Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Models in the news

Tyra Banks was in the news recently over some pics of her in a bathing suit that makes her thighs look huge. Banks took the right attitude over this, and confronted it by wearing the same bathing suit on her show.

I hope more models and others in the fashion and modeling industry also take on the dangerous habits that models often go through to get VERY thin. One New York lawmaker hopes to get that process started. It's also highly ironic that our day and age has gotten so image-obsessive at a time in which "tolerance" and "open-mindedness" are constantly preached to us like a steady drumbeat.

There's something deeper going on that's interconnected with the "thin" ideal of the modeling industry and our "inclusiveness" obsession - but I need to think on this a little more first before I address this issue with any more depth. However, I will address the response that the ladies usually give when I ask them about this issue. Their response is basically "Men prefer thin women".

That's not totally correct. While men may indeed prefer a slender woman to a woman with a few pounds or more, I don't know of a single man (myself included) that prefers the "Olive Oyl" figure to a woman with healthy feminine curves. The vast majority of men I know (myself included again) prefer women with curves. While some men may like more curves than others, most want women with figures that look feminine - and not the walking skeletons that many models adapt as ideal.

For instance, in this pic of Tyra on the recent cover of People Magazine, I think she still looks totally hot. I prefer her looking like that to her looking like Olive Oyl. If Tyra ever looked like Olive, then I'd seriously worry about her health. I wish I could find the article that gave the following statement - and I apologize for not knowing it word-for-word - but it said something along the lines that women aim for this too-thin ideal not so much to impress men as it is to impress other women.

In other words, women generally are more image-conscious and aware of how they look than men generally are. This is why eating disorders are conditions that largely affects women. It's also why Tyra Banks putting on a few pounds becomes the subject of news stories. Wanting to look good is one thing, but our society's obsession with perfection when it comes to appearance often borders insanity. That needs to change.

When I have thought on this some more, I'll bring it up here again.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Abortion and the death penalty again

Since my previous post on the abortion and death penalty issues, I've gotten some questions that I thought that I'd go ahead and answer here.

Death Penalty
One person thought that I was a bit harsh on death penalty supporters (DPSs from here on). This was mainly in regard to my statement which said that if the death penalty is morally and ethically right, then it wouldn't matter how the execution was carried out. That is, it wouldn't matter if it was by lethal injection, electrocution, or beheading. I further said that if beheadings make DPSs squeamish, then perhaps their conscience is telling them something that they need to hear. I don't see what was particularly harsh about the way I said it. Sometimes the truth hurts, and maybe that's what sounded "harsh". I stand by what I said in my initial post.

One curious note that I want to bring up here is the choice of words in the headline of this article. It referred to the hanging of Saddam Hussein's half brother as a "botched execution". They chose the word "botched" because he was supposed to only hang, but his body dropped with such force that the rope decapitated the head. As in my previous post, I have to say something that may unintentionally come across as flippant, but I don't know how else to say this: Wasn't the whole point of the hanging to kill him? If so, then what was "botched" about it? He would have been just as dead had the rope not severed his head from his body. Certainly decapitation wasn't the intent, but the end result is still the same. To me, all this does is prove how barbaric the death penalty is, and this "botched execution" illustrated my point rather effectively.

In regards to whether I'd kill someone who was threatening to kill me, well - that's kinda a no-brainer, donchathink? That's called self defense. I'd do the same if that same homicidal maniac was also threatening someone I love. The circumstances here are different because of the immediacy of the act. However, if this homicidal maniac is behind bars, then his threat is neutralized so long as they keep him (or her, just to be fair) behind bars.

Another DPS's comment also made me realize that I need to add this clarifier: A life sentence should indeed mean "behind bars for life". Those who are opposed to the death penalty should also be the most vocal about "life means life". The more bleeding heart types among the anti-death penalty crowd who want to give a homicidal maniac a shortened sentence only hurt the credibility of the anti-death penalty movement.

So to you bleeding heart types: Stop being stupid and accept the concept that "life means life". If you're that opposed to the death penalty, then you need to accept this perfectly reasonable alternative to the violence of state-sanctioned death. Otherwise, you'll look like a clueless idiot that doesn't know what they're talking about.

