Last weekend I took my first trip to South Florida, spending the weekend with one of my good friends in Miami. I went to go swim in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, and get myself a nice little sunburn, and also check out all the touristy spots on South Beach. I also managed to get into a South Beach nightclub for free, AND get free drinks for an hour. As a guy. In Miami.
Of course after that first hour it was $11 for a small drink, which was more like what I was expecting. The whole clubbing scene down there is so ridiculous with the lines and lists and wristbands and promoters, but it was a lot of fun. We also went to a cool rock and roll art exhibit, had some amazing pizza at a place called Pizza Rustica, had some really good dessert sushi (sweet rice, nuetella, and banana, wrapped up in a thin crepe), and did a lot of walking around.
And speaking of flying to places, there's a good reason I usually fly Southwest, and that's because I don't have to pay ridiculous amounts of fees to check a bag. This page is a good summary of what it costs to fly.
Ever wondered why the snooze alarm is 9 minutes? I used to never use it, but now I'm addicted to hitting it several times every morning.
And on to the fun political stuff! I'll kick it off by what at first I thought was a Onion article, but nope, it's an actual Washington Post piece that asks "Is Obama too skinny?" To quote: "In a nation in which 66% of the voting-age population is overweight and 32% is obese, could Sen. Obama's skinniness be a liability?". See, this is why we can't have nice things.
But oh wait, it actually *IS* an Onion piece, that aired a few months ago, mocking politicians for going after the "fat" vote. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
Even the Republican National Committee is getting in on creating what at first glance you would think would have to be fake, but no, oh no, it's an actual ad attacking Obama's trip to Germany. Just ignore the amateur Youtube production values, the premise of the ad is that it's a bad thing that other countries are actually getting excited about the thought of a president who understands diplomacy and foreign relations. Or when the Prime Minister of Iraq agrees with your plan to get us out of Iraq. Which McCain doesn't even have an end game for Iraq, it's just the status quo until we "win", but of course winning is never really defined, nor when if at all this would take place. And while pulling out will be messy and probably take longer than the 16 months that Obama has planned, he's at least got the goal of getting us out of that mess as best as possible.
Now some of the ads that the McCain camp is throwing out there though are slightly better, but far less accurate. For instance the ad implying that Obama picked working out in a gym over visiting wounded troops in Germany, which every single person who did any research at all into the incident verifies is a complete lie. Even the Post started their story on this ad with "For four days, Sen. John McCain and his allies have accused Sen. Barack Obama of snubbing wounded soldiers by canceling a visit to a military hospital because he could not take reporters with him, despite no evidence that the charge is true."
Another example is McCain's ad about taxing electricity, which is also a complete and utter distortion of the truth. And he knows it. But yet he continues the new strategy of not saying why someone should vote for him, but instead tries to make America scared of Obama. Back in 2000 I did respect him for being the "mavrick" that the adoring media called him, and not always toeing the Republican party line. But in the last 8 years he's done 180's on pretty much every single one of his "mavrick" positions, and sold his campaign soul to try and squeak out some more votes via negative ads. I had high hopes for a respectable general campaign, but wow it got really nasty really early.
I do have to give the McCain campaign credit for being smart in running the ads though. All it takes is a few small and cheap ad buys in a few markets, and then the media will pick it
up and play it for free during prime-time news broadcasts. Make an inflammatory and false ad, pay for a dozen advertising slots in a local market, and then get shown on national network news hundreds of times!
Here's a very simple and to the point brouchure created by the AFL to hand out to people who refuse to believe that Obama is a Christian. I'm still amazed at how many people believe the most ridiculous things (he has no birth certificate!!111 for example), but I suppose I really shouldn't be. A functioning democracy needs an informed public to really work, and it's kind of terrifying the things that people believe that have absolutely no basis in reality, that could be fixed with just a little common sense or research. Instead it's more on what people "feel" is true, or what to believe is true, rather than what is actually true, and that is exactly what the McCain campaign is trying to support.
One of those "truths" is the truth that off shore drilling won't do a thing any time soon to affect gas prices, and even 10 years from now when there is peak production, the gains will be a few cents per gallon at most. To quote the official government report:
The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017.... Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.
