Monday, November 26, 2007

A Note on Electability

What is electability? The ability to get elected, of course!

How do we know which candidates are electable?

You could ask the "average American" who's running for President in '08. You could pay attention to who's getting the most coverage on the news in popular current events magazines. You could pay attention to which candidates A-list celebrities are supporting. You could watch the debates and see which candidates get asked the most questions. And, speaking of debates, who are those other guys standing on stage? The ones who aren't asked every question but seem the most genuine when they are asked?

Those, my friends, are the unelectable.

I usually don't pay attention to those guys. I like to put my eggs in the lesser-of-two-evils basket whenever possible. Why vote for someone who has no chance of being elected?

But, this year, in an early Democratic Party debate, I couldn't help but feel like the little guys were more authentic. Especially the littlest one of all of them. Dennis Kucinich caught my eye.

I started to see him pop up in blogs and in an occasional news piece. Against my better judgement, I began to pay attention.

Up there somewhere, I talked about identifying who's electable. There's really a better way to sort 'em out. The candidates who are electable are those running campaigns with money. Lots of money. Money machines, they are.

This is where I get dismayed.

The electable are already in debt to the same a$$holes who are already running the country behind the scenes. And our country ain't in the best of shape, folks.

Dennis Kucinich is already in debt too. Only his debt is owed to the small percentage of Americans who believe in him. Actually, Kucinich joins John Edwards and Barack Obama as being one of the only three Democratic candidates who have accepted less than $10,000 from PACs. Hillary Clinton has already accepted $750,000 and the primaries haven't even hit yet. Finance info can be found here.

The Kucinich campaign is trying to get Dennis recognized. As such, they've begun a contest of sorts on MySpace to have users get creative and make Dennis their profile pic. Since I'm broke and all I could do was buy a bumper sticker, I have upped the ante. Not only has Dennis been my number one friend for a few weeks and I have him linked at the top of my blog, I've now PhotoShopped myself into a picture with Dennis. Maybe I'll win a prize.

Here's the bottom line. Hillary scares me. I don't want my choice to represent an underdog to take a vote away from Barack Obama in the primary but I'm also tired of how people get elected in this country. Yeah, yeah, I'm only one person.

At the end of the day, I may not be Vegan, I may not be attracted to his hot wife, and I may have never seen a UFO, but I've researched and researched and Dennis is my man. Figuratively speaking.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

With a Love Like That, You Know You Should Be Glad

I got home from my first ever trip to Vegas early this evening and thought I'd give you all a report. 

I got married.

Kidding.  That was only there because of all of the "Don't get married or knocked up!" pieces of "advice" I received.  Why is it that these are the things we say when someone is going to Vegas instead of, "Good luck!" or, "I'll cross my fingers that you win big!"?

I'm pretty sure that if you'd been less worried about my marital status and more concerned with my financial situation, we would have won something.  I blame it on MySpace.

Anyway, I'd like to share with you some of the photos I took.






*crickets chirping*






As it happens, I wasn't particularly inspired to take any photos.  I do wish I had been more insistent upon one photo in particular but it would be safe to blame that on my passive nature (instead of on MySpace). 

Why was I not inspired to take touristy photos?  Mostly because I was not all that impressed, folks.  I've seen Vegas in photos and movies and always thought that it would be the kind of place that would bring out the fun in me.  Only it didn't.  For a place with so many different kinds of people walking about, it was void of culture.  Kind of depressing, if you ask me.

Oh.  And there's that whole we-could've-bought-a-plane-ticket-with-all-of-the-money-we've-collectively-wasted thing.  That's depressing, as well.

It was not a waste of time, though.  We did have some fun.  I won't give you an exhaustive list, I just want to talk about the shows.

On Wednesday, we saw Lance Burton, a magician.  That was entertaining; we were in the front row so we got picked on a bit.  Even though we know better than to believe it was magic, we did have the inevitable "How'd he do that?" conversation.

On Thursday, we saw George Carlin.  I fully expected to be ROFLMAO but it was not to be.  Carlin was funny but he's getting older and there were too many jokes focusing on old age that we couldn't entirely relate to.  There was also a conspicuous lack of political satire in his routine.  Something was missing.  It may have been that he was testing out new material for his next HBO special.  We were guinea pigs.

