Saturday, September 20, 2008

Crepe or Crap?

Crepes. I'm sure you've eaten them before. And, if you haven't you've probably heard of them. They are thin french pancakes that are eaten with jellies, sugar, and just about anything else you like to stuff your face with.

Now a couple of years ago I was in Brazil and my buddy Mario and I were walking down a street (We did this quite frequently actually). And, on this particular street there was a little shop advertising crepes. However, the pronunciation is a bit different in portuguese. Instead of (cray-pes) it sounds more like (craps). So when Mario asked, "Have you ever eaten a crepe before?" I was taken aback, having not seen the sign and thought that he was messing with me. I answered, "No Mario, I don't eat crap." Then I saw the sign and said, "Oh, crepes, yeah, I've had those, they're pretty good." Then I explained to Mario the very close linguistic nature of the portuguese crepe, to the english crap. We both laughed, and agreed to eat crap after that.

Friday, September 19, 2008

So what if me and the colonel know each other on a first name basis?

Obesity. It's a serious problem in this country. It's almost a world-wide epidemic. 

Now, that being said, it's bad enough to be called 'obese', but then why do doctors, lawmakers, and other people need to sub-classify some people as 'morbidly obese'? Either you're obese or you're not. Do we really need to attach scary adverbs like morbidly? It makes the person feel like they are not only fat, but part of a freaky haunted house at a bad halloween party. Guess what?! That fat isn't a halloween costume, and this isn't a Stephen King novel. Saying morbidly obese is just uncaring. 

So I think we should reclassify these people in a more PC way. 

Perhaps saying they are 'weight impaired'. Or, maybe 'the more blessedly obese'. Or 'the reason we have good NFL lineman'.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Spin Doctors

Perhaps you remember the band 'Spin Doctors' who wrote a song popular in the late nineties called 'Two Princes.' Perhaps you don't. To make it easier, it's that song that says, "Just go ahead now," a lot, after just about every line in the refrain.  

Some of you like spin. Well, I just don't get you. Even if it does make for a cool song. 

I read an article today about a computer program that measured the amount of spin in politician's speeches. I don't know how the algorithm works exactly, but I do know it measures inflection on certain words like 'I', 'we', as well as 'go', 'going', 'hate', and 'enemy'. Here are the results:
So, whether you like it or not, spin is real. Some can use it effectively, like Obama, and others not so much, like McCain. Whether that is a real advantage is debatable. Either way, the Spin Doctors say: "Just go ahead now."

PS - M. Obama is Michelle, for those of you who are confused. I was for about 3 seconds, thinking perhaps it was one of his Kenyan relatives.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Race is not THE issue.

On July 11th, 2008 I wrote a post about how race is not an issue for me, and I inferred that it probably isn't an issue for most people. 

However, Obama surrogates and sympathizers have been constantly playing the race card without provocation. CNN correspondent Jack Cafferty is trying to make race out to be the biggest issue explaining closeness in the polls between Obama and McCain, negating the other more obvious reasons like: 1. the republican convention, 2. Sarah Palin, 3. McCain's appeal to moderates, 4. his 'maverick' image (and actual distance from Bush and his own party), as well as 5. his appeal to blue collar workers. The reason Obama has not surged ahead has nothing to do with his race, and A LOT to do with his skimpy record and lack of legislative accomplishments. People are just unsure if he has the experience to do the job. So let me show you what Mr. Cafferty said:

"Race is arguably the biggest issue in this election, and it's one that nobody's talking about. The differences between Barack Obama and John McCain couldn't be more well-defined. Obama wants to change Washington. McCain is part of the Washington and a part of the Bush legacy. Yet the polls remain close. Doesn't make sense...unless it's race."

