Friday, December 12, 2008

Creative juices have run dry

Man, I have never had a dry spell like that. I don't know if the election burned out my creative juices or what, but in the past couple of weeks, I just couldn't get the ol' creative writing mojo going. My art pretty much came to a standstill as well. I've never had the well run dry like that. Thing is, it's not like there's anything in my life right now that's stressing me out to the point that my creativity has shut down. I just - can't seem to get my thoughts focused to write about something. It's not like there hasn't been anything to write about; I just can't seem to get the words going before X news event is replaced by another.

So what do I hope to be doing here now? I don't know. Like I said, I've never had a creative shutdown like this. I guess I'm just writing about my experience so that I might find some focus to get my creative mojo flowing again. You know how I feel right now creatively? Like a boxer in a ring who's being given the countdown, and who's trying to decide whether or not to get back up again. Thing is, why do I feel like I've been in a fight? What has brought about this boxer analogy impression? Like I said, it's not like I'm going through a divorce or custody suit or anything truly stress-inducing.

Well, the helpful thing about the boxer analogy is that it reminds me that the boxer won't win the fight if he doesn't get back up before the countdown is done. No, I will get through this. I've fought through ruts before and I'll do so again. I've just never been so public about it. Again, I don't know what I hope to accomplish by being so public about this - perhaps I'm just trying to stretch my creativity into new directions. After all, part of being an artist or writer is the willingness to take such chances. So - what happens next? I don't know, but I will find out.

I had considered taking a short break, but that would only get me out of the habit of writing, and if I get out of the habit of writing, then I'll never get out of this creative rut. No, the solution here is to keep plugging along. I'll keep you updated on my progress. Understand though, that I will get through this - this I promise you, folks. I will remain standing in the ring when the count is done. And I won't need no Rocky music to do it.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The BCS and history

From an e-mail I got earlier this week:

--------------------------------------

The BCS is so proud of their computer rankings that they have gone back and rated historical events. In a stunning turn of events they have declared Germany the winner of World War II!

The BCS criterion for this amazing pick was:
* Germany’s strength of schedule in defeating Austria , Poland , Norway , Belgium , Yugoslavia and at-the-time number 2 France.
* Losses to Russia and the United States at the end of the WWII Bowl were not enough to erase style points from their early decisive and overwhelming victories.
* Germany also fought a tough number 1 ranked Great Britain team to a draw which helped boost their poll standings even more. Britain fell to number 5 after the battle

The Final Poll ranking at the end of WWII
1. Germany
2. Italy – their defeat of the mighty Olympic country of Greece was almost enough to push them to the top
3. Japan based on victories over Manchuria, the Philippines and an early victory over the US in the Hawaii Bowl at Pearl Harbor
4. France – based on strength of schedule from WWI and holding off Germany for 6 weeks
5. Great Britain – Inability to defeat Germany during the Blitz Bowl doomed their title chances
6. Russia – strong finish but lost style points at the beginning of the War. Loss of Poland ended their title run
7. United States – decisive victory at the end could not overcome late entry and stunning defeat in the Hawaii Bowl.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was quoted as saying “this again shows the wisdom of the BCS system in awarding the victory to Germany . They certainly have a grasp of the value of running up the score on opponents – coach Hitler had the right idea and we just followed that example when we play and it has paid off for us”.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Rumors of my demise were greatly exaggerated...

...but not by much! Sorry I've been so lax in posting the past couple of week, folks. Things just piled up on me, and last week was just crazy-busy. But I wanted to post SOMETHING today so that you won't think that I was kidnapped by gypsys or abducted by aliens. I'm good.

I'll try to hit the ground running tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hey, I'm back, and I brought Leonard Pitts with me

Sorry to have been away longer than expected, folks - but I'm back, and I'm bad. Well, not really - I'm just back.

Anyway, to hit the ground running, I'd like to bring up an issue that Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. brought up about public education in D.C. and whether Barack Obama is going to send his daughters there. Pitts feels - as I do - that Obama should send his kids to a private school. He feels that way, and yet he laments that it's necessary. At the end of his column, he states:

"Too many of us, I think, have made peace with the idea that public schools don't work, have come to regard it as normal that they crank out poorly educated kids, have come to accept that certain children in certain places are ineducable. But I saw the falsity of that with my own eyes while traveling the country for ''What Works,'' saw some of the nation's best students in some of its most dire places.

The failure here, then, is not the students', but ours, a failure of will and imagination. We need to reassess the things we take for granted. We need to decide that our children deserve better.

And we need to ask a simple question: If public schools are not good enough for the president's kids, what makes us think they are good enough for ours?"


I was also surprised to see actual criticism of teachers' unions in his column. I have been critical of teachers' unions for years, and they are one of the reasons that I advocate tuition vouchers. Pitts does not state his views on the matter, but it seems to me that public schools and teachers' unions are not going to be motivated to change unless they have competition to gain and retain students.

You know what? If Obama truly intends to bring change, this would be a good start. Obama, start by changing the Dept. of Education and the teachers' unions. Get them to realize that they're part of the problem instead of part of the solution. Get them to realize that their obsession with protecting themselves and their power has damaged generations of kids. Obama, you could REALLY institute change by advocating tuition vouchers. I don't buy that argument that tuition vouchers violate the church/state separation wall, because the gov't had already had a form of a tuition voucher with the GI Bill, and our school system didn't go to hell in a handbasket, did it? In fact, it helped a lot of students. Like we could do now.

If Obama can manage to get this ball rolling, then I'll start believing that he's a miracle worker.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gas prices and blog news

Below are a couple of pictures I took while testing out my new cellphone. The Santa one is a t-shirt in a local store. The other pic is to show that gas actually went under $2 a gallon here. Wow.



Now for some blog news: Gang o' mine, I am going to take a short respite. I got real-life stuff to take care of, an' me writin' fangers is gettin' tired. I'll be back on Sunday the 17th.

In the meantime, enjoy my buddy Joel's blog. I certainly do! :-)

See you in a week!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Reporter is "excited" about Obama victory

I'm posting a link to this edtoon, rather than posting the image here, because some of you might find it offensive, and it's probably not safe for viewing at work. It's an actual editorial cartoon, and I have to wonder how many newspapers ran it. However, I have to ask:

NOW do you believe that there's a liberal bias in the media? ;-)

There's a pun I could use here, but it's so bad that I'll pass. :-p

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A quick note

For those of you who saw the start of my entry on gay marriage - er, that was supposed to be a draft. Apparently, I hit "Publish Post" instead of "Save Now", because I noticed later that I had already got a comment on it. Anyway, that blog entry is back in draft status, and I'll publish it later. However, for the commentator, your comment is still there. I'll publish it whenever I publish the blog entry that it goes to. My apologies.

Friday, November 07, 2008

TCU falls to Utah, dooming BCS chances

As I was in the process of noticing that fellow blogger Joel had posted rather lightly yesterday, I watched in horror as my local university, TCU, lost to its conference foe Utah. Thus, its hope for a shot at the BCS is dashed for another season. See, if we were USC or some other BCS school, we'd still have a shot even with two losses, but non-BCS schools have to be abso-freakin-lutely perfect just to get a look in our direction. I wanted to wax eloquently about the heartbreaking loss, and I wanted to describe the agonies of defeat and such, but despite all that, only one word comes to mind:

CRAP!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

"The Will of the People" spoke Tuesday

On Tuesday, the "Will of the People" - the sacrosanct philosophy that determines who will lead us and what path we should take on a given issue - spoke forcefully. After a long and contentious campaign, it chose Barack Obama. Lauds and accolades ensued everywhere.

But wait....

The "Will of the People" also spoke on the matter of gay marriage in three states - and in all three states, the "Will of the People" stated that they were opposed to gay marriage.

So - what the hell?

Not only that, a group that helped bring in Obama also voted in large numbers against gay marriage - namely, black folks. So what's going on here? Is this a case of "Equal rights for me, but not for thee?". Talking to people I know personally and reading the blogs of others who were in favor of gay marriage, the answer is simple: They - that is, everyone who voted against gay marriage - are bigots. They're narrow-minded, unenlightened, and short sighted bigots.

"Okay then," I ask those who are both elated over Obama's election and outraged over the failure of gay marriage to pass, "So you're saying that the same wonderful people who were so open-minded and enlightened to have voted in the first black president - "

At this point, some of those who know me and how I tend to argue will eye me suspiciously for a second before they respond, but almost always curiosity gets the better of them as to what I am about to say, so they answer anyway. I love that, by the way. Their response: "Yeahhhh....."

" - are the same narrow minded bigots that kept gay marriage from becoming the law." Uncertain of where I am going with this, I finally get to my point: "You're saying that Americans are a bunch of open-minded and enlightened bigots!"

"Now hold on there..." is the usual reaction. From that point, their arguments goes along the line of "Americans were ready for a black president, but not for gay marriage" reasoning; but I think that these conflicting election results and the gay marriage supporters' reactions to them suggests something else: They're just as bigoted as they say gay marriage opponents are.