On Friday, we saw Cirque Love.  Oooh, I'll give you a picture yet!

That was my favorite.  I found the interpretations intriguing.  It was basically a Cirque acrobatic show set to Beatles music.  And, of course, it made me think of love. 

At times, the background screens would flash politically charged images, for instance, the KKK.  Not all Beatles songs are peppy, either.  I noticed that, no matter what the tone of the song or what the image on the screens, the dance was hopeful and joyous almost entirely.  That could be lots of things.  It was a couple of things particularly to me.

Music gets us through.  Even when it's not jubilant in nature. 

Music (and the Beatles, consequently) remind us that...well...all you need is love.

So, I listened to the music and watched the art in front of me and I thought about all of the different kinds of love I have in my life.  This was my first Thanksgiving ever away from my family.  I thought of those relationships.  I thought of a very dear friend who, if she wasn't working, was probably very tired and I smiled.  I thought of the unconditional love I have in my children.

I thought of the fingers laced through mine and I clutched tighter.

Cynicism.  I thought of how universally cynical people, myself included, can be in our relationships.  I think that's a blog for another day, this is getting too long, but I really want to avoid that cynicism that does less to protect and more to destroy.  Why?

Because I'm glad.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Law Enforcement/Prejudice/MRI Stew

Today, Lyn posted a blog about a rather disturbing event at an airport in which the Royal Canadian Mounted Police tasered a man to death. Read it here. (That was a command, by the way.)

I hate to turn to pop-culture to talk about my thoughts on this but I have an intense love for the show Boston Legal. Chances are none of you have ever seen it and that's fine. I'd love to rant on about the show but at least one of you has already been subjected to such rants so I'll keep it to myself.

It teaches me things. Last week, one of the issues it brought up was in the case of a police officer who shot (8 times) and murdered an unarmed black suspect. As he had two other run-ins (this was the first death) with black suspects, it was determined that the incident was racially motivated and the policeman was charged with second degree murder.

The key evidence? An MRI scan.

Departing Boston Legal and entering real life. Apparently, MRI technology can measure brain activity in specific regions to determine the subject's prejudices. This isn't exactly new technology but the concern raised is whether it should be admissible as evidence.

In the episode of BL, noticeable activity was observed when the police officer was shown images of black people that was nonexistent when he was shown images of any other group.

In a comment on Lyn's blog, I expressed my concern that we issue weapons to people who (one never knows) could be total nutbags. It would be nice to have some way of knowing which officer could wind up being a walking time bomb and which wouldn't.

But the MRI thing scares me. Issues of privacy aside, who doesn't have prejudices? In the case on BL, had the police officer been subject to the MRI prior to employment, would we give him a gun? And how much of the population would we be eliminating from potentially entering law enforcement?

In these MRI studies, people who insisted they weren't racist discovered otherwise. Really, the issue isn't whether someone holds prejudice but whether they'll be able to separate from that when a decision needs to be made. I think everyone can agree on that. However, with such MRIs being allowed as evidence, are we taking away the benefit of doubt on someone's ability to make that separation?

Lyn's story doesn't seem to be related to the man's ethnic group. But it does seem to be related to a group of people who did not have the appropriate measures in place (in this case a translator) to diffuse the situation or prevent it from occurring in the first place. These men acted in a way that rational men never should. Wouldn't it be nice if there was some way to know that before they were issued weapons?

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I was working on my Social Problems homework last night at my favorite place in the whole wide world and I'm very excited because my Social Problems prof is the first I've had that gives us thought-provoking discussion questions, the kind that cause good old-fashioned discussion board fights, the kind where I'm just waiting for that ultra-conservative John Doe's name to pop up as having responded to one of my posts so I can tear him up with my superior spelling and grammar. Let's face it, John Doe, you may be infuriated by the fact that immigrants come here and can't even speak English, but neither can you. So, there.

I digress. (But it felt good.)

One of the questions assigned for this week found a very fascinated Melissa at the other end of the computer. I began doing way more research into the subject than the one paragraph response required. As such, I've selected the topic as my research project for the quarter. I'm going to post the question here and hope to spark some good discussion that will help me directionally with my paper.

