Sunday, November 30, 2008
After raking the leaves, the kids helped me gather them. I kind of wish the wife had come out with a camera to catch them doing yardwork as it was nice to see them all getting along and accomplishing something together. But she was getting ready for church.
Today was the first Sunday in Advent, so I wanted to get the children in to get some more exposure to church. We're not Easter and Christmas Christians, but we aren't Every Sunday folk, either.
The rest of the day entailed watching football, taking a nap and listening to the kids play/fight. It was a good day.
Oh, and we had leftover Bulgoki for lunch - yum.
I like the holidays. I wish we got snow for the kids (and me), as that makes Christmas even more fun. But, when you move to Texas, you sacrifice a few things, like good weather and working with people who don't have drawls - I think the Apple has a nice one brewing, fun.
Anyway, that's what's happening here right now. Tomorrow we're back to the grind. Can't wait.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
We played Pinochle again - more fun, and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves, as well. All things considered, it was a nice day.
If only I had more friends who liked to come over for bulgoki...
All I want for Christmas is a Lexus. Or an Infinity. Or a Cadillac CTS.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Has the clock struck 13 yet?
Every year, Americans gather together with their families to celebrate the bounty of the year and to give thanks for all that we have on the Fourth Thursday in November with a huge Turkey and all the fixin's, a tradition that started in 1621 with the Pilgrims, Squanto, and the Wampanoag Indians, right? Well, not exactly. We'll look at some of the history of the holiday today.
First, it's true that there was a day of Thanksgiving in 1621, but, it doesn't look as though there was one in 1622. The harvest wasn't as good, there were many new settlers that needed housing and whatnot. The Pilgrims probably weren't in the best of moods for celebrating.
Second, The First Thanksgiving most likely wasn't in November. It was probably much closer to the harvest in September/October. Anyone who has spent any time in Massachussetts in November would tell you it's not exactly the best weather for celebrating.
Third, the Pilgrims didn't call themselves Pilgrims. They called themselves Saints.
Fourth, The letters and journals of the time indicate that Turkeys were not the big ticket item. The colonists came from England, where the lords greatly restricted hunting, and thus most people had never had venison before. In the states, where deer was plentiful, venison was very prominent at the first Thanksgiving.
- So where did Turkey come from? It appears as though it was a product of marketing in the late 1800s. Turkey was a much more profitable than other birds, so the lobbyists advertised immensely, showing pictures of a family gathering around a table with a big turkey in the middle. It caught on, and the picture printers (Think Currier and Ives) followed suit, with pictures of Pilgrims and a big Turkey.
So, if there was no second Thanksgiving, how the the 4th Thursday become the day? Well, Abraham Lincoln. In 1863, after the victory at Gettysburg, President Lincoln declared a national day of thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday of November. In 1864, after the victory at Antietam, they had another Day of Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday. In 1865, President Lincoln was shot and killed. President Johnson decided to follow the Thanksgiving tradition set up by President Lincoln, and it became the holiday it is now.
Everything is fine and dandy right? Not quite. You see, in the 1930s one year, There were five Thursdays in November. Since Thanksgiving had traditionally been the last Thursday, (usually there are only 4), this posed a problem. The lobbyists for the big department stores wanted Turkey Day to be the 4th Thursday, because it gave people more time for Christmas shopping. Traditionalists felt that this undermined the historical significance (unaware as to the actual history of the holiday), and pushed for it to be on the Last Thursday. There was some fallout from that, with some states going on the 4th Thursday, and some going on the last. Colorado had a Thanksgiving Week, and another state had 2 thankgsivings. Thankfully, Congress intervened, and passed a law in 1941 signed by President Roosevelt that established Thanksgiving as the 4th Thursday in November. And The Lions have been playing ever since.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I was listening to sports talk radio on the way home from work today, and the folks on the radio were bitching about the Lions being on. They suggested that perhaps the Lions should not have a monopoly on Thanksgiving, in part because they stink. Yes. The Lions are bad. But they haven't always been bad, and they have even won a few times on Turkey day, just not since they hired Matt Millen.
Here's what I think: The entire league was approached some 60-odd years ago about doing a game on Thanksgiving. Everybody passed except the Lions. Now that the league is seeing what a coup it is, they want a piece of it. Hence the 3rd game (The Cowboys got the second one after the league volunteered it). These teams had their chance. Tough shit that you passed it up in the past. It would be like telling IBM that they get a piece of Microsoft because it turned out to successful after they passed on it the first time. Cry me a river.
I know that I would likely have a somewhat different view on this if I wasn't a Lions fan, but darnit, someone has to be.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.
The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.
