Thursday, January 31, 2008

Unemployment and Recession support group

I just started a new group on Yahoo! Groups, called the Unemployment and Recession support group. I've been pretty much unemployed since last July, and with the advent of a recession, something tells me it isn't going to get any easier in finding work. I'm enrolled in a one-year paralegal certification program to broaden my skills, but until that's over, I'm just trying to keep my head above water. It's a very sobering, unnerving experience, and I know that I can't be alone. So please join and share your experiences:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jeopardy Kicked My Ass

I said here before that I registered to take the Jeopardy Online Test. I took it last night, and the title of my blog sums up my experience perfectly. I have a newfound respect for the contestants. I consider myself a fairly intelligent guy, but in this test, I felt like Forest Gump. I took 20 questions, and I'm lucky if I got a third of them right. You get 50 questions in all, they're Jeopardy-style, and you have 15 seconds to answer each. So you don't have enough time to cheat by going on Google or anything like that. You really have to know your shit. I didn't, and honestly, in all likelihood, I never will. But that's okay though, not all your dreams can come true.

Remember when spoofs used to be funny?

I remember, back in the day when I was growing up, movie spoofs were actually very funny. There was "Airplane!", "Top Secret!", than "Spaceballs", than the "Naked Gun" movies. Even the "Hot Shots" movies had their moments. These were movies that made you laugh because the jokes and visual gags actually made sense in the context of the movie.

But now, there is this small team of writer-directors who are just shitting over my memories of these fine, funny movies by bringing atrocities like "Scary Movie" and "Epic Movie" to our cinemas. And now there's the latest, "Meet the Spartans." Ugh. These movies are terrible. I haven't seen them, nor do I intend to. I know that makes me seem like a hypocrite, because I'm judging the movies without investing 90 minutes of my life into them, but man, the trailers are more than enough to persuade me to not waste my time.

The things I hate based on seeing the commercials is a lack of why I loved the older spoofs: because none of the jokes that I see actually make any sense. It's like they're just trying so hard to get a laugh out of anyone that they'll throw everything in. I was going to embed a video from Youtube, but I'm at my college and for some reason I'm not able to do it.

But I'm assuming you saw it, so let me give some examples. Britney Spears sitting in a chair, saving her head and babbling, in front of the big pit. The Leonidas impersonator kicks her into the pit, parodying the scene in "300." I don't get the humor in Britney Spears being kicked into a pit. Here's another example: Spiderman (black, as a parody of the 3rd one, I guess) is swinging from towers, and Donald Trump (not the real one) appears and says something stupid like "you're fired, Spidey" and tears away his web. Spidey falls and then swings another web that takes off Trump's combover. Again, what? Count in this stupid Deal or No Deal scene, and then they're having a dance competition, and Rambo saying "say hello to my little friend" and then we see a mini Rambo.

What's scary is that this was the number one movie at the box office. Didn't Oscar Wilde say "no one ever lost a dollar underestimating the intelligence of the American people?" Well, whoever said that was dead-on, judging that people are willing to pay for this shit. I'd rather have Rambo be the number 1 movie and I'm not a big Rambo fan (with the exception of First Blood, which is a great movie). Let me close by saying that I'm not a snob. I can appreciate low-brow humor as much as the next guy, and I never found the appeal in Monty Python or Faulty Towers, for example. But even I have standards.

I'm also sad that Kevin Sorbo's in it. I thought he was great in "Hercules" and "Andromeda." I just hope that he needed the money.

John Edwards

At best, I've been a casual observer of the presidential campaigns. I recently changed my party registration back to Independent, so I won't be able to vote in the primaries and I probably won't be voting in the general. But I am a little sad that John Edwards is withdrawing. Outside of the beyond-the-margins candidates, like Kucinich and Ron Paul, Edwards would have been the one I'd have most liked to see as President. He's made class and poverty a key touchstone of his campaign, and that takes balls to do. And he actually practices what he preaches; he meets with these people and actually interacts with them. The fact that someone like him can be so utterly put in the background so that these 2 corporate Democrats (I'm referring, of course, to Hillary and Obama) can hog the spotlight is sickening and part of why I left the party in the first place.

Obama and Hillary are bickering like children over race and gender, and Bill Clinton is joining in on the fun, and Edwards stayed above the fray the entire time. And the media ate up that Clinton and Obama were sniping at each other, and totally ignored Edwards. I'm sure that wasn't a concidential oversight either. In the eyes of the corporate-owned media, talking about the issues that Edwards was raising is taboo, and must be relegated to the sidelines as often as possible. I'm not saying that Edwards is in the same league as a Kucinich or a Ralph Nader. But I saw him as standing apart from the Clintons and Obama as well.

So let me put on my pundit hat for a moment. The thing that confuses me, is why now? Edwards may not have been a contender for the presidency, and he was significantly behind Obama and Clinton, but he still has a good number of delegates, and he's been consistently getting around 15 to 2o percent. That's a "kingmaker." In this close race, he could have made a huge impact. He probably still can. The timing's significant, a week before Super Tuesday. If he endorses Obama, that could be a pivotal blow to Clinton. But I still think he could have had a greater impact if he'd stuck around to the end, especially if it leads to a brokered convention. However, it's probably a very simple explanation: he might have just ran out of money.

On another note, it's fascinating how Guiliani just totally collapsed. I never take stock in polls, as they've been wrong so many times, but I thought he would have done better in Florida. Not enough to win, but I figured he'd have gotten more than the 15 or so percent the pollsters were claiming. But he didn't, he barely beat Huckabee, who didn't even campaign in the state.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Suharto was the dictator of Indonesia for 32 years, was overthrown around ten years ago, and died earlier this week. What's sad about someone like him, and someone like Pinochet and others like them, is that they do all these brutal things, commit war crimes, have mass executions and graves, and they're able to die in relative peace. They're able to swat away activists who want to see them held accountable in court for their crimes. This is a good article outlining Suharto's brutal reign in Indonesia. My only caveat is that it downplays things like his invasion of East Timor (which Noam Chomsky, for example, has talked so much about over the years) and our support of him as a strongman. To Bill Clinton, who's running for Co-President, Suharto was "our kind of guy." So when it comes to support of brutal, repressive dictatorships, we're strictly bipartisan.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The danse macabre of US-style democracy

This is a good article from John Pilger. Granted, it's much like a lot of other stuff I've read before, but that doesn't make it any less enlightening. This passage, in particular, deserves to be repeated:

"What struck me, living and working in the United States, was that presidential campaigns were a parody, entertaining and often grotesque. They are a ritual danse macabre of flags, balloons and bullshit, designed to camouflage a venal system based on money, power, human division and a culture of permanent war."

