Friday, February 29, 2008

A Drinking Game

At the risk of sounding like a square after-school special, let me say that binge drinking - or even drinking on an empty stomach - is pretty lame. For many, it's going to be a lesson learned from experience rather than by prevention - so you don't have to take my word for it. (By the way, don't ever drive or operate heavy machinery while intoxicated. Life lessons should be victim-less.) Here are a few pointers when enjoying this sort of food/drink:

1. Wine, whether inexpensive or pricey, is best paired carefully with good food;
2. Try to avoid most beer produced by large American corporations (beer commercials are for sheep);
3. High-quality liquor only, please.

While you're at it, eat dinner with whatever you're drinking. At the very least, think of the country or region of origin when complementing food with drink. If you're drinking anything of quality (and price), it would be hard to binge drink...unless you like to piss your money away easily. (If you are a big spender, please feel free to donate to DeRamos.org! Your donation is not tax-deductable.)

Because this is Food Friday, here's the last 30 Days episode hosted on Hulu (as of today). "Binge Drinking" is about a mother living her daughter's alcoholic lifestyle for a month:



Cheers, especially to the birthday leaplings! Drink responsibly, or don't drink at all, I guess...

Louis XIII box photo credit: Giardia.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Drink Your Politics

It's great to see new episodes of The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, after their apparent week-long Oscars break. Anyhow, I'm just taking a short pre-dawn break while recording a film score to write this entry, so here's the political rundown (since musicians are of course fully qualified to be a Blogosphere pundit):

This question is for any and all registered Republicans: What's your deal with McCain? Does the party like him, or not like him? Is it only the squeakiest of squeaky wheels that dislike him? In the eyes of the Democratic candidates and party, he's almost like Bush in a repulsive way. But what I'm getting from the GOP camp (or just the loudest ones) is that he's not Republican enough...?

And then there was the incident with the talk radio guy who played up Obama's middle name before introducing McCain, McCain apologizing for the dude's introductory rant, and the Republican backlash against McCain's apology.

It's obvious that those who are politically opposed to Barack Obama refer to him as Barack Hussein Obama in order to play up the fear associated with his given middle name (an Arabic diminutive for handsome). And no, don't tell me that's just saying his full name because Obama's full name is Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. Get it right.

The politics of name-calling is only good for the stupid vote - that is, stupid people who vote. I try to avoid dichotomies, but there are roughly two kinds of ignorant people: (1) The temporarily ignorant - those who would learn if given the chance, and (2) stupid people who don't - and won't - learn. Keep that difference in mind. If the stupid electorate is large enough to swing the election one way or another, then we all seriously need contemplate the meaning of America, to have that many permanently ignorant people and those in power who would exploit such idiocy.

When all is said and done, and Indian politician Adolf Lu Hitler Marak still beats Obama for the controversial-but-not-really-if-you-do-some-research name prize. Speaking of middle initials of H., what about the slang phrase Jesus H. Christ? To unravel the meaning of H. would unravel all of Western Civilization, more than The Da Vinci Code Holy Grail.

My point is that guilt by given name (not even a surname!) is one of the most absurd uses of the guilt by association logical fallacy.

As for some of the other candidates...

Hillary will have to wait until March's Super Tuesday, whether to stay or go.

Huckabee and the anti-McCain GOP would find their anti-mathematical miracle if McCain is disqualified for being born in the Panama Canal Zone.

Ron Paul, if you're not using the rest of the money bomb funds, please send some money to me. Thanks.

Darth Vader - I mean, Ralph Nader - is hoping to ruin Al Gore's chances again.

Stephen Colbert's glorious FSU Pow Wow entrance photo credit: webrageous.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Beyond Civilization

I think this whole global warming debate isn't over because each side is using their own definition(s) without telling the opposing viewpoint. Let's put it this way: Humans are sucking the planet dry. Humans are reproducing and consuming until the planet is totally covered by human mass, and from space, Earth will look flesh-colored (but with a bad tan). Either that, or we'll make it so that we can't live on Earth anymore and there's no where else to live (extinction).

