Monday, November 8, 2010

Pizza: think twice before your second slice

It's been a while, folks, but I'm here.

So, pizza... the great American dorm food.  Confession: although I have never actually liked pizza much, I have started this bizarre ritual of watching Biggest Loser on Tuesday nights while eating pizza and doing exercises on my yoga ball.  And I think that this may have to stop.  The pizza part only, that is- don't you dare take my Biggest Loser from me! ;)

So here's an interesting graphic (click on it to see the whole thing!!) from a recent New York Times article about pizza:
Keep in mind that this is thin crust and topping free.  Eww...saturated fat...

So the article discusses how even though the federal government is expressing repeated concerns about our egregious obesity stats, they don't seem to mind so much when economics is involved.  That is, a federal agency advised Domino's recently to add even more low-quality, high-fat cheese to its pizzas in order to boost sales.

Ok, I get that sometimes you just give people what they want: supply and demand.  This is the favored argument among violent tv supporters "We aren't out there to make kids bring guns to school, we just make violent shows because that's what sells and we're not responsible for its consequences."  I'm not convinced.

Particularly when this nation is trying (and failing) to take a better approach to health care and to tackle some of the issues that are draining our economy, such as the lost work days and medical expenses associated with heart disease, diabetes, and other obesity-related issues, this advice to Domino's seems counter-intuitive.  It's putting a BandAid on the economic problem for one company while perpetuating the problem of over-consumption (both stuff and calories) that has put this nation in the position that it is in now.

I would advise Domino's to start using locally-grown produce and meats at their individual restaurants for the toppings on pizza like peppers, onions, sausage, and so forth and then advertise THAT fact instead of advertising "Now More Cheese."  This would boost local economy, cut down on fuel used in shipping in produce and meats from farther away, show the public that this company is socially conscious and thereby boost their image and sales, and maybe even get a few more people to order the veggie pizza instead of the meatlovers (still not exactly a healthy dinner, but better than it could have been with even more gross cheese).

It's time to look at the bigger picture, instead of just focusing on our individual paycheck being bigger at the expense of everyone else's gut getting bigger.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Chalk another one up for the self-righteous American Protestant making a fool out of himself.

You call yourself a Christian?!  Sponsoring a Hitler-esque burning of the sacred text of a peaceful, global religion?  Whatever happened to "what would Jesus do" or "do unto others."  I'm pretty sure that Christianity is about loving your neighbor, and not about committing hate crimes.

I have great sympathy for Muslims with the widespread misperceptions and general mistrust that we often see associated with their religion.  Not only because of the time I spent in the Near East, figuring out how devoted and peaceable most Muslims are, but also because I find myself in similar peril.  Extremists ruin it for the rest of us.  Unfortunately, people that go off the deep end in the name of a good cause, can lead to the destruction of the image of that good cause.  Like Muslims, Mormons are also labelled according to the illegal acts of extremists.  The Mormon church WILL excommunicate any member of the church who practices polygamy.  End of story.  It's been this way since the 1800s.  However, some extremists with neither authority nor permission litter the front pages with scenes of backwards polygamous colonies out in the middle of nowhere, and thus people feel that all Mormons are nutty polygamist outlaws.


And of course, when we hear about extreme Jihadists committing terrorist attacks we assume that all Muslims are gonna take any chance they can get to kill some infidels.

Wrong again.

And if you are so naive as to think that is true, and honestly believe that all Muslims are evil, then at least you could be the bigger person by not trying to combat evil with evil.  It is not promoting peace by saying, "Hey, you wanna blow up buildings? Well fine, I'll insult you, your faith, and your ancestor's faith- boo ya!"  No.  That's taking you nowhere.

So next time you go on a crusade in the name of God, 1) Get your facts straight; and 2) Think about if what you are doing is HONESTLY promoting what you are pretending it does.  Because I'm pretty sure that burning the Quran isn't exactly the best way to make any Muslim like you any more.  Duh.

Friday, August 20, 2010

US "News"

So, I like how this is news in the US: "Palestine and Israel to resume direct talks, which is a victory for the Obama Administration."


Okay, so I remember Obama giving a great speech in Cairo about promoting peace in the Middle East a little over a year ago back when some people still liked him.  At the time, I liked the speech but did and still do doubt his personal ability to make two nations that have been pitted against each other for millennia best buddies.  Of course I want it to happen- Israel and Palestine are two of my favorite places in the entire world and they are currently ruining each other- and although the goal is noble, it is a little bit self-righteous to think that its just the sheer goodness of Team Obama + Hillary that will end the hatred sewn for generations.

