So here is my long-awaited fourth installment in a growing list of issues and frustrating cluster-f*#ks that if eliminated or amended, would help improve the world we all live in…sure, I offer opinions and recommendations on how to best resolve and/or eradicate the issues at hand, but other than to type and edit, I seldom lift a finger in an effort to enact change. I know my strengths, and I am definitely a better complainer and instigator than I am a doer. I campaign for and champion change, but as an idea man rather than as a front-line warrior. So without further ado:
1) Recent legislation requires minors (read: girls under the age of 17) to have a prescription from a doctor in order to purchase “the morning after pill” known as Plan B at a pharmacy. Sure, I can see both sides of this debate, and am actually somewhat sympathetic to those who agree with this legislation. But the double standard with regard to other contraception sold in pharmacies – and make no mistake, Plan B is contraception; nothing more and nothing less – as well as the fact that we do not live in a perfect, “Green Acres” world has me shaking my head much in the same way I shudder at pro-life activists who cannot see any possible scenario where their philosophy wouldn’t hold water (rape, incest, extreme poverty, illness, etc).
For those of you who haven’t been following this story, the FDA approved over the counter sales of Plan B, which was then quashed by Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius last Wednesday, December 7. In fact, last Wednesday marked the first time EVER that a scientifically backed FDA decision was publically overruled by a HHS secretary. This decision by Sebelius was clearly made based upon political (and perhaps religious) beliefs, and is another in a long line of attempts at government trying to dictate how its constituents, and particularly women, should choose to live their lives and treat their bodies.
Parenthood is a decision for the parent(s), not our government; particularly when the often difficult decision is made not to have a child. Even if the government is offering the parent(s) in these cases the going rate of surrogacy inclusive of all health care costs during pregnancy and childbirth and then is willing to foot the entire bill for raising and educating the child (and beyond should prison, mental health issues and/or unemployment enter into the equation), the parent(s) should still have the ultimate decision. And the government makes no such offer, and even if it did, the true financial burden then falls on us, as taxpayers. So for crying out loud, reverse this ludicrous legislation and allow Plan B to be sold over the counter. I am not happy to give our immature, ignorant and often misguided youth such omnipotent free reign to act foolishly and without responsibility for their actions, but unfortunately, it is the better alternative in this case.
2) When ordering in a restaurant and a dish comes with a predetermined number of pieces (i.e. – 5 dumplings, or 3 chicken strips, or 4 chocolate beignets, etc.), your server should automatically ask the table whether everyone will be sharing, and if there will not be enough of a sharable dish to accommodate everyone at the table, the server should let his or her table know the situation, and offer a solution. This solution is simple: If there are four people at the table and the dumplings come 3 per order, let the table know that fact and recommend getting a fourth dumpling for 2 dollars more, or whatever makes sense. This is a simple solution and does not create that awkward moment when you are forced to splitting bite-sized pieces into smaller and unappetizing pieces in order to allow everyone at the table to taste everything. This lack of service is particularly vexing at higher end and pricier restaurants, where frankly, for the prices charged, this should be done automatically for no additional charge, but is no less frustrating at your neighborhood Chinese restaurant. People go out to eat for the food and the service – so to all of you restaurant owners and managers, please get a clue regarding service. And to all you servers out there, 20 percent gratuities are expected on your end…please earn them.
3) We all know the BCS system needs fixing. Most people would like to see some sort of playoff among the top four or eight teams. The NCAA and BCS proponents champion their current system based upon the monopoly they have and the fact that, as far as the most popular collegiate sport is concerned, they are the only game in town. But remove the “C” and it is clear that the BCS is total BS. And this year in particular, when we all get to behold a rematch of one of the most boring games in recent college football history, a 9-6 bore fest between colossal SEC stalwarts Alabama and LSU, the demand for systemic change is as strong as ever. There is only one unbeaten team (LSU), and countless one-loss teams behind them. There is no doubt LSU deserves to play for the national championship, but why should they have to play a team they already have defeated on the road again?
I am not going to explain how and why the system should be fixed. That has been done to death, and frankly, I do not want to bore you all with the thousands of words it would take to effectively debate the merits of a new system. However, my recommendation for this year to all of you fans and non fans out there is rather simple. DON’T WATCH THE GAME. Don’t go to the game in New Orleans and don’t watch it on television. I guarantee if Madison Avenue feels the pain of only getting true Crimson Tide and Tiger fans to watch their pricey ads on Tuesday night January 9, 2012 (and we all know advertisers coveted demographic are the large and sophisticated populations of backwoods Alabama and bayou country Louisiana), there will be widespread ramifications, not the least of which will be a push by the deep-pocketed sponsors of the BCS for change.
So will it be that difficult for all of you to just ignore the game this year? Spend time with your family, or on work, school or a hobby. Just don’t turn on the TV. If you must, check the score on your iPhone or laptop. But judging from the prior meeting this year in Tuscaloosa, you will not be missing much. And your ambivalence may very well be the pivotal factor to bring about much needed change.
4) Recent sex abuse scandals are dominating our headlines, and clearly change is necessary as it relates to sex crimes across the board, from education of society as a whole to finding and helping victims of such heinous acts to making it more difficult for situations like what allegedly occurred at Penn State and Syracuse Universities to transpire. But among the long and growing laundry list of things that piss me off and bewilder me beyond words about both scandals is a fact that leaves me shaking my head in disbelief.
How can a Statute of Limitations be placed on a crime as heinous as the rape and molestation of a child (or children)? I understand the need for statutes and/or periods of prescription (the equivalent term used to describe statutes of limitation in civil courts or proceedings) for non violent or horrific crimes. After all, over time, evidence can be corrupted or disappear, memories fade, crime scenes are changed, and companies dispose of records. The best time to bring a lawsuit, clearly, is while the evidence is not lost and as close as possible to the alleged illegal behavior.
But unfortunately, because the crimes in question are all committed against children, who are seldom mentally equipped to handle the stress of questioning and scrutiny under normal circumstances, a time limit to bring charges seems ridiculous. After the life-changing experience of being raped and/or violated, youths often do not have the courage to even come forward and speak to their own parents, friends or trusted loved ones about the ordeal let alone strangers in a courtroom setting.
There are no statutes of limitations for murder. There should not be for rape or child molestation/abuse either. Syracuse (and any other city, state or municipality that has a similar statute) ought to be ashamed of itself right now, and may have the lives of many children on its hands.
5) I realize it isn’t baseball season right now, but pitchers and catchers report on Sunday February 19, 2012, just 66 days from now, in case you were wondering. Anyway, I was at a game last year and a play occurred that left everyone at the stadium absolutely dumbfounded as to what happened. No replay was shown, no scoring decision was posted on any of the many digital screens throughout the stadium and no announcement was made.
I love to attend a live sporting event, particularly a baseball game on a nice day or night. But there is no excuse for the paying fans to be left on their own to decipher the occasional complex umpiring decisions and rulings on the field with no recourse. I was forced to call home to figure out what just happened at a game I was at, for a play I watched live. Read that sentence again and you will begin to crack the surface of the absurdity of this phenomenon.
Is it so much to ask that someone on the stadium staff gets the ruling from an umpiring official, either by direct communication or through an umpiring official upstairs and posts the scoring decision or on-field ruling on the giant screen for the fans? Furthermore, on weird plays, a replay or two should always be run. Finally, an announcement could be made on certain occasions where a play was unclear or bizarre, with some sort of explanation. Even if the play is so obscure and bizarre that a formal ruling can’t be posted until a few minutes later, please humor us paying fans with some sort of acknowledgement that the people who actually forked over the dough to see the game may actually care what they are watching.