Saturday, August 23, 2008

Love Kittens? Vote Obama

Click on the image for a bigger view.

Remember: Think of the kittens. Vote Obama.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Alone -- Writer's Poke #108

For Writers:

It never used to bother me to go to movies alone. "Why do I need to sit next to somebody to watch a movie?" I wondered. Nobody seems to care if you watch TV at home by yourself. Something about our society cares, however, about people that do things in public alone. Who goes to a concert alone? Who can even go to a restaurant alone, especially any restaurant without a drive-thru window, without feeling self-conscious?

When I was 20, I thought nothing about going on vacation alone. I was by myself the first time I visited Bourbon Street, for example. I would drive long distances by myself, but I enjoyed the freedom. I stopped when and where I wanted, and no one complained about how loud my music was, or if I wanted to play Meatloaf's "I Would Do Anything for Love" 100 times in a row -- which I've been known to do.

Sometimes I might wonder: what's wrong with me? Is there something wrong with me, or is there something wrong with a society that looks suspiciously at people that are, in essence, completely comfortable with themselves? What is wrong with being your own best friend, anyway?

Are there certain things you feel uncomfortable doing alone in public? Do you know people (or are you one yourself) that must surround yourself with people everywhere you go? Do you know anyone that uses friends like Linus uses his security blanket?

"I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude." -- Henry David Thoreau

McCain's Definition of Rich Illustrated

I don't hate McCain because he's rich. Seriously.

What bothers me is how out-of-touch he appears to be.

This isn't about "class warfare"; this is about not having a clue.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How McCain's Mind Works

At last weekend's Faith Forum, Rick Warren asked John McCain if evil existed, and if so, what should be done about it. McCain's face assumed a stern demeanor, and he said that it does exist and that we must "defeat it." Of course all he was thinking about it is the evil of terrorism.

Terrorism killed 3000 people on American soil. For that, we've spent literally billions of dollars, killed countless more Iraqis (countless because we don't bother to count them, or even find them worth counting), and watched thousands more Americans die in combat.

Warren also mentioned that there are 148 million orphans around the world. Orphans don't necessarily exist because of "evil," but in any event, McCain clearly didn't display the same sort of passion for this global problem as he did for terrorism. Impressively, he mentioned how Cindy flew to meet Mother Teresa and ended up adopting one of Teresa's kids. But in all honesty, that's one child saved out of 148 million (plus the millions more that have died over the years since that adoption).

Why don't Republicans attack global problems like orphans in the same zealous way that they want to attack and defeat terrorism? I think it's a question worth pondering. If you can't use a tank against it, somehow the problem isn't as sexy, doesn't get the testosterone boiling, and just isn't as important. At least that's how it seems to me, and I speak as a reformed Hawk.

McCain Unsure How Many Houses He Owns

I know. It's difficult to keep track of how many homes you have. If you're an average American, like John McCain, what's in a number, anyway?

Today's lead news story is that McCain didn't even know that he and his wife own seven homes.

Out of touch with real Americans. Hell, why do we even elect a president? I say we go back to monarchy. It's not like the people we elect have any idea how real people live...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Finding a Purpose Greater Than Yourself

We live in a country that values the individual. Republicans generally take this idea to the extreme, suggesting that it's up to the individual to make his- or her way in the world. Who really ever makes it in the world alone without the support of others? If you can say that you have, why don't you pat yourself on the back. I won't call you a liar...

At the same time, both Obama and McCain suggest that individuals need to work for causes greater than themselves. That's the only way to better a nation, and on an individual level, that's the only way to true, lasting happiness.

Republicans, however, have a problem with people working together if the government is used. Why? The government is just a structure. It's just you and me, really. We often hear that the government wants to spend your money. What kind of b.s. is that? We have elections to decide the agenda for the country. Once the agenda has been set, why are we surprised when a price tag is attached? Why don't people understand that the things people need cost money? Education, health care, defense, scientific research, etc. It all adds up. Taxes take "your" money, but it's not like the money is being shot off into space.

Even so-called pork projects have merit. We often hear that Congress spent $3 million to study the mating habits of bears. Why is that a bad thing? What that $3 million is actually doing is supporting science, and I don't see why supporting science should be labeled as "pork" or wasteful. Do you??

Friendship's End -- Writer's Poke #107

For Writers:

Jeff and I were friends for our year together in graduate school. I always thought he had a need to be loved, and as we were both aspiring writers, it made sense that we would be friends. I have a tendency to be sarcastic and mean-spirited, so I always liked to rub salt into his overly-sensitive wounds.

For the most part, though, I think we were pretty good friends for that year. When he moved back to his home state a few hundred miles away, I found a way to attend his wedding even though I was without a driver's licence, muddling through one of the lowest points of my life.

It would be another decade before I saw him again. In that time, he had started teaching, published a few books, and had his own life. Similarly, over that decade, I got married, started teaching, and had my own life; yet, we were friends once, so why not still? My closest friends go back to high school, and while we don't interact with each other much, there's always the sense that we're still connected.

This wasn't the case with Jeff, for whatever reason. There was a conference at his school, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet up. While he carved out a couple of hours so that we could reminisce about old times, once two hours was up, he kicked me out before I could overstay my welcome. Of course I understood. He had plans for the morning, and he couldn't be staying up all night with someone who had decided to check back into his life after a decade. Nevertheless, this hurt me. Over the next two years, I attempted to keep in semi-regular touch with Jeff, but he never reciprocated the effort.

So finally I had to admit it to myself. Whatever friendship we once had with each other had died in graduate school.

Think about a time you lost a friendship. What happened? How did it affect you? Have you ever purposely killed a friendship? If so, why?

"The only danger in Friendship is that it will end." -- Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What Is Rich? McCain: $5 Million

It's no secret that I support Obama, but I'm fair minded, and even at this point, I'm willing to listen to what McCain has to say.

With that in mind, I was very interested in listening to Obama and McCain's responses at Rick Warren's Faith Forum last weekend.

Pastor Warren asked each of them for their definition of rich. For Obama, rich meant something above $150,000 to $250,000. He didn't stumble on giving his view, and that amount seems to be reasonably accepted as a common definition.

McCain, however, clearly didn't want to answer the question. It reminded me of George H.W. Bush going grocery shopping during the 1992 campaign, when he clearly did not know how much a gallon of milk cost.

Well, after a while, McCain said that rich was $5 million. Then he tried to make his response into a joke. "I want everyone to be rich," he said. One way would be rich is to marry rich, eh John?

I have nothing against rich people, and I wouldn't mind being rich myself, but there's a real difference between being rich and being obscene. To me, Cindy McCain's wealth, which is reported to be $100 million, is obscene. I don't know what charities she supports, and I'm sure that she does give away a lot of money, but if you have a net worth of $100 million, you're hoarding money, and that's not ethical in my book.

What could you do with $100 million? Health care for 100,000 uninsured Americans might be a nice gesture.

Friendship and Absence

Okay, I know blogs are a lot more fun with pictures and funny videos, but I hope you'll stick with me through a few postings that are nothing but words...

How many friends do you have? How often do you chat with those friends, do things with those friends?

How many friends do you have from way back that are separated from you by long distances?

How many friends have you lost touch with? How many friendships have you had that have grown apart?

Are you a good friend?

I was going to actually write something on this topic, but the closest I could come to doing so was writing a series of questions. I'll try again later.

Monday, August 18, 2008