But yet a full 51% of people don't realize this, and think it would drop gas prices by next year. The sad fact of the matter is that there is no quick fix solution to energy prices. It takes investment and time, the kinds of things we should have been doing for years. But when gas is under a $1 a gallon, no one really takes it seriously. There is no looking to the future to see that this can't possibly last, both by politicians and by the public. It's just human nature, but that doesn't mean we have to keep perpetuating our mistakes by going after quick fixes that don't fix anything and just endanger our seas.
Finally, remember that trip to Italy I took a few months ago? Well I met a girl over there. She was an American doing study abroad for a semester, and we met while eating gelato during my last night in Rome before leaving for Florence the next day. We ended up wandering around the deserted streets all night, and stayed in contact after I got back to the states thanks Skype. She then came to visit a few times over the summer once her semester ended, and it's been going really really well since!
August 4, 2008
I've added some new photos, from my Miami and wandering around Austin last night. There was an outdoor symphony concert, and then I went to go see the bats, and check out this really cool colorful fountain. It was one of those summer evenings that make me love this city.
So a few days ago Obama mentioned that people should make sure your tires are inflated as an effort to improve gas milage and reduce oil consumption. Something that everyone agrees does actually work and would save oil. And what do the Republican's do? Mock a suggestion that would immediately reduce demand by up to 7%. This was not by any means his entire plan as McCain would have people believe, but mearly a small part of a comprehensive long term energy policy.
When looking at this attack, and the misleading statements on off-shore drilling and how fast and how much oil it would provide (which is something that is a fact and not debatable), then what is essentially happening is that McCain is willing to promote ignorance to win an election. Actually, not just willing, he's counting on it. **sigh**
August 7, 2008
The Games of the XXIX Olympiad start in a few hours, although I've already watched one of the football matches earlier this evening. I've always liked the Olympics, and I'm really looking forward to my first Olympics in HD.
One of the more interesting stories to come out of Bejing though, other than the rampant air pollution (that's a neat little site to compare the pollution in various city in China to the pollution in LA or London), is the shock from the Western media that China is filtering Internet access to such rouge and dangerous sites such as Amnesty International. This from the same government that has a long history of human rights violations. But at least with all the attention the Olympics get, it might spur the Chinese government to do something about it. And due to the global economy that China is a huge player in, there isn't a simple solution available to diplomatically get them to fix those issues.
The season finale for So You Think You Can Dance was tonight, and Katee totally got robbed. This is the first reality-show contest program that had judges that I ever got into, but that's only because I have a Tivo available to skip past all the boring parts where the judges ramble on. I still don't think I could handle watching it live. But I've always loved dance, and this show has some amazing performances in it. I actually stumbled across it 2 years ago, but it was one of the "judging" episodes where there's only about 5 minutes worth of dancing in the entire hour long program, so I thought it was a waste of time. I didn't find out until this year that there's a 2 hour show the night before the "judging" episodes where the actual dances take place. And where they show stuff like this:
Which was my favorite dance of this past season. And I was surprise dthat I would actually see a Bollywood dance on prime-time national TV:
The guy in that last dance is the one who ended up winning, and the girl is the one who I wish had won. Entertainment Weekly wrote up a list of the top 15 dances from the last 4 seasons. I love that it's a show that actually focuses on the dancers, and all types of dance, and the art of choreography and dance, and not some gimmick like Dancing with the Stars. It makes me wish I had actual dancing ability, and could make my body move like that.
And speaking of dancing and music, I went to the Mammia Mia Sing-a-Long the other day, where all the musical numbers are subtitled to sing (and dance) along to in the theater. It was one of the closest things I think I'll see to spontaneous singing and dancing in public. This is why I love Austin!
Finally, the New York Times has a long article about Obama's work as a law professor. One part I found interesting was a student's recollection that "Obama was in the business of complication, showing that even the best-reasoned rules have unintended consequences, that competing legal interests cannot always be resolved, that a rule that promotes justice in one case can be unfair in the next." This, THIS, is why I want him to be the next president. Someone who understands nuances, that not everything is black and white, and can think through issues to come up with the best, though never perfect, solution.
August 14, 2008
I now know way more about PLL's than I ever thought I'd know.
The Olympics are in full swing, and I found my new favorite Olympic sport that no one in the US follows: Handball!. It's only available online, because if your sport is not beach volleyball, swimming, or gymnastics, you don't exist on NBC.