So now that these two countries are resuming talks about building peace (not actually a big deal, they have been on and off again with this for a looooong time without making much, if any, progress) it is suddenly something that Team O+H considers a "victory" for themselves.  Although I'm sure that Hillary in all her lovely menacingness has been putting pressure on the leaders of these countries to work things out, if she has actually had any real influence on this decisions it is just because their chiefs of staff are tired of taking her nasty messages down and caved.  (I would agree to do a lot more than just "talk" to get her off my back too!)

So the moral of the story is, don't be fooled by the media- the Middle East is not the puppet of the current Administration, in some ways, it is actually quite the opposite that is true. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Why Most Vegetarians are Morons, And Why I Almost Want to be One

What follows is an expose on my thoughts about Vegetarianism primarily from a health and wellbeing perspective, with hints of politics and religion:

As some of you know, the book that provoked this discussion was The Jungle by Upton Sinclair- a classic piece of American literature which, after reading, I find easy to imagine that it made even the great outdoorsman Teddy Roosevelt become a vegetarian.  It contains an account based loosely on the real experiences of the author as he observed living and working conditions in Chicago at the height of the meat packing industry's influence post-industrial revolution.  It tells of the gruesome slaughterhouses that chewed up and spit out men as well as beasts and marketed to the world as Grade A what was really mixed with rats, the bread that the rats had eaten, the poison put on the bread to kill the rats, limbs of workers, bloody spews of workers with consumption, blood mopped up off the floor, fillers like potato remnants, animals with tuberculosis, and so on and so on and so on.  Disgusting.

As is made clear in the documentary Food, Inc. (available on Netflix- watch it!), food companies market their products with tender farm scenes, nostalgic red barns, and rolling green hills when, in reality, there is nothing happy and farmy about where most of our food comes from.  Animals are jam packed in crowded and sunless buildings, trampling over dead caracases as they struggle to get some festering water, many of them ill and dying, being shot-up with antibiotics, and living anything but a blissful Old MacDonald existance.

If you decide that enough is enough, and that you will no longer support an industry that is cruel to animals and unfair to its underpaid illegal immigrant labor force, then I applaude you.  I am right there with you.  But I'm not convinced that the answer is pure veganism.  Instead, I have been really trying to buy local meat from Mennonites (that's the beauty of Pennsylvania) or other organic farmers in my area with actual FARMS, not puppy-mill style feed lots, and I've been eating meat hunted and prepared by Dan's uncle (that's as organic as it gets!), or at least organic meat that was not hormone or antibiotic treated that was fed with grass, not the cheaper corn which makes cattle fat, but ill.  There are ways to still respect animals and to make sure that the animal products you eat came from animals that were treated humanely and were healthy themselves before they wind up on your plate.  Fortunatley, we live in an age where there is the availability of organic, respectfully raised animals- you just have to be willing to pay for it.  But, as demand increases and producers wise up, surely prices will decrease for all of us- so make it happen!

That being said, although Vegetarianism for a cause is noble, I have personally never known even ONE vegetarian who lived their lives the way they do as a political protest against the unsavory meatpacking industry.  If that was their cause, then they would not have a problem eating meat that was raised with love by Mennonite Mo next door.  They ignorantly munch on their artificial crab (you know that's just food colored fish, right??) yet shun the free range chicken fed quality food and treated well by its owners who bring it fresh to you from the next town over.  This makes NO SENSE to me and to try to back themselves up for their illogical choices, there are a variety of other reasons that I have seen people give for their vegetarianism, each with varying levels of idiocy.

