Thursday, November 06, 2008

The sniping and in-fighting begins

Via the Canadian Press: Knives come out for Sarah Palin; McCain aides tell tales of an ill-informed diva it would seem that the honeymoon was over rather quickly between the McCain campaign and Sarah Palin. Plus, they seem ready to expose her obvious intellectual shortcomings.
If the anonymous McCain insiders are to be believed, Palin, a 44-year-old mother of five, was unaware that Africa was a continent, arguing that South Africa was simply a region of the larger country of Africa.

She also didn't know the three countries that are in the North American Free Trade Agreement, namely Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Let us just take this moment to once again thank goodness that this woman will not be a heartbeat away from the presidency and hope against hope that the Republican have better sense than to run her as their candidate in 2012.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Great Moment in American History

Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States. What an amazing day. It is wonderful to see him win and it is wonderful to see so many people taking part in the political process. God Bless America and God Bless our new president-elect. He has a long road ahead.

Go Vote!

Remember, every vote counts even if it does only count within your state.

When my husband and I voted this morning, around 9:30 Central Time, we were the 428th and 429th voters to put our ballots in the optic scanner at our polling station. There was no line, but there were several people at the tables voting. I'm hopeful about the outcome, but unlike my sister, I don't plan to glue myself to the television for non-stop election returns coverage.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I find this funny

Over 100 newspapers around the country have endorsed Senator Barack Obama for President, so one more newspaper doing the same is hardly news. But I do find this particular endorsement rather funny, because of its source. A couple of days ago, the Anchorage Daily News endorsed Obama in their editorial column: Obama for President. Now the piece itself probably focuses more on McCain's shortcoming than it does on Obama's strengths, but to have the largest newspaper in Alaska shun their native daughter for Obama/Biden just strikes me as so funny. I liked this assessment:
Yet despite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth. To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range. Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time.
It is certainly a risk I'm not willing to take.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Just for fun

I love this song, but I also love misheard lyrics. This is a wonderful song even though I can't understand more than a handful of the words he says. His voice is just so moving he could actually be saying what this video suggests and it would still sound great. But in the spirit of fun, here are the misheard lyrics of Yellow Ledbetter by Pearl Jam

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I have to wonder

After watching Obama's "Joe the Plumber" encounter on a YouTube clip, I have to wonder exactly what Joe's real story is. It seems to change from encounter to encounter. In fact, just listening to him talk, it sounded to me like he was making the whole thing up. That he was really proposing a hypothetical situation, not really describing his current situation.

UPDATE: As it turns out, I was right.

When he first begins to speak to Obama, he says that he is thinking about buying the plumbing business that he works for, or something to that effect, but it was clear that he did not yet own the company. Then later, when he was talking to FOX news, he seemed to give the impression that he already owned a plumbing company. In fact, I was reading this article this morning in the Washington Post: 'Joe the Plumber' Becomes a Fixture that said:
There has been a big media market for the plumber in recent days. On Tuesday, just a day after his Obama handshake, Wurzelbacher told Fox News host Neil Cavuto that he lives in a "simple middle-class home" and doesn't want to upgrade because he'd rather put his money into his business.

"I don't want to keep up with the Joneses, and two, I just couldn't really afford a bigger house. I'm going to have to work harder to make that company go. I want to put more trucks on the road, and his tax increases kind of hurts that aspect," he said.
I could be wrong, but saying "he'd rather put his money into his business" seems to indicate that he currently owns one. However, at the end of the article it states:
The Washington Post was unable to reach Wurzelbacher and was unable to verify whether he is a licensed plumber through a search of the database of the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board.
I hope that there will be continued fact checking on Joe the Plumber's story.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I think I've had all I can take

After tonight's episode of Heroes I think I'm done with it. Ever since the new season started I've had the feeling that Heroes was more like a Soap Opera than anything else. In fact, I've been calling it "Days of Our Lives with super powers." At least tonight they did explain why Linderman was able to still be alive (illusion created by Daddy Parkman), but when they had Hiro kill Ando that was more than I could take. Even if they explain it away as an illusion or some other lame excuse, it is just not something that I want to watch. It is just not enjoyable anymore. It seemed like something new and interesting when it started. It went downhill some last season, but was still interesting. This time around it is just stupid. They are suggesting things that just don't follow from previous episodes. And the fact that they are turning the good-guys into bad-guys, and vise-vera, is also very soap-opera-esque. I didn't like it on Days of our Lives and I don't like it on Heroes.

This article over at MSN.com ("How to Heal 'Heroes'") has some interesting ideas of how to fix it, but I just don't think I can stomach the trip there even if they decided to try. I particularly liked this comment from the article
If someone were to try hard enough, you could "fanwank" an explanation for these and the various other elements of bizarre behavior on the show. But the point is that you shouldn't have to fanwank anything.
To that I can only say, "Amen, brother"

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

My current predictions for the electoral outcomes

I was playing around at the NYT website and decided to make a map for the electoral outcomes. These are my meager predictions. Take them for what they are worth, which isn't much. I end up with an Obama win at 293 and McCain with 245. It was tough to decide on most of the toss-up states. I feel like Colorado will go for Obama, but if he only takes Colorado (of the states the NYT deems as toss-ups) then it will end in a tie. That would not be good.

