Archives for the month of: November, 2014

US govt student loans

The Regents of the University of California have made a ruling to increase tuition  on their campuses another 5% per year over the next five years compounding to a total of 27%.  This passed in spite of protests by students and impassioned pleas against it, one most notably, from Governor Jerry Brown.

Governor Brown went so far as promising a 5% increase per year in funding if the current tuition freeze were to remain in effect. Apparently, this was not enough for Janet Napolitano, the UC President.

The controversies surrounding the rate hike are myriad.

“Two months ago, the UC regents gave pay hikes of up to 20% to the leaders of the Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Merced and Riverside campuses and awarded the new Irvine chancellor 24% more than his predecessor. We’re talking salaries ranging from $383,000 to $485,000, plus perks” LA Times

The article also explains:

“So UC undergraduate tuition today is more than eight times what it was 25 years ago, at $12,192. Tack on campus fees, books, room, board and other stuff and you’re up to $33,000 a year.”

California once had the best fees in the nation for State operated institutions.  According to the New York Times article, they are already above the National average.  The increase will put them even further afield from other States.

Napolitano’s promises for the money include additional courses, more financial aid and staff increases.  These may give way to another more urgent budgetary issue:

“.. UC officials say the system also needs the money to help rescue its pension fund – neglected for two decades and facing $7.2 billion in unfunded liabilities – and to cover the growing cost of retiree health benefits.” Sac Bee

A new wrinkle has also come forward, thanks to President Obama’s new Immigration Order. Napolitano has offered to fund expanded legal services  to its undocumented students. At the same time, legal citizens are being forced to up the ante for their education.

The most disconcerting fact surrounding the UC tuition rate hikes is the fact that the State of California   is predicting budget surpluses in the amount of $5.6 billion for the 2014-15 fiscal year with projections of annual increases to over $10billion by 2017-18.  It appears that a reevaluation of budget priorities are in order.

The outcome of this will be students graduating with an even greater debt than they already have .  Loans which the U.S. government   continues to make money on by the fistfuls.

If California ever expects to climb its way back up in the rankings of states, it needs to give its future a chance with a quality, affordable education for its citizens.

Modern-feminism1

There is a saying, ”Be careful what you ask for because you may get it.”

We are living in that Brave New World, where nearly everything women have fought for in the women’s movement has been attained.

Women have the right to vote and own property which were the goals of the Suffragettes  of the early 20th century. The Women’s Liberation Movement gained momentum in a pinnacle event-the 1968 protest of the Miss America Pageant. During this era women made strides by becoming a growing presence in the workforce- from 35% in 1960 to nearly 60% in 2013 .  During this time women also achieved reproductive equality, thanks to the advent of the birth control pill and easy access to abortion because of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court. Reproductive equality led to the sexual revolution.  Women, unhampered by the prospect of pregnancy, were free to have sexual encounters apart from the constraints of marriage.

The newest wave of women’s progress is called feminism.  There continue to be advances in the political realm with 20% representation in the US House and Senate.  Women currently earn 82 cents to the man’s dollar but in some careers there is virtually no inequality . Sexual freedom has reached a point that there is now a hook up culture that is prevalent among young adults with one night stands and minimal commitment the norm.

There is a different attitude in today’s feminism as compared to the manifestation of the women’s rights movement in previous eras.  The suffragettes and the libbers fought against abstract ideas and laws.  They fought to change the culture and the framework of society.  Today’s feminism is a war on men.

This is evident in the kind of personal attacks  that are levied against men.  Case in point is the ridiculous chastising Dr. Matt Taylor received over his “sexist” shirt.  Never mind that he is a brilliant scientist who just landed a probe on a comet-look at his shirt!

There is also a movement of liberal feminists  that seem to be driving the absurd regulations for sexual assault on college campuses.  These laws are so broad that it is nearly impossible for a man in a sexual encounter to be innocent of assault.  It brings to mind laws surrounding prostitution in Canada and Sweden that purport that women  are always the victim and men are always the perpetrators of an illegal act.

This mean spirited feminism is giving women’s rights such a bad rap that younger women are rejecting feminism altogether.

Women have it all thanks to the efforts of the suffragettes, the libbers and the feminists.  So why are they so angry?  Why are young millennials denouncing the progress that they now enjoy because of feminism?

As my brother recently told me, “Being a man isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

Maybe the values that women have fought for aren’t really the ones that matter. Maybe fighting for equality with men has created a war against men.  Maybe in winning these battles they have lost the war.

They have created a world where gender roles are ill-defined and relationships, as a result are less satisfying. Moreover, the sexual revolution is leading to less marriages , a disappointment to most women.

I have lived through the changes in our culture beginning as a kid of the 60’s watching bras burn on TV. As a married woman in the 80’s, I bucked the trend to have a corporate job, by having my own business so I could raise my daughter without 9-5 childcare.  Then I was a woman of the 90’s who had the financial freedom to leave a marriage. I have the freedom to have a full, rich life as a single woman now.

I am grateful for all that feminism has done for me, but I am also angry about what it has taken from me.

There seems to be a new revolution brewing among the younger generation.  Maybe the rejection of feminism will lead to a new kind of society where equality is about embracing the diversity of the sexes and we can make love not war.

88364182 justice

California voters have spoken. In passing Proposition 47 , they have made it clear that unfair laws were on the books and it is time to release some of the more than 117,000 inmates currently held in the California prison system , specifically, non-violent offenders. Estimates are that more than 10,000 inmates will be released as it is implemented.

Not everyone is celebrating. In a report by KCRA  Sacramento Channel 3, the group Crime Victims United is working to have the proposition appealed.  The founder of the organization, it should be noted, was not affected by a low level crime, but had a family member who was murdered. Sentences for murder convictions were not affected by proposition 47.

