Saturday, April 26, 2008

Free Your Feet. Doff Your Shoes.

A fascinating article about why shoes are bad for our feet. It's not a hippy, back-to-nature thing, either.

Our Beautiful Universe

Check out these incredible pictures from Hubble of galaxies colliding over at Wired. I never cease to be amazed at the beauty around us whether on our planet or out in the universe.

Vista Woes

Add me to the growing throng of people getting fed up with Windows Vista. It came with my new laptop, so I thought I would try it out. I tried to remain open-minded and for awhile I thought it wasn't as bad as some people were making it out to be. Unfortunately that is changing and I am getting more and more fed up with it.

I don't have automatic updates turned on. I check periodically on my own which I did the other day. There were a few updates to download which I did. Well now my computer takes three to four times longer to boot up and Access runs much slower and likes to lock up. Argh! What kind of update is that? It is frustrating as hell. My old XP disc should be laying around here somewhere. I may have to dig that up and "downgrade," because this is getting ridiculous.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Woot! Fantasy is Back, Baby!

I am very proud of my daughters. I have written about my daughters not wanting to read fantasy novels because magic (even the fictional variety) is evil. This has been very frustrating because the only answer they can give as to why this is so is because their mother and grandmother have told them so. They admit they have heard nothing about magic from their church or their school; it is only mom and grandma who have said anything about it and the only reason they have given is "that's what the Bible says." :sigh:

So, I have had lots of talks with my daughters. I ask them tough questions to make them think about why they believe this (and other things, too) and make them see logical fallacies in their arguments. I stress to them that I am not trying to tell them what to think, only how. In all honesty, I would be disappointed if they did ultimately decide that yes, magic is evil and tempts people to Satan. I could accept it, though, if I knew that they had honestly thought through it and could lay out exactly why they felt that way (beyond, "But, Mom said!").

Anyway, I seem to have made headway. We have started reading the Dragonlance series again. They said their only fear is that their grandmother will find out and yell at them. Their psychology toward her would be fascinating if I wasn't their father and have seen what a destructive force she has been in their lives. They can't even lie to her for self-preservation. Anyway, they are very enthusiastic about the book. Fantasy video games are also okay now. Erica wanted to install Neverwinter Nights on her computer. To my shock, she chose to play an elf...mage.

I think the best moment was tonight, however. I introduced my daughters to that most evil of games - Dungeons & Dragons. I started helping them make their very first characters. Tomorrow night we should finish and they can start playing their very first adventure. I am so excited!

For anyone who wants an inside look at Satan's game, I offer this "hidden camera" glimpse into this occult game.

UPDATE: Fixed typo.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thanks to My Sisters

Thank you to my sister, Shawna, for bringing my insulin to work yesterday when I forgot it (Thankfully, I rarely do that). Also, thanks to my sister, Sharie, who bought some groceries for my mom and I last weekend.

Both were very much appreciated.

"Worst of all Worlds"

That's what Andrew Sullivan called yesterday's Pennsylvania results for the Dems.

It doesn't change the race's dynamic or the math; but it will give Clinton just the tiniest sliver of an argument that she should not drop out. But what is striking in the exit polls is the polarization on three lines: gender, race and age. It was dead even with men; but a massive advantage for Clinton among women. The racial difference is obvious as well. But what really leaps out is age. Obama lost every cohort over 40; Clinton lost every cohort under 40. Race also affects the generations in turn: 67 percent of whites over 60 voted for Clinton - a massive 24 point advantage. Among the younger generation, there is much less racial polarization: under 30, whites split evenly. This is a fascinating result. It appears to me as the future struggling to overcome the past. On the process, I stick to my view that she needed double digits to have reason to stay in. Right now, she doesn't have it. But she won't leave. She will never leave. Ceding to someone younger is unthinkable to her. It's a form of death for her.

But here's what she does have: total shamelessness, and an absolute belief that she is the rightful nominee. Shamelessness: the appropriation of the message and even the words of her opponent; the portrayal of one of the most privileged and advantaged candidates in memory as an insurgent underdog; the eager embrace of the tactics - and message! - of the Rove right if it could help in any way; the picture of a candidate who saw a 20 - 25 point lead dissipate into single figures as a candidate for momentum. What sustains her is this deep, deep sense of entitlement and an absolute refusal to let the next generation take over. She will take this to the last day of the convention if necessary.

If Obama thinks he has a right to actually be nominated by the Clinton Democrats because he has won more votes, more states and more delegates, he is sadly mistaken. They will never let such a person win without a death struggle. And that is where the Democrats are now headed.

This is not good for the party. The superdelegates need to step in and end this, but they seem to be either scared or maneuvering for their own political gain. Isn't politics grand?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Quote of the Day

"She's winning the states that matter."

-Terry McAuliffe, Clinton campaign chairman, tonight on CNN.

Does that mean that states Obama won do not count? I'd like someone to ask her that.

The Pennsylvania Primary

CNN has projected Clinton will win in Pennsylvania's primary held today. This is not a surprise. She has held a lead there in most polls done there, though her lead has been continually shrinking. Because of that, because her victory is so close, little is going to change delegate wise. Clinton needs blow-out victories in order to be able to go to the Democratic convention and make a serious case for her candidacy. That's not happening. He has more pledged delegates, more of the popular vote, and more state victories. Her narcissism doesn't allow her to concede this race, but I can't imagine any of the superdelegates looking at the numbers and giving the nomination to Clinton. It would tear the party apart.

Unfortunately, that means we have another month of campaigning to look forward to from Clinton. I am sick of her and her husband anymore.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dialogue on Abortion, Part III

In which my friend, Jeromy, and I talk about the big A.
Part I and Part II

I didn't expect, Jeromy, that we would have wildly divergent views, however, I do find it interesting to explore the topic.

To point 1: "Pushing to overturn Roe vs. Wade is not helpful..." I don't think that pushing to overturn Rove v. Wade has resulted in the cultural language shift surrounding the debate, as you suggest. Rather, I think that this shift in the way the argument is framed is a result of the pro-choice movement gaining even more traction in the mainstream media. We should continue to fight the Roe v. Wade decision for two reasons:

I suppose I didn't make my point clearly in that I am certainly not opposed to overturning Roe v Wade. What is not helpful in my mind is is pushing for a complete overturn of it right now. I think that it has become so entrenched that it is going to take a patient, tactical approach to get to that point. You said:

When faced with something as blatantly dark as this decision, we've got to do everything within our power to see it overturned, even if it is a David vs. Goliath battle.

I agree, but there are other ways of tackling a problem other than a heads-on approach. Abortion is certainly an issue to get fired up over, but we need to not let that blind us to ways of dealing with the issue. Attacking the issue around the edges by moving to limit abortions and educating people on this issue will be more effective in my opinion than jumping straight to overturning Roe v Wade.

I agree that we need to take these steps, along with fighting Roe v. Wade. The danger of course is that people think they have won the war by winning a few battles.

This was in response to my idea that we need to take steps to limit abortions first. No matter what the cause, though, people will almost always become complacent if it isn't affecting them directly in some manner (look at the torture issue). That is why we need leaders on this issue, people who are taking up the mantle. And I'm not just talking about someone with a national podium, but people in their families, neighborhoods, and churches who will champion the cause and make sure that people they know do not forget about the matter. Unfortunately, most people are sheep in desperate need of a shepherd.

Re: parental notification of minors wanting abortions
To point 3: Yes, yes, and yes. When I was going to college in Minnesota there was a piece of legislation before the state congress that stated that 1)women contemplating abortion needed to be informed of the possible health and psychological consequences of their "medical procedure" 2) parents of minor girls needed to be informed of their child's intentions (which is already required for nearly every medical procedure but abortion) and 3)required a 3-day waiting period.

