Reading the newspaper -- 06/18/10

So I sat down at the kitchen table and unfolded this morning's Providence Journal and the first story I looked at annoyed me. So did the second. So did the third... and I began to wonder if I should delay reading the paper until after I took my blood pressure medication...

Loophole in fireworks law feared

The Rhode Island legislature, having spent months not accomplishing much of anything at all of any great value, went through its usual end-of-session whirlwind passage of bills that most of them haven't even read. (Okay, so anything beyond "Pay to the order of..." is probably beyond their level of competence anyway. In their bumbling way, they are not unlike Congress except for the size of the bribes campaign contributions they solicit.) This item told about a change in the state fireworks law. Now that they have passed the law, they are realizing that they just inadvertently changed the law so that the use by anyone other than the licensed professionals who put on commercial public holiday displays of the kinds of fireworks that started the fire that killed a hundred people in the Station nightclub a few years ago would no longer be illegal. The band manager who set off the devices in the nightclub that caused the fatal fire pleaded guilty to one hundred counts of misdemeanor manslaughter -- that is, committing a misdemeanor crime that leads to a death -- but under the new law, setting off those fireworks without a license would no longer be against the law.)

These are basically the same idiots (not exactly the same -- a few have been caught taking bribes or payoffs and have been replaced with new legislators) who in a frantic rush after the nightclub fire passed such stringent new fire laws that many small neighborhood restaurants were forced out of business because they could not afford to install new sprinkler systems that cost upwards of $80,000) and it became a misdemeanor for an elementary school teacher to tape a child's essay or drawing on the classroom wall (in buildings with concrete walls!).

They make it difficult to decide if they are more corrupt than they are incompetent or more incompetent than they are corrupt.

R.I. jobless rate declines

So the government wants us to know how wonderful everything is because 3,200 new jobs were added in Rhode Island in May. Hmmm, that is wonderful, right? Not quite. If you look at the details, most of those new jobs they are bragging about are not real jobs: that total includes 1,800 government jobs mostly temporary census jobs (most of which will disappear soon) and 700 other "jobs" that are mostly youth service organizations hiring teenagers for the summer to get them from getting into trouble. There were also 600 jobs added in construction (such as plumbers and electricians) but since the housing market is still in the dumps, most of them are probably due to repairs to damage caused by the flooding this spring and will end when the flood repairs are completed (and I wonder if some are due to the recent the state ruling that replacing old water meters with new digital meters can only be done by licensed plumbers, even though that had never been a requirement in the past -- which apparently means many towns will not be able to afford to install new meters as part of a water conservation and money saving program). At the same time, May saw the loss of 1,200 professional and business support services jobs, the loss of 200 jobs in wholesale trades, and the loss of 100 jobs in arts, entertainment, and recreation.

Toy soldier ban sets off uproar

A second-grade class in an elementary school in Coventry, Rhode Island had a day when students were assigned to create custom personalized decorations for hats. One eight year old boy decided to decorate a hat with a patriotic theme. He had an army-style camouflage hat so he added an American flag and some small plastic soldier to his hat. He was not allowed to wear his hat and his parents were called -- it wasn't "appropriate" -- because it violated the school's zero tolerance for weapons policy. (The retired commander of the Rhode Island National Guard pointed out that soldiers are armed: "That's why they call them the armed forces.")

I suppose we should be happy that the pointy-headed bureaucrats and "educator's" in the school system (who are so lacking in common sense as to be unable to distinguish between a two inch plastic figure and an actual weapon) just chose to humiliate an eight year old child rather than to expel him or to call for a police SWAT team. The chief pointy-headed bureaucrat for the system said that the school's principal was one of their "finest" -- yeah, I'm afraid that is probably true.


And so it goes... let's just say that two of the other three page one stories also annoyed the hell out of me.

The only one that didn't annoy me -- the lead story, the one with the largest type for the headline and the big full color photograph -- was
Celtics fall to Lakers. That one I didn't care about one way or the other, except to note with a chuckle that if the result had been reversed, the headline would have been in the largest font size available and the story would have filled most of the rest of the page. Note to readers outside of the U.S. -- the headline refers to the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers in the deciding game of this year's NBA basketball championship. Don't fret if you didn't recognize the meaning of that headline; most people in the U.S. are clueless about that sport currently being played in South Africa. That basketball game took up most of the first page of the sports section. The World Cup wasn't mentioned until page 7 of the sports section where there were two stories: Substitutes' goals power Mexico (a summary of Mexico vs. France, Greece vs. Nigeria, and Argentina vs. South Korea -- and no, I have no idea if any of those were important games or not) and Sao Paulo remains host city for 2014 (do they do the scheduling that far in advance or is the World Cup like the Olympic and only held every four years?). Those stories shared the page with two stories about the minor league baseball team in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. There is actually a third World Cup story, a think piece wondering if the U.S. can beat Slovenia. It shares page 9 with classified ads and the fishing report.

I mostly ignore the sports section because they habitually give running events even less coverage than they do soccer (uh, "football") when it is not World Cup time.

Jill's Road Trip Report: she has visited the Sacramento Zoo and a winery in the Napa Valley. She thought a pino grigio she had during the wine tasting was better than most wine she has tried but she still doesn't like wine very much. Tomorrow she wants take a (long) drive to see some of those huge redwoods.

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