Saturday, November 29, 2008

She is smart, smarter than me

Well it's happened and it's my own fault. Years after dropping out of my graduate program, Wife has finished her MBA. Thus passing me in the aggregate degree count, making the current score Wife 2, Husband 1.

Now for most of you married people you understand the trauma I'm going through. For the rest let me explain. For all the talk of loving, honoring, and cherishing your spouse at the wedding, marriage is actually a competition (sometimes war) where both sides vie for dominance over the social contract into which they have bound themselves. Every action taken by either side is designed to score them points on the marriage score card.

For example putting the toilet seat down without being asked is worth 2 points for the average man, for a jerk it could be a 5 point bonus. A wife buying something nice at Victoria Secret could be 10 points for a woman. Or for example sitting down and watching a hockey game with your husband...well that's priceless. You'll notice the scoring system is a bit erratic.

But for Wife to have finished her MBA while I'm merely a bachelor's holder, that's like the head shot with which Ivan Drago took out Apollo Creed (if only I was as cool as Apollo Creed, the man was a legend). I guess it means that I've lost this match.

Congratulations honey! I love you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Maybe you can figure this one out

About halfway through the workday today, I happened to look out my window and I saw this:

A car nearly covered in various colors of post-it notes.

I quickly called in several co workers for their opinions as to what it means. We came up with nothing. So I went out and took a photo for posterity's sake. The post-its were all blank and they were simply post-it stuck on the car, no extra tape or anything. After about 15 minutes of gawking from the window and a couple investigatory trips to the car, two dudes show up, get in and drive away. I opened my office window and tried to wave them down so I could ask them what's up with all the post-it notes on their car, but they must not have seen me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

10 Years Ago Today

I don't know why but we in America seem to like our decimal anniversaries. For some reason turning 20, 30, or 40 is much more exciting than turning 19, 29, or 39. We tend to exaggerate the importance of decades grouping things into the 80s or 90s despite the fact that the music of 1999 (Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera) has more in common with 2000 than it does with 1991 (Van Halen and Guns and Roses (yes I'm ignoring Nirvana, I'm trying to make a point here)).

Marriage and jobs are a little different. For both we tend to look at things in 5s. Probably because surviving a 5 year period for both is surprising in this day and age.

That said I'm giving into the gods of conformity and loudly commemorating the decenium since my return from my mission in Paris. Here's a few classic Me shots from that time. Enjoy.

Why it seems like only yesterday I unloaded my duffle back into this strange apartment of guys with a giant pair of underwear on the wall. Why size 62" waist underwear you might ask? Well thank you for asking. Evidently [Elder] Kevin Johnson's friends sent them to him with the following story.

They were pranksters in their youth and would do things like buy tootsie roles wearing nothing but their skivvies. Evidently one prank involved one of them wearing the above shown undies and while in a grocery store somewhere in rural Utah he and his accomplice got into a "fight" at the cash register. The one wearing the not so tighty whities turned to walk out and the other one grabbed the back elastic band and pulled them up and over the others head. According to the story they heard an old woman in the background say something to the effect of "holy *%& Harold look at that boy's underwear".

I have no idea if the story was true but we wall mounted them none the less. Plus it gave us a place to keep our nerf basketball.

Foodwise I ate pretty well in France. Although sometimes I was lonely for conversation. Oh by the way, when in the Catacombs of Paris don't touch the bones. Seriously they'll totally bust you for it. Plus the owners of the bones will haunt you. Believe me I know.

It's hard to believe that 10 years have passed. What makes it more interesting from a familial level is that it's been ninety years since the Great War ended. My last day in France there were countless parades and decorations. The last few remaining veterans celebrated the commemoration at the Arc de Triomphe. It was that war that caused my paternal great-grandfather to lose his health. I never met him, he died in the 1940s. Yet still having walked the ground that he fought and bled and weezed (mustard gas you know) on, I can't help but think of him on this day. In some ways it's both of our anniversaries today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Election Results

And here's the top five things that I've realized since the election ended:

1. CNN has the best news. This has nothing to do with their coverage. In fact it's all because Wife and Sister (the newest edition to the household) have major crushes on Anderson Cooper. And here I was thinking I was the only gray haired man Wife loved.

2. Somebody should tell the right wing commentators that false hope does not good reporting make. Honestly both Pat Buchanen and Bill Bennett were so dead wrong in their false optimism it was sickening. It was funny to watch them squirm as the results came in however.

3. The best news on television is the Daily Show. Hands down. Because they actually report News. Who knew.

4. BBC America should not have Americans covering the election. Honestly I turned it on to hear someone with a cockney accent make the election call not someone who sounds like their from Hoboken. BBC, you're cut.