That so echoes how I feel, that these elections every four years are an elaborate form of smoke and mirrors to obscure war and class divisions.

Why has the Bush economy been so lousy?

Paul Krugman, a columnist for the New York Times, is a national treasure. Hunt down his columns, read his books, if you haven't already. No other individual will give you a better understanding of the economy. There is one condition though: you have to withstand a healthy amount of Bush-bashing. This is an entry from his blog (which I never knew he had, I will add it to my favorites) in which he asks why this economy is so different from the 90's (Clinton) economy. And he has a surprising observation: that Bush may not have as much to do with it as anyone who hates the man would assume. With the rise of China as a world power, and their pursuit of scarce supplies of oil, has come poorer times for most of us. Of course, it is not as simple as that. The economy is a massive beast, the likes of which even Mr. Krugman himself could never really understand. But it is an interesting observation, nonetheless.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

One of the Coolest Stories I've Ever Read

I'm surprised Disney hasn't seized upon this story and made a movie of it.

What's in a Name

To start off, I began classes today, and I'm still looking for work, so I might not be blogging as much as I've been, although I'll certainly blog as often as I can. Also, thanks to visitors for leaving comments; it gives me a real sense of purpose and also gives me the knowledge that people are coming here, giving me that much more incentive to blog, even at times when I'm not that up to it.

Anyway, I started classes today, and in one class, we somehow got onto politics, the professor was using it as some kind of an example on a class problem. She mentioned the top-tier candidates, like Clinton and Obama, and then she mentioned Mike Huckabee, and that she couldn't possibly vote for someone with the name of Huckabee. Like, it's irrelevant where someone stands on issues that you care about, but when their last name doesn't sound "presidential", you won't be pulling the latch for them in November.

I know I go on a lot about Washington, and the media, and corporations, and how one (or more) of them is always behind most of what ails us as Americans, but we ourselves play a significant part as well. We lost our civic spirit a long time ago, which can only be found in high school textbooks. When we pay attention, but not for long, we rage on about something without usually having a clue of who we should be angry at, or what we should do about it. After that, we go back to watching American Idol or watching the "news" channels report 24/7 on some actor who died from taking too many pills or browsing celebrity gossip blogs. And when we go vote, if we do even that most minimalist of civic duties, a lot of us base who we vote for on how handsome a candidate is, or how nice his hair looks, or his last name. We know nothing of our candidate's policies, what he'll do once he enters office, or who's paying for his campaign.

BTW, I was watching Bill Maher earlier, and I saw video of Bill Clinton sleeping while a black man was making a speech, on MLK Day! I've heard nothing of this on the news media until I saw it on Maher's show.

Friday, January 25, 2008


This sounds like a really good book, it's a history of the banana and the part that it's played in world history. I've always been particularly fascinated with its unique tendency to make and break governments, and corporate power (like United Fruit) in subjagating those governments to its will. The banana can also be facing extinction, as it's vulernable to Panama Disease, due to its genetic uniformity. As the book reviewer points out, there's only one kind of banana, whereas apples come in many varieties.

My library doesn't have it, and I already have my hands full with my interlibrary loaned items, so once I'm done with those, I'll probably reserve this.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fast Cash is No Quick Fix

The Contemplation of Preponderance has a very insightful post on the "stimulus" package, and how it's yet more debt for us and our kids to pay.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Every time I read about things of this nature, it just makes me sick to my stomach, both as a lover of independent film and as someone who's barely making it. For at least the past few years, the Sundance film festival has been co-opted by these major companies who give swag (free stuff) to celebrities. This year, the free things include jewelry and IPod cases encrusted with diamonds. And the number of companies participating continue to grow with each year.

From this article, it looks like the Sundance Institute isn't involved in this, and in fact criticizes it. It really takes away from what the festival is intended to be about, and draws leeching celebrities who get this free shit, and could afford to pay for it 20 times over. It reminds me of the tale of the king who had a feast prepared, so he could eat it within the view of his starving subjects in front of the castle, and then after a few bites has it thrown away.

Cool video of marching band playing game tunes

A college marching band played tunes from games like Mario and Zelda during the football halftime show. This'll probably entertain me more than the Super Bowl's will. Check it out:

Now, It's Official: They Lied

A new report from the Center of Public Integrity, after meticulous research, has determined that the Bush administration lied to us 935 times on Iraq. Everyone from George W. Bush, to Colin Powell, down to the press secretaries, fed us a streaming bowl of crap when it came to this invasion. And the public outrage over this is nowhere near what Clinton got when he received oral sex as President. People, of both parties, still defend us going in there in the first place, and continue to defend it when it's so painfully obvious that it was the wrong call.

And the media, as always, is nowhere to be found where this story is concerned. Heath Ledger's death receives round-the-clock coverage (nothing against him, he was a fine actor and will be missed), but this, at the most, will get a brief mention on the nightly news.

So, in the words of Bob Dole, "Where is the outrage?"

Monday, January 21, 2008

Iraq is Still a Bad Bargain

Juan Cole is one of the most well-known, renowned bloggers out there, and for good reason. He is a college professor and an expert on the Middle East. I've learned so much from him over the years, and this blog entry of his is no exception. In this, he speaks of how Iraq has affected and could still affect us here at home. Bush has spent $2 trillion and counting on this war, and he's putting it all on the card. Our deficit's the highest it's ever been, and what if the countries lending us money decide they don't want us there anymore? Also, Bush's feeble "stimulus" package is a joke and world markets have responded to it as a joke. What if he had $2 trillion to use as a stimulus package? But no, he blew it all on Iraq. Who knows if we'd even need a stimulus if we weren't in Iraq? Notice that's when our gas prices started shooting through the roof? As Cole says, we could have people here losing everything due to the mortgage crisis and hyperinflation, and the government won't help them (and if they, by some miracle, do help them, the people who just lost their homes have to prove to the government that they're eligible for help) because "winning" Iraq is so much more important than a few working-class, homeless Americans.

The "surge" is also a big joke. The media raves about it, and all the candidates look on Iraq as a success now. But the surge required a huge increase in our military forces. Let's say there was a huge riot in Los Angeles, and crime rates just shot way up. The National Guard was sent into LA to quash the riot and stick around to maintain some form of stability. Would crime go down? Sure. But keeping it down would require an indefinite presence, which of course is unrealistic at best. That's what this surge is. Its success is dependent on keeping more and more of our troops there indefinitely. McCain said we could be there for a century. More people would know of this simple kind of logic if the media did their jobs. That's another tragedy. We're falling off the cliff, and we're totally unaware of it because we're ignorant and our heads are filled with trivial, meaningless information.

