Electoral Map

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Obama just won!!!

Obama Infomercial.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Since it's sort of unprecedented that a presidential candidate aired a 30 minute infomercial, I thought I would post here for folks to watch (if you, like me, didn't actually see it on TV).  However, I haven't watched it yet, so I'll hold off on saying anything about it until I've seen it.

Wednesday Random Ten.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

With the election less than a week away, a 30 minute Obama infomercial, and more attack adds on TV than I can shake a stick at, even I, the political junkie that I am, is sick of politics. Really, one lesson that the US can learn from Canada is to have shorter election cycles. Seriously we don't need more than 20 months of campaigning for a term of office that's only 48 months long. That being the case, I've decided that today I'm going to post about something completely unrelated to politics.

While I was driving to the office I heard the Darkness on the radio and thought about the weird fuzzy thing that hugs the singer in the video for their song, "I believe in a thing called love". That made me want to watch the video. That made me think about other videos that I really enjoy. So here are the 10 music videos that I really want to watch right now.

The Darkness - I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Rancid - Salvation

No More Kings - Sweep the Leg Johnny

The Weakerthans - Our Retired Explorer (Dines with Michel Foucault in Paris, 1961)

Corb Lund - Truck Got Stuck

Iron Maiden - Run to the Hills

I have no idea - Awesome God

Slayer - Bloodline

Snow - Informer

David Hasselhoff - Hooked on a Feeling

Sheriff Andy and the Fonz support Obama? And Jon Lajoie, which is totally unrelated but whatever, it says random in this blog's title.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

When I was a little kid I used to love the Andy Griffith show (to be honest, I still love it and watch it on syndication whenever I can) and Happy Days (for a period in time in junior high I wore a leather jacket just like the Fonz's, which I thought was totally cool but was probably really lame).  So when I saw this video, I thought that I'd have to share it with all of you.

On the same site, I found the video that's below.  It's pretty good.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

It seems that Sarah Palin still doesn't know what the Vice President does.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm sure that everyone has already read about this or seen this video but it surprises me a little that Sarah Palin still doesn't seem to know what the VP does (or perhaps she's just continuing her trend of inaccurately describing things).  I'm pretty sure the VP isn't in charge of the Senate and I'm damn sure that the VP, being part of the executive branch, isn't supposed to mess around with the Senate (part of the legislative branch) or is the US just giving up on that whole checks and balances thing?

Granted the VP does get to break tied votes but I wouldn't say that breaking ties ought to be described as getting "in there with senators" to "make a lot of good policy changes".  And really, if the VP did have that kind of power, would you want Sarah Palin to be the VP?  

I mean, if you think about it, whatever you think of Dick Cheney, at least Cheney seemed to know what he was doing.  Granted, what he did might have been wrong-headed, and perhaps even morally wrong, but at least he was cognizant of what he was up to and the machinations and dynamics of US politics.  I would be rather worried about what a powerful Palin might do in office.  Public Safety Commissioners across the country will have to be running for their lives (or at least be constantly firing folks that have upset Palin to keep their jobs).

Is John McCain gonna have to smack a bitch?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I've been spending the last couple of days trying to wrap-up a behemoth of a paper, so I'm far too lazy and unmotivated to actually write something substantial so I thought I would put up a captioned pic that made me laugh.  Now, since I made it, it should make me laugh but whatever....

Caption Fun!

Friday, October 17, 2008

After spending some time perusing the comedy gold that is superpoop.com, I thought it would be fun to introduce pictures with fun captions on this website.  Furthermore, here the readers can join in the fun and come up with captions of their own!

Dude, that was a wicked party last night
but look, I didn't puke once!

McCain Comics on www.superpoop.com

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A.M.  just introduced to me to what might be my new favorite website, superpoop.com.  They're done by a dude named Drew, who happens to be a fellow Ohioan.  You should check it out, it's full of the funny.

Well Done Browns, Well Done!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Being the giant Browns fans that we are, so far A.M. and I have been rather disappointed with the NFL season.  Things were looking pretty bad for the Brownies.  However, it's starting to look like things might have turned around.  Last week, the Browns beat the Bengals in a hard fought, if somewhat ugly game and this week they destroyed the Giants in what have been the biggest upset this season.  Moreover, they're starting to look pretty decent.  Braylon Edwards has gotten over his fear of the ball and Derek Anderson, while still not completing nearly as well as he can, actually looked really good today.

Further, Eric Wright (whom you can see above) managed to run in a totally sweet 94 interception for a TD.  It was a great game!  So, I have to say again, well done Browns, well done!  

P.S.  To any Browns players who somehow magically came across this post, we have tickets to the Browns/Texans game in November, so you guys better win that one.  

P.P.S.  35 to 14?  That's what I call a serious ass-whuppin'.

Great Picture at fivethirtyeight.com.

Monday, October 13, 2008

In the last week or so, I've really come to like fivethirtyeight.com.  The picture above is one of the reasons why.  

I really enjoyed how the guy holding the sign decided to frame the "against" with exclamations points on either side all Spanish-style.  I'm glad to see that the religious right is reaching out to hispanics.  

Happy Turkey Day Canada!

It's my favorite holiday back home in Canada!  Yay, Turkey day!  That's one of the best things about being a Canadian living in the US, two Thanksgivings!

Ms. Palin, I really don't think you can do that.

Friday, October 10, 2008

From the AP:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Trying to head off a potentially embarrassing state ethics report on GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, campaign officials released their own report Thursday that clears her of any wrongdoing.

Really?  Did the Palin campaign folks actually think that would actually work?  I guess their candidate does think that living close to Russia counts as foreign policy experience, so maybe.  But, seriously?  C'mon, how dumb do they think people are?

Quick Thought: The pot calling the kettle black?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I just saw an AP article that noted that Cindy McCain has been going around saying that Obama has been running "the dirtiest campaign in American history".  She must really not pay much attention to her own husband's campaign.  

I mean who's been suggesting that their opponent is pro-terrorist?  I can assure you it's not "that one".

P.S.  Yes, I did intend to suggest that McCain might be implicitly appealing to racist sentiments in his campaign.

Random Thought: The Cincinnati Zoo, an Example of How to Go Green.

I just got home from an afternoon of attending apartment meetings and discussing politics with the other grad students in my department.  I'm not sure how it happened but a conversation about who's going to go to Philly in December to be a part of a hiring committee turned into a debate regarding the Big Bang approach to the Middle-East that neo-conservatives have endorsed.

Anyhow, that's all besides the point, when I got home I was reading the news and I came across an article about the pumpkin hunt for the gorillas at the Cincinnati Zoo.  This gave me an idea for a post, which has nothing to do with pumpkins or gorillas but has a lot to do with the Cincinnati Zoo.  

It seems to me that one thing that a lot of Cincinnatians might not be aware of is that our zoo is on the forefront for sustainable development.  While zoos in general have a mandate, or is it mission (I never get those two right), to further wildlife conservation efforts, the Cincinnati Zoo has gone several steps further and has made huge efforts to be as green as possible.

For example, our zoo is one of the few places in the world that actually has, what I like to refer to as, a poo-reactor.  That is they have a reactor (which may or may not be operational yet) that can use organic material to generate electricity.  This might sound more like a gimick than anything but in an area where solar and wind power isn't feasible, the use of a reactor that can take any organic waste and use it to generate electricity is a great way to generate emissions free electricity in a manner that also helps reduce material that's destined to end up in a landfill.

Further, the zoo has made a commitment to build Leed certified buildings using locally sourced and recycled materials, install green roofs, and develop rain water recycling systems that will result in it being one of the greenest institutions in this city.  More importantly, the zoo is working with other business to potentially sell offsets for companies like Google, which will result in their sustainability projects being economically sustainable as well.  

One of the primary barriers to improving environmental sustainability that prevents a lot of people from improving their infrastructure and practices is cost.  The Cincinnati Zoo has managed to overcome this in a number of ingenious ways.  They've worked deals with energy producers such as Duke Energy (who are quite happy to reduce loads at peak times) to lower the cost of projects.  They're working on selling offsets, which will act to improve income.  And, they've manage to develop in a manner that will result in them seeing, even with conservative projections, their investment paid back in the form of savings in less than 10 years.  

All-in-all I think a lot can be learned from the sustainability model that's been adopted by the zoo here.  It seems that a lot of public institutions that tend to be resource hogs, in particular institutions such as universities, could learn a lot from the model employed by the Cincinnati Zoo.  

