Sunday, September 30, 2007

9-30-07: Long Day, But a Good Day

Yesterday was arguably the longest day of my life, or so it seemed. I'm sure I've had longer, but yesterday can contend with any of them. The reason: the LSAT. I have to say, I prepared as much as I could, but nothing can truly prepare you for that beast of a test. It's sort of like sprinting through a marathon. You can't take your time, or you don't finish the test. It's just rough. One girl in the room hadn't done any preparation for it, and you could tell. A few people looked nervous. I can't blame them. It's pretty much torture. I'm not sure how I did. I don't think I'll reach my goal of 160, but I really don't care. That's a nice feeling. I gave it a shot.

After the test, Bartl and I headed up to Worcester for the tail end of Homecoming. It was pretty laid back, but it was nice to see the guys. The House looked fine. I was up there on Friday to help with interviews, and got a chance to see the campus. Lots of improvements! There's a Quizno's in the Campus Centre; they completely renovated the football field, track, and stands; the new dorm is coming along pretty fast; there's a new bar/restaurant in the upper class dorm. All in all, the campus is improving. The House is doing pretty well in Greek Week, which is very nice. What really pisses me off is the THEME IS THE 80's. God damn it, I graduated a year early. Oh well. I was going to stay the night, but things had really died down, so I headed back with Sam. I got to talk to my sweetheart, though, which was the best part of the day BY FAR. We're already planning the vacation in Japan in December. Never too early to prepare!

Great weekend for the Red Sox. In two days they clinched the AL East and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. That's fantastic. I'm pretty sure they're playing the Indians in the ALDS, which should be a good series. They're a great team. Let's all hope for the best, but it is just baseball. Or is it?!

Woke up with a headache, and I'm still a little tired, but otherwise, it'll be a good day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

9-26-07: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York

It has been an interesting past two days, politically speaking. The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been in New York, and has made appearances at Columbia University and at the United Nations.

I watched his address to the UN yesterday while on the treadmill, but not all of it. From what I heard, it was another chance for him to bash Bush and America in general. Big surprise there. Apparently that’s his method of garnering support back home in Iran, since their economy is in the gutter and people are being persecuted left and right.

With that method in mind, I think the President of Columbia, Lee Bollinger, is an idiot. For all the brainpower on that campus, they certainly have little to no etiquette (but that’s the Ivy League). I think Ahmadinejad is crazy, and I agree with Bollinger, but the way he went about it was all wrong. He started off on the offensive, which only put Ahmadinejad on the defensive and just wasn’t the best way to start good conversation. It just gives the crazy fucker another excuse to hate America. Bollinger has his heart in the right place, and I know he caught a lot of flack for inviting Ahmadinejad, but being rude isn’t going to solve anything. Had he just let Ahmadinejad shoot himself in the foot, again, Bollinger would have looked better and maybe even generated some good discussion.

Ahmadinejad is not a dumb man, but he comes from a society that is far, far different than America’s. Iran is an Islamic Republic, and is dominated by the Muslim faith, which has been at war with the Jewish culture for thousands of years. The generations and generations of hatred don’t patch up quickly, and having a Christian culture like ours enter the equation to try to balance things doesn’t work as easily as we hope. Remember the Crusades? Christians have made the attempt before, but we simply don’t understand their culture. It’s nice that Columbia invited Ahmadinejad to speak, but it was pretty much welcoming him into the door just to kick him back out. It didn’t really get us anywhere. Sure, he said some crazy shit about Iran having no homosexuals, but did it really help at all?

My favorite part of the whole scenario was that George Bush came out on top. When asked if he approved of the Iranian President’s visit to New York, he simply said: “It’s fine with me. I’m not sure if I would have extended the invitation, though.” He didn’t bash the visit, which is something Ahmadinejad needed to happen in order to play the victim card. I wish Bollinger could have followed suit, but he at least showed some balls in invited the guy to speak. That counts for something, I guess. It's a step in the right direction to ask his opinion.

Monday, September 24, 2007

9-24-07: Freedom of Speech vs. Tomfoolery

You’ve probably heard of Andrew Meyer, the student who was tasered last week at a John Kerry speech at the University of Florida. He’s become a bit of an internet star for the incident, and that’s fine with me. That’s his right. You can’t violate that. But that’s not necessarily in the Constitution, and neither are the rights he and many pundits say were violated.