1. "After watching Bambi, I just couldn't eat meat anymore."
Oh, please.  As the scriptures state, God has given man dominion over the animals- it is our right to have what we need. (see Genesis or Moses)  That being said, scripture also cautions men to eat meat sparingly, for this is right in the Lord's eyes. (see Doctrine & Covenants 89)  From that, it sounds like God isn't too fond of killing Bambi just for the sake of killing either.  But if there is a need, which there is- we need at least 30 grams of protein everyday for our bodies to function properly- then there is no moral wrong to humanely  killing the animals you need to sustain human life and then to make frugal use of the animal.  And if you're so sad about bambi, why do you still drink milkshakes made from the milk of a sick old cow pumped up with hormones while its utters are jerked around by a machine?  And yes, that same milk is dehydrated and made into the powdered cheese on your Doritos.  You can't escape it.  If you honestly can't stand the killing of an animal, why have you ever eaten a cupcake made with the unborn young of a chicken cramped inside a dark and dirty shed?  Or used glue?  You cannot escape the fact that we are surrounded by products with animal derivatives.  Animals provide a useful means of creating the things that we need daily.  Like you, I wish that they were treated better and killed in more humane ways, but not eating meat is not going to get your point across.  You are still coming into contact with, using, and probably eating animal products everyday.  A better route to vent your concerns would be through the political process, not naively thinking that you can change the world by eating grilled cheese (cow's milk) with mayo (chicken eggs) (+eggs and milk in bun) instead of a hamburger.
(creepy girl, huh? haha)

2. "It's a cool lifestyle, and yeah, I care about animals"
These are the people who become vegetarians to be (as they see it) cool.  It seems like a nice thing to do since they like fluffy bunnies and blood grosses them out and besides, their best friend in junior high thought it would be cool too, and now it has become a part of their shallow identity.  I have seen a lot of this with adolescent females.  They are looking for a way to set themselves apart from their peers and think that being a vegetarian or, worse yet, a vegan, will make them seem edgy and interesting. Wrong.  In my eyes you look uneducated and insecure.  EVERY single girl I knew in high school who wanted to become a vegetarian, had absolutely no grip on the idea of her need for protein.  There is a way to be a healthy vegetarian and to get enough protein.  I know, because I actually get about half of my protein from plant sources- some of my favorites include black beans, pure almond butter, raw walnuts, lentils, edamame, organic soymilk, hummus, and so forth.  But how many teenagers are packing their lunches with things like these that they need to sustain them?  None that I've ever seen.  Which leads me to...

3.  To lose weight
This is the worst of all.  Again, typically another teenage girl idiocy.  They think that cutting out a food group and thereby throwing off their whole nutritional balance will somehow cause them to lose weight.  If becoming vegetarian means eating a lot of fresh, unadulterated fruits and veggies instead of other processed snacks, then yes it's possible to lose weight.  However, that is never what vegetarianism means to a naive young person.  Rather, it means instead of a turkey sandwich, they get nachos with extra cheese (dont even get me started on how wrong nacho "cheese" is), it means instead of grilled chicken they have Cheetos and a few Little Debbie Snack cakes.  There is nothing about this lifestyle change that is either a) weight loss promoting, or b) healthy in ANY way. 

Most vegetarians really should be taking some supplements under the direction of a nutritionist to ensure they are getting enough iron, B vitamins, and other nutrients that they will likely be lacking without a significant source of animal products.  However, not only are these pathetic teens and young adults (or older adults looking for a way to revamp themselves...keep looking, people) not very unlikely to be getting these vitamins and minerals, but they are likely loading up on saturated fat and simple sugars because they often turn to pre-packaged processed foods when they forego the regular meaty main dishes served in most public places.  (For example, the extra cheesy french fries and sundae instead of the chicken sandwich.)  Not only are many people who overlook meat often choosing poor alternatives (ie, my neighbor who eats Nutella for dinner, sorry, had to call you out) but they are also missing out on great nutrient-dense foods.  Per gram, protein has the same number of calories as carbohydrates, so the same amount of trimmed lean meat is not going to deliver any more calories than an equal amount of plain bread.  Not only that, but because meat products are often more expensive in general than plant-based products like bread, you will often see the portions of bread products being much larger than its meaty counterpart (chips vs. beef jerky in the vending machine), thereby delivering even more calories.  Supersize Me (the excellent documentary) gives a great example of this when it shows that the average bagel, as I recall, delivers SIX full servings of bread (that's all you need for an entire day!)- weighing in at about 300 calories plus cream cheese (and, yes, even strawberry cream cheese is an animal product and loaded with fat and sugar) adding probably around 100 calories more.  Compare to 2 hard boiled eggs which totals only 140 calories and 14 whopping grams of protein.  Which seems like the healthier breakfast to you?  The fact is, that most weight loss regimens recommend getting MORE protein and less of the other junk.