Does the widespread availability of drugs (legal and illegal) serve to placate the socio-economically disadvantaged people in our society (especially the unemployed and underemployed) so that they are less likely to threaten social stability? Identify the major sociological perspectives that relate to this issue and how you used this in your analysis.

I've already done the obligatory one paragraph answer to the question and chose to argue from a conflict perspective as I will likely do with my paper. I've never looked at this issue in this way before and given that I was raised in a poor family laden with people with substance abuse problems, it's definitely something I'm excited to explore. Even with that, I think I'm more interested in looking at this as related to legal drugs. This is going to be a fun project for me!

Anyway, I don't need "help" with my paper, I'm all set, really. I'm just interested in your initial reactions to the question. I suspect that this issue may be revisited over the coming weeks as I get further in.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Punishment; or, My Victory Over My Fat Ass

I'm sick and I've no children around; thus, I'm supremely bored. The good thing about my laptop is that I can lie in bed with my electric blanket cranked up to high and blog when I'm sick. I could also read but that would require getting out of the warm bed to go in the living room to get my book and, lets face it, I just got up to grab my laptop, I'm not getting up again. Or, since I already have my laptop, I could do homework. But what fun is that? Blogging is funner (you see, even when I'm sick, I have that characteristic dry English teacher sense of humor).

Let us talk of bad habits. I just had this conversation yesterday and thought it was high time to have it here, as a sort of confession. Allusions have been made but I've never felt comfortable just talking about it.

I'm of the school that our bad habits are punishments we inflict upon ourselves. This is only if you view the habit as bad, not because others tell you it is. If you smoke or drink or hurt yourself or any other thing and you wish you didn't, you are punishing yourself. I'm going to elaborate by talking about mine.

My punishment is food. I don't intend for this to sound funny but it kind of is, upon remembrance. I have always been an over-eater. It didn't catch up with me (I was positively skeletal growing up) until after high school. My first memory of eating inappropriately is when I was in second grade. I was a latchkey kid and when I'd get home, I'd go straight for the silverware drawer and take a spoon into the utility room where my mom stored her off-limits-to-kids tubs of hot cocoa. I would eat spoonfuls of the stuff- I didn't even waste my time adding hot water.

That's the only case, though, where I can trace my eating habits to something that was forbidden. Other than that, food tasted good and I had an endless pit to fill. The vast majority of my life has been spent eating constantly.

I never saw it as a bad habit or came to terms with the fact that food was my "comfort" until I started putting on weight after high school. I recognized that the daily trips through the drive-thru, the general disdain for anything that was healthy, the constant need to be eating was beginning to show on my body. Eating made me feel badly about myself and, at the same time, it was my medication. "I hate that I'm fat, let me go get some fries and dip them in mayo."

For the better part of the past 10 years, I engaged in yo-yo dieting. I'd set a goal, I'd almost reach it, then I'd start eating again. Ice cream if I'm angry, extra butter on my popcorn if I'm happy, second helpings of a fat-laden dinner if I'm sad. It was all interchangeable, it's a bad habit and no matter what I was feeling, I was going to eat in response.

I got a grip on it about a year and a half ago and it really made me start to see bad habits for what they are. No matter how major or minor, it's punishment-plain and simple. Everyone has insecurities they try to mask with whatever they fall back on to feel comfortable. I'd feel down, so I'd go get a Blizzard to feel better. But the only thing that's ever really made me feel better is turning down the Blizzard. The only thing that's ever really given me control is conscious, deliberate action against punishing myself.

Today, I have control of the bad habit and, upon reaching my goal early this year, I've stayed there. It's a struggle every day, just like smoking or drinking. I have to make sure that if I'm taking my kids out for ice cream it's not because I'm depressed. Because, just like that one cigarette (I'm guessing) after several weeks of going smoke-free, if I eat to punish myself just one time, it's a free fall after that (I'll binge) and it is harder to pick myself up every time.

Perhaps I didn't put myself at risk for cancer or fry brain cells. Perhaps when you look at me, you'd never know. But, underneath my clothes, I have a body full of scars that remind me of what I did to myself. For the most part, these scars make me fiercely proud of how strong I am today. Sometimes, they still disgust me, I'm human after all, and they make me want to get in my car and go buy a tub of Ben&Jerry's. I'm not sure it'll ever go away. But, if it weren't for the testing, I'd not have the reminders of how good it feels (beyond the many physical aspects) to lose more than 60 pounds.

I worry sometimes about picking up new forms of punishment. I suspect they're already there and I know what they are and I avoid dealing with them. But I'm so much stronger than I was one year ago or two years ago and I've no doubt that, when the time comes, I'll slay whatever gets in my way.

Enough serious talk. I'm going back to the beginning of this blog. It's only punishment if you acknowledge it as a bad habit and don't like that you succumb to it. This is why Diet Coke is not a bad habit. It makes me feel good. Very, very good. Never bad. Except when I get the headache that is a telltale sign that I've gone without for too long. Diet Coke is not a punishment, it is a reward. For being awesome.

So, if you feel comfortable or just want to sound off, what are your bad habits, insecurities, and, do you think you punish yourself?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Update Rant

I went to Chicago last Friday and came home Monday night.  I've since been trying to catch up on the news, get last minute homework done, spend time with my kiddos.  As such, I haven't been on much and will never catch up on the blogs I missed.  What is it about the word NEW! next to the blog entries I'll never read that scares me so?  I don't have time to read yours and assuming you have time to read mine, here are updates, categorically speaking (it's like an annoying survey!):

Art and Photography:

My children on Halloween

Automotive: I still haven't got the blower in my car fixed.  It's under warranty.  What's my malfunction?

Dreams and the Supernatural:  Nothing to report.

Fashion, Style, and Shopping:  In Chicago, I realized that shopping sucks now just as much as it always has and it is unlikely that I'll ever revise my position on the Dementor-like effect shopping has on me.

Food and Restaurants:  I had Indian, Ethiopian, and Sushi all in one weekend!  I feel like a cow!  Moooo!

Friends:  It was good to see Lori but especially nice to catch up with her on the ride home.  I love having that one friend that, no matter how much time has passed, nothing changes.

Games:  I'm told that I need to learn Blackjack inside and out.  For homework.  My boyfriend is using me to make him rich.

Goals, Plans, Hopes:  WTF are those?

Jobs, Work, Careers: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

Life:  I don't have one.

Movies, TV, Celebrities:  We saw Dan in Real Life while in Chicago.  I recommend it.

Music:  I wish I could play violin.

MySpace:  Distracting me from laundry.

News and Politics:  I increasingly wish that the underdogs were the front runners.  They're better.

Parties and Nightlife:  I had too much to drink on Sunday night.  And the bars were showing sports.  Blech.

Pets and Animals:  I finally remembered to go get the hermit crabs from their weekend babysitter.  Why do people insist upon making "you have crabs" jokes repeatedly?

Podcast:  Um, yeah...

Quiz/Survey:  I'm determined to never read another.  Let's all band together on this.

Religion and Philosophy:  I have yet to find Jesus and he doesn't seem to be in a hurry to find me.

Romance and Relationships:  It made me infinitely happy to see Josh in Chicago and even happier that I only have 3 weeks until I see him again.  Unfortunately, we've nothing lined up beyond that and I find this distressing.  The long stretches in between are, at times, impossible but there's usually a "next time" to look forward to.  I don't eagerly anticipate not having a "next time."  Don't let ancient wisdom rule, parting is just plain sorrowful.   

School, College, Greek:  Two new classes today: Creative Writing and Social Problems.  Creative Writing is a repeat.  Good story.  Once upon a time, I took a class titled "Creative Writing."  I did most of my work, enough to receive a "B" anyway.  Unfortunately, I failed to compile said work into a portfolio to turn in on the last day of class.  My teacher said it would be okay to email it to him after I got home that night.  Then we all went to the bar (teacher too).  Then Treasure had about 20 drinks too many and, in ensuring she didn't hug too many old men at the bar and getting her debilitated butt home, I forgot to email the portfolio.  My teacher tried to reach me all day the next day but, alas, I was not home.  Ultimately, he gave me a "D."  Now I have to do it all over.  Which really sucks because I have to write poetry and fiction, not my strong suits.  Luckily, I have all the crap already done from the last time I took the class!

I don't feel like doing this anymore, so I'm cheating you out of the last four categories.  Get over it.