A question was posed to me that I think needs to be answered: Is there ANY form of abortion that I would accept? There is one. This is in regards to ectopic pregnancies. From what I understand about this condition, there is NO WAY that the unborn can be carried to term, and to allow the pregnancy to continue could be fatal to the mother. In this instance, the abortion is the RESULT, and not the INTENT. BIG difference.

And a miscarriage is also morally neutral for the same reason: the abortion is the result and not the intent. I know the difference between a miscarriage and a willful act of abortion, so I don't see why I was asked this question other than for me to demonstrate to this person that I know the difference. Hopefully I have done just that.

And with that, I hope that I've taken care of just about everyone's questions about these two issues. But feel free to ask me anything else if I haven't quite covered what you want to know.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Interesting scientific stuff

This link will take you to an entry from the blog titled Opinion Dump. In it you will find some very interesting advances in the field of science. Check it out!

By the way, Opinion Dump also has a link on my sidebar if you want to read the other things the author writes about.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

SpongeBob SquarePants a hit with Japanese women

Who'd a thunk that a sponge could be a hit with the ladies? According to this article, SpongeBob SquarePants is a hit not just with the kids in Japan, but also the young women. I don't know whether this says something about the nature of Japanese culture, or of women in general - or of Japanese women in particular.

However, I wonder if the costume below would make me a babe magnet in Japan? What do you think?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Interesting online clock

Got this in an e-mail. It's an online calender/clock.

From the bottom to the top, it shows the year up to the seconds. Very interesting.

Gas prices again

Ask, and ye shall receive.

I got two responses to my gas price blog entry that I shall post here. First, one reader provided a link to a website that gives the lowest prices in your area.

Next is this reply, which explains some about the effect that independent stations have on prices:


It works this way: The little guy -the retail dealer, Gurbinder or Akbar down at the Gas-n-Go - buys his gas from the oil company 8500 gallons at a time. That's what a tanker truck holds. When wholesale prices go up, he raises his price based on replacement cost. He has to replenish his tanks at some point. It may be 3 or 4 days before his next load, so his price changes daily. If he waited until his next load to raise the price, it would jump 20¢ in one day. The public balks at that. When wholesale prices drop, he stops using replacement cost. What if he has 15,000 gallons in the ground, some of it bought when prices were 20¢ higher? His profit margin is only about a nickel a gallon. He'd be selling it for less than he paid! So he charges based on what it cost him. That is why it goes up rapidly, and down slowly.

The "awl binness" is tough. The branded dealers are locked into a purchasing agreement with the oil company. The independants can buy from whoever. If there's a glut, the oil companies unload their product on the independants. They have only so much storage, there are full tankers already heading this way, and it has to go somewhere. I recall a time a few years ago when the local independant was selling gas for less than my boss could buy it from Shell! Now it's true that name-brand gas has better additives so it costs a bit more, but I doubt if the additives add 30¢ a gallon to the price. And don't forget, Visa charges about 3% to process transactions. At 2 bucks a gallon, Akbar is paying 6¢ a gallon so you can use plastic.


Thanks to those two for their responses. If other helpful info comes my way, I'll post that as well.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Gas prices

Back when gas was over $3 a gallon, I had told others that the oil companies kept raising prices because the newspaper headlines kept saying "Gas prices to keep going up", so what could the gas companies do other than raise prices? Well, you think that the media would have learned their lesson from that whole experience, but what do they go and do?

They saw that the prices were getting higher - REALLY high, actually - so they go and foolishly run headlines that say "Gas prices reaching record high". Well again, what could the oil companies do but keep up with the headlines? Up the prices went, to record levels. This was a whole vicious circle that only benefited the pocketbooks of the oil companies, so to you media guys: Knock it off!

Lately, however, gas prices have started to come down. One Shell station near me has actually reached $1.97 a gallon. I haven't seen prices that low in quite a long while. Headlines have been saying "Prices continue to go down". See, that's what they should be doing. Upcoming headlines now need to say "Prices reaching lowest level in years" so that the oil companies will feel compelled to honor that headline.

