Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Evil of Sesame Street

November 12, 2009

Apparently it is the 40th anniversary of the first Sesame Street. I loved the show as a kid, and am sometimes disappointed to see my children more interested in lesser kid-friendly entertainment like Thomas the Tank Engine and Dora the Explorer. I did not realize how awful the Sesame Street actually was until Colbert made it known on his show yesterday. What were my parents thinking letting me get indoctrinated by the Public Broadcasting Service when I was so young and innocent? No doubt, if it weren't for Sesame Street, I probably wouldn't be so screwed up today!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Grover the Hill
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Radiohead: Glastonbury 2003, HD

October 22, 2009

It has been over a year since I started listening to Radiohead. The amazing thing is that I've listened to them more in the last year than any other band I've ever witnessed. And still, I like them just as much as I did a year ago, if not more. So in commemoration of the band that never gets old, here's an excellent concert from YouTube. Enjoy.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Life After Facebook

September 18, 2009

Recently I decided it was time to pull the plug on my Facebook account. It was not the first time, but I have determined it will be the last.

To me, the downsides to participating in such a forum by far outweigh the supposed benefits.

I could go over dozens of reasons why my life without Facebook is much better, while only being able to give two or three examples of the usefulness of the website.

But I won't bore you too much with either side of the argument. All I have to say is I am a much happier person with Facebook out of my life. Aside from not really being social at all, it has the potential to harm relationships and friendships more than it supports them.

The response on the other side might go something like this: "But you getting out of Facebook harms the relationship you had with all of your 2000 friends!" Okay, I didn't have 2000; regardless, this is a horrible argument. Maybe it WILL harm my relationship with them when I say if our relationship's existence depends on Facebook friendship, then we probably didn't have a relationship that is worth maintaining in the first place. If such is the case, everyone will just continue on anyway. I guarantee you that 90% of my Facebook friends will never, ever, even notice that I deactivated.

If Facebook encourages people to shower attention on themselves, and somehow gives people the comfort that if they are insulting and belittling to others, it's okay because it's on Facebook, then what kind of friendship is really happening?

I know I am probably a small minority, but I have chosen to not have any part of it. And the freedom is sublime. Don't miss me (I'm sure you don't), Facebook friends! I will probably do likewise. Life can still continue blissfully, even after Facebook.

Thank you to all the excellent anti-Facebook articles which helped me come to this extremely wonderful position. Maybe someday I will go on an anti-Facebook crusade and post some of them. But for now, I will just continue living my life like I did before Facebook was even an Internet site. Life was still pretty good back then.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Julieta Venegas: El Presente

September 17, 2009

Video clip Julieta Venegas, 'Presente' - Videos Orange
Copyright News2Air La cantante mexicana adelanta su nuevo sencillo, 'Presente', dentro del álbum 'MTV Unplugged'.

Ya sé lo que te diga no va a ser suficiente
ay, ay, ay, ay
Y lo que tú me entregues dejará pendientes
ay, ay, ay, ay

Quién nos dice que la vida
nos dará el tiempo necesario
toma de mí lo que deseas
como si sólo quedara

El presente es lo único que tengo
el presente es lo único que hay
Es contigo mi vida con quien puedo sentir
que merece la pena vivir

Con el mundo como va se nos acaba todo
ay, ay, ay, ay
La tempestad y la calma casi son la misma cosa
ay, ay, ay, ay

Quién nos dice que la vida
nos dará el tiempo necesario
toma de mí lo que deseas
como si solo quedara

El presente es lo único que tengo
el presente es lo único que hay
Es contigo mi vida con quien puedo sentir
que merece la pena vivir

El presente es lo único que tenemos
el presente es lo único que hay
Es contigo mi vida con quien puedo sentir
que merece la pena vivir

Ya sé lo que te diga no va a ser sufiente, consuelo
por perder ese lugar que amamos y destrozamos

El presente es lo único que tengo
el presente es lo único que hay
es contigo mi vida con quien puedo sentir
que merece la pena vivir

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Republicans - The Party of Values

June 25, 2009

With yesterday's admission of an extramarital affair by Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina, and last week's revelations of Nevada Senator John Ensign's recent unfaithfulness, I am really starting to wonder how the Republican Party can continue to stake its reputation on its apparent concern for maintaining family values, as well as its ability to court "values voters."

Literally my whole life I have been fed the line that Democrats are immoral, and that Republicans are wholesome, Christian, and practically holy people.

I don't mock the premise to denigrate the idea that living by standards and core values has a valuable purpose in individual lives. I mock the premise because of the fact that the same conservatives who wear their values on their sleeve, are outraged when a democrat is caught red-handed, yet seem to justify the actions of their republican standard-bearers when similar conduct is unearthed.

It's not that John Ensign and Mark Sanford screwed up (sorry for the terrible pun), it's that in the past, when they responded to other individuals - for instance, Bill Clinton - they demanded
resignation and/or impeachment for such indiscretions.