During the question and answer portion of Kerry’s speech, Meyer cut to the front of the line and went on a rant about how Kerry shouldn’t have conceded the election so early in 2004 because of all these voting machine malfunctions (which were probably discovered weeks later) AND that Kerry should move to impeach Bush AND that he and Bush are probably members of the Skull and Bones society. Meyer became a nuisance, and University of Florida police officers came in to subdue him. He then began to resist arrest, which is a crime, and they were forced to take action. Should they have used a taser? Probably not. That’s a bit excessive. But that’s not the real issue being debated.

The issue is that people claim his right to free speech was violated. Let’s take a look at that. Here’s what the Constitution says (Article 1):

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

What does that say to you? It’s pretty straightforward, and can be applied to a multitude of scenarios. It’s a powerful law that many consider the greatest of our Constitution rights, and I agree with that. It protects us against the Federal government from prohibiting our basic rights to religion, speech, and the press, as well as peaceable assembly and petition. What it does NOT do is prevent any lesser body, such as the University of Florida, from enforcing their own rules. In this case, Meyer went too long and refused to step down when asked. Why the moderator didn’t take action is beyond me, but that’s all hindsight. The police took action, and he resisted. He was NOT being denied his right to speak by the university. They let him talk. He just went too long. He then became a nuisance, then resisted arrest, THEN was tasered.

Apparently Meyer has a history of tomfoolery and general pranks. So his credibility is questionable. His rant was marvelously delusional, so his intelligence is questionable. Why were there cameras in the crowd, and why did it seem like it was staged? Here’s a white kid who tried to make a scene, and succeeded. Good for him, but I think he’s an idiot. I don’t think he needed to be tasered, but he still did something stupid and deserved to be taken away. It’s ultimately his fault that he was tasered, because he put himself in the situation. I applaud the UF police for taking action, because we shouldn’t support anarchy. But… tasering is a bit much. Maybe next time they should just beat the shit out of the kid in front of his classmates. That’d be more… civilized.

This is a completely different topic, but if Andrew Meyer was black, or Asian, or Arabic, do you think the same questions would be asked? That’s a completely racial issue that’s been presented many, many times. This situation is different. I just thought it’d be interesting the think what would happen had he not been a spoiled white kid.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

9-23-07: Beer Advertising

If you've ever seen a Coors Light or a Miller Lite commercial, you've been a witness for what is nothing short of bad beer advertising. To be fair, the ads themselves are well-made and visually appealing. But, the message is just bad.

Coors Light is big into "cold taste," and their advertising campaigns usually consist of a train that brings cold refreshment to hot situations. But, wouldn't you want something a little different than beer in those situations? Let's put it this way: if you were in the desert, dehydrated beyond belief, suffering from heat exhaustion, would you look to the heavens and beg for... Coors Light? Of course not. Any beer can be cold if you put it into the fridge long enough. That's easy. Making a beer that tastes good is much more difficult, so Coors Light is just trying to hide behind something. That something is the huge fucking train in their commercials. I like to call it the Bullshit Express.

Miller Lite commercials fall into a different category that's a little more clever. They're usually gloating about how their beer won some award, but I guarantee that their award-winning beer is FAR different than the average bottle you buy at the package store. They probably made some deluxe beer that costs the same as a 24-pack of their normal beer, and that beer only managed to win some niche award at the "World Beer Cup." Wow. I'm really impressed. But that's another issue. The main thing they try to sell is "more taste." This is clever, so I give them some credit. More taste seems like a good thing, but look at it this way: piss has more taste than water, but no one sells bottled piss and makes a profit. If Miller Lite tastes better than other beers in its category, that's a different story. That's a bit more credible. But, at least it's an attempt at making taste a priority. It's still bad beer, so who really cares. I just find the commercials a bit misleading, but their audience doesn't care, so have at it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

9-21-07: Pizza at Dunkin’s ?!

Today I witnessed something quite disturbing. After recalling the incident at around lunch time, I nearly lost my appetite. Well, sort of. The recollection of this incident reminded me of something I ate when I was in Thailand and… yeah, I’m losing my appetite right now. Thanks.

This morning I went into the new Dunkin’ Donuts down the street from my office, on my way into work. It’s a pretty normal looking Dunkin’s from the outside, and the interior is pretty normal. What’s different is the menu. Maybe this is just an experiment they’re doing at select locations (or at least I hope so), but it’s just awful. On their menu, in addition to the standard donuts, coffee, bagels, etc., are “toastable snacks” such as (PREPARE YOURSELF) pizza and wrap sandwiches. PIZZA… at Dunkin’ Donuts… WHY?! It’s pretty much as close to a sacrilege without being in a church.