Now I don't know about racing cars or fighting fires, but I thought this was interesting.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Last night we watched a show on PBS about the origins of the Israelites. It was fascinating. I would massacre a retelling, but in a nutshell, the show used scholars who studied the region (from U.S. and Israeli universities, inter alia) to discuss where the Israelites came from and who wrote the bible. They hypothesized that the Bible was not written in chronological order, but rather over a period of time. They also supposed that the Israelites (at least most of them) may not have migrated from Egypt during the Exodus, but rather were made up of Canaanites who adopted a new identity for themselves, aided by a few individuals who may have come from Egypt.
The show displayed evidence that indicated David and his house did rule Israel, as well.
All in all, it was a really good piece. I should like to see it again someday.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The article notes that there are Constitutional legal scholars who believe charges should be filed to help restore our international standing, such as Michael Ratnor, of Columbia Law school, who is also President of the Center for Human Rights. From the article: "The only way to prevent this from happening again is to make sure that those who were responsible for the torture program pay the price for it," Ratner said. "I don't see how we regain our moral stature by allowing those who were intimately involved in the torture programs to simply walk off the stage and lead lives where they are not held accountable"
Additionally, the article mentions that President Bush could issue pre-emptive pardons to protect those who were following orders.
This latter option sort of annoys me, because, if you consider what happened at Abu Ghraib, the very same thing could have happened and the individuals such as Private England could have been protected for following orders that they are not allowed to question. There should be consistency there.
I've said several times that I believe there should be an inquiry into what transpired during the Bush administration and whether what he and/or his staff, including Cheney, have ordered or authorized, explicitly or implicity, was legal under American Law and under the standards used for trying war criminals such as the Germans after WW2 and the Serbs after Kosovo. If there is found to be violations, then there needs to be repurcussions for those violations of the law as high up as they go. It's the best way to proceed.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Right now, Face the Nation is on, and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) discussing whether or not to bail out the automakers. Of the two, I thought Shelby's answer was closer to what I would support, that Chapter 11 might be the best way to go - go through a restructuring, get out of the bad contracts, and require the industry to start over with new corporate structure. What concerns me is something I read on at least one other blog (I can't recall which), which essentially said that because of the credit freeze, the automakers would be unable to get bankruptcy loans (when there's a chapter 11 filed, there's a hold on all assets, so the day to day operations would need to be financed through loans) to meet expenses during a restructuring. What this means, as I understand, is that the automakers would face considerable difficulty in steering through a Chapter 11.
Now, I'm a little skeptical about that explanation, as I think the auto industry is big enough that money would find its way to them. But, that does not mean that there is not a risk there. The big question is, would Detroit be able to shift enough in philosophy to make a restructuring worthwhile?
There is a lot of finger-pointing over what's gone wrong over the past 20 years, but I think all can agree that continuing with the status quo is not the solution.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Apparently voting for a candidate who supports the right for someone else to decide whether or not she should have an abortion is placing one under divine judgment. I did not know this.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
This evening, I was listening to whoever was filling in for Calvin Murphy (I never heard their names). They were debating whether or not Poker was a sport.
Professional Poker is certain a competition - you enter the contest, you try to be the last one left after all the eliminations are handled. But I don't know that I could refer to it as a sport. I have played several sports. Competitively, I have played Baseball, Soccer, Bowling, Racquetball, Volleyball, Softball, and Chess. In the non-competitive environment, I have also played football, basketball, and Tennis. I have hunted and fished. For exercise, I have run and been swimming. Most of these would qualify as sports.
The key lies in the definition, obviously. What qualifies as a "sport?" In my mind, a sport is an activity that taxes your physical skills in some way. I think there are competitive activities that tax your mind in a comparable fashion, but fall short of the qualification of "sport." To this end, I would not qualify Poker or Chess as sports, though there is definitely a competitive spirit to both (though I don't know that nations have been subjugated or lives forfeited because of poker games, unlike Chess matches). While Hunting and Fishing require some skill (and patience), I am less convinced that these activities are "sports" as I would define it. They are activities that require skill, some physical ability, and can be mentally taxing, but ultimately both end up being more about outsmarting an animal's instincts than anything else.
I think of the list I've provided above, the rest of the activities would qualify as sports. While they all have some mental component, the physical component outshines it (except maybe softball).
What do you think?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
This evening, my son had a Veteran's Day program at school. All the Fourth Graders stood on stage and sang songs. In between this, various students got on stage and expressed what Freedom or America means to them. After, all the veterans in the audience were honored, followed by a slide show again honoring the veterans. The day was nice.
As the assembly finished, a gentleman who had been sitting behind me stood, shook the hands of the Soldier and Marine veterans who had been sitting next to him and then shook my hand. Each time, he made eye contact and said "Thank you for your service."
That's as simple as need be.