Barack Obama is Speaking Today in Ault Park at 3 PM

If you happen to see this post before 3, I wanted to let you know that Obama is speaking in Ault Park today at 3PM.  Given my schedule today (and that I think I've gotten the germs more under control, so I really should go to my meetings) I won't be able to make it.  However, I saw Obama speak at UC the last time he was in town and I quite enjoyed seeing that.  So, I really would suggest that anyone who can go see him should in fact go and see him.

Two Completely Unrelated Issues: fivethirtyeight.com and McCain's healthcare plan.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I am full of the germs today, so rather than studying for my qualifying exam as I should be, I've been looking at stuff on the internet regarding the election.  One site that I came across that was really sweet is fivethirtyeight.com.  Apparently they're a bunch of folks who normally spend their time making baseball predictions who decided that they were going to turn their skills of a statistician towards making predictions regarding the presidential election.

Being a guy who for some really strange reason is into bell-curves and statistical analysis, I had quite a good time checking out their website.  I guess what they do is go through all the available polls, chuck in information about demographics and voting trends and then run statistical scenarios regarding the likely outcome of the upcoming election.

Then they make up sweet pie charts, scatter plots, and probability charts regarding their scenarios (their charts remind me of print-outs that you can get with Resampling Stats and SAS JMP, my favorite statistical programs).  Also, from what I can tell from looking at their models, it seems that they provide far more informative analyses than the polls that you might find elsewhere.  And as you can see from the pie charts that are above and left, they're really quite confident at this point that Obama is going to work McCain in the election, which too makes me feel good.  

Now this brings me to the next thing, which is nearly completely unrelated, that I want to talk about.  Some of you might suspect, after reading the above, that I'm all partisan and Democratic and crap.  That is totally false.  I actually think both major parties in the US are either kind of useless or totally full of the evil.  Or, perhaps they're both totally useless and kind of full of the evil.  I'm not sure which.  I just know that I don't like either of them.

However, this election I've decided to cheer for Obama for one reason, healthcare.  And this is what I want to talk about now.  After watching the debate last night, I'm surprised that Obama didn't go after McCain regarding McCain's healthcare plan.

If one really thinks about McCain's plan it seems quite clear that the plan isn't aimed at improving healthcare coverage for Americans.  It's intended to save money for the gov't to spend, I would suspect, on blowing up brown folks overseas and to try to keep the auto industry from exporting jobs to Canada.

McCain's idea that we should start moving to individual coverage, have a $5000 (per family) tax rebate, taxing folks employer health benefits, and to get rid of the rules preventing folks from crossing state lines to buy insurance, won't actually improve coverage.  

This is for several reasons.  First, a substantial number of the folks who lack coverage don't earn enough to pay anywhere near $5000 a year in taxes.  So a tax rebate isn't really going to help those folks out.  Further, with an employer based insurance program, insurers aren't allowed to deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions.  With individual insurance, they can deny coverage all they want.  That might actually lead to fewer people being covered or those who currently have a hard time getting coverage having an even harder time getting coverage.

This would be made even worse without the restrictions preventing insurers from selling insurance across state lines.  As Obama pointed out, the lack of such a restriction would lead to insurers flocking to states with minimal regulation, where they will be able to count more conditions as pre-conditions.  All-in-all, it seems pretty clear that the McCain healthcare plan really isn't intended to provide better and more inclusive coverage.  It's just a way to help big business to avoid having to pay for insurance for their workers (which really does hit the domestic auto industry hard) in a way that avoids the gov't needing to pay all that much ($5000 per family is not that much when you consider that currently individual healthcare coverage for an average sized family costs about $13,000 a year).

I really don't know why the Obama folks don't mention the above.  I think if people were really aware of the consequences of the healthcare plan that McCain has publicly proposed, Obama would get another bump in support.

My Thoughts Regarding Tonight's Debate.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My first impression was that tonight's debate was rather boring.  It seemed that neither Obama nor McCain were really all that willing to stray off script.  I found that they tended to speak in the same platitudes that they have through most of their campaigns and I thought they could have addressed the questions far more directly.

The only moment that I thought there was anything interesting said was when McCain talked about whether he thought that the economy would get worse or not before it got better and what he said regarding whether he thought Russia was again becoming the "evil empire".  He provided nuanced and rather thoughtful answers to both questions.

However, I'm not sure those two nuanced thoughtful answers is sufficient for me to give McCain the win.  The rest of the debate was so dreadful that I'm going to say that I think both McCain and Obama lost this debate.  To say it was a tie wouldn't express how disappointed I am in both of them.  There were several opportunities for both Obama and McCain to actually say something substantive but neither of them really took that opportunity.  That being the case, I will say again that I think they both lost.

Top 10 Reasons that I Suspect that I Might Be Too Much of an Elitist to Serve in US Public Office.

Monday, October 6, 2008

During this election cycle, I've repeatedly heard folks attacking Barrack Obama as being an elitist.  At first, I didn't quite understand what this all meant.  This was particularly the case given that Obama grew up working class in a single parent family, while John McCain grew up fairly privileged and is now richer than fuck after marrying a rich lady.  However, I think after thinking about this for the last few weeks that I kind of understand what Obama's detractors have been going on about.  However, in that understanding, I've realized that I may be elitist.  Here's why:

10.  I only have one apartment.  This must indicate that I must feel that my shitty little student apartment is particularly special.  I could give other domiciles a chance and live in them too.  I mean John McCain has so many houses that he can't even remember how many he owns.  He's willing to give every house out there a chance.  Me, I think my apartment's so special that I reject all others.

9.  When I was little, I was lucky enough that my parents took time reading to me.  As such I know words other than "maverick" that have more than two syllables.  

8.  I know that we're not neighbors with Afghanistan and I think that such knowledge is important for my foreign policy credentials.

7.  I know which side of the microphone to point towards my face.  Also, I'm proud that I know this.  Moreover, I've never pointed the other side to my face.  It's probably because I'm not old an potentially senile.

6.  I'm not old and potentially senile, I'm at my peak.  This must make me think that I'm particularly special or something.

5.  I've never been tortured by the Viet Cong.  Such a privileged life I lead....

4.  I actually did well in school.

3.  My face isn't lumpy.

2.  I've never shot a moose in my life and think that it's kind of wrong to shoot wolves from a helicopter.

1.  I think that if you name your kids Trig and Track that you lack the judgment to serve in higher office.  

Blogging the VP debate live!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I've been quite excited to watch this debate, so I thought I would write down my thoughts about it as I'm watching it.

9:06 After the first question, I'm quite surprised by how well Joe Biden is speaking.  I tend to expect him to kind of say crazy things and engage in hyperbole.  So far though, he seems rather disciplined and outlining the Obama plan was good.

Regarding Palin, gauging economy by talking to folks during soccer games?  Also, it seems that Palin's answers so far have really just been platitudes and speaking points.  However, she hasn't said anything completely stupid yet but I have hope that she will in the next few hours.

9:15:  Joe Biden is sort of a debating pitbull isn't he.  I haven't seen anyone so explicitly call shenanigans on someone during a political debate as when Biden busted Palin on her failing to talk about deregulation and on her claim that Obama voted to raise taxes 94 times.

9:18  I'm not sure if Palin understands what wealth redistribution is.  How is a tax cut wealth redistribution?

9:20 Joe Biden's appeal to figures is a good strategy, he making it quite clear that he knows more than Palin.  Also, I'm glad he's talking about the failings of the McCain health plan.  The one thing that I really don't like about the McCain platform is his healthcare policy.

9:25 Palin shouldn't have pointed out that she's "been only doing this for 5 weeks".  

9:27 Palin sounds panicky, she really stumbled on the question regarding whether she would support McCain's vote for the bankruptcy bill.

9:28 Now Biden is saying something that sounds sort of silly to me.  He's suggesting that folks should be able to adjust the principle for their mortgages.  That's not going to work.  How can you owe less than you borrowed?  I also have no idea why Palin is ranting about energy?  I'm not sure what this has to do with the bankruptcy bill.  I think she needs to take a moment and breath and to calm down.

9:20 Climate change!  Something I actually know something about!  Palin's denying anthropomorphic climate change.  It looks like she's pulling a Bush.  Also, I'm not sure how the all above approach (including domestic drilling) will prevent other countries from emitting GHGs.  I actually feel a little bad for her, I want her to get at least one question.  

Joe Biden is doing a good job answering this question too.  He's clearly winning at this point, he's being far more specific than Palin is.  I don't think he should have said "drill we must" though.  Drilling is a distraction from the real energy issues.