5. John McCain should have ran his whole campaign with the tone he used in his concession speech. It was the John McCain I loved in 2000. Sadly to get the nomination he sold out to the establishment of the GOP and so could never speak with that tone in this campaign.

That said Obama delivered one of the great acceptance speeches of all time on election night. If he can govern the way he delivers this speech than America will be okay. As I mentioned on Dave's blog I loved the imagery of the "arc of history". Obama paints in this speech a wonderful picture of how he perceives the past and future of America. He points to an America that continues to grow. An America in which all people must play a roll to lift one another's burdens. It is a wonderful vision of a nation united for a common cause and a carrying a common future.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Why I'm Voting for Obama (abbreviated version)

Because this t-shirt is way trendier than a McCain t-shirt.

Since I live in New York, most of the inquiring looks I get when I wear it are not due to the Obama part (yay blue state!), but rather to the Mormon part. ("Here, in New York? I never knew.")

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Why I'm Voting for Obama

Husband here. So in church on Sunday one of our friends discovered that we were, gasp, democrats (well technically only I am, Wife remains unaffiliated only because I won't let her register as a socialist). We were kind of surprised that our friend hadn't guessed that our political leanings were a bit left of center (if you define center as Ted Kennedy). Now that doesn't make me feel as bad as when people are surprised I'm a church-goer (seriously I've got to work on that mouth of mine).

This experience coupled with a comment from another old friend who found me on Facebook and is as far right as I am left, made me feel like explaining my political philosophy. So without further ado here it is. For those not interested skip to the end, I embedded an Anamaniacs song.

1. Taxation--All taxation is redistributive by definition. The McCain/Palin assertion that Obama's a socialist belies the reality that all taxes have a socialistic element to them. Honestly debating the virtues of +/-3% here and there is hardly sufficient reasoning in my book to favor one candidate over the other. That said I think that politicians should work on reducing government bureaucracy and wastefulness. We need to end no-bid contracts and have complete and total reporting of government funded projects. I do tend to think that we need to err on the side of lower taxes but I like the progressive tax rate. As beneficial as they are to me personally I think we should eliminate some of the tax credits including the mortgage interest tax deduction. It was this deduction that made it necessary from a fudiciary perspective for us to buy a house before we might have been ready and is the cause of much of the subprime crisis today.

1a. That said we also need to have a complete and total rework of our national infrastructure. This is best done with state/regional planning boards over seeing the revitalization of roads/bridges/sewer/power lines/rail/IT infrastructure. Frankly in dark economic times this seems to be a good use of the unemployed. (yeah that's very new deal but our continued economic dominance demands an upgrade in our infrastructure) A national renewal of this sorts would also be a good training ground for college students and we could offer it as a debt forgiveness program for them.

2. Abortion--Abortion as birth control is an unnecessary evil. It is a way for individuals to back out of a condition that is the natural by-product of sex. That said, I view a wholesale outlaw of abortion as even worse. To force a woman who has been raped to carry a child to term, reminding her of the actions of her rapist every day for nine months is something I cannot accept. Given that neither side fully supports my views on this issue I don't use it as a litmus for selecting my candidates. Further, abortion will never be wholly criminalized in America. If Roe vs. Wade was overturned it would simply return the right of abortion regulation back to the states and allow them to make it illegal. Assuredly many would, but I think the majority would not so it's becoming a moot point.

3. Iraq--We should not have invaded Iraq. Iraq was a distraction from the fight against the perpetrators of 9/11 and their Taliban allies. The only compelling argument I saw for the invasion was that once Iraq was neutralized we could draw down our troop levels in Saudi Arabia which were stationed there as a check on the Iraqis. Our troop presence in Saudi Arabia has been a great rallying cry for Islamist movements around the world. That said we have yet to see any substantial reduction in our Saudi force contingent based on our "successes" in Iraq. Further, the Hussein regime itself was viewed as anathema to the militant Islamist movement for many years. We thus need to withdraw from Iraq. Now this does not mean I'm a defeatist, our troops must and should return with their heads held high for their efforts. If McCain thinks a timeline for withdrawal is defeatism...well how does one withdrawal from a war where there is no formal enemy state to offer their surrender.

4. Immigration--Immigration is what makes this country great and should be accepted more readily than it is. For all the talk of Mexicans never learning English, it has been the history of most immigrant communities in US history to preserve their language for the first generation and a half (meaning the second generation is typically bilingual). This is exactly what is happening in Latino households across this country. That said we should work to reduce illegal immigration if for no other reason than that illegal immigration often results in some of the most wicked brutality that man can commit against man. So long as we are the world's best hope for freedom and prosperity, people will come to our shores seeking a better life. That is what they've always done. The best policy to reduce illegal immigration than is to improve conditions in their home countries so people no longer feel the need to immigrate and/or loosen immigration requirements and provide a clear path to citizenship and assimilation.