The KCRA report also highlights the fact that one of the provisions of Prop 47 is funding for rehabilitation and mental health programs, which will not go into effect for more than a year.  The current system may not be equipped to handle the influx of former prisoners in need of these services.

A media release on the Sacramento County Sherriff’s Department website  is circulating through the City of Elk Grove neighborhood watch groups.  The memo details how:

Effective immediately, the passage of Proposition 47 will have the following effects on the custody and policing practices of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

It explains that felons can have sentences reduced and certain civil rights reinstated and that certain crimes will no longer be cause for arrest, but these offenders will receive a citation with a promise to appear in court for sentencing.

The tenor of the memo is a warning to the community of fearful consequences.

It should be noted that although they will no longer be classified as a felony these offenses will still be punishable as misdemeanors .

According to the California Penal Code  :

Misdemeanors:

A misdemeanor is a crime punishable by imprisonment in a county or city jail or detention facility not to exceed one year.[7] Except where the law specifies a different punishment, a misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months and/or a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars.[8] However, many misdemeanor offenses specifically list a punishment that exceeds the punishment listed in Penal Code section 19. For example, a misdemeanor violation of Battery on a Peace Officer is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year and/or a two thousand dollar fine.[9]

Felonies:

A felony is a more serious crime that can be punished by death or imprisonment in a state prison.[10] A person convicted of a felony can also be granted probation instead of a prison sentence.[11] If a person is granted probation, the court can impose many conditions on a grant of probation, including up to one year in county jail, money fines up to the maximum allowed by state law, and restitution to the victim for actual losses.[12] In addition, the court may impose other conditions as long as the conditions are reasonably related to the defendant’s crime, or to future criminality.[13]

Reduction of sentencing is not elimination of sentencing, which is what the Sherriff’s memo implies.

The eventual increase in funding for rehabilitation and mental health service (which Prop 47 provides) give the added benefit of helping low level offenders to transition to productive members of  society, something that harsh prison sentences are not designed to do.

Could this be a sign of a return to a criminal justice system that is more focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment and restoration rather than retribution?

Maybe California has nothing to fear but fear itself.

Stonecliff Inn Damascus, ORI was in the Portland, Oregon area this past weekend for a business conference.  I knew that there were several Twilight filming locations nearby.  On a previous visit I did not allow myself enough time to see them.  This trip I flew in a day early so I could take my pilgrimage to these locales.
Initially in researching, I thought I would take a Twilight Tour, but when I saw the price, decided to do my own tour.  I found a few blogs online by Twilight fans, detailing the addresses for the various sites and after securing a rental car and with my mobile phone’s Map App in hand, my friend and I set out on our journey.
The first stops were in Portland proper. The Cullen house is in a Portland neighborhood, at the end of a narrow street full of early 19th century period homes.  The modern marvel is built into the hillside over-looking woods.  It has a winding driveway and looked as though it was in the process of being renovated.  There was, what appeared to be a construction worker, lurking around, so I couldn’t really get out of my car, but got a couple of pics through the windshield.

Cullen house

The address is 3333 NW Quimby.  In the movie the home is located out in the woods outside of Forks, Washington. Movie magic, apparently was used to give that appearance to this very urban setting.  I heard that another home was used for the Breaking Dawn films near Vancouver BC.
Next up was Madison AKA “Forks” High School where the interior school shots were filmed.
We didn’t try to go inside.

forks high school
Next we decided to find the Viewpoint Inn in Corbett Oregon. This is the venue that was used for the prom in Twilight. The drive was beautiful along the Columbia River Gorge on a sunny fall afternoon with vibrant foliage and views of the river.  What a disappointment to find that the Viewpoint Inn was a shell of a building, having suffered a terrible fire in 2010.  The new owners were reported to be renovating it, but it appeared that nothing had been done on it yet.

Twilight prom site

Since we were already in the same area, we headed for the Multnomah Falls, which were featured in the background of the baseball scene of Twilight.  The drive to the falls began with a breathtaking view of the River Gorge at Vista House at Crownpoint,  and then a beautiful drive along the lush, wooded, historic highway 30.  We stopped at another beautiful waterfall along the way.
As I drove along the highway, it reminded me of the meandering drives through the woods that Edward and Bella took in the movies.
The Multnomah Falls are magnificent with a fabulous historic stone lodge.  It was a perfect place to grab a late lunch. The clam chowder and salad with hazelnut dressing were superb!

Multnomah Falls Oregon

We took the beautiful drive back to Portland and then to our hotel in Vancouver, WA for a restful evening before a little more touring the next day.
Our conference started Saturday afternoon, so we had a little bit of time that morning to try to hit up a few more sites.  We decided on Damascus, Oregon- a short drive from Vancouver.
First stop was the Stonecliff Inn.  In the cliff that butts up against the Inn’s parking lot, amid the lush, green foliage, ferns and moss covered boulders, the scenes were filmed of Edward’s reveal of his powers as a vampire.  The movie gives you the feel that it is in a remote location- not at the edge of a parking lot!
One of the most famous lines of the movie was filmed there. ”So the lion fell in love with the lamb,” Edward says to Bella.

lion and the lamb

We decided to have breakfast at the famous Carver’s Café nearby, where the café scenes were filmed with Bella and her dad
It was a bustling, little café in small town America and I felt like I could be right in the middle of the Twilight film.  The food was great too!

twilight cafe
I didn’t see all of the locations, so I have more to see next time.  What a beautiful part of the country!  I realized the natural beauty of the area seduced me as much as the love story in the movie.  It was great to experience this intoxicating place. Be sure to check out my book http://bookstore.westbowpress.com/Products/SKU-000540655/Confessions-of-a-Christian-Twihard.aspx