I couldn't agree more

I just finished reading Richard Cohen's op-ed column in today's WaPo online, This Debate's Biggest Loser, and I think he makes an excellent point. After enumerating Palin's lies and shortcomings in the VP debate, he concludes with this observation:
Ah, but the scorn, approbation and ridicule that would have descended on Clinton -- I can just imagine the Journal editorial -- have been withheld from Palin. Much of the mainstream media, grading on a curve suitable for a parrot -- "greed and corruption, greed and corruption, greed and corruption" -- gave her a passing grade or better. I agree with Palin. It's the mainstream media that flunked.
It seems as if simply because Palin did such a horrendously terrible job with her interviews with Katie Couric, the fact that she kept her head up and didn't wet herself during the debate was grounds to say she did an okay job. She passed the test. I don't think anyone is saying she passed with flying colors, but she passed. It is ridiculous.

And as an adjunct college professor, I particularly appreciated this statement Cohen made in his column:
[. . .] repeated mentions of "greed and corruption on Wall Street" (Who? Be specific. Give examples. Didn't anyone here go to school?) [. . .]
Heck, about half of my ANG students couldn't write a proper essay with actual examples on their last exam. But you know what, they didn't pass either.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Quote of the Day

Today's quote on rationality is from Oscar Wilde:
One is tempted to define man as a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.
That sounds about right to me. Human beings like to think themselves rational and others irrational, but close scrutiny would certainly show otherwise.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Now that is fast!

My 17 year old son is really into art. He recently found some videos of people doing spray paint art. I think this is completely amazing. Check it out.


39 Second Painting - For more funny movies, click here

Now he wants me to buy him the supplies so he can try it out for himself. Who knows, I might try my hand at it as well.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Full Circle and Beyond

Well, I've finally come full circle in my exposure to Dr. Who and gone a few episodes beyond. I had heard about Dr. Who, of course, and was vaguely familiar with the character from the first incarnation of show, but had never watched it, neither the original series or the new series. Then one day I watched this clip on a scifi blog:

I thought that David Tennant was pretty funny in the clip and decided that I would give the show a try. A colleague told me that the SciFi channel was going to be running a marathon of the first season of the new incarnation of Who and that I should start there so I gave it a try.

I actually quite liked Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor and thought that there was a good dynamic between him and Billy Piper as Rose. My favorite Eccleston episode is the two parter, "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances".

When Tennant took over at the beginning of season 2 it was a little difficult getting accustomed to the new Doctor. If nothing else, Tennant is just a little harder to understand at times than Eccleston was. But also, I never really liked the dynamic between the 10th Doctor and Rose. It just didn't seem to play as well it had with Eccleston. And in fact, I like Martha better than Rose in general, I think. But I will say, that my favorite Tennant episode so far is "The Girl in the Fireplace", but that was because I thought he played exceptionally well with his then-girlfriend, Sophia Miles.

I hated that they had Martha leave at the end of season 3, but I'm glad that they wrote in her leaving in the way that they did. It preserved the strength that I felt they had given the character to that point, and it makes it possible for her to have guest appearances in the future without the creepiness that went along with Rose's reappearance at the end of "Partners in Crime".

So anyway, I've made it full circle. I started with "Timecrash" and have finally made it back around to "Timecrash" in sequence after the last episode of season 3. I've watched a little into season 4 (I've seen through "The Planet of the Ood") and I'm not sure yet how I'm going to feel about Donna. She's a little annoying, but I'm reserving judgment at this point.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On lying

Recently I've been thinking a lot about lying and why people seem so inclined to do it. Now, of course, I've lied, everybody has, but I just seem to be surrounded lately by instances where people want to lie and or hide the truth from people close to them. In some cases I've understood the motive, and in other cases, not so much. Plus, I have been lied to so incredibly much in my life that I have learned to greatly despise the practice and have a very low tolerance for being knowingly lied to by the people I voluntarily associate with.

So this morning I decided to do a Google search on why people lie. I found an article that I thought was interesting and somewhat helpful called "Why We Lie" from LiveScience.com. Apparently one of the main reasons that people lie is because of self-esteem issues. That sounds pretty reasonable to me. I did find this statement in the article particularly interesting:
Men lie no more than women, but they tend to lie to make themselves look better, while women are more likely to lie to make the other person feel better.
And there was also this statement, which to some degree I already knew:
humans are wired to deceive both themselves and others, researchers say. People are so engaged in managing how others perceive them that they are often unable to separate truth from fiction in their own minds
Very interesting. But then again, as a social scientist, I've always been very interested in what people do and why they do it. I've always been a people watcher, that is what drew me to the social sciences in the first place. I'm not really good at interacting with people, but I love to watch and study them.

So anyway, my minimal amount of research has led me to the conclusion that I will probably never obtain the truth that I so desperately wish to know. The person in question is probably incapable of being honest enough with himself to give me an honest answer to my questions if I ever got the chance to ask them. I guess I am just left to form my own conclusion and go on with my life, but I hate having unanswered questions floating around in my mind. Anyone who truly knows me knows the truth in that statement.