The question that remains with me is this: if the democrats are the godless, valueless party, why are conservatives so outraged when democrats get caught doing immoral things? What do you expect from a party devoid of core values, or Christian principles (just going off the republican-fabricated premise, mind you)?

However, coming from the likes of people with all the important values that I myself value, you'd think conservatives would be more outraged at the Ensigns and Sanfords of their own tent, since one doesn't expect people with values and principles to act with such utter disregard for those very values held so dear.

Democrats did not brand the Republican Party as the party of values. Republicans took on the mantle themselves. When it comes down to it, we are all human, prone to err, and often betray those values we hold dear. Put more bluntly, in the words of Jon Stewart, Mark Sanford is "just another politician with a conservative mind and a liberal penis."

But a party that derives its worth, to a large degree, from condemning the other side as immoral, and touting their own piety, should expect to be held to the high standard they purport to endorse. When that standard is violated, they should expect to be treated as great disappointments, since we should expect better from the party of values.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Daily Demonization, Vigilante Violence, etc.

June 14, 2009

I have not posted much in the last month or so. I have been reading, and thinking, a lot. And more things have occurred in the news than I can keep up with.

It is hard to know when or where to take a stand on many issues, because it seems like taking a stand means condemnation and demonization of those with whom one disagrees.

We've had several vigilante killings in recent weeks. One abortion doctor, one museum guard, one army recruiter. There has been a lot of discussion. One great source pinpointing many different views on the topic is a blog page by the NY Times called "The Opinionator."

President Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor to fill the soon-to-be vacated justice seat of David Souter. Conservatives have cried, "racist!" and other things, while liberals have labeled conservatives as obstructionists, even though they (liberals) acted in a similar manner with the confirmations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

Obama is now pushing healthcare reform, while his opponents are claiming he wants to turn U.S. healthcare into Canadian or British healthcare. I read an excellent article from The New Yorker this morning about how overtreatment may be one reason why healthcare costs are so high these days. There are many out there trying to scare people away from trying to make meaningful healthcare reform happen. Even if Obama's intentions are good, it is very doubtful he is going to make much progress in his efforts to reform. Take a look at how many prominent legislators have a stake in some form of health care.

Of course, there are other silly issues like David Letterman making jokes about Sarah Palin (which, by the way, I happen to side with Palin on this particular matter).

But what seems to be the biggest problem through all of it is, while there are great discussions and arguments to be made about most of these pressing challenges our country is facing, those discussions more often than not will not even happen. Both sides are too busy demonizing the other side. It is a legitimate challenge to take a position and respect the other side to believe the way they do.

While I still tend to have opinions and sometimes even make a claim to know an answer or two, the more I read and listen to the talking heads, I just want to stay out of the fight. I don't want to be mean and hateful like they so often seem to be. I would rather try to find common ground, and see if there are ways that I agree with those whose ideology differs somewhat.

If I cannot do so, I would rather stay quiet, and let others be critical and angry. There is more than enough of those types of feelings out there without me adding to the pot.

But enough about me. Even though I do not want to demonize, it is lamentable how difficult it is to have respectful, reasoned discussion in our country today. It seems you can only discuss things civilly when you agree with the person with whom you are speaking. One problem is that certain faces on TV are very touchy about others demonizing them, but don't seem to even take note of themselves when they say, as Bill O'Reilly does in the following clip: "I don't demonize you for thinking what you do, but you have blood on your hands."

It causes people to cry foul when David Letterman jokes about Palin's child getting knocked up by Alex Rodriguez, but laugh when Ann Coulter calls Bill Clinton a rapist.

I know I don't have the answer. Right now, I am content to get most of my information from NPR, or the newspaper (the local Laramie Boomerang, or the New York Times). At least those sources are much less combative and negative. And there are plenty of other articles to read in the paper if I don't like the one I'm reading at a particular moment in time.

If others want to demonize, I will leave it to them. I will try to avoid doing so, while still reading, and having opinions. But really honestly, in my gut, I worry that this is just the start of vigilante violence. Another contention about which I hope I'm completely wrong.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Why I Run

May 29, 2009

Last Friday I got my new running shoes after running nearly 700 miles with my last pair. I p
assed the 700th mile this week in a little over a year. I have really turned things on the last few months. In April I ran 90 miles, and this month I will end up finishing over 100.

Why do I do it? I know some people think running 14 miles all at once is a symptom of mental insanity. But I do it for a number of reasons, and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.

Last year I was wondering exactly what to do with my life. I went to counseling and was on medication for a little while. One suggestion my counselor gave me to help with my mood was to find a way to be more physically active. I have tried to run consistently for years, but I have a bad knee and back, I told her. She recommended I do something else.

Nonetheless, I decided to invest in Nike+. I got some new shoes, and determined I would not train too hard right out of the gate like I had been prone to do in the past. I ran for a few months, then tapered off last fall/winter when I was riding my bike 100 miles a week. Over time I lost 20 pounds.

