POP, not soda



Parting words

The old tension surfaces again: private vs. public sphere. Aside from writing little due to classes, the important topics have lately lent themselves to private expression. I tapered off this fall when school started and spat out a couple unpolished thoughts on politics. Unfortunately, I couldn’t/didn’t fill in the gaps or branch into other rumination space. This, of course, is a pattern repeated sufficiently often that I realize it’s here to stay.

2008 doesn’t get a simple verdict from me. 2007 was swiftly kicked in the ass on the way out, but 2008 deserves more thoughtful treatment. Unfortunately for you, my insatiable/nonexistent reader, that treatment doesn’t get divulged here. Suffice it to say, there was much good, yet some very challenging stuff too.

So, blogwise, what’s the point at this point? I’m not sure yet. I still foresee some evolution of this idea when things stabilize at school, but I’m not sure how it will materialize. Continue to not stay tuned….

And happy 2009.


Nice try, gamers...now go vote

As one might suppose, going back to skoooool in a math-heavy area isn't the easiest thing when you haven't touched that math for 6+ years. Unexpectedly, that coincides with me not blogging very much at a time when I should be running my yapper nonstop. If I had time to dictate here all the ways in which the McCain campaign has spiraled into the abyss of dishonesty and dishonor, I'd probably exhaust Blogger's server space. So let me just add this: Obama has placed ads inside videogames that link to the internet. These ads will run through the election, and will then be removed. Now that's change we can believe in.


A shallow show

I'll give John McCain credit. He acknowledges an ugly situation when it confronts him.

The political waters have finally started to shift away from the vacant smile of Governor Palin and focus on the potential governance of the presidential candidates. Almost across the board, the issues favor the Obama campaign and nowhere is that more true than in the economic arena. For all my ideological love of capitalism--and suffice it to say that Ayn Rand is one of the foremost influences in my adult life (in a positive way!)--I still believe, in this imperfect world, that the role of government in the financial sector is crucial. In particular, oversight must be firm when taxpayer dollars are involved and this has been a cornerstone of Obama's message since the beginning.

So now comes John McCain's utterly politically-motivated move to forestall the first debate. McCain's notion that he and Obama's presence in Washington would help and not hinder the process is ludicrous. The injection of presidential politics into this crucial piece of legislation can only hurt and McCain is again risking the well-being of american taxpayers after his irresponsible choice of vice presidential running mate. Furthermore, the idea forwarded by McCain here is that he's indispensable in solving this problem, which is the one laughable aspect of this otherwise grim scenario. He does have quite the economics background... I 100% agree with Obama that this is the ESSENTIAL time to have a presidential debate and talk about big solutions. Economics is deeply intertwined with national security and foregin policy, so it should be probed deeply in tomorrow's debate. The over-presence of those two individuals in Washington will be damaging, while the presence of those two in Mississippi will be illuminating and instructive for american voters.


A Falling Soldier

Strangely, school is very time-consuming. Who'da thunk it?

Like everyone else, I've been watching the presidential campaign play out over the last few weeks. I made no bones about my disgust regarding Sarah Palin's speech at her convention. But much more dangerous is her selection in the first place. She is so grossly unprepared for the enormity of the vice-presidential position and, most especially, the higher-than-normal possibility of transferring to the Oval Office that anyone serving under a septuagenarian McCain with a history of cancer will be assuming. This is an appalling move by John McCain to risk the well-being of the country for political expediency. Regardless, I still think this selection is actually a misguided step and won't ultimately play out to his advantage.

Anyways, I recommend taking a minute to read this article by Elizabeth Drew who penned a sympathetic biography (i admittedly haven't read it) about McCain a few years back. I agree with the things that she used to admire about McCain and wholeheartedly agree with the deterioration of those qualities as he's pandered to the Republican base, increasingly compromised his character to ugly campaign tactics, and demonstrated disturbingly spur-of-the-moment behavior with crucial decisions.

It's easy to caricature a politician running against your favored candidate as races tighten and draw towards a close. The difference here is that these aren't exaggerations. The McCain campaign deliberately lied about Obama's positions to blacken his name and deliberately lied about Sarah Palin's positions to make her look like an actual reformer. This cannot pass. Any moderately inteligent American voter will have to see through this. The Palin spark is now starting to recede as any ephemeral sugar rush does and some dose of reality is returning.


In my opinon...

...you should check out my buddy Evan's Op-Ed piece published in the Seattle Times yesterday. He write stuff good.

Painful Palin

It looks like it's about time for some politics to surface here again. After hearing the substance and the optimism in Biden and Obama's speeches last week, Sarah Palin's speech was a miserable experience to behold. After spending the first significant portion dwelling on family minutiae to "introduce herself" followed by a laundry list of lines to perk the ears of different elements of the Republican base, Palin launched into an unapologetically vicious attack on Obama. The attacks were roughly half and half personal and issue-oriented. The personal attacks were many and varied. For instance, she managed to discount Obama's community organizing days in an acidic and mocking manner with a blase dismissal of anyone involved in such an undertaking. The issue-oriented attacks largely seemed half-truths phrased to blacken or distort Obama's intent. One example of this is how she talked about Obama wanting to raise a number of taxes...but she failed to point out that those will be raised for a small, wealthy percentage of the population while the overwhelming rest of us can anticipate decreases.