Anyway, here's an episode of 30 Days with some city folk living symbiotically with the Earth...



...like a bunch o' dang hippies! Anyway, read Ishmael and Beyond Civilization so we won't have to totally live like hippies.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Juice to Rejuvenate?

This episode of 30 Days follows a thirty-something man (who's around the same age as host Morgan Spurlock) trying to recapture youth with modern medicine:



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Monday, February 25, 2008

Morgan Spurlock Downsizes Himself

For Money Monday, here's the first episode of 30 Days. The episode is called "Minimum Wage," and it follows host/star Morgan Spurlock living life below the poverty line. Not quite Super Size Me, and more like Down Size Me:



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Sunday, February 24, 2008

More Morgan Spurlock's "30 Days"

This is only my second episode of the show, but so far it seems that Spurlock's guinea pigs are red state American, white, Christian, and male - a combination that's pretty darn close to Spurlock himself, or at least a face-value perception of Spurlock's archetype. With that said, the episode embedded below follows a straight, homophobic, Evangelical Christian living in San Francisco's Castro District for 30 Days:



Regarding the Castro District, I'll quote the Fidel Castro parody character on The Simpsons, "It's full of what?"

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Morgan Spurlock's "30 Days"

There's a scene in Super Size Me, where Morgan Spurlock vomits after eating a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese. After watching that, I promptly bought and devoured the same kind of hamburger. It was tasty (the burger, not Spurlock's vomit).

Anyhow, I was browsing through Hulu and stumbled upon a series by Spurlock called 30 Days. Instead of Spurlock using himself as a social experiment like in Super Size Me, in each episode, a carefully cast person goes on a poetically justifiable pilgrimage of life-changing proportions over the course of 30 days.

The episode embedded below follows a white Christian American living in a Muslim American community (diverse in nationalities) in Michigan for 30 days. Needless to say, just like the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese experience mentioned above, I now have a hankering for some lamb kabob (watch and see):



It's ironic that Hulu provides a Mature Audiences Only warning for this sort of education, as if to say that knowledge is dangerous. I myself learned a new factoid about Dearborn, Michigan, having a large Muslim population. I didn't know that before today.

It's almost as if the entire state of Michigan were made of two separate peninsulas, which themselves are made of several peninsulas...hmm...

Almost.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Filet-O-Fish Friday

At the risk of being absolutely condemned by The Great I Am America, I am not a Roman Catholic. However, I have ridden the coattails of devout Catholics by enjoying the McDonald's discount of Filet-O-Fish sandwiches on Fridays during Lent. Until last year, the McDonald's restaurants in my wide-ranged locality sold the sandwiches on Filet-O-Fish Fridays for one dollar. They've since upped the price to $1.29 to offset costs and probably because of the overall crappiness of the U.S. Dollar.

Anyhow, my hat's off to the devout and their yearly period of self-denial, providing me the irony of indulging a relatively mild form of gluttony at a discount.

Needless to say, I can't wait until St. Patrick's Day.

Filet-O-Fish photo from Tomomarusan.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

McCain's Lady Friend: Swiftboat Sequel or False Flag?

Today's big story is whether or not John McCain partied like it was 1999 (in 1999 coincidentally). Who's behind this, and how is it relevant?

Swiftboat Sequel? If the story is from a would-be Democratic rival, he or she should probably wait until he or she gets the nomination. Jumping the gun is what our old pal Willard did (Mitt vs. Hillary), and I know you don't want me to embed yesterday's Mitt commercial here.

Speaking of Mitt...

According to ABC News, our old pal Willard Mitt Romney spent $98.04 Million for his ill-fated campaign.

...and we're back:

If the story is from a Republican rival, why bother? It's too late for Romney, and essentially late for Huckabee. And as great Ron Paul's ideals are (even Joy "Aunt Slappy" Behar namedropped Paul and the support from soldiers in Iraq recently on The View) - I unfortunately just added his name so that this rant could be more search engine friendly.