When I got back to Laramie, I knew I had to stay active so I could stay in the shape I had achieved in Arizona. Last month I ran over 13 miles in one run for the first time. This month I got 7th place in a 5K here in Laramie, finishing the race in 20:02.

There are several reasons why I love to run. The first obviously stems from the fact that I have already accomplished so much, and I want to keep building on those successes.

I run for peace of mind. My depression has literally disappeared as I've kept active. I can also pop on the headphones, and forget about life for a few minutes. I love the way I feel when I've finished a run, especially a tough, lengthy one. Even though it doesn't usually endure, I feel a sort a mental clarity while I run.

I can enjoy fresh air and the beauty of nature.

I run to wear cool headbands and tank tops (even with my skinny chicken-arms).

I run because I can, but also because not everyone that wants to can, and not everyone that can, does. A close friend once opined that he didn't think human beings were meant to run long distances, especially not he nor I. I then saw an ESPN video of a young man born with cerebral palsy who was not even expected to walk in his life. He learned to walk, albeit awkwardly, and he learned he loved golf, and learned to play despite his handicap. He ended up walking miles and miles of golf course over the course of a full PGA season - he walked every hole of every tournament.

If a guy who wasn't meant to even walk could do that, I can at least run a marathon or two if I work hard enough. So I will keep running, because I want to.

One final admission: I really do not think I have the appearance of a person you might stereotypically think of as a runner - boney thin, with no fat tissue whatsoever. However, I felt proud today when I was about to get a huge needle stuck into my vein to give plasma. The phlebotomist commented on my giant veins and queried, "Are you a runner or something?"

To which I unhesitatingly responded, "Yes I am."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why Torture?

May 6, 2009

I have hesitated to enter into the fray on the issue of "enhanced interrogations" because it seems to me to be a very difficult, complicated issue. However, even though I think I understand the rationales behind the use of such harsh methods, I have a very hard time deciphering why any person who considers him or herself moral, would have a problem with someone who opposed such mistreatment of other human beings.

I think too many people have been watching 24, and other dramatic television series, and they think those things happen in real life. While there are those who say information gleaned from enhanced methods may have saved lives, I would question with all of my intuitive resourcefulness that there has
ever been a time when a terrorist had his hand on the button of a detonator, and has made demands and threats to the United States; otherwise, he would blow up a city.

I thought it was pretty obvious that the plot was far-fetched since Jack Bauer still somehow hasn't died in seven seasons. But I honestly think people believe there are bad guys who are out to get us, and the only way to stop them is by torturing people.

If they want to believe that, fine. If they want to believe that President Obama is putting our nation at risk by eliminating such treatment of prisoners, that's their choice.

I am saying, if we are strictly speaking on moral grounds, I don't really understand how someone who thinks he is moral can have a problem with the position Obama has taken on this issue. Aren't principles and morals supposed to be held more sacred than life itself? Is it acceptable for a supposedly moral person to betray those morals, supposedly to save lives? Hence, even if it's true that lives were saved, we had saved them at the cost of coming down to the level of our reprehensible enemies.

Yet we have voices like Bill O'Reilly out there saying if you diagree with those who choose to torture enemy combatants, and you disagree with God's self-appointed "mouthpiece," that you somehow are unpatriotic, and hate america. People who feel very strongly that we should treat everyone with dignity, enemy or otherwise, are treated like weak and spineless individuals.

I am not declaring definitively that I know the answer. But there is a case to be made for harsh interrogations, in that they possibly keep us safer from threats about which we are unaware. And there is a case to be made that being the great nation we are, we ought to somehow rise above the behavior of animals, and act like civil human beings, brutal enemy notwithstanding.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Favorite Radiohead Track

May 5, 2009

No No No No No No No No
no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no
i don't know why you bother
nothing's ever good enough for you
i was there and it wasn't like that
you came here just to start a fight

you had to piss on our parade
you had to shred our big day
you had to ruin it for all concerned
in a drunken punchup at a wedding.

hypocrite opportunist
don't infect me with your poison
a bully in a china shop
when i turn round stay frozen to the spot.

the pointless snide remarks
of hammerheaded sharks
the pot will call the kettle black

in a drunken punchup at a wedding.
no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no

Capitalism v. Socialism

May 5, 2009

Ever since President Obama's fated exchange with the ever-omniscient Joe the Plumber last year during election season, the terms socialist, marxist, fascist, among others, have been thrown around liberally.

I don't believe Obama is a closet socialist, questionable past personal ties aside. He may be more liberal than the average american, but more than likely, he is going to end up being more of a centrist than even he, or would like him to be, economically speaking. Meanwhile, in regards to the war on terror, even though his rhetoric is more conciliatory than that of his predecessor, it is hard to see a clear-cut difference between the two foreign policies. The main idea that the U.S. is the world's sole superpower, and must so remain, is still intact.