First off, Cafferty makes no effort to show impartiality saying, "Obama wants to change Washington. McCain is part of Washington and a part of the Bush legacy." It may be true that Obama wants to change Washington, but so far, in his 3 years in the senate he has had zero impact. No new transformative legislation to put his name to. Not even a co-authored bill. Furthermore, Obama has only worked with republicans 17% of the time in the senate, whereas McCain has worked with democrats 55% of the time. So while Obama claims bipartisanship in theory, he has never done it in practice. McCain is a testament to bipartisanship, and that is a big part of his appeal, not because he's white. And then Cafferty says McCain is "part of Washington and a part of the Bush legacy." First off, he has been Washington for 26 years, but that is more of a boon for him than something to discredit him with, given his record that is far from the usual partisan gridlock type politics. Secondly, McCain has almost always been at odds with Bush in the places that it matters most. McCain has always been a supporter of global warming legislation, and has fought against corporate interests and large pharmaceuticals (I don't agree with his approach, but I will defend the fact that he is very UNLIKE Bush in those, and other areas like government spending - Obama is actually more like Bush in that regard, wanting to spend more)

So, with all of that, somehow race is supposedly rearing its ugly head. The fact is, it is not, but the democrats so desperately want it to be, they make comments like Cafferty's and Time Magazine's Michael Grunwald who says race is the elephant in the room, even suggesting Barack Obama needs to tread lightly as he fights back against the McCain-Palin attacks. Of course he makes little mention of Obama's attacks, which have not been any better, and in fact, are terribly misleading like his recent Spanish language ad attempting to link McCain with his long time nemesis Rush Limbaugh (and misquoting Limbaugh in the process). Not only that, but Obama once again is using the race card to scare voters, just as when he claimed earlier in his campaign as he had secured the nomination, McCain would use the race card against him. So far Obama has used the race card twice (and many more times if you count all the media correspondents who back him) and McCain hasn't used it once. So is Obama really being hurt by his race, or is he using it as a fear tactic to gain voters worried about being labeled as bigots and racists?

Oh, and another one who wants to make this election a race war is Gov. Sebelius of Kansas (D). Read here for her comments.

My opinion? Let's clean this up folks. Get back to the issues, like Obama said (oh, and Senator Obama, you might want try it yourself).

Setting Goals

Setting goals is an important thing to do to stay focused. 

And, while most people would probably agree with that statement, few actually do it consistently. Some people only set goals or "resolutions" just prior to the new year. But, goals can be set at any time of the year, month, week, or day. And, even if it's just a prioritized 'to-do' list, that is still something.

For the day-to-day stuff I write to-do lists. For the month-to-month and year-to-year stuff I write more general goal lists. And, of course I'm not 100% on everything, but it does provide me with a framework and good motivation to get off my butt and do things.

However, something important to remember about goals is to make sure they are not vague. Specificity makes them more real to us. Instead of being an unrealistic fantasies with no specified 'how to,' where, or when, goals need to be realistic, well-planned, and dated. For example, instead of saying, "I will lose ten pounds," one should say, "I will go to the gym every monday, wednesday, and friday, and run every morning before work, and aim to lose 10 pounds in a month." In such a way the goal is not mere ambition, but also is coupled with a plan to bring it to fruition.

So, as you may have guessed, I wrote down some goals today. They are all self-improvement related because I believe that I am the only person I can will to change. But, that doesn't mean you shouldn't do likewise. It's your call though. No arm twisting here.

PS - I'm sorry if this post bored you, and you "knew this stuff already."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm sorry breakfast

Breakfast. I remember you. We had some great times together. I would saunter from my early morning sleep-induced zombie coma to you at the table. We would sit and stare at one another. You would smell good and I would just grumble and glare. You were hot and I was disheveled. But we got along so well. You awoke me to a bright new day, and I started to open my swollen eyelids and realize I was still alive. Thank you breakfast.

But now we have become less intimate. Sometimes I see you, other times I don't. I don't help you exploit chickens anymore. I help you exploit cows and grains, and occasionally banana trees. 

