Conference time!

Off to a conference for the next week!

Bomb or glorified firecracker? Harmful intent or 'boys will be boys'?

What causes someone to be branded a terrorist? Or a security threat? Is it harmful intent? It is having a history of exploding bombs for entertainment value? Is it carrying a bomb onto an airplane?

What if you're a white, Christian, U.S. boy with Republican parents? In that case, maybe the mayor will defend you as only having made a "glorified firecracker" and accidentally putting it in your luggage. It's harmless, because as we all know, "boys like to see things go bang".

Can you imagine anyone else doing the same thing, and while out on bail, only having to live at Mommy & Daddy's, and adhere to a 10pm curfew? How would this situation be different if the guy wasn't white? Or if he was Muslim? Imagine the field day Homeland Security and the media would have, even if no ties were found to a terrorist organization.

Federal agents arrested Charles Alfred Dreyling Jr., 24, on Wednesday at a security checkpoint after a Transportation Security Administration employee noticed something suspicious in his carryon luggage as it went through an X-ray machine about 9:30 a.m., FBI spokesman Gary Johnson said.

The device was described in an FBI affidavit as a carbon dioxide cartridge filled with gunpowder that could be detonated when connected to a power source such as the batteries Dreyling had in his electric razor and in his cell phone, which were also in his carryon bag.

Dreyling faces a federal charge of trying to get on an aircraft with an explosive device. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

He was released to the custody of his mother, Vicki Dreyling. His terms of release include living at his parents' home in north Oklahoma City and a 10 p.m. curfew.

Former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys, who is Dreyling's landlord and his longtime friend, also came to the hearing.

Humphreys said Dreyling had created a ''glorified firecracker'' and then forgotten that it was in his luggage.

Dreyling said he learned as a teenager how to build homemade explosives from Web sites like ''The Anarchist's Cook Book.'' Dreyling said he has built and detonated several explosive devices for recreational purposes, according to the affidavit.

He also told authorities that he had a bag of gunpowder, an empty carbon dioxide cartridge, and several ignitors in his Norman residence, according to the affidavit.

[Mayor Humphries said] "I have every confidence that they'll find out Charlie Dreyling is a fine young man and no terrorist. He had a little explosive device, and boys like to see things go bang. He took it down to an outing at the lake, left it in his bag, forgot it and went to the airport."

August 12, 2005 Airport Business article
(via Hullabaloo and Canadian Cynic)

CNN: Target USA

[CNN announcer]
FDR said it first: "The only thing we have to fear... IS FEAR ITSELF!!!!" Next on CNN: We'll give you four dozen things to be scared of! Stay tuned!

[cue scary music]

Jon Stewart on CNN's fearmongering.

Update: On a related note, read this first-hand account of being stuck at Heathrow airport during the security crackdown last week. (via BoingBoing)

The downside of technology

McDonalds: a responsible corporation (kinda, sorta, except when they can make money otherwise)

Looks like someone at McDonald's goofed. While Mickey D's has launched a corporate responsibility blog (ha! that's a laugh!), another department at the company has decided that toy Hummers are a good Happy Meal toy. Great plan. Get the kids turned onto gas guzzling vehicles while they're young!

According to the New York Times:

"...with gas prices hovering at $3 a gallon and threatening to go higher, sales of Hummers are declining as Americans become increasingly conscious of gas mileage. McDonald’s, however, appears not to have gotten the message. This week, the restaurant chain started putting toy Hummers in children’s Happy Meal boxes, calling it the “Hummer of a Summer” promotion."
The Hummer toys are in the 'boy' Happy Meals, while girls can choose a Polly Pocket fashion doll. Glad to see that along with promoting environmentalism, McDonald's is fighting traditional gender stereotypes.

Update: Create your own billboard at Ronald McHummer

(via green LA girl)

Sesame Street & other fond childhood memories

To coincide with Monday's 37th Sesame Street anniversary, Sesame Workshop has introduced the show's first new female Muppet in 13 years.

It's hard to believe that it's been so long since a new female character was added to the Sesame Street cast! Apparently the show's creative team has deliberately shied away from creating a new female character, because of the challenge of "finding female characters that make kids laugh, but not laugh at them as female stereotypes."

If Cookie Monster was a female character,” said Carol-Lynn Parente, executive producer of the show, “she’d be accused of being anorexic or bulimic. There are a lot of things that come attached to female characters.” For example, said Deborah Aubert, associate director of national programs and training services at Girls, Inc., a nonprofit advocacy group. “It would be hard to have a female character with Elmo’s whimsy who didn’t also seem ditzy.”
The new Muppet, Abby Cadabby, will be a fairy; a girly-girl with a strong point of view who is coping with being the new girl in town.
In the past the show has bent over backward to counteract stereotypes, with the tomboyish Zoe or the highly opinionated Elizabeth. “But political correctness hampers creativity,” Ms. Nealon said. “Abby Cadabby owns her own point of view, but she’s also comfortable with the fact that she likes wearing a dress, and as we’d tried to model strong female models, we neglected that piece of being a girl.” ...

As a newcomer eager to learn, the writers knew, she would provide the perfect opportunity for explanatory lessons. She would also provide a way to talk about female friendships (including “What does it mean to bring a girl into the group?,” Ms. Truglio said, and to show healthy models by which girls could resolve conflict).

The Lovely Mrs. Davis has compiled a huge list of posts related to Sesame Street and parents' fond recollections of their childhoods. She asked her readers the question "What television, music, movie or book from your childhood are you excited about sharing with your own children?", and received links to over 40 responses.

There are so many things from my childhood that I look forward to sharing with my future children. Children's books like Richard Scary, Dr. Seuss and Winnie The Pooh; classic children's programs like Disney movies, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and christmas specials; and so much music: Raffi, Fred Penner, Sharon Lois & Bram, and recent children's artists I've discovered (no Wiggles or Barney in my house if I can avoid it!).

Parent Hacks recently asked a similar question: "What are the books you loved as a child that you are looking forward to introducing your child to?" They got a ton of responses, including mine! I'm going to have to add to my children's book collection after reading the responses!

Building on the Sesame Street theme, my question for you today is: Which Sesame Street character was your favourite, and why? My favourite was, and still is, Grover. He's so cute and furry, if a little bit ditzy. His "near and far" skits cracked me up, as did his troubles with the waiter in the Italian restaruant. And I loved Super Grover. In fact, I had a Super Grover stuffed toy, and I remember my brother and I whipping him down the stairs over and over (not to hurt him, you understand, but because Super Grover always had trouble landing and always managed to crash into things!). Poor Grover!

Ahhh... the memories...

For more Sesame Street nostolgia, cleck out this archive of Sesame Street video clips on YouTube.

Accusations against 'Girls Gone Wild' founder

Not that anyone's surprised that Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis is an asshole, this L.A. Times article illustrates his other endearing qualities, particularly violence and anger.

Most people try to show their good traits to the press. Not so with Francis; he roughed up the female reporter covering his story.

(via Feministing)

Saving energy (and money!)

Okay, I'm rather behind in my blog reading (annd writing!), but here's a ming-boggling fact from Saskboy and Energy Star:

Gems on eMusic

Check out some of my favourite finds on eMusic (which I wrote about here).

It's so hard to narrow it down to just 1 or 2 songs each! If you like the songs I listed, check out the full albums. Click on the links and listen to a preview. If you like them, consider subscribing to eMusic! (It's cheap; $9.99 for 40 songs, and is legal and DRM-free!)

Bug season


Yes, I know, I've been ignoring my poor blog recently. It's like the spring blogging lull that everyone was talking about, but worse! I haven't felt like blogging much lately because I've been feeling under the weather, largely because of the hot weather, I think! I'd never survive in Ontario anymore. It's bad enough here in Fredericton - today it's 30 degrees, but with the humidex it feels like 40! Throw in no air conditioning, and that makes me one fitful sleeper!

And I must confess, I've been cheating... The new love of my life is Mr. Freezie. That and ice cream are the only things keeping me cool lately, because ice cubes seem to melt about 3.5 minutes after I plunk them in my water glass!

Okay, enough of bitching about the weather; I'll be praying for the heat when -40 degrees comes around in February! I'll be back when I have something substantial to report!