Rudy's Fall

What happened to this guy? A few months ago, he was the man to beat in the GOP primaries. Now, everyone's beating him. Even Ron Paul, who's being blacked out by the media, is beating him decisively in the primaries. And now, there's a poll out stating that he's losing his own state to John McCain.

It's apparent that waiting until Florida to be a serious competitor was a huge error. When you're not competing to win in the first states to hold primaries or caucuses, you're not being covered or talked about much by the media. Every other competitor (again, Ron Paul excepted) is getting valuable time in the media. When potential voters in other states see the poll results on the bottom of the screen and see Rudy taking up the rear, they see someone who isn't going to win. I still think it's possible that he can win Florida, but now there are 3 top-tier candidates who have won primaries that he has to contend with.

I don't really care about who gets the Republican nomination (nor the Democratic) but I especially hope that it isn't him; his positions on foreign policy are really bellicose.

SWAT shooting shakes up Ohio town

I'm usually not a guy who extensively looks into what are called the "root causes" of crimes that are committed, or criminals who are caught. I typically think anyone who shoots people or deals drugs is a piece-of-shit loser. And no, I'm not a Republican. But this article got me thinking. While looking for someone who was allegedly dealing drugs out of his home, an Ohio SWAT team fatally shot the man's girlfriend and injured her one-year-old son. As you can probably guess, the woman was black and the SWAT guys were mostly or all white.

The article talks about the simmering tensions between blacks and the police, which have been around longer than I have. But what I found interesting was that it also raised the issue of joblessness in this community due to the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs. The mainstream media usually doesn't make this connection, and I was impressed that they did so. It makes a lot of sense that when you take away blue-collar jobs where people with a high-school education or less can make a decent amount of money, those people are going to be desperate and do anything they can to make money. This leads to a crippling cycle in which these people are forced to deal drugs, and politicians (rich people) react by building more prisons to put these people in. While nothing's done to work on real economic alternatives for these communities whose jobs were taken away from them.

I do have one more thing to add, a viewpoint that in some people's eyes might contradict what I just said, but no matter. I read that the woman who was shot and killed, was 26 years old. She had 6 children. If economic woes lead to people living outside the law, I really feel for them. But shouldn't one thing, one thing that just makes common sense, be obvious, and that is to not keep getting knocked up? When you and your spouse have no job and little prospects, you can't keep making babies. You can't afford to raise yourselves, let alone children, and you're pretty much condemning them to the same life (or worse) that you had. So if you're poor and broke, and are reading this, use birth control.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Kitchen Nightmares

I really make it a habit to avoid reality shows, but I just started watching this and it's awesome. It's about this world-renowned chef, Gordon Ramsey, who goes around to restaurants in a state of disarray and health hazards, and turns them around. What really makes it special is how angry he gets at the conditions of these places, and the abuse he gives to the bosses and the employees, pretty much all of it deserved. I haven't been so gripped to the tube since "To Catch a Predator." I don't think "Kitchen Nightmares" is currently on, but you can catch the earlier episodes on Fox's website.

Bush steps in to allow Navy to continue harmful sonar exercises

Off the coast of California, the Navy regularly engages in sonar training exercises that can have a harmful effect on the mammals who live under the sea there, including whales on the endangered species list. Due to the actions of several environmental groups, a U.S. District Court filed an injunction prohibiting the Navy from using sonar. But now, Bush has stepped in and issued an executive order exempting the Navy and so they'll be allowed again to use sonar.

Why? What great threat looming off the coast of California requires the Navy to engage in exercises that are harmful to marine line? All this shows is the insane sacrifices that all of us, human and otherwise, are forced to make for this monster known as the U.S. military.

New generation of homeless vets emerges

This very good article from AP chronicles some of the struggles that our vets from Iraq and Afghanistan are facing on their return home, including homelessness. This is one of the biggest cases one could make against an electoral war. War leaves an imprint on everyone that it touches, and if you, as leader of a country, decide to go to war, it'd better be necessary.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Congresswoman proud that Americans are working two jobs

A Congresswoman from Minnesota said earlier this week that she is proud that many of its inhabitants are working more hours and two jobs. I'm flabbergasted by how arrogant and out-of-touch these people are. To think that anyone would choose to work two jobs out of choice, rather than necessity. To boot, Republicans are usually the party who talk about family values and moral erosion. Let me tell you, this accelerating turn of our economy being one where people are working 2 jobs (both likely to be dead-end jobs with no pay) is a much greater detriment to the American Family than a few gay people getting hitched. You have problems with kids in school because they have no guidance, their parents are working day and night.

Oh, and BTW, click on that link above and tell me that Michele Bachmann isn't a dead ringer for Cuddy from "House".

Also, I got linked to the above article from this excellent blog about a baby boomer lamenting the disappearance of the nuclear family in America.

An Open Letter to Jay Leno and Bill Maher

Members of the L.A. Impeachment Center (the patriots who interrupted Tuesday's Tonight Show) were good enough to check out the blog and leave their open letter as a comment on my blog. In case you missed it, here is the letter:

Dear Jay and Bill:

We hope you understand why we interrupted The Tonight Show taping on Tuesday. It was not a decision taken lightly. We had no idea who was going to be on the show that day, and it wasn’t a protest against either of you. Our beef was with NBC / MSNBC and their agenda-driven censorship.

Our words—“Let Dennis debate”; “GE, NBC, Put impeachment on TV”--should make it clear that we were protesting MSNBC's barring Presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich from the Democratic debate in Las Vegas that evening, and we were also demanding that the media stop censoring calls for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. (As you probably know, Kucinich has proposed a resolution to impeach Cheney: HR#799; and impeachment is part of his campaign). The four of us who were there included a combination of L.A. National Impeachment Center members, and Kucinich supporters, acting completely independently from his official campaign--and certainly we were not connected with the WGA at all; it never even occurred to us that anyone would think that.

We believe that rather than exercising 1st Amendment principles, MSNBC was actively suppressing speech in the interests of its parent company, GE. Kucinich had met MSNBC’s criteria for inclusion in the Jan. 15th debate and a judge had even ordered them to include him. But his views seem to differ from GE’s so much that MSNBC fought all the way to the State Supreme Court to keep him off the air. That’s a lot of trouble for a news corporation to go to in order to NOT cover someone.

On the same day, the day of your show, House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL, 19th) was arguing in Congress for impeachment hearings for Cheney re. HR#799. (HR#799 has 25 co-sponsors, and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), also on the Judiciary Committee, back Wexler’s call.) Wexler has over 203,130 signatures in a petition for hearings and presented them to the House. Yet Wexler’s courageous act was met with a wall of silence in the corporate media just as any serious attention to impeachment has been.

