Friday, October 31, 2008

Participating in Things of Eeeeevil

Last Sunday, I went up to "Constance", a little seven year old girl in our church who is simply adorable and is everyone's favorite. She was playing around on the piano between services, and when she stopped and turned around, I said "Constance, are you excited that Halloween is almost here? What are you going to be for Halloween?"

"I'm not going to be anything for Halloween," Constance said solemnly. "The Bible tells us not to part...part...participate in things of eeeeevil."

"Er, uh, yeah," I said, thinking quickly.

You see, many Christians are divided on this subject. I've always felt it was fine for my kid to trick-or-treat, and I even encouraged it. But there is no doubt that over the last 35 years or so, Halloween has become a much darker holiday than the Halloween of our childhood (or our parents' childhoods).

Because so many people now associate Halloween with violence and evil, many Christian parents are discouraging or outright banning their kids from what was once merely a way to dress up for a night and get free candy.

"Why would you ask me something like that?" asked Constance, curiously. It was a pretty reasonable question, really. From her point of view, I was asking if she was going to be truly naughty, and I sounded as if I was encouraging that.

"Well," I answered, "Some people think it's OK to trick-or-treat and some don't. In our family, we never minded it, but we've always understood why other people don't want to."

"Did you ever trick-or-treat?" she asked, watching me closely.

"Yeah, all the time," I admitted. Her eyes widened as if I'd just confessed to killing babies and drinking their blood. "BUT," I added quickly, "it was different in my time."

"How?" she asked, genuinely wondering. "Didn't you have skeletons and monsters then?"

"Yeah, we did," I admitted, "But it wasn't as real as it is now. It's gotten really gross since we were little. When we were kids it was more like... like cartoons! We never saw anything really scary or nasty back then." (I didn't tell her about the Jimmy Carter costume that I once saw, which was both).

My kid finally stopped trick-or-treating this year, but it's only because he's over 6 feet tall and people frown on adult-sized trick-or-treaters. He didn't really mourn the loss, as he's also grown to dislike the holiday and feels it's become way too sadistic.

We went to the Bush Gardens Howl-O-Scream last year, but we both grew quickly disenchanted with such joyous celebrations of violence and cruelty. At that point, we decided we were done with the holiday, although we still give out candy and snacks for now.

And, like many other people, we have yet to decide how much of this we want to continue to sanction. And, if we continue to participate, are we (as little Constance fears) participating in things of eeeeevil?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pov Moo in New York City

My best friend Pov Moo went to a major function in New York City on Monday, and I loaned him my fabulous camera for the trip. He stayed in the Dream Hotel near Central Park and Times Square. We thought we would share some of his adventures and photos with you. (Just wait 'till you hear what took place at the NBC Studios...)

There are a lot of pictures here, but I really wanted to share the feel in a comprehensive way.

The first batch of pictures were taken at or near Times Square on Monday night:

He passed M&Ms World on his way back to his hotel room:

The next morning, Pov set out at dawn to capture New York City at near freezing temperatures.

One of the first things he went by was the NBC Studios, where they were filming The Today Show:

As Pov was rounding the corner, he knocked into a woman with short blond hair. He apologized automatically, and then realized he'd just bumped into Pink, the rockstar. Her bodyguards immediately began demanding identification as Pov extricated himself. Pov is always getting himself into situations like this: I don't know how he does it.

Afterwards, Pov took some shots of Pink in the Today Show studio:

Radio City Music Hall:

The weather couldn't make up it's mind and there were light snow flurries at times as well as just plain, cold rain:

He went past St. John the Divine Cathedral (Episcopalian) and even went inside, but the inside shots were too dark, so we can only share the exterior shots:

Rockefeller Center:

Chinese Bagels:

New York Asses (see the billboard):

Gamer's Mecca:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let Me Be Clear

This is a modified version of a comment I left in my last post. There are some significant additions, but please forgive me for some redundance.
Everyone, A few things, please.

1. No personal attacks. If you're not mature enough to debate in a clearheaded manner, please do not debate here. If you have gone overboard and you need to apologize to someone, you will gain both my respect and theirs.

This means: Do not questions someone's intellect, do not cast aspersions on their character, do not make slurs against any race, religion or color. You know the difference between debate and derisiveness, as we all do.

2. As I stated up-front, I do not know if these facts are true. I do know that they're news, and I believe it's time to discuss it. Any views, both pro and con, are welcome.

3. I do not particularly like either candidate. In many ways, Obama may be the better candidate for me personally, as health care is eating me alive and I may need major surgery soon. My health care coverage is the best I can afford or get as a single business owner, but it's not that great.

However, I also must vote for the good of my country and not myself, and I feel that Obama could do a great deal more damage than McCain could.

I base this decision not on the information in the former post (or the rumors of Obama's affair) but on that fact that Obama is the most liberal Senator we have, and we have Supreme Court Justices coming up for grabs shortly. Additionally, if certain programs and/or policies are put in place, even if they're wrong, it's almost impossible to dismantle them later.

I believe that if we give Obama 4 years, there could be tremendous damage done to our country and our country's foundation (The Constitution). Because, make no mistake about it, there will be both a President and a Congress with the majority consisting of the Democratic Party. There will be no checks and balances. For the Democrats, that's a field day. For the country, it will eventually create buyers' remorse of unprecedented proportions.

Most of us are moderates. This will result in a great skew to the left, which the majority of the populace doesn't want. And, McCain is a Democrat in Republican clothing anyway*. The difference is minimal but significant, as Obama is far to the left of even the Democratic Party average.

4. I believe that a vote for any other candidate besides Obama or McCain is a throwaway vote.
I'm truly sorry to say so (because I'd love a viable alternative) and I have friends that are doing protest votes (as Ed is doing) but as there is absolutely no chance of any other candidate winning, we really need to seriously focus on (and vet) the two primary candidates.

Update on Obama Birth Certificate

Daily Nation:

"A US federal judge on Friday rejected a lawsuit claiming Senator Barack Obama is ineligible to seek the presidency because he was either born in Kenya or is a citizen of Indonesia.

It is not clear whether the Supreme Court will review Mr Berg's plea for a hearing prior to the November 4 election."
This is not due to any facts presented, but because the judge says that individual citizens do not have the right to bring such a suit.

*Yes, President Bush is also almost as liberal as McCain. At one time he tried to appeal to the extreme right wing of the Republican party by claiming he was a born-again Christian but Bush is not a born-again Christian, and he is not conservative. Bush is a new breed called a neo-con and Bush is appallingly pro Big Business. Hopefully McCain will be a step up from Bush, and McCain can at least walk and chew gum at the same time.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Obama Citizenship Scandal

I admit immediately that I have no idea what is true yet, so please don't shoot the messenger. This whole mess is still in the early stages but I find it fascinating and there is a torrent of speculation. So, after a day of culling the interesting and verified facts, I wanted to share them with you.

Here's what we know so far:

Philip Berg

Attorney Philip J. Berg filed a lawsuit on Sept. 15, 2008, accusing Barack Obama of being born in the Coast Provincial General Hospital in Mombasa, Kenya. Berg also alleges that the DNC is guilty for not vetting Obama properly. Berg is, incidentally, a Democrat.

However, one needs to question why Berg filed the suit against Obama instead of demanding originals and evidence directly from the government of Hawaii. Not being an attorney, I really don't know. I suspect it was done this way because the publicity would be greater. This doesn't make the suit invalid, however, as documents and expert testimony will need to be brought into it.

The Documents

Included in the accusation are documents which back up Berg's assertion. Among the documents are Obama's alleged Kenyan birth certificate and testimonies of his Kenyan relatives who claim to have been present during his birth in Kenya.

The Admission

Due to the fact that the DNC and the Obama campaign didn't respond properly to the suit within 30 days of the filing, it is legally considered to be a tacit admission of guilt. Now Berg is demanding that Obama step down immediately and yesterday he filed a motion to expedite the resolution to force the DNC to replace Obama on the ticket.

Hawaiian Birth Certificate?

In response, the Obama campaign posted a supposed copy of his birth certificate from Hawaii. Experts seem to be divided as to whether it's a forgery or not. Here is a very convincing expert analysis of the document, including myriad pictures, with the conclusion that it is, indeed, a forgery.

Even if the birth certificate from Hawaii is genuine, Hawaii has a strange practice: They will issue Hawaiian birth certificates to people born outside of the USA. However, the Hawaiian birth certificate will name the birth country of origin and it does not make the person named a U.S. citizen.

In order to become a U.S. citizen under such circumstances, the candidate must publicly take an oath when he reaches the age of 18. There is no record of Obama doing so, nor would there be, since he claims he was born in Hawaii to begin with.

But this is a moot point, since the birth certificate that Obama displays claims his birth to be in Hawaii. Whether the birth certificate is genuine, altered, or completely forged is something that is still unknown. At least, unknown to the general public.

Kenyan Birth Certificate?

Three other experts have acquired copies of the Kenyan birth certificate, and all verify that it exists and it's genuine. It's extremely doubtful that another child of the same name, same parents, and same birthdate would be born in the Coast Provincial General Hospital in Mombasa, Kenya when one was being born in Hawaii. (Incidentally, Obama will not release the name of the hospital in which he was purportedly born in Hawaii.)

An Inconvenient Law

There is a funny U.S. law that says that if a woman is under 21 and gives birth in a foreign country, that child is not a U.S. citizen unless he is born on U.S. soil (such as a military base or embassy). Obama's mother was 18 at the time of his birth.

Obama's Dual Citizenship

Incidentally, Obama travelled on an Indonesian passport when he went to Pakistan in 1981 at the age of 20. In order to have an Indonesian passport, you must have citizenship. Oddly, under Indonesian law, you cannot be an Indonesian citizen and have dual citizenship, so Obama would have had to renounce his U.S. citizenship.

Obama did admit recently that he was born with dual citizenship(?) but claims that it isn't a big deal, as his Indonesian citizenship expired in 1982. That may not be a problem for most people, until you understand that this makes Obama ineligible under Article II of the Constitution.

You see, Article II requires that the President must be a “natural born citizen”, and in terms of the law as understood by the Founding Fathers, anyone with Dual Citizenship couldn't be “natural born”. It doesn't matter that they no longer hold that other country's citizenship. They fall into the same bracket as a “naturalized citizen” because they have / had divided allegiance.

Why Wasn't This Addressed When Obama Ran for the Senate?

Some people are arguing that this must have been covered already, as Obama has held office in the Senate. Here's why that argument is invalid:

1. Senators are far less important than the President of the United States. If someone is concealing something, it's much easier to hold a lower office and get away with it. Presidential candidates come under far more scrutiny.

2. Senators don't have to be natural born citizens. They can originate from other countries, and the only requirement is that they've been U.S. citizens for a minimum of nine years.

Why is Obama in Hawaii Right Now?

Many people feel that his convenient rush to a sickly grandmother's bedside is hardly the real purpose for his running to Hawaii. After all, he has disparagingly painted her as a bitter, racist old lady (even though she raised him). Interestingly, she was not there at the DNC nomination, either. It's as if they had arrived at an uneasy truce until now: You go your way, I'll go mine.

But now Obama suddenly jets off, with the claim that his grandmother is ailing fast and he must attend to her? Some pundits are wondering if he really may be attempting to shore up a cover-up which is coming apart. If so, he would certainly need grandma's help and greasing a few palms has always been the tried and true method of politicians for centuries. If this is the case, it won't be easy for Obama, as the press will be watching avidly.

If Obama is, in fact, a Kenyan-born citizen, the game is probably over. In that case, he may suddenly have a press conference announcing that he had always thought that he was a U.S. citizen but that over his grandma's sick bed, he just learned that he had been born in Kenya. He'll give a toothy grin, a "shucks, ya'll" apology. Whoops, my bad.

And Hillary will be back on the ticket.

Update on Obama Birth Certificate

Daily Nation:

"A US federal judge on Friday rejected a lawsuit claiming Senator Barack Obama is ineligible to seek the presidency because he was either born in Kenya or is a citizen of Indonesia.

It is not clear whether the Supreme Court will review Mr Berg's plea for a hearing prior to the November 4 election."
This is not due to any facts presented, but because the judge says that individual citizens do not have the right to bring such a suit.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Florida's Floundering Economy

I really wish I could think of something positive to write about today. But news is rarely positive, and I think some of this needs to be discussed. The economy isn't merely bad in Florida, it's bad everywhere. Even our brethren in the U.K. are suffering, according to recent news articles (perhaps our friend Daniel would like to weigh in on that).

Florida is particularly hard hit because we are such a tourist-y economy. People don't have extra spending money, and gas prices have been sky-high (until recently) and so they're not travelling as much, they're not dining out, they're not throwing money at luxuries or baubles.

But Florida has built its economy on that type of a consumer, and it's now suffering as a result of it. If you open up our local newspaper, the jobs section is only a couple of inches long, and the jobs offered are so industry-specific that the typical ad comes close to reading like this:

"Wanted: Salesperson for medical manufacturer. Must have 2 years of experience as a rep for company that manufactures insulin needles. Must have 1 year of experience as a former cancer patient. Must have one brown eye, one blue eye, and have a first name that begins with A, P, or T. Although all resumes are appreciated, only qualified applicants will be called back."The newspaper itself was full of dire predictions yesterday, and pointed out that all the service jobs are at risk, which comprises 25% of our total workforce.

Of course it's often argued that telling such truths creates a self-perpetuating problem. However, it's equally important that we understand what we're up against.

Frankly, I'm worried.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Dumbing Down of America: Exhibit 2
The Teen Marketing Campaign

This picture was taken at a mall by my friend, per my request (as he has the better cell phone camera). The moment I spotted it, I had to have this additional proof of the dumbing down of America.

It's apparently part of an advertising campaign for an information site targeting middle and high school girls. The website is mentioned at the bottom of the ad, but we didn't capture it and, frankly, I don't want to give them free advertising anyway.

It says "A dog's bark is caused by VIBRATIONS in the air. (But I have no idea what causes his STINKY breath.)"

Now, what is wrong with this picture?!

Well, to begin with, a dog's bark is NOT caused by vibrations in the air. Sound is vibration, and travels that way, but a dog's bark is not caused by sound. A dog's bark is caused by its vocal cords.

Duh, as they say in teenspeak.

Can anyone any longer dispute the dumbing down of America, when even a marketing firm can be this stupid?

If this continues, in another ten years our youth will be standing on street corners, walking in circles and drooling on themselves. We'll applaud if they know how to dress themselves properly, and the concert I mentioned in my last post will be considered a shining achievement.

And they'll swallow every piece of stupidity that's set in front of them.

The American government is well on its way to achieving its dream of malleable masses.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Dumbing Down of America: Exhibit 1
The Horrid Chorus Recital

Last night my friend, "Barb", and I went with my boyfriend, "Rick", to his daughter's middle school chorus recital. He blithely recommended earplugs, but we were still enticed to go because they had a very nice catered dinner that accompanied it.

It was horrid, but at least the food was good. And everyone seemed to agree, though I doubt they'll tell their kids or the teacher that. I'll bet the Principal gets no complaint letters, and the whole mess is proclaimed a success.

The sound system was poor, but that should have made no difference if the kids could sing. But the chorus teacher had apparently never taught them about projection, how to properly use their voices, or how to perform well.

Afterwards, we asked Rick's daughter if the teacher gave individual lessons and she said that the teacher did not. We were surprised, but it explained why the kids were universally awful with the exception of one girl who obviously either has private lessons or a parent that's been on the stage.

With no one to work with any of them individually, these kids have a passive group mentality and are content to graze with the herd instead of soaring with the eagles (with that one exception). Their voices were wispy and insignificant, and their accompanying dance moves were half-hearted at best.

I understand shyness, and remember the middle school years and it isn't with any fondness. But I also took chorus. My curmudgeonly teacher insisted on our performance being top-notch. We may not have been perfect, but we tried.

These kids didn't try.

Queen's "Somebody to Love" was terribly butchered by a quartet who interrupted their performance halfway through to have one of their singers do some ballet moves about the room while they were singing (or perhaps I should say whispering) off-key. It was the only part that elicited applause, as it was the only part done well. The two pretty girls were given the leads, and the accompanying fat girls whispered the chorus and looked uncomfortable.

A couple other girls sat down to a duet of some depressing modern song and, thankfully, the only thing that stood out was their shocking pink and black striped stockings. It was a delight to not hear their voices, although occasionally our dinner was interrupted with an untimely squawk.

I could go on about this, but you get the picture. With a couple of rare exceptions, the performances were truly terrible.

This is, again, where so many modern "arts" teachers seem to fail. Since standards were higher at one time, parents could expect better performances. But now everyone is afraid of expecting anything better than average (or even below average) for fear of offending or discouraging someone.

So, our expectations and standards are lowered, and we're subjected to lowered quality, too. Someday they will no longer even bother to have recitals, and I await that day with great anticipation, because I don't see any way that we can regain our standards that we lost so long ago.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Political Sex Scandals: Two For the Price of One

Tim Mahoney
Florida Rep. Tim Mahoney (D) comes from Mark Foley's former district. If I lived in West Palm Beach, I would consider moving, because there's something in the water.

Two years after Mahoney won Foley's seat (after Foley's sex scandal, Mahoney now has a fully bloomed sex scandal of his very own.

Below is Mahoney with his mistress, Patricia Allen:

Neither of them could win a beauty contest, but apparently she meets his standards. Too bad he's married.

The affair came to light when she found out that he was having an affair with someone else in campaign headquarters. This guy must be more active than a hormonally-flushed teenager.

So Patricia confronted Mahoney about the other affair and secretly taped the conversation during which he fired her on the spot.

She must have been more than angry, because releasing the tape is an admission of guilt in the state of Florida, where it's illegal to tape record someone secretly without their consent. So, Patricia can look forward to a few charges of her own.

Meanwhile, Mahoney is clamoring for help from the Democratic leadership. If they're smart, the only help they'll give him is out the door.

Barack Obama

Yeah, yeah. I know. More unwarranted smears from the right. However, this little gem surfaced originally when Obama's biggest competitor was Hillary Clinton, and it initially came from her supporters.

Apparently Obama's been playing footsies with the hired help. This girl is Vera Baker, and there's a growing series of discussions and speculations about this pretty young thing.

From Hill Buzz we hear:

Who is Vera Baker?

Some people in Chicago claim she was Obama’s Finance Director for his 2004 Senate campaign. FEC Senate campaign records show she was paid a pretty penny as “Finance Director”.

However, people familiar with Obama’s 2004 Senate campaign say Claire Serdiuk was Obama’s Finance Director. Looking through everything we can see online for that 2004 campaign, Claire Serdiuk is consistently listed as the Finance Director - because that’s what she was.

There’s no mention of Vera Baker…but Vera Baker was paid as the “Finance Director” too.

And then, suddenly, Vera Baker was relocated to New York.

Right around the time Michelle Obama got incredibly angry about something. We know it was hard to tell, because Michelle’s angry about something on a good day…but this was EXTRA angry.

And then, even more suddenly, Vera Baker was relocated to the island of Martinique, where she remains.

Incidenally, Hill Buzz is a site run by self-proclaimed gay white male Democrats - hardly your classic defenders of staunch Republican values.
According to other sources, Baker is now on the payroll for a very big connection of Obama's who happens to reside in Chicago. What she can possibly do for him while she's located in Martinique remains a mystery.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Paddington, Palin, Politics, and Polls

Paddington Bear

On Google's main site is the announcement that Paddington Bear is 50 years old. For me, that is the equivalent of hearing news of a distant relative whom you've known of, but never spoken to. I don't know Paddington, having somehow missed the phenomenon.

Instead, I immersed myself in other children's series such as Curious George, Frog & Toad, Lyle the Crocodile, and the Narnia series. Perhaps I missed it because there wasn't enough time to get to it before I was reading the Nancy Drew series at age six.

I looked into the Paddington series when my own child was very young, and wasn't terribly impressed. I'm sure you have to be reading it at the right age, at the right time, with a crispy piece of toast thickly smeared with marmalade. But there are so many books, and so little time!

Sarah Palin's Campaigning Tactics

Now that an Alaska panel has declared the Palin had abused her power as Governor of Alaska, her credibility has been damaged.

Reports over the weekend have said that she's toned down her rhetoric and has become almost apologetic in her attacks on Obama. I don't know if this is a result of her latest battle wounds, or if she's been told by McCain that he wants her to play nice.

Either way, it's a mistake. With only a couple more weeks on the trail, the only way to win will be to start laying out Obama's flaws for the public to see. They can be sure that Obama and his henchmen will be milking Palin's recent failure for all it's worth.

Negative campaigning (or mudslinging) is as American as apple pie, despite the protesting howls of the injured. It's also been shown to be very effective under certain circumstances, such as when a campaign is behind an average of 7.5 in the polls (as McCain's was over the weekend).

Will McCain have the guts to do it? It's doubtful. McCain has never understood that politics is not a coy sport.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Furry Interlude: Our Pinny-poo

Let's take a break from politics for a moment. Some of you may remember the abused puppy I rescued from a shelter in December 2006. He was nicknamed "Oscar" by my fellow bloggers at the time:

He's now 2 to 2 1/2 years old and, although he's still scared of strangers, he's a completely different animal. He's happy, he adores my other two dogs, and he's probably one of the best dogs I've ever had.

He's got an incredible personality: Very loving, loyal, and yet playful. He has a few bad habits, but they're nothing serious. We've determined he's a pinny-poo (part mini-pinscher, part poodle) and he has the hunting instincts of the mini-pin. Squirrels drive him mad with desire.

He is a rare dog that is very still when he's snuggling with you: There is no turning, chewing, biting, or paw sucking. There is a deep well of calmness that he seems to draw from.

He will come running up during the day, almost like a child, for a quick kiss or a pat on the head. Otherwise, he plays with the smaller of my two dogs or will tuck himself away on my couch for a nap.

He is now groomed regularly, and he keeps himself very clean. Here is Oscar now: