Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Bit of Anti-CPSIA Silliness

If they can pass a silly law I can write a silly poem. Not claiming that it's good, just silly.

The little boy
From down the street
was looking very glum
he sat on the curb
his eyes downcast
not having any fun
I queried him
and he replied
"Oh sir, the world is sad
all the grownups are so mean
and the kids almost as bad"
So I ran home
and got Shel Silverstein
To make him smile again
with tales of Dirty Dan
and Where Sidewalks End
I knew he'd smile then
I put the book
into his hands
and smile yes he did
as sirens blared
and the police jumped out
from the bushes where they'd hid
they cuffed me then
and glared at me
and pushed me to the ground
the lead detective opened
up the book and groaned
and fixed me with a frown
"1974's the date
you very vicious wretch
how dare you give
a boy a book
the cancer then to catch?"
They snatched me up
took me away
but could not foil my plan
for as the cops
took me to jail
the boy laughed at Dirty Dan.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another Case of Extremes in Idiocy: CPSIA

Neil Gaiman alerted me to something via Twitter. It's not something I had heard about before and is indicative of the reason that we need to have the occasional common sense veto on our lawmakers.

When the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 was passed last year, in the wake of the lead paint panic, it seemed wise. But a poorly written law often can do far more damage than good.

Now, I only discovered this myself within the last couple hours. But as much as it sounds like an Urban Legend, it does not seem to be so.

In trying to address a legitimate problem, our government has passed a law that is nothing short of stupid. The part that first caught my attention was about children's books published pre-1985. These are now considered so hazardous as to be outlawed for sale or even being stocked in libraries? Excuse me? Look, my copy of Where The Wild Things Are is not going to give my kid lead poisoning. Apple seeds are poisonous too. In sufficient quantities.

Another affected area? Bicycles. After all, I see kids eating bicycle frames for lunch every freaking day. They might be poisoned. We must address this atrocity! If my kid gets a bicycle frame in his mouth somehow, I am more worried about the fall he just took and his teeth. Not about possible lead poisoning from the metal. (Note that they are talking about the structural frame, not the paint on the frame.)

C'mon. We can not afford to allow this kind of stupidity to go unchecked. If you don't tell stupid people they are stupid, they think they are not doing anything wrong.

More information here:
http://www.city-journal.org/2009/eon0212wo.html
http://overlawyered.com/2009/02/cpsia-what-will-be-enforced
http://designloft.blogspot.com/2009/02/cpsia-by-numbers-why-libraries-cant.html

and directly from the source:

http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09120.html

Spread the word and let's see if we can't get someone of intelligence in Washington to notice this travesty!

Edit: Adding a good link about how to handle calling your Congressional Representative.
http://www.whimsicalwalney.com/wp/?p=156

Further edit: I checked out the usually-reliable Snopes and their article is aimed at clothing resale and gives a blanket false report, not addressing the book issue. Please do not be fooled by this. The stay on the law still exempts children's books printed before 1985.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Review From The Wenches

BD Whitney over at Book Wenches reviewed the eXessica release Focus, which includes a short story/poem by yours truly. And she even liked it. Imagine that.

Dancing Wildly by Will Belegon:

After suffering the frustration of a long-distance relationship and six months of the delays that life can bring, a young man reunites with his girlfriend. Although he is initially uncertain of the reception he will receive from her, it soon becomes plain that their connection is as strong as ever.

The author of this short story has combined a poem with narrative to tell a tale of young love and joy. Although I am not a fan of poetry overall, this one is very well executed, and its use in this story is very effective in evoking an emotional reaction.


As a poet of emotion, who is less interested in being technically impressive than in eliciting a reaction, I am very pleased by the last line. Poem reviews are hard to come by. And when you do get them from someone not related to you, they are usually from other poets. I like discussing the details of word choice, etc. I do, really, I promise. But it is not why I write poetry. So I am especially happy to have this.

BD liked the entire book and gave a nice mention to my beloved for her short story Knead. BD, if I might be so bold, I think you show exceptional taste.

I'm biased, of course.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Heirs To Cronkite And Murrow

Looking back over what we learned in the campaigns and what we are learning in our present media, I have decided that I know who now holds the torch that Edward R. Murrow passed to Walter Cronkite.

And it's not Sixty Minutes, it is Jon Stewart. With Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher borrowing it on occasion.

If you had your eyes closed throughout the fall, suffering from the creepy overload of Caribou Barbie meets Senator I-Have-A-Hairball, it is time to open them again. Yes, the land of news is very disturbing because it reminds us of our diminishing 401ks. Personally, I've taken to measuring my losses in extra years I will have to work. But you aren't getting much reporting out of the major news networks anyway. Just parrot and spin.

It's the comedians that are giving us the real news. These three men, with their more partisan counterparts Keith Olberman and sometimes even Bill O'Reilly, make us laugh. Then they make us think about why it was funny. Stewart and his team at The Daily Show on Comedy Central (http://www.thedailyshow.com/) have become especially adept at using a public figures own words against him or her. Colbert is more sardonic and Maher more controversial. Olberman at his best can trump even Stewart, but his inconsistency is a factor and let's face it, he is as focused on one side of the issues as O'Reilly and Hannity. True, that side is the one I am on, but that is not my point today.

Murrow, who famously stood up to the madness of Joe McCarthy, and Cronkite, whose integrity can be measured by the once common sentiment that "if Walter says it, it is true," would see their legacy in these men, not at ABC, NBC, CBS or most especially at Fox. Honestly, can you imagine Walter Cronkite deep-frying a budget or using a racial slur on the air?

The media has a powerful position in America, and the electronic medias position becomes more powerful with every cutback at your local newspaper. There is a danger in papers like The Rocky Mountain News shutting down. It thins the conversation. Diversity of opinion and thought is one of the pillars of our liberty, something our founders knew very well. They were careful to protect the sources of diverse discussion in the Bill of Rights, and for good reason.

I'm not saying that the News Organizations lie, but I am saying that I trust Jon Stewart more than Brian Williams.

If someone asks you for your sources, you could do worse than these: http://www.thedailyshow.com/, http://www.billmaher.com/, http://www.colbertnation.com/home