An Attempt to Practice What I Preach:

You dont have to read anymore, I've fairly well said my peace, but this is just me trying to justify to myself that I am doing enough to satisfy my own food concerns.  I am a total omnivore.  I love all good, REAL food.  I pretty much eat only whole foods- fresh fruits and vegetables (farmer's market!), 100% whole grains, fresh lean meat, rich oils, spices, and herbs (from my garden!!).  And I LOVE it.  Whole is how nature intended our food to be.  Of course, I'm not perfect, I indulge in the white pita or naan occassionally and I have a horrible sweet tooth (or rather, many sweet teeth) and I love to bake.  But even so, I typically use honey or non-sugar sweeteners when I bake, oil instead of butter, unsweetened applesauce instead of oil, and white whole wheat flour.  I have also converted to almond milk and organic unsweetened soymilk instead of cow's milk since I decided I wasn't too keen on the hormone shots given to cows to keep them producing and the fact that the government pays off farmers to dump HUGE quantities of milk every year to keep the supply lower so prices can be higher- such a waste, this infuriates me- but I'm admitedly not perfect on that either since I still use cream to make ice cream and eat high quality cheeses.  I just already have enough hormones, I don't need to drink any more of them.

Food is fuel, but food should also be enjoyable.  I eat a LOT, but because I'm eating the right things, I can (typically) get away with it.  I can't remember the last day when I haven't eaten at least 3 servings of fresh vegetables and I have had to literally cut down on fruit since I was eating over 5 servings a day!  Now I typically have 3 fresh fruits a day.  And my body is happy :)

Arm yourself with some knowlegde about your food habits and learn how to manipulate the way you eat to reflect your needs.  I highly recommend the calorie calculator which also breaks down your percentages of fat/carb/protein ratios and how much sodium and sugar you are eating at:
It is excellent.  As my Dad always said when I was a chubby kid, "Eat to live, don't live to eat."  When you are using food to your advantage, you can have mastery over your body.  I have fortunatley been in sports for many, many years and have been able to develop a very accurate awareness of my body and its needs.  I have also been able to take college classes on human nutrition, sports nutrition, and exercise science which taught me to use food to my advantage.  As I moved from position to position over the years when I played rugby, my body would also change as I would fuel and work my body differently.  In my final year playing rugby, I was pounding the protein (animal and plant) and working the weights much more than the cardio based on the needs of my position.  Now that I'm a regular civilian again, I've changed to more veggies, less but still enough protein, and more cardio, less weights.  Since my last rugby game a little over a year ago, I've healthily dropped over 25 pounds without hardly trying, just since I've been listening to my body and what it needs.  (Don't worry, I basically look just the same, just a pointier chin and smaller shoulders, haha) No gimmicks, no deprivation, I snack constantly- but on whole, healthy foods.  Control your body or else your body's illnesses and developed limitations will control your entire life.

Knowledge is Power.

In conclusion, stand up for what you think is right, but don't just be a rebel without a cause.  Help effect realistic change by putting your money where your mouth is (literally) and supporting local organic farmers and using the political process to try to change the gruesome system we have in place.  Treat your body well and it will treat you well.  

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

All that glitters is not could be lithium

When I read this I was excited!  Then nervous.

For decades and decades, the war-torn country of Afghanistan has had little substance to base any sort of restructuring on.  Politicians are ousted again and again, war is waged again and again, religious zealots wreak their havoc as they come and go, and the Taliban is fueled by the only lucrative business available- the drug trade.  Opium dominates the Afghan economy, leaving corruption and ruied lives everywhere it touches.  But what else has there been to do or develop?  Nothing; until now.

A literal gold mine of natural resources have been rediscovered throughout the country.  Interestingly, the Soviets were aware of the resources years ago, but since they left, the Afghan people have not had the means to develop them as they have been bombarded with war, corruption, and debt.  Now that they have been rediscovered, there is a great opportunity to restructure the Afghan economy, create jobs, have a viable (and legal) export, and rebuild upon a foundation that can help lead them out of poverty and into the future.

This vision, of course, is a long way off, considering the country's utter lack of mining structures and other pieces that will need to come into play before these resources, like lithium, actually make it overseas into American laptop batteries and make the Afghan people stable jobs and money.  But the hope of a realistic way for this country to end its economic reliance on narcotics is inspiring.