9:34 Re: Palin: Natural gas isn't clean, burning any hydrocarbons result in the emission of GHG and there really isn't any such thing as clean coal.  Re: Biden: Coal gasification is a better alternative to regular coal burning.  Coal mining really does make a mess of things.  I'm glad that Biden is voicing his support of same-sex marriage.  This whole hatin' on gay folks is getting old.

9:37 Palin is missing the point about the visitations, it's already the case that gay couples can't visit each other in hospitals other than during visiting hours.  It's because there isn't legal recognition of same-sex marriages and as such a same-sex partner isn't regarded as family.  Biden shouldn't have backtracked on his apparent initial support of same-sex marriage.

9:40 Regarding the funding the troops thing, Palin is mincing words the same way that McCain did during the first presidential debate.  I hope Biden calls shenanigans like Obama did.

9:41 It seems that Biden isn't going to call shenanigans.  Nevermind, he's calling shenanigans.

9:43 Palin suggesting that time-tables is equivalent to surrender is old bustedness.  However, she did score a point with noting that Biden would have ran with McCain.  

9:48 "Nucular", "hate us for our rights", when did Bush join this debate?

9:50  Ooh, this should be a good question, what did this administration do well regarding Israel.  I wonder if Palin will be able to say much about it.  

9:52 Israel has been good at achieving peace?  Also she apparently couldn't tell us what this administration did well.  This question is also playing to Biden's strengths.  He really does seem to know a lot regarding foreign policy.  I hope the comfort on this issue results in him saying something crazy for the sake of my entertainment.

9:54 I think Palin actually scored a point in suggesting that Obama/Biden has been rather backwards looking in this campaign.  Biden did have a good response though but I think Palin might have scored this point.

9:56 Palin's answer about nuclear weapons doesn't make sense, I don't even know what to say about this.  She seems to panic and then just rant when she gets hit with a question she isn't ready for.  She needs to take a moment and think before she starts talking when she gets a question that surprises her.

9:59 Biden almost said something crazy but he caught himself.  Palin did respond well regarding what "McClelland" said (though his name is actually McKiernan).  Biden also had a weak response.  So it seems that Palin scored another point, albeit a point where she referred to a civil war general.

10:08 What would you do if you were president?  Fluff question!

10:09 I think Wasilla, AK needs some reality from Washington, D.C.

10:11 "There you go again" c'mon get your own soundbites, I know you like Reagan but don't steal his gotchas.  Also talking about Biden's dead wife?  She does seem to know something about education but I wish she didn't talk in platitudes.

10:15 It seems that Biden expects to have a strong vice-presidency.  Though, it seems pretty safe that he won't pull any Dick Cheney's.  At least he shouldn't shoot anyone in the face.

10:18 Regarding Palin's weakness, I don't think it's lack of experience, I think it's lack of knowledge about what's going on.  Regarding Biden's weakness, it isn't lack of discipline, it's an overabundance of creepy smiles.  

10:21 Actually, Palin has an excess of creepy plastic smileyness as well.

10: 24 Final question!  But it was a fluff question.  Stupid fluff questions.

10:29 Final statements.  
Palin: busting the chops of the mainstream media and saying that they're proud to be American and want to fight for the middle-class?  C'mon give me substance not platitudes.  Wait?  We'll tell our kids about a time we were free?  What the fuck?!?

Biden: Platitudes....  Talking about old neighborhood....  Mom's and dad's telling you to believe in yourself....  Dad's old expression....  God bless everyone....  Yawn....

Final Thoughts:
I'm pretty sure Biden kicked ass.  Also the last debate is at Hofstra?  I'll be presenting at a conference at Hofstra in March!  Palin seemed sort of panicky throughout the debate until the end.  Biden maintained discipline didn't say anything crazy, though it seemed that at times he wanted to.  Now, I'm going to sign off and see what the professional pundits say.

CeaseFire - Cincinnati

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I was just reading the news before heading off to bed and I learned that today there were 4 separate shootings in Cincinnati resulting in 2 deaths.  Moreover, in the two years that I've been living in this city, I've heard and read about more gun crime occurring here in that period than I did about gun crime occurring in Calgary for the 10 years that I lived there.

Indeed, it seems that gun crime is so rampant here that it often even fails to garner a reaction.  In my two years at the University of Cincinnati, there's been at least two incidents where there were exchanges of gunfire immediately outside the residence halls and most people seem to not even be all that concerned about it.  Further, I myself once called in a report of shots fired (I was lucky enough to hear a gunfight going on while I was sitting on my balcony enjoying the fresh spring air) and the police weren't even all that interested in my report.

Now, I'm not calling for gun control or anything like that.  I'm just noting that there seems to be a ridiculous amount of gun crime in this city and I wanted to give a shout-out to the people over at CeaseFire Cincinnati, who are a bunch of average folks who have taken upon themselves to actually go out, engage in some grass roots activism, and try to do something to help reduce the numbers of shootings that occur in this city.

For anyone who's interested in getting involved with CeaseFire Cincinnati, click on the link above and sign up to get involved.

Quick Thought: Tonight's Debate.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Well, the debate just finished a little bit ago and I thought I would post my initial thoughts regarding it.  Maybe after I've thought about it a bit, I'll write something more substantive.

My initial impression is that the debate was largely a draw with John McCain maybe having the slightest bit of an edge (though, I believe that edge might be the result of not entirely accurately characterizing Obama's views and his voting history).  However, overall I think Obama actually came out on top.  

While McCain might have done a slightly better job in demonstrating that he has more foreign policy experience than Obama, no one really doubted that before the debate.  While I think Obama has a lot going for him, I must admit that I'm quite sure that McCain has more foreign policy and national security experience than Obama.

This being the case, that Obama was able to hold his own and demonstrate a lacuna in McCain's proposed policies and his rhetoric, really was a win for him.  Being able to demonstrate that McCain's focus on the surge in Iraq and his failure to address Afghanistan and the wider struggle to address terrorism, I think, gives Obama the clear edge.  To be able to hold his own on the debate on topic where he was clearly disadvantaged and further to be able to show where McCain is weak in an area where he's generally acknowledged as stronger, is definitely a win for Obama.

Folks Fighting for Healthcare in Mason, Ohio.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a thread, in which I suggested that it seemed to me that Americans have accepted the status quo.  I was happy to read today that I was wrong about at least 200 Americans in Mason, OH.

Earlier this afternoon about 200 people showed up at the headquarters of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Mason and launched a protest calling for more responsible (and by responsible I mean actually providing care rather than focusing purely upon profit) healthcare insurance.

From what I read, it seems that the protestors were keying into, what seems to me at least, to be the primary problems with for-profit privately run healthcare insurance.  With the current insurance system in the United States insurers don't have a driving motivation to actually get their customers healthcare.  Indeed, to maintain adequate profit margins they have the pressing motivation to try to deny care for as many people as possible.

As the protestors noted, private insurers such as Anthem have for quite some time had the practice of denying insurance for those with existing conditions or denying claims for more expensive procedures, which they dismiss as "not necessary" or "experimental" (whether or not those procedures are in fact not necessary or experimental).  

While currently, the cost of insurance prevents many from accessing adequate healthcare in this country, that isn't the biggest problem when it comes to the insurance system here.  The problem is the unavailability of insurance for a great number of folks who are the sickest.  With insurance companies needing to make a profit and there being no legislation mandating the provision of insurance to all Americans, we're going to continue to find that large numbers of people will remain uninsured.

This is an issue that folks in this country will have to continue to think about when they go to polls to vote.  If having available healthcare is important to you, you have to think about who is actually arguing for a reform of the insurance system in this country that requires either private or public insurers to provide folks with insurance, whether they have pre-existing conditions or not.

More about the protest can be found at Cincinnati.com.

P.S.  To any and all the folks who attended the Mason protest.  Good work, keep fighting the good fight.

Randomtacularity: Leopard Print Taser.

I was bored and surfing around the internet and I just saw what might be the most amusing thing ever!  A leopard print Taser!  Apparently Taser is trying to sell their new C2 "self-defense electronic control device" to women who want to like stylish while they're tasing you bro.  I'm tempted to buy one just because it would be funny to have a weapon that has designer colors!

Randomtacularity: Hollywood Ending.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I've been a little occupied this past week it seems.  That being the case, I totally forgot to post anything on here.  The weird thing is that I haven't really been all that busy.  I've had a couple of meetings and I've been doing a literature search to look for good articles and books on environmental ethics.  Other than that though, I've really been doing a lot of sitting on my ass.  