It was easily shot down by the pro-choice lobbyists, despite a great deal of public out cry.

Was there enough "public out cry," though? Politicians are for the most part rather pragmatic and if enough of their constituents tell them what they want they are probably going to get it. They know if they do not, they may not get elected again. This is where having community leaders can help because they can get people talking about the issue and working together to tell the politicians, "This is how we feel about legislation __________ and if you don't do __________ about it, we will elect someone who will." Get enough people together and it will happen.

Re: abstinence education vs. teaching about birth control
This is an entirely different issue in my mind, but is somewhat related.

Related in that if fewer children are getting pregnant, we are going to have fewer chances for abortions.

The mere fact that our children are "educated" in school about such a deeply moral and personal issue is ludicrous. I know the immediate argument is "well, parents aren't doing it, so the school has to." I'm not sold on that argument for several reasons: school sex education has made little difference on teen pregnancy, the education system's attempts to take over on such integral issues only encourages parents to be less engaged on this issue, and it s one step closer to a homogeneous view on sex (the majority of educators appear to be pro choice, by the way).

I don't think parents need to an encouragement to be less engaged than they are. Most are not engaged whether or not their kid has sex ed in school or not. I also think that you can have a program that teaches all sides of an issue. Teachers could explain that some people do not believe in birth control or that sex is something only for married couples. I think that school is the perfect place for moral discussions as long as viewpoints are not being forced on anyone.

I'm also curious on your comment that most educators are pro-choice. Do you have anything to back that up? I haven't seen anything about that.

That said- school sex education is here to stay, so should abstinence be taught? How about this for a curriculum change- each student is given a set of questions and discussion points to take home to their parents, or somebody they respect. The students' grade is dependent upon them turning in a report detailing the discussions they have with their parents about their family's values and stances on this issue. This facilitates an important conversation, fulfills the school's perceived obligation to educate kids about sex, and allows families to retain influence over their children's views on this issue.

That sounds like a great idea, but the pessimist in me has a hard time imagining this actually working out. You mention parents not being engaged, but then want to do this? I don't think kids bringing home assignments like this is going to magically make parents become more involved with their children's education. Oh, sure, some may take the time for a meaningful discussion, but I see more of them going one of three routes.

1) "I don't have time for this. Ask your [mother, father, uncle, whoever]."
2) "Goddamn schools. What kind of assignment is this? I'm calling the administrator tomorrow. If I wanted you to know how the birds and bees worked, don't they think I would have told you all ready."
3) *embarrassed look* "Uhm, sex is, uh, well it's when a man and woman, uh, well, you know..." *gestures* "It's when they, you know, uh...come together and, well, uhm, make, uh babies. You should probably be married before you, you know, uh, do it, but if you don't, just, be, uhm, careful, okay?"

Like I said, I think school is the perfect place for moral discussions. It needs to be carefully regulated so that teachers are not pushing one set of beliefs over another, but I think this is doable.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Was Blind, But Now I See

I've mentioned my recent difficulties with my vision lately brought on by my diabetes. Well, in an odd twist today, I have found a "cure." Feeling frustrated that I could barely read because the blurriness kept coming and going, I was sitting on my couch staring at the walls. My glasses were chafing my nose a bit, so I took them off. After a second, I realized something. There was no blurriness. In fact, I could see better than I have in years. The license plate on the car across the street was visible. I could read book titles from across the room. It is the strangest thing. I have kept my glasses off since.

I still need to make an appointment with my optician, but I sure hope this lasts. I don't really mind wearing glasses. They've been on my face since junior high so I really barely notice them most of the time, but not having to wear them would be great.

Weekly Music Video

Ever since Jeromy posted a great "attack ad" against Obama featuring Bruce Springsteen, I've been listening to a lot of The Boss's music. Here he is performing one of his greatest songs, "Born to Run."

Weekly Secret