My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Bigger, Faster, and More EXTREME!!!

Two things that caught my attention this week mixed in my head and formed some sort of strange clarity. The first was a comment made on 60 Minutes by Danish professor Dr. Christianson on why a recent study has named the Danes the happiest people on earth. When they asked if he could explain the study he sited the fact that Danes have expectations that are pretty modest and followed it up with, “You know, I was thinking about what if [sic] it was the opposite and Demark was number 20 and another country was number 1. I’m pretty sure that Danish Television would say, ‘Well, number 20 is not too bad. You know, it’s still in the top 25!’”

The other thing that caught my eye was Extreme Screamin’ Dill Pickle Pringles. Upon first notice I thought, “Why the hell do I need my potato chips to be ‘extreme’”? That was, until a dad wearing a NASCAR hat and a full orange camouflage getup in a grocery store said to his tracksuit-wearing 12 year old son, “No, get that Extreme one. It has more technology in it”. I recoiled, laughed, and looked around to make sure that someone else had heard it. Alas, it was the grocery store at 2pm on a Tuesday and I was the only one to hear the comment.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the dark recesses of my cortex the two things melded and I was forced to ask myself, “Is this why we are never truly happy?” Do we always need things to be bigger, faster, and (Mike help us) more extreme? If we are always chasing what is better, do we never enjoy what we have? Is there a way to end this vicious cycle?

Hmmm a thought problem, let’s step back and look at the differences. We know the US so let’s look back to the 60 Minutes segment to see if there was any information about the Danes that could point out some difference. A couple minutes later I found the corresponding website to the segment and read that all Danish education, through college, is free. They are paid to stay home and raise their children. They have universal healthcare, subsided childcare, and eldercare. There is next to no poverty class and the wealth is spread throughout the close-knit classes. Plus, they have a standard six weeks of vacation and still maintain a higher productivity level than the US. The drawback? They pay 50% taxes.

If countries were people, most of Europe would be in their middle age or slightly older. Africa, the Middle East, and most of South America would still be in their infant to preteen years. And the United States would be a teenager struggling to figure out who they are. I think that Oscar Wilde said it best when he quipped, “America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between. “

So as we try to find out who we are here in the US, we constantly redefine what it means to be us. We work to make things bigger so they overshadow our personalities, we make things faster to distract ourselves from standing still, and we need things to be in a constant state of more extremeness because it helps us see ourselves as on the cutting edge and constantly new. That way, we will never really need to figure out who we are since the state of change doubles as an identity.

This inability to slow down and define ourselves (other than as ever-changing), has led to a self-centered culture where we will help only when it is either in our best interests or to help publicly define us as compassionate. Sure, there are certain individuals who do not fit this norm, but the vast majority do. We are a society that chases our own individual American Dreams and never an American Dream for all. Here in the US you either sink or swim on your own; and if you don’t like, your family’s financial standing will let you know how far you have to sink.

I guess that as we age as a country, we will learn to look to one another as assets. Maintaining a healthy life, a strong liberty, and an open pursuit of happiness for all individuals may give us all the chance to thrive, but the only way that we will all see that dream come true is if we care and help each other. If only we were old enough to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Out Foxed

This week, Fox Broadcasting Company appealed the 1.2 million dollar fine that was imposed on its 169 affiliates by the FCC for violating federal indecency laws. In its order, the FCC said that simply pixilizing female breasts and buttocks during a raunchy bachelor party scene in an April 2003 episode of the defunct reality program "Married to America" did not indemnify broadcasters from commission action.

All of this happened days after Fox and Friends anchor Juliet Huddy asked Colonel David Hunt why coalition forces don't "blow up" Al Jazeera TV for airing what she deemed to be “indecent”.

So there you have it, one part of the company fighting to show and say almost anything on TV while the other has commentators who openly suggest that those who support such uncensored indecency should be bombed.

Fox News, defending the world from the indecency that is Fox Broadcasting. …,4670,FoxTVFinesFCC,00.html

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Entry for February 19, 2008

You thought all was quiet in the dead of the night,
But babies don’t wait for the first morning light.
They come when they want, their schedules their own.
And before you know it, you’re taking them home.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


The word of the year is shaping up to be “Change." It’s being sold from the lips of politicians, in the latest music, and from the heads of sporting organizations. The reason for this is because America has lost most of our heroes. Where there were once sports giants, we see only drug and cheating scandals, the popular music that is being sold to us is so formulaic and stale that we look to top rated karaoke TV shows for new “artists," and our leading politicians have the respect and approval slightly better than a villain in a Dickens novel. Truth be told, the number of people we can still look up to is few.

Most of this is our own fault. There is nothing that the American public likes more than building people up only to knock them down. Think of a child creating a tower of blocks. He may construct them with absolute care and purpose, but in no time at all he will reemerge as a two foot tall Godzilla in Oshkosh overalls on a self-fulfilling mission for total tower destruction. We as a public are that child with our heroes.