But the discussion has led me to question the oft-accepted-as-fact logic that free-market capitalism is the absolute best system under which to govern a people, while at the same time wondering seriously whether socialism is the great Satan that conservatives would have us believe.

Certainly, capitalism has it's faults, as evidenced by the current economic situation throughout the world. Some experts would argue that it is our failure to adhere to true free-market principles that have gotten us into the whole mess.

Whether we follow the principles correctly or not, those who are making arguments relating to Obama's 'socialist' policies have to be making a couple of assumptions - that the United States as a general rule operates within a free-market, and that socialism as an alternative has already proved to be a spectacular failure.

The fallacy in this simple-minded discussion is that somehow there are only two choices - capitalism, or socialism. It also assumes that socialism as an evil form of rule, refers to the failures of the Soviet Union and other european and asian countries. It assumes that those failed systems are the only possible implementations of socialism.

While most people who argue for an increase in socialism are branded as radical left-wing nutjobs, there are a few in the political arena who argue for a sort of pragmatic, mixed-economy solution. Capitalism has proved to be weak in some areas, and could stand to be improved. Meanwhile, all aspects of socialism do not spring out of evil imaginations of men.

In the future months, I am going to study this dilemma further. I would contend that the idea that media, business, and government, are not conducted on a free-market scale nearly the way we would be made to believe by most of the powerful voices speaking in the world today. I would argue that most people who contend for the free market are really just proponents of the status-quo, which often isn't pro-free-market at all. And I will probably argue that although Obama's proposals tend to sound lofty, he probably is a president of the status-quo more often than not.

It's time to examine the currently held belief of many in neoliberalism, defined by Robert McChesney in "The Political Economy of Media:" - Neoliberalism refers to the doctrine that profits should rule as much of social life as possible, and anything that gets in the way of profit making is suspect, if not condemned. Business good. Governments bad. Big business very good. Big government very bad. Taxes on the right, bad. Social spending aimed at the poor and working class, even worse. Take care of number one, and everyone fend for yourself. There is no such things as 'society,' only individuals in fierce competition with one antoher, and their immediate families, the only permissible freeloaders. (In fact, family freeloading is the occupation of choice for those of great wealth. No ruthless market for those who can affort to opt out. Nice work, if you can get it.)

So there you have it. Is capitalism really the best we can do? Are our only choices capitalism or socialism and no other options are possibilities? Are we only responsible to ourselves and our families, or should we be more responsible for the society of which we are a part, as a whole?

Of course, to have the discussion, one must first be brave enough to throw away the assumptions that capitalism is perfectly good, and socialism is completely evil. Which is what I (trying to be the non-conformist that I for some reason sometimes think that I am) intend to at least attempt to do.

P.S. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Absolute Sincerity

April 21, 2009

I keep thinking I will someday be able to overcome the fact that the world is full of bloody hypocrites, especially where morality is concerned. But I just keep coming up with new gripes.

I don't have much to say, except that I was speaking t
o someone about the supposed controversial comments by Miss California in the recent Miss America Beauty Pageant. I performed a Google news search just to check it out, and lo and behold, right on Fox, I see a picture of a hot babe in a swimsuit.

Apparently there was a story. I am sure she was Miss California. Supposedly she lost because she thinks marriage should be between a man and a woman. For some reason, I wasn't really interested in reading.

Snap! Sorry - I got a little sidetracked. So let me get this straight. Someone enters into a pageant where the only real reason anyone pays attention is to look at hot chicks in bathing suits, and then she is a hero because she thinks gay marriage is wrong? Does anyone see the glaring contradiction here?

I know I am being incredibly cynical here, but I am not backing down on this one. People who rail on gay marriage (and I'm not saying it's wrong or right - it's not the issue here), saying it is going to cause the disintegration of society, are probably many of the same people who watch scantily clad women in bikinis on TV, drooling, and trying to find rerun videos on YouTube after the pageant ends because they haven't fantasized enough.

The Miss America Pageant is nothing but a way to make women objects. And if we're going to make moral judgments, then the pageant has to be just as immoral as two people of the same sex wanting to form a union together. I guess what it comes down to is there are not that many gay people out there, compared to the big business out there geared toward the number of people who will spend their time and money to look at swimsuit models strutting their stuff, and then acting like they watch to see what the hell said models think about world poverty.

Let me put it another way: when you prance around practically naked in a swimsuit (if you can call it that), you probably don't have much room to talk about your opinion on morality.

Such hypocrisy has the potential to make one ill.

Update: (4/22/09) Well, what do you know, a woman (Caroline Heldman) who agrees with me. Of course, pervert Sean Hannity and his two male guests want the controversy to go on as long as possible, so they can continue to show pictures of babes in bikinis as much as possible. Of course, these "manly" men more than likely feel they are superior to Heldman just because they are men.