But it's all business now. I don't stare at the wall and back at you with my usual dazed confusion. I'm quick and methodical. Uncaring. I don't spend as much time with you because you bore me. You are a chore. You're a simpleton now. We can't even carry on a decent conversation. I'm sorry breakfast.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Getting Back to "The Issues"

I love it when I hear democrats say, "Let's get back to the issues." 

Historically, in elections, when democrats focus on the issues, they lose. That is why Obama has spent so much of his time on a soap box talking about a vague hope, and an unclear, but nonetheless forceful mantra of 'change.' 

And, focusing on the issues does not mean calling McCain Bush and trying to tie him to that administration. That is false campaigning. If they really want to focus on the issues they need to talk about McCain's record, not Bush's. And, if they really want to focus on the issues they need to tell people what an Obama administration would do to 'change' things. If they told America more about Obama's plans, most Americans would disagree. But, people don't vote on issues they don't know about, so instead they vote on character and personality, or, what they perceive as character and personality. So, let's talk about the issues:

Obama wants to cut taxes for the 'middle class' supposedly, and make up the difference by taxing those who make more, making our already unequal tax distribution more top heavy. 

However, his definitions of 'middle class' and 'rich' are not correct. Contrary to popular belief, people who make six figures, aren't necessarily rolling in dough. And, even people who make upwards of $50,000 a year aren't either.  And part of that is because they are taxed like they are rich, when they are not, and then those who make significantly less than them pay nothing. 

Obama wants to make more bureaucracy and government work programs like FDR did, federalizing medical coverage, and creating an 'Obama's Youth' movement. 

Now that might seem all well and good on the surface, except that when the government takes over any large organization or task, it tends to be miserably inefficient. The argument of 'you will pay less for your coverage' may be true on the surface, except if you pay less, you get less, and on top of it, you're not really paying less. To cover everyone's new "free" medical expenses, taxes will go up. And, those taxes don't go to R&D, new techniques, better training and better facilities. No, those taxes go to a new middle man. A technocrat who works for the government and tells you what the government will and won't pay for. The doctors will get paid a flat rate (regardless of their years of schooling and amassed debt from that schooling), and they will be forced to see ALL patients (even illegal aliens). But, so what?! Well, that means that doctors have less incentive to do their jobs well, and reduces the amount of time they can spend on patients, thus causing your "free" coverage to be worth just what you supposedly did not pay - nothing. 

The moral is, don't let politicians trick you into thinking you are getting "free" anything. The truth is, you pay for it. You know how everything in DC is "free"? That's because your federal taxes pay for all those museums and monuments. So, while it might appear to be "free," it's really not.

And, on liberal blogs, and news article forums I read elitist sentiments like this: "The American people are stupid. They are so easily duped by the republican machine. And those people in middle America aren't really Americans, and I sure as hell don't want them to run my country."

Wow. These comments come from people who live in big population centers on both coasts, who have no idea that most of what that they eat, and the electricity that runs their homes comes from those "people in middle America who aren't really  Americans." I love how people who live in big cities claim this moral, intellectual, and social superiority over those who live outside the city. It's a bunch of crock. Guess what? The kids who have an hour bus ride to their school from a podunk farm in rural Montana are often better educated than most inner-city kids. But, people who make these kinds of comments, that despise others who think differently than they (and call them stupid for not agreeing with them) are not inner-city products. Most of them have been fed from silver spoons, receiving their education at private institutions. Oh the irony!  

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Brazo-Austra-American Connection

There are three countries that I put in the same category. We're like blood brothers. 

Brazil, Australia, and the United States (Pictures in order - BR, AU, US).
You can agree or disagree, but the people in these places share a lot of similarities, as do their histories. All three were colonized by European powers. All three were exploited by those same powers. All of those countries were made what they are today by waves of immigration from all over the world. All of them also have vast untamed stretches of country. From the Amazon in northern Brazil, to the Yukon in Alaska, to the Northern Territory in Australia. Another cool fact is that all of the countries have great surfing, surfers, and beach communities. All three have vast mineral resources, mining operations, and stable economies. They all have beautiful people. And, another similarity is that all three countries share my love.