We made the decision soberly, with much thought, to break through that silence. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.”

We were only 4 people in The Tonight Show audience, but we are part of a much larger group of hundreds of thousands, millions even, of deeply concerned Americans who have spent almost this entire decade trying to curb the criminality of the Bush Administration and to convince the Democratic Party to do their constitutional duty and stop it.

Throughout this time we have used tactics that society sanctions: meeting with our elected representatives, protesting in the streets, writing to Congress and the media, filing suits, working on electoral campaigns, making films, singing songs, and on and on. And look where it has gotten us. Nothing has changed. Not only are we still in Iraq; we may attack Iran.

When we asked you for help, to "save our democracy", we meant it. In this historic moment the last of our rights is being stripped from us. If we do not stand up now we will have nothing left to stand up for. Jay and Bill, you are in a position to do a lot of good. We ask you for your help. We also ask all Americans to help by acting NOW. We are all in this together.

The time that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about, when silence is betrayal, is upon us. We feel that silence is a betrayal of the 3,900 American troops who have died in Iraq because of Bush and Cheney’s lies, the 1,400-4,000 people who did not survive Katrina because Bush failed in his duty to send federal resources, the 3,000 Americans who died on 9/11 despite the many warnings received by the Bush Administration, and untold others who have suffered and died in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere because of the unchecked criminality of the President and Vice-President. This criminality only continues because corporate-owned media allows it.

NBC’s censorship of Kucinich’s voice epitomizes the extreme peril our democracy faces, when even our bedrock democratic freedom to hear legitimate presidential candidates speak to voters is trumped by corporate power. We know that we disrupted the normal way The Tonight Show runs, but these are not normal times.


Carol Barbieri
Jennifer Epps
Eva James
Mark Lipman


8 Heart Attacks in One Night

I don't know how many of you have seen the movie "Analyze This!" I love it, it's one of my favorite comedies. One of the best scenes is when DeNiro feels faint and he's taken to the hospital, and the doctor who examines him tells him that he had a panic attack. DeNiro's like, "what are you talking about, I had like 8 heart attacks on my way here, it was a fucking heart attack." And then he and his henchman Jelly beat up the doctor for giving him the "wrong" diagnosis.

That's what I felt like yesterday. For some reason, I was so anxious, I was shaking at some points, and I tossed and turned last night. I couldn't sit down and relax, it was horrible. Unfortunately, I'm unemployed at the moment. Not too long ago, I had a well-paying job (by my standards) that I'd enjoyed, but I'd also been there a pretty long time and I did have some issues with how it was run, like every person who works does. The costs of everything were going up, as they still are, so I asked for a raise. I figured that the worst my boss could do was say "no." Well, he did say "no," and also forced me out of a job. "Forced" as in he didn't fire me, but his actions towards me made it clear that I wasn't welcome there anymore. And being as I'm a guy who'd rather show himself out than be thrown out, I left.

It wasn't long before I got a job in a similar store to this one. But I was a rank-and-file stockperson (whereas I was a manager at the other place) and in a good week, I made roughly half of what I made at the other store. But I did like working there, as I already knew a good deal about the business and that made it easier for me. But business really slowed after Christmas, and a week ago, I was laid off. My bills are still coming, and my savings are depleting. And I'm back in school, in a program that I love.

So I'm at a strange place. On the one hand, I've never had a clearer vision of what I want to be and where I want to go. I look in the papers, and on job sites, and I know where to look, whereas not too long ago, I wouldn't have had the faintest idea and would pick whatever looked good. But on the other hand, due to my situation, I feel like my options are always going to be marginalized. It's going to be a year before I finish this program and all I could really look for is part-time work. I'm trying to find a professional-level job, but not many of those are part-time. And I'm really trying to resist another service/retail job. When you get a B.A. and you're doing something else to supplement that, you worked really hard, and you want a job that reflects that.

Also, I'm disabled, can't drive & live in a suburban area. So, even in the best of times, it's hard to find a good job. But now that it's going to be a recession. My family's really cool about it, and telling me to relax, but it isn't in my nature to stand still. Anyway, thanks for listening.

Mitt Romney Caught In a Lie by Reporter

This is a great video that was shown on "Countdown with Keith Olberman":

The thing I found great about this was that a mainstream reporter (Johnson works for the AP) was the one asking these tough, pointed questions of Romney. He clearly pointed out the hypocrisy of this campaign, and indirectly, every other campaign as well. All of these candidates claim to not take their orders from lobbyists and that they want to go to Washington and help the people. Bullshit. They all have lobbyists running their campaigns, and that's whose backs they're going to rub when they get to Washington.

And if you saw towards the end, you'd see the abuse Johnson got from Romney's communications director. In the "democracy" that's talked about by campaigns like Romney's, you're not supposed to ask tough questions. That wouldn't be "acting professionally". You're supposed to be an asskisser and ask him questions about being a Mormon or things of that nature.

Friday, January 18, 2008


I just registered for the Jeopardy Online Quiz. It's one of the ways on how they determine the contestants for Jeopardy. In the past few months, I've gotten addicted to the show. I just happened across it one day, I hadn't watched it regularly in years, and I watched it, and now I'm hooked. It's a show that'll definitely improve your brainpower, and you'll learn a thing or two from watching it. I've gotten better at knowing the questions to the answers, and I'm proud of myself when I get a question that no one on the show does. I know it's a long shot, but wish me luck.

Pretty Good News for TV Lovers

The Director's Guild and the producers have struck a deal on a new contract. This will pressure the writers and the studios to get back to the table, hopefully. I support the writers, but I also love my shows and want there to still be a season, even if only a few episodes can be shot.

Ironic Blurb

It took me a moment to get it, but once I did, I got a pretty good laugh:

Bush's "economic stimulus"

Today, I've been reading about our crumbling economy, and how Bush and the Fed hope to step in with an economic stimulus plan to curb a recession that now appears imminent. I read a very interesting article that I can't find right now, but I'll break it down. This article had a talk with an economist who said that one of the reasons why consumer spending originally sustained during the price spike in gas was because consumers thought it was fleeting, that it'd be a temporary thing. But as months (and years) have progressed, the price has only gone up. So seeing that it's here to stay, more consumers are tightening their pocketbooks.

The rise in gas prices, combined with the inflation in everything as a result, is like a 150 billion dollar tax increase, according to this economist. In that event, no economic stimulus package is going to help, it'll be a band-aid. Just a case of "too little, too late."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

In Defense Of Our Country

I was never a Randy Newman fan, but this song is pretty funny and controversial, and the most shocking thing of all was that it was played at this year's MacWorld expo, a major corporate event.

