Friday, May 30, 2008

Poor Obama...

Back when Bill Clinton was president, he had to deal with what had been referred to as "bimbo explosions"; which meant that women for whom he had allegedly fooled around with would come out of nowhere from time to time and cause him problems.

Fast forward to this year, and Barack Obama now has to deal with what I will call "pastor eruptions"; that is, religious men who do and say outrageous things that get Barack in trouble. Here is a video of the latest "pastor eruption", and this time it isn't Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Nope, it's Father Michael Phleger. Have a look:

Can you see Barack, after watching this, smacking his forehead in disbelief? Those men think they're helping, while in truth, they are doing the opposite. I'm not sure what to say about that or their behavior. It could be that these men just want the attention, even if it means hurting Barack. I don't think they intend to hurt Barack, it's just what results - and their desire for attention right now seems to be overcoming their sense of reason. It could be that they feel that this is their shot at being in the limelight, and they don't want to miss it - even if they end up hurting the candidate that they allegedly support. Time will tell about how damaging their behavior will be on Barack.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Democratic lawyers say that Florida and Michigan can't be fully restored

The Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee meets this Saturday to discuss what to do about the delegate situation regarding Florida and Michigan. That is, should half of the delegates count, or all of them? Democratic lawyers say that the rules committee has the authority to seat some of the delegates, but not all of them. I say that they are full of poppycock (what, you were expecting me to say "shit"? I don't use that kind of language here!).

Folks, c'mon! They're lawyers! Lawyers, of all people, know that rules were meant to be broken by them - or at least changed or amended! Thing is, no one - with perhaps the exception of novelists with strange imaginations - could have pictured that a meeting of the Rules and Bylaws Committee would be THE hot national news story at ANY time. And yet, there they sit, with the power to give Hillary Clinton's campaign new life and incentive to fight on, or to doom it.

The Dems are an odd bunch. The idea of superdelegates could have only come from them. And if you read the article, you see that one idea suggests allowing all of the delegates to vote - but that each vote counts as a half vote. How does one "half vote"? The half vote concept sounds like another dumb idea from the Dems that's supposed to be some sort of compromise. With the superdelegates and half vote ideas, it's no wonder that it took a catastrophic collapse by the GOP to finally get them the majority in Congress.

In addition, the absurdity of the Dems' mindless dedication to all things politically correct (part of why the Dems put in those silly changes in the first place) has been rearing its ugly head with this ugly battle between their two remaining nominees. All kinds of reasons for why this is happening have been given, except for the most obvious reason: the way that the Dems have the rules set up plus their mindless dedication to all things PC has all but guaranteed that this sort of problem would rise up eventually.

And now, trying to follow the rules as they set them up is going to cause distraction and unwanted attention, so they would rather end this now than to allow the rules to play out like it's supposed to. I say that this needs to play out, so that the Dems themselves can see how stupid they look right now. That is the only way that they'll be motivated to change. If this indeed works out that way, it'll be a miracle. However, I lost faith in political parties a long time ago, so I don't see those changes happening even if they play this out the way it's supposed to go, because politicians are good at lying, even to themselves.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, officially the day that we remember our soldiers who have died in the service of our country, but also as the unofficial start of summer. However, I won't be dealing with the start of summer for this blog entry.

Ever since I was a teenager, I have always been a history buff. I especially enjoyed reading about World War II. WWII was also something that me and my brother had in common in regards to interests (among others, although we certainly had our differences). For some reason, WWII and the 1940's in general have always fascinated me, and still do. I even write short stories of a 1940's private eye character named Benny Baloney. But I digress.

When reading about the soldiers and thier experiences, I've often wondered how I would have done had I been drafted and gone to fight in Europe or the Pacific. Even though I read a lot about war, I'm no warrior. I'm not sure that I can kill anyone, even in self defense. As far as the warring part, I'm not sure that I would have made a very good soldier. And yet, consider many of the young men who were drafted. Many of them were 18 or 19.

