Sunday, August 31, 2008

We're Great--Because We Say So!

A friend of my wife's sent her an email post essentially cheerleading for how wonderful women are. Frankly, I agree that women are wonderful, but not for any of the reasons on THIS list:

It is good to be a woman:
1. We got off the Titanic first.
2. We can scare male bosses with the mysterious gynecological disorder excuses.
3. Taxis stop for us.
4. We don't look like a frog in a blender when dancing.
5. No fashion faux pas we make, could ever rival the Speedo.
6. We don't have to pass gas to amuse ourselves.
7. If we forget to shave, no one has to know.
8. We can congratulate our teammate without ever touching her rear end.
9. We never have to reach down every so often to make sure our privates are still there.
10. We have the ability to dress ourselves.
11. We can talk to the opposite sex without having to picture them naked.
12. If we marry someone 20 years younger, we are aware t hat we will look like an idiot.
13. We will never regret piercing our ears.
14. There are times when chocolate really can solve all your problems.
15. We can make comments about how silly men are in their pres ence because they aren't listening anyway.

So I thought I'd come up with my own variation on this list:

It stinks to be a man:
1. Women got off the Titanic because men were self-sacrificing gentlemen--but if we hadn't been, they'd still be holding a grudge over that one
2. Women use "women's problems" to get out of things, and we know it, but it's just not worth the resulting trip to "sensitivity training" to call them on it
3. If we do get a taxi, along comes some woman who expects us to give it to her
4. Women are convinced we should have to dance, and then make fun of us when we do
5. Women can make fun of our clothes, but to say their's are anything less than spectacular is instant doom. Oh, and it's our fault for panty-hose and high-heels, too.
6. If a few mentally-deficient dorks find passing gas amusing, we ALL get blamed for it
7. If we forget to shave they refuse to kiss us
8. If we smack our teammates on the butt to congratulate them it's a "guy thing" and therefore wrong
9. Women would rather have us be in pain than let us adjust things when our clothing pinches
10. No matter how well we dress ourselves, it'll be wrong to some woman
11. Women always think we are imagining them naked, and if we aren't, they think we're gay
12. Women can marry a man for his money, but we can't marry a woman because she's young
13. Women assume we should want to pierce our ears
14. Women hog all the chocolate, whine about being fat as a result, but we'd better not notice
15. Women insult us right in front of us, but you may as well pretend you're not listening because you're just not going to win that fight, even if you win that fight. Better to just dump her and marry someone 20 years younger who will appreciate you
16. If women post an "anti-man" list like above, it's just "Grrrrl Power". If men post an "anti-woman" list we're sexist pigs

Now, I don't for one minute think woman are as bad as that. At least most. This is just to show how easy it is to turn such ridiculous drivel around on itself. Things like this really don't help, folks. People who have to work so hard to make themselves feel good have problems, frankly. They wouldn't have to justify themselves. Greatness should be self-evident. A true lady never has to aggrandize herself at the expense of others.

You go, grrrl! No really, I mean it. The door's over there.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Meet the Palins

The more I learn about Sarah Palin the more I like her. Shes' quite probably the candidate many conservatives wish had been nominated instead of McCain.

But to change the topic just a littlle, my wife and I once had a discussion on who we wished we could look like. I can't even remember who I said now, but I will have to put Sarah's husband Todd on my list. (Picture here) He's quite the good-looking guy, reminds me a little of Kyle Chandler. (Oh come on, people! Don't tell me guys don't pay attention to who/what women find attractive!)

Anyway, if nothing else, her selection has taken all the press away from the DNC and Obama/Biden. I may find this election cycle entertaining for more than just its train-wreck similarities yet!

Where Have I been?

I watched Obama's acceptance speech last night, and I learned a few things:

1) I'm becoming more like my dad all the time. I found myself arguing out loud with the television. That used to bother me when my dad did it. *sigh*

2) I am the "Golden Child". To hear Obama tell it, everyone else in this country has had to wade through eight years of absolute misery as George "Chimpy McBushitler" Bush repeatedly kicked them in the head with spike-toed boots. I somehow avoided all that. While everyone else was being marched off to the gulag, I:
- Significantly increased my income
- Bought a larger home, which is still worth more than I paid for it
- Went back to college and got a second degree
- Lost a job, but got another, better-paying one
- Had three kids, and have two of them in a public school I consider quite good
- Added a second vehicle to the family
- Do feel safer now than after 9/11

Now, I'll be the first to say that I HAVE been very fortunate/blessed. Things have really worked out well for us, more likely in spite of rather than because of anything I've done. That said, the government was there to help when I needed it, and has not gotten in my way the rest of the time (sure, we'd all love to avoid paying taxes if we could, but I don't begrudge paying them, either).

In short, the situation Obama presented last night bears very little resemblance to my life. I know, he was playing to his base. He wasn't talking to me. I'm the enemy.I'm one of those fathers he talked about who need to take responsibility for their families (I thought I was--silly me). I'm one of those horrible people who believes we can do more WITHOUT the government's interfere-- I mean, help.

All I heard from him last night was a lot of vague promises and lofty goals. I can't argue with many of them. I'd like to see all that too. Where we disagree is what we need to do to get there. He wants to raise taxes and make the government take over doing all that for us. I believe that will just bring us more of those government programs that aren't working that he intends to cut (and won't be able to, as his own party will scream bloody murder if he touches most of them).

Now, I have to give the guy a break. He's a constitutional law professor, not trained in business or economics. But I DO have an MBA, thank you very much, and I can tell you that if you raise taxes on businesses, force them to pay higher benefits for less work, put up barriers for off-shoring, throw up trade barriers (he doesn't think the other countries will respond in kind?), and tax the owners of those companies for making too much, the result will NOT be more, higher-paying jobs.

Those companies will cut costs further, which likely means fewer jobs, which puts less money into consumption, which cycles around and around and sinks our economy even faster. He may be able to deliver all those new jobs from alternative energy he spoke of. But it won't be fast enough to avoid at least three more years of economic hardship. Until they can get the infrastructure in place to generate and deliver the energy the only sector that will benefit is construction--not bad jobs, but not the good-paying jobs he promises.

Instead we'll get even higher taxes as he pours more money on the problem through unemployment benefits. Nope, sorry. I don't see that working.

I won't go so far as to say that if Obama wins we'll see all the misery and horror he attributes to the Bush Administration. But I am pretty sure if he gets his way we'll NOT be better off in four years than we are today.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Prediction? Pain!!

McCain is supposed to announce his running mate tomorrow. Given all the fun they're having with P.U.M.A.s (Party Unity, My A**) and Hillary-ites at the DNC, I'm going to predict McCain will chose a female VP. Who? Good question. I don't know anything about Sarah Palin, and Carly Fiorina doesn't have a good name in these parts (though I do believe her Compaq merger has been largely vindicated). I've heard Meg Whitman also forwarded, but I have my doubts there. So I won't say who, just predict it'll be a "she", for the following reasons:

- It'll show many of the Hillary-ites that the GOP is willing to do what the "diversity party" is not.
- A smart, sharp woman should have no trouble making Biden look silly, if not downright mean.
- It'll spread the "historical moment" concept around more. Sure, a female VP is not as historical as a black president, but it reduces that as the ONLY reason to vote for Obama.
- At least two of the mentioned choices could bolster the "economics experience" deficiency in the McCain ticket, not to mention shift the discussion on foreign affairs toward trade and protectionism--an area where the Obama campaign is weak.

The more I think about it, the more I'd like to see Carly Fiorina as VP. She'd have the sharp business mind of Cheney without the connection to Big Ooooooooooil! And she's been at ground zero of the Outsourcing issue for years. She's not afraid of controversy, and she's got plenty of on-camera experience. She's clear and succinct, which should expose Biden for the blow-hard he is. The only drawback is the perception of her as being a bit TOO hard. I haven't seen her speak for awhile. Perhaps she's softened her edges a bit?

Of course now that I've made this prediction I've pretty much guaranteed that McCain will pick a guy. On that topic I'm mute, though it appears that Romney and Orson Scott Card feel the same on the idea of Romney as VP. As Romney said in an interview yesterday, McCain can probably take Utah without him on the ticket.

Anyway, tomorrow we may know who it will be. If McCain picks well he should be able to easily undo any "bump" Obama gets from Biden and the convention (and from what I've heard, there was no Biden bump).

This is where it starts to get interesting, folks.

UPDATE: Well, I got it partly right. McCain has picked a woman, Sarah Palin. Interesting factoid: She was born in Idaho and got her degree from University of Idaho.

Rip Obama, Go To Jail

It appears the Obama campaign is filing a criminal complaint against a political group that paid for an ad about his connection with terrorist Bill Ayers. Can you imagine what this guy would do with the power of the Executive Branch behind him? Why, he'd probably do all the things they accuse Bush of!