Breaking Bad

It wasn't too long ago that I wouldn't give you a nickel for most of what was on TV. It was watchable, but not a lot of it was groundbreaking and totally got you into the show. I used to prefer movies. But in the past few years, that trend's reversed and watch more TV than I do movies (of course, the writers' strike has kind of altered those plans). There is just so much good stuff on, but you have to know how to look. You have to avoid the reality crap.

But there's a really good-looking show that's coming on AMC (remember them, they used to show old movies) called "Breaking Bad." It's with Bryan Cranston, he was the dad in "Malcolm in the Middle." He seems to play a character that's totally different from what he played in "MIM". He's a high-school chemistry teacher who has a mid-life crisis and opens a meth lab. The premise sounds really interesting, and I thought he was great in "MIM", so I'm looking forward to it. I already missed out on that other show on AMC, "Mad Men", which I've heard is very good too.

"Breaking Bad" is coming on AMC this Sunday at 10 PM.

Patriots at Leno taping get ignored, and probably arrested

A few patriots (or "hecklers" as they're looked at by Leno and most of the public) called General Electric and NBC on their decision to bar Dennis Kucinich from the other night's debate. I'm really hoping that Leno was being sincere when he said that he didn't hear him and that the worst thing was that he didn't make his point. He then thanked the audience for verifying to him that they didn't know what they were talking about. Because most people have their heads in the sand when it comes to corporate censorship and the blows our democracy have endured over the last few years as a result.

CEO of GM says oil's peaked...

...and that switching to electric cars is "inevitable." But wasn't there once an electric car? Why, yes, there was, if the events documented in the film "Who Killed the Electric Car?" are true, and why wouldn't they be? This CEO is talking about how electric cars are a long-term prospect, and that in the meantime, we need some kind of alternative to oil, like ethanol. But the reality of this is likely that they can bring back the electric car tomorrow if they wanted to.

But, even in this era of dwindling oil supplies, soaring prices, and the melting of the ice caps, it's still all about getting paid. My mom told me all the time when I was a kid that "money is the root of all evil." I just thought it was something that mothers said to their kids, and laughed when Ben Affleck said in "Boiler Room" that "whoever says that the money is the root of all evil, doesn't fucking have any." But after reading story after story, I'm coming around to my mom's point of view. Our country's built on money. That's our foundation. Increasingly, no public good (such as going to the hospital) can be performed without someone asking if you have any money. The car companies could do the right thing and roll out electric cars tomorrow, so the Arab oil barons who fund terrorism can screw off and Americans wouldn't be getting ass-raped at the pumps. But again, it goes back to what I said about getting paid.

BTW, I highly recommend "Who Killed the Electric Car?" A great, absorbing documentary that'll have you rethink things.

Finally, something I can agree with Hillary on

A week or so ago, I wrote a blog that strongly blasted Hillary as a candidate and as a person overall. I titled my blog "It's All Over But the Crying", but I was wrong, as she was able to pull one out and win New Hampshire. I'd compared her campaign to Ed Muskie's once he started crying, but I had a chance to see the video and it was certainly overblown by the media.

I still don't care for her and wouldn't vote for her in a hundred years, but she did say something that I agree with. Bush has been in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, begging them for cheap oil. What an embarrassment. Our country's become this broke junkie, begging his dealer for a complimentary fix. And Hillary rightly called him out on it. At the end, the Arabs aren't really the problem. It's the speculation of oil, it's Bush bombing out of the biggest oil producers, it's Asian countries deciding they want to live more like Americans, it's our own greed and consumption.

And Hillary also called for a real energy policy, which would include a green job-market that'd lessen the blow of the coming recession. I say, "hear, hear!" But this was really an easy decision to make after 9/11, and there was a window in which this would have been possible, in which the American people would have went along with it. After our country was attacked, if Bush had stood up and been a leader, and said "we are funding these kinds of terrorist attacks by our addiction to oil" and called for lower consumption and viable, green alternatives, we might be on our way to a different world today.

Like I just said, I don't like Hillary, wouldn't vote for her, but I'm in an "ABB" vibe right now. It's a year off, and it seems so long. Can we survive this?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Debate? What Debate?

This is another reason why our electoral system, from the campaigns to the way the ballots are counted, is a complete fraud. When this election cycle first started, every candidate from each of the two parties were able to participate in each party's debates. But with time, and as primaries started taking place, the media took it on itself to play kingmaker and decide who was going to be invited to the debate and who wasn't.

Last night, in the Nevada debate sponsored by the Democratic Party, Dennis Kucinich (one of the candidates) was shut out of the debate. It was only Obama, Hillary, and Edwards. Kucinich fought this to the Nevada Supreme Court and lost, showing once again that those judges in the black robes who are supposed to be so full of integrity, really just bow down to the powerful.

The same thing happened a few weeks ago, when Fox News froze Ron Paul out of a GOP debate. This was even more alarming, since Paul has polled in higher single-digits and has even broken double digits. He's also done very well in primaries. But Fred Thompson and Rudy Guiliani, who have been doing horribly at the polls since the primaries first begun, and who Paul has beaten soundly, were invited to the debate.

These are examples of how candidates are being blackballed by the media due to their political views and their independence from corporate influence. No matter how well these candidates do with individual voters, they'll never be able to compete due to the blatant media bias in electoral politics. All candidates should get equal time, both at the debates and in media coverage; doing otherwise makes a mockery of our system. To close, Hillary, Obama, and Edwards should be ashamed of themselves for taking part in a debate where a candidate was left out.

AFTERWORD: On further reading of the Times' political blog, the reason why the Nevada Supreme Court found for NBC was that NBC is a private entity, and wasn't obligated to invite Kucinich to the debate. But, to me, that's a slippery slope. On the surface, NBC is a private entity and doesn't have to abide by the First Amendment like the government has to. But in organizing and airing the debate, NBC is serving a quasi-public function. Debates like these are likely the only exposure many voters will have to these candidates. They'll make their decisions in the voting booth, largely based on what they see (and who they see) at the debates. Choosing to not invite certain candidates is limiting the American people's decision-making in terms of choosing someone to lead this nation. So, protecting a corporation's First Amendment right to deny speech to somebody should be rethought when it comes to an important process such as a political debate.

This isn't American Idol. This isn't a game show. This is what we pride our nation on, the right to vote for whoever we wish. There should be higher standards that our judiciary must set.

Another Afterword: This is my 500th blog post. I've had a lot of fun and hope to set many more blogging milestones. I hope you keep reading :) Thank you.