Her argument is just too much for them to handle. The pageant is degrading to women. So what? They're hot, and Hannity wants to watch them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Day Tomfoolery

April 15, 2009

Finally it is here! Tax day! What does it all mean? Well, really for me, nothing. However, there are some significant occurrences going on around the country. I hate to draw attention to the foolishness of some radical conservatives out there, but today is the day where Fox News utterly and unabashedly abandons any claim they may have had to being "fair and balanced."

In several areas of the country, conservatives are gathering to protest tax increases, and government expansion. Really, these rallies will be nothing more than anti-Obama demonstrations. And Fox News has gone out of its way to promote it all the way. The irony is that millionaires and billionaires are organizing the events, making them look like the "parties" are a spontaneous grassroots phenomenon. In the end, the rich are just trying to incite the people, draw attention to something inconsequential, and grow richer as a result.

But enough about taxes. Let's go for a much more global view of matters. I understand the supposedly logical viewpoints that support less taxes and less government. Theoretically, it would be awesome to have government pretty much out of our lives. Compulsory charity is not the best way to provide for those in need, for sure.

However, the facts are undeniable: over three billion people live on less than $2.50 a day. The poorest 40 percent of people account for 5 percent of global income, while the richest 20 percent account for more than 75 percent of global income. One in two children lives in poverty. 1.6 billion people live without electricity.

The stats go on and on. The point? The wealthy (and most people in the United States, even poor college students like myself, are wealthy relative to people in other parts of the world) continue to take more and more of the goods. While technology and means to distribute basic goods to those in poverty continue to improve, it seems the number of poor people continues to expand.

Even if we can't save all the poor in the world, how do we justify the number of poor, starving, adults and children, in the wealthiest nation ever to exist on earth?

I am not going to be the one who says capitalism is a terrible system, but it has its flaws, and I think saying "it's absolutely the best system hands-down" is probably a stretch. As a Mormon, reading in the Doctrine and Covenants about the United Order and Law of Consecration, it is hard to read and imagine that God's way is just naked, free-market capitalism.

From section 104:
15 And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine.
16 But it must needs be done in mine own away; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the bpoor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.
17 For the aearth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be bagents unto themselves.
18 Therefore, if any man shall take of the aabundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the blaw of my gospel, unto the cpoor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in dhell, being in torment.

Sounds like the rich who are selfish with their wealth possibly may find themselves in the same place as the rapists, murderers, and sexual predators of the world, but who knows. Either way, if one studies the Law of Consecration (and no doubt we fail to live it today because we are just as selfish as the Saints who first received the law), there is no doubt that the gap between the CEO of such-and-such company and the person who works at the laundromat for five dollars an hour would not be nearly as wide as the gap surely is today.

I don't want to hear, "if the government didn't take so much of my money, I would be more charitable." That's bogus. Before you start using that argument, start counting the number of cars, televisions, DVD's, iPods, computers, etc. that you have. Not to mention the endless amount of junk sitting in boxes in the garage that hasn't seen daylight since the 1980's. Although it is not wrong for people to have relative comfort in their lives, there is no doubt that most of the interest we have in possessions is merely modern day idol worship.

So the tax-day tea-baggers can participate in their rediculous shenanigans, and people can keep quoting platitudes like, "give a man a fish, feed him for a day," and the government can at least continue trying to do what the rich of the world simply refuse to do: allow those who wouldn't otherwise have a chance to have some semblance of a respectable life for themselves, and for the generations that follow.

And while it may not be quite as lamentable as starving humans, Fox News will continue to claim it is fair and balanced, and a lot of people will probably still believe it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Gun Violence: Where's the Outrage?

April 7, 2009

I am no gun control freak. I admit, I have only handled and shot a gun once in my entire life. My father did not take me hunting when I was a child. We did not have guns in our home, and the mere idea of me owning a gun and storing it in my house frightens my wife to death. But I am in no way a proponent of getting rid of all guns.

However, it has struck me as odd how the recent violent episodes of gun violence in various parts of the country have sparked so little concern - from the news media, from gun-control advocates, or from anyone else, as far as I can tell. Click here to see a list of the latest bloodbaths.

Coming from Wyoming, it is no surprise to me that high school students in the past routinely carried rifles and other arms in their vehicles while driving to and from school. It never occurred to me at the time the danger this could pose to me or other students. This even after experiencing a shooting at my own school when I was in the seventh grade in Sheridan, WY.

Then came the brutality of Columbine. I am not completely sure, but since that incident, I don't think high school students are allowed to drive with weapons in their cars to school. Some probably still do, but they better not store them above the back window of their pickup. Columbine seemed to have the affect of changing the way a lot of people thought about the use of firearms.

There have been several other incidents since Columbine that have sparked disbelief and horror in us all, school shootings, sniper shootings, etc. Even with the shootings at Virginia Tech about two years ago, it seemed the discussion was very heated on how to combat these types of occurrences.