Okay, I've had my fun. :0)

You ever notice, though, that when prices DO go down, the spokesfolks of these oil companies will explain away why prices at the pump don't go down as fast as the prices of crude oil? They'll say such things as "Well, there's a multi-step fiscal process from the refinery to the pump. There's various local, state, and federal taxes and fees and ..." other blahblahblah stuff. What they're basically saying is that these various fiscal processes from refinery to pump inhibit instant responses at the pump when the price of crude oil goes down.

I might believe all that if it weren't for the fact that, when crude goes UP, the very next day, the prices at the pump also go up. So to these pencil pushers at the oil companies, I ask - if these multi-step fiscal processes inhibit instant responses at the pump when the price of crude oil goes down, then why doesn't this also work in reverse? That is, when crude goes up, why don't these same multi-step fiscal processes inhibit instant price increases at the pump?

I'm sure they'll have an explanation for that as well, but we all know that they're pulling our legs. They get their money one way or another, because they know we need our cars. If many of the places I go to weren't so far away on foot, I'd just walk everywhere to protest the control that oil companies have on our lives. It's the price we all pay, I suppose, for the convenience that our cars provide. I'll still use my car, but I won't enjoy myself!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Time to get caught up!

Sorry that it's been a week since I posted, folks, but being sick put me behind on stuff that I needed to do. Also, Texas had some icy weather that kept me at home and put me further behind. But now I am reasonably caught up, I shall just do a mini-Weekend Wrap-up to get me up to snuff on recent goings-on in the news. I'll just hit the ground running here, so try to keep up, okay?

First, the one entry that I was close to posting last week was one that was going to be on the execution of Saddam Hussein. However, in the process of writing it, that particular entry became more of a commentary on the media, and it kinda changed the focus of it. So thus, I'm revamping it so that it's more of a column instead of a blog entry. I hope to have that done and posted this week.

Next, on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I don't think either candidate is "winnable" for the Dems. The reason is thus: Hillary has too much "baggage" while Obama doesn't have enough. Also, both will provide field days for the Limbaughs and Hannitys of the world, so I think it's best to run with someone else. I suggest Joe Lieberman. Since Lieberman is pro-choice on abortion, I likely wouldn't vote for him unless the GOP have someone even worse, but Lieberman would be harder for the Rushes and Seans to argue over, because he's such a likeable guy.

As for whom among the GOP should be selected for '08, I'm still working on that one. I think Dr. Condolezza Rice would be a good choice, although I wouldn't vote for her because she's also iffy on the abortion issue - but she'd be hard for the Dems to overly criticize because she's a successful black woman. If it does indeed come down to Rice and Lieberman, I'd probably have to vote for a 3rd party, but I would definitely be paying attention to such a ticket.

A quick note on my “Journey to Nerdville”: In the past two years, I’ve made quite a bit of progress on my journey to hi-tech Nirvana. The main acquisition has been my laptop PC with a wireless set-up. Being connected to the Internet without actually being connected to anything is just cool beyond words. I feel like I’m on Star Trek’s Enterprise or something.

The next coolest is my cellphone. I had been hesitant to get a phone because I’m hard of hearing and the phones that I’ve listened to have been hard for me to hear with. But thanks to an aunt who works for the phone company, I’ve got one to “test drive” with. It’s a basic model with nothing fancy - no camera phone or text messaging, but I don’t need that stuff anyway. I don’t know how long I have this one to “test drive”, but once I change over to a new phone, I’d like to try one with more features. Maybe something akin to the Blackberrys.

After that is my digital camera. Before my digicam, I had used film cameras all these years. But now that I’ve been using a digicam, I don’t think I’ll ever go back. It’s that cool. I especially love being able to reshoot pics and deleting them until you get it right. No film wasted!

My next cool gadget will either be a new desktop PC with a bunch of whizbang stuff, or a fancier digicam that has a lot of the features that the film SLR cameras have. Either one is roughly in the same neighborhood as far as price, and I don’t know which one I want more.

And now, some quick words on sports. Even though Dallas Cowboys’ QB Tony Romo bobbled that hold on that last game, I still think he should be the starter next year. I think, though, that it’s probably time for head coach Bill Parcells to go. It’s definitely time for Terrell Owens to go. I’d like the owner Jerry Jones to go as well. Maybe Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban can buy the team instead?