Bush delivers 20 Billion Dollar Arms Deal to Saudi Arabia

This is so sickening. Not only is Bush, once again, licking the boots of those who collaborated in the deaths of over 3,000 Americans, but I also looked at the paper today. Our economy is spiraling into a tailspin, foreign countries and corporations are purchasing the USA lock, stock and barrel, and this clown is playing a real-life game of Risk and giving 20 billion of our money to the Saudis.

A Helpful Resource for Bloggers

I found this on a blog and it's very helpful in outlining what you need to do in order to have your blog read by more people, and it tells you how most blogs fail in doing this. I don't know exactly how many people start their blogs in hopes of getting commercial gain or a wide readership, but from what I have seen, I know it's a fairly lofty goal. I don't know how many people read this blog, either by stumbling upon it or regularly visiting it, but I strongly suspect it isn't many at all. And that's okay. Maybe that's what I was hoping for when I first started this, but I find blogging and writing your thoughts down to be very rewarding. And when a friend tells me that they read my blog, or when someone comments on a blog that I made, that's all the better.

So I'll continue to blog, irrelevant of readership. And I try to update at least once a day. Communicating with other bloggers is something I have to work on, I suppose. I just have trouble forming the right words sometimes on the "comment" sections of many blogs. The words only come to me later. Anyway, there are a lot of suggestions on here, to avoid falling into the trap that some bloggers do. I really want to improve the site in any way that I can.

Religious Whackos at it Again

There is a rouge Congressman who wants America to devote a week each year to honor America's "rich religious history". He's trying to say that it'd be a week for religion in general, but the House Resolution has clear overtones and odes concerning Christianity. The Congressman, Randy Forbes, formed the Congressional Prayer Caucus to combat the "radicals" who want to keep religion and government seperate from one another. Those "radicals" date all the way back to the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, since the Establishment Clause (in the First Amendment) states that Congress shall make no law regarding establishment of religion.

The selection of Bush is one of the worst things that's happened to America, and this is only one reason why. It's empowered these religious nutjobs to steer this country in a fundamentalist direction, by making bills and loopholes that you can drive the Popemobile through. I can't care what these people do in their backwater hellhole states, but keep it out of the federal government.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Things that Irritate Me

Sometimes, I get so annoyed with something that happened to me that I feel a need to vent about it. Now, with the power of blogging, I can fulfill that need to millions of people all over the world. Okay, well, maybe to just the two of you who actually visit here. But I've been taking a winter course the past few weeks as part of my paralegal program. I just finished today, and I think I did really well. In a week, I'm starting a spring schedule with four courses. In one of the courses, I'll have the same professor I had for this winter course. I asked him for a list of the reading material for this spring course. He gave it to me, and one of the other students in the class offered me her books.

I could easily get pretty much any textbook on Amazon Marketplace for dirt cheap (compared to the college bookstores), so I didn't really need to take her up on that offer. But I thought it was gracious of her to do, so I accepted. Maybe she needed the money. She needed to copy some things from the books down, so would I mind waiting a bit? No problem, I said, take your time. She takes my number down, as we still had to agree on price.

Yesterday, the day before the last day of class, I came to her, seeking to agree on a price and seal the deal. Before this, a very nice lady who was also in my class made another offer to me for the books. But I politely declined, thinking this girl would make good on our agreement. She did initially offer in the first place, right? But when I came to her yesterday, she told me that she'd call me later, and she couldn't have been any more dismissive about it. So, sure enough, she didn't call me yesterday, today was the final day and an exam day, so I wasn't able to discuss it with her then.

So with a week before class, I still have no books. I'll get them from the Marketplace, at a cheap price, so I'm really not losing anything. Stuff like this just bothers me, though. I'm doing better, but I used to have serious self-esteem issues. Who voluntarily offers some kind of service or sale, and then doesn't even bother to formally renege on it, they just hope you forget about it? Why even offer it to begin with? And why not just tell me that you had second thoughts and you don't want to sell? So at least, if that other lady was sincere in her offer, I could have gotten them from her instead?

So, the moral of this story is that people pretty much suck. Even when you think that some of them are good and your faith in humanity is a little restored, you still end up biting it in the end. But outside of my (very small) family, no one's done anything for me in my 28 years, so why expect them to start now?

Why Conservatives Hate Bush

This is a good article from the Washington Monthly about the Republicans who are scurrying off the Bush administration like rats off a sinking ship. Nothing's changed about how Bush is governing, it's just that as this country plummets as a result of the lack of his leadership, they're finally beginning to notice. But, as you can expect, their criticisms can be based on faulty reasoning. Like "Bush gives in too much to liberals", when in reality, he can stand to compromise more. Ronald Reagan is mentioned as an example of a president who knew when to back down a bit, when the time was right (despite the wingers' historical revisionism that claims otherwise). As a result, he came off smelling like a rose and will always be fondly remembered, at least by conservatives. Bush will easily come across as one of our crappiest presidents ever.

I can never take Republicans seriously, because they lie so blatantly on their claims that they're all about "small government". Reagan talked about the evils of big government, but government still grew under him. The same with Bush. In 2000, I remember Bush railing against the size of government, he had people like Grover Norquist on his team and he repeatedly made a statement that he trusted the people, not the government. Yet, after 9/11, what was the very first thing he did? Why, he created more government (Homeland), of course!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Non-sequitur of the day

From Left I on the News, this funny blurb from a military analyst at MSNBC is reported:

"This is precisely why we have ships patrolling the Gulf, to prevent these sorts of incidents."

Of course, this refers to the incident involving us and Iran that was reported a week or so ago. As one responder to the Left I blog said, maybe the analyst meant to say "provoke" rather than "prevent".

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fighting For Air

This article from Adbusters discusses an ongoing case in Canada that they're brought against the Canadian government and some of the largest corporations that control Canada's media. Although this is Canada, we face the exact same problem here in the States, and it's doubtlessly all over the world. Although the Internet and all the doors that it's opened in terms of democracy and speech has been tremendous, television is still the largest medium in terms of media and information. Since the airwaves belong to us, ensuring that we control them and that our voices are heard, rather than having corporations tell us what they think we should hear, is of utmost importance.

Personally, I don't think our corporate media in the States deliberately suppresses information so much as they indulge the collective idiocy of the American people. I'm not saying that most Americans are idiots; but just in terms of news and information. I see it all the time, you'll lead more people to your newscast by talking about Britney Spears, the Petersons (be it Mark and Laci, or now it's Tracy), or the pregnant Marine who was found buried in a backyard. But let's take issues (rather than people), like Iraq, global warming, the economy, etc. Yeah, these get covered too, but at a much lesser rate. And when they are covered, it's often in a blurb, or a brief segment. You don't have hours devoted to global warming or the recession like you do with Britney Spears. Because people find issues boring. And we have a corporate media who, like all things corporate, wants to make money. So rather than act as a responsible medium and encourage people to smarten up, they decide to go for the easy advertising dollars by dumbing people down with these non-issue stories.