Today, when I realized that I haven't posted for a bit, I had nothing to talk about.  So, I decided that I should post a video of my favorite Hayden song, Hollywood Ending.  This is a great song.

I remember the first time I saw Hayden at the Max Cafe in the University of Calgary back in 1997 (or was it '98).  It was a pretty good time, despite the fact that he never got up off of his stool.  

Protests and Accepting the New Normal.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Earlier today I was talking to a friend of mine, who posts on DailyKOS as LithiumCola, and the topic turned to whether Americans in general have come to accept the various shenanigans of the Bush administration as being the new normal.  While my friend was convinced that Americans are upset with a government that has routinely undermined civil liberties, seem to have an wanton disregard for the environment, and apparently has very little regard for the well being of the average American, I thought that for the most part people really have accepted everything that has changed in the last 8 years.  

Now, I have to grant that currently approval ratings of the sitting president and the congress are at an all time low.  However, it is less clear to me that those have anything to do with what the Bush administration has done and more to do with a stagnant economy (which granted might be in some part the fault of the current administration), high gas and food prices, and a general decrease in purchasing power.

I mean, consider the fact that, if poll numbers are to be believed, John McCain actually has a chance of winning the upcoming election.  McCain, while historically might have had a decent record fighting for electoral reform and for addressing environmental issues, lately has shifted his rhetoric to one that could be taken out of the Bush playbook.  Also, his numbers improved after he chose Palin as his running mate (and really, Palin is just Bush in lipstick and apparently cool glasses).

It seems that Americans clearly have accepted what the Bush administration has done.  Consider for example the recent protests at Miami University in Oxford, OH.  Over 3000 students were present to protest the failure by the university to cancel classes after the storm hit us this past weekend.  I haven't seen any similar protests regarding the war, the state of healthcare in this country, environmental issues, or anything related to this government.  

3000 people were there to express anger about going to class.  If something as minor as sitting in a classroom after it got kinda windy is something that was enough to bring out 3000 students, you would think that if people really disapproved of what the Bush administration has done, you would find at least a couple dozen students protesting from time to time.  However, in the two years that I've been in Cincinnati, I've only seen one protest, which had about 30 people at it.  Well, two if you count the time the hippies asked me to paint to fight the war.  

Stupid hippies.

Quick Thought: Why I like Obama

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Earlier in this election cycle, I was pretty neutral about the two candidates. Indeed, I even wrote a post about how I didn't think there was much difference when it comes to Obama and McCain. However, as the campaigns have progressed, I've changed my mind.

Now I whole heartedly support Obama. Why? Well, mostly for one reason. McCain is planning to tax healthcare benefits. You might ask, "What? You've never seemed to be a guy that's particularly adverse to taxes."

That's true, for the most part I don't think taxes are evil like some people do. I'm more than willing to pay taxes if I think they're going to something useful. If a tax is intended to support social programs, build and maintain infrastructure, finace public healthcare initiatives, or something like that then I'm more than happy to contribute.

However, McCain's proposal to tax healthcare benefits has nothing to do with funding programs. It's intended to defray the cost of preserving the Bush tax cuts for upper tier income earners. And I would rather have sexual congress with a goat than have my money going to pay for tax cuts for rich folks.

Random Thought: Bill Richardson in getting kids to do better at school.

Tonight, I was doing some random entertainment reading on Google News and I saw an OP/ED bit from the Sante Fe New Mexican regarding the responsibility that kids have in their poor performance at school.  

In the article, a proposal of Bill Richardson's which called for not allowing kids who perform poorly or who have poor school attendance to get driver's licenses was mentioned (wow, that was a wretched sentence but I don't care enough to fix it).  And I thought, what an interesting idea.  

As a guy who spends a substantial portion of my time teaching college kids, I've noticed that the vast majority of students who do poorly are folks who really don't care about actually learning but just want to do the least possible and be awarded a degree.  I would assume that's even more of a problem for highschool aged students.  I wonder if incentives, such as being allowed to drive, would in fact get kids to do better in class.

What do you folks think?

Appropriations for Alaska (2009)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

In the last week I've been listening to John McCain and Sarah Palin going on ceaselessly about how they're going to fight earmarks if they get elected.  Further, it seems that every few minutes I see that clip of Palin saying how she said "Thanks but no thanks" to the "bridge to nowhere".

After watching those clips over and over and over, I decided to see what appropriations Alaska was requesting for the upcoming year.  Lucky for me, Ted Stevens, one of the senators from Alaska, has a PDF on his website listing all the earmarks that Alaska is requesting for this year.

It seems that despite Palin's assurances that she's against earmarks, Alaska is requesting over $197 million in appropriations for the upcoming year.

Some of my favorite requests are:

$1.1 million for fighting bootlegging.

$650,000 to fight obesity

$4 million to ensure that people can safely and legally use nature trails (I don't even really know what that means)

$400,000 to "to complete environmental document preparation" (I think this one is funny because I helped to complete a 100 something page environmental document for the University of Cincinnati for absolutely nothing, it would be nice to get paid that much to prepare a document).

John McCain Voicemail to the New York Times (humor)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I found this great little sound clip created by Michael Weingartener and Lee Camp.  It made me laugh long time.  Give it a listen, you'll like it.

P.S.  Click on the picture above to get to the clip.

Quick Thought: Sarah Palin.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I haven't seen anyone else mention this but don't you think that Sarah Palin is just George W. Bush with a vagina?

I mean she's rather socially conservative, panders to the religious right, lacks much of a vision for governing, anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-stem cell, anti-pretty much anything that makes sense, and I would assume pro-war.  The only difference that I can find between Bush and Palin (with the exception of their wedding tackle) is that Palin probably won't spend her time in office cutting down brush in Crawford.

P.S.  I found a Roy Zimmerman video about Sarah Palin and I really love Roy Zimmerman, so I decided to add it to this post.  Cheers!

Random Likatude: Large Hadron Rap

After decades of planning and 14 years of construction, today the Large Hadron Collider was activated.  So, in honor of that event, I decided to post the Large Hadron Rap.  I'm not entirely sure who it is that performed it.  I gather it's someone who actually works at CERN.  Anyhow, it's rather entertaining so enjoy.

Quick Thought: The rhetoric of the Republican convention.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tonight as I was driving from Cincinnati to Muncie, I managed to catch most of the speeches of the Republican convention and I noticed some interesting themes in the rhetoric that was common through most of the speeches (Huckabee to his credit seems to have actually written his own speech and didn't just repeat what everyone else said).

The first thing that I noticed was interesting was how many of the speakers, particularly all the business folks, associated success with hard work.  Indeed, it seemed that they were suggesting that if you're not successful and perhaps in need of some outside assistance then it must be the case that you're just lazy and didn't try hard enough.

Given the current conditions of the US economy, I would contend that a lot of folks could use a bit of help and that has nothing to do with how hard they're working.  I'm pretty sure there are a lot of hardworking folks who could deal with a little help getting more affordable healthcare, more affordable education for their kids, and a whole lot of other things.

The second thing I found interesting was the repeated call for improving liberties and civil liberties.  

Is it just me or wasn't it the current Republican administration that was the one that has been going out of their way to degrade civil liberties as much as they can?  PATRIOT Act, FISA, water boarding....  Who did that?  It wasn't the Democratic party.

Another interesting theme that I heard expressed in most of the speeches is the call for change.  Romney called for change, the eBay person, and the HP ex-CEO all called for change.  However, all I heard folks talking about was cutting taxes, top-down economics, and shrinking government.  Aren't those elements of the Republican platform that have been around since Reagan?  

It might be just that I misunderstand what the word "change" means but it seems to me that endorsing the exact same positions that your party has been arguing for since the 1980s isn't supporting change so much as supporting more of the same.

Historically, at least in the last 20 years or so, the Republicans have definitely been the party that has been better at campaigning and who've been better at presenting rhetoric that was able to persuade people to vote against their own interests.  But, this time around, it doesn't even seem like the Republicans are trying.  They're just tossing around really bad catchphrases and sound bites that are obviously at odds to their principles and platform planks.

Baboons, camels, and elephants. Oh my!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A.M. and I just got back from paying my brother a visit up in Waterloo and I must say, there's some sweet, sweet "safari" action to be had up there.  

Saturday night, when A.M. and I arrived at Waterloo we managed to get completely lost looking for hotel and ended up in a random cornfield outside of Cambridge.  While we were driving around trying to regain our bearings (because somebody wouldn't call the hotel to get directions despite the fact that somebody else was admittedly bitchy about being lost and not being able to call when he was driving), we saw a sign for the African Lion Safari.

