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Showing posts from October, 2004

The Economist endorses John Kerry

While clearly taking the "lesser of two evils" approach, to my surprise, The Economist endorsed John Kerry's election for president. I was hoping that this would be the case, because I seem to agree with the Economist's opinions most of the time. It is a moderately conservative publication from London, with a unique perspective on American policy. One of The Economist's biggist qualms with President Bush is identical to mine; his close relationship with the extremist religious right. The magazine also takes issue with his handling of the complex situations in Iraq, even though it strongly supported the rationale for initial invasion. It makes a lengthy argument which I will not try to fully summarize here. However, it makes me feel better about voting for John Kerry because it clearly articulates reasons for its choice. This is something that I sometimes feel I am not able to do, so I appreciate reading the opinion of respected publications, whether I agre…

"This Land Is Your Land" and Protest Songs

As I was reading an