Let's go over it again, folks. Do NOT question, criticize, or attack the Chosen One! Only a racist would do that. And if you do, you'll go to jail.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Living the Prophecy

Orson Scott Card's latest column convinced me to read a speech Alexander Solzhenitsyn gave at Harvard in which he gives a very pointed criticism of the West. He is spot on...and he gave this speech in 1978.
But the fight for our planet, physical and spiritual, a fight of cosmic proportions, is not a vague matter of the future; it has already started. The forces of Evil have begun their decisive offensive, you can feel their pressure, and yet your screens and publications are full of prescribed smiles and raised glasses. What is the joy about?
The joy is because we have abolished Evil by denying its existence. We are, in essence, celebrants at the Masque of the Red Death.

Anyway, read it. Incredible stuff.

What Happened in Georgia

Michael Totten reports:
"On the evening of the 7th, the Ossetians launch an all-out barrage focused on Georgian [i]villages[/i], not on Georgian positions. Remember, these Georgian villages inside South Ossetia--the Georgians have mostly evacuated those villages, and three of them are completely pulverized. That evening, the 7th, the president gets information that a large Russian column is on the move. Later that evening, somebody sees those vehicles emerging from the Roki tunnel [into Georgia from Russia]. Then a little bit later, somebody else sees them. That's three confirmations. It was time to act."

The "invasion" of South Ossetia was to try and cut off the Russian advance. It was by no means the first act of aggression. The war had already been under way for days. Read this article for a full timeline of what really happened.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tech To Get Excited About

From "Exoskeleton suit helps paralyzed people walk"

A good and real example of "Better living through technology".

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Energy Independence - Not So Great?

John Stossel, in this article, says no.

He makes some good points.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Apt Term of the Day

I met a colleague today who described himself as being in "Shiny Object Mode". He can only focus on something for a brief period before something else draws his interest. "Oooh! Shiny!"

Parlez-vous Olympics?!

In my ongoing quest to convince you all just how hip, cool, and cosmopolitan we are I just have to tell you that we had Chinese visitors this weekend. And we have my in-laws to thank for it.

I've probably mentioned before that my father-in-law is a researcher in fluid power. His university has a cooperation program with a university in China, through which he has become good friends with one of the researchers there. He always takes good care of my in-laws whenever they visit China, and he always visits them when he is in Finland. The man has practically become family.

He and his family are on a vacation in the U.S., and we happen to be more or less on their way. I'm not sure whose idea it was, but they decided to stop in and visit us yesterday. And considering how well they treat my wife's parents, we wouldn't settle for them getting a hotel. It would have been a blight on the family honor, so to speak.

They speak English very well, so we had a great time discussing cultures, their impressions of America, and so on. Our kids were over the moon with the whole situation (especially the Beijing 2008 Olympics caps they brought them), and their son was at least a very good sport about letting our kids show off for him. And our pets got a thorough petting. After we put our kids to bed I got to give them the "Two-hour Tour" of our city, which they seemed to appreciate.

Our friend confirmed something I've long suspected: my father-in-law is the hydraulics research field's equivalent of a rock star. This concept is understandably a bit hard for my wife to reconcile. Heck, it's even an odd thought for me with my family-by-marriage perspective. One of the top minds in hydraulics gives my children horsey-rides, likes watching the NBA, and eats hamburgers when his wife isn't around to stop him.

My side of the family is a bit more obscure. My father ran the equipment room for the local university P.E. department, and cleaned church buildings part-time. But I've seen his face during family gatherings as he watched his large, noisy muddle of kids, grand-kids, and great-grand-kids. I don't think he would have traded places with my father-in-law for anything.

I mention all of this not to compare fathers, necessarily, or to defend one over the other. Mostly I think I'm just pointing out that I've got an interesting life. Marriage is a portal into a whole different world you never would have known existed otherwise. I don't need to choose one world over the other. I'm free to explore both.

What a trip.

Our family friends are on their way to the coast today. They left us with a standing invitation to China. That would be an incredible opportunity, and with my life the way it is, I'm learning to never say never on things like this.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cowboy Diplomat

I missed this. Last week while President Bush was at the Olympics in Beijing he did an interview with Bob Costas that covered a lot of ground--very little of it about sports.

It occurred to me that the world seems to have a rather unrealistic expectation of world leaders, that they have all the right levers to push to make other leaders give in and do what is wanted. Such is not the case, especially with large countries like China and Russia.

I shouldn't be surprised if some of the people who are criticizing Bush for not doing enough to stop the Russians in Georgia are the same people who criticize him for rushing into war with Iraq--a process that took several years.