Yet, with the several killing sprees that have erupted over the last month and a half, these discussions seem to have vanished. It may be because of the fear that was hatched with the insidious misinformation that President Obama would take away our guns if he were elected. I honestly don't know. But it seems to me, the more incidents that happen, the more discussion should be had, not less.

One good argument (really the only argument I've heard so far) is that with too much coverage, these violent crimes encourage copycats, which could only increase the incidence of these acts. But there is a way to cover the issue without practically glorifying the killer, as I felt may have been the case with the Virginia Tech gunman. I recently heard of a group of young people in Casper who were discussing suicide on a MySpace board. It would be silly for the authorities who learned of this to say, "well let's just pretend it isn't a problem, because we might be glorifying the participants." Something had to be done in that instance, and something probably needs to be done about these shootings. Nothing is going to happen if no one will even entertain discussion.

No doubt there are lobbies out there trying to curtail the right to bear arms. No doubt they want to stop people from owning and storing guns in their homes. But I don't know where they are right now. It is just curious that at a time when our president supposedly wants to take away guns, and when the media supposedly are riding along in his bandwagon, that somehow the media have collectively turned a shrugging, indifferent shoulder to the multiple massacres that have recently unfolded.

Why the apparent refusal to at least discuss that there may be some correlation between the increasing number of innocent deaths, and how gun laws are in force today? That includes discussion of whether it would have made people more safe if there had been a gun in the building where the killer opened fire. Has the discussion become so polarizing that people are avoiding it all together? Or, as the CEO of the NRA recently put it, are the ones with the guns making the rules currently? Is it because the economy is hurting, and people have more important things to worry about?

I have a lot more questions than answers. However, since I began writing, I found that ABC is going to do a special shortly on the violence that has happened over the last year. Maybe they will do what should already have happened - begin a dialogue about what is going on, why it's happening, and what possibly can be done to change the situation.

There was another mass killing over the weekend in Graham, Washington. That apparently brings the number of mass killings to five in the last eight days. It is very disturbing that these killings are happening. It is also very disturbing that no one seems to care too much about it all.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

Elton John in Laramie

April 3, 2009

Sir Elton John is gracing Laramie with his presence today, as part of the Shepard Symposium for Social Justice. While he may not be my favorite solo pop artist of all time, he is right at the top (I think Billy Joel would be my #1 favorite). I still remember listening to him for the first time when I was three of four years old at my cousin's house, and I have been a fan ever since. He is a legend who has written a lot of great songs, and it seems the more outrageous the glasses over time, the cooler he got.

Of all his songs, I think "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" is my all-time favorite. That may be partly because of the many times I sang the chorus, "laughing like children, living like lovers, rolling like
thunder, under the covers!" with my scout troop on various activities and excursions, much to the chagrin of our troop leader. Check out the official video on YouTube. It's great! I'm sure it will be a great concert tonight.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama on Leno

March 20, 2009

I think it is a pleasure to listen to President Obama, and he is a pretty funny guy to boot. A very good interview.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Destruction Delayed

March 17, 2009

Well, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (which is apparently the way we measure the success of our president) is up nearly 850 points over a six-day span.

Why aren't people shouting that the economy is on its way to recovery? Why aren't people cheering that Barack Obama has saved us? Okay, so I am kidding. Just a little.

But I do think it's interesting that when the economy is down, the president gets criticized because Wall Street apparently is very worried about his economic plans. So when the economy improves, and the administration starts to sound more positive about the general situation, then they get criticized for sounding too optimistic.

I just know that deep down in the conservative gut, there is utter hatred at the site of the stock market rising. Even though it doesn't prove Obama is not going to destroy the country, as they have so energetically predicted, it at least means that they will have to wait for armageddon at least one more day.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fox News Porn

March 15, 2009

It warms my heart to know so many people watch Fox News, mostly because it's "fair and balanced," especially when these moral folks are supporting the garbage they put on there. I lost the little respect I had for Bill O'Reilly when he did several segments years back about Carl's Jr.'s commercial with Paris Hilton all soaped up and nearly nude, doing a car wash. It was one of the most hypocritical expositions I've ever seen. O'Reilly bloviated about angry parents whose kids could have been exposed to such filth, since the commercials were on at such an early hour. And here he was, on a show that airs at 6 p.m. MST, repeatedly showing clips of the practically naked Hilton.

The current issue is with Fox News reporting on the violence happening in Mexico and the threat to college students who want to go there for spring break. So, naturally (any clear-thinking person would do the same), the segments airing on "The O'Reilly Factor," whatever Hannity calls his show now, and "On the Record" with Greta, were teased with dozens of pictures of buxom women in bikinis dancing around, partying, and drinking beer. When these "fair and balanced" anchors reported on the story, as well as discussed the issues with their guests, naturally, they again repeatedly aired the soft-pornographic material. And why not? You can't talk about the story without showing scantily clad women. It just wouldn't work out.