5. The Environment--Ah Climate Change. Well given my relatively liberal bent thus far you can probably imagine that I'm a left wing-the ice caps are melting-tree hugging-hug a California Condor type....well you're kind of right. I do believe that humanity affects the environment around us. This is basic Newtonian physics, for every action there is a reaction. You dump benzene/PCP/petroleum in a watershed, it is going to have an affect. Thus regardless of the reality of climate change I think we need to be more careful with the stewardship of this planet. God did not give it to us simply to have us strip mine everything we can out of it. Unfortunately too many think that our resources should simply be exploited without concern for the consequences.

5a. Energy policy. This naturally segues to a discussion of energy policy. In the short run a comprehensive energy policy consists of the use of all energy resources. We need to continue using our fossil fuel infrastructure for the time being including oil and natural gas exploration. That said the continued use of what is essentially a 19th century paradigm of development will stagnate our growth in the medium and long term. It is for this reason that we need to augment the fossil fuel infrastructure with increased development of hydro, nuclear, wind, and solar power, with a goal to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels entirely. Nothing frustrates me more than when I drive through northern Arizona and southern Nevada and I fail to see any development of photovoltaic technology. Honestly no one lives there, it never rains, why has no one put solar plants there? Further, a restructuring of our energy infrastructure where every individual fed back into the grid by placing solar panels on their roof would revolutionize this nation's power supply needs.

6. Electoral/Campaign reform--The current primary system must be abolished. It is a byproduct of the unholy union between big money and the 24 hour news networks (they're already talking about 2012 for the love). Electoral reform should include the following. There should only be six weeks of voting in a given primary season. Iowa and New Hampshire can keep their first in the nation status, voting in consecutive weeks in late June. Following a two week break we will hold four, 12 state primaries. One occurring every two weeks.

These states will be divided demographically with all regions of the nation represented in each 12 group cohort. The primary cycle will thus end at the end of August or the beginning of September. Every four years the 12 state cohorts will move forward one week in the primary voting cycle with the first cohort moving to the last week of that years voting block. Further, I think all states should keep their electoral college votes but distribute the votes in one of two ways. 1. Distribute all votes proportionately to the popular vote cast for the state as a whole. or 2. Votes should be distributed based on the winner of the congressional district. The individual who wins the most districts would get the two additional electoral votes allocated to the state based on their senate seats. Barriers of entry for third parties should be removed but I have no idea how to do that.

7. Gay Marriage--This is a tricky one. Personally the marriage that matters for me is the one sanctioned by my faith. I understand that the state has an interest in marriage as it is the unit that traditionally has provided the most social cohesion. That said I think the delegation of the right to perform marriages to churches is what has put us in the quandary we now find ourselves. If states change the rules of who they'll recognize as married than churches find themselves afraid that they will be prosecuted/persecuted for failing to solemnize marriages they find themselves to be in doctrinal conflict with. I think the best solution is to completely disassociate the two institutions. For the state only recognize marriages made by state agents (justices of the peace, appointed city hall officials, etc.). Churches can do what they want subsequent to the state marriage but church unions will have no force or binding power in the eyes of the state any longer.

Now those are my personal views and subject to change. However more important to me than any of these things is the tone of a candidate. I don't like this McCain because his whole candidacy seems to be about instilling fear of Obama. I didn't like Bush or Gore in 2000 because both of them seemed to feel entitled to the presidency. As if their pseudo-aristocratic background made them far superior to McCain and Bradley whom they defeated in their respective primaries. I disliked Kerry in 2004 precisely because he (and Bush for that matter) lacked any understanding of the life of the common man.

When I listen to Obama speak, I feel that he believes that he has a responsibility to serve this nation and not a right to rule. Quite frankly that feeling of service to your fellow citizens is so novel in American politics he's actually convinced me to abandon third party politics this election.

To finish up I'd just like to give a general note about why I vote Democrat rather than Republican most of the time. It is precisely because of the issue of tone and respect. I've found, especially at Church, that Republicans are much more dismissive and quite frankly disrespectful of my personal political beliefs when they differ from the party dogma. Frankly I've found this troubling and spiritually unsettling. I'm reminded of a scripture where the Lord says that in the last days: "...[Satan shall] rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good." Now I'm not saying that I'm correct on all of my political beliefs but I think that the rage that people feel regarding politics saps the spiritual strength of many on all sides of the political divide. Thanks for listening.

As promised here's some Anamaniacs: