation. These individuals are not being voted off an island from which they can return home; instead, they're losing their livliehoods. The article states that a "business consultant" will help advise employees which of their own should be laid off, but will the show offer any support or guidance to the newly terminated employee(s)? Having worked through two nasty mergers that resulted in layoffs I can attest that the knowledge of impending layoffs sends ripples of paranoia through a company. Loyalties are tested, territories mapped out, backstabbing occurs, etc. (it is a miserable environment in which to work). Indeed, the atmosphere does have some similarities with reality shows that have eliminations. But in a company facing layoffs there are few immunity idols.

Perhaps, with the amount of money it will cost to produce the show, Fox could be helping the situation rather than profiting from it. But, that would suggest that there is a Rhetoric of Compassion in our society, which is something that today's earlier post by M suggests is wholly missing.

The Rhetoric of Compassion, or do we have a responsiblity to help others?

On this morning's Today Show, Meredith Vierra interviewed a young woman who was raped in a subway station in 2005. According to the woman, who is going public with her story now, at least two Metropolitan Transit Authorities witnessed her attack and did not offer her any significant form of help. A conductor and a ticket clerk did notify their superiors about the attack, who then contacted the police. Neither the conductor nor the ticket clerk made any other attempt to aid the young woman. By the time the police arrived, some 10 to 15 minutes later, she had been raped twice and her attacker had fled; no arrest has ever been made in the case. Following her assualt, the woman filed a civil suit against the MTA, alleging that the policies of the MTA enabled the attack. A judge ruled recently that the workers “had taken prompt and decisive action” in notifying their superiors, but they had no obligation to act beyond notifying their superiors. The young woman openly admits that she did not expect either worker to leave the train or the ticket booth, but she does believe that either could have stopped the attack by getting on the loud speaker and telling her attacker that the police were on their way.

As C and I watched this, we were both horrified. The young woman states that she met the gaze of both the conductor and the ticket clerk, and neither did anything more than notify their superiors. I honestly can't fathom not helping someone who was being attacked in front of me, even if interfering meant putting myself at risk. This story has bothered me all morning.

I do wonder, however, if the judge is right. The workers followed MTA procedure to the letter, but the procedure resulted in, at least indirectly, this young woman being raped twice. The judge's ruling, which had to be based on MTA policy, seems to have been right, as much as it sickens me. But did these individuals have a responsiblity, as human beings, to do something more to help this young woman? Is there such a thing as the rhetoric of compassion? Do we have a responsibility to help others who are in immediate danger?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Damn those pants are square!

The scandalicious Burger King commercial is available on YouTube in an extended version:

hilarious. Not kid friendly. But hilarious :)

A treat for the eyes and ears...

Eminem has a new video out, and, of course, he mocks nearly all of the recent tabloid stars. I think Oxy will enjoy Em's take on Bret Michaels. My favorite bit may be at approx. 2:17, when "Sarah Palin" dances in a bustier with a polar bear and an eskimo. But that's just me.

Edited to add: I don't know how to make this little video box smaller!

Same-Sex Marriage in Vermont

Same-Sex Marriage is now legal In Vermont as the state's legisature enacted it over the Governor's (anti-democratic) veto.

Take that judicial activists.

Tuesday Afternoon Reading

If you are looking for something to read this afternoon, here is a report on Torture by the Red Cross.

If you are not interested in the report, The New York Times offers a summary.

Hacking Web Cams, or, Where's Oxymoron...

At Slate, Christopher Beam discusses the practice of Hackers taking control of your computer and watching you through your own Web Cam.
In a report released last month, Canadian researchers concluded that GhostNet has cracked at least 1,295 computers in 103 different countries, specifically targeting the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan activists and officials. Stealing documents and logging keystrokes—that I understand. You can get all sorts of useful information reading someone's e-mail or looking at their bank records. But peeking at them through their Web cameras? That seems creepy even by the standards of shady cyber-spying rings. It's one thing to read the Dalai Lama's IM conversations. It's another to actually watch him LOL.One program that allows you to do this is Back Orifice, a pun on Microsoft's BackOffice.

While this is not that common, it probably explains Oxymoron's absence.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Thick and Juicy

As someone rather well-endowed in the caboose department, I've always been amused by Sir Mix-a-lot's classic. It's catchy. It's funny.

Burger King is trying to promote their new kids' meals--square meals. As such, they've adapted Sir Mix-a-lot's song to "I like square butts." The BK king raps and checks the right angles of the ladies' butts as they shake their righteous booties. Sponge Bob Square Pants makes a few appearances too, thus the commercial creates an interesting (and I would suggest disturbing) series of contrasts between children's cartoons, kid's meals, and songs about sex and butts.

Thoughts? The video premeried during halftime (go Tarheels!) so I haven't been able to find it online yet.