Dealing with what we own

One of today's quotes on my iGoogle homepage really struck home with me this morning. It is particularly appropriate considering how I have been spending most of my summer vacation so far. The quote is from John Ruskin and it says:
Every increased possession loads us with new weariness.
For the past month and a half I've been trying to cull through all the accumulated junk in our shed and in the children's rooms to try to make room for my eldest son to return home after a year of dorm life. It is amazing to me how much stuff a family of 5 can accumulate and hold onto over time. As I look through the piles and piles of old toys (many never really played with beyond the opening at Christmas and some never even opened!) I begin to realize the opportunity cost associated with so much stuff. And I being to look at possession in something of a different light. Do you say to yourself "I might as well keep it," or "It's a good price, I might as well buy it" or should you say, "What am I ever going to do with this?" or "Where am I going to put this?" I find myself realizing that we do become wearied and weighed down by our possessions. Sometimes I think it is true that less is more.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A letter (or email) of endorsement for Cheryl Sabel

Kris Kallies, Cheryl Sabel's campaign manager, emailed me recently with a copy of an endorsement email sent out by Randall Williams of New South Books, Inc. I thought I would share it with everyone.
If you live in Congressional District 2, I urge you to vote June 3 for Cheryl Sabel for the Democratic nomination for Congress. As she says in her television ad*, she is pro-choice, pro-worker and anti-war. Those six words alone distinguish her among Tuesday's field (and, sadly, from everyone who has held that Congressional seat in the last century).



But there are even more reasons to vote for Cheryl. She is one of the most decent, most principled, most intelligent people I've ever known. She comes from a working-class Alabama family and has educated herself and learned leadership skills and put them into practice. She has an open, collaborative style that is precisely what is needed in a congresswoman. She speaks plainly but eloquently, and she grasps the significant issues—not the sham patriotism and moralism that passes for political standards among so many of Alabama's elected officials—that confront us.



From the war in Iraq to foreign trade, education, immigration, transportation, economics, energy, taxation, to any other issue I can think of, Cheryl's views are consistently progressive, commonsense, and, if I dare say so, American and small-d democratic to the core. Further, you can count on her to vote according to those principles.



With respect,

Randall Williams

Cheryl has also been endorsed by Alabama New South Coalition, Bullock County Voters League, Democracy for America, Montgomery Chapter, and National Organization for Women PAC

And remember, June 3rd is just around the corner! Vote for Cheryl Sabel in the Democratic Primary!!!

I feel so smart


Click Here To Take The Test!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Quote of the day & I love it

It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.
-- Bertrand Russell
I haven't been able to find any yet either. And I'm more convinced than ever that even those who consider themselves the most rational are in fact just as irrational as the rest of us.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Quote of the day

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” - Dr. Seuss

And yes, that is directly related to my previous post. I try to remind myself of that fact often these days. It seems to help quite a bit. :)

Thank Heaven!!!

Well, it is finally over, the worst semester in history. I had some bad semesters when I was a student, but this semester, as a professor, was even worse. But at least I found out some very important things about myself and others.

First, I've determined that I never want to teach two Tuesday-Thursday classes back to back ever again. And in fact, I'd rather not teach them at all if possible. I never liked being a student in a Tuesday-Thursday class and I equally despise being the professor of one. I don't have the attention span to listen to someone lecture for 75 minutes and I don't have the stamina to do it myself. Also, I found it very difficult to learn the names of my students in the T-Th classes because I only saw them twice a week. And I hate not knowing my students' names.

Also, I found out that medication for depression and anxiety is not a cure all. And that sometimes following the advice of medical professionals is not the best course of action if it doesn't feel right to you. And as a corollary to that discovery I will add this. Don't let your "friends" convince you to start taking drugs. I know you always hear that in regard to illegal drugs, but it applies also to prescription drugs. They may be helpful in some circumstances, but don't let anyone convince you that they are really the answer, because most likely, they aren't. Plus, there is a good chance that the same friends that convinced you to take them in the first place won't be willing to be there for you when you still have problems in spite of the fact (or possibly because of the fact) that you are taking said medication.

This leads me to the other unpleasant discovery of the semester. That is that two people that I thought were my friends, were indeed, not my friends at all. It is my opinion that friends don't give friends the absolute boot and subsequent cold shoulder without any chance to clear up misunderstandings or even state your case in the matter. If they just make assumptions about your motives and feeling without even addressing the issue with you until they were ready to call it completely quites, that is not a friend. Plus, I have to say that to lie to a person about your feeling when you know that person has social anxiety is just cruel. Cruel. Period. Exclamation point! There is no other explanation for it. I guess the good thing is that I know now and I feel much better knowing where I stand. And in fact it makes me feel a little better about my judgment knowing that the discomfort I was detecting was real and not just a figment of my imagination as I was wrongly being led to believe.

The semester was not all bad, however. I did find that I can make at least a small difference in lives of my students. Teaching can be very demanding, but it can be fulfilling as well. I'm getting much more comfortable in the classroom and much more comfortable with the idea that it is my classroom and that I should focus on what I feel is most important regardless of how the textbook is designed.