Most of this was to be expected. Palin certainly held her own as far as speaking and established herself as the Republican attack-dog. She accomplished well what was set out by the McCain campaign and the Republican party and she seemingly relished responding forcefully to the media storm last week. However, one can't help but feel that palpable difference in tone and message between the Democrats and Republicans this year. One side has ideas, optimism, and positive energy, the other side has energy to attack these things. I know the anger and excitement is high on the other side for the moment, but I can't help but think this will backfire in the end.

I'm an independent voter who will side with the better campaign and the better message. This year's contest is so starkly one-sided. She may have fired-up the Republican base, but she's going to fire up Obama's supporters even more. I'm donating as we speak.


A small step for a man

Well, tonight is the last night for many, many moons where I won't call myself a graduate student (read: 'poor'). After five years, 5 1/2 cities, 5 1/2 jobs, and a few overdoses of lack-of-direction, it seems I've found a good outlet for my next half-decade plus. I'll be working on a phd in biophysics here in Chicago. Namely, I'll be working on acquiring the Insert-Word-That-Starts-with-"D" + Doctor appendage to my ford-dealership-esque name. What any of what I just wrote means, please consult the authorities.

Please don't for a second fool yourself into thinking I have the first clue what I'll due upon (fingers crossed) graduation. If anything, this allows me to put off those heady questions for even longer. Huzzah! In the meantime, I plowed through alot of introspection determining the right program in the right city at the right time. For that, I am quite pleased.

I bid a fond farewell to grossly underpaying jobs that, nevertheless, were pretty cool in their own ways. I have admittedly gone through extended periods of silence over the last three years that drove most readers elsewhere. I can't blame them. Although I'm going to be busy, I anticipate that this bloggy blog will continue to stay alive...and likely morph into something a bit more involved in the near future.

Cheerio. Yummy O-ee-O.


Excuses, excuses

Among my handful of other excuses for being close-lipped this last month, I managed to make off like a bandit with my parent's car in Spokane and tear across the country back to Chicago. Please see some nifty pictures from K and I's trip.

Alaska '08

I've been less than garrulous lately. One reason for that is I disappeared to Alaska with my family for 10 days at the very end of July and into August. Here are some pictures AND (dun dun dun dun) video clips from the trip. The video comes from either a regular camera or a phone, so don't be expecting Lucas Film here.


Apparently, there's a new Batman movie

Warning: Annoying Movie Thoughts/Spoilers Ahead:

I finally joined the ranks of Batman: The Dark Knight viewers yesterday. I went into this movie with massive expectations, so the fact that it didn’t disappoint speaks volumes. I’m guessing I’ll be watching this one for years to come. Here’s some of my thoughts:

I was looking forward to a deeply sinister Joker. However, I thought his malevolence and sadism would be counterbalanced by a twisted lovability. Although he does carry out elaborate, and carefully-crafted schemes, I was hoping he would engage in battles of verbal wits or present his diabolical plans in puzzle form. Instead, Ledger’s Joker was a demented sociopath with little to love and much to revile. Since this is surely what the directors intended, I need another viewing to see if the notion grows on me. My first reaction, however, was nostalgia for the color of past characterizations.

Michael Caine gave my favorite performance as Bruce Wayne’s butler. Urbane, wise, proper, and sensitive, all flavored by a tiny sprinkling of silliness, he pulled off the role impeccably. I also continue to like Christian Bale as Wayne/Batman, although his Batman voice makes me cringe occasionally.

It’s impossible not to leave satiated by the eye candy. And sorry, Maggie Gyllenhaal, I like you but I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about sweeping panoramic shots of Hong Kong’s and Chicago/Gotham’s skylines, the underground laboratories, the sonar-generated simulations of various scenes around Gotham delivered by cell phone signals (neato idea), and of course, the action scenes (four of which were filmed at IMAX grade)…

…which leads me to my next point: nice work showcasing yourself, Chicago. My newly adopted city opened its arms to maniacal car chases on Wacker and demolitions aplenty and carried it all off with aplomb, if I do say so myself. Let me add, though, that it’s rare to see a firebombed semi on LaSalle. I always keep my eyes open for these things and have only spotted 2 or 3 in the last year. Also, I know the ferries were departing from the pier, but where, exactly, were they headed? Michigan? I was cool with considering the Chicago River as a barrier to the north and west, but gosh, those Gothamers might have considered spilling out the South Loop and catching I-90…needless to say, those parts took some suspension of disbelief, which I was more than willing to indulge.

As far as the issues go, terrorism and balance-of-power stand out. The Joker’s terrorism, however, is better characterized as anarchy. He is a walking oxymoron in that he employs shrewd reasoning to prove logic and order non-existent. Ultimately, he partially succeeds. Dent rots as a bastardized Two-Face and Batman flees with an angry Gotham at his heels. A few people make the decision—as a few made critical decisions earlier in the movie—that the truth cannot be tolerated by the masses. So really, The Joker has played a draw.

How this movie is rated PG-13, however, is something far beyond my analytical capabilities.