Archive for November, 2008

Invisible Ingenuity

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

I love books. This is an understatement. I am a bibliophile. And being such leaves my immediate surroundings in imminent danger of being overrun with them. I have books everywhere. Piles and stacks all over. I have bookshelves filled. I have makeshift bookshelves. I have even turn my fireplace mantle into a bookshelf. And recently, I found the most exciting inventions…the invisible bookshelf. I love it. I have five so far. I have ordered more. And I intend on ordering even more.

It is really simple but ingenious. It is an L-shaped metal thing you screw into the wall. You use the cover of a book to hold the books up and then stack x amount of books on top of the first book. Voila! Instant invisible shelf. It appears as if the books are floating on the wall. =) A magical bookshelf, indeed.

Here are some of mine (albeit, the photographs aren’t really good…):

And they are uber cheap! Space-saving, ingenious bookshelves! I love them. You can get them in two sizes: Small and Large. The small covers most books. The large, really does hold LARGE books. =) You can get them here.

Fully-trained human…

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Yes, I am a fully trained-human. The crows have me trained. I started feeding them on a regular basis a few months back. I put bread out on my porch and they take it. I did this daily for a few weeks. Its fun for me, I know, I am a geek. At any rate, I discovered the crows prefer peanuts to bread and so I switched to leaving gobs of peanuts every morning on my porch. There has been a learning curve here but not for the birds, for me.

They caw, then wait for their peanuts. This is a daily routine.

(Pictures deleted)
Lesson 1 in the crows training program was teaching me their preferential diet. I learned they preferred peanuts over bread. They would leave the bread for last and gobble up the peanuts like they were going out of style.

Lesson 1 (a): Neighbors do not appreciate when you leave peanuts (or bread) on the shared walkway/porch. They get angry and show this anger in passive-aggressive ways, such as sweeping aggressively outside your door while hitting it repeatedly and forcefully with each stroke. Then later opening the door quickly trying to “catch” you feeding the birds, only to smile and shut their door calmly as if it doesn’t matter, never saying anything to you. I learned it was better to place the peanuts (and/or bread) on the ledge of the porch, rather than the walkway, and sweep up the mess after every feeding.

Lesson 2: Scheduled feedings. I have an irregular schedule. The birds…not so much. It just so happened that I would feed the birds in the morning when everyone left. It was a fluke really, not intended to create a pattern. The birds thought otherwise. One day I forgot to put peanuts out and they began cawwing. How cute. =) It reminded me to put the peanuts out, and so I did. A few days go by, I remember to feed them, no problem. Then, I fell asleep on my couch one morning and did not put peanuts out for them, oops. They tried to cawww outside my door but I was too sleepy. I thought to myself, “self, they can wait.” This didn’t go over very well with the crows. They cawwed and cawwed for about a half hour. Then they decided to take it a step further. They went onto the roof and to my chimney and started cawwing down it. It echoed down my unused fireplace and throughout my acoustically-amplified apartment. They were determined to get me to feed them. And I did.

And now I am officially trained. They know how to get me to feed them and do so on a regular basis, much to the chagrin of my neighbors. =/ Oops.

I think a peanut dispenser is the logical next step for us, the birds and me. Any suggestions on how I can train them?

American Culture, Infectious?

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

Over the years I have heard many a complaint about how America’s culture, or lack thereof, is invading other countries through our mindless, moral-less television programs and capitalistic ways. While I do believe in capitalism, albeit, I prefer soft capitalism, I rarely watch TV but that sense of shame, upon hearing the arguments about our overwhelming blame in the erosion of world culture, does not escape me . I know I am not alone in this feeling, almost every American intellectual I know has some variant of this guilt, be it little or looming.1 It stems from the attitudes expressed throughout the world. Many people in many societies find it easy to believe the U.S. is the primary cause of their own social ills.2 Often cited are our television programs and our capitalistic franchises; from Jerry Springer to McDonald’s to George W. Bush, everything becomes our fault.

Despite taking on some of this guilt, I have defended my country arduously, particularly, in the last eight years. I will continue to do so now. We are not our television programs. We are not our franchises. We are not our Government, no matter how corrupt it may or may not be. As much as any other country in the world, we are victims of the same mindless, detrimental crap. And despite all of this, I am not at all convinced this corruption stems from us anyways. Certainly, we play our part in the grand scheme but with a little research, it is easy to see we are hardly the cause.