The next day, after we had a lunch that might be best described as a bought of marathon power eating, we decided it would be fun to load up into my Ford Focus and go see what we assumed would be a comically crappy wildlife preserve.

However, when we got there we were pleasantly surprised, we had assumed that there wouldn't be much at the "safari" but instead they had pretty much every animal that I might want to see.  Moreover, they were running loose and were actually apt to wander up dangerously close to the bus.

Indeed, I was waiting for a beast of some sort to break through the window and steal a child.

Alas, no children were eaten but as you can see above, A.M. got to pose with a camel (who tried to get a little amorous with her a couple of times) and my brother and I also got to ride on an elephant.  Given that it's always been one of my goals in life to ride a creature that could squish me at a whim, I was rather pleased with the trip.  Also, during this trip we got to see two baboons humping on top of a minivan.  

It might have been one of the best days ever!

Random Crap We Like: The Blackberry Curve.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Last weekend, as a result of a little incident with an exploding washing machine A.M.'s old cell phone got wrecked.  That led us to taking an emergency mission to the Verizon store (she's a hall director, which means that if she isn't constantly available people start freaking out).

While we were there looking at potential candidates for a new phone for her a Blackberry Curve, quietly minding its own business caught my eye.  I guess I like shiny things with lots of buttons.

As I was playing with it, it also caught A.M.'s eye.  So we decided to ask the sales-dude about it.  And found out that not only was it awesome, as the result of A.M.'s job at a university we could get it cheap and get a cheap internet/e-mail plan.  Further, we discovered that low-and-behold we both were eligible to upgrade our phones.  So before better sense could quash the impulsive urge to buy a new gadget, we both got ourselves shiny new Blackberries (A.M.'s is pink while mine is a manly-super-macho silver and black).

Now that I've had this contraption for a week now, I can't believe that I was able to survive without the constant ability to check e-mail, surf the net, and various sundry awesomely cool fun things that the Blackberry allows me to do.  It was like when the cave-dude (or if you think that the Earth is only 6000 years old, Adam) discovered fire.  Now that I have a Blackberry Curve, I no longer have to eat my woolly mammoth raw!

With the Curve, I can check my e-mail from any of my numerous e-mail accounts at any time I want, I (after the addition of a sweet, sweet 4 GB microSD card) can store a butt-load of music, movies, pictures, PDFs, and pretty much anything else to keep me amused, and can take surprisingly good pictures with the 2 megapixel camera on the back of it.

Also with the full qwerty keyboard, text messages and e-mails are a breeze to send with the Blackberry.  I'm seriously in love with this gadget.  Also, the thing is damn near indestructible with my butter fingers, I've dropped it at least a dozen times in the last 4 days and it works perfectly (though I did think ahead and buy a hard plastic case to put it in, that's probably what has allowed it to survive a week of me using it).

Finally, I've found that the Blackberry is actually a pretty sweet phone on top of being a great e-mail/text message/PDA gadgety thing.  It gets far superior reception than my old Motorola and has a far better pick-up and speaker so people get to hear my voice in all its glory without static and line noise.  All-in-all my Blackberry curve is perhaps the best gadget I've ever purchased (yes, I think it might be even better than my iBook, which is a pretty sweet gadget).  

Now I know there are some folks out there who are all, "Why did you get a Blackberry rather than an iPhone, especially given that you're a super-duper Mac-o-phile?"  To that I have a two-part answer.  One, the Blackberry is made by Research in Motion, a Canadian company.  And, I am proud to support the Canadian tech industry.  Two, the iPhone has a stupid touchscreen that really doesn't accommodate my fat clumsy ex-rugby player fingers particularly well.  Every single time I've tried an iPhone out, it takes me a good five minutes just to get the thing I want opened open.  

The Blackberry actually has keys, which are raised and far enough apart that I can actually hit just the keys I want, even when I'm thumb typing.  Even when I'm one handed thumb typing.  Seriously, I love my Blackberry so much that A.M. should be a little jealous of it.

Recipe for my famous oven "BBQed" beef ribs with Asian fusion flare!

Monday, August 25, 2008

4 lbs beef ribs (preferably back ribs)

4 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons of salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 pinch nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika (smoked paprika is even better!)

5 tablespoons corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon honey (optional, A.M. is allergic to honey so I tend to exclude this one)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 dash worcestershire sauce
salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients of the rub. Then rub the rub on the ribs (I like that alliteration). Let the rubbed ribs sit in the fridge (that alliteration is pretty good too) for about an hour so that the deliciousness can sink in a bit. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the ribs in the oven for about half an hour (remembering midway through to flip the ribs over so that they cook evenly). Then take the ribs out, turn the oven up to 400 degrees, flip the ribs, brush on some sauce and put the ribs in for another 15 minutes. Then flip the ribs again and brush on the rest of the sauce. Pop the ribs back into the oven for another 15 minutes or so.

Now you have delicious, delicious ribs that are good with corn, mashed potatoes, rice, peas, steamed carrots, or anything else for that matter. If you're feeling daring and you want to have the sauce a little more caramelization you can turn the broiler on for the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking. I tend not to do this because I either set of the smoke alarm or burn myself whenever I turn on my broiler.

Stephen Colbert on Offshore Drilling.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

For the next little bit, I'll be teaching a summer class which involves me needing to come up with a 2 hour lecture for each day of the week. So I'll be a bit busy to actually write stuff. However, I will keep finding entertaining videos for everyone to watch until I can get back to actually blogging. Enjoy!

Mark Gonzales: As With Most Men.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I know I said that I would write a post about something more substantive but I've been a little busier than I expected that I would be.  However, today one of my students showed me a video that I thought I would share with you all.  It's a slam poet named Mark Gonzales performing (is that what you would call it?) his poem "As With Most Men".  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I hope you do too.

Sweep the Leg Johnny.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The other day when I was in the Conestoga Mall in Waterloo, I happened to catch this song by No More Kings and I must say that it's been stuck in my head since then. And, since I've been a bit busy getting my shit together for the course I'm teaching, I thought I would post it for your enjoyment. I'll write a more substantive post later about something hard-hitting and sexy, maybe I'll say something about the riot in Montreal, the current situation in Georgia, or something like that.

Back from Waterloo!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Well, I'm back for Waterloo and it was a pretty fun trip, though most of it was spent helping my brother move and get settled in.  I discovered several things when I was there:

1) People should listen to me when I suggest that they buy silicone oven mitts.  Silicone oven mitts don't light on fire when you accidently touch the element in the oven.  Even if the traditional oven mitts have a rooster on them so that you can call them your "cock gloves" it's better to get oven mitts made of silicone.

2) London, Ontario has the best radio station ever.  Rock 96FM.  It's so good it made me a better person for having listened to it.

3) Ontario is a surprisingly empty and boring province when you're out of the GTA.  I always thought Ontario would be a province that was full of stuff.  I was wrong, it's really full of a lot of not much when you're outside the GTA.

4) Waterloo is a strangely Asian place.  I've never seen so many Asians in such a small area than around UW.  For a bit I thought the vortex that kept sending into the cornfield had magically sent me to Hong Kong or some shit.  The whole time I was there, I had the theme to Charlie Chan playing in my head.

5) Octopus sashimi tastes like ass.  Gummy, disgusting, bland ass.  I will never eat it again.

6) NPR is better than CBC Radio One.  I used to really love CBC radio but when I was in Waterloo the only decent thing that was on the radio was an interview with The Shatner.  Now, The Shatner is totally the awesome and you never hear him talking on the NPR but a single interview with him doesn't make up for a week of bad radio dramas, interviews with Alex "El Douchebag Avec Cue Cards" Trebek, Anne "Goddamn I'm Boring" Murray, and Rita "My Songs are Way Too Obvious and Completely Overrated" MacNeil.  Jian Ghomeshi, you sir have let me down.

7) I think I've gone native from living in the US for too long.  I spent the entire time I was in Waterloo complaining about higher prices, bad service, and bemoaning smaller serving sizes at restaurants.  I still however, appreciate the better roads, the laughable over-reactions that most Canadians have to crime, and the general better quality of food.  Though my arteries are feeling way too healthy.

8) I've come to the conclusion that I'm allergic to Indiana.  The moment I crossed the Michigan/Indiana border I broke out in hives.  Right now I look, and feel like, I rolled in a patch of poison oak, ivy, and sumac and I didn't even get out of my car.  The air rushing through the window in Indiana is a frickin' allergen.