I was wondering all day what sort of benefit they’re hoping to gain from this. Can you imagine walking down the street, seeing a Dunkin’ Donuts and saying “You know, I sure could use a pizza right now. Not a real one, just a toasted, pre-made one.” I’m sure some one will lose their job with this, or at least I hope so. When you have the word “donuts” right in your business’ name, you’d think it was obvious what sort of general market you should be in. Pizza ain’t one of them. There are tons of places that sell pizza. Not too many succeed with donuts and pizza.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with experimenting. That’s the business’ right. But there’s a cost. Hardcore customers like my family will see Dunkin’ Donuts differently if they decide to keep shit like this going. I mean, PIZZA?!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

9-20-07: Two Party System

Did you ever wonder why we have a two party system? A common reason given by people I’ve spoken with is “Well, we’ve always had one.” Not true. We’ve usually had two strong parties, but in American history, we’ve had: Federalists, Democratic-Republicans, Whigs, National Unionists, Republicans, and Democrats… as Presidents. Never mind the countless other parties that have had candidates run in the past. Right now we also have the Libertarians, the Green Party, and the Constitution Party. But why do we have just two parties represented? It’s a bit odd.

More important than the curious existence of our two party system is how it works. Have you ever heard on the news that Democrats had to be swayed to prevent a filibuster? Or that “the Republicans have enough votes to prevent the bill from passing”? Of course you have, it happens all the time. People take it for granted, and hardly notice it because it is so common. It’s all part of the game, I guess. But it’s never part of any one’s election campaign, is it? You vote for somebody because of their values, their character, and their record. When is the last time any one took a politician seriously just because they don’t support anything the other party does?

A year ago, we had an election in Connecticut that was nationally covered for its “epic” battle of Joe Lieberman against… Ned Lamont. The ellipses aren’t there for just effect. I had to look up Lamont’s name. I bet more people than just me forgot his name. Why? Because there was nothing to him outside of his “I’m not Joe Lieberman. I don’t support Bush.” I thought Lieberman’s reelection was nothing short of outstandingly refreshing. People went against Lieberman for his “party line crossing” ways and called him a “Bush ally.” They actually wanted Lamont in office JUST BECAUSE he said he wouldn’t work with Republicans. Can you believe that? Some one who deliberately states his absolute stubbornness gains support simply because of that. Unreal. It’s like a bad dream.

Thankfully, there were people out there who had a better sense of things. I listen to the Chaz and A.J. morning radio show on 99.1 WPLR, and they made a point in the weeks leading up to the election how ridiculous it was to go against Lieberman just because. They even had Lieberman on the show, and told him he was being blasted for something he should be praised for. Not because he worked with Republicans and Chaz and A.J. were Republicans (I don’t even think they are!), but because he knew that he needed to work with Republicans to get things done. Personally, I like Lieberman. I think he’s done a wonderful job for my state, and the couple of times I’ve tried to reach him, he’s responded to me. The same can’t be said for Christopher Dodd, but he’s running for President, so he obviously can’t waste his time doing his actual job. Lieberman should be an example for politicians. Their allegiance shouldn’t be strictly with their party. It’s foremost to their constituency, who aren’t all in their party.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

9-19-07: Universal Healthcare

Hillary Clinton is at it again with her quest to universalize healthcare. Apparently, she's learned her lesson from her outright failure about 15 years ago. You simply can't overstep the insurance companies. They have a lot of money, and a lot of influence, so it's political suicide to go against them.

Now, she's trying to make it possible for every American to obtain health insurance, with the help of employers and government subsidies. I currently have health insurance through my employer, so I can't say I'd be against that approach. But where would the money come from with the government subsidies? Who'd pay for it? Taxpayers, of course.

The thing that always pisses me off is when people who support Democrats insist that Republicans are destroying our civil rights. Yet, so many Democrats insist on programs like this that mandate health insurance and pass on new taxes. Aren't there people who don't want health insurance, such as for religious purposes? Should they be forced to pay? Don't they have the right to choose? Health care is grossly expensive, and having a one-payer system like the government would be a disaster. It's socialized medicine. Besides, it's not working in Canada or Europe, so why should we expect it to work in the greatest free market economy in the world? Look at Cuba!

I like what Giuliani has planned a lot better. He wants to enable more people to afford health care on their own with tax breaks. No government controlled system. It's almost INSANE that people expect such a greatly important service like healthcare to be entirely successful with controlling healthcare, when they can't even manage proper spending on our own infrastructure? We're not all living in Fantasyland, are we? Where would all these new doctors and nurses come from?

The bottom line is that people like Hillary Clinton draw on our emotions and hope we ignore the glaringly obvious facts that such a drastic change would cost us way too much. Oh by the way, it's an election year. Where have you been the past three years, Hillary?

I think we should let the Massachusetts experiment play itself out before we make any crazy changes to the country's plan.

Monday, September 17, 2007

9-17-07: Weekend in Mass.

I spent the weekend up in Massachusetts. Great time. Saturday was spent at my buddies’ place in Marlborough at a whiskey tasting party. It was interesting. We saw this guy get busted on the street right in front of the apartment, for allegedly throwing rocks at cars. He was taken down by four policemen. It was nuts. Other than that, it was a pretty normal night.

Sunday was a great day for baseball, and the game was fun. The Sox lost, but they fought hard at the end. No team really dominated the series, save for the Sox in game 2. They lost game 1 in heartbreaking fashion, and Schilling made one bad pitch to Jeter last night. So, it wasn’t a completely disheartening series. It was fun.

I made the trip down from Framingham this morning. No traffic, so it was great. I stayed over my grandfather’s house, which was nice. He’s doing fine. The highlight of my car ride home was a nice phone call from Joanna. A very pleasant surprise, one I always like to get. She’s back in port, which is nice. I feel bad that she has to spend so much on phone calls, though. It’s outrageous! I like calling her, so my plan is to give her more calls on Skype. Once she gets her apartment things will be way easier. Three months! I can’t wait to see Japan. I even got her a Matsuzaka shirt in Kanji. It’s pretty sweet.

Friday, September 14, 2007

9-14-07: Funny Coincidence

I found out something pretty interesting today about the building in which I work. A couple weeks ago I was transferred over to our other building to work on the big new project. It's a nice building, and it's a little shorter commute each day.

Another company shares the building with us, though our part is pretty much a separate building. That other company is Nuance, a division of Dictaphone and "The Leading Supplier of Speech Recognition Software."

Here's where the funny coincidence comes in: I work in flight controls engineering, which is the career I chose because I find it interesting. The other area I was thinking of going was Digital Signal Processing. Last year I did my senior project on… speech recognition. So, there is the slightest chance that I could have chosen to go into that field and still be working in the same building. Slim chance, but still… creepy.

Monday, September 10, 2007

9-10-07: America’s Game

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of football. I’m more of a soccer follower, personally, but that’s only recent. I’ve always enjoyed football, but I’ve never been obsessed with it. Now, with an opening day victory by the mighty Patriots, I’m back watching “America’s game.”

America certainly has its share of “America’s games.” Most say it’s baseball, which I tend to agree with. Others insist that it’s football. The problem is the definition of the term “America’s game.” I see two possible ways to define it. One favors baseball, whereas the other favors football.

The first definition, which would favor baseball, is the age and popularity of an American-born sport. Professional baseball is older than professional football by almost 50 years (difference in age between the NFL and the National League). And one could easily argue that baseball is much more popular worldwide, with leagues in Asia, South America, and Malaysia. Football is big in America and parts of Europe and Canada, but the CFL has different rules (though the game is essentially the same). So, if one were to say “America’s game” should be something that was invented in the United States and then transplanted around the world, as a sort of empire, then baseball fits right in there over football.

The second definition can be seen as more of a pride issue. Though baseball is more popular in the United States than in any other country (with the possible exceptions of Japan and Venezuela), it is not the most popular sport in its home country. Football is more popular (if one uses straight TV ratings). And football in the United States is far, far better than football in any other country. On top of that, most of the players in the NFL are Americans. You can’t say that about baseball. So, in this school of thought, football is, at its core, more American in its demographic than baseball.

Personally, I think the second definition is far too limited in scope to make a good argument. It’s one thing to say a sport is chemically American, but it’s another to say it’s spiritually American. Here’s what I mean: football is played by mostly Americans, so it is therefore quite American in nature. Baseball (professionally) is played by a far more representative group of people as far as the true American culture. I’m not saying football is racist, it’s just a bit more limited in its diversity. The American perspective goes beyond simple terms. It’s what makes us America. I read a piece the other day about how this writer from London wants more Englishmen in the English Premier League. Have you ever heard of something like that in baseball? Not very often.