Let’s begin with the evil franchise. Yes, we have built parasitic empires now thriving the world over (McDonald’s…Starbucks…Microsoft). We are guilty of being extremely successful in “franchising” but we are hardly responsible for its invention. This concept has been around a long time, folks. The first documented franchise was in France in 1232. 3 So, I say, let’s blame the French.

And what about all the good things we’ve given the world? Here is a list…perhaps not even a complete list, but a fun list:

The Computer, google, iPods, roller skates, mechanical refrigerators, water towers, oil wells, the burglar alarm, the motorcycle, the vacuum cleaner, the subway, the telegraph, the telephone, even the mobile phone, dentist drill, cash register, hearing aids, electric fan, fountain pen, the skyscraper, the electric iron, the fuel pump (gas station, petrol pump — station), blue jeans, the electric motor, the Ferris wheel, the escalator, the smoke detector, radio (although this is disputed), the tractor, cotton candy, the volleyball, the zipper, crayons, windshield wipers, the first safety razor, the spray gun, the coffee pot, the lock-stitch sewing machine, the combine, the motorcycle (aka the motorbike), toilet paper, Coke, the record (vinyl), the revolving door, the Popsicle (aka the Icy Pole), tea bags, Self Starter (for cars — replacing the crank), Wirephoto (think Western Union), BAND-AIDs, tape (both masking and scotch…aka cello or sticky), Liquid-Fueled Rockets, the Bread Slicer, the jukebox, Bubble Gum, sunglasses, frozen food, the bathysphere, the Chocolate Chip Cookie, the particle accelerator, Radio Astronomy, the chair lift, the photocopier, nylon, the defibrillator, the microwave oven, The Polaroid and digital camera, the video game, radiocarbon dating, the disposable diaper (aka Nappies), the heart-lung machine, the nuclear submarine (inventive, not necessarily good), the Polio vaccine, birth-control pills, the laser, the computer mouse, the internet (TCP/IP), operating systems, the wide-body airplane, optical fiber, e-mail, the electronic calculator, barcode for products, human-powered flight, space shuttles, GUIs, The Red Cross, the artificial heart, the Hubble Telescope, the Galileo, stem-cell line, HPV vaccine and last but not definitely not the least important…Scrabble!!!

So, I dare say…that McDonald’s and Jerry Springer do not make up the majority of what we’ve given to the world.

We will accept three-quarters responsibility for George W., since he was born and raised here and some of our constituents actually did vote for him. However, he was elected under the most dubious of circumstances and the process was fraught with deception and illegal tactics. We are sorrier than you can imagine about George W.!!!4

Let us not forget the many unpleasant people who did not come from the United States of America. We can thank Australia for Rupert Murdoch, arguably one of the most evil people on the planet. Our beloved Jerry Springer is a London-native brought over at the age of five…after his most-formative years cemented in British culture.5 And while we are pointing our fingers at the Queen’s home, I will go ahead and mention that most of our mind-rotting television programs originated in London. We are simply copy-cats in that regard. From “Three’s Company” in the 1970’s to the influx of ridiculous and most-obnoxious “reality TV” shows permeating every channel today…i.e. “American Idol”, “Survivor” etc. all stem from British TV. So, we could blame the Brits for the rotten television we now produce.

But is it really any one country’s fault the world is changing? Societies are melding into less personal, more commercial groups of disconnected peoples. This is reality. Who is at fault? The French who gave us franchising and an excessive need to accessorize? The Belgians who gave us the “french” fries? The Germans who gave us the “hamburger”? The Colombians for their coffee bean? The Brits who gave us poor television programming and well, they are the parents of the U.S., are they not? The Australians for giving us the most-evil social conservative ever (Rupert Murdoch)? The Americans who run far and wide with ideas, good and bad? The Chinese with their lead-riddled products falling apart in every corner of the globe? Or the Japanese with their excessively-small electronic parts and economic-cars clogging up every street and landfill?

I think it is all too convoluted and interconnected to disentangle the roots of blame.

Let’s just blame Canada6.

We each have a place in this new amalgamated culture permeating the world. We each have our responsibilities and contributions to the enmeshment of our societies. So, love us or hate us… we are not to blame for every ill in your society. Many of your countries had their own social-diseases long before we even became a country. We are the not perfect but we are not the root of all evil either.