Speaking of the Mavs, they have really shifted gears after starting the season 0-4. Now they have the best record in the league. But things aren’t going to be all fine and dandy until they win a championship. I believe that the coach Avery Johnson will get them back there, especially now that he got a taste of the championship.

Okay folks – that gets me caught up somewhat. I’ll try to not go another week without posting again. Just pray that I don’t get sick like that again. I hate being sick. It reminds me that I’m not immortal, and I don’t like those kinds of reminders of my mortality. It must be a guy thing.

Have a great week, folks!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Fantasy Rec Room update

Hey, folks! I'm back, and I'm better. I'll spare you the details other than to say that I had something that disagreed with me. Anyway, this Weekend Wrap-up is going to be an update on the responses that I got for my Fantasy Rec Room, and boy, did you folks have ideas!

Attached below are some of your responses (in italics blue), followed by my reactions (in black):

* Loved additions--the blown up pix of Nolan Ryan bleeding from the cut on his lip, and The Jimster in Cow gear celebrating that first Super Bowl....

Here is one such pic of Big Tex (aka Nolan Ryan) with blood on his shirt. Here is another that I really like, when Robin Ventura rushed him on the mound, and Tex took him in a headlock and took to pounding his face. It was cool. And every game after that in which Ventura came to Arlington (Texas, that is), he was booed every at bat - even though it was years after the fact.

* Not bad, but you forgot the chest-sized humidor, the chilled-tequila tap and the 200 inch HD projector with Sunday NFL ticket. Oh, wait, that will be MY rec rom….

I may have to look at this guy's rec room so that I can get further ideas. Sounds like quite a set-up. I wonder if he ever leaves his room?

* You forgot this -

I did mention pinball machines, but I didn't have a link to a site. Much obliged. :-)

* That was good. if you didn't mention some large flat screen tvs, I would definitely add about 2 or 3. Need to have several to monitor several games at once. Of course, you need the surround sound system with a large enough subwoofer to generate "mondo bass". The universal remote that controls everything is a must as well as a couch or several recliners for viewing this stuff. For the pool tables you need the light fixtures that hang over them. Oh, and if you want to complete the media room, the big screens should have the ability to be switched to a computer with internet access to look up stats on players and teams during the game. Don't forget video game systems for the time between games. Maybe a console of each major system to suit all the possibilities out there. Finally, if you didn't mention them, you need a refrigerator and microwave for the drinks and snacks.

Whenever I start setting up my rec room, this guy is SO hired to help with the set-up!

* You forgot the Pink Floyd poster and a black light.

* If you have any room add some music equipment. Maybe a few 350w guitar amps, a couple of gibsons, and a DW Drum kit.

* Let's not forget the dice, indoor shuffleboard and perhaps indoor washers!

* Are you going to have a bar with leather covered padding on the front and a big mirror on the wall in behind it? Oh and you need a disco ball. Song suggestions: Great Balls of Fire, Chantilly Lace (I think that's what it's called), Lollipop

* Don't forget a top of the line air hockey table.

* How about a couple of one armed bandits??? (slot machines) and a pachinko machine. The decor could be enhanced with a bear skin on the wall

* Don't forget some classic video games, like "Space Invaders", "Asteroids", and "Pac Man".

All excellent ideas. The disco ball is cool especially for New Year's Eve. Other songs that I thought of are songs by Bruce Springsteen - especially Born in the USA, and songs by Billy Joel. Some Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin songs are cool, too.

* John... I think you're going to have to build a house that's just a rec room.

You know, you're right. I'll just have to make a rec hall! Maybe I can have a mezzanine floor where all the arcade machines, pinball machines, air hockey, darts, and foozball table can go.

* Let me be the first to donate to the cause... but I really could donate a few shot glasses from my collection!

You know, a shotglass collection would be pretty cool, especially since so many of us travel to so many other parts of the country and the world.

* Where is the hot tub?

Uh, I guess in the back yard, with the outdoor grill and patio.

* Bravo, John! And yes, the BBQ grill/patio is a must!

Thank you. :-D

* I'll contribute my collection of Carlos n' Charlies and Cabo Wabo swag but only if Sammy Hagar tunes are added to the mix.