That's just out of high school for most of us. And many of those young men were simple folk - basically country bumpkin farm boys with very little sophistication, as agriculture was a much larger part of American life back then than it is now. And yet, they were thrust into battle to fight in the largest, most expansive war that the world has ever known. Consider that these simple, unsophisticated country bumpkins were made to shoot and kill other men. What does doing something like that do to one's psyche - especially doing that same difficult act repeatedly for years? I'm sure that you get to a point that you just accept it - that it's either "kill or be killed".

Some soldiers may be able to handle that, but others may not. A lot depends upon how well the soldier is prepared for that. Shooting to kill is not like playing soldier when you're a kid. The other guy doesn't just go down for a few seconds and get back up again. The other guy is not only down, he stays down. Not only that, unlike the kid version in which the other guy simply goes down, the real version "other guy" is hit with a real bullet, in which there may be blood splattered, followed by a very real cry of pain. Imagine someone's wail of pain filling your ears, and then thinking that "I caused that. I caused that guy to be screaming in pain like that." That's got to damage you psychologically - especially the longer and the more often you do that, and especially if you weren't properly prepared for the very real results of making war.

Since I've never been in battle, the closest I've been is a video game called Call of Duty, in which you play a soldier first from the U.S., then Britain, and then the Soviet Union. It is played in a "first person" format in which you are looking at the battlefield from the eyes of a soldier. In this game, you hear the bullets whizzing by your head, and you see the "other guy" lurching from being struck by bullets, and you even see them being tossed in the air like rag dolls when something explodes near them. You even see the haunting images of death on their faces as you go by them.

However, ultimately, Call of Duty is as real as the version of war that I used to play as a kid. When I'm "hit" by bullets, I feel no pain. All that's affected is my "life meter" that gradually goes down the more I get hit, and the longer I go without finding a "medical kit". If my life meter goes down too far, then I "die". Then I can reset and pick up where I last got "killed". The medical kits are simple boxes or bags with a red "+" on it. When I make contact with it, I'm miraculously "healed" without ever having to take out bandages or disinfectants. I'm not even slowed down in my pursuit of the German soldiers, even if my life meter shows me as being "close to death", in which I am so wounded that the next bullet takes my life.

There are no smells of death. There are no large pools of blood. There is no suffering the long periods of boredom, or the effects of staying in a trench for days on end in freezing weather. None of that is felt in Call of Duty. How could the programmers include something like that? I get no psychological scarring, in which I involuntarily flinch at the sound of loud noises, or dive under tables whenever a plane or helicopter buzzes too low. And yet, that's what our soldiers endured, and continue to endure. I can't imagine what they've gone through, even with a game like Call of Duty. I just have to admire and appreciate that someone did answer the call to duty. I'm not sure that I could have done the same. God bless our servicemen and women who paid dearly for their service - some with the ultimate price. It's for such dedicated people that this holiday was made, so that we would never forget their sacrifices.

I believe that it was General George S. Patton that said it best. I don't know the exact wording, but it goes something like this: "Don't so much mourn that such men died in battle; instead, appreciate that such men lived."

Friday, May 23, 2008

Signs, signs, everywhere signs...

For the first time since I got my new camera phone, I had an excuse to use it for something to post to my blog. Enjoy.

And here's the back of that same sign, with the same refreshing blunt honesty:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Notes on the Journey to Nerdville: FaceBook

I am on FaceBook, and have been since January. I joined largely as part of my workplace's effort to learn new computer skills. I find it very interesting. I have come across people that I haven't seen in years. For the greater part of it, that's a good thing. ;-)

However, I came across one way that it can be very helpful, and it was also a demonstration of the power of the Internet. Way back in January, I had created a FaceBook group for former staff members of the university's newspaper. From January until this past Saturday, the membership total had sat at 14. Then on Sunday, I got an e-mail from one of my former editors, and for whom I had not seen or heard from for about 8 years. I invited him to join my group, and I also asked him to invite others if he knew of any.

In just this week, the membership has gone from 14 to 54. AND, there's still another 30+ still to reply! This one person made that much of a difference. I should have known, because this guy was a popular and well-liked staffer. Also, however, have been some fairly recent graduates whom I had never met. I had hoped that joining this FaceBook group would become something of a tradition after graduation. Maybe that is now finally happening.

Anyway, this has been an interesting experience, and on Monday, I'll let you know what the membership total has gone up to.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Michelle Obama: Fair game? Yes.