So, get a new excuse on why your country is falling apart, why your children seem to have lost their moral compass, or why your alarm clock doesn’t wake you up in the morning. =)

  1. http://www.americans-world.org/digest/global_issues/globalization/culture.cfm []
  2. http://www.loveushateus.com/main.asp?id=88 []
  3. http://ezinearticles.com/?Buy-N-Sell—History-of-Franchises&id=1661033 []
  4. For the record, I did not vote for George W. Bush in either election and I did vote for President Elect Barack Obama!!!! []
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Springer []
  6. Just kidding! A little South Park humor … something someone told me once, I never seen the episode myself []

Obama and Socialism

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

What Barack Obama is proposing is FAR from socialism. What he proposes is ensuring that ALL citizens abide by the current and long-held progressive tax code in our country. In a progressive tax code if you make more, you will pay more. That is common sense. The same is true when you go shopping. When you go to the store, if you buy 3 items that cost $1.00 each, your total will be $3 + tax. They tax you “x” amount, depending on your state, for each dollar. So, if you buy $3 worth of products, you will pay tax on three dollars. It is each dollar that is taxed. If you purchase $30 worth of products, you will pay tax on all thirty dollars. This is OUR PROGRESSIVE SALE TAX folks. This is the same way our income tax. This is NOT socialism.

The McCain campaign started this malarkey about Obama wanting Socialism in our country. This is ridiculous. This same campaign tried to paint him as an elitist. How can he be both an elitist and a socialist? They are polar opposites! I won’t even belabor the point of this $700+ billion dollar bailout for the banking industry which was corporate socialism led by a Republican Administration.
However, I digress. I think some of you misled, discouraged McCain supporters need a little lesson in socialism. Let me try to keep it simple for you, I know you don’t like to think.

Firstly, Socialism was thought to be the direct and natural outgrowth of Democracy (i.e. when the people got sick of the few who owned everything and used them as slave labor, getting richer by the people’s work and doing little for the people… then the people would revolt and thusly a revolution would begin by the people, for the people). Socialism starts with the workers or the majority of the people. It is not started by the President! This negates your very premise of Obama wanting to make the U.S. a socialist society. Just the fact that he ran for President negates the premise of socialism’s equal power amongst the people. Socialists believe that political power is not true power because by the very nature of having political power in a Democracy means having more access to wealth than others. In Socialism, EVERYONE IS EQUAL.

Moreover, Socialism is about ownership of the wealth. This has nothing to do with our tax system. Ensuring those who make $1 or over $250,000 or anywhere in between, pay their taxes is NOT socialism, it is lawful reasoning. It is fair. This doesn’t reward the slackers. If someone is a drunk, crack-addicted couch potato… which is a strange, unrealistic speculation in the first place, they won’t be making money either way. They won’t be getting any tax breaks. They won’t be getting any extra wealth. Neither will Richie Rich, who owns a multi-billion dollar company, be paying more than he is LEGALLY supposed to pay. Would you argue so adamantly if Richie Rich went to the grocery store and got $15,000 worth of groceries but didn’t want to pay as much tax as he owes on that $15,000? I mean it is the same context. Yes, when you look at the sales tax for $15,000 worth of groceries, it is going to be astronomical… probably even MORE than everyday people buy in groceries in a month or a few months but do you see how it is still necessary for him to pay it? OH! WELL! Then… can’t you see how it is still necessary for Richie Rich to pay his legal amount of income taxes, no matter how high it may appear?

I digress, yet again.

Socialism advocates public ownership of all major corporations, industries, schools, banks, transportation, insurance companies, manufacturing companies, energy, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies… even the media etc. So, in a socialist society all these industries and corporations make their money by the people and thus belong to the people. Obama has NOT in any way, shape or form proposed public ownership of corporations or hospitals or transportation or media or anything else. Ensuring all Americans have access to healthcare is not eliminating private insurance nor private medical practices or private hospitals or private pharmaceutical companies. It simply allots more of the taxes we pay into the government towards ensuring everyone has health insurance coverage.

Furthermore, socialism encourages only making what you need. In a socialist society you would go to the store and instead of seeing 200 different kinds of cereal, you would see 1 or 2 or maybe 3, the ones people had voted were their favorites. I know. I’ve been to a socialist country. No one is starving or homeless but choices are lacking. There is no need for 200 choices of cereals in a socialist society. They focus on making just what we need, not all that we want. Obama has not discouraged market competition, in fact, he is very much in favor of it. Did you listen to his ideas about science, technology and space? Did you hear his thoughts on innovative new green technology and how it can make us more competitive in the world market? That is NOT socialist talk, folks! That is Capitalism through and through.