I certainly will not embed the video, since it is so disgusting, but I couldn't help but comment about another example of how Fox News is so often trash television - the likes of which I would expect to see more from MTV or E!

Bravo. Keep watching, because it's definitely more fun to get informed on the issues while women in bikinis are giving you repeated encouragement. Only a serious news channel would cover stories with such class and conservatism.

Not surprisingly, Jon Stewart picked up on "bad habit" Fox has sometimes exhibited in a clip in 2006, and though I felt it would be wrong to have such inappropriate content posted on such a wholesome website like mine, I suddenly remembered this was coverage by Fox News. So what is there to worry about?

Don't these people realize how they undermine themselves and their imagined "moral" position? Bill O'Reilly has branded himself as a "Culture Warrior." He and his colleagues at Fox are devoted to telling people what is moral and immoral: gays, sex education, abortion, Brittany Spears, etc. When they show this garbage on their shows, how can one take them seriously when they act like they have any authority in moral matters? They are a joke, and I think Bill O'Reilly showing footage like this in prime time is probably more harmful to society than a couple of gay people getting married in California. But people will keep watching him tell us morality is under attack, somehow oblivious to the overt display of hypocrisy, all the while undermining their own "moral" positions.

I've happened upon one of the little secrets on the issue. The following was published in the current issue of "The Week" magazine:

The porn paradox
Guess which states are most interested in online pornography? That’s right—those with the highest concentrations of politically conservative and traditionally religious people. Of the top 10 porn-buying states in the nation, says a new Harvard University study, eight voted Republican in the last presidential election. In states in which laws have been passed banning gay marriage, subscription rates to porn sites are 11 percent greater than in states without gay-marriage bans. In Utah, most people agreed with the statement, “I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage.” Yet Utah boasts the highest porn-buying rate in the entire nation. Why are people in “red” states more likely to indulge in online porn? Perhaps they’re simultaneously repulsed and fascinated by sexuality, study author Benjamin Edelman tells New Scientist. “One natural hypothesis is something like repression: If you’re told you can’t have this, then you want it more.”

So while they point fingers and condemn society for its moral depravity, maybe a simple answer for why this junk is on a "news" channel is that people who watch Fox News like it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Clarification

March 14, 2009

One of the biggest disadvantages of the Internet is that while it gives the illusion of making communication amongst users all the more possible, what it often really does is inhibit quality interactions. Words on a screen can convey a thousand different thoughts and feelings, but there is no human sitting there to explain if there are misunderstandings.

I want to make it clear that many of the things I argue on this site, are more for the sake of argument, and giving a contrary point-of-view, rather than this just being a place for me to establish, unequivocally, exactly what I believe for any out there interested.

There is probably more equivocalness than not in what I'm saying. Therefore when I argue, for instance, that I think this or that about President Bush, or some other defenseless conservative bystander, I am not saying I don't think there are positive things about that person, or that it is impossible for someone to support George W. Bush, or vote for a conservative/republican.

On the other hand, I do make a lot of my observations with the idea (at least in my mind) that there are many conservatives out there today who question my intelligence completely just because I would even consider, for even a second, a liberal perspective, let alone endorse one. Thus, one of the main reasons I exist is to point out the inconsistency that for the last two presidential terms, many of my associates have pointed out how awful it was that liberals hated Bush for no apparent reason, other than to hate (and they - conservatives - are probably right); yet now that the president is a democrat, these same people have turned around and are doing exactly the same thing, justifying it all the way.

I know they probably don't see it that way. But when you've made up your mind, evidence to the contrary be damned, that's what it looks like. When you've established in your mind that the president is a liar, then it is easy to say he is a socialist, even if he says he is not, or that he wants socialized medicine, when he doesn't. Or, the converse: it is easy to believe that a president is a war criminal, even though he says he had America's best interests at heart, because he lied about going to war in the first place.

My purpose is at least a tiny (probably insignificant) attempt at avoiding such extreme positions. Because arguing that someone is less intelligent than me just because they disagree, or because there is no possible rational explanation for liberal (or conservative, for that matter) ideas, is really just evidence of the absence of a good argument.

P.S. I've gotten a couple comments that people are unsure what I believe exactly, and I take it as a compliment. It means I have not been ferociously defending and fighting for one particular viewpoint. I am perfectly comfortable with people wondering whether I'm really a liberal, or a conservative, or some weirdo in between.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The World Turned Upside Down

March 12, 2009

I have been cognizant of the workings of politics for a relatively short amount of time. Nevertheless, it doesn't take long for one to figure out that politics is very easy to predict, since the topic is very cyclical in nature (some might replace the word cyclical with "hypocritical").

With this in mind, I wondered for several years before the last election, what would happen if a democrat were elected president? For nearly two years, conservatives complained and complained about an evil media machine that would bend over backwards to get Barack Obama elected; the same media were a huge enemy to President George W. Bush for eight years.