False Flag? Just to warn you, I have put on my aluminum foil hat (I've upgraded from tin foil). Back to the Republicans - this story could have been shrewdly started by McCain supporters to give the impression of a Democratic attack, as to mobilize the anti-McCain conservatives sooner than later. When given the choice between a Republican ticket and a Democratic ticket - as well as the improbability of a viable third party ticket - the anti-McCain conservatives would have warmed up to the war hero...eventually.

Whatever happened to patience these days?

And finally, how is this relevant? It isn't...not yet, anyway. Let the major parties nominate their candidates, let the nominees form their tickets, let them debate as cleanly as possible (for American politics, anyway).

In other news, using the random nickname generator hosted by ABC's Lost, Sawyer would call me "Mondrian." Not a bad nickname at all, if I do say so myself.

In other other news, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore asked Cuban ex-head of state Fidel Castro to the Prom...I mean, the Academy Awards. Do they make corsages and/or boutonniรจres that match olive green military uniforms?

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

You Were Front; I'll Be Back.

For the moment, Mitt Romney (remember Willard?) was way off when he anticipated a November showdown between Hillary Clinton and himself. But who knows? Anything can happen...



...okay, maybe not for Romney, but anything can happen.

Re: Yesterday's postscript, here's that episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles that tries to outdo Lost in terms of flashback/flash-forward trickiness:



Fellow blogger Will blogs about the above show from time to time, so check out his thoughts on this latest incarnation of The Terminator, as well as other topics of interest.

Speaking of The Terminator...

Here's a photo from 1984 of Model T-101/800/850, while taking a break from hunting down Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor, that is). As you can see, he's shaking hands with future California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The above photo of the anachronistic California governor's ball (Arnold Schwarzenegger and the GOP's once and future President Ronald Reagan) is in the public domain.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Just Words, or You've Got a Friend in Me?

It's yet another round of Tuesday elections, and last weekend's big pre-primary story was Barack Obama's alleged (I write alleged because that's what one should write when making allegations...or so says my old college media law textbook) plagiarism of Governor Deval Patrick's 2006 speech.

After virtually every pundit expressed his/her opinion on the matter, Patrick essentially absolved his friend Obama for lifting his words (which referenced several iconic speeches of the 20th century), and Obama quietly acknowledged that he should have used APA citation (okay, maybe not that far) whilst doing the "Just Words" cover song...err, cover speech.

While it was both convenient and fortuitous to borrow words from one's understanding and supportive friend, is it still plagiarism? Or is it only plagiarism when there is no interaction between the original source and the alleged plagiarizer?

I remember one particular coincidental weekend, when I watched two public speakers in two different counties on two different days use the same humorous anecdote from a book for their respective speeches. One was a sermon, and the other more-or-less a motivational speech. The first speaker referenced a book and its author before getting into the humorous anecdote, the audience laughed, and there was nothing more to remember after that. The second speaker gave the impression of autobiographically relaying the story, and I realized that it wasn't his story - and that speaker just ended up sounding like a gigantic alleged douche. The chances are good that the author of the book didn't absolve that speaker for being an alleged plagiarizer, unlike Obama and Patrick.

So...is the above situation the same as Obama's, or is it different?

In couch potato news, last night's season finale of Prison Break wasn't as bad as I had anticipated (check out the episode on Hulu):



The new Terminator show featured flashbacks for the 90210 dude's character, which doubled as flash-forwards relative to the continuity of the show. It was definitely cool, and sort of one-ups what Lost is doing right now with flash-forwards.

Barack Obama senate photo credit: United States Senate.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Note to Brother

This post is for my brother, so he can catch up on the more-or-less lackluster third season of Prison Break before the probable deja vu season finale tonight:


"Under and Out"


"Hell or High Water"


For an obscure form of amusement, check out my musings regarding the third season premiere of Prison Break.

And for good measure, here's a note to self - for me to watch an episode of The Simpsons that aired last night:


"Love, Springfieldian Style"


These episodes (and more!) are available legally and for a limited time at Hulu.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Democrats, Republicans, and Theocrats...Oh, My!

As many are waiting for the next batch of party primaries and caucuses, here's a summary of what's going on en route to the two nominations: The Democrats are still divided by the choice they have to make, and the Republicans are divided by the choice they've essentially made.