So, anyway, I'll say again, thank heaven that it is finally over. I'm looking forward to a much more relaxing and enjoyable summer.

Friday, April 25, 2008

No easy answers

As the semester comes to an end, my students are handing in papers where they had to analyze a presidential candidate (history and political platform) and determine, based on the real powers of the office, whether this candidate is making empty promises or suggesting real solutions to the nations problems.

As the students presented their papers to the class yesterday, it was obvious that at least some of them had come to realize just how complicated politics really is. Some of them were coming to the conclusion that party labels and party stereotypes aren't as cut and dried as they had always assumed (or been led to believe) that they were. Others were realizing that the president will need major cooperation from Congress to achieve many of their goals and campaign promises. And some were even coming to the conclusion that their are no easy answers to the problems that face our country. I actually felt good about being a teacher yesterday.

This morning I read an article in WaPo (Running on Sweet Nothings) that is lamenting the emptiness of campaign promises and asks why the candidates continue to lie to us and act like there are easy answers to all of our many problems. I think the answer is fairly simple. The average American believes that there are easy answers to be had and so they expect to be told that those easy answers exist and what the answers are. When someone tries to explain to them that it is a complex process, like Kerry tried to do to some extent last election cycle, they get ridiculed by their opponents for supposedly saying stupid things, like Bush did to Kerry when he tried to explain why he would vote for a bill and then against a bill in the Senate.

In short, Americans tend to be drawn to the KISS approach to most things: Keep It Simple Stupid. Keeping it simple is the best, and possibly only, way to get votes. My hope is that which ever candidate makes it to office this go-around he or she will actually realize that simple answers don't really exist, unlike the one we have in office now. I think the problem with Bush is that he actually believed (and possibly still believes) that those simple answers are out there.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I must be a rare person

I came across a quote today, from Dick Cavett of all people, that really struck a chord with me.
It's a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn't want to hear.
If Dick is right in his assessment, then I guess I am a truly rare person. And I say that because I almost always want to hear what people assume I don't want to hear. Partially it has something to do with my masochistic tendencies, but mostly it is just because I hate not knowing the truth.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cheryl Sabel for Congress - AL District 2

On Monday I attended the candidate forum here at Troy University. Before attending, I didn't even know who was actually seeking to replace our retiring Congressman. It was a long and painful process to listen to a group of politicians all answering the same questions and most all of them giving the exact same answer.

But one candidate really stood out to me. Her name is Cheryl Sabel and she is running for the Democratic nomination for the 2nd Congressional District here in Alabama. If you are interested in voting for a true progressive Democrat on June 3rd, your only choice is Cheryl Sabel. Check out Cheryl Sabel's website at Cheryl Sabel for Congress

I was amazed at how much Bobby Bright did not sound like a Democrat at all. In my opinion, he is at best an Independent in Democrats' clothing. He basically said that if elected he did not intend to caucus with the Democrats. I believe his exact words were "Nancy Pelosi will not tell me what to do." I can understand that congressional representatives sometimes have to vote against their party to do what is in the best interest of the their district and all that, but a comment like that sounds like it should be coming from a Republican not a Democrat.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Life Lessons - The Golden Rule

Everyone is familiar with the Golden Rule - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, or in more modern terms, treat people the way that you want to be treated. My recent realization is that one shouldn't take the Golden Rule too literally. From some recent experiences I have determined that people don't want to be treated the same way that you may want to be treated. In fact, most people have a certain perception of how they want to be treated and it has nothing what so ever to do with how you might personally want to be treated. And it may, in fact, not even have any direct correlation to how they say they want to be treated.

And in addition to that, I've recently determined that people often don't like to be treated the way that they treat other people, and I'm not even referring to the way they treat people when they are being rude or unkind. It has often been my observation that people with certain personality types can't stand other people that have their exact same personality type. But I've recently decided that there are people who act very friendly and inviting, but then don't appreciate it (and in fact resent it) when you act the same way in return.

So my take on all of this is that the Golden Rule should probably just be interpreted to mean that you shouldn't do things to other people that you wouldn't want done to you, or put more simply, don't be mean. But you must always remember that most people don't really live by the Golden Rule.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I wonder

Goethe once said "As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live." I have to wonder if that will ever happen to me.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Some Higher-Ed News

From Inside Higher Ed we get some info on the size of the full-time professional employee population in Higher Ed and what jobs they are mostly performing.
Every other year, data released by the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics provide a snapshot of the growth of part-time positions in the professoriate. This year — an off-year for that data — the federal statistics provide evidence for another shift, in which the majority of full-time professional employees in higher education are in administrative rather than faculty jobs.
Very interesting, or at least I think so.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A comment on capitalism

I really enjoyed this op-ed column over at the Washington Post. It begins like this:
Never do I want to hear again from my conservative friends about how brilliant capitalists are, how much they deserve their seven-figure salaries and how government should keep its hands off the private economy.

The Wall Street titans have turned into a bunch of welfare clients. They are desperate to be bailed out by government from their own incompetence, and from the deregulatory regime for which they lobbied so hard.
I definitely think it is worth the time to read the whole article.

It reminds me of something I was thinking about recently. I was thinking just the other day about the economic stimulus checks that are scheduled to be sent out this summer and mentally comparing it to FDR's programs. At least with many, if not most, of those programs the people who benefited from them had to work to gain the benefit. Programs like the CCC and others involved public works programs that employed people who couldn't find work elsewhere. The current plan just gives people money to go out and spend. How is that so much more conservative than the programs FDR initiated that conservatives seem to hate so much and have worked so hard to get rid of? Just wondering.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

WOW!!

And no, it's not a post about World of Warcraft. Check out these awesome pencil carvings. All I can say is: WOW!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Who said what to whom?

My sister told me this evening that she had heard some new info on the story about the Canadian leak that an Obama aide had supposedly told Canadian diplomats not to take his stance on NAFTA seriously. She had heard that it was actually a Clinton aide that had made the statement originally. I decided to see what I could find about it on the internet and I came across this article from Canada.com: Canada's NAFTA leak is regrettable: U.S. envoy. From what I can tell, this would seem to back up that position, if I'm reading it correctly.
Canadian media reports said on Thursday that the furor was triggered by private remarks that Ian Brodie, Harper's chief of staff, made to the CTV Television network last week about Clinton's criticism of NAFTA.

They said Brodie revealed someone from the Clinton campaign was "telling the embassy to take it with a grain of salt." CTV investigated the remarks and then ran a story focusing on Obama, saying his adviser had privately told Canadian diplomats that a promise to reopen NAFTA was solely aimed at winning votes in the Ohio primary.
I'm not sure if that is saying that both campaigns have supposedly said the same thing or that it was actually an act by the Clinton campaign that got attributed to the Obama campaign. If it is true that the real story is the reverse of what voters were told, I would think that any momentum Hillary gained from Tuesday's primaries would instantly evaporate.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

How clean is too clean?

I found this article in today's WaPo very interesting: Immune Systems Increasingly On Attack. The article seems to indicate that we may be keeping our immediate environments too clean for our own good, or particularly our kids' own good. It would seem that sterilizing everything isn't such a good idea after all. Of course nothing is known for certain at this point, but the article is interesting nonetheless.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Blood and Soil

After a couple of days of discussing the McCain issue via blog comments, emails and telephone, I've decided that it is time to finally blog about it myself. So here goes. I have always felt that being a natural born citizen simply meant that you were a citizen at birth, whether by blood or by soil. And I still feel that that is what it should mean. That being said, I'd like to weigh in with my take on all the arguments that are being made about the McCain issue at the moment.

First, I don't think that anyone is arguing that McCain is not legally a citizen, as it is obvious beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is and has been from the time of his birth. If that is all it takes to be a natural born citizen then he is one, end of argument. However, the argument does not end there. Some assert that in order to be considered a natural born citizen you must be a citizen by soil.

Therefore a new question arises. Is McCain a citizen by both blood and soil or simply a citizen by blood? In a recent article from the AP, McCain states his position on the issue:
McCain himself insists the issue was put to rest when fellow Arizonan, Barry Goldwater, ran for president in 1964.

"Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona when it was a territory, Arizona was a territory, and it went all the way to the Supreme Court," McCain told reporters Thursday on his campaign plane. "And there's no doubt about that. And it was researched again in 2000."

The Panama Canal Zone was a U.S. territory when McCain was born on Aug. 29, 1936.
Again, this new information would seem to put the issue to rest, but again, it does not. Yet another question arises, was the Panama Canal Zone truly a US territory? I personally am not convinced that it was. Let us check the law on the issue.

On the issue of citizenship, US Code Title 8, Chapter 12, Subsection III, Part I, §1401 states:
The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:
(a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;
This makes no distinction about the parentage of the individual, and in fact, even the children of illegal aliens born within the boundaries of the United States are indeed legal US Citizens. And given the US Supreme Court's ruling an Goldwater (which I would reference if I could find, but try as I might, I can't find it), it would seem to include territories of the US as well.

So, if the Panama Canal Zone was a US territory in 1936 as McCain and the above quoted article indicate, why does §1403 of the same US Code state the following?
(a) Any person born in the Canal Zone on or after February 26, 1904, and whether before or after the effective date of this chapter, whose father or mother or both at the time of the birth of such person was or is a citizen of the United States, is declared to be a citizen of the United States.
Why does there need to be special instructions on the canal zone and why does at least one of the parents of a child born in the canal zone have to be a US citizen for that child to acquire citizenship at birth if it is indeed US soil? This would seem to me to indicate that individuals born here do not acquire citizenship by right of soil.

And then there is the text of the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty itself which states:
ARTICLE III

The Republic of Panama grants to the United States all the rights, power and authority within the zone mentioned and described in Article II of this agreement and within the limits of all auxiliary lands and waters mentioned and described in said Article II which the United States would possess and exercise if it were the sovereign of the territory within which said lands and waters are located to the entire exclusion of the exercise by the Republic of Panama of any such sovereign rights, power or authority. [emphasis mine]
So that leads to the question of what exactly counts as a US territory? This treaty does not give the US actual sovereignty over the canal zone, but the same rights it would have if it had sovereignty.