I just don't understand. Why is it not okay to militarily intervene against a nation that has invaded and threatened its neighbors and has expressed ill will toward the U.S. but it IS okay to militarily intervene against a nation that has invaded a neighbor but still has cordial relations with the U.S.? There's even oil involved in both cases.

People accuse Bush of inconsistency in his foreign policy, but see no inconsistency or downright contradiction in their own.

Even if Iraq had never happened and our military was still strong and rested I don't think we would--or should--be responding to the situation Georgia any differently than we are now.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Best Olympic Quote

"I tested it. I threw it in the pool and it didn't move at all," he said, "so I'll still have to swim."

- Markus Rogan, Australia, referring to the the high tech swimsuits many atheletes will be wearing this year.

Thoughts On Greatness

I just finished "John Adams". Again. It's still one of my favorite books. I really need to buy it some time and read the parts that were edited out of the audiobook.

Not that the book is entirely comfortable. In reading about a great man I can only concede the fact that I will never be one. It's not that I lack the ambition for greatness. I lack the discipline and strength of character. I'm a path-of-least-resistance, trade-better-for-good type, unfortunately. I suspect I should be following Salieri, the patron saint of mediocrities everywhere.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It's About Time

David Gilmour's son absolutely hated high school, and wanted to drop out. So Gilmour read between the lines and agreed. His son, Jesse, could drop out of school, but he had to stay home and watch movies with him. Jesse agreed and Gilmour, a film critic and documentary director, started the pair off on a three-year journey through over 350 films. Jesse eventually finished his GED and put in a year of college before pursuing a career in film himself.

In it all, I believe, lies an important lesson. According to Jesse:
“I don’t think you necessarily learn life lessons from films. I think the only life lessons you learn are from knocking yourself around and actually living. But we’d have conversations that sprang out of these films. I did learn from that, things guys need to talk about, heartbreak and drugs and all that. It happened to be movies, but it could have been something else my dad and I did. I think it was more about us spending time together.” (emphasis added)

Like, I'm Totally Voting For Paris?!

I heard Paris Hilton had filmed a response to John McCain's "Celebrity" ads. In spite of my loathing of all things "Paris", I finally broke down and watched it here.

I have to say I'm impressed. It's an excellent blend of self-parody and "right-back-at-ya" image defiance that, I believe, successfully puts her above and apart from the political fray.

Scary to say it, but this may even have raised my estimation of her a bit. I'm sure she had her PR people come up with the whole thing, but that she'd agree to go ahead with it shows a canny calculation that belies her bimbo personae.

That she's making regular trips to the bank is obvious. I sometimes wonder if she isn't laughing along the way.

EDIT: Here's some background on the video.

I Guess I'm A Racist

The Corner at NRO posts a "Foxworthy-esque" tool for determining if one is racist.

Some highlights:
4. If you're in favor of drilling for oil and building nuclear power plants you...may be a racist.
7. If your pastor is nothing like Rev. Wright or Father Pfleger you... may be a racist.
11. If you don't think America is a "downright mean" country you...may be a racist.
13. If you think the surge is working and that's a good thing you...may be a racist.
23. If you're not sure invading Pakistan is a particularly good idea—what with their nuclear weapons and all— you...may be a racist.

Guilty as charged.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Past Imperfect

I went to my 20-year high school reunion over the weekend. For the most part it was not that great an experience. But an impromptu session on Saturday morning has left me examining my past with a new perspective.

I was a "choir junkie" in high school. We had a terrific teacher who had put together one of the most successful programs in the state. I blossomed there in a way I never had in junior high school band. By the time I graduated I wanted to be a choir teacher, just like Mr. Bowman.

It took me seven years of college to finally realize that deep down I didn't want to teach after all.

One of my classmates had arranged a casual get-together with our choir teacher, who is now retired after a 35-year career. It was a thoroughly enjoyable visit in ways the official reunion the night before hadn't been. But during the visit I came to a realization that took 20 years to reach.

I could never have been a music teacher like Mr. Bowman. I lacked sufficient self-esteem and self-discipline, as well as a concern for others. I still do. I loved music. I loved making music. But that wouldn't have been enough.

The career I'm in now is not without its drawbacks, but it's much better than what I might have had if I had stuck with music. Just where I might have ended up it's rather pointless to speculate. But I doubt it would have been pretty.

But I wouldn't trade my high school choir memories--and my subsequent college career--for anything.