Why do I say that? It's because of the nature of their reactions - that is, to them there is only one reason and one reason only that someone would be opposed to gay marriage, and that's because they are narrow-minded bigots. Know what I think of when I hear that?

I think of back in 2002, in the raw days just after 9/11, in which the patriotism of anyone who wasn't gung-ho on going after the terrorists was questioned. "If you don't do (stated action), then the terrorists win." was the mindset back then. See what that kind of thinking is? It's called "Either you're with me or against me", or sometimes abbreviated (as I shall now do) as "e/o".

I don't like e/o thinking. It leaves no room for shades of gray, and it's actually a means of trying to shut down any discussion of a given issue. In case you haven't figured it out already, I am diametrically opposed to attempts to shut down discussion. The reason that war supporters said "If you don't do (stated action), then the terrorists win" is because they didn't want to consider that there might actually be good reasons not to go to war. Seven years later, it looks like they should have questioned the desire to go to war a little more.

Now fast forward to today. Gay marriage supporters are now the ones engaging in e/o thinking. "Either you support gay marriage, or you're a bigot." No room for discussion. In their minds, there is NO good reason to oppose gay marriage. So my question to them is: "Really? Are you sure about that? No reasons whatsoever?"

I was about to continue, but you know what? I'm going to let this sit and stew for awhile and let my readers - especially those that support gay marriage - think about this some before I continue. Just as war supporters in 2002 should have questioned their e/o thinking before going to war, I'm going to give gay marriage supporters the opportunity to question their own e/o thinking before I continue my discussion here.

If I get any responses, I'll post them here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations to Barack Obama

The results are in, and Barack Obama is now our president-elect. My congratulations to him, and for setting an historic precedent. For me, my feelings are mixed.

On the one hand, it does my heart glad to see that our country has now been able to advance to the point that we can elect a black candidate to the highest office in the land. It is truly awesome to have been witness to this - to see the dream of millions finally fulfilled, including those who never lived to see this dream come true. The election of Barack Obama is vindication for all those who suffered during too long a stretch of time in our nation's history. Whatever our country's faults and shortcomings, we still maintain the capacity to change for the better. What was unthinkable in Dr. Martin Luther King's time is now reality. It is a time for rejoicing.

Now for the other hand. I am both saddened and deeply disturbed that President Obama's first act as president is NOT going to be pulling the troops out of Iraq, NOT going to be lowering our taxes, but to sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act, or FOCA. Basically, the FOCA would wipe away all the progress that the prolife movement has made in recent years and altering the playing field in favor of the likes of Planned Parenthood. For a candidate who had promised change and unity, this is a slap in the face of a movement that seeks to promote the rights of the unborn community. "Unborn community" is going to be my new term, by the way, for unborn Americans, as a reminder that we are not dealing with a "what" but a "who" when we make decisions involving them. Obama's promises of freedom and change, unfortunately, do not extend to the unborn community. That is why it is also a time of weeping.

It is my hope and - literally - prayer that Barack Obama will see that the unborn community deserve just as much protection as members of any other community; and even more protection, since they are unable to defend themselves. They are always, 100% of the time, dependent upon someone else to defend them.

It is my hope that President Obama will be outraged at the news that black women have abortions disproportionate to their numbers of the population as a whole, and part of that reason is that abortion clinics tend to set up shop in their neighborhoods. None other than the niece of Dr. King himself discusses this in this article. It is also my hope that President Obama will wonder why he supports an organization like Planned Parenthood that hires racists and protects statutory rapists. It doesn't take a lot of digging to find these articles. Just a few should be enough to shake President Obama to his soul, and hopefully to help him see the errors of his ways in this issue.

I've been chided before for being such a "one issue guy"; that I'm letting this one issue take away from more important issues. If this were an issue of whether it's acceptable to wear white after Labor Day, they'd be right. If this were an issue of whether young people should pull up their damn pants instead of letting them hang around their knees, they'd be right. But we're talking about a community of Americans that our laws have chosen to not recognize. Why have we gone from not recognizing the rights of women and blacks to not recognizing the rights of the unborn? Why does our country need to always have a group of people to use and exploit? Yes, I'm "one issue"- just like abolitionists of the past were "one issue".

Again, I'm happy for Obama and for his supporters, and I am overjoyed to see that our country has progressed to the point that we can elect a man that would have been unelectable mere decades ago. I'm excited to have been witness to this historic event. But my enthusiasm is going to be subdued until the day that the unborn community is allowed to share in all that our country offers. If President Obama can be the man who extends the right to life to the unborn community, then he'll enjoy my full and total support. In the meantime, I'll go back to hoping and praying - both for him, and for the unborn.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

GO VOTE. GO VOTE NOW.

Okay folks, this is it. The preliminaries are finally over, and now it's time for you to go over to the voting booth and do your civic duty. Many of our fellow Americans have fought and died for the right for you to vote, so don't let them down. We enjoy many advantages in this country that many others in other parts of the world do not, and that includes the ability to choose the leader that will be leading us for the next four years. Go choose Barack Obama. Or John McCain. Or a third party candidate, if you prefer. But choose. And don't forget to study the various state and local candidates as well as any bills or referendums, as they will impact your life and finances more immediately than the national elections will. In other words, it's all important.

Then tomorrow, join me here as I comment on the election results and give my take on what it all means.

Monday, November 03, 2008

McCain victory via Obama voter assumption?

I'm getting this in before the election: Could John McCain win via the assumptions of Obama voters that Obama had it in the bag anyway? That's the problem with the press coverage of Obama's lead in the polls in recent days; that it's giving this impression that Obama's going to win, and win big. I got this impression from discussions with others. The J-Mac supporters are as determined as ever to vote, while the Obama voters are telling them that they'd be wasting their time. I think it's a good possibility that J-Mac could pull this out via Obama voter assumption - at least a 60% chance of happening, maybe as high as 65%. We'll see tomorrow.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Election notes

We're now less than a week away from the election, but in some states, including Texas where I'm at, early voting is going on. In fact, I plan to vote tomorrow. However, don't fret, as I'll still be commenting on the election right up to Election Day.

As I observe the political landscape, signs seem to be pointing to an Obama victory. However, as I tell people who ask, signs and polls don't vote. Ultimately, they mean nothing. Obama won't win unless he's got more votes, plain and simple. Or as I tell others, if you're an Obama supporter and you don't vote for him on Tuesday, it's as good as voting for McCain. In turn, if you're a McCain supporter and you don't vote, it's as good as voting for Obama. Or if you are as I am and giving serious looks to third party candidates, then vote for them. But vote. The power of the ballot box is the only control that we have over those that are alleged to serve us, and if we don't exercise our power of the vote, then special interest groups and PACs will do it for us. Use your vote so that our public servants will know that we're still out here and still expect them to serve us, and not some high-dollar PAC.

As for my take on the candidates, I won't be voting for Obama because he is not only prochoice, he is probably the most prochoice politician in Washington. Even though he wants to "institute change", it does not extend to this issue. The change in this instance is the kind of change that is referred to in the saying, "the more things change, the more they stay the same". He consistently voted against the born-alive bill, even though it isn't about abortion, but about protecting a newborn life - that is, NOT unborn, but already born. Also, one of the first things Obama is going to do once in office is sign the "Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA). Right off the bat. I'll discuss FOCA more at another time, but for someone to claim to want to bring change, this certainly is a slap in the face to those who oppose legalized abortion. Wait, I guess it is change. He's going to change the law of the land from being prochoice to being VERY prochoice. Sorry, my bad.

As for Joe Biden, the less I say about the man, the better. I have absolutely no respect for him, and of Obama for nominating him as his running mate. Obama selecting Biden to me was an error in judgment - one among others that Obama has made in his run for office. Sarah Palin can't so much as fart without the press questioning her credentials for office, but Biden can gaffe like Curly Howard in a high society function and they just laugh it off as Joe being Joe. Sorry, but I don't want the human gaffe machine to be a "hearbeat away from the presidency". I still feel that Bill Richardson would have been a far better selection as a running mate, and Biden keeps confirming that for me.

I also have a problem with McCain. He had been seeking this office for years - and now that he gets his shot, his alleged "knack for reaching across the aisle" has shown itself to instead be a way to hide the fact that often he doesn't know what the hell he is doing. He had a huge head start getting nominated early while Obama was in a slugfest with Hillary Clinton virtually all of the primary season, and yet it looks like he did absolutely nothing in that "bye week" time to help himself for right now. Also, his idea of strategy seems to be "go with whatever pops in my head first". That was demonstrated by his idea of suspending his campaign and asking to delay the first debate so that he could go to Washington and help with the financial crisis that had brewed at that time. Did he seriously believe that the Democrats were going to play along with his "coming to rescue" idea when they have their own candidate running for office? I dread to see what he'd do as president with such "strategy thinking".