In addition to that, the land was leased with annual lease payments due to Panama from the United States.
As the price or compensation for the rights, powers and privileges granted in this convention by the Republic of Panama to the United States, the Government of the United States agrees to pay to the Republic of Panama the sum of ten million dollars ($10,000,000) in gold coin of the United States on the exchange of the ratification of this convention and also an annual payment during the life of this convention of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) in like gold coin, beginning nine years after the date aforesaid.
Is this not the same type of arrangement the US has about Guantanamo? And does the administration not argue that Guantanamo is NOT US territory? It seems to me that you can't have it both ways. Either leased areas are territory or they are not. How can the Canal Zone be and Guantanamo not be?

For those who would point to the fact that he was born on a military base as proof that he was in fact born on US soil, we must take a brief look at the Foreign Affairs Manual which states in 7 FAM 1116.1-4:
c. Despite widespread popular belief, U.S. military installations abroad and U.S.
diplomatic or consular facilities are not part of the United States within the meaning of the
14th Amendment. A child born on the premises of such a facility is not subject to the
jurisdiction of the United States and does not acquire U.S. citizenship by reason of birth.
Now of course this is irrelevant to McCain's citizenship, as it undoubtedly is referring to the children of non-US citizens born in such locations, but it does address whether such citizenship is acquired by right of soil, which it obviously is not.

So in conclusion I will reiterate. I think that McCain should be eligible for the office of president because I believe that either right of blood or right of soil should suffice for meeting the "natural born" requirement spelled out in Article II of the Constitution. However, if it is determined that right of soil is necessary, then I don't believe he is eligible under the current law as is stands.

I think that if the case were brought before the Supreme Court they would probably find in McCain's favor, but I think that a very reasonable argument could be brought against such a ruling. I think that if, on the off chance, they did find that he did not qualify, there would be an immediate uproar for a Constitutional Amendment to either define "natural born" as including right of blood in addition to right of soil or to remove the "natural born" requirement altogether. I would be fine with removing it altogether, personally. But if it were removed, I think that the time requirement should be extended beyond a mere 14 years.

Anyway, that's my opinion and my argument given the information I currently have at my disposal. If someone has some other pertinent info that I'm missing I'd be happy to consider it. And I would really appreciate a link to the Supreme Court case involving Goldwater if anyone has it. Until then, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Looking Ahead to the Veepables

Chris Cillizza over at WaPo's The Fix suggests a list of possible VP candidates for McCain and Obama (He's projecting an Obama nomination at this point). If you are interested in the potentially veepable, go check it out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The full moon

More amateur photography for you. I've been wanting to take some full moon pictures and this is the first good chance I've had since I had the idea. Unfortunately I really don't know how to properly adjust my camera or what setting I should use to take pictures in low light and still get the colors to turn out right. This was the best shot out of several, or at least it was the one I liked the best. Any tips, pointers or detailed step-by-step instructions would be greatly appreciated.

Now that's what I call momentum

Via The Chicago Tribune - Obama wins Hawaii caucuses
Maybe they should've called it " Hawaii 10-0," as Sen. Barack Obama now has ten straight wins after besting Sen. Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's Hawaii caucuses.

[...]

On Tuesday night, in an e-mail to his supporters before the Hawaii victory was announced, Obama said winning there could foretell future successes: "If we win in Hawaii, it will be ten straight victories -- a streak no one thought possible, and the best position we can be in when Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont vote on March 4th."
It will be interesting to see what March 4th will actually hold for the two remaining Democratic candidates. Hillary's campaign has gotten awfully negative lately. So far it doesn't seem to be having her desired effect. Hopefully that will continue to be the case. Honestly, I fear that stupid things like this will ultimately have more of an effect than Hillary's negativity:
NBC News said Tuesday it has reprimanded the employee responsible for mistakenly flashing a picture of Osama bin Laden on MSNBC as Chris Matthews talked about Barack Obama.
Accidents happen, but I wouldn't buy the, "oops, my bad" line too many times, if I even buy it at all.

Blurring the line between science and science-fiction

Via WaPo - Their Deepest, Darkest Discovery
Researchers in New York reported this month that they have created a paper-thin material that absorbs 99.955 percent of the light that hits it, making it by far the darkest substance ever made -- about 30 times as dark as the government's current standard for blackest black.

The material, made of hollow fibers, is a Roach Motel for photons -- light checks in, but it never checks out. By voraciously sucking up all surrounding illumination, it can give those who gaze on it a dizzying sensation of nothingness.
Maybe that whole "Washington black" line from Psych the other day was more than just a joke. It was the first thing that came to my mind anyway. But the story soon leaves Psych far behind and moves into the realm of Harry Potter and Star Trek:
But scientists are not satisfied. Using other new materials, some are trying to manufacture rudimentary Harry Potter-like cloaks that make objects inside of them literally invisible under the right conditions -- the pinnacle of stealthy technology.

Both advances reflect researchers' growing ability to manipulate light, the fleetest and most evanescent of nature's offerings. The nascent invisibility cloak now being tested, for example, is made of a material that bends light rays "backward," a weird phenomenon thought to be impossible just a few years ago.