9) The person who called in the bomb threat that closed the border crossing at Port Huron/Point Edward that left me waiting in my hot ass car for like 2 hours is a big giant douchebag.  If I ever discover who he or she is, (s)he is totally getting the Englewood Jack.

10)  It's fun to threaten people with Englewood Jack.  Mostly because people have no idea what I'm talking about.  I love Coach Jules.

Away in Waterloo/Corb Lund Goodness!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hey boys, girls, and kiddies of all ages, I've been away for the last few days, which is really interfering with my blogging.  But, I thought I would hook you up with a new Corb Lund song to keep you amused while I'm in Waterloo awesoming it up.

A Quick Thought: Libertarianism

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

While I was taking a break from working on lesson plans I happened to catch a bit of an interview with Bob Barr, the presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, on NPR.  What caught my interest was Barr's views regarding social welfare programs or his view that all federal and state run programs intended to aid the poor should be abolished.

Now, I must admit I have a pretty strong libertarian streak, albeit my brand of libertarian might best be labeled social libertarianism or left libertarianism.  That is, I really think that the government should have no role in legislating morality.   It strikes me that no one should have the power to say how a person ought to live their life except for in cases where people wish to cause harm to others.  I do think there is some role in preventing property and violent crime for the government but otherwise, I figure people should get to do pretty much whatever they want and the consequences of their actions should be social rather than legislative ones.  However, I would grant that there is a role for gov't in administering social programs (indeed, I think that the administration of social programs should be the primary role for gov't).

That said, what I really don't agree with is this notion that the government only has a role in terms of security.  It strikes me that the libertarian's suggestion that addressing the concerns and need of the poor should be a regional or a private matter is one that is awfully wrong-headed.

This is for several reasons.  First, if one thinks that the responsibility for caring for the poor within our society is a regional one, one assumes that all the regions within the US are equally well equipped to manage and fund social programs (and social programs here includes education, unemployment insurance, provision of healthcare, funding research, retirement insurance, etc.).  However, such is not the case, there are a great number of regions within the US that are particularly economically depressed, without some for of resource redistribution from the state or federal level, such regions could not maintain adequate social programs.

Second, many social programs require stable funding over time.  Private sources of funding do not come with even the weak guarantees that federal or state funding has.  Private grants for the most part are one-time or short term.  That isn't a system that can fund education, healthcare, or programs of that sort which require stable funding from year to year.

Third, I think that if the responsibility of maintaining adequate social programs were left up to regional or private organizations/individuals one would lose efficiency.  There would be a great deal of replication/redundancy of labor.  Regional programs would require far more people being involved in managing and organizing resource redistribution.  Now granted, it's not like the current federal government is all that efficient nor all that capable of responding to the needs of those less financially fortunate.

However, further weakening the federal gov't will only hurt rather than help the situation.  Consider for instance the case of Hurricane Katrina.  Without the late and arguably inadequate response of the federal gov't, the situation would have been much worse.  Further, in the case of Katrina private and regional help arrived quite quickly but they were simply unable to deal with the scale of the problem.  Without federally funded programs, the death toll of Hurricane Katrina would have been far worse than it was.

So while libertarianism does have some appeal to me, I really don't think the ideas voiced by folks like Bob Barr have much merit at all.

An interesting read about terrorism and the war on it.

The Rand Corporation just published a report regarding how terrorist groups have tended to dissolve in the past.  I haven't really had a chance to read it thoroughly yet but I've looked at the summary and did some skimming.  It seems so far to be fairly scathing regarding the current approach being taken in the so-called "War on Terrorism".  

For people who care about stuff like that, it's a good read.  The link below will send you to where you can download the document for yourself.  Enjoy:

God Listens to Slayer.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This might be the best picture on all of the internets because God does indeed listen to Slayer.

I think I have a new hero!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Awesome, simply awesome.  When I grow up, I want to be able to eat a Big Mac in a single bite.  I'm going to have to start practicing tonight.  Mmmmm....  Big Mac....

El Rushbo: Fair, Balanced, and Has No Fuckin' Clue.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Today as A.M. and I were driving through Dayton on our way to Muncie from Cincinnati we tuned into Fox News Radio (yes, Fox News Radio is one of our guilty pleasures, it's a lot funnier than other news radio).  When we tuned it, we happened to hit it as the Rush Limbaugh show was winding up.  There were some really great moments but the best was when he started talking about John Edwards' notion that there are "two Americas".

In response the idea that there are two Americas, one for the rich and one for the poor, El Rushbo (as apparently he likes to be called) suggested that he didn't know what Edwards was talking about, as that he had never seen this "fictional poverty in America".

It must be terribly difficult to live life never going outside or looking out the windows.  Because, though I don't know where Rush must live, I see poverty all the motherfuckin' time.  Rush supposedly lives in Missouri (though, I'm not sure where) but he must live in that magical part of Missouri where everyone lives in huge mansions and draws more than seven figures per year (actually, now that I think about it, he must live someplace like that and it's probably not magical, it's probably filled with assholes).

In the two years I've been living in the States I've seen more poverty than I can shake a stick at (and trust me, I have some pretty mad stick shaking skills).  I've seen poverty throughout, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and pretty much everywhere else I've been in the US (and I think there's only 7 or 8 states that I've never been to, though I must admit Missouri is one of them, maybe there are no poor folk in Missouri).  

I have no friggin' clue what Rush is talking about when he says there's no poverty in America.  There's a fuck ton of poverty.  So either he's: A) a dumbass, B) back on the pills again, C) totally deluded about the state of the US economy, or d) so full of shit that he stinky and attracts flies.

Man, that was a good rant....

Friday Random Ten: July 25, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

It's Friday Random Ten time again!  Yay!  So here we go!

1.  Razor Cut - The Toasters
The Toasters, such good times.  There isn't much to say about this song nor the band that plays it other than to note that if you've never listened to the Toasters, you really should.

2.  The Guns of Brixton - The Clash
It's a sad, sad thing that Joe Strummer died.  That man was a musical genius.  The Clash, The Mescaleros, and the Pogues were all great bands.  Listen and enjoy!

3.  Clan in da Front - Wu Tang Clan
The RZA, the GZA, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon, and the Ol' Dirty Bastard; WU-TANG CLAN!!!

4.  Drunken Lullabies - Flogging Molly

5.  Hazy Shade of Winter - The Bangles
The funny thing about this song is that I actually know how to play it, what's funnier is that I learned how to play it from my friend Jon who is a metal head who is conservatory trained but to play flamenco.  I don't know why he knows how to play this song and I'm not sure why I learned it from him.  It is a good song though.

6.  100% - Sonic Youth
I've seen Sonic Youth play twice, once in Vancouver and once in Seattle.  Those were two of the best show's I've ever seen and I've seen Bob Dylan play in a coffee shop/bar and B.B. King play at King Eddy's in Calgary (both of which were awesome, awesome shows as well).  Interesting fun fact about the 100% video: the guy that's skateboarding around in the video is a young Jason Lee as he was switching over from being a pro-skater to being a pro-actor.  I bet a lot of you didn't know that Earl was a pro-skater who's acting debut was in a music video from the early '90s.  I really shouldn't have known that either but my geekiness is legendary.

7.  Breath Me - Sia
I know you're all thinking to yourselves, "What?!?!  C.K. listens to Sia?  What is this foolishness that you speak of?"  And yes, I do like Sia.  A.M. introduced her to me and I actually do like it, then again I also like Enya.  Yes, I just admitted that I like Enya.  I can't help it, there's some weird gene in me that makes me like ambient music about being sad or something.  I don't know.  A fun fact about the song Breath Me: it was used in the closing scene of Six Feet Under, which might have been the best show ever put on TV.  Oz and the Wire were a close 2nd and 3rd but Six Feet Under is definitely the best show of all time.  ALL TIME!!!!

8.  12:59 Lullaby - Bedouin Soundclash
I've been a fan of Bedouin Soundclash for years.  My sister and all her art school friends introduced me to them when they first came out and given my love of both reggae and ska I couldn't help but to become the world's biggest Bedouin fan in the world.  Seriously, at 240 pounds I really must be the world's biggest Bedouin Soundclash fan.  Everyone I know who likes them is a skinny art school kid that weighs no more than a 110 lbs soaking wet with a pocket full of quarters.  However, I actually first heard this song watching Grey's Anatomy, which is weird right?