It's a deal! Mr. DJ, please add "I can't drive 55" to the music mix...

*That I would like a movie screen kind of tv/dvd thing.. Leather chairs... a small kitchen for making snacks... and a library of old movies........ and old movie flyers/posters for the walls........ ahhhhhhhhhhh that's just thing for me...

* Well, considering how much I love movies, my ideal "rec room" would actually be one of those Ultimate Home Theaters with padded seats, and a big screen on one wall. Of course front and center where one such seat would ordinarily be, I'd just have a space to park my wheelchair . I'd have a DVD projector, and surround sound speakers built into the walls.

* (My question: Do those hi-def TV projectors work outside? In other words, could I have a nighttime movie party outside? Just wondering. That would be cool if it would work.) Yes the projectors work outside, but you also need one of these:

Since the "home theater" idea was mentioned by several respondents, then I definitely need to work in a means of playing movies in this rec hall of mine. An inside set-up of course, but I also like the idea of an outside nighttime set-up as well. That would remind me of the old drive-in movie theaters. Man, I haven't been to one of those in ages.

Well, as you can see, folks - there's several good ideas here, all of which makes me want to make this rec hall even more. Now if only I could win the lotto...

Thanks for dreaming with me, folks! It's been great! If I ever do get this set up, you're all invited to check it out! :-D

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I'm feeling bad, ol' gang of mine


I'm gonna be gone at least until Saturday as I recover from my illness. I shall be commenting on the topics that I said I'd be commenting on - it will just be later in the week.

In the meantime, your prayers and well wishes are greatly appreciated.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Saddam's hanging "deplorable"

I found the statements at the start of this article a bit odd. Here's what it says:

"LONDON (Reuters) - British finance minister Gordon Brown has condemned the way Saddam Hussein was hanged as "deplorable" -- in contrast to British Prime Minister Tony Blair who has yet to comment in person on the execution. "

Not to sound flippant, but - is there GOOD way to be hanged? Isn't the condemned person just as dead whether he was hanged in a deplorable way or not? It seems irrelevant to be discussing how an execution took place, given that the end result is still the same. I shall be commenting further later this week on Saddam's execution and the images of his hanging that were later posted on the Internet. There's a point from that which connects to my earlier blog entry about "legalized barbarity".

Thursday, January 04, 2007

My fantasy Rec room

One day, I hope to have the following Rec room:

First, it's going to have wood paneling. Gotta have that. It also has to be large enough to hold the following: A pool table, a table soccer game, a pinball machine, a bar, and a large screen TV. It also needs to have a dartboard - and maybe two. Of course, there will be stools and mismatched furniture as well as one of those large industrial spools to use as a table for poker or other card games. If possible, I'd also like to have a moose head and a cigar store Indian. Oh yeah, and I'll need playing cards, perhaps several decks. On the walls will be various neon signs of beer labels.

And of course, the cheesy black velvet paintings. One painting that is a must is the classic "Dogs playing poker." Another is of Elvis. Gotta have the King. There's even a site to buy them. Check this out. Other possibilities are black velvet paintings of Aztecs, Pancho Villa or other types of bandidos, and of Emmett Kelly. How's it looking so far, you think?

Something else needed are photos of Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Dean blown up to poster size. Along with them is this colored photo of Curly Howard. Added to all that is a standing cardboard cutout of Marilyn Monroe in that scene from Seven Year Itch.

The room also needs movie posters. Casablanca is a must. So is the original movie poster of the 1977 Star Wars.

Ah, and a jukebox. It doesn't have to be one that plays actual records (for those of you who were born post-records, records looked like this ), but one that can play digital music. As for the songs that need to be on it, well, here's a short list:

* Louie Louie by the Kingsmen
* Jailhouse Rock by Elvis
* Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry

Others will be added as I think of them.

Anyway, this is a start. I'm open to your suggestions as to what else can go in my fantasy Rec room. Who knows? One day, maybe I'll actually build it. :-)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Editorial statement for January 2007: End legalized barbarity

January is the month that prolifers organize protests against legalized abortion. They pick January, because it was in January that the U.S. Supreme Court had handed down its decision on Roe vs. Wade. However, some prolifers use this month to also speak out on other prolife issues; namely, the death penalty and euthanasia. I'm one such prolifer.