The worry I still have, however, is that, like so many other things, the Taliban will sieze this opportunity and capitalize, thereby making themselves richer and everyone else more desparate for their favor and leadership.  Or, we could have an oil/Saudi Arabia-type situation where a handful of spoiled wealthy upperclassmen control the whole enterprise and monopolize, thereby enslaving their own countrymen as well as international buyers.  Let's hope not.  If the government takes a slow, conscientious and fair approach to setting up a working mining system, this could be a great success and change the face of Afghanistan for the better- giving just the boost that they need to move into the realm of becoming an independent and developed nation.   

Friday, May 28, 2010

"I was wrong"- Mr. O


This is unusual.  A VERY unusual way for a President to handle things.  President Obama has proven to be one of the most gifted orators that the White House has ever seen, and once again he stunned the masses by publicly stating "I was wrong" followed by "In case you're wondering who's responsible, I was responsible."

(gasp!) Shocking!

A very honest and bold approach to the bp gas spill.  I think, however, that it was really the only viable approach given that experts had been stating all along that they projected the spill to be the worst in US history and 10 times worse than what the government was reporting.  And it turned out that the expert were right- doh!  I appreciate the President's humility, but what other choice did he really have- the federal government screwed up BIG TIME.

However, I cannot blame the President for the spiralling of this disaster, one man can only do so much through the red tape we call the Federal Government.  To me, this appears to be yet another HUGE mess that FEMA couldn't bring itself to work on in time.  What does FEMA actually DO?!  Their whole purpose is to work through environmental emergencies, which don't really happen every day, but when they do happen, their leaders just end up doing nothing and resigning.  Seems like they sit around twiddling their thumbs and looking outside their office windows, watching for disasters but hoping they will never come because then they will have to stop their thumb twidling...or will they?

Sadly, it looks like this spill will have not only a horrible environmental impact, but it has also placed a moratorium on offshore drilling- our one hope (besides leaglizing marijuana, hahaha- joke) for freeing ourselves from slavitude to rich Saudi princes and from one big, fat national debt.  And I'm pretty sure the second consequence is worse.

NY Times Article

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Maternal Death Rates

I just read this article and I was glad.  In undergrad, I wrote this huge research paper for Women's Studies examining cross-cultural birthing practices and what I found was pretty scary.  As if giving birth in a developed country is not gross and painful and chaotic enough, try doing it in a dirt hut all by yourself...yeah...and we wonder why the maternal death rates in some countries are epidemically high.

Needless to say, I was really pleased to hear about the results of a new study (sponsored, by the way, by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation- they are awesome and have really great priorities and interests, not to mention unbeatable influence, in their giving) that shows that the maternal death rates worldwide are sharply declining.

A big part of this trend is foreign governments setting up programs that help train birthing assistants and provide qualified people to be present with mothers during and immediately following labor.  Duh!  What mother wouldn't be better off with a trained medical professional when she is going through such a physically traumatic experience!  I guess I'm just grateful that womens rights are finally being better recognized in this critical area.  However, this should not be categorized as just a womens rights issue.  EVERYONE was born, so this issue is applicable to everyone and should therefore be better advocated!  Get on it, people!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Die, Pharma! (and friends)

I just saw on the news an investigative report that revealed some hospitals were billing overnight patients $1000.00 for a toothbrush!  Yeah, you read that right- a cheap plastic $1 toothbrush for a grand!  It's absolutely unconscionable (one of my favorite new legal words)!  I can totally relate, after being harassed by my local hospital to pay some $500 for a strep test- unbelievable.  If I'd have walked in there with no identification and sobbed about a sad story it would have been totally free.  Well I DO have a sad story.  It's called I'm a law student who hasn't had a paying job for years and I won't for years more, and yet I'm not allowed to be on my parent's insurance anymore (since I should be able to pay for my own insurance, right?  I mean I already have had to pay for undergrad and now grad and rent and outrageous electricity bills and gas and, oh heck, I seem like a great candidate to offset the free care given to people in the community who actually do have jobs, but work illegally or make minimum wage.).

Don't get me wrong- health care is a human right and everyone should be treated regardless of their ability to pay, but I think that there are a lot of people on the verge of poverty who are paying way more than their fair share to help counterbalance the completely free care given to their neighbors who happen to make $0.25 less an hour than them.  These billing schemes have gotten completely out of hand.

This broke student situation is being played out in a major way in California where the state has decided that a good place to look for eliminating their debt is the empty pockets of its own college students.  Obviously, this has resulted is a huge backlash- student riots and demonstrations are happening all over the state and I completely support the students. (yay for the first amendment!) It is not their fault that banks were making risky moves, homeowners were being greedy, politicians were authorizing more programs than they could pay for- not their fault AT ALL!  Students are the one group of people in society that we can have hope in to change the poor policies and implement innovation as they begin to fill into the gaps in the retiring workforce.  Our college students are working to improve themselves and they want to make a difference.  Most of them are going into debt in their own names to pay for their schooling, most of them went to state schools just because they are cheaper than private schools.  And they get totally jabbed in return.  Outrageous.

In fact, I see it as a vicious circle.  Greedy deans and university presidents and professors demand outrageous paychecks (even the no-name College in my PA town here pays part-time faculty 6 figures, it's completely ridiculous) and then the state demands a cut and we get from that insane prices for higher education (the same no-name college is about $30K a year for students, worse than most good law schools).  Therefore, the students going into professions that require more schooling will incur more debt and demand outrageous prices for their services (doctors) and thus we see baffling medical billing.  And don't even get me started on the corruption of pharmaceutical companies...

Some Realistic Advice:
-be real, $1mill is not a normal salary, be reasonable and lower superfluous wages.  Yeah, that includes pensions.  People should not get paid the same amount for not working as they did for working.  It's called saving up and using your resources wisely.  Irresponsibility killed the economy, please learn from this error.
-with lower paychecks for university staff, lower tuition and make education more accessible
-cut students some slack, in my opinion, they all should be considered indigent

Friday, January 29, 2010

I'm still your friend, Mr. President

State of the Union.


I love this Constitutional relic- I think its really a neat thing crafted into the Constitution by our founding fathers in order to keep the people updated and to keep the government in the position they were designed to be: responsible to the people!  We elected them, after all.

Not incredibly noteworthy, we're pretty used to well-written and well-delivered speeches by our current President.  Although, there has been a bit of subsequent drama associated with the fact that Obama totally called out the Supreme Court right in front of them, and in front of the rest of the counrty, for the opinion they issued last week (as discussed in the previous post- I KNEW Obama read my blog!).

People are saying this was an untrue presenation of the facts or that it was just plain disrespectful.

I, on the other hand, am completely fine with it- and not just because I happened to agree with what he said.  After all, they don't call it the "Bully Pulpit" for nothing.  And if the President can't exercise free speech, then who can?  Give him a break.

Friday, January 22, 2010


By the way, per the request of many, I have created a second blog on which I plan to talk about what's going on in my life, as opposed to what's going on in the world at large.  If you care to take a gander, you can find it with this link:  Livin the Life



Come On, Supreme Court!

I am a little less than happy about the Supreme Court's recent decision to eliminate all corporate caps on political donations.  Frankly, campaign financing disgusts me.  I first went to college devoted to pursuing a career in politics and in my very first semester, I endured a lecture on campaign financing and political action committees (PACs) and left the class feeling nauseated.  And then I switched my major.  It is just ludicrous. 

We're talking millions and millions of dollars coming from people and organizations who pretend that they are all into making the world better, when really all they want is to get the person elected who will give them the most power.  If they were really interested in reform, they would stop spending on commercials slandering their political enemies and donate some of those millions to reputable nonprofit organizations, to food aid, to scholarship funds, or to public schools, just to name a few places.  There needs to be spending caps in place, otherwise politicians will keep hunting down more and more and more dollars to waste just so that they will have as many or more signs and commercials as their opponents.  If we set a limit, there wouldn't be this huge grubbing race for fruitless donations.

The 2008 Presidential Elections turned out to be the election with the most money spent in history.  Barack Obama alone raised nearly $140,000,000.00!  We may as well have used all the money collected for the election to finance the bailouts and to lessen the national debt, at least that would have done something for the country.  I would be fine if Congress sent out circulars (like the local governments do for elections on propositions, judges, etc.) where there are the names of people running, their platforms, and their plans to put their goals into action.  Isn't that why we vote anyway?  To show which policies we want implemented, not because we were most convinced by candidate X's dashing smile and catchy jingle?  How much would that cost?  A lot for printing the circulars for everyone, but it could be done on cheap paper.  A little to hire people to write it, but cheaper than hiring speech writers, media consultants, makeup artists, graphic designers, videographers, etc.  And you would not have to rent facilities for rallies, print signs, print bumper stickers, buy commercial air time, make commercials, blah blah blah.

I like Obama, but I will tell you a secret, I did not vote for him.  Want to know why?  Its because I did not agree with how his campaign was run- yes, this stuff really means a lot to me!  He was portrayed as an idol, he was marketed like a teen super star.  His campaigning focused on his image, not on his policies.  It was more important that he was black than how he was going to get us out of a recession.  No one knew his stances or policies, all they knew was he was a good dresser and that they had warm fuzzies whenever his commercials came on.  People rallied around the words "Hope" and "Change" without really knowing what that had to do with Obama at all.  That's not how politics should be.  We elect officials to responsibly govern, not to look good on a postage stamp. 

I guess that's all for now, I'm sure I will have more to say on this soon.

Check out this really cool site about the 2008 Election financing: Super Cool Site!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Modern Art and the Modern Man

 Recently I had the interesting treat of seeing the world-renowned Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), an unusual experience in and of itself, which was further enhanced by the fact that I was accompanied by a man.  We're talking a grown man who plays semi-pro football, has a somewhat cynical mind, and likes to eat bacon.  A lot.  Got a good image?  If you're not already laughing at the sheer irony of the scene, just wait.

So after a little coaxing, we walked in through the tall glass doors and began perusing.  This man, we will call him Daniel (mostly because that's his name), seemed a little nervous, as if questioning his manhood, then after looking around a bit, he looked suddenly enraged and finally spoke the words, "What the heck is this?!" (edited version) probably a little too loud for the comfort of our fellow art viewers.  I lost it; I totally cracked up.  I immediately thought of the story about the Emperor's New Clothes with everyone around us taking what they saw so seriously and trying to appear sophisticated, while Daniel was the only one to call out the napkin with pencil marks on it accompanied by a half-eaten bagel for exactly what they were: garbage.

Fortunately, there were many better pieces.  One of our favorites was this one that looks like a great painting of white birch trees, but up close you can see that its actually a collage made of newspaper and the faces of famous people photocopied onto green paper.  Now that's cool.  That takes talent and it was also very visually appealing.  Both of us could appreciate that.

   To be truthful, although some modern "artists" (so they call themselves) have "art" (so they call it) that is little more that a ridiculous excuse for creative mediocrity and sensationalism, I generally really like modern art.  And Daniel kept giving me these puzzled looks when, from a room away, I could tell who had painted what and was dashing to go see them up close.  The conversation would go omething like this:
"Oh, I love Matisse!  His paintings are coming up in the next room!"
"Huh? How do you know who painted those without reading the card next to it?!"
"Oh, I don't know, I studied a little post-Renaissance humanities in college and I just like modern art"
"Yeah, whatever.  Okay, I bet you don't know who painted that one..."
"Easy, that's Chagall.  Marc Chagall.  I like him, he puts a lot of Judaism in his paintings"
(walking over to read the card)
"You cheated!  You read the card!"

And thus it went.

For me, the best part was probably seeing all of the Picassos- I was hyperventilating!  This is a post-Guernica piece that is pretty similar and since Guernica is ont of my favorite paintings, I was super excited to see it.

We even made a little crazy modern art of out own, of all places, in the Picasso room:

Next we came to some HUGE Jackson Pollock paintings.  They truly are a lot more powerful in person, they are so gigantic and so emotional and they were so revolutionary for the time during which they were created.  Or at least that's what I was thinking as I stared at them from 3 inches away, drooling.  Meanwhile, Daniel sat in the back, rolling his eyes and sending a text.  Typical.  And totally understandable!  Pollock's pieces are a bunch of paint thrown down from a latter and onto a canvassed floor.  I would have been worried if Dan had actually liked them.  After all, his is a modern man.

Needless to say, it was a great evening and I saw a lot of amazing pieces that I only been able to behold via textbook images before then- and there they were, right in front of my own eyes!  Very cool.  Modern art is different because its viewers are forced to do a little added introspection since the motives and the feelings of the artists are not as obvious as they may be in a more classically done piece.  That being said, I admit that some of it is just a bunch a junk.  So the take-home message is don't be afraid to be creative, but let's not go too far, or else you take the risk of being called out by an incredibly insightful bacon-eater.

Au revoir

(*Special thanks to Dan for his patience in coming with me to the MoMA.  Not every dude would have or even could have done it.  Not only his he handsome, but accommodating as well!)

I love Mondrian!
This is called "Broadway Boogie" nicknamed by my male companion as "Broadway Booger"- haha :D