A British Truck Driver & Al Gore’s Inconvenient Silliness Monday, Nov 3 2008 

Well, proof that this blog has no point whatsoever, just whatever’s on my mind the day I decide to write something.

Today it’s been politics. Came across this fascinating story today about the British truck driver who didn’t want his kids hit with Al Gore’s propaganda “documentary” presented as fact in school. He brought a lawsuit in what seems to me an actual good use of the right to sue, and whaddya know, someone has some sense in the UK! An expert testified to 20 inaccuracies in the trial, and the court considered a subset of those (it wasn’t clear in what I read how many it did consider of the 20). Turns out of however many were considered, the government decided that there were 11 significant inaccuracies in the film. You can read a bit more about it here.

If Gore’s silliness interests you, read another bit about some silly things he said (and about his possible financial motives for saying such silly things) here.

What a ridiculous time we live in when temperature becomes politicized! There has even been controversy at the Weather Channel over this! I find no a priori reason to disbelieve scientific evidence that the earth is warming. I am extremely skeptical, however, when I hear that back in the 70’s the majority of scientists were just as convinced that we were in for another Ice Age! Do they not recognize that the Earth’s temperature has always fluctuated? Long before people drove gas guzzlers, long before they drove anything without a heartbeat. So when you take that skepticism and you add out-right lies into the mix, attached to a political agenda, I just have to throw my arms in the air and give up.

You know, if the Earth is warming, I can’t fix that. The only thing I can do is what I ought to be doing whether the Earth is warming, or is cooling, or is fluctuating back and forth like fall weather. Whether I contributed to it by driving a car for 10 minutes to work instead of spending 60 minutes on a bus and choose to live in a house with electricity and running water rather than a grass hut with an outhouse.

I can recycle. I can try to make my driving as efficient as possible. I can carpool whenever it makes sense to do so. I can avoid over-heating or over-cooling my house. I can turn off lights I’m not using. I can support an energy policy that includes diversity of source and supply and encourages innovation in cleaner energy production and use. I could go on, but I think you get my point. God created a beautiful planet and it’s my responsibility to treat it as well as I can.

When Al Gore gives up flying around on private jets and gives up however many homes and cars he owns to live in a grass hut with an outhouse…then maybe I’ll take him seriously.

Obama: Under My Plan Electricity Rates Will Skyrocket Monday, Nov 3 2008 

Again, not my words. His. You can read a complete transcript (really complete, “uh”s and all) of the segment here, including the part about how his plan will bankrupt coal power plants.

Did anyone notice what happened last time energy costs skyrocketed? Worldwide rise in food costs, for example?

Who will “reach across the aisle”? Monday, Nov 3 2008 

A few weeks back I was listening to Bush’s former press secretary, Scott something or other I think is his name — an interesting fellow, he seems to take every chance he gets to do something to impugne Bush. Nothing out of the ordinary in our polarized political world…except for the “he is his former press secretary” part. Meaning (I presume) a Republican. One wonders what was going behind the scenes there! Anyway, this was shortly after this fellow announced he was supporting Obama for President. In an interview I saw with him, he cited as his primary reason for voting for Obama that he wanted a candidate who would “reach across the aisle,” and he believed Obama was the person who could do that.

I watched with my jaw literally agape.

Has Obama ever sponsored a piece of legislation with a Republican? Has he ever compromised in order to meet a Congressional Republican halfway to get something accomplished? Not that I know of. (Remember, this is the person with the most liberal voting record in the Senate. He even voted to prevent babies who survived an attempted abortion from then receiving medical care! That’s pretty darn far left.) But wait! There is a candidate who has in fact demonstrated through deeds — more than once! — that he will reach across the aisle to get things done. That candidate is John McCain. It’s one of the things I admire about him. Senators and Representatives should work slavishly for American citizens…not slavishly for a political party.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to write something about this for some time now but have been too busy. I am voting for McCain in this election, and I hope you will too. If you’re a liberal who’s fairly far left on the political spectrum, Obama is your candidate, no doubt about it. If you vote for Obama, vote for him for reasons based in reality, vote for him because you agree with his political positions. If the number one thing you’re looking for is “reaching across the aisle,” then McCain is your candidate, no ifs ands or buts.