Monday, November 10, 2008
I am confident that Senator Obama has somebody in mind for secretary of defense but Gates -- you know, it's interesting, my conversation with Secretary Gates, he's not even a Republican. Why wouldn't we want to keep him? He's never been a registered Republican.Yeah. That's why Obama should keep Secretary Gates. That type of partisan thinking is not what this country needs, and the justification itself is asinine.
There are many reasons to justify keeping Secretary Gates as Secretary of Defense. For example - he's already in the position during a transition period of government during two wars. Having some consistency at the policymaking level is a very good thing. Additionally, Secretary Gates is rather competent at his position. There are more, to be sure, but those in and of themselves are more than reason enough to justify keeping him in the position.
There is no need to play the political card on this. It's petty and divisive, and we need leadership that is calm and reasoned. President-elect Obama would find little difficulty in keeping Secretary Gates, but if he does so, let's hope it's for a real reason, and not some cockamamie partisan tommyrot.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Fortunately, he still likes potato chips. And cookies.
Otherwise, he might starve.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
The Republicans might seem confused right now, but that's not to say they were crushed in this election. Indeed, they still came within 10 percentage points in the popular vote in a year where they should have been steamrolled given the climate. The party brand has suffered under the suspected war crimes of President Bush's tenure, the advocacy of torture, the secret prisons, indefinite detention of those not charged with a crime, denial of habeas rights, the domestic wiretapping, the USA PATRIOT Act, and unitary executive theory, but those acts were committed by President Bush, a neoconservative who was given extraordinary deference from a rubber stamp congress between 2001 and 2006. At its core, the Republican Party idea, the Goldwater idea, is still strong. Small government, low taxes, limited spending, personal liberty, are all core values that appeal to a large portion of the population. The problem comes from the neoconservative/Religious Right approach of alienating any group that opposes any segment of their diktat. What the Republican Party needs to do is reject the Rush/Coulter/Rove approach to governing, and instead return to what the Republican Platform was during the Goldwater to Reagan period. They would be better for it, and the Nation very well could be, too.
But, no more Alitos or Scalias to the Court. Strict Constructionism only when it suits you is not right, either.
Our country's economic fundamentals are not strong right now. Several banks have failed, the interest rate is unbelievably low, the Dow is down about 35% from it's high last fall, the previous economic stimulus did little to stem the tide, and our national debt is double what it was 8 years ago. Taking more money away from the future is not going to fix things.
What the plan would do is apply a band-aid to a sucking chest wound. It's not going to help. We're at a point where we can't feasibly drop much lower and still remain viable as a nation.
We are at a point where we need to pay the piper. For the sake of our nation's standing as an economic power now, and in the future. This is the cost of deficit spending - you've got to pay off the debts. When that time comes, spending and economic growth necessarily will suffer. It's not the popular thing to do to tell the country we have to honor our financial obligations, but it's right, and it will do more in the long run than sending out another several million checks will.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
You can watch the video at the Liberal Journal, here.
My good friend from North Carolina, Just Wondering weighs in, as well.
Andrew Sullivan is on this, as well.
Just think, if 4 million people vote differently, we don't learn about this.
The above mentioned report has been reported to be a hoax.
The Apple is "scared." He got punished for taking candy before finishing his dinner and was sent to bed. Now he's scared - an hour after being sent to bed.
I'm reading "The Conservative Soul," a book by Andrew Sullivan. It's a good read, so far. Chapter 2 is about fundamentalism. His position is basically what Photog's is regarding fundamentalism, but where Photog is brief due to his explanation being confined to a blog post, Andrew expands in a very thorough manner. I don't disagree with either of their positions, but I still wonder if there is some sense of insecurity in a fundamentalist that they need the backing of the government to justify their beliefs.
I hate our minivan.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Congratulations to Senator Obama. He ran a good race, and he ran the better race.
While it looks like Senator Obama has won the election, it's important to note the margin at this time is less than 3 million votes - 51% for Senator Obama to 48% for Senator McCain as I sit down to type this. The electoral votes may seem rather skewed in Obama's favor, he won by getting one more vote in many states, rather than winning heartily. This is significant.
It's significant because it was a close election. Senator Obama has a narrow victory. His task is to understand that, and to govern accordingly. He is the President-elect of the entire nation, not just the 51% who voted for him and Senator Biden.
When I first started this blog, I wrote a post indicating that I would be critical of President Bush because he is the President. I also stated that I would have been critical of Senator Kerry had he won - possibly more critical than I was of President Bush as I am still unsure of who would have been worse. The point, though, is that I maintain this reservation to be critical of Senator Obama as President. This is his burden as President. One of his many burdens. His job starts very soon. Let's wish him the best, and wish the best for us.
Monday, November 03, 2008
Here is what I hope. I hope that if Senator Obama wins, he acts as prudently as he has done throughout this campaign. I hope that he attempts to undo the smash and grab tactics of the previous administration in strengthening the executive branch. I hope that he selects cabinet and staff members based not on loyalty to himself or his party, but rather based on their ability to do the job for which they've been hired.
If Senator McCain wins, I hope he returns to the pragmatic individual he was before this campaign began. I hope he reaches conclusions after thinking about the consequences of possible plans of action rather than vice-versa. I hope he understands that Separation of Powers is no more a concept than Separation of Church and State or fundamental rights or the existence of taxes. It's a necessary part of what makes this country work. Mostly, though, I hope that the country is willing to be led by him, as his campaign has vilified so many who don't walk lockstep with the campaign's wishes (you know, the "real" Americans).
I hope that this country can begin to mend from a painful 8 years. (Even ardent Bush supporters must admit this has been a less-than-stellar presidency, just as ardent Bush detractors must concede that he has done some things right)
I hope that Stare Decisis will mean something again.
I hope that the Supremacy Clause is Supreme again.
I hope that our standing in the world will improve, as we have seen the effects of "You're either with us or against us."
I hope the recession is short - it's necessary, but I hope it's short.
I hope that Iraq becomes an ally in actuality, not just based on necessity.
I hope that Osama Bin Laden is captured.
I hope, because I am an American.
Mostly, though, I hope that I can sleep at night thinking I made the best choices based on the evidence provided.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
When it comes to serving as the Chief Executive, decisionmaking is key. Senator Obama's decision in selecting Joe Biden was far and away a sounder decision, reached almost embarrassingly more pragmatically than Senator McCain's selection of Sarah Palin.
I am still undecided between Obama and Barr, as I have other concerns with Senator Obama, however, in my opinion the third option is no option at all.
I no longer have PBS, but since when is Public Broadcasting important for people?
I don't love the idea of forcing digital communications on people, but it's the law, and it only cost us an extra $20 bucks after everything was said and done.
And I got to see the Longhorns lose last night in an outstanding game!
On the flight out to Tampa, I flew on Southwest airlines, which is not bad, particularly if you pay the extra $20 or so and get the business select class. The only downside is we fly out of Hobby airport which is on the south side of Houston, and I live north of Bush airport, which is on the north side. However, I can handle the drive. Back to the point. On the flight, I sat one row behind Herb Kelleher, one of the founders of Southwest Airlines. He was rather friendly, chatting with everyone, and handed out several autographed napkins to individuals (not myself, though). The napkin that I read said something to the effect of "all it takes is a napkin and a dream," a reference to the inspiration for Southwest airlines, which he confirmed to be the case.
The week before saw me to Detroit. After returning to the airport from that trip, I was walking to the parking garage and upon exiting the elevator to the floor where I parked, I happened upon a group of Korean businessmen and women trying to take a group photo. Realizing what they were trying to do, I took it upon myself to offer my services. I walked up to the group and said, "shilae hamnida. Chaega chikulsu issoyo (I can take the picture)." The group looked at me, and answered in English, apparently not registering that I spoke in Korean. They asked if I was really ok with taking the picture, and I said yes, again in Korean. I then went to the man with the camera and said "Chaega halsu isso (I can do it)." He started handing me the camera, then paused and asked me if I said what I said in Korean. I acknowledged that I did. He asked where I learned it, and I said Korea. I then proceeded to take a couple pictures. Before the second picture, I asked if everyone was chunbe (ready), and they all replied in the affirmative. Again, only one or two seemed to get that I was speaking Korean. By the end of the shoot, most of them realized I'd been speaking to them in Korean, but it was odd for all of them to have some random American walk up to them in an airport and speak to them in Korean. I think it was so unexpected that they just couldn't register it. Instead, they heard what they knew they understood, and since they were bilingual, assumed that they were hearing me speak English to them. It was rather interesting to see their reaction when it dawned on them what they were hearing.
Today is lunch with the Mr. and Mrs. Photog!
Saturday, November 01, 2008
The point of that is to say that I have absolutely no idea where Sarah Palin was coming from when she said this:
Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama’s associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks. Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate’s free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.
“If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin told host Chris Plante, “then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”
(I came across this originally on Balloon Juice)
This is misrepresenting what she's done, and a not-so-subtle attack on the Press for calling her on her attacks. More pressing, however, is her apparent misunderstanding as to what the 1st Amendment is.
The Apple weighs in on this topic himself here: vgdrgfdgjyhygfbghjyjhfgjyjyjyfhgtghyjyktjhftgjfhtjhjuuuuyhytfggjughyjyhjuuuuuhgghhyujjuju