School, Jobs & Blogging

This is a nice little blog from BuzzMachine about job applicants, particularly in the journalism field, and the importance of having a blog for employers to examine. This struck with me because as a job applicant with hopes of breaking into the legal field, I've often wondered whether to link to my blog on resumes or job engines like Monster. I try to give well-thought out opinions and analysis of whatever catches my interest on this blog, and whatever readers have come across this blog seem to believe that I do that. But on the other hand, you also run the risk of offending somebody, particularly if you're talking politics and don't believe in censoring yourself.

For now, when I do give a URL, it's to my Myspace page. I figure that it's more benign and gives an employer a more narrow look into my interests. But, if anyone is reading this blog, I ask you: do you think a blog has any value in a job search?

Native American land under siege from feds

To keep up with this militarization of America stemming from the last blog, I came across this piece about Homeland Security trying to force Apaches from their land under the use of eminent domain to build a wall surrounding the Mexican border. Naturally, the Apaches are resisting this, and the feds are responding with harassment and use of overt force in some instances.

I want illegal immigration to be dealt with too, but this isn't the way. Building a wall sends a terrible message that doesn't reflect well on this nation, and I also don't think that it'll work. There'll inevitably be some gap or design flaw, or some corruption in which border patrol people will turn their eyes.

Don't Tase Me, Bro

For the past few months, I've been hearing about this phrase that's all the rage in pop culture, "don't tase me, bro." There have been t-shirts, bumper stickers, even ringtones. I vaguely knew of where it came from, some kid resisting arrest. But then I actually sat down and watched the video.

Here is another version, taken closer to the student and it's longer too.

All I have to say is, "wow". I know I'm really late to the party here, and after 3 months, its news value is as stale as moldy bread, but I'm pretty awestruck how this could end up as being a kind of cultural footnote. One phrase, where the kid's pleading with the cops not to use a taser on him, has entered the cultural lexicon, while the entire incident is lost in a deep haze.

There are varying accounts of what happened; there are 2 very good videos on Youtube of one of the students who were there supporting the police. And when you watch the videos, especially the second, you'll see that the student was very obnoxious and rude. Before the cameras rolled, it was said that he cut past a few people to ask his question, since Kerry was about to end the Q&A session. But I can only judge the events based on what I was able to see on the video.

And it's pretty clear that the cops (or security guards, whatever they were) were out of line and really overstepped their authority. What I was able to see was this kid who was asking tough questions of John Kerry. He had his mic cut and 2 cops put their hands on him and tried forcibly removing him from the building. That's when he began resisting and yelling. The guy wasn't even able to see Kerry answer his questions, which to Kerry's credit he was beginning to do when the cops caused this ruckus. If this man was really causing the disturbance that several witnesses said that he did, after cutting his mic, he should have been asked politely to leave the premises.

I think most of us, in a similiar situation, would have reacted in a similar way. He was resisting an unlawful arrest. Afterwards, he was told that he was arrested for trying to "incite a riot". The only ones who were trying to incite a riot were the police and their heavy-handedness against a white college student. That should also be telling in and of itself. If they're doing this to a white college student for asking a politician some tough questions, imagine what they're doing to minorities in poorer parts of the country. And look at the audience in the videos. Some of them are laughing at it. Only a handful were concerned or protesting what was going on.

This video shows how far off the cliff we've gone, and rather than awaken us as a society and as voters, the only thing this situation created was a catchphrase.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Craziest invention of the year

I know it's really early in the year, but I think this will be very difficult to beat for the craziest invention of 2008. Now, when you're tasering people, you can also listen to your favorite songs as well. Yes, it's a Taser with MP3 capabilities. Thanks to Guardian for the video.


This kid's mental.

Creepiest Ad Ever

Via the Gothamist blog, this is an ad from Pakistan Airlines that appeared in spring of 1979. And no, your eyes aren't deceiving you. That is a picture of the World Trade Center with a shadow of a plane that appears to be dangerously close to the WTC. For creepy advertisements, this no doubt takes the cake.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bill Maher

One of my favorites, Real Time with Bill Maher, returns tomorrow night at 11 on HBO. It's going to be drastically different, with no monologue and New Rules due to the WGA strike. But that leaves more time for interviews and the roundtable, which are pivotal to the show anyway. I think this is one show that'd be just as good, hell, maybe even better without writers.

Air Jordans and global sustainability

The Bru Notes, as always, has a worthwhile blog on consumerism and world stability, this time surrounding Nike and their Air Jordan line of sneakers. It links to an article about how this year's model of Air Jordans are the most "green" yet. My hat is off to Nike for having sustainability standards, especially since their consumer base mostly shows no interest in environmental issues. But the B-Notes make an excellent and fitting analogy to exercising while eating higher amounts of low-calorie foods. That's what this latest example with Nike is. It's wonderful that they're putting more time and expense into making a sneaker that's more enviromentally-friendly, but if you're taking up more and more resources in the long run, than is it really effective?

When more and more people are buying your product, as Bru points out, you're going to use more resources anyway.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


On a lark, I took out a book from the library that has the first short stories of the fictional character Conan the Cimmerian (or Barbarian). I like to read fantasy, but I've been slowly getting through the Lord of the Rings books (finished Book III, which is the first half of the Two Towers, not long ago) and they just bore the shit out of me. I know that the LOTR saga has a HUUUUUUUGE fanbase, and there is endless discussion surrounding that universe, but to me, Tolkien's books are a cure for insomnia.

I'd seriously look forward to opening up LOTR, and listen to the audio recording (which is a very good reading, BTW), just because I knew it would put me to sleep. Maybe the movies are a lot better, I haven't seen them. But as someone who does like to read fantasy, and who had finally gotten around to reading Tolkien, and expecting the saga-to-end-all-sagas, I was terribly disappointed.

But upon reading the first few short stories in this book, my faith in fantasy is restored. It has everything I expect and want in fantasy literature: healthy doses of action, plenty of mysticism, taut, to-the-point dialogue and narration (one of the things I hate about Tolkien is his tendency to describe everything in mind-numbing detail, down to a small weed in a plain). On the front page of the book is a quip from Stephen King, and it describes Robert Howard's writing perfectly: "Howard's writing seems so highly charged with energy that it nearly gives off sparks." I really couldn't describe it better than that.