I’m voting for McCain because:

(1) he believes when it comes to babies in the womb, it’s the baby who has the right — the right to live

(2) he’s highly qualified — political experience and military experience — and has shown sound judgement in his past decisions

(3) he does what he thinks is right — even when it’s unpopular (loudly supporting the “surge” in Iraq, for example, when naysayers said it was a lost cause and another Vietnam, and [see “judgement] it’s worked) — it seems to me he’s had to tone this down a bit in the presidential election, but I believe it’ll be back in full force when he’s president

(4) on a whole set of social and economic issues he is a conservative (in some nuances not as conservative as some would like, but nothing that makes me overly concerned as a social and economic conservative)

(5) I admire him as an American and a human being — for serving his country in Vietnam and going through what he did there and coming out of it in sound mental shape if not 100% physical. Okay, this in and of itself is maybe not a reason to vote for someone. (And if he held Obama’s political views, I wouldn’t.) But patriotism is important in a President, and there’s no doubt he’s got it.

(6) McCain — in my analysis — has never defined himself with the label “Republican.” To be sure, his views line up with the Republican Party and not with the Democrats. But I believe he has defined himself by his beliefs and by a will to get things done. As someone who needs no help from the Republican Party platform to determine her beliefs — and is not necessarily in step with every plank (I fully support the 2nd Ammendment and the right to bear arms but I would require a licensing procedure just like for driving a car, for example) — this is something I respect.

I could probably write more but I’ve already said more than I initially intended to. If you care about your country, please vote your conscience on Tuesday, if you haven’t already.

Obama Will Bankrupt the Coal Industry Sunday, Nov 2 2008 

His words, not mine.

Check it out.

Another Number One Falls; Another Florida Win Sunday, Nov 2 2008 

Well, it was a fabulous Florida victory. Florida-Georgia is always a fun game. I can remember being in college there and I guess media or somebody had been saying that if Georgia lost once more to Florida they were going to fire their coach at the time, Ray Goff, or however it was spelled. Those were the Spurrier days, and, well, we won. As the student sections surged out of the stadium we were chanting, “Keep Ray Goff! Keep Ray Goff!”

Sadly for Mr. Goff, I don’t think they kept him.

OK, so, Florida beat Georgia 49-10. We went into it ranked 8, Georgia 6. An earlier version of this ESPN article said that dear ol’ Tim Tebow surpassed Emmitt Smith’s record for rushing TDs — how crazy is that! However, I’m now concerned that the updated version of the article says Tebow sprained his ankle! Well, we have Vandy, South Carolina, and the Citadel (??!!) up next, so hopefully he’ll be able to baby the ankle a bit before Florida State comes up November 29. (Maybe FSU isn’t such a big deal this year? Ranked 15, they just got beat by unranked Georgia Tech. Still, we <so embarrassing> lost to an unranked team earlier this season, and, hey, this is FSU! This game is IMPORTANT!)

The other big game of the day was (1) Texas v. (7) Texas Tech. Wow, another #1 bites the dust. The question will be how far Texas falls. They only lost by 6 points. But Florida won so convincingly, I think we stand a good chance of jumping to 6th.

I can’t imagine we’ll be jumping over  (2) Bama (v. Arakansas State, 35-zip), (4) Oklahoma (v. Nebraska, 62-28), or (5) USC (v. Washington, 56-zip — ouch, what’s happened to you, Washington?!).

Looks like we will be playing Alabama for the SEC Championship. That brings back memories!

Anyway, ’twas a good day for football.

Go Gators!