9.  Going On - Gnarls Barkley
My mom loved Gnarls Barkley, which is strange right?  What woman on the verge of her 60s likes Gnarls Barkley.  Actually, one of my last memories of her was her dancing around her office listening to Gnarls Barkley and watering her houseplants.  So here's to you mom!

10. Hang Wire - The Pixies
I have not the faintest clue what this song is about but isn't it a good song?  Pixies forever!

Joint Post: Assessing the Bush Presidency. (Part I)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lately, in an effort to learn more about the US political system, I've been reading Richard Neustadt's book, Presidental Power and the Modern Presidents.  In the 9th chapter of the book Neustadt suggests 4 questions that should be asked as a means to assess the power held by a president.  Now, I'm not entirely sure what Neustadt means by assessing the power of a president but I thought it might be a fun exercise for A.M. and I to consider those questions as they apply to the current presidency.  So here we go (in this post we'll just cover the first of these questions, as we foresee that the answers are going to be rather long):

1.  What were the purposes of the president and did these purposes run with or against the grain of history; how relevant were those purposes to what would happen in his time?

That's actually kind of a hard question for us to answer.  Given that we don't have contacts within the Bush administration, not entirely sure what their purposes/goals are (fun fact: while neither A.M. nor I currently have any contacts within D.C. A.M was a Congressional intern several years ago and has met Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, and another big D.C. person who's name she can't remember).  However, it might be possible to speculate on some of the administrations goals through what they've done, state of the union addresses, and notable policy decisions.

From what's happened during the Bush presidency, it seems that one of the primary goals has to be blowing up brown people.  In the past 7 years at least 80,000 brown have been blown up as the result of actions undertaken by the current administration.  So the questions is now: how does this goal run with or against the grain of history?

Well, throughout history, at least recent history, brown people have gotten the short end of the blowing up stick.  Since the Spanish-American war the brown folks of the world have been getting their ass kicked by Americans or American trained folks (though admittedly throughout most of US history it's been South American brown folks rather than Middle-Eastern brown folks that have had the roughest time).  As for how relevant the blowing up brown people purpose is to the current geopolitical milieu, we don't really know.  I guess it would be relevant to brown people and to people who for whatever reason is against the blowing up of brown people.

That said, there seems to be other goals that must underlie the actions taken by the current Bush administration.  It seems pretty clear that the Bush administration is dead set on undoing everything that was done during the Clinton administration.  For example, it seems that the current executive has been dedicated to doing away with that leftiest of lefty institutions, the healthy economy.

Between tax cuts, deregulation, failure to respond to threats to the stability of the markets, a deficit that has too many digits for me to count (though admittedly I'm not that good of a counter), and a war that costs more per year than most countries make (including the US apparently given the growing deficit), all that progressive pinkoness that the Clinton administration left as its legacy has been done away with.  

So how does this goal of the Bush presidency fare when compared to history?  Actually this goal is relatively unique.  While a few other presidents, such as Reagan, have apparently aimed at trashing the economy, it isn't a goal that many presidents actually aim for.  And as for the relevancy of this goal.  I suppose it's one that's rather relevant.  I would have quipped that it's particularly relevant to poor folk but the way things are shaping up, we're all going to be poor folk in the neat future unless the next administration decides to have a different goal.

Let's see, I think we have space for one more goal of the US presidency.  So I think we'll go with taking away the civil liberties of US consumers/voters.  This might be our favorite goal!  With the PATRIOT Act, phone tapping, and extraordinary rendition, civil liberties haven't been undermined this badly since....  Well, since ever as far as we know.  During WWII Japanese folks did get sent to camps in Texas, Idaho, New Mexico, and Montana.  Now while that's a really egregious violation of civil liberties it was a violation that was restricted to a fairly small portion of the population.  The PATRIOT Act applies to just about everyone in this country, so they're not really comparable.

So now we come to the part of the question about relevancy.  So is the undermining of civil liberties relevant?  We think we'll go with a yes.  I think the weakening of civil liberties is something that should concern just about anybody (even you folks who think that the loss of privacy rights shouldn't bother anyone who isn't a terrorist) given that it is civil liberties that are the basis for healthy democracy.

So on that note, we'll wrap this up this question and leave it up to you to comment.  We'll post the next part sometime in the near future.

Thinking about words: John Ashcroft on Torture.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I just heard the best euphemism for torture while watching John Ashcroft on C-Span being questioned.  "Enhanced Interrogation techniques perhaps going beyond shouting and grabbing someone's shirt."  Shortly after Mr. Ashcroft said something else that I couldn't help snickering over, "I'm sure that history has already judged this administration as successful."  I guess he's ignoring reality's liberal bias.

I've also become a huge fan of Rep. Steve Cohen (D - Tennessee) who's questions evoked the above comments.

Should there be public funding for religious schools?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Today while I was doing my weekly catch-up on what's going on back in Canada, I ran across an article in the Toronto Star about Michael Prue (who's running for the head of the Ontario NDP).  One of the notable planks in Mr. Prue's platform is his opposition to the public funding of Catholic schools.  When I was reading about this, a spark was rekindled in a debate that I've been having with myself for years.

I've never really been sure where to stand in regards to the public funding of Catholic schools in Canada (I'm not exactly sure if there's an equivalent analogue in the US to this Canadian phenomenon, so in the US the question might be where ought I to stand regarding the public funding of any religious organizations, such as the faith based charity programs so loved by the Bush administration).

On one hand, I tend to think that government and religion should never have anything to do with one another.  When one considers the history, one sees over and over again the harm that can be caused when religion has undue influence on secular governments.  For example, the persecution of Jews during the middle ages, the various inquisitions in Europe, the persecution of Quakers during the early history of the US, the religious schools that First Nations children were forced to attend in Canada, and pretty much everything that's gone wrong in the Middle East in the last 50 years are to a large degree a result of religious influence on government and legislation.

So that being the case,  I tend to be inclined to think that there should not be public funding of Catholic schools or other religious organizations.  I think there needs to be clear lines drawn between presumably secular institutions that need to be neutral across the diverse citizenry and religious institutions (particularly religious institutions that are evangelical).  

However, in the case of schools and perhaps even some religious charities, there is a public service being performed and further, it seems that being able to have some influence in the funding of those religious organizations affords the more secular government some ability to influence the religious organizations.  More particularly, providing public funding allows government to have some influence on the curricula taught in Catholic schools.  (In the case of the religious faith based programs, public funding allows the government to stipulate that the charity provided by the religious organization to be given out in a manner that doesn't discriminate between coreligionists and other folks, if the gov't actually cared to do that, which I'm not convinced is the case with the current administration)

With government hands on purse strings, it becomes less likely that Catholic schools will begin teaching ID or some other form of creationist bullshit.  With that in mind, it seems that perhaps for the sake of the kids who are unfortunate enough to have parents that send them to Catholic school, it might be worthwhile to provide public funding for Catholic schools so that those kids actually learn some science (rather than theology masquerading as science).  

So, as you can see, I'm sort of torn regarding where I fall on the debate of public funding of religious organizations.  What do you folks think?

It's way harder to understand US politics than Canadian politics.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Back when I ran the Capitalist Pig vs. Socialist Swine blog, I used to spend most of my posts discussing politics.  That being the case, when A.M. and I started this blog, I figured that I would continue that trend of tending to discuss political issues.  Indeed, I thought I could provide a fresh perspective on US politics being a Canadian that lives in Ohio.

However, I've found that it's a lot harder to blog about US politics than it is to blog about Canadian politics.  First, it's a lot harder to identify what it is that the US government is doing at the moment.  Back in Calgary, if I wanted to see what the government was up to all I needed to do was watch the evening CBC news.  Pretty much everyday there was some coverage of what Parliament was debating or some coverage regarding various political issues.  If the CBC failed me, I just looked up the Hansards and read for myself what people said in Parliament that day.

Down here though, with the exception of C-Span, there really isn't that close coverage regarding what the government is in fact doing.  Instead, what you see on TV tends to be punditry rather than journalism.  Further, it seems like the political discourse in the US tends to be in more general rather than particular terms.  Rather than debate about political possible courses of action the discussion tends to focus on more general issues.  All of this makes it more difficult to discuss particular possible decisions made by the government.  Further, given the US system of committees and the shear amount of legislation being considered at any given moment, it becomes nearly impossible to keep up with what's going on in government in the US.

No wonder it seems that the average American citizen so often seems to have no idea what their government is up to.