Here are a few quick Solomon-esque (if I may toot my own horn) solutions to help everybody:

1. If the regular delegates or the superdelegates can't decide months before the convention, and if the public is THAT impatient, put Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton into the teleportation chamber in The Fly. Then power up the machine!

2. For John McCain and the GOP, well we might have to literally do a Solomon thing, where we gather all the squabbling Republican factions (the neo-cons, the Bushies, the paleos, the fundies, and Ron Paul's friends if they're allowed to enter) in one place, threaten to split the presumptive nominee, and see which faction will protest against such harsh action. And then everyone will know how McCain fits into all of this.

3. As far as Mike Huckabee and his theocratic comment from last month are concerned:



I don't think even the wise King Solomon (whose father David was theocratically elected, ironically) has a solution for Huckabee.

(Just to warn you, the reader: I might create and destroy a perfectly good straw man by the time this rant is over, but please bear with me.)

God's standards: It's a noble aspiration to commit to a supernatural ethical code - as a personal choice. But to amend the Constitution to fit a specific idea of God's standards would require a prerequisite amendment to the First Amendment, wouldn't it? You know, the part where Congress can't make a law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...? That part. Yeah.

God's standards: Judeo-Christian roots are implied, no doubt, but will it be heavier on the Judeo- or the Christian? The Book of Leviticus or the Sermon on the Mount? Knowing the love of irony prevalent in modern Evangelicals, I hypothesize that this new theocratic Constitution would be heavy on Leviticus, with a side order of Paul (but not the parts of Paul that are Jesus-like).

However, if this new Huckabee Constitution were heavy on the Jesus (yeah, I wrote "The Jesus"), and all that meek inheriting the earth/turn the other cheek/love thy neighbor stuff were literally made into law, then the United States of America would become some sort of hippie socialist...utopia.

The fundies would hate that.

Chinese Jesus art (no Kung Fu jokes, please) is in the public domain. Pray that Chinese Jesus is closer to Lao Tzu than Sun Tzu.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Know Your Government! Midterm, Final, Thing...

Multiple choice essay: Which of the following best describes the current United States of America, and why? (Don't you hate it when an otherwise easy question contains the condition "and why"?)

  • Ochlocracy (aka: Mob Rule) — trusting of the instincts and power of large groups—no consistent civics at all.[1]
  • Anarchism — no government or other hierarchy, a common ethical code enforced only by personal governance and voluntary association.[2]
  • Minarchy — a minimal hierarchy—e.g. sometimes said to include eco-anarchism
  • Libertarianism — a philosophy based on the premise that in order to maximize personal freedom, society should value the acquisition of private property over the public good.
  • Direct democracy — decisions made directly by citizens without guidance or moral suasion, e.g. as advocated by H. Ross Perot, usually relying on multiple choice laid out by experts
  • Deliberative democracy — decisions made by locally-grouped citizens obligated to participate in consensus decision making process, e.g. as advocated by Ralph Nader
  • Bioregional democracy — a deliberative democracy regulated by a caste of highly-qualified scientific advisors (both ecologists and ethicists) who can use scientific method to challenge or veto major ecological decisions, means of measuring well-being or selecting criteria for moral purchasing by the entire bioregional state
  • Technocracy — reliance on castes of scientists, e.g. doctors to rule society, and define risk for the whole society - sometimes generalized into anticipatory democracy. Can be interpreted as leading to or including kleptocracy
  • Theocracy - government lead by religion, beliefs or culture. May be led by powerful religious figures such as the Pope and follows rules based on religious documents.
  • Aristocracy — general trust in one class in society to rule and protect, e.g. members of particular noble families that have worked for and/or defended the community across many generations (i.e. "old" money), upholding traditions, standards of living, art, culture, commerce, and defense. Not to be confused with plutocracy, where rule is based solely on financial wealth.
  • Constitutional monarchy — a monarch, possibly purely symbolic and devoted to moral example, avoiding vesting such popularity in any less trustworthy political figure—typically tied to at least some deliberative institutions, and making the monarch a tiebreaker or mediator or coach, e.g. Queen Elizabeth II and Tony Blair
  • Representative democracy — a political class of elected representatives is trusted to carry out duties for the electors - these may be responsible to any group in society, or none, once elected.
  • Absolute monarchy — a monarch who rules for life and can pass on this rule to his or her heirs, but is responsible to some social ideal or culture that has trained him or her to carry out these duties, e.g. Louis XIV, Hirohito, most dynastic Emperors, Augustus Caesar.
  • Dictatorship — a political or military ruler who has the powers of the monarch, but whose basis for rule is not hereditary, but based upon military or political power, or by popular election, e.g. Benito Mussolini, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Julius Caesar, Josef Stalin, Mao ZeDong.
  • Socialism - a broad array of ideologies and political movements with the goal of a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the community for the purposes of increasing social and economic equality and cooperation.[3]
Extra credit: Which of the above might describe the United States of America after January 20, 2009, and why?