Five Reasons Why I Love My Mother Friday, Oct 3 2008 

1. She kinda gave birth to me. Okay, she was also unconscious at the time, but still.

2. She took me to church. I’m not saying taking to church = becoming a Christian, but I think it helps! I thank God that I was born to a family that took me to church and exposed me to God’s Word.

3. She introduced me to music, got me piano lessons, and made me keep taking them after I wanted to quit…but not for long.

4. When I was in my teens and at the height of “I can’t bear to be in the same room with you” and she wanted to go with me to Lakeland for whatever reason, and I insisted the only way this was going to happen was if she promised not to talk to me at all for the hour-long drive…she actually agreed! (I’m still stunned by this.)

5. After giving her the address only about five times, she actually went to my blog, read an entry, and left a comment.

Maybe now she will leave a nice one!!  😉

I Heart Sturm Monday, Sep 15 2008 

It is shockingly difficult to find good information on the delightful drink I discovered while on a recent visit to Vienna. Sturm is a Viennese (and surrounding environs) specialty, a kind of new wine which has just begun fermenting, so it is only mildly alcoholic. According to this blog post (the only info I could find that seemed factual and didn’t have obvious mistakes, such as one article I found that said it had high alcohol content),  Sturm can be sold as such when it reaches 4% alcoholic content, and up to 10%. Most wines are more in the 12% alcohol range.

I came to love Sturm after first seeing it being sold and drunk in several spots while strolling Vienna’s Naschmarkt. I was very curious and wanted to try it, but had no clue what it was and didn’t want to drink something strongly alcoholic in the middle of the day — or something yucky! 😉 So then later I joined some friends also in town at a heuriger for dinner and then a Biergarten down the street. Not being into beer and having already had dessert (Topfenstrudl, another thing over there I like!), I decided to ask if they had Sturm. They did, so I tried a little bitty one, an achtel. Me likes! So then I had two viertels.

It was a very nice night, my last one before heading back to the States, in a relaxing spot with good conversation.

I really wanted to bring back a bottle…but apparently this wouldn’t have worked out so well! (Read the linked post above.)

Painting Stripes II Monday, Sep 15 2008 

If you’re a friend or family member and have wanted to see pics of the home improvement projects, checkout my Facebook page.

Die Welle — Realistic? Friday, Sep 5 2008 

Airplane movies are great. I get to watch things I would never pay money for, and usually wouldn’t even sit through commercials for. But in the less-and-less-friendly skies, I can watch these third-string movies with the swearing edited out and no commercials. And sometimes this brings great surprises!

I saw Spidey III (not high on my list, never was a comicbook fan & never watched Spidey I or II), the first Jason Bourne movie (thought it would be dumb…still thought it was kind of dumb…but I rented part II a few months later and part III a week or so later, so obviously it grew on me!), and the French film adapted from an American novel I believe, Ne les dis a personnes (my French ain’t so swift so I may have spelled it wrong, but this was a darn good movie that my plane had to go and land during, about 3/4 the way through — help! I still want to see the end!), and most recently Indiana Jones 4 (OK, not third string, I just hadn’t seen it somehow, probably because I was like, yeah, saw that on Stargate), and Die Welle.

Die Welle is a German film. You can read the technical details here, watch a trailer here (though your German will have to be better than mine, I couldn’t find a sub-titled version), and read a Wikipedia article about it here. The movie (The Wave in English) is based on a book, which is in turn based on a (supposedly) true story that took place in the US.

Here’s the plot in brief (of the movie). A German high school teacher is assigned to teach a one-week class on Autocracy; he’s disappointed because he’d wanted to teach anarchy, which is apparently closer to his own political leanings, at least from his younger days. On Monday he asks the students questions like “What is autocracy?” and “Can you give me an example of an autocratic government?” The kids are kind of rolling their eyes, saying, “The Third Reich, yeah, yeah, not more of that crap, the Nazis were bad, we get it.” They’re clearly sick of hearing about the Nazis and don’t think it terribly relevant to the present and to their lives. One girl says, “That couldn’t happen in Germany again.”