Friday, September 7, 2007

9-7-07: Mormons

I'm not the biggest fan of Mitt Romney, but a funny thought popped in my head the other day regarding his chances of winning the Republican nomination as a Mormon. I am not a supporter of Mitt Romney. I am far from an expert on the Mormon cult, and I think polygamy is wrong. But...

Wouldn't you think, using the example of polygamy, that he'd have some excellent time management skills? I'm not sure how many wives he has. In fact, I'm pretty sure he has just one. BUT… he has to be friends with people with multiple wives, or atleast his wife is. So, let's go through this logic. If some one were to be married to multiple people, they'd MOST LIKELY (though not definitely, as there is the chance they are poor spouses) have good time management skills. If you were to be friends with them, or better yet share the same faith, you MIGHT have some of those good time management skills rub off on you. We're very often creatures of our environment, and those skills sure would help him as President. Being a part of a polygamic lifestyle has its side benefits, even for those who choose only to marry one other person. Yes, I used "polygamic" in the last sentence. That word is 99% of the reason why I even wrote this post.

A similar thing can be said about Rudolph Giuliani being a Catholic. Sure, Catholicism is far from being taboo, especially compared to Mormonism, but there are people who would not vote for Rudy simply because he is a Catholic. As a Catholic, I'm a bit biased, since I'd love to see a second Catholic President (though I hope the second has a lot better luck than the first…), but I'm not voting for Giuliani just because he and I shared (he's been divorced twice, so he's now fake Catholic) the same faith. I'm not planning on voting for Giuliani over Fred Thompson. But, I think having raised as a Catholic could help Giuliani. We're a faith that pretty much brings a lot upon ourselves, be it through harsh punishment or strict beliefs. Giuliani is a lot more liberal than the super Catholics, but he has been around enough of them to, like Romney, have a little of that humility rub off on him.

The moral of the story: religion shouldn’t enter into why you vote for some one, because, not only is it irrelevant and inherently unconstitutional to, it could work to both hurt AND help the candidate.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

9-4-07: Smell Memory; Dream Jobs

Did you ever get a smell stuck in your nose? It happens to me from time to time after eating a certain food, usually barbecue. The funny thing is that I don’t remember eating anything of that sort recently. It’s not a particularly bad smell, just a funny smell. It’s more of a taste, but in my nose. It’s weird. The first time I remember it happening was after I went to an Allman Brothers concert my freshman year in high school. That wasn’t something I ate, though. It was something other people were smoking. Disgusting.

I found out I’m moving desks on Thursday. I’ve known about it for months now, but never an exact date until today. It’s a big relief, though, because it’s tough when you don’t know exactly when something inevitable will happen. Can’t wait. I’ll be moving over to the new building. It’s a shorter morning commute, which will be nice.

Check this out: . It’s a video my buddy Mike made this weekend. Pretty funny.

Here’s a job I’d like: old, but versatile, Major League Baseball pitcher. Think Roger Clemens or Pedro Martinez, but preferably Clemens. He’s being paid some ungodly amount of money to pitch this year, JUST this year, and he might be out for the rest of the season. Oh yeah, he didn’t start until June. At $1 million per start, that’s the kind of job I’d like to have. No matter what the pressure, it’d be pretty nice.

Here’s another job I’d like EVEN MORE: professional golfer. Phil Mickelson had a great weekend. On top of winning a “playoff tournament” in Norton, MA, he went to a Red Sox game FOR FREE and saw Clay Buccholz throw a no-hitter. How’s that for job perks? Amazing. And he only has to work weekends.

Monday, September 3, 2007

9-3-07: Day Off

Days off are quite nice. I definitely needed one. I spent this morning taking another practice LSAT. Didn't exactly go as planned, but it was OK. Regressed a bit, but I've got time. I still need some work on logic games. Those are damn tricky. The 35 minute timetable is definitely the hardest part. I'll live.

To say a rookie has thrown a no-hitter is not only rare, it's almost unbelievable. Well, Clay Buccholz did it in his second career start. Unreal. Absolutely unreal. He made an emergency start on Saturday for Tim Wakefield, and just so happened to pull off a feat no Red Sox rookie has ever done. It's absolutely amazing.

It's too nice out to write. I'm going OUTSIDE.