Known as transformation optics, the phenomenon compels some wavelengths of light to flow around an object like water around a stone. As a result, things behind the object become visible while the object itself disappears from view.
Honestly, if the article were written on April 1st instead of February 20th I wouldn't believe it. It would seem that they can't yet make things invisible to the naked eye, but I'm guessing it will be just around the corner. Amazing!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fidel Castro will not accept another term

Via WaPo - Fidel Castro retires
Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Tuesday that he will not return to lead the communist country, retiring as president 49 years after he seized power in a revolution and became a central figure of the Cold War.

Castro, 81, who has not appeared in public since undergoing stomach surgery almost 19 months ago, said he would not seek a new term as president or leader of Cuba's armed forces when the National Assembly meets on Sunday.

"To my dear compatriots, who gave me the immense honor in recent days of electing me a member of parliament ... I communicate to you that I will not aspire to or accept -- I repeat not aspire to or accept -- the positions of president of the Council of State and commander-in-chief," Castro said in a statement published in the Communist Party's Granma newspaper.
This is an interesting development I guess. Of course on the one hand it can't be too surprising given his obvious failing health and the fact that Raul has been de facto president for over a year now. But on the other hand I really expected him to die in office. Who knows, maybe he already is dead and they just aren't telling anyone yet.

What I find most interesting in the story is the seeming lack of a reaction, or at least lack of a visible reaction, from the Cuban people. The story notes:
In a deserted Revolution Square, the site of many hours-long speeches by Castro to massive crowds, a lone soldier stood guard at government headquarters. The city was calm.
It would seem that the transition has been gradual enough for the people to be able to accept it. I will be curious to see what Raul does once Fidel dies and is totally out of the picture.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Stormy Sunday Afternoon

We've had a stormy Sunday afternoon here in southern Alabama. I thought the rain was all gone, but apparently it's not, as it has started to rain again as I type this. It did stop long enough for us to get a beautiful rainbow out of it. Not only that, it was a double rainbow! I took some pictures, so enjoy!


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Averting danger or testing a new weapon?

Via the BBC - US spy satellite plan 'a cover'
The US said last week that it would use a missile to destroy the satellite, to stop it from crash landing.

Officials say the satellite contains hazardous fuel which could kill humans.

But Russia's defence ministry said the US planned to test its "anti-missile defence system's capability to destroy other countries' satellites".
You can hardly blame the Russians for distrusting US motives. If roles were reversed we certainly wouldn't trust them. Plus, considering Bush's history with pulling out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty and all, it is quite understandable that they would feel the way that they do. And while it may not have been a setup from the beginning, I'm sure it is at best a convenient excuse.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The end of the strike

Via CNN - Strike over, Hollywood writers head back to work
Striking Hollywood writers will be back at their keyboards Wednesday after voting overwhelmingly to end a 100-day walkout that essentially shut down the entertainment industry.

[...]

"The strike is over. Our membership has voted, and writers can go back to work," said Patric Verrone, president of the WGA's West chapter.

[...]

It's unclear how soon new episodes of scripted programs will start appearing, because production won't begin until scripts are completed, the AP reported.

It will take at least four weeks for producers to get the first post-strike episodes of comedies back on the air; dramas will take six to eight weeks, the AP said.
Honestly, I'm not sure how to feel about the strike being over. On the one hand, there are some shows that I will be happy to see return with new episodes, but on the other hand, I have so little time to watch t.v. as it is, it will just put me that much farther behind. Good thing I have TiVo!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Happy Groundhog Day!

And in celebration of the this most unimportant holiday, a YouTube clip of one of the best movies ever made about an unimportant holiday. I love this movie!I'm not sure why it has German subtitles, but that's really unimportant. The movie still rocks! Maybe I'll go see if Movie Gallery has a copy I could rent. . .

Monday, January 28, 2008

I hope it works

Via the NYT - Kennedy Chooses Obama, Spurning Plea by Clintons
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, rejecting entreaties from the Clintons and their supporters, is set to endorse Senator Barack Obama’s presidential bid on Monday as part of an effort to lend Kennedy charisma and connections before the 22-state Feb. 5 showdown for the Democratic nomination.

Both the Clintons and their allies had pressed Mr. Kennedy for weeks to remain neutral in the Democratic race, but Mr. Kennedy had become increasingly disenchanted with the tone of the Clinton campaign, aides said. He and former President Bill Clinton had a heated telephone exchange earlier this month over what Mr. Kennedy considered misleading statements by Mr. Clinton about Mr. Obama, as well as his injection of race into the campaign.

Mr. Kennedy called Mr. Clinton Sunday to tell him of his decision.

The endorsement, which followed a public appeal on Mr. Obama’s behalf by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, was a blow to the Clinton campaign and pits leading members of the nation’s most prominent Democratic families against one another.
I agree with the sentiment that the Clinton campaign has taken an ugly turn that was totally uncalled for. I've never supported Hillary Clinton in this race and I'm not about to start now. I originally supported Bill Richardson, but since his candidacy never really took off and he has now dropped out of the race, I now have to throw my support behind Barack Obama. And while his inexperience has given me pause in the past, his charisma and the sense of personal convictions he conveys has won me over. I fear that if elected, his attempts to bring unity to Washington will fair about as well as Carter did, and I dearly hope that while he apparently reminds Caroline Kennedy of her father that he will not end his political career in the same tragic way as her father. But I feel that he has more to offer to this country than does Hillary Clinton or any of the Republican candidates. I hope that the endorsement by the Kennedy family and their active support of Obama will be enough to counteract the power of the Clinton political machine.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'd like to propose an amendment

I'd like to propose an amendment to the Constitution of the United States. I propose that we should consider banning the immediate members of a former president's family from seeking that same office. I think this should include the children of former presidents, the siblings of former presidents and the spouses of former presidents.