The teacher decides to implement a “mini-autocracy,” though I don’t think it ever explicitly is called an autocracy. The students must call him “Mr. Wenger” instead of by his first name, they must stand up to ask a question, they must sit up in their seats to ask a question, and they must wear white shirts and jeans to school. Actually, they all agree to this, except for one kind of obnoxious girl who is the lone real dissident, and a drug dealer. (The horrors! They all have to wear jeans! They can’t call the teacher by his first name! I can hear the “Heil Hitler” coming now.)

The kids get really into it. One makes a MySpace page, one a webpage, one a logo, one a “salute” (kind of a wave motion). By like Thursday they’re bullying kids who aren’t in The Wave, which has morphed into some kind of social club, and they’re getting all aggressive in general. One guy hits his sort-of girlfriend. (But, hey, don’t we all feel like hitting people when wearing white shirts and jeans?)

Meanwhile, one kid is REALLY into it. He’s clearly got at least one screw loose. Seriously, he would need psychological care. On Tuesday already, I believe, he designs the webpage and puts guns in the logo, and by like Wednesday he’s showing up at the teacher’s house saying the teacher needs a bodyguard. QUIT READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT THE PLOT SPOILED. When the teacher realizes things have gotten out of hand he calls a meeting…Friday? I think. Maybe Saturday. He tells them The Wave is over. The troubled kid whips out a gun, shoots a fellow student, threatens to kill the teacher, then kills himself. The teacher is taken away by the police, though it isn’t clear if it’s for questioning as a knowledgeable witness or if he’s under arrest. The end.

Thought-provoking, huh? As you can tell from my parentheticals, I think this all happened way too fast to be realistic. Two days of wearing white shirts has made them start hitting their girlfriends? Willing to beat up a fellow student if the teacher commands it? We are all more easily manipulated than we like to think, this I understand. (Don’t believe it? Recall the famous Milgram experiment.) But unlike in the Milgram experiment, where the subject responds to commands the experimenter is giving sitting right next to him or her, these kids are expanding The Wave and changing their behavior outside of class. It’s not an issue of obedience to authority. But it’s based on a true story, right?

Hmmm, maybe, maybe not. If you poke around on the internet (and unfortunately I can’t find the site I was looking at the other night), you find that there are serious questions about whether the real class actually went anything like this. And I have to say I can’t imagine this actually happening in an American high school. I also had a problem with the teacher being portrayed kind of as the bad guy. The teacher didn’t know what these guys were doing outside of class. Other students knew the unhinged kid had a gun; the teacher had no idea. He just asked them to wear white shirts, for Pete’s sake! He probably should have been more clear that they were participating in a class exercise, not starting a new youth movement.

Did it happen or did it not? Who knows.

Could it happen?

How do Nazis and Nazi sympathizers “happen”?

What would it take for people to willing (enthusiastically!) submit to an autocratic regime in the developed Western world today?

Realistic or not, the film does make you think.

Croatia Gets a Gymnastics Silver! Tuesday, Aug 19 2008 

Čestitam!

Croatia picked up its second Olympic medal, and its first ever in gymnastics! I haven’t had time to watch any of the games the last few days, so I was pretty darn surprised to see Croatia got a silver in gymnastics, apparently on pommel horse (errr, I might have mispelled that). Here are a couple of links to articles. In English you’re only going to get articles that mention the Croat in the context of the Brit’s bronze win, but I also have one Croatian-language article below…for the rare visitor koji razumije hrvatski. Please post a comment if you know where to find online footage of the performance. Don’t worry if your comment doesn’t appear right away — I have to approve first-time commenters and I’m going to be out of town for a while.

The Guardian

BBC

Jutarnji list — this one actually has a still from his performance, which indeed looks impressive. Also a closeup of his face…also nice to look at.  😉

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