So following our recent failed attempts at nation building and restructuring the world as we see it, we have decided to internalize the problem and create some new American Gods. We can see the beginning of them forming now. And the nominee for the leader of this change seems to be Obama. He is not another legacy, a case of nepotism, or simple repetition. What he represents is a break with what has become our slide towards mediocrity caused by our comfort and want for predictability.

In recent months Obama has shifted away from in-depth policy discussions in the debates to speaking only of Hope and Change through vague, yet extremely uplifting, generalities. His campaign seems to understand that we have become disgusted with wanting something so banal, pandering, and readily identifiable because we can no longer settle for sub-par idols. They know that we need a hero, someone to believe in again, and that above all else our country wants to hear, “And Now for Something Completely Different.” He is fulfilling these needs that by trumpeting change and backing it up with well publicized, yet no longer openly sold, ideas.

America wants a presidential election where the two candidates represent who we were and who we will become. We want a chance to prove that we are not our recent leaders, we are not religious fanatics hell-bent on Authoritarianism, we do not stand for self justified idiocy at home and aboard, and more than anything else, we are not George Bush.

This fall, I will be voting for Barack Obama because he represents the change that I want to see in America.

In Defense of John McCain

We have all heard an election-load of John McCain bashing in the far Right Wing press lately. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and the lesser infotainers are working feverously to make their listeners believe all sorts of things about McCain. They are going after him like a pack of starving dogs that have spotted fresh meat. Last week Limbaugh went as far as to say that a McCain nomination would "destroy the Republican Party," and that "[he] can see possibly not voting for the Republican nominee".

You have to wonder if these people would have allowed Ronald Reagan to be nominated. After all, in his farewell address in 1989 Reagan talked about free trade and immigration when he said, "I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and heart to get here." Or how about his famous line, “concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty” in reference to a sustained political majority? Does that sound like someone that Limbaugh, Hannity, or Coulter would have supported for president?

So why are they fighting so hard to keep McCain out? Is it that he is a moderate conservative by today’s standards? Is it because he is willing to step across the isle to make peace to ensure that legislation gets passed? Or is it because they don’t understand that putting the party above the needs of the country is what got them in this mess in the first place? Maybe it is because they are afraid of moderation and fear a country that no longer sees only red and blue.

After seeing the results on Super Tuesday, it is apparent that the public at large is no longer buying the message that these far right wing media personalities are presenting. The voters see McCain for what he is: a stereotypical old-school conservative who prides himself on honesty, being fiscally conservative in most cases, not being beholden to special interests, and with a resume that says, "been there, done that" instead of "found a way out and profited from it”.

The other fallout from Super Tuesday is that it is now apparent that the light on both mainstream Neoconservatives and Authoritarians is fading. Everywhere we look there are signs of desperation. Books such as Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg wildly explain how all liberals are actually Nazis, Ann Coulter threatens to back Hillary Clinton, and the radio is abuzz with angry hosts bashing McCain for having moderate tendencies and occasionally agreeing with (gasp) the other side.

I for one welcome the change in Republican leadership. Too long has the far Right Wing Media held captive the party by making the public believe that the being a Republican means that you do what you are told and that victory must come at the cost of the nation. This week the voters chose McCain as the best chance for restoring both dignity and creditability to the Republican Party, let’s hope that the media catches up soon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Editor

One of my best friends has turned into my editor, and this is a good thing. She corrects almost all of my blog posts, essays, publications, and important emails. I really don’t know what I would do without her. It’s strange to have one of your friends in a semi-professional role, but she seems to fit it well.

I will hand her my work and she will do an odd thing. There in front of me, she will transform from a normally effervescent little blonde girl into the Scottish Presbyterian minister, Rev. Maclean, from Norman Maclean classic semi-autobiographical, and world’s best fishing novella, A River Runs Through It. And I will end up standing there staring at me feet and waiting for a curt "good, now make it half as long" or similar criticism of whatever it was that I thought was at least passable.

There are, of course, some drawbacks to having an excellent editor in your professional life. After spending hours working on something that I think is witty or intelligent, she will read through it and, instead of commenting on its absolute brilliance, will say something along the lines of, “you missed one comma and a couple apostrophes”. To which I will glare at her and immediately troll for some sort of compliment. “So, what did you think?”

“It’s good,” she’ll say, “This third sentence doesn’t make any sense. Work on that.” Then I go back and make revisions. Honestly, I’m never sure how anything I write will be received because of her cool and businesslike manner.

She has recently decided to head back to school and pursue an MFA. I anticipate her becoming a world-class fiction writer and can only hope that she charges the same amount to review my work when that happens.

So if you have read any of my work (blogs, essays, newspaper articles, whatever’s…) thank Kate for helping me to make my jejune cerebration coherent. (And for usually stopping me from writing sentences like the previous one).

Disclaimer: This post was in no way edited by Kate. Sorry.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tour of the Nursery

Check out this tour of our new nursery