And I also think that McCain mishandled the charge that his running mate, Sarah Palin, brought to the ticket. Yes, she's been made to look like some sort of backwoods idiot in the press, but I don't think she's as dumb as she's been made out to be. An idiot couldn't have gone from being a member of the PTA to being in the governor's seat to being a vice presidential candidate; especially at her young age. Of all the four candidates running for office, she's the one that intrigues me, and I'm not alone. If she isn't elected vice president, I think she'll be back. Thing is, wherever she goes, she draws a crowd. An example of this is her appearance on Saturday Night Live. The ratings for that episode were the highest in 14 years. What this shows is that, whether they tuned in to watch Palin or to watch her fall flat on her face, they tuned in.

Something about the woman draws ire and scorn like a magnet. Not just a lack of fondness, but an outright aggressive attack, largely by a group of people who claim to be tolerant and open-minded - especially for historically oppressed groups, like women. One of the alleged weaknesses of Bill Richardson is that he isn't smooth. And Joe Biden is? I wonder how Bill would have done against Palin in the veep debate, and I wonder how Bill would have done given the chance. Surely he wouldn't have gaffed his ass off like Biden has so far. Not picking him was an opportunity lost to have had two historical vice presidential candidates.

Some articles I've read have said that if McCain loses, then it will be because of Palin. I say the same thing about Obama should he lose, that it was because of his running mate.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why I oppose legalized abortion

In conversations with people in real life and online (including very recently with a co-worker), almost always they assume I'm a left-winger until they hear that I'm opposed to legalized abortion. Then they think I'm a right-winger. Funny how that almost always happens. Why do they assume that? I oppose the war; I oppose the death penalty; I think the rich get too many tax breaks - but that's not enough to validate my left wing credentials.

"Real liberals support a woman's right to choose", is the usual response. And also almost always (including that same co-worker), they bring up why I let ONE issue determine how I'll vote for a candidate. My usual response is, "Well, if that ONE issue isn't that important to the Democrats, then they should drop it from their party platform, as there's a lot of left-wingers like me who'd go back to the party in a heartbeat if they ever did."

Well, it turns out that this ONE issue is important to them as well - so I don't know why that argument keeps being brought up. It's supposed to shame me for limiting myself to one issue, and yet it's damned easy to show how the shamers are just as bad. But I'm not the only prolife left-winger - in fact, there's a bunch of us. In another blog entry, I'll provide a whole list of sites of such folks, including atheists, anarchists, gays, feminists, vegetarians, and even pagans (this list does not pretend to be comprehensive. Folks, in other words, that aren't likely to wander the convention floor of the GOP.

For this blog entry, though, let me relate why I'm prolife. Part of it is because of my Catholic faith. I believe all of us are created by God, and that we all have a reason for having been created. Because God created us, that makes us all unique and special. Granted, not all of us reach the potential that we have - in fact, the greater majority of us will not - but we all have the right to find out for ourselves. But we must exist before we can achieve that potential.

What would those of you who are prochoice say about a single parent teenage high school dropout living in poverty giving birth to her son? Dooming him to a life of despondency and crime? No hope for him because she didn't even finish high school, much less go on to college? Some of you are probably thinking that this is a set-up; that I'm that son, but I'm not. He's my older brother. I'm the SECOND son born to that same teenager. NOW what do you think of that teenager? Greatly irresponsible and thoughtless?

My mother fully admitted that she made mistakes, but she made every effort to provide for me and my brother. She sent us to a Catholic school because she wanted us to have a religious education, even though it taxed her meager budget. She'll also be the first to tell you that she had LOTS of help. And during my childhood, I never felt poor, even though technically I was. I never felt unloved. I never felt like I didn't deserve to be here. So what happened to those two boys?

My brother graduated from a Catholic high school with a 4.4 GPA in his final semester, which got him a 4 year scholarship to college. He went on to college to graduate with a marketing degree, and he's now happily married to a wonderful woman, and they have 3 beautiful children. He's also an executive in an auto parts company, and doing very well. I also went on to college, and even went on to get my Master's. Not bad for two boys born to a teenage single parent mother living in poverty. And when she holds her grandchildren in her arms, she forgets all the pain and suffering she went through to raise my brother and me. You won't find a prouder grandmother.

I oppose legalized abortion, because it denies stories like mine. Legalized abortion means giving in to fear and hopelessness. It means denying life to someone whose story deserves to be played out. Legalized abortion would have also denied a woman two sons and three grandchildren. What would have her life been like, I wonder, if she gave into her fear all those years ago? The abortion issue may indeed be "one issue", but it's a damned important one, because I'm fighting for the right of the existence of people like me and my brother. We deserve to be here, and I dare anyone to try to tell me otherwise.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Candidate masks for Halloween

I said before that I'm going to make this week Halloween week. Well, why not combine both the election and Halloween? Below are masks from Amazon.com. I didn't see a Joe Biden mask, however. Maybe they couldn't get the hair plugs down right. ;-)




How Obama can still lose the election

Over the weekend I was asked how - given the lead that Barack Obama has in the polls - he could lose the election. Understand that this person was an Obama supporter, and he feels that it's in the bag. To him, it's inconceivable that he could lose unless the Supreme Court pulls a "2000" (as in, the election of) on him. Not expecting an answer, he asked me. He should have known better than to ask even rhetorical questions to me. ;-)

I said, "Yes, Obama can still lose the election, and not by any judges. Obama's supporters could get so confident of victory that they don't bother to vote. They read the newspaper headlines and see that he has a large lead and then assume that they don't need to do anything. On the other side, John McCain's supporters are reading the writing on the wall, so that could provide motivation to go out and vote. Of course, some J-Mac supporters could feel that it's a lost cause and not vote, but I think more of them would vote than not vote."

"So the question is, can Obama rely on his supporters to go do their civic duty? I think the answer to that would be how many of the young people - one of his biggest supporters - can overcome their traditional notorious unreliability in regards to voting and come through this time. They show up, he wins. They go back to their SMO, and McCain wins."

Really, the lesson here is the importance of voting. As it's been said before, polls don't vote, people do. The best thing you can do for your candidate is to be at that voting booth. Unlike some other parts of the world, our lives and limbs aren't threatened by going to vote, so there's no reason to not go. As I've told others, if you don't vote, then you can't complain about the leadership if you don't like it.

Here's my PSA to you, folks: Vote because you can.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

TCU moves up to #12!

The Mighty TCU Horned Frogs move up to #12! YESSS!

Now if we can finish the season unbeaten, we just might have a shot at this rigged election that is the BCS!

New words

Below are some of the word verification letter groupings that have appeared whenever I’ve wanted to post comments on someone’s blog. I’ve always thought that some of them should be actual words, so with this blog entry, I’m making them actual words. Feel free to use them in your everyday conversations. More to come later.

Buncy (adj.): A term referring to a person – usu. female – with a very pleasant and outgoing personality. “Her outlook on life is so buncy that she's lots of fun to be around.”

Gecons (pl. noun of “gecon”): A term that is the combination of “geo-” and “conservative” and which refers to an environmentally conscious political conservative. “Jerry Griswald may be a right wing nutjob, but at least he’s among the gecons.”

Ovelacte (verb): To make a dish combining milk and eggs. “I didn’t have enough of either milk or eggs to make a meal, so I ovelacted them.”

Spadro (noun): A term referring to a very overweight man wearing a pair of Spandex shorts that are several sizes too small, or a large man with equally bad taste in fashion. “Fred used to be studly, but now he’s ballooned into a total Spadro.”

Sprex (verb): A term that is a combination of the words “sprint” and “sex”, and refers to a sexual act that is completed in a very short span of time. “He sprexed me so quickly that I wasn’t sure that we did it.”

(by the way, in case you're wondering, I checked with dictionary.com to make sure that the above words weren't already actual words.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween

I think in the coming week, I'll try to have a Halloween theme. Today I want to ask all of you this question:

If money were no object, what costume would you wear?

For me, I'd like the classic Lon Chaney Wolfman. I always thought that it was cool.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Conceding a point to a fellow blogger

Okay folks, listen up. In the 500+ posts that I've had on this blog, I don't think I've ever publicly conceded a point that was made in a previous blog entry.

However, fellow blogger Joel has, in comments to my previous blog entry and in an entry in his own blog, provided enough argumentation and persuasion on the Sarah Palin $150k wardrobe issue that I must concede a point that I had previously made. I had said before that it was a non-issue. Now I must say that the wardrobe issue is indeed a valid election issue, especially considering how that $150k could have been spent helping with GOP state campaign efforts instead of helping to deck out Palin to make sure she stayed looking hot.

Joel had further argued that the GOP's spending habits in this instance can be seen as an indicator of how they'll spend OUR money should they get elected. I stated in the comments section of his blog entry that the Obama camp should use this argument in their campaign ads. Having said all this, let me finish by saying:

Okay dude, you won this one. :-)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sarah Palin's wardrobe issue

I've been asked to comment on the recent news story about Sarah Palin's wardrobe and that the GOP spent $150,000 on her. Well, it's a non-issue with me, because it was the GOP that spent that money, and not the taxpayer. It's their money, and if they want to spend it dressing up their "Caribou Barbie" to look more professional, then fine. Just don't stick us with the bill later.

Yes, Palin's trying to sell an image of being a "Josephine Six-Pack", and the $150,000 sum is not an amount that the average American worker would spend on their wardrobe. But c'mon - she's on the national stage of a very public campaign. She can't exactly go around in jeans, sneakers, and a t-shirt! And even though I don't have a wife, even I know that women spend more time and money on their appearance. Us dudes want women to look attractive, so we have to understand that women have to work at it to look the way they do.

It seems to me that if we're going to look at how much one candidate spends on their wardrobe, then let's go ahead and see how much they ALL spend on their wardrobe. After all, wouldn't it be sexist just to look at how much was spent on the lone female candidate? To be fair, let's go ahead and see how much was spent on the wardrobes of the other three male candidates, and let's also factor in that they (at least to the best of our knowledge!) don't wear make-up or have their nails done and other such things that women do for their appearance.

Nope, so long as it's the GOP spending their dough on her, then it's a non-issue with me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Killing two stones with one bird

As I read today's newspaper about the possibility of having another "economic stimulus package", and idea came to me. "Bailout bill".

"Economic stimulus package"

"Bailout bill"

"Economic stimulus package" = "bailout bill".

See what I'm saying?

We just passed an unpopular bailout bill, right? And our leaders want to pass an economic stimulus package, right? So how to make the bailout bill more appealing? Rather than give the bailout money to nutso bankers and financial institutions who made stupid decisions, why not turn that $700 billion into the economic stimulus package?

It's our money to begin with, so it seems only right to just give us the bailout money. The way I see it, it's a win-win situation. The pols look good giving money back to the people, and we the people can walk away for once not feeling like we've been ripped off.

Anyway, I hope one of the presidential candidates gives it some serious thought. I think the idea's brilliant.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sarah Palin on SNL, in case you missed it

Okay, admit it - "Caribou Barbie" did pretty well. And Alec Baldwin did pretty well acting with her. Anyway, enjoy.



Friday, October 17, 2008

Final debate report card

Sorry I didn't do this yesterday, folks, but I spent most of the day getting ready to watch the TCU Horned Frogs whip the asses of BYU! YEAAAAH!!!!!

Ahem. Sorry.

Anyway, on to my report of Wednesday's final debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. As I said yesterday, I stated that Joe the Plumber won. Why do I say that? Because both Obama and McCain brought him up several times. "Joe, I'm your friend and here's why..." "No, Joe - I'M your friend and here's why..." "Here's my plan to cut your taxes, Joe..." "Here's how my tax plan is better, Joe..." And so on. Joe the Plumber basically served as a face for Gov. Sarah Palin's usual reference to "Joe Six Pack" - in other words, blue collar American workers.

Before the debate, I had said that Obama needed to close the deal in the way that he didn't do for the Democratic primaries. He didn't have to bring his "A" game, he just needed to provide himself a boost so that his lead in the polls can increase. However, he was thrown off his game plan by McCain's introduction of Joe the Plumber. In a way, Joe was bait for Obama to respond to, and he bit like a deep sea fish. What set this up, though, was the tape of Obama talking to Joe and his unfortunate use of the term "spread the wealth", which for conservatives is code for "tax your ass off". I say 'unfortunate', because Obama happened to use a common phrase from the liberal lexicon that conservatives flock to like vultures on a carcass whenever it was used.

While Obama does not have the experience that McCain has in being a candidate for office, he at least has been at it long enough to know what phrases to avoid while on the campaign trail. This is especially in light of the fact that the GOP is so desperate to latch Bill Ayers (aka the so-called "unrepentant terrorist"), Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and other radical left wing folks onto Obama through guilt by association. If not Obama himself, then someone in his campaign staff should have instructed him on certain words and phrases to avoid on the campaign trail; especially when he went from the primaries to the general election. In essence, what sells to Democrats ain't necessarily what will sell to the rest of the general population.

Anyway, I felt that Obama was thrown off his game plan by the introduction of Joe the Plumber, and he ended up in that "explaining away" method of his that makes him sound like your run-of-the-mill politician. Other examples of this are his "above my pay grade" and "bitter Americans clinging to their guns and religions" comments that put him in a less than favorable light that he didn't need to put himself into. He didn't close the deal - it just didn't happen.

In the meantime, John McCain at times was aggressive, pouty, surly, and even downright Cheneyesque - and that's when he was being nice! Some are going to interpret J-Mac's surliness as "finally standing up to Obama", but I felt that he just came across as a grumpy old man. There was no real focus to his attacks, which basically sounded like he was rattling off the current list of GOP talking points. In other words, J-Mac does not make a good "bad cop" - he probably should leave the bad cop role to Palin, who can at least deliver her lines with a better sense of timing. The only reason that I'm awarding McCain the debate this time around was because he introduced Joe the Plumber into the debate, throwing Obama off his rhythm, and also because Obama didn't close the deal. McCain did only marginally more than Obama in accomplishing the goals that I had set out for them - and even in this McCain fell short.

What you can say, then, is that McCain may have won this battle (this final debate, that is), but there's still the war to go. McCain, ultimately, didn't do enough to give him any significant bounce in the polls, and with no more debates in the horizon, that was his last chance in a face-to-face with Obama. Now he needs to figure out how to reach the voters in other ways, and Palin now needs to really boost her learning curve if she is going to be any help for the rest of the campaign. If there were more time, she might be able to learn what she needs to do, but three weeks might not be enough. Time will tell.

Now Obama will need to do what he does best - speak to the crowds. He also needs to avoid any more left-wing blurbs that the GOP and conservative talk-show hosts can latch onto. He can do that easily if he wants to - he only went to freakin' Harvard, after all! Obama is currently like the playoff team that is in a bye week, while McCain is like the team that has to play during a bye week. The only way that this election can get interesting is if Obama lets it.

My final debate results: (out of 3 presidential debates and one vice presidential debate)

Obama: 1.75
Palin: 1
McCain: 1.25

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Debate winner: Joe the Plumber. Details to follow later

I'm still working on my official report of the debate, but I'm posting my view now of who won to answer people who've already asked me; and that answer is: Joe the Plumber.

Details to follow later today.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Last Debate Strategeries

Tomorrow's the last debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. Here's what I think each needs to do to win.

Barack Obama
Three words: CLOSE. THE. DEAL. During the Democratic primaries, he needed to do exactly that: close the deal. Instead, the primaries dragged on and on practically right up to the convention date. He doesn't need a repeat of that for the general election. Right now he's gotten a bump in the polls and tomorrow's debate can help insure that those polls' margins keep increasing. Obama needs to do something that is unlike what he's done before: Be more direct in responding to questions instead of "explaining away" as he usually does. Somehow he needs to channel his oratory skills that he uses so effectively in speeches to supporters and translate them into a format that he can use in debates. It's one thing to "preach to the choir", but another thing to use those persuasive skills in a debate. If Obama can master that, then he has a lock on this debate, and perhaps the election. Anything short of that will leave a crack for John McCain to possibly exploit. Merely eking out a win against J-Mac isn't going to do it unless J-Mac stumbles spectacularly; now is the time for Obama to show his leadership potential and bring his "A" game.

John McCain
Three words for McCain: Do or Die. Due to her lack of experience in campaigning on the national stage, Sarah Palin is not skilled enough yet to help save the campaign on her own. In order for her to work the magic that she had at the convention, she needs J-Mac to demonstrate why he's the top of the ticket. Whatever magic J-Mac has left, whatever mojo he's got in his tank, whatever skills and tactics that he has remaining in his campaign playbook, he needs to bring them all out, and do it now. In the debate, J-Mac's experience over Obama needs to show itself now more than ever. Just repeating the results from the previous debate is not going to do it this time; anything less than his "A" game will help further the slide he's already got in the polls. As it is, if both bring their "A" games, then such a tie will go to Obama. No, J-Mac has to be at his stellar best for the debate, and exploit any opportunities that present themselves. If he accomplishes that, then it will give his campaign a much needed boost, and from that point Palin may be able to feed off of that and restore her own luster.

Bob Schieffer
Needs to be a better moderator than Tom Brokaw!

Get the popcorn folks. Hopefully it will be a debate for the ages.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Possibly the most controversial topic that I've discussed on my blog!

Okay, folks - I've discussed a few controversial topics during my time blogging, so I feel that you all are ready to touch upon a particularly thorny topic.

See, it's bigger than the current financial crisis. It's bigger than pondering the possibility of whether we're going to elect a bona fide socialist into the Oval Office or a genuine redneck moose hunter as a vice president. It's more controversial than the gay marriage issue and whether the states should allow it. It's bigger than my Madonna-Induced Career Implosion Theory (MICIT, formerly the Madonna Implosion Theory, or MIT)! Heck, it's even bigger than whether college football should stick with the BSC system or go with a playoff system! What is that thory topic, you ask? It's this:

What sorts of songs should I have on my Halloween playlist for my MP3 player?

Monster Mash for sure, and Ghostbusters. Gotta also have Thriller, and Werewolves of London. However, I don't like Love Potion #9, even though it's often on most Halloween playlists. Anyway, those are some of the classics for Halloween. My question is, what other songs could go on such a list?

I have Nightmare on My Street by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince on mine. Also, Midnight Rider by the Allman Brothers Band, Hotel California by The Eagles, and People are Strange by The Doors. From Santana there is Evil Ways and Black Magic Woman. The rest of my Halloween lineup shapes up this way:

* The Purple People Eater
* Lil' Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham
* Somebody's Watching Me
* Theme from the Addams' Family
* Theme from the Twilight Zone
* Theme from Jaws

So with that, I ask you all: What else could go on this list?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Madonna again

I was going to wait until Saturday to post again, but I just had to mention a news story that appeared about Madonna.

I had mentioned previously about my Madonna Implosion Theory, or MIT for short. The MIT is thus: The more that a given person's career was on the rise before meeting Madonna, the greater the likelihood and the bigger the implosion will be after meeting Madonna. Here's a short list of those whose careers sank, imploded, or who just plain went insane after meeting Madonna:

* Sean Penn
* Dennis Rodman
* Sandra Bernhard
* Warren Beatty
* Rosie O'Donnell
* Alex Rodriguez
* Amy Winehouse - who to my knowledge hasn't actually met Madonna, but since Madonna moved to England, Amy went nuts. The timing of this can't be a coincidence.
* and the most dramatic example, Britney Spears. Brit was on the rise before The Kiss. After that, she went insane.

Now we come to a news article that just appeared today. In this article, Madonna says that GOP candidate Gov. Sarah Palin is not welcome at her concerts. In light of the MIT and those whose careers were destroyed in its wake, Palin must be thinking, "THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!"

So Obama, listen up! If you want to win this election, DON'T MEET MADONNA!

Okay, folks - back to my short vacation. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Debate take: It's a tie!

Sorry, folks, I couldn't come away with a winner this time. Both John McCain and Barack Obama did a better job of jabbing their opponent, which I was glad to see. That's more along the lines of what a debate should be - although poor Tom Brokaw couldn't get them reined in half the time - including the end where they blocked his view of the teleprompter!

The thing is, while they were doing a better job of actually debating - being more outspoken and such - they weren't focusing their arguments. They were like two Old West gunfighters just shooting wildly, aiming only in the general direction of their opponent without actually hitting them. Thus, neither of them met the goals that I had set out yesterday. McCain didn't do enough to rise above Obama, nor did Obama deliver the finishing stroke to put McCain away.

I know that each candidate's supporters are going to say that their candidate won - and each candidate did say and do stuff that made them look good - but just having the guts to draw your gun and shoot doesn't mean that you hit your target. I guess they'll get credit for firing their guns like Palin got credit for showing up at her debate and not losing her lunch. So as much as I wanted to always name a winner, I can't this time around.

I blame the lack of skill of debating on the current environment that seeks to sue over every little jot and tittle that doesn't meet some vague and ever shifting standard of non-offensiveness. Some call it political correctness, but it's more than just the PC crowd that does this. So as a result of this hypersensitivity, skills such as debating have become a lost art and replaced with the wild west shootout that we saw last night.

So the scoreboard so far:

Obama 1.5
Palin 1
McCain .5

There's only one more debate left. Let's hope that they make it a good one.

And I'll be off a couple of days and post again on Saturday. See you then.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

UPDATE:
This news article pretty much says what I said above, except that they give Obama the nod for the win. Well, they're wrong. ;-)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Prez debates round 2: Who needs to do what

Tonight's the debate, and as usual, yours truly will give his take on how the debators did either tomorrow or the next day. Guaranteed to be fair and bias (to borrow a line from Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports columnist, Randy Galloway).

Here's what I think each candidate needs to do:

Barack Obama
Just like in the Democratic primary, Obama seems to have trouble putting away an opponent. Tonight that's what he needs to do. In the most recent, post-veep debate polls, McCain has had a slight uptick. Tonight's the night to nip that sucker in the bud before it becomes a bigger uptick. Obama needs to do what he didn't do in the primaries - namely, finish what he started. The last thing he needs to do is let the campaign linger on and on and on when a good finishing move could take care of it. If he wants to demonstrate his leadership skills, now's the time to do it. Oh, and stop agreeing with John so much.

John McCain
McCain needs to take what little uptick Palin gave him and run with it. Now's the time to shore up what had been missing in recent weeks and create the kind of momentum that could carry him all the way to the Oval Office. Even though it seems to still be a toss-up, I still think that it's Obama's game to lose. Whatever "game-changer" mojo McCain got out of Palin seems to be expired, and he needs to re-energize his campaign. Allegedly, town hall formats such as tonight's debate are supposed to be McCain's strength - so tonight's the night to show why. The economy was also supposed to be his edge against Obama, but that didn't quite work out as planned in the first debate. If J-Mac goes 0-2 in the debates, then it's a good chance that it'll be 0-3 later.

That's my pre-game analysis. Tonight we'll see how right I am.

Monday, October 06, 2008

SNL skit of the VP debates

By the way, for those of you who might have missed it, here's the SNL skit of the VP debate:



As you can see, nobody was spared! I wonder what they'll do with tomorrow's second debate of Obama and McCain?

Wall Street falls down anyway

Okay, this is going to be the first time I use this acronym on my blog: WTF? Last week when the House didn't pass the now well-known bailout - excuse me, rescue - bill, Wall Street responded with a down day. By 700 points, if I recall correctly. Well, last Friday the bailout - Dang it! Rescue! - bill passed. So how did Wall Street respond this time? Down even more!

I can only ask: WTF?

Isn't that what they wanted? Isn't the bill of goods we were sold was that this rescue - got it this time! -bill was supposed to fix things, not make things worse? So now I have to ask: Does anyone in D.C. know what the hell they are doing? See folks, this is why we have elections. You registered? Better find out fast!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Lipstick and pigs again

It seems that someone agrees with me, and it's a fellow edtooner!

My take on the veep debates: Palin escapes with a win

I had discussions all day long yesterday with folks both in person and online about whom I felt won the debate, and I thought long and hard to figure out what to say. It finally hit me: Palin didn't so much win as she escaped with a win. Here's why I say that:

Joe Biden had mucho more experience in this sort of thing. It should have been in the bag for him. Not only that, Palin was damaged goods after having weak showings in her two interviews. On top of that, the debate was being moderated by a seasoned professional in Gwen Ifill. And yet, a comedy of errors led to Palin getting away with one.

I was told that Biden held back because Palin's a woman, and he didn't want to be viewed as sexist. I say: Pfft! How long did he know that Palin was going to be his debating opponent? And in all that time, he couldn't round up the local coven - er, I mean, a group of feminists to help coach him in debating female opponents without appearing sexist? How many feminists are in the Democratic Party anyway? (it could be that the Dem fems are still mad about the turnout of the primaries...)

Next, Biden had concentrated his attacks on McCain as a way to avoid criticizing Palin. Others told me that McCain is the top of the GOP ticket and that it was legitimate to criticize him. Yes, I agree with that - but, if the Dems wanted to show that Palin is too inexperienced for the veep job, then this was the time to do it. Here the Dems had an opportunity to take a wounded Palin down in probably the most public way that they're going to get before the election, and they let that opportunity slip away.

Not only that, this was a debate between vice presidential candidates! Their job in this debate is to show why they would be the better man (or woman) for the job. Part of doing that is to demonstrate why your opponent is NOT qualified. The closest Biden got was his "bridge to nowhere" comment, which actually got a brief rise out of the crowd that was supposed to be silent. But he didn't follow it up - instead continuing his attacks on McCain. Biden really needed a "You're no Jack Kennedy" Lloyd Bentson moment, and it didn't come. I blame Biden's failure to capitalize on finishing off the damaged goods that was Sarah Palin on poor coaching and preparation by the Democratic leadership. Look, do they want to win this election or not?

Next, in regards to Gwen Ifill, I felt that she handled herself professionally, and even said so here on my blog. However, others told me that she pulled her punches and didn't follow up on some of Palin's responses or chide her for going off track of the topic that was being discussed at the time. Others still said that this book controversy thing got into her head. I still feel that she is professional enough to deal with that, but I seem to be in the minority on that view. Why don't they think she could handle it? No one I asked who criticized Ifill's performance have been able to tell me that one.

As for Palin herself, her performance was well enough to save her a total meltdown. There were some of the flashes that got her in the national stage in the first place - even if she did use the word "maverick" half a gajillion times. Some critics chided her folksy twang, but maybe that's the way she talks - because 5 weeks into a national election is not enough time to lose one's twang. She went off track a few times, and didn't answer the question at other times. The shorter time for response benefitted her, but I think it did the same for Biden who has a tendency toward wordiness.

I'd rate her performance about a C+ at best, and she got away with a win mostly on the charity of her opponent rather than her own efforts. By the way, I give Biden a B-, but no more, because he didn't accomplish what he should have accomplished, and that was to stare Palin down. That Palin escaped being taken down completely is enough for me to award her the win.

Score for the debates so far:

Obama: 1
Palin: 1

Two debates to go. As usual, I'll be giving my take on how they did. Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Last minute advice for the debators tonight

If the veep candidates bent an ear in my direction asking for last-minute advice, here's what I'd tell them:

Joe Biden
Look Joe, your worst enemy is not the GOP, but your own mouth. Not that you cuss, but that you don't know when to stop talking. The longer you go on talking, the more likely you are to gaffe. While one might say that you making a gaffe tonight is virtually inevitable, what you at least want to do is to not make a MAJOR gaffe. So keep your responses short and sweet, and that should decrease the odds of gaffe-making. You got years of experience on your debating opponent, so work that in your favor.

Sarah Palin
Sarah, something about you got you from the PTA to the vice presidency, so tonight's the night for the U.S. to see what that is. You need to recapture whatever you had that night at the GOP convention and bring it out again. No pressure, but McCain's success or failure in this election largely rests on how quickly you adjust to the big stage. In addition, your opponent has a tendency to gaffe , so if he makes a particularly juicy gaffe, work that in your favor so as to draw attention to him and away from your own shortcomings.

For both
Forget that Palin is a woman, and debate as equals. Palin needs to be treated the same as if it had been Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney that had been nominated. She will need to sink or swim on the basis of her own debate skills. The more even-handed this debate is done, the better.

Gwen Ifill's book with Obama in it
Hngh. This news item is an annoyance that shouldn't have happened. Even if Ifill isn't "in the tank" for Obama, she should have revealed the fact that she's writing a book on Obama on her own - and much, much sooner, instead of letting conservative talk show hosts and websites come across that fact. She's an intelligent woman as well as a professional, and she above all should have known that this was going to come up, especially in this contentious election season. Had she made this fact known sooner, it could have been dealt with already.

Now the GOP will have a ready-made excuse should Palin not perform well. Not only that, now that this has come out, Ifill might have to "pull her punches" so as to keep from looking like she is favoring Biden. I can't believe that someone in the Dem side didn't think that this would at least give the appearance of a conflict of interest! This was poorly handled, and it will become an element of tonight's debate that shouldn't have been there.

In any case, however, I still will be watching. And of course, I'll give my take on how the candidates did.

UPDATE: According to this article, Ifill didn't inform the Commission on Presidential Debates about her authoring this book. That would have been the perfect time to do so. Even if the CPD wasn't informed of it, they should have had some mechanism in place that would seek out such information. According to a fellow blogger (see comment below), knowledge of this book had been known beforehand. A quick Google search by the CPD should have brought this out. I still maintain that this could have been better handled.

UPDATE 2:
Gwen Ifill handled the debate totally professionally. She made the book issue a non-issue. Although the Hannitys and Limbaughs will probably still find something, I don't think they will have a leg to stand on in regards to how she handled being the moderator. My debate review will come tomorrow, but I wanted to get my kudos in on Ifill's moderation skills right now.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

When is a bail-out not a bail-out?

In today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram, there was an article in which some politicians felt that calling the bail-out plan a "bail out" was a mistake. Perhaps, they mused, it would help if they instead call it a "rescue". I'm thinking lipstick and pigs here. This bail-out crisis has reminded me once again that we should never confuse "politician" with "leader".

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bail out plan bailed out

The bail-out bill got bailed out yesterday, and Wall Street went into a funk as a result. However, what I found most interesting is how the GOP was getting blamed for it. But if one looks at the voting, here's what they discover:

The bill needed 218 votes to pass. It got 205, and 95 Democrats voted against it. Had less than a fourth of that number voted in favor of that bailout, it would have passed - and done so without the GOP being able to do anything about it. So why weren't the Dems able to get the necessary votes from their own party?

Well, it seems that there is something even more important than doing "what is good for the country", and that's making sure that you have nothing in your voting record that could come back to haunt you later. Basically, the Dems didn't want only their asses to be hung out to dry in case this comes back to bite them in the butt.

And yet, that's not how I read it in most newspaper articles yesterday. Instead, I read mostly about Speaker Nancy Pelosi scolding the GOP for failing to show up and being unpatriotic and such. It seems to me, though, that her scolding should have instead been directed towards members of her own party. Like I said, this bill was GOP-proof if the Dems wanted it enough, but I didn't see that particular fact mentioned in newspaper articles yesterday. I'm not saying that there's liberal bias in the media, but....

Another thing: For the better part of a week, we've been told how big a financial crisis this is and why it's so important that some bill goes through. And yet - and yet - Congress has recessed until Thursday because of Rosh Hashanah. Okay, if you're Jewish, I can understand that you would want to celebrate your holiday. BUT, if you're NOT Jewish, and if the crisis hasn't gone away - then getcher ass back there and settle this!

It's a crisis, right? And it needs to be dealt with, right? I'm not at all saying that the Jewish members of Congress should not be allowed time off to celebrate their holiday, but I ask: Will the financial markets wait until Thursday before something happens again? What I AM saying is - if the members of Congress can take a 2 day holiday despite having told us for days that something needs to be done NOW, then I have to doubt just how urgent this crisis really is.

That, plus the hard-sell that we've endured lately really makes me suspect that foul play is afoot. Throw in the fact that we are mere weeks away from a presidential election with candidates that have expended lots of emotional capital, and you have a virtual guarantee that conspiracies are in place that have more to do with achieving political aims rather than doing what's "good for the country".

The radar in my cynical side is going off like gangbusters here, folks. Time will tell whether I'm right.

Monday, September 29, 2008

First debate goes to Obama by a nose

My official opinion is that the first debate goes to Barack Obama by a nose. Neither candidate committed any major gaffes, and basically each candidate was feeling out the other one for the most part without plunging into anything that might possibly backfire on them. I think that in the next debate, they'll each take more chances, and it should be very entertaining. I went with Obama this time because he seemed to carry himself off in a more relaxed and confident manner while John McCain seemed annoyed at times. McCain seemed to be on the verge of coming up with something a couple of times, but held back. However, he uttered my favorite line of the debate when he said - in words to this effect - "It's hard to reach across the aisle to someone as far to the left as you are."

The veep debate is next, and it could be one for the ages as far as veep debates go, as we have the human gaffe machine in Joe Biden vs. the country bumpkin in Sarah Palin. I imagine that there's going to be abundant white knuckles in both parties that night. For pundits such as myself, however, that's when we crack out the popcorn. :-)

And of course, I'll be giving my take on how each candidate did. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 26, 2008

John McCain to debate after all

It looks like J-Mac is going to debate after all. Whatever he hoped to get out of this "I'm suspending my campaign to help rescue the nation" ploy apparently didn't pan out. Well, he took that risk, and it didn't work. Folks, that's why they're called risks. All he can do now is to make a good showing tonight, as he is now working under a deficit. And look for my reaction to how the candidates did here on my blog sometime this weekend.

I'm going to ponder something else over the weekend that I am getting increasingly disturbed about, and it is the increasing attacks on Sarah Palin. Barack Obama had gone through this during the primary season, and now it looks like Palin's turn.

A lot of the criticism is directed at her "lack of experience", but the same could be said for Obama - in fact, it applies even more to him than to her, because while she will be "one heartbeat away from the presidency", he will actually be in the Oval Office (that's if either of them are elected, of course).

And yes, her nomination is an election year ploy, but that's pretty much like saying that a sacrifice bunt is a strategy ploy in baseball or the fake handoff is a strategy ploy in football. In other words, it's part of the game. Both the experience and the "election year ploy" arguments are weak, in my humble opinion. More on this next week.

Have a great weekend!

Note on the journey to Nerdville: WoW update

Time to update you good folks on how my WoW characters are doing.

Night Elf Hunter chick
My elf is now at level 18. She's learned how to skin critters and to make basic leather attire out of their hides. This gives her a little extra income besides the copper coins that she finds on some of them after she's finished them off. At first it bothered her to rob them of their dignity by stripping them of their skin, but eventually she reasoned, "Well, hell! They're dead! What do they care?"

In case you're wondering, when she's "skinning" a critter, all she does is have one hand make a circular motion for a few seconds over the palm-up other hand with a "shwrrrrip!" sound effect. There's no bloody mess of her actually removing a hide from a carcass, as the dead critter is still lying there with its fur once she's done with her hand motioning, and yet somehow she's got its hide . I'm absolutely certain that truly skinning an animal looks much, much worse, but if WoW tried to accurately depict an animal being skinned, PETA would probably skin the creators of WoW.

Anyway, my elf has gotten quite skilled at the bow. In fact, she's dying for a new bow - especially one with greater range. The critters she's dealing with now are higher level, and they're harder to kill - even with the grizzly bear that she now has as a pet (by the way, she named him "Yogi"). She had initially reached new levels pretty quickly, but lately she's slowed down, because not only are the critters harder to kill, but they often will attack in groups instead of coming one at a time like she's used to.

I think that in the past week, she's gotten killed more times than in the previous 3 weeks combined. If she's killed in a cave of critters, she sometimes have to get killed two or three times before she's finally out at a safe distance. I know that I'd hate to be killed two or three times just to get out of someplace. I've also been to parties that probably would have been the death of me two or three times to escape.

Fortunately, my elf's been invited to join a guild. She couldn't join at the time she was asked, because apparently people still on their free WoW time can't join guilds. But that free month ended on Monday, so she should be good to join now. She's already made a couple of online friends who appreciate her pet bear and her long range attack skills. I've found that some quests are much easier when you team up with others. It's a lesson that my dwarf character is still trying to learn. Oh yeah - let's talk about him now.

Dwarf Warrior dude
The dwarf is now at level 10. He's getting killed much less frequently, as he's gotten really good at swinging the double-bladed axe that he now sports (When he first got the axe, he exclaimed, "HAHA! A warrior's weapon at last! Fantastic!" and couldn't wait to go knock off a boar or three). He's also picked up a couple of skills: mining and metalworks - both of which he calls true dwarven callings.

He seems just as happy mining for copper as he is taking an axe to a bear. With his new axe and skills, he seems just a tad less cantankerous now - although he still feels the need to express cantankerousness from time to time so as to remind me that he's a dwarf. He takes to dwarven behavior like Worf from Star Trek takes to being a Klingon.

Anyway, he's gotten quite skilled at both mining and metalworking. He's got the physique for both, as both skills require a good deal of upper body strength - and he has that. He's also got a nose to know where certain lodes of metal are nearby, and before you know it, he's there with a pick in his hand, picking away the metal. Then he takes the fruits of his labors to nearby Ironforge, which is the capital of dwarfdom. Ah, does he go on and on about Ironforge! He should be a salesman for trips to there!

Oh! Not only that, Brewfest is also in town! Brewfest is a festival that celebrates the drinking of alcohol! Basically, it's the dwarven equivalent of Oktoberfest that many American towns celebrate. After a few ales, the dude is dancing like Michael Flatley! Well, maybe not quite like that, but he's got more twinkle in his toes than I ever expected him to have.

As he got up to level 10, he was able to handle most of what came at him, but now he's starting to run into critters that even his mighty double-bladed axe can't take down in a few swings. Now he's taken to teaming up with others more often than he's done in the past. Not only that, he was invited to join a guild! Right now, he can't join for the same reasons as my elf character, but I think he'd be willing to join this guild, despite his taciturn personality. The reason? It's a guild of dwarves!

And that updates you for now. More to come at another time, of course.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Words of advice: Don't fart at cops

Words of advice: Don't fart at cops. You could be charged for battery!

Okay, who DIDN'T burst out in laughter after reading that?

McCain wants to postpone the debate? Hmm...

I don't know how effective it's going to be for John McCain to try to postpone the debates in order to "unite for the good of the country to figure a way out of this financial crisis". What's he gonna do, exactly? It sounds like he's trying to look "decisive and presidential", but in the heat of a campaign season, it looks more like a political ploy. Time will tell as to what kind of effect it has on his campaign.

In the meantime, Barack Obama is going to go on with the debates. But with who? Himself? Also, if the debate panel doesn't nail him with hard questions like a debate SHOULD have, all that will do is encourage the ol' "the media's in the tank for Obama" criticisms. If there's any "softball questions", then Obama would lose any sort of edge that he might get for showing up for the debate while McCain did not. It would be better if he struggled with hard questions than "knock it out of the park" with softball questions. The debate needs to play out like it's supposed to.

Know what would be good? If Sarah Palin could take J-Mac's place. Ha! But that's not going to happen.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The power of Facebook

Texas Christian University recently opened up a brand spankin' new student center, which is a far cry from the old one (although I'll miss the old one, too). While the students enjoy the new building, what they don't enjoy is the new meal plans that came with it. Freshmen and sophomores have to purchase a meal plan, which can be either $1,799.00, $1,979.00, or $2,099.00 *per semester*. So that you have an understanding about what it is that the students don't like about it, allow me to explain a bit about how it works.

There are three plans to pick from - named silver, gold, and platinum. What students do is go to the main cafeteria and swipe their ID card. The card swiper then deducts the amount of one meal from the $1,799-to-$2,099 that they put into it. Then they go in and eat. It's an all-you-can-eat arrangement, and there's plenty to pick from. That's not the problem, though. The problem is that not all students can spend the time necessary to sit in the cafeteria and eat; sometimes they need to take their meals to go. The previous meal plan allowed for this, but the new - and more expensive - plan does not.

What the meal plan allows for instead is something called "frog bucks". "Frog bucks" are a sum that can be used elsewhere on campus, but it's very small compared to what they have to put into the plans (from $100 to $450 depending on the plan). Not only that, it can get boring eating at the same place all the time, no matter how good the food is. And therein lies the problem: Students are made to eat almost exclusively in one location, and they can't take any of it out. How many of you could eat at the same restaurant day in and day out - even if you have a big selection to pick from? Wouldn't you eventually get tired of everything on the menu?

One TCU student brought up this issue with the management of the eatery, and basically, the student was told that they hadn't got that many complaints. So to gauge how extensive the dissatisfaction of the student population is with the meal plan, the student posted a petition on Facebook (NOTE: You'll probably need to log in to Facebook to see the petition). In one week's time, the petition got over 1,000 signatures on it.

Putting it on Facebook is probably the best and fastest way for the student protester to reach his fellow students. Not only have students signed the petition, so have TCU faculty and staff (including myself). When one of my student workers told me how much she pays each semester for the meal plan, I couldn't believe it. Once I heard about the Facebook petition, I had to sign it as well. And just like that, I was down with the struggle!

When word of the petition got out, the campus newspaper, the TCU Daily Skiff, ran an article on the story. Now the management can no longer just ignore the students' dissatisfaction. Most likely, nothing won't be done until the spring semester at the earliest, but at least now there is more of a likelihood that something will be done than before. The Facebook petition dramatically demonstrated the dissatisfaction that the student population has with the limitations of the meal plan, so it's virtually impossible to ignore.

The easiest thing for the management to do would be to greatly increase the amount of "frog bucks" so that the student would be able to take out more of their meals from other campus eateries. Or perhaps the main cafeteria can have one counter that's exclusively for take-out. Some local franchise cafeterias have such arrangements. Either option allows for more options than the current meal plans do, and most importantly, the students will see that they can make a difference if they speak out. After all, the classroom is not the only place where they can learn lessons. I'll keep you updated on this issue, just so that you know how it plays out.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Today is talk like a pirate day, matey! YAAAR!!

Ye ever wanted to talk like like a pirate, matey, but ye couldn't getcher yohoho mojo goin'? Then this website is fer ye scruvy seadogs! Yaaaar!!

Now go out an' "yaar" with the likes o' ol' Long John Silver himself!

(why do pirates say "Yaar!" so much anyway?)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Getting to know history when it comes - and appreciate it

Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald hit the nose on the head on what I was going to blog about the other day had I not been smacked around by a virus earlier in the week. His recent column discussed a lot of the rumors floating around about both Barack Obama and Sarah Palin.

I had hoped to get to know more about Palin, but so far a lot of what I've heard are rumors worthy of what had been spread around about Obama earlier in the election season. The early rumors about Obama had been mostly about whether he was a closet Muslim trying to deliver America to Allah and so forth, while the early rumors about Palin have been about whether Palin is some sort of religious nut-job looking to convert America into God's Happyland on Earth. See the pattern here?

Both are "historical candidates", thus, each candidate’s supporters want “their candidate” to be the one who makes history first. At the same time, critics on both sides are eager to NOT be perceived as criticizing their respective opponents "for the wrong reasons". That is, right wingers don't want to have their criticisms of Obama to be perceived as racist, while left wingers don't want to have their criticisms of Palin to be perceived as sexist - thus, the safe path is to question their religion. See, who says that religion doesn't unite?

Also, both sets of critics have sought out every jot and tittle, every little rumor, every little scrap of a bit of an item of information that seems to suggest in the slightest that their opponent's candidate isn't suited for the office that they're running for. It's really making a mockery of what should be a banner year for both African Americans and women, because for the first time in our history, we have a representative of both running for the highest offices of the land. And yet, instead of taking it all in, we are all reduced to petty bickering and shameless rumor-mongering.

One of these candidates is going to be making a historic entry into our nation's history as the first black president or first female vice president, and yet it looks like fully half of our nation's population are not only going to go away disappointed, but also bitter that their candidate didn't win. Disappointed is expected, but bitter is not good. Bitterness can lead to unpleasant actions, and unpleasant actions that don't need to occur. And that bitterness is also going to rob either Obama or Palin of their moment of reaching a historic high.

So, how do we prevent that bitter turn of events from occurring? How can we encourage all Americans to take in the historic moment without the disappointed half going away bitter? First, this pointless digging by both sides for every tiny scrap of dirt on both candidates and reporting on it as if it’s a shocking revelation has to stop. It’s stupid, and worse, it’s making both sides look like desperate idiots. It’s embarrassing, man.

Next, the debates have to start, and the sooner, the better. Not only that, there needs to be town hall meetings. We need to see all the candidates in more than one format – plus, town halls put the candidates face-to-face with the very people that they plan to represent. Not too much to ask, I think, for the candidates to see just whom their actions will be affecting.

Also, I’d like to see some of these town halls taking place on college campuses – and NOT just schools like Yale or Hahvahd! Go to colleges in the home states of all the candidates, from Alaska to Hawaii, from Arizona to Delaware, and all the points in between. Those folks are our future, and they deserve a say in who is going to lead them in the future.

And next, all the candidates – ALL the candidates – must stress repeatedly that, one way or another, a candidate is going to make history, and whoever it is, we must applaud their success, even if we don’t agree with their views. We WILL be witnessing history in the making in either case, and no one should deprive themselves of that special moment when it arrives. Before we are liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, or whatever artificial dividers we want to identify ourselves by, we are first and foremost Americans, and the swearing in of Barack Obama or Sarah Palin will be something that all of us should celebrate. Let’s try not to rob them – and ultimately, ourselves – of that special moment when it comes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm sick as a dawg, y'all....

Hey, all. I won't be posting for a couple of days, as I am sick as a dog. How sick? I couldn't hold down Jell-o! Now that's sad, man!

Anyway, I'll try to return either Thursday or Friday. In the meantime, take care and play nice.

Difference between Obama and Palin in pictures

From an e-mail: The difference between Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, in pictures.





C'mon, folks. Lighten up! It's funny! :-D

If we can laugh at the Palin spoof on SNL (and I certainly did!), then we can laugh at this.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sad news

I just found out that the grandmother of one of my student worker died as a result of the hurricane over the weekend. My student has gone back to Houston to be with her family. Prayers for Lacey and her family are greatly appreciated.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Video clip of SNL's skit on Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton

Not much comment necessary here, this video tells it all. I loved it! Tina Fey's impersonation of Sarah Palin was spot on!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Natural disasters and reactions to them

As I write this, Hurricane Ike has hit the Texas coast and will be moving inland. Parts of it will hit the Fort Worth/Dallas area - weakened, but certainly still very damaging. We have been advised to make such purchases as batteries for our flashlights, non-perishable foods items, and the like. Prayers for those in and near the hurricane's path are appreciated.

Anyway, any time that there is a natural disaster, there's two things that happen that I never understood. One is the need for news stations to have their reporters out there at the edge of the storm, reporting on how bad it is. Sometimes they're knocked down by the strong winds or are clinging to a lamp post just to keep from being blown away. I'm not impressed by such reporting. Instead, I think "Get yer butt inside, fool!" Why is this neccesary? Why do reporters' health and even their lives put in danger just for the sake of showing us how bad it is out there? Wouldn't a remote camera do the same? One day, a reporter is going to be seriosly injured or even killed by such foolhardy reporting. I hope I'm wrong.

The other thing that I don't understand is for the need for some people to WANT to stay in the path of danger. I'm not talking about people who CAN'T get out of the way, but those who don't want to get out of the way. People like Harry Randall Truman, who in 1980 felt that the upcoming eruption of Mt. St. Helen's was exaggerated. After the eruption, his body was never found. And he proved what, exactly? The same goes for people who refuse to leave the path of a hurricane. Again, not that they CAN'T leave, but that they don't want to leave. So if they get washed away (and I pray that they don't), what do they prove?

Such events bring out strange behavior, and I just don't get it.

UPDATE: We got a lot of rain in Ft. Worth, but none of the bad weather here turned out as bad as they had feared. Thank God for that, but I will also pray for the people affected by the hurricane, as well as for those involved in rescue and repair efforts.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Could Biden be dropped from the ticket?

This article (a source, actually, that is hardly unbiased) suggests the possibility that Joe Biden could be dropped as Barack Obama's running mate and perhaps replaced by Hillary Clinton. That would be a mistake for two reasons:

One, it would suggest that Obama made a mistake in selecting Biden. During a campaign, you don't make such drastic changes midstream unless your running mate died (or so seriously injured to the point that he or she can't continue their campaign), or was found guilty of something serious like pedophilia.

Two, such a change would suggest that Sarah Palin is scaring them enough to make that change. During a campaign, you never, EVER admit that your opposition has frightened you into doing anything! It just isn't done!

As it is, Joe Biden wasn't on my short list of possible running mates for Obama (neither was Hillary, by the way), but Obama's already made his choice. He needs to stick by it, and stick by Biden. Obama needs to remember that old saying: "Never let 'em see you sweat!" Changing horses now would be a virtual admission that Palin is making him sweat, and that would be a mistake - especially if Palin ends up demonstrating how unprepared she actually is for the job.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

On this date...

On this date 7 years ago, I was in the last semester of getting my Master's degree. I still remember that sense of anomie that hung in the air as news reports poured in about what was happening. To this day, seeing the images of those towers can still cause my eyes to tear. A few days after the attacks, Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. wrote what I consider THE textbook case of the power of words in an opinion column. In those paragraphs, he captured the shock and anger as well as the American spirit of coming together. It's an awesome piece of work.

Read on, and get a feel for the times of that painful chapter in American history:

We'll go forward from this moment

Never forget, my friends.

-----------------------------------------------------------

UPDATE:
For some reason, the comment below (by "Anonymous") didn't upload into the Comments section, even though I KNOW that I did it right. I decided to post it here instead:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Leonard Pitts' column on 9/11/2001":

Thank you for posting this. Mr Pitts' article was what helped me to start healing. To this day, it still invokes the emotion from that time, and I hope that someday, my grandchildren read it to understand what happened that day.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What John McCain needs to do to win

A week or so ago, I spoke on Barack Obama and what he needed to do to win. Now it’s time to speak on John McCain. I meant to speak sooner on this, but I was waiting to see what Gov. Sarah Palin had to say. Well, since I'm still waiting on her, I thought that I'd better go ahead with this.

McCain’s strengths

• Experienced, a war hero, and not afraid to challenge his own party.

• Has many connections to help him get things done, including connections with the media and with members of the Democratic Party.

• Has the savvy to know how to press Barack Obama’s buttons to get him off track, such as his ads comparing him to a messiah and a celebrity.

McCain’s weaknesses

• Sometimes overreaches in taking risks. It’s too soon to tell whether Gov. Sarah Palin is one such example. He also often reaches out across the aisle at the expense of his own party, which will often bring ill will between him and the GOP.

• Age and health are a factor. He is a cancer survivor, and if he is elected, he will be the oldest president.

• Lagging and sometimes lacking in knowledge of some modern conveniences such as computers, which makes him look like he’s out of touch and behind the times.

Strategies for McCain to win

• Since he’s taking the gamble probably of his political career with Sarah Palin, he needs to work, work, work on her until her public persona is as smooth as polished glass.

• Continue finding ways to upset Obama’s usually controlled public persona as he did with the “celebrity” and “messiah” ads. More such successful ads will play into McCain's statements that Obama "isn't ready to lead".

• Of the four candidates for office, he's probably the poorest speaker. When she's able to, Palin should probably shoulder the larger share of the burden of speeches, since she's demonstrated a very good knack for it (and besides, think about it: If you heard that an "old wrinkly white-haired dude" and a "hot young mama" were going to give a speech, who would you go see?)

Right now, I believe that J-Mac's campaign will soar or sink on how well Palin adjusts to becoming a candidate on the nation's biggest stage. My guess as to why he took such a risk is that he must have told himself, "At my age, this is probably going to be my only shot at this - so why not take a chance like this? I've got nothing to lose other than the election." So far, it looks like this gamble could pay off big time, so long as he plays his cards right. But he needs to play those cards! He introduced Palin to America, and they want more. He'll need to deliver, or his base will drift away again.

As to if I think he can win - again, it depends upon how well Palin adjusts to her new role as a "game changer". At this point, I still think that it's Obama's election to lose.

Sarah Palin can begin press conferences any time now...

Okay, Sarah. Go ahead and have a press conference now. Or grant an interview. I'd like to hear you in formats other than "preaching to the choir" staged events. C'mon...