It seem to me that if the fact that FDR managed to get himself elected to 4 consecutive terms as president was potentially threatening enough to democracy to merit a constitutional amendment, then a Bush presidency, followed by a Clinton presidency, followed by another Bush presidency, potentially followed by another Clinton presidency, is even scarier. We have only had one other case of a father and son presidency (John Adams and John Q. Adams) and no other related presidencies that would have been affected by my proposed amendment (although it would have stopped Bobby Kennedy from running), but one event was enough to ban a three term president.

It just seems to me that political families are bad enough as it is. We do not need to develop some kind of dynasty mentality in this country when it comes to electing presidents.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A little levity

One of the quotes on my google homepage today is a quote from Dick Cavett:
If your parents never had children, chances are you won't, either.
It's just a silly quote, but it reminds me of something someone said to me many long years ago when I was a teenager. I forget the girl's name now as she was only a casual acquaintance, but I swear she was absolutely serious when she said this. She told me that she knew that she would never be able to have children. When I asked her why, she said "It runs in my family, but it skips a generation." Hum. . .let's just think about that one for a minute. And she wasn't even blond!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"The Girl in the Fireplace," Hillary Clinton and feminism

Despite the assumptions of some, due to the name of my blog or from posts I've written here, I have never really considered myself a feminist. I have, however, tended to admire strong, independent women ever since I was a young girl. The two in particular that come to mind are my great-grandmother and Queen Elizabeth I. Queen Elizabeth I because she never married, largely due to the fact that she did not want power to pass to a husband. And my great-grandmother, because even though she did marry (and at a very young age), she lived alone for 31 years after my great-grandfather passed away. She never remarried and lived by herself until her health made it impossible to continue to do so. So, what does this have to do with Hillary Clinton or an episode of Dr. Who? Well, I'll tell you.

A couple of nights ago, I watched the episode of Dr. Who entitled "The Girl in the Fireplace". I thought it was a very good episode and particularly interesting in terms of insight into the character of The Doctor. In fact, I saw it as something of a microcosm of what The Doctor's relationships are like because, in the story, Reinette knows The Doctor for her whole life (practically), but for The Doctor, the events all take place within the span of about one day.

Anyway, since the character in the story, Reinette, was actually an historical figure, Madame de Pompadour of 18th Century France, I decided to look up Madame de Pompadour. I found this site which had some information on her life. It includes two brief articles written by different people about Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV's mistress. The site seemed to be in conjunction with a women's history class. I found it striking how the first of the two articles ended:
The Marquise de Pompadour, who had put all of her energy towards the affairs of the state, was physically fatigued and became quite ill. She died on April 15, 1764. Through her influential twenty years at court, she truly became an example of rising above the traditions given to women.
Why I find this so interesting is because she received this position due to the fact that she was the mistress of a powerful man. That does not mean that she did not have talent and skill that helped her achieve her goals, because certainly she did. But what it boils down to is that her power came from her relationship, and a sexual relationship at that, with a powerful man. And in fact, if you actually read the articles, it would seem that much of how she gained favor with the king was through throwing parties and arranging dinners. If that is stepping out of the traditional roles of women, I'd like for someone to explain to me how.

So anyway, this brings me around to Hillary Clinton. I am not a supporter of Hillary Clinton and I never have been. I would hate to see her win the Democratic Presidential nomination for multiple reasons that I won't get into at the moment. But the thing that strikes me at the moment is the fact that so many people seem to think that a Hillary Clinton victory would be such a great feminist victory, but I disagree. It is certainly true that, if elected, she would be the first female president of the United States and it would be a great accomplishment. But until we can elect a woman who is capable and accomplished in her own right and not mostly known and seen as electable and experienced because of the accomplishment of her powerful husband, I really feel like we, as a country, have not accomplished some great feminist victory. I thought that dynasties were an old idea, not something that we should look to establish in this country.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Iowa results

Or at least official projections.

Via CNN - Obama, Huckabee win Iowa caucuses, CNN projects
Barack Obama will win the Iowa Democratic caucus and Mike Huckabee will be the Republican winner, CNN projects.

With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Obama had the support of 37 percent of voters, compared to 30 percent for Edwards and 30 percent for Clinton.

[. . .]

With 78 percent of Republican precincts reporting, Huckabee had the support of 34 percent of voters, compared to 25 percent for Mitt Romney. Fred Thompson had 14 percent, John McCain had 13 percent and Ron Paul had 10 percent.
I have to say that it is nice to see Hillary loses, even if it is only the Iowa caucus. It will be interesting to see how the final numbers rank Hillary and Edwards. It is also interesting that Paul came in ahead of Guiliani.