Speaking of gymnastics, do the Chinese women not look like they are all 16 year old or is it just me? I guess it's not just me.
And now for another daily helping of Obamarama.
Here's a handy website to send to people claiming Obama is some sort of far left uber-liberal. It covers everything from abortion (which is my biggest policy issue disagreement with him), income taxes, and all sorts of Muslim falsehoods. Remember, knowledge is power!
Speaking of falsehoods, there was a book released this week, at #1 on the New York Time's best seller list, that was supposed to be an "expose" on the *real* Obama. Unfortunately most of it is completely made up. Alas there is no fact checking in the book publishing world, which is why sometimes you just have to go source with a 41 page point by point rebuttal of all the lies and inaccuracies in the book. Very very impressive...
Not too surprising is that this book is from the same author who made an anti-Kerry book in 2004 accusing him of making up his war heroics, which was also found to be completely false. Not exactly a great track record for truth there.
Oh and notice the McCain quote at the beginning of that section claiming he condemned those lies as dishonorable? That didn't stop him from hiring one of the organizers of that lie as part of his own "Truth Squad". Oh how the head spins... I want my McCain of 2000 back!
And apparently I'm not the only one, as this columnist point out, that in an election where the candidates hold very different views on foreign policy, taxation, health care, government action, energy, and more, McCain didn't feel his policies and experience would let him win, so instead his campaign decides to insinuate Obama doesn't actually care about America with his slogan "Country First". Because if you can't win on policy or facts, lets just scare the beejeesus out of people and make them vote for the other "safe" choice.
This is also seen in the attack ads that are factually false and spend most of the commercial showing that people actually like a candidate for once instead of choosing a choice between the lesser of two evils. And then ending with "Hot chicks dig Obama"? WTF? I feel like I'm in a 6th grade class president campaign instead of campaign for the most powerful nation on Earth...
Heaven help us when people are actually excited about politics and a candidate for once. I wonder if this happened to JFK and FDR. Heck a lot of people like Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein, I guess they didn't know anything either. And people of all stripes still gush over Reagan, I guess he was just a faker as well. This is what's so frustrating about politics, because anyone can turn what should be a positive thing into a negative thing, just by framing it differently. This whole "celebrity" argument is so annoying because it doesn't mean anything unless you want it to.
It's like the whole elitism attack, when McCain is the one who only got into Naval Academy due to nepotism because his dad was in the Navy, and then proceeded to finish second to last in his class. Meanwhile Obama had to earn scholarships based on his grades to attend his schools, and had thousands of dollars in student loans until finally making good money on a book he wrote, because instead of jumping to the first law firm he saw, he decided to work in the poor streets of Chicago to help the people there, and got into politics for that reason.
Meanwhile McCain marries a model, and cheats on her when he finds out she got in a car accident and was disfigured and crippled while he was captured in Vietnam. As is quoted by his ex-wife, it ended because he "didnít want to be 40, he wanted to be 25." So he decided to go after a woman 18 years younger than him. He then gets a marriage license while he was still married to his first wife. and uses his new wife's fortune to launch his political career. Now THAT's an American story.
Too bad there is no way they can refute that Obama really was born a Muslim since there's the birth certificate to prove it. That whole "official" one is so not real just because I know in my heart it's not, and who needs facts and reason!
Come to think of it, where's McCain's birth certificate? He could be French!
And finally, a video that neatly sums up in 1 minute why McCain will likely lose this election:
August 22, 2008
I only have one item today:
So the next time you hear that Obama wants to raise taxes on America and ruin our economy, you will realize this means only raising the taxes on people making over $250k a year, and then lowering them FAR more for the people who really need that extra money. Which directly stimulates our economy since the poor have to spend every cent they get, just to survive.
Or there is the McCain plan, where a family making $48k a year, the national median, sees their taxes cut by 0.7%, whereas a family making over $3 million a year sees their taxes cut by 4.4%.
Source: The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. CNN also had some more in-depth analysis of the findings, and a response from the McCain campaign, which does not dispute the data in this chart.
In their first real presidential decision, Barack Obama selected one of the most qualified people available for the job of vice-president; John McCain picked one of the least qualified. Who really puts country ahead of politics?