Archive for the 'Current Events' Category

Feb 19 2014

More bees

Published by under Current Events,Outdoors,Snippets

I saw this article today on the BBC. Even more reasons to plant for the bees – bumblebees never hurt nobody. Well, OK, bumblebees probably hurt somebody at some point, but they will mostly leave you alone unless you stomp on their nest or pick them up off their flower. Bumblebees are the furry, dumbass teddy bears of the bee world. Plant some wildflowers for them.

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Nov 06 2008

What happened to John McCain?

Published by under Current Events

When J-bird and I were up north, the conversation veered into politics, and Dr. Mom remembered that I had not always been the fervent Obama supporter that I ended up being.  I had a hard time believing that, but no, she reminded me that in the early days of the campaign I said I’d never vote for Obama.  He was too inexperienced, too new, too raw.  I was impressed with him as a Senator, but felt he was unready to go further.  As a matter of fact, way back then, I was leaning more toward McCain than toward any Democrat.

I used to really like Sen. McCain.  Several years ago, when the Republican party had completed its transition into our evil robotic overlords, John McCain seemed like a relic from the Old Guard of the GOP.  He was a Republican the way that I wanted the Republicans to be: fiscally conservative, in support of small government, and unafraid to cross party lines when things got too far from where he felt he could comfortably stand.  The Man never liked him, feeling that McCain tried too hard to please everyone and therefore had none of his own opinions, but what he saw as unrepentant kow-towing, I saw as impressive moderation in a time when the two parties were polarized.  I especially liked his willingness to be outspoken in his disagreement with many of the President’s policies, which he felt went too far.  Of course I didn’t agree with 100% of his policies, but I don’t 100% agree with Sen. Obama, either.  I never expect to find a politician who shares all of my views, I just expect to find someone who I feel can do a good job.  And back then, I felt that McCain could do a good job.  I felt that way up until he decided that he wanted to be President.

For some reason, John McCain, arguably the most popular politician in America, felt that in order to run for President, he had to change who he was.  I guess he didn’t want to be passed over by his party, a party which seemed to me to be swinging out of control.  And unfortunately for him, the leader of his party was George W. Bush, a man he had been criticizing for years.  So, John McCain bit the bullet and kissed ass.  Or at least, that’s what it looked like to me.  The picture that the Democrats point to with barely concealed glee – that of McCain snuggling up to the President’s chest – put a bitter taste in my mouth.  As time went on, things got worse, and McCain became to me an unrecognizable figure.  He went from being the voice of reason in the Republican Party, to just another voice box droning out the same old party bullshit I was hearing from those I had come to loathe.

His choice of running mate I found appalling.  I realize that hardly makes me unique, but I was expecting him to choose someone who was more in line with the moderate stances and need for reform that the old McCain would have chosen.  That he chose a woman was nice – that the woman was Sarah Palin was. . . repugnant.  It was like a joke – or an insult.  I knew that McCain was anxious to pick up Clinton supporters who swore they’d never back Obama, but did he really think that those supporters would rally to any woman, as long as she was a woman?  Could he have found someone more unlike Hillary Clinton?  I couldn’t even understand why Republicans rallied to her.  She was ridiculous.  They deplored Obama’s lack of experience, but clustered around Palin as though being a mayor and a two-year governer made her an elder statesman.  And they protected her from the media as though she were a delicate flower – or a bomb waiting to explode.  Never has so much been said about someone who we saw so little of.  All we got of her were glimpses and sound bites, and those were enough to horrify a goodly number of people, including many Republicans.

I saw an interview today in which Sarah Palin was described as a “Hail Mary play”, but it seemed to me more like McCain was trying to shoot a slam dunk with a hockey puck.  Yes, it’s technically feasible, but it’s retarded and in the end won’t count.  As the months wore on, McCain got weirder and weirder.  He had always been so open with the media, but suddenly he shut down.  He had been generally accessible to the public, but he was getting meaner.  He had been praised for his thoughtfulness and his bridge-building, now he seemed determine to widen the gap many Americans were already feeling until it was a gaping wound.

By the time Barack Obama won the nomination, I had already left the McCain campfire.  He was no longer anyone I recognized or wanted to see win.  I didn’t see the old John McCain again until he was giving his concession speech Tuesday night.  It was as though the bowels of the Republican party had vomited up the guy they swallowed months ago, and here he was:  looking tired, confused, worse for wear, but willing to do what he had to do.  He conceeded with grace and honor, giving a speech in which he implored his supporters to work with the new president.  He tried to calm the seas that he himself had stirred up.  He attempted to urge unity, but it was too late.  Bizarro McCain had done too much damage.

I don’t know what happened to John McCain.  I have the feeling that he wanted this so badly that he was willing to listen to handlers that were too anxious to cast him as a “real” Republican.  He, the maverick, suddenly was trying to get ahead by being someone he was not, by playing with someone else’s rulebook.  I believe that Obama would have won me over anyway, but if the real McCain had shown up to fight, it might have been a harder decision to make.

5 responses so far

Mar 27 2008

Should we be surprised that our jobs are going away?

Published by under Current Events

Usually, when a discussion about outsourcing jobs is going on, the general consensus is that employers are looking for labor on the cheap. An Indian will work for a much lower wage than an American, and that is the reason jobs are disappearing to the subcontinent. I’m not disputing that money is a factor, even a major one, but I’m thinking that education has something to do with it as well.