I literally had conversations with people who told me with the utmost conviction that if Obama got elected, we would be screwed, but that the media would actually make us think everything was wonderful, being the democratic whipping children that the media were.

So, given the premise that the media are hopelessly biased, it was no surprise how Obama practically cleaned John McCain's clock in the election. There then followed the transition period, after which Barack actually became President Obama.

Not much later, I was absolutely astounded to see storys about layoffs, crashing stock markets, forclosures, and all other sorts of economic turmoil. I was surprised to see actual criticisms of President Obama - his stimulus plan, his failure to forge bipartisan inroads, not vetoing the $410 billion spending bill, failing to bring ALL troops home from Iraq like he said he would, etc. Not only was I surprised, I was incredibly dumbfounded to see that such criticisms came from conservative AND liberal writers.

And now, conservatives who spouted off for at least the last eight years that a person was unpatriotic to criticize the president, have gotten out the clubs, and are going to town, now that the president isn't a republican anymore.

While everything has changed - the Democrats have considerable majorities in both houses of Congress, and control the presidency - nothing has really changed. Liberals who bashed Bush incessantly are now critical of people who can't stand Obama, and conservatives who justified every move President Bush (because you have to respect him, he's our president for crying out loud) made, are now venomously on the prowl to attack Obama.

And the biased, far-left media machine have disappointed me tremendously. An obviously biased media would not allow so many conservatives to publish disparaging opinions toward Obama. They reported job losses and facts about a faltering economy to make Bush look bad, because they simply hated the man. So why would they report negative press about the economy now that Bush is gone? How are Rush Limbaugh and his conservative clones on the radio not being silenced?

Of course, the only answer I seem to get from conservatives is a fake, theoretical argument: sure, the press still report the negative things, but if John McCain (or any other republican name) were in charge, the press would be out for blood, blaming everything on him, and calling for his impeachment, yada, yada.

My favorite response: theoretically, pigs could fly, but I'm not sure what point that proves.

I guess the most predictable fact about politics: those ideologues on both sides will continue to see what they want to see, and turn a blind eye to anything else, all the while decrying the biases of others, remaining hopelessly entrenched in their own biased worldview.

If nothing else, I suppose it gives me the right to call myself a prophet. And that ain't so bad.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Was God Wrong?

March 4, 2009

I was cleaning out my inbox yesterday when I stumbled across a pre-election gem in the form of a story about Sarah Palin. I know, most of you have probably already forgotten her, but I'm sure there's a few staunch conservatives who still want to canonize her, or at least adopt her in place of their real mother.

Anyway, the article quotes Palin as saying to James Dobson of “Focus on the Family” (soon to be "formerly of") that she was confident God would do the right thing on election day.

I would love to have a follow up on that statement. If Palin was right, then God obviously wanted Barack Obama to be president. However, cutting through the shrubery to arrive at the obvious, Palin was saying no more, no less than "John McCain will be president because that is what's best for the country, and God will do what is best for the country."

Here's an exact quote: “And it also strengthens my faith because I know at the end of the day putting this in God’s hands, the right thing for America will be done, at the end of the day on Nov. 4.”

Which is exactly why I am now going to go search for information about Sarah Palin changing her faith, since it seems very unlikely she would want to continue worshipping a God that is not even wise enough to pick the right president of the United States.

If that is too much of a stretch, I'm sure I will find loads of evidence that Palin is firmly behind Obama as president, since I assume she is just as confident God did the right thing on Nov. 4 as she was that he would do the right thing prior to the actual election.

If you find anything on either subject, please inform me. I'm not optimistic about the endeavor. But I'm sure God will do the right thing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jon Stewart/Media Matters make my day

March 3, 2009

I already watched episodes 11 and 12 of this season of 24, so I needed something to pass the time. I watched thankfully as Jon Stewart made fun of Rush Limbaugh and people who use Twitter in the same hilarious episode. Then I found an all new page on Media Matters for America's website dedicated exclusively to Limbaugh. If Limbaugh is the new leader of conservatives, then I am definitely not a conservative.

How has this happened? How have I allowed the lying, biased, partisan media to deceive me and brainwash me? Well, I guess because of the massive conspiracy that won't allow funny conservative guys on TV.

Update 3/4/09
Just a thought about Rush saying he wants President Obama to fail. I am reluctant to admit that many years ago, I impersonated Limbaugh for a 7th grade project on the person I most admired.

It is impressive to me how so many have such a poor memory of history. Aside from the fact that Rush regularly resorts to five-year-old playground behavior - name-calling and using childish voices to mock his detractors - he has spent at least the last eight years shouting that people who hate George W. Bush were unpatriotic for not supporting the ex-president. Now he opens right up and admits he is waiting for Obama to fail. I know he's a smart guy. I am not even kidding. It is just shameful that he has a hold on so many dittoheads who don't even seem to understand pompous, repulsive, hypocrisy, even when it's playing on the radio three hours a day.