Anyway, I'm off. I get my 2nd test results back tomorrow, hopefully they'll be nearly as good as my first.


This is a really cool little Internet game that I found. In short, you're given a word, along with 4 other words. You have to look at the word, and figure out which of the 4 best describes that word. It's very challenging. I got many of them right, but trust me, it was simply luck.

The best part of this game is that for each answer you get right, 20 grains of rice are donated through the United Nations to lessen world hunger. How is this possible? As you're playing the game, there are advertisements on the bottom. Those companies participate in this important assistance. So by answering questions on what words mean and sharpening up your brain, you're doing some good too. It's hard to get more awesome than that.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Season 6 of 24 on Sale at Target

Season 6 of "24" came out last month but I just bought it today because it was on sale for 29.99. I got burned last year on Season 5 when I bought it on the day it came out, so I waited a little bit for Season 6. I'm still unhappy with the cover, but it's "24". Ironically, this new season was cheaper than the other seasons at Target. So buy the sixth season of "24" today, for the good of the country, of course.

Monday, January 7, 2008

It's All Over But the Crying

Upon getting home, and doing some surfing, I looked at the headlines on Yahoo (my default homepage) and saw the headline "Teary-eyed Clinton Vows to Fight On." I immediately thought of Edward Muskie, the Democratic frontrunner for the election of 1972, and how his Niagara Falls crying display hammered the nails in his presidential coffin.

It would appear that history's about to repeat itself. Crying? Seriously? But yeah, it's probably coming to a close for Hillary anyway. Coming behind Obama in Iowa, by itself, isn't fatal. But coming in third behind Edwards, whose prospects by most mainstreamers were all but nil, and losing to Barack in women is a potential deal-closer for Obama.

I'm relieved. Hillary, I'd say by far, is the most right-wing conservative of all the major candidates, maybe all the Democratic candidates in this primary. The right-wingers will scoff, but it's true. Iraq doubtlessly hurt her. Her arrogant ways toward Obama in terms of her experience versus his inexperience, I'm sure, also turned a lot of people off. Personally, "experience" in government is a huge detriment for a candidate. And exactly what experience did Hillary have? She served most of her career as a first lady for Bill, first when he was governor, and later as President. She played one pivotal role in his administration, as the head of his health care reform program, and we all know what happened there. After that, she was in charge of conducting Easter egg hunts and things like that. And finally, in a cynical move, she became a New York resident and ran for Senate here. I know I'm getting off-topic, but half the candidates shouldn't even be in this race. IMO, the first and only duty of a holder of an office, should be to his or her constituents. Hillary (and to be fair, Obama) talks about what she's going to do, and how much experience she has, but she isn't even tending to the needs of New Yorkers. She's too busy running for president in New Hampshire.

But yeah. I don't mind having a woman run for president. Just not Hillary, and it's looking like many Americans agree with me. The Hillary Clinton candidacy was a media creation in which the public never got on board. And also, our spiraling cycle toward aristocracy will be broken, at least for awhile. I was dreading the 20-25 year period of a Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton presidency, in which two families are throwing around the presidency like a hot potato (or a joint at a party, to quote Mos Def on Bill Maher's show).

But I digress. I doubt I'm going to vote next year. Obama's message of "hope" isn't a campaign platform. Hillary's a flake. Kucinich can't win. I do like Edwards' message, but the corporations have this country by its balls, so I'm sure he'd be neutralized if he became president.

Friday, January 4, 2008

To All You Students Out There

I don't know how many students read my blog, probably not very many, but those of you who do will be glad you did. Because I have a tip that will raise your grades and will make you a better all-around student. And it's something very easy, but which many people do not do for whatever reason. So take my advice: if your teacher or professor is open to having you take a recorder to class and record his lectures, than by all means, do it. I didn't get in the habit of doing this until very late in college. During the last few classes I was required to take before getting my degree, I was struggling badly, as those courses were math & science, which I never did well in. Anyway, after getting a 53 on my first meterology exam, someone suggested to me that I bring a tape recorder to class. At this point, I was willing to try anything, so I started bringing it to class, copying it later for notes, and on the exam after that, got an 85. I ended up getting an A- in the course.

Right now, I'm taking a Business Law course to start off my Paralegal Certification program. The other day, I took an exam and got a 94, the highest grade in the class. Again, I've been recording the lectures and listening to them at home, even while doing things like reading and going to sleep. Using a tape recorder will be of more value to you than the best notes in the world. I'm not a particularly good notetaker, so it's worth a lot to me. It'll turn potentially failing courses into passing courses, and in a course you're good at, it'll make you better.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Jumping Flash

I went browsing on Youtube earlier and found this video clip of one of the first Playstation games I played, and one of my favorites. I rented it a long time ago and have always meant to buy it. It's fairly easy (as well as its sequel) but stands out because it's so uniquely Japanese, like the Katamari games. I think stoners will get a kick out of it as well. And, IMO, it's aged very well. It came out in '95, I believe, and it still looks fresh. A lot of PS1 games have aged badly and look like crap if you play them now, but this is a notable exception. It sucks that I'm on a budget right now and have stopped buying games temporairily, so I'm just going through what I have.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


As I'm sure you all know, Pakistan is in a pretty fucked-up state right now; well, yeah, it's always in a fucked-up state, but especially now. That was due, of course, to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto last week. Besides losing one of the few women in world politics who were of MILF-status (sorry, I found Ms. Bhutto a very attractive woman, and am saddened at her passing for that alone), there are many who feel that Pakistan took a major blow in terms of moving forward to a democracy, from a dictatorship.

But I've been reading a few articles (this one, in particular from the Post, is very good and addresses some of my thoughts) and came away with one thing. As supportive of democracy as the Pakistan People's Party (Bhutto's party) allegedly is, is it really? The PPP was founded by Bhutto's father. He met a violent end, and that's when it was taken over by his daughter, Benazir. She won a few elections for prime minister, and her terms were fraught with reports of corruption. She also met a violent end, and once again, an heir (this time, her son) is taking over the party upon the completion of his studies at Oxford. In the meantime, his father and Benazir's husband (known as "Mr. Ten Percent" because of his skimming off the top of Pakistan government contracts) is the interim head of the PPP.

So for a party that espouses democracy (again, in contrast to the dictatorship of Musharraf), they're awfully keen in ensuring that one of their own runs things and that all with the Bhutto family name live comfortably. It's unnerving how similiar that is to our own country; recall that in prior blog posts, I pointed out the irony of a possible Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton 20-30 year span of holding the American presidency. One family has the power. Is that really that much better than a dictatorship? It certainly isn't democratic, at least not from where I sit.