In this news article, Barack Obama is telling Tennessee's GOP party to lay off his wife, Michelle Obama. This was as a result of their posting a video clip of her now-famous statement that "she was proud of her country for the first time of her life", which right-wingers and certain conservative talk-show hosts have had a field day with. While Barack was referring to the Tennessee GOP party, no doubt other state GOP parties and even the national party will eventually get into the act of criticizing Michelle once Barack officially gets the nomination (and at this point, the nomination is his to lose).

While it is completely natural for Barack to state such things to protect his wife, are the media required to abide by this order? The answer is no. Why? One only has to consider Barack's Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton - a former First Lady - and ask if she was left alone during her husband Bill's two terms in office. If you think that she was left alone, then you weren't paying attention for those eight years. So the question becomes, why should the media be allowed to criticize First Ladies, since they are not the ones who ran for office?

How much that First Ladies are "fair game" for the media is directly proportionate to how public a persona they intend to have. In fact, if you compare Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush, you see that Clinton chose to be a more public persona, because she had her own plans to run for office. Bush, however, has been much more low key - thus, coverage has been such that she is reported on usually when she makes a public appearance for some cause.

As for Michelle Obama, she chose to make that statement. If this signals an intent to be a public figure like her husband, then she is also "fair game". In addition, while it may be chivalrous for Barack to come to the defense of his wife, it can also be perceived as an insult by feminists that "the little woman" needs her "big man" to come to her defense; that she can't stand up and defend herself. If she's going to share the world's grandest stage with her husband, then she needs to show that she is capable of taking the heat as well, or she'll have to adopt a Laura Bush philosophy and stay out of it except for special occassions. They can't have it both ways.

As both a modern woman and a black woman, Michelle needs to demonstrate to the world that she is capable of standing on her own two feet, with her husband needed only for support and to "have her back". If she can do that, then she'll go a long way towards helping both blacks and women by demonstrating how far they've come. Plus, if she accomplishes this, then the mainstream media will positively EAT. IT. UP. You know they will, even though there is no liberal bias in the media. She's already made one reach for the limelight - she can't turn back now just because she got burned the first time around.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Florida and Michigan should be allowed to vote, and here's why...

On another blog written by Ryan J. Rusak, he stated - much to his amazement, since he's a Republican - that he agrees with something that former president Jimmy Carter said. Carter had said that Florida's and Michigan's votes shouldn't count, because the heads of those respective state Democratic Parties knew that there would be consequences to trying to move up their primaries. And that consequence, of course, was the denial of their delegates.

I disagree, however, with both Mr. Rusak and Mr. Carter, and here's why: I am bothered - very bothered, actually - by the denial of the right to vote. I don't like governments doing it, and I don't like political parties doing it. It's not a good habit for either entity to be engaging in, because if they get away with doing it once, they'll find other reasons to do it again. Yes, the Dems will say that "this time, it was a good reason", but in a democracy such as ours, denying anyone their right to vote is the first step on the path to totalitarianism. Remember that old Chinese proverb about the journey of a thousand miles beginning with a single step? That's what I'm talking about here, except it's a step that I want to prevent.

The decision to move up the primaries was done by the party heads, and yet it's the voters in both Florida and Michigan that are getting screwed. And in case you are thinking it - no, I don't think that parties should get away with moving their primaries around willy-nilly. I have a better solution: Any party that tries to move their primary UP will instead get their primary moved DOWN - all the way to the last day of the primary season. I call it the "back of the line" rule. In other words, if you try to cut in line, you'll get bumped all the way to the back of the line. With such a rule, the voters still get to vote, just much later. That, I think, is a better way of handling this situation than denying outright the right for voters to vote.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The big guy can boogie!

The big guy can boogie! Check it out!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Whew! What a week!

Sorry I haven't posted, folks, but it's been a busy week where I work. I work in a university library, and this is finals week. We've been knee-deep in studying students, and it can get rather crazy-hectic during this week.

Plus, we've had more than our share of characters. I don't think these people would normally act in the unpleasant way that they do, but the stress of finals probably pushes them into behavior patterns that they normally wouldn't exhibit. Normally we try to be understanding of the pressures that they're under, but once in a while someone goes beyond what even finals-induced stress would bring out. Thing is, these kids need to learn that there are good ways and bad ways of handling stress, and that's part of what the college experience is about.