20 Best Songs of the '90s.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

While I was taking a break to eat some lunch, I decided that I would turn on the TV switch the channel to VH1 and see what the kids are listening to nowadays.  Well, there wasn't any contemporary music but they were doing a show on the 100 best songs of the 1990s.  I watched for a bit and thought, "Hey, I was alive in the '90s, I like music, I bet I could make a better list!"  Now, being the lazy guy that I am, I'm not going to think of the 100 best songs, also I don't think you can fairly compare songs across different genres, so I'm going to do the best 3 to 5 songs or so in the various genres of music I listened to in the '90s.  So here we go!!!

Best Hip-Hop Songs (in no particular order):

Shimmy Shimmy Ya - Ol' Dirty Bastard
I remember the first time I heard this song, I was riding in my friend Scott's little green Ford Festiva.  It was this car that was worth maybe $50 (if one was feeling generous) but the stereo in the back had to be worth $5000.  Anyways, I don't know why I like this song, maybe it's because it has a fun piano line and is really catchy.

Jump Around - House of Pain
This song brings me back to many a highschool dance.  Though I'm sure that it probably brings many of you back to highschool dances.  Now when I look back on it, I don't understand why I used to like going to highschool dances.  I couldn't imagine anything more awkward then a bunch of teenagers trying to attract members of the opposite sex when they're trying to pretend that they're not drunk so they don't get in trouble with the teachers chaperoning the dance.  

Gin & Juice - Snoop Dogg
"Rollin' down the street, smoking indo, sippin' on gin & juice....  Laid back."  That's gotta be one of the classic lines in the history of hip-hop.  This is a great song, especially for when you're rolling down the street, smoking indo, and sipping on gin and juice (which I think is what I did for most of highschool and college).

Sabotage - Beastie Boys
There are a lot of great songs by the Beastie Boys.  I really couldn't think of the one I like the most so I thought I would list Sabotage just because it reminds me highschool.  I'm not sure why it reminds me of highschool but it does.  Either way, it's one of the iconic song of the '90s (well at least for me).

Best Rock Song (Again in no particular order):

Every Rose Has its Thorn - Poison
This song reminds me of running around in my underwear, completely wasted on cheap beer, riding on a bus full of drunken snowboarders on the way to Fernie, BC.  It was a good time.  Also, I think I was the only person on that bus that never threw-up (and I must have had 18 beers on that 6 hour trip).  I did however cut myself pretty badly breaking beer bottles over my head.  I don't know why I did that but hey, I was young, dumb, and full of cheap beer.  What can you expect?  Though at least I was smart enough only to attempt breaking beer bottles over my head rather than larger hard alcohol bottles.  I remember once seeing someone break a Jack Daniels bottle over their head.  They had to go to the hospital later that night.

Killing in the Name of - Rage Against the Machine
Tom Morello is perhaps one of the most innovative guitarists out of the '90s.  He's so impressive that in college my roommate Tino and I ended up modifying our guitars so that we could do the record scratching sounds that Morello does.  Also, how can I not love a band that is left leaning and about tearing down the system?

Ahead by a Century - Tragically Hip
What can I say?  The Hip is Canada's band.  I'm a Canadian.  I love the Hip.  Ahead by a Century might be one of the Hip's most notable songs.  That's all I really need to say.

Dan-Diddle-A-Na - The Smalls
Unless you are from western Canada and into indy music during the '90s, you've probably never heard of the Smalls, which is too bad for you.  The Smalls have to be one of the best bands that Canada has ever produced.  They were always one of those small indy bands that refused to get big and as such they've always been one of those groups that you feel like you have a special bond to.  Also, it was during one of their concerts that I had one of my most memorable misadventures.  It was one of the nights they were playing in the Night Gallery in Calgary and we had gotten ourselves invited to their after-party but I got bitten (yes, you read correctly, I got bitten) but some random girl in the crowd.  And I don't mean like a love nip or something, I got seriously bitten, there was a fair amount of skin that was removed from my shoulder, so I ended up having to go to the hospital to get shots to avoid getting hepatitis or rabies or something equally unpleasant.

Best Dance Song:

Groove is in the Heart - Deee-lite
This song makes me think of the Den, which is the old campus bar at the University of Calgary.  Back when I was in college, all of us would go to the Den on Thursday to get drunk, dance, fight, try to pick-up, and to listen to the great music played by DJ Wah (aka Walter).  It was the dirtiest, stinkiest, and generally grossest bar ever but it was always a good time.  I spent many a night closing out that bar.  And pretty much every night Groove is in the Heart played at least once if not twice.  

The Rockafeller Skank - Fatboy Slim
This is another song that reminds me of hanging out in a bar but this time it reminds me of hanging out in the Republik, which is one of those legendary bars in Calgary.  I must have spent every Saturday for about three years hanging out at the Republik.  I was such a regular that I didn't even have to talk to make my orders.  I would just walk up to the bar and the bartender would just hand me a bottle of Moosehead.  This song also reminds me of my friend Scott who used to dance to this song every single time it played.  I really spent a lot of time in the bar when I was younger....

Best Alt-Rock Song:

Buddy Holly - Weezer
I've never really understood why I like Weezer as much as I do.  I personally think they're kind of pretentious and possibly quite pompous but that said, they still totally rock.  I've liked pretty much every album they've released and I'm totally looking forward to their new album (which actually might be out already, I'm not really sure).

Money City Maniacs - Sloan
I used to totally hate Sloan until I got free tickets to see them one time in college.  They had such a great live show that I figured that I should give them a second chance.  Now, I totally love their music, though I must admit sometimes they're sort of a guilty pleasure.  

Lightning Crashes - Live
Again, I surprise myself by liking Live.  They definitely are a pretentious band with their funny hair cuts and their yoga poses on stage.  However, they really are a good band and Lightning Crashes is one of my favorite songs of all time.  I think in general I have a strange love-hate relationship with alt-rock.  I tend to think that the alt-rock personality is douchey as all fuck but I really enjoy the music.  It always makes me feel all conflicted inside.

Best Metal Song:

South of Heaven - Slayer
This song reminds me of being 14 and hanging out with my friend Jonny, who might be the only person in the world that loves Slayer as much as I do.  I mean, I'm one of those guys, who if I didn't have the good judgment that I do, would be inclined to carve "SLAYER" into my arm and light it on fire.  Slayer is probably the greatest band of all time.  I really think that someone should start a religion where they worship Slayer.  You just need to ask yourself WWSD?

Enter Sandman - Metallica
Okay, I hate Metallica but there are a couple of songs of theirs that I think are terrific.  One is And Justice for All, which is their really good song.  The second is Enter Sandman, while Enter Sandman isn't really a good song, it's a really fun song.  It's a song that's fun to play (especially when you arrange it all folky and for a acoustic guitar).  

Best Punk Song:

...And We Thought Nation States were a Bad Idea - Propagandhi
Propagandhi is another one of those really great Canadian bands that I think is often under appreciated.  They're one of those really great left wing anarchist punk bands.  There aren't many of those around anymore.  Nowadays punk is posture and no substance, which really is how punk started back in the day with the Sex Pistols, the New York Dolls, the Stooges, and the Ramones.  However, Propagandhi is punk in the way that the Clash and the Dead Kennedys.  They're that kind of punk that uses their music as a means to be activists for social change.  Everyone needs to give them a listen.

All Fall Down - Good Riddance
Good Riddance is another great political punk band.  I don't think they're as great as Propagandhi but they really are a good band.  Also they're one of the funnest punk bands to see live, they have a great live show.  All Fall Down is a terrific song about questioning the institutions that act to repress free expression.  Great song.

The Brews - NOFX
This song reminds me of one of my college roommates Joe, who while being an Irish kid from Montreal,  believed that he was a Jewish (or perhaps Hispanic) punk from California.  Also, The Brews is one of those songs that I feel the need to sing along to every time I hear it.  "We're the Brews, sportin' anti-swastika tattoos, oi oi!  We're the boys, orthodox, hasidic, O.G. ois!"  So very good....

Girl with the Flower Tattoo - Down By Law
Down By Law is one of those bands that I'm torn about.  They're one of the progenitors of emo, which I hate with a passion.  Seriously, if there weren't laws against it, I would probably be inclined to kidnap emo kids and lock them in my basement and refuse to let them out until they agree to cut their hair and wear pants that actually fit properly.  I really, really hate emo.  It's the stupidest derivative of punk ever.  That said, Down By Law is a really good band with really great songs.  Oh well....

Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down - The Toasters
Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down might be the best third wave ska song of all time.  It's just full of the awesome, there's not much to say about it.  Here, give it a listen:

Man, that was a seriously long post....

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