Barack Obama is NOT going to bring socialism to the United States, not by any stretch of the imagination. Relax. Breathe. Sit down….read a book. I suggest the following reads:

Communist Manifesto
Socialism: A Very Short Introduction
http://users.comcen.com.au/~marcn/redflag/archive/harman/hmw/

Courage Restored

Friday, November 7th, 2008

I find myself speechless, in awe of what has happened in my country this week. History was written, hope was rewarded and courage restored. We, the people, can look each other in the eye once again and relate to our neighbors and strangers alike. We can have conversations with people outside our country and be proud without defending our people without defending the atrocities done by our Government, a Government we DID NOT ELECT. In the past few days I have cried eight years worth of tears…tears for the democracy and liberty we had stolen from us, tears for the forced alienation from one another, convinced we were too different we simply drifted alone, tears for the loss of all we were taught to aspire for and work towards.

In the past eight years I have been shackled in a fear-driven silent withdrawal. Constantly reminded of the ridiculousness of it all through not-so-subtle innuendos about a lack of patriotism for those of us who had mindfully dissented against the tyranny of the Bush Administration. And after so many years, I must admit, I felt broken … incapable of making change. I grew weary of defending myself and my point-of-view. I continued to speak against torture, against warrantless spying, against the injustices and the loss of liberty but I started to believe there was no going back, I started to lose hope. I was afraid to hope.

Barack Obama gave me and others the right to hope that we can reverse the damage done to our Democracry, to the Constitution. Barack Obama restored our courage to have hope. This is our moment. We believed, we had hope and it paid off. Here’s to hoping the next four years we see some of the damages and neglect tended to in a way that restores our international and domestic legitimacy. Here’s to hoping we can stand tall next to one another and work our way towards a brighter future for our children and our children’s children. Three cheers for hope!

I missed you. I missed me. I feel as if a part of me has returned home after a long absence. I am bewildered and excited but I fumble the words in awkward earnest. I am grateful. I am hopeful. I am humbled. And I am ready to march forward together to restore this country to its greatness.

President Obama restore our Constitution!

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

This is an important topic. As of January 20th, Obama will be in office. It is important we begin immediately working to restore our Constitution. This article is well written and to the point. We must stop warrant-less spying. We must stop torture, close Guantanamo, shut down the military commissions, end “extraordinary renditions”…read on.

read more | digg story

Thank you Obama

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Thank you Obama for returning to us our hope.
Thank you for restoring our faith in one another.
Thank you for bringing us all together once again.
Thank you for pointing us towards what we have in common.
Thank you for showing us we can make a change.
Thank you for allowing us to have hope that no matter how it turns out at least we stood up again.
Thank you for caring about us when we had all but given up hope.
Thank you for wanting to make a difference.
Thank you for preparing yourself to do just that.
Thank you for understanding what our country needed.
Thank you for staying positive when things were so bleak and ugly.
Thank you for promoting light and never darkness.
Thank you for having a level-head and a calm demeanor.
Thank you for reflecting your calm confidence onto our country.
Thank you for running for President despite your unlikely win.
Thank you for believing in the American people and giving us a chance to believe in you and ourselves again.
Thank you for standing tall despite the constant personal attacks during this campaign.
Thank you for being practical and having good sense.
Thank you for surrounding yourself with intelligent people who feel hard work is important.
Thank you for choosing Joe Biden as your Vice President running mate.
Thank you for paying attention to situations and making informed decisions upon them.

Thank you Joe Biden for giving us the slogan, “Get up champ!” to turn back to in the roughest times.
Thank you Joe Biden for caring about the working people.
Thank you Joe Biden for demonstrating thorough knowledge of both domestic and international situations.
Thank you Joe Biden for joining Barack Obama in this tumultuous time to restore the American Dream.
Thank you Joe Biden for being someone I know I can believe will do the right thing for the citizens.
Thank you Joe Biden for struggling against deep-rooted politics and doing what is right.
Thank you Joe Biden for talking straight, even if others think you are long-winded. I think you are genuine.

And thank you both for being genuinely intelligent and likeable people who will lead our country back to its original stance in the world, the real beacon of hope.

And thanks to your campaign managers because they did an awesome job rounding up all of your supporters and giving them back the power in the electoral process, something that had been stolen from us the past two elections.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! =)

I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work! I do not need to wait till January 1st. You are MY president TODAY!!!! WHERE TO NOW BOSS? Let’s get to it… together we can restore the American Dream, the American Reputation and the faith in one another.

Congratulations President Obama!!!!

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

YES WE CAN!!!

YES WE CAN!!!

YES WE CAN!!!

YES WE CAN!!!

Congratulations Barack!

 

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!

Do NOT Forget to Vote