Americans have a reputation for being stupid that is not entirely undeserved. Sure, we’re not all the beer-gutted, greedy, and incompetent sloths that are so often depicted in cartoons, but compared with people in Europe and Asia, Americans are sadly undereducated.

I had a friend in high school who was a foreign exchange student from Bosnia. At the age of 16 she could read, write, and speak in Bosnian, Hebrew, Arabic, and English. I could speak English and do some elementary things in German, such as say the days of the week and count. My friend also had a jump on me in the sciences and math, and part of her education had been conducted in a country torn apart by war. In a global marketplace, which of us was on the track for success? She was, no doubt about that.

For my second year in college, I signed up for a 200-level Composition course, assuming that my coursework would consist of writing essays. Imagine my surprise when the instructor told the class that half of our grade would be based on how well we performed in our GRAMMAR exercises. And this was not “advanced” grammar: the first four weeks were reviews of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. I was astonished that the instructor thought that people who had made it to the sophomore college level needed to learn 3rd grade grammar, but I was absolutely aghast when the girl I was sitting next to asked me – in all seriousness – “How do you know which ones the verbs are?” This girl was training to be a registered nurse.

AT&T promised in 2006 to return 5000 jobs to America. So far, it has filled only 1400 of those jobs. The company is having difficulty finding enough skilled workers. The CEO points out that in some areas and among some groups, the high school dropout rate is 50%. Should we be surprised that companies don’t want to hire people who are unable to finish high school?

Americans are hostile to learning and education. Someone who displays a higher level of comprehension or a higher interest in learning than his peers do is labeled as a “nerd”, “egghead”, “geek”, “know it all”, “smart ass”, “dork”. If the person’s learning makes his peers look bad, even inadvertently (think of the kid who knows the answer when no one else does), he is a “suck up”, “show off”, or “brown noser”. You think I’m only talking about children? I’ve seen this behavior in every job I’ve ever worked, including one in a high tech industry where knowledge was supposedly valued. It is not considered good to be above the pack in intelligence. It is only acceptable to be superior in physical things such as sports or looks.

Entertainment is another area in which intellectualism is frowned upon. I love to read. I read every day, either books or articles on the internet. Friends, co-workers, or classmates ask me how I spent the weekend, and I will often tell them that I read a book, only to be met with amazement or a sneer. “I don’t know how you can read so much,” they say. “I hate to read. I don’t think I’ve read a book since high school. It’s so boring. I can’t get into it.” Or, more alarmingly, “I can’t understand it.” It is much more acceptable to say that you spent the weekend watching movies or television, going to the bar, or even sleeping than it is to say you spent the weekend reading a book.

With such an attitude displayed even among the adults who should know better, how can we be surprised that our schools are turning out retarded children? Americans on the whole are unconcerned with education – it barely registers as a blip on many of my friends’ political radars, and a candidate whose main political platform is based around education is viewed as someone who is out of touch with the “real” issues. Schools are expected to do more with less and less. Funds are cut, teachers are laid off, music and art programs are shunted to the side. We are producing children who have been told through words and actions that learning is unimportant. Sure, the schools do their best to make things fun, but how can interesting lesson plans compete with the ridicule of their friends and the disinterest of their parents, not to mention the contempt of the government? Teachers themselves are often seen as lesser beings as children get older – they are viewed as notoriously “uncool” both in real life and in the media. Why? Probably because they know more. Kids are trained to view education as a necessary evil, school as something to be suffered through, and learning anything other than the absolute requirements as suspicious and vaguely un-American.

What does it say about our country when one of our hit game shows is called “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?”. . . and most of the country regards it as a difficult game? And sees nothing wrong with that?

We believe that we are entitled to be happy. After all, it says so in the Declaration of Independence, right? Wrong. The Declaration says that we are all entitled to the pursuit of happiness, and that is a big difference. We no longer want to work for what we want. Instead, we run up outrageous amounts of credit card debt, because we are all trained to need instant gratification. Education is the same way – if it’s too hard, we don’t want to do it. It shouldn’t be necessary. We don’t need geometry. Learning a foreign language is hard and it takes too long – everyone else should just learn English. We have a sense of entitlement and apathy that is seriously unattractive in a society such as ours, where the people are expected to be at least moderately intelligent, because we have to choose our leaders.

Our economy is in a serious downturn, and while it might not be totally due to the de-emphasis on education, I’m certain that it has played a role. We cannot compete – the rest of the world is smarter than we are. The rest of the world is more innovative. The rest of the world does not think it’s a crime to try new things, to hear new ideas, to think new thoughts, or the learn to adapt. We have trained ourselves to maintain the status quo, but the rest of the world is raising the bar and we cannot or will not leap to meet it.

13 responses so far

Mar 16 2008

They belong in Federal Pound-Me-In-The-Ass Prison.

Published by under Current Events

Have you heard about this?  The clinic in Las Vegas that has been reusing needles for the past four years?  Seriously, how can you be in the medical community and get the order from management to reuse needles and GO ALONG WITH IT?

The amazing thing is that every doctor, every nurse, every person in that center had to know about this and no one blew the whistle.  Every single one of those morons should be in jail.  That’s where we put people who willfully harm other humans.  IN JAIL.  And then they can learn a little something from the druggies in there about sharing needles.

2 responses so far

Mar 15 2008

Now I have to go throw up.

Published by under Current Events,Snippets

I never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but in this particular case, I agree with Glenn Beck.

2 responses so far

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