Use a blue book. You have 90 minutes.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

The Latest FEMA Debacle

The question is this: How will Bush's fans (as not to lump all right-wing bloggers together RE: Republican division situation with John McCain, etc.)...let me start this again...how will Bush's fans spin this situation, as to blame the previous administration and/or "the liberals"?



Facts:
1. This isn't the first failure - to say the least - from Bush's FEMA.
2. In 2005, the Republicans essentially controlled Congress with their majority.

Question:
1. If help (trailer housing) is well-intentioned but poorly executed, is it still help?

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Totalitarians Helping Totalitarians to Promote Totalitarianism...

...and then they'll eventually fight to become the sole law of the land. One of the few ways to combat this horrendous abuse of humanity is through democracy. This is not mob rule democracy, but a more-or-less rational (and sometimes convoluted) system of representative democracy codified in some sort of constitution. And no, you can't ram down democracy down people's throats, as there are other ways of non-totalitarian society by which people can live.

Anyhow, to drive the point home (sort of), here's a serious interview on The Daily Show with Benazir Bhutto's biographer:



And Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Amer-McCain Obama-nation

...because the real abomination in America is the lack of traditional apathy when it comes to voting. Have you no respect for the grand American tradition of indifference? What's wrong with you people? Why do you care...now??? It's like you all are trying to use some sort of "system" that the "Founding Fathers" put into "action" when they signed the "Constitution." Is this a representative democracy guaranteed by the tenets of our constitutional republic...or something? Is this news to you...'cause it's news to me that people are excited about...primary season? It's not even November, ladies and gentlemen, you know...the time when you pick the "lesser of two evils" that the corporate elite have run down your throats.

And if the current front runners remain the front runners, it's my opinion (which I probably don't share with many of you) that it just might be a choice for the better of two different kinds of good...? What's wrong with you people?!!

Why can't you let these elite, multi-national corporations run the show and be happy as a disenfranchised American? Why must you try to turn the tide of fascism? Why must you care about the direction of America, as if it were some sort of patriotic duty to care about the future of your country? Why must you use your voice guaranteed by having a human brain and the Bill of Rights? What's your problem?

Maybe you don't care. Or maybe you do care, and the corporate elite have you where they want you (and me wearing a tinfoil hat). Clever Mercurians.





When I wrote clever Mercurians, I actually meant diabolical reptilian humanoids.

Anyhow...this has been a great campaign season thus far.

Senator McCain's Congressional Photo is in the public domain.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Battle for the Potomac Begins...Right Now

I'm pretty sure the Maryland, Virginia, and District of Columbia Primaries will not be unlike the Civil War - except for the bloodshed and war part. We'll have dirty campaigning instead, so here's a classic clip from The Daily Show with Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert:



Will Barack Obama's momentum continue? Will John McCain gain a larger lead over the other two Republican candidates?

