Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oh, Why Not?

Today's education from TPM: The Five Constitutional Amendments That Constitution-Loving Tea Partiers Would Change

On the mosque near Ground Zero...

"But others, led by Newt Gingrich, and far-right activist Pamela Geller, wanted the government to directly intercede to prevent the construction of a house of worship. First, though, you'd have to change that part of the Constitution that reads "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

On immigration...

Eliminating what's known as "birthright citizenship." That's right, you could be born here, but be deported if your parents were found to have illegally entered this country.

On taxes...

Repealing the 16th Amendment. Basically abolishing the government's right to tax our income. Instead, the government would be fueled solely by a sales tax.

On electing Senators...

This is the 17th Amendment. And some tea-partiers want to repeal it and instead give the duty of selecting senators to the legislature of the state. So, midterms would be obsolete.

On Prohibition...

TPM notes that Sharron Angle (God help us, especially Nevada if that woman wins) once expressed interest in repealing the 21st Amendment, you know, the one that repealed the 18th Amendment (Prohibition).

It is really a good read. Check it out. They do solid reporting over at TPM.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


This is my push, my one political blog before the midterm vote next week. This is where I stand. I voted for Obama, a human, not the second-coming of Jesus, so getting crap done takes a long time and given the problems the country faces now his presidency is one of the hardest in decades. He is doing his best and I believe it is much too early to see if his best is good enough for what America needs. I believe the rising tide of fear in this country is a cyclical event pushed on us by the party not in power and by the media. But I also believe the opposition has gone over the edge with claims of socialism and comparisons of Obama to Hitler. I think if Obama’s 2008 supporters go out there next Tuesday and vote for a Republican, they are voting in fear and they will be fueling a machine which runs on myth and superstition, a machine which is led by Glenn Beck, who hasn’t completed one college-level course in anything, and Sarah Palin. To so soon hand the reins of power back to the Republicans would be a huge mistake. Think about it. Agree or Disagree. Just be patient and sane and go vote in one week.

Like I said, I voted for Barack Obama in 2008. I was part of that liberal tide that swept across America in the wake of eight Bush years. But I was not under a magical spell when I worked for the campaign, nor was I when I voted for the man in November. I voted for a young, relatively inexperienced politician, but I also voted for a Constitutional Law professor, a man with a top-notch education, which a disturbing portion of America believes makes a man disconnected and out of touch with the “real” America. I thought then—and I still do—that a president with an Ivy League education isn’t a bad idea, but a good one. Some say his education classifies him as an elitist. Good.

I was wary of lavishing too much praise on candidate Obama when I was working for him. And now I am wary of agreeing with every one of his policies just because I voted for him. I don’t agree with some things he has done. Frankly, he hasn’t been as liberal as candidate Obama, almost kowtowing to the Republicans at times. I want him to be tougher and show off the intelligence I know he has. It reminds me of the debates with Hillary and the other Democratic candidates running in the primaries. Obama’s levelheadedness was agonizing at times in the face of ridiculous criticisms he faced about his friendship with Reverend Wright and his connection with William Ayers. I wanted Obama just to lash out once and put these absurd people in their place, both in the media and in the party. But it never happened.

I eventually really appreciated that about candidate Obama, but I am having a hard time appreciating that about President Obama. By voting for Obama I gave him a personal mandate to run the country the way candidate Obama wanted to run the country. Really close Gitmo, don’t just try once, hit a roadblock and give up. Really end the wars in the Middle East…don’t get bogged down in Afghanistan, much more of an endless war than Iraq ever was. Really end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, not just keep promising it will end on your watch. Really restore sanity and an America I can be openly proud of when I am not in America. Don’t let the people across the aisle get you down, not tiptoe around an issue until it is too late for it to be resolved the way candidate Obama promised it would be.

But do not mistake me for someone who regrets voting for Obama. Not. Even. Close. At times, as explained above, I am impatient with the progress, but then I see someone from the Tea Party on TV or I read the signs pictured at right-wing rallies and I realize I am very, very patient and comfortingly sane. For now, the Democrats deserve to keep their hold on the House and the Senate. Obama hasn’t been in power for two years yet. How would he have solved the greatest recession since the Great Depression in 22 months? Americans need a heavy dose of patience and sanity. Give the man two more years and see what happens. Hell, we gave Bush eight years, we can afford to give Obama and his squad half that much.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Up in Smoke

I live next door to the Colorado Department of Health building. It is an ugly, 12-floor structure, a perfectly hideous building to be used by the government. And that's about it. There is nothing special about the building besides its daily example of irony, the omnipresent group of employees huddling around outside to get their smoke on. Even in the gusts this morning as a storm moved through Denver, they were circled up getting their dose. I chuckled.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

If I Had A Twitface Account...

...I would tweet this right now...

Braveheart is a damn fine movie. Forget everything you know about Gibson. This film is amazing.


Wow, the Broncos need to do some work.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Don't Cry Over Spilled Hot Chocolate

Last week I was adjusting my chair at the table. I was too far away and wanted to get closer to my food. I went for it, but I wasn’t successful. I nailed my left knee on the underside of the table and the impact set a few of the glasses to rocking, risking a chaotic spill. This time there was no slop on the table, but I immediately thought of another time I bumped my knee on a table. It was 1999, I was a junior in high school, and I was attending my first high school dance.

Let’s call my date Jane. That sounds great, except that’s the name of a grandma and the middle name of my sister so that makes it a poor choice really. Moving on. I was in a new town, at a new school, and at a new church. I didn’t know anyone. I think it was a Sunday night when Jane came to the door. My mom answered the door (and I just embellished that because I can’t remember who exactly answered the door…it wasn’t me). I was called to the door and there was Jane, a girl I had a bit of a crush on back in the church camp days. The crush was lingering because I was fairly excited that there was a girl at the front door asking for me and she wasn’t here to sell me girl scout cookies or magazine subscriptions so she could go to Disney World for the entire summer. No, Jane was at the door to ask me to homecoming. I convinced myself it was out of pity because she went to the same church, I was the new guy in town, and I was the pastor’s kid who didn’t have a date to the dance. I don’t know whether any of those reasons are accurate, but I have suffered through bouts of low self-esteem and during one such bout I must have settled on one of those explanations being accurate. I think I know precisely which bout that was…I was on the dance floor at homecoming with Jane and I started to move and groove and she immediately gravitated toward her friends. I didn’t know them and she seemed to enjoy dancing with them more than with me and all this conversation was happening at chest height, the music was loud, and there wasn’t a face in the room I could see clearly, just a bunch of hair hovering around my shoulders.

I am getting way ahead of myself. Earlier in the night there was, at one point, some hot chocolate to be consumed. Jane and I were with three other couples that evening. They all seemed much more serious than we were, but we knew them from church and it seemed right to tag along with them. I think this was my decision. I didn’t know anyone outside of youth group so we wound up in a churchy type of homecoming group. The group was kind of awkward, but I was the new kid, 6’8” (about), and on my first date to a high school dance…it was going to be awkward with anyone.

The cool thing to do back then if you didn’t have any money to go to a nice restaurant was to do it all for free by doing a round robin dinner. Apps here. Entrees there. Desserts over there. This way the parents are more involved in the evening and they get to pay for all the food. It’s excellent. It’s the poor man’s homecoming/prom dinner.

I am getting distracted again. We were all set up for dessert. The hot chocolate was on the table. I, being the tallest guy there, was given the seat at the head of the table. Most people had settled in, but I had to squeeze by someone and a china cabinet I was taller than. I made it to my seat, pulled it out and I was going to do something familiar to all tall people. We can’t get into small spaces like all of you average people can so we adapt. Our go to maneuver in a tight spot is sort of a controlled sideways fall/slide. Once we commit to the movement there is no backing out. That is to say, once you start falling from a height of 6’8” you are going to wind up on the ground or, in this case, the chair you were aiming for. In one fell swoop I was going to get my butt in that chair and swing my legs under the table. It was going well, it really was, until my legs flew under the table and connected with a mysterious appendage protruding down from the underside of the table. Hitting this made the whole table rock. Hot chocolate went everywhere. A few glasses tipped over. I can’t remember if it actually got on anyone, but it was all over the lacy white tablecloth. I was silent and then profusely apologetic to my date and her mother who happened to be serving us the hot chocolate.

It was not, at the time, a good moment to be tall. Perhaps, I could say I even hated my height at that moment. It was embarrassing. I had just made a mess and all I wanted to do was to fit in and be cool with my date. But last week when I bumped my knee on the table I smiled for two reasons. One, it made me think of the homecoming dance in 1999, a night which I hadn’t thought about in a decade. And two, there is no bump on the knee I could take which would make me curse my height now. I welcome the next bump, it will surely dust off a memory that will make me not necessarily feel happy, but just feel.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cool Show Watch

Tonight, Bill Bryson (one of, or perhaps tied for, my favorite author/s) will be on The Colbert Report. Easily two of my favorite guys ever on one episode. Check it out.

Glenn and His Fans

This morning I read a profile of Glenn Beck. It was from the NY Times Magazine from October 3rd. I had never read an article about Glenn Beck for many reasons, but it was the cover story of the magazine, it was free, I knew it was a reputable journalist (Mark Leibovich)… I couldn’t resist.

I don’t get Glenn Beck. I am not alone in feeling this way. Apparently, Chris Wallace asked Glenn Beck on Fox News Sunday, “What are you?” Although I read the article, that question still remains. His ideas are cuckoo and I don’t understand why he has a following. But, I thought I would share a quote from one of his followers. Leibovich followed Beck to Alaska where Beck was doing a rally-type-of-thing with Sarah Palin. It is important to know that a favorite pastime of Beck’s and his followers is to rail against Woodrow Wilson because he ushered in the progressive era in America. So, here’s the passage from the article:

Sitting in the row behind me was a truck driver named Jerry Cole, who was from Fairbanks and wore an “I (heart) Woodrow Wilson” T-shirt with a slash through the heart. “He was the start of the Progressive Era,” Cole said of the long-dead president. “He believed that college intellectuals should decide how the world should be run.”

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Temp Agency Test

My first summer home after graduating from college I cheated on a proficiency test at a temp agency. I was having trouble finding a job and someone (I think it was my mom) suggested I go to a temp agency and see if I could get a good placement. It took a little more searching before I decided a temp agency was one of my only options. My ego took a hit, but I did walk into an agency located on Main Street in Longmont, CO.

The first thought I had inside the door was that this place is not going to find me a job that I would ever like. Run. But I didn’t. I stayed, sat down with a nice lady, explained my situation, surprise, I’m jobless and looking for work. She nodded several hundred times and concluded that I, just like everyone else that walks in the door, had to take a few tests in order for the agency to determine where I was skilled—if anywhere.

I was ushered to a back room full of cubicles and old computers. The computer led me through some typing and data entry tests. I excelled in the typing tests and was feeling confident. I wasn’t as fast on the keypad for data entry, but I was still feeling pretty good. I was even hoping for the lady to look at my report and recommend me to some company right away because she had never seen typing that fast before.

Then came the math section. I was rusty, but I was doing just fine until I got to long division. Holy crap! When was the last time I had to do long division? I thought for a moment, maybe 7th grade…maybe a little earlier or later? I didn’t know when I performed it last, but worse than that, I didn’t know how to do it anymore. I didn’t even know where to start. Of course I could rely on just working the problem through in my mind, but I knew there would be decimals and I wasn’t trusting of my ability to get this right. I considered my options. 1) Leave these questions blank because there is no way I can get the right number down or 2) slyly pull my cell phone from my pocket and take advantage of the calculator. For me, at that moment, it was a pretty easy decision to make even though I wasn’t proud of it. I busted out my cell phone and tapped out the problems and within a few seconds I had the right answers to the thousandth decimal point.

Now, I don’t know if they had cameras back there or if the fact that I didn’t show my work tipped them off to my cheating, but I only heard from the temp agency once and it was for a very short manual labor job I was trying to avoid from the beginning. I didn’t tell anyone about it and I had a hard time overcoming the fact that I couldn’t do a few long division problems, but I was determined to never use a calculator again when faced with a long division problem, which was good, because three years later I cracked open a GRE study book and listed before my eyes was a page of long division problems. It was time to call in the mathematician in the house, my wife. I recruited her for a lesson, which lasted all of two minutes before something clicked and grade school math was once again a breeze and not something I had to fear running into again at a temp agency or on the GRE.

Monday, October 04, 2010

In a theater, far, far away...

I hate the 3D fad. And I really do think it is a fad. I don’t think everything is going to be 3D in ten years. It isn’t like when HD first came out, you could clearly see and enjoy the difference between your standard image and an HD image. With 3D it is much more a matter of taste. A real life example: I liked Avatar. Did I feel its 3D-ness added anything to the experience at all? No.

That said, if anything changes my mind about 3D it will be seeing all six Star Wars movies painstakingly rendered to 3D format and being rereleased on the big screen starting in 2012 with Episode I. Unfortunately, they will be starting with the weakest of all six SW Episodes, but that won’t keep me from seeing it another time. And this time, the story is going to be in order and each time you go back to the theater, in my opinion, the movie will be better than the last. So I am stoked to give 3D another chance. It is just a bummer I have to wait until 2012 to do it.