Today is the last day for finals, and we won't have near the number of studying students that we had on Wednesday, but they'll still be coming. And tomorrow, some will graduate. The ends of semesters are always the hardest part of my job, because we usually lose student workers to graduation. I get rather used to some of them, and when they move on, I miss them. It's part of the job, though, to help them prepare for that moment when they leave. Our job is to provide a work environment for them to learn from, so that they can take that experience out into the work force.

Most often, even those that have gotten pretty attached to working here will simply drop out of sight once they make the Big Leap. Sure, they may send an e-mail or three after graduation, but it's rare that they stay in touch after a few months. By then, they're at their new jobs and still settling in to make time to check in on us.

Once in a while - usually during Homecoming - we'll see some of those familiar faces. I'm always amazed at the changes they've gone through - especially in appearance. Back when they worked for us, they were used to dressing very casually, almost slobs in some instances. However, when I see them again, they are dressed very professionally. It's like I'm looking at a whole 'nother person, and in a sense, I guess I am. Even this one dude who had a beard, long hair tied back, and wore nothing dressier than a t-shirt, shorts and sandals virtually the entire time I knew him while an undergraduate returned some months later clean-cut and bare-faced. Mr. Liberal became Mr. Establishment!

Don't get me wrong - there are some bad eggs whom I'm glad are graduating, and hopefully they'll learn lessons out in the workforce that they apparently didn't learn with us. However, such students are far and few between - the exception, rather than the rule. For the most part, I like my student workers, and that's why the ends of semesters can be so difficult. Sometimes some go on to grad school and hang around a little longer - and once in a blue moon, some come back as employees of the university.

However, the vast majority move on and we never hear from them again. Once in a while I like to look at the yearbook from recent years and see if I can still remember some of them. Most often I do, although the further back it's been, the less I remember them and their personalities. That's just what comes from having known a parade of students that I've known in my time at the library. But each adds a little something to my life, and I hope that I've added a little something to theirs. If they're doing well in their new lives, then hopefully their experiences with us are part of the reason why.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Topic of May 2008: The Democratic Primary

I've been discussing the topic of the ongoing Democratic primary anyway, so I am going to make it official: May 2008 is going to be on that primary. Like the Energizer Bunny, the primary just keeps going and going and going.... No doubt both candidates – Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, in case you didn't already know – are beyond tired of it. But not me. I find it endlessly fascinating to watch the party of political correctness go out of its way contorting itself trying to please both of their traditional "victim's groups" of blacks and feminists. Sooner or later, the axe is going to drop on one of the candidates, and either the blacks or feminists are going to go away empty-handed and most likely bitter – even more bitter, actually, than the religion and gun clinging voters of Pennsylvania (I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of that one comment from Obama. Ask anyone who knows me in real life).

In truth, the nomination is Obama's to lose. In order for him to lose the nomination, he'd have to have SO wild, outrageous and colossal an implosion that even his famed eloquence couldn't talk himself out of it. I don't see that happening; especially when Clinton makes so many foolish and amateurish mistakes of her own – like her now-famous line of dodging sniper fire in Bosnia. Had Clinton been conducting herself like a pro – especially, had she handled her campaign like her husband handled his - she most likely would be doing better than she is now. Clinton is where she is only because of the power and influence that her and her husband have over the party. Without that, she would have fallen faster than the Dallas Mavericks did in this year's playoffs (can you tell that I'm still upset about that?).

While I chide Obama about his gun-clinging statement and how arrogant that sounded, Clinton has failed to “close the deal” on a nomination that she assumed was hers because she is arrogant. She couldn’t imagine it going to anyone else – especially an upstart like Obama.Despite the fact that Obama pretty much has the nomination locked up, I still think that the process should go along as it’s supposed to - even if it ends up at the convention floor. The whole point of having "super delegates" was precisely to make a decision such an event. Well, that moment is here, so let's not deprive them of it. It's their own petard that they're about to be hoisted by. It's their bed that they made, and now they must lie in it. They need to walk the walk. And other such metaphors.

Howard Dean is trying to force either the super delegates to vote or one of the candidates to drop out, but he should stop doing that. He should let the people decide by allowing all the primaries to have their say (including Florida and Michigan), and he should let the process play out as it has been written. For him to be making such statements makes it sound like he's trying to change the rules midstream so as to save face.

Here's the problem with the super delegate option: That was really meant for times in which there are two white dudes to decide between. Having to decide between two black dudes or two white women probably would be only a little more difficult. In a situation of deciding between a black dude and a white dude, most likely the nod would go to the black dude - especially if it's someone as eloquent as Obama. That might also be the decision if it were the case between a black woman and a white woman.

To understand the reasoning of selecting the black candidate over the white candidate, you'd have to understand the term "white liberal guilt". White liberals feel that "due to the oppression that the African American race had endured in American history, we owe it to them to give the black candidate the nomination as one small means of making up for that evil time in which African Americans were enslaved. Granted, this won't make up for the many decades that the U.S. had institutionalized slavery, but it's a good start." So thus, in the instance of choosing between a black and white dude or a black and white woman, "white liberal guilt" says that you select the black candidate.

However, in this election season, there's an additional wrinkle at play here, and it's an aspect of “white liberal guilt” called “while liberal male guilt”. That is, just like the country owes African Americans various means of making amends for this country’s past sins, such is also the case when it comes to women. Did you know that the black man actually got the right to vote before women? Blacks actually had very, very limited voting rights early on, and gained even more rights after the Emancipation Act in the 1860’s. Women didn’t get the right to vote until the 1920’s – six decades later!

That, plus the fact that we live in a paternalistic, male-dominated society means that we – that is, the country – owes womankind for all the abuse and mistreatment that they’ve endured over the course of American history. So if there were ever a time that a female candidate (well, actually a female Democratic candidate, since Elizabeth Dole tried to run some years ago – but for that other party) ran for office, then we should support that woman as one way of making up for the sins of the past. Granted, this won’t make up for the many decades that the U.S has had institutionalized sexism, but it’s a good start.

Okay, that’s all well and good. And indeed such an occurrence has happened. Actually, such occurrences have happened, for not only do we have a black candidate for-whom-we-owe-the-chance-to-run, but we also have a female candidate, for-whom-we-also-owe-the-chance-to-run. DAMN! Why did this have to happen both at the same time??

Thing is, both the Obama and Clinton camps are saying that they'd rather be judged on the issues rather than about something that they have no control over. In fact, the Democratic Party would also say that their race and gender doesn't matter. However, it does. When it is all said and done, there is virtually no difference in the views between Obama and Clinton - they're both very left-wing Democrats. In fact, all that really matters for ANY Democrat running is that they are of a very left-wing philosophy. Thus, all that is left to decide between the two candidates is whether they want to appease the black vote or the feminist vote. A decision worthy of Solomon, to be sure.

So thus, we are now waiting to see what the Dems end up doing. Lately, it's looked more like a matter of whose campaign will implode first rather than who is going to make the better candidate. I don't envy the position that either of them are in right now. Well, Tuesday may help clear things up, or they may make things worse. Only time will tell. I, for my part, hope Hillary wins both primaries, because I just made the Democratic primary my topic of the month, and I'd hate to end it so quickly! GO HILLARY!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Barack Obama is equal opportunity after all!

It just occurred to me that Barack Obama is actually equal opportunity after all! Why do I say that? Well, so far he has thrown both his white grandmother and his black pastor under the bus! ;-)

I gotta reassess what I think of the man, now...

Picasso's "Guernica" in 3D

Check this out:

It is Pablo Picasso's "Guernica" rendered in 3D. I see stuff in this that I didn't see in the original painting. VERY interesting.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Obama throws pastor under the bus

Barack Obama finally felt compelled to throw his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, "under the bus". No doubt Wright was just a tad miffed (and probably more than that) that Obama was previously trying to distance himself from him, which is mostly likely why Wright spoke out like he did earlier in the week. Wright's comments were enough that Obama finally had to cut ties with him totally. I can absolutely see Wright describing his recent experiences this way: "I have gone from sitting in the back of the bus to being thrown under it, and I'm not sure which hurts more."