Stay tuned.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Frank Zappa Rocked Against Totalitarianism

This video from Crossfire (the dragon that Sir Jon Stewart slew) has been circulating for a while on the Web, and is in fact about 22 years old, but here's guitar hero Frank Zappa doing his part to prevent the United States from becoming either a fascist theocracy or a Stalinist bread line/salt mine. In this case, the topic is censorship in song lyrics:



The government should never regulate art. (Wasn't that the back story in the film Equilibrium?) If there's any word regulation in the "music industry," it should come from record labels to their respectively signed artists. The corporations behind these labels could dictate to those whose music is contractually owned by the corporations. They do it all the time asking for "hit songs" on albums and status quo crap like that.

My advice to the songwriters and artists (those with a little bit of integrity, anyway) is to sign better contracts when dealing with corporations. Or better yet: D.I.Y. The Internet, if it remains free, can prove helpful and convenient.

When it comes to profanity or culturally-abhorrent words in commercial music, let the marketplace decide if it sells or not. (Wow, I'm sounding quite economically conservative right now!) We can go on a long tangent about the inherent inequality of the current marketplace with corporate welfare, poor people welfare, etc., but we'll just leave it at those buzz words. Back to the topic: There's a lot of content out there with which I don't agree, but if their voices are silenced...there's no guarantee I would be able to express my opinions, either.

Anyhow, here's to keeping the Web an equal-access highway with Net Neutrality!

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Two-time Grammy Award Winner for Best Spoken Word Album Barack Obama; What Is Conservative?; Young Fundies of America

Barack Obama swept this weekend's worth of Democratic primaries and caucuses. A few minutes ago, Obama won a Grammy for his audio book The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, the same award he won in 2006 for Dreams from My Father.

For the time being, it seems that everything's coming up Obama...

If it's any consolation for Hillary Clinton, both candidates are still running a competitive race. Additionally, Clinton can dust off her 1997 Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album, since everyone gets a Grammy. (Where's my Grammy?)

For the GOP, Mike Huckabee reaped the benefits of his recent Colbert Bump by winning Louisiana and Kansas...but he's holding out for the miracle that somehow breaks his mathematical loss against John McCain. Arithmetic is witchcraft, I tells ya...!!!

President George W. Bush's endorsement of McCain as a "true conservative" merely highlights the current division of the Republican Party regarding McCain, as well as the definition of conservative. It potentially marks the beginning of the re-demonization of the word conservative (in general and not just with the prefix neo-) and the re-redemption of the word liberal. Okay, maybe it won't go that far. In my teenage years, I somehow got it in my head that conservative wasn't as user-friendly a word as liberal - so I guess I've been ahead of the game in that respect.

Speaking of conservatives, according to ABC News, there is a new generation of Evangelicals. According to ABC's Dan Harris:

The top three issues these young evangelical Christians said they most want the presidential candidates to address are Internet pornography, media glamorization of sex and drugs, and children orphaned by AIDS. Abortion and gay marriage were not at the top of their list.
Here's my quick take on this: Good try, young fundies. I'll give you an A for effort for being either cool or ambivalent or even nuanced about abortion and gay marriage, unlike your fundie folks and community leaders. I'll give you an A+ for your Oprah/Bono/Angelina Jolie-esque stance on AIDS and orphaned children. I'll give you some points for being concerned about the destructiveness of the bad stuff on the Web and through the airwaves, but you'll ultimately get an F because that stance ultimately advocates censorship. Being a supporter of Network Neutrality and the First Amendment, I implore you to accept the double-edged sword of free speech - that there will be bad elements out there with the freedom to spew bad ideas to the masses. How do you combat that sort of evil? Well, if you're free to speak your mind too, then speak - that's how.

Class dismissed.

Barack Obama basketball photo credit: MCC Eric A. Clement, USN, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Civic Saturday Primaries

Today is yet another round of primaries and caucuses (cauci, if I remember my Latin second declension): Kansas, Washington, and Louisiana for the GOP, and Louisiana, Washington, Nebraska, and the U.S. Virgin Islands for the Democrats. Will Huckabee somehow close in on McCain? Will there be a break in the Clinton / Obama tie? Ron Paul? (Sorry, I needed some extra Google traffic...even though people actually do need to listen what the good doctor has to say.)

We know this for sure: Huckabee needed another Colbert Bump, and he received one just the other day (roll the video!).



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