February 3rd, 2005

buzzed, B&W

Books and Birthdays

So, tonight I went to a book discussion group that was discussing Rand's Fountainhead. I really like Rand - perhaps not as much as when I first read Atlas back when I was in high school, but still, her romantic ideal still appeals to me. On the other hand, the discussion group tonight was painful. There were people who just totally misread the book and didn't get any of the scenes. Like I was telling Carolyn, I felt that a lot of people came in having read the book, but not having processed it, almost wanting the discussion group to help them form their opinions. Ironically, this is one of the ideas that Rand strongly criticizes in her book, with Keating being the epitome of this idea - of the "second-handers" who can't form their opinion, but instead merely parrot ideas they hear. (This reminds me - Matt's loaned me a video since we were discussing Objectivism once at the bar, but I still haven't watched it. *sigh*)

Anyway, today was also my b-day. As I told several people who asked if I was celebrating, it's a non-event, but I do appreciate all the happy birthdays I received from folks - the text from my brother, my old roomie and his girlfriend, Dan (I'm assuming that's why you called - sorry I didn't get a chance to call you back), Justin, and all the local Helena folks. Kelly even baked me a cake!

On a related note, today is when I start my 40 days and 40 nights challenge. I did this a little over a year ago (and I don't think it made a significant difference in my life, unlike in the movie). This year I'm adding the challenge that I'm also going to abstain from alcohol. Kelly doesn't think I'll make it. When my brother was here to snowboard, we talked about this - he was thinking people should bet on it. It wasn't clear whether it should be an over/under, or a specific day. In any case, I think it should be doable, and since I think I'm going to start training for a 10k, I should have plenty to keep me busy.

And now for something completely different - I meant to babble about this 1st amendment study a few days ago, but I haven't had a chance to really look at it till now. It's a study about what high school students think of freedom of speech and the First Amendment. The actual key findings of the study are here. Seeing the actual questions and the answers they had to pick from makes it super painful. I mean, almost one out of five thinks unpopular opinions should not be expressed and 49% of students think newspapers should be censored by the government. The study goes a little bit further, trying to examine the correlations between media classes and opinions, but really, the first couple findings are the most appalling. (It doesn't really bother me that 3/4 of the students think flag burning is illegal - that decision was made in 1989, which is around when most of these kids were born and it hasn't been a hot-topic issue for quite a while.) Part of me gets this thinking that maybe our NYSD event focus on civic engagement, and building awareness among youth about civil liberties, but that may be a bit too political. (Even getting youth to take true, active planning roles in service events would excite me - too often they're just figureheads, or names who get thrown on a list as planners, but the event isn't truly their's.) Anyway, enough ranting . . . .
  • Current Music
    Carrier - The Disconnected (97X - The Future of Rock and Roll [64k])
buzzed, B&W

Whee

So, I'm just getting ready to leave work now . . . spent most of today compiling quarterly reports for my VISTAs into a composite report for the Corporation. I've been procrastinating on this, and I finally have a hard deadline that they have to be turned in by, so I sat down and did it. I've still got the summary reports to do, but I figure I'll just come in and do that tomorrow morning. Shouldn't take more than 2 hours.

On a side note, Kelly got on my case today since I didn't mention that she organized a little soiree for me last evening in addition to making me cake. It was a nice little gathering, and I did appreciate her effort (even if I didn't mention it here). I think she had plans for it to be bigger and a surprise, but that fell apart (probably since no one likes me).

And for all intents and purposes, I've now made it two days on my quest . . . 38 to go!
  • Current Music
    Lucinda Williams - Pyramid Of Tears (97X - The Future of Rock and Roll [64k])
buzzed, B&W

No Smoking Allowed

Saw this story about a company that fired four employees for refusing to take a test to see if they smoked cigarettes. Apparently the company, Weyco "is a service company specializing in Employee Benefit Plans and Benefit Management. " (This includes health benefits.) Anyway, the smoking is part of the Lifestyle Challenge Program that started in 2003, at which point they said that the company would be smoke free by 2005. Note that this smoking ban means employees will not smoke at all, even in their personal time. The company seems pretty progressive regarding health, providing employees "with a $35 monthly incentive to use a fitness facility, another $65 for meeting modest fitness goals. We created and use walking trails on our campus. "

So, is this a violation of privacy or some fundamental right? I'm leaning towards no - I don't see smoking as a fundamental right, and if a company doesn't want to pay the higher health insurance for employees that smoke, then they have the right to do so. And no one requires you to work for said company - they gave their employees more than a year to either quit smoking or find a new job, which I think is more than fair. Of course, it is a slippery slope . . . will they ban alcohol next? I still think that's okay - again, they can choose who they employ, and people can choose whether they use tobacco products or alcohol, which is why I don't see this as discrimination. Might be interesting to see if any other companies implement such policies . . .