Legalized abortion is wrong in many ways, and I've discussed some of those ways in this blog. One question that I've never gotten a reasonable response to from pro-choicers is how abortion makes someone a more responsible adult. If that's true, then why have some women had multiple abortions? How many does it take before she has reached a certain level of responsibility where she can raise a child?

When a woman has had multiple abortions, she should then be the most responsible person around, regardless of where she goes. But aren't multiple abortions a sign that a person is actually very irresponsible? Logically, it seems much more likely that the more abortions a woman has, the less likely that she'll ever be a responsible adult. So thus, why even bring up this flawed argument that having an abortion makes someone a responsible adult?

Next is euthanasia - or, as it is referred to by its supporters, "death with dignity". The story of Terri Schiavo in 2005 blew the arguments in favor of euthanasia right out of the water. The parents of Terri Schiavo were ready, willing, and able to take over care for her. Terri's husband Michael won't had to have contributed a dime or a minute of his time to her care, but instead, the state allowed the "death with dignity" to take place, so Terri was slowly starved to death over a two week period. Somebody please explain to me on how dignified it is to be starved to death for two weeks.

What the whole story showed is that it wasn't Terri's life that was important, but what she represented to supporters of legalized euthanasia. In other words, a political agenda became more important than a woman's life. So basically then, Terri was sacrificed for the benefit of the supporters of legalized euthanasia, thus making the ending of Terri's life a de facto death penalty for being too disabled to care for herself. Terri deserved better than that.

And last, the death penalty. I saved this for last because my statments here are the longest, and I particularly want to discuss the issue of trying to make the death penalty "kinder and gentler". Think about this: Why don't we use the electric chair anymore? Or how about hanging? Or beheadings? It's because those forms of execution are too much of a spectacle. The electric chair causes painful spasming. Hanging causes death by slow asphyxiation. And beheadings are bloody and messy.

That's why most of the time nowadays, executions are done by lethal injection. Lethal injection is quiet and less of a spectacle. It's also supposed to be less painful for the person being executed. The person just lies there and slowly succumbs to the lethal dosage that has been pumped into his or her veins. No muss, no fuss, just kinder and gentler. But why should it matter how the person is being executed? The end result is still the same: a person is being killed by the state. And is lethal injection truly less painful than the other forms of execution?

No, the reason to execute someone by lethal injection is not because it's better for the person being executed, it's because this form of execution is less painful to the consciences of the supporters of the death penalty. But why spare their tortured consciences? If they're going to support the death penalty, then it shouldn't truly matter how it's done. Beheadings seem to be the least painful for the executed. The blade drops, and the head comes off. Much, much quicker than succumbing to a poison in one's veins. So if the pain of the executed is truly a problem, then bring back beheadings.

But no, beheadings are so - French Revolution. It's too public, too bloody, too much of a spectacle. Can't have that. But supporting the death penalty - no matter how it's done - is still a matter of supporting a state-sanctioned killing. If supporters find themselves bothered by the more public forms of executions, then perhaps they should question why those other forms of executions bother them. It could very well be their consciences that are telling them that it's wrong. They shouldn't have to execute their consciences to support the death penalty.

What all three of these practices have in common is that they are - plain and simply - barbaric. They are holdovers to our more violent past. Why don't we still do "eye for an eye"? Because it's barbaric. Can you imagine someone actually trying to justify cutting out someone's eye for having caused blindness to someone else? Well, why not? If we can "terminate pregnancies", "die with dignity", and "exact justice", then why not adopt "eye for an eye"? Just don't call it "eye for an eye" because that's calling it what it is. No, better to call it something else, like "equalizing reparations".

But clever, euphemistic terms do not cover what these acts ultimately are. They are barbaric, and the sooner that we realize that, the sooner that we can evolve beyond our violent and bloody past. Holding on to them only guarantees that we will eventually sink back to those less civilized ways. We want to believe that we are a better, more enlightened society, but if we were truly that way, we wouldn't be trying to hide what we're doing with clever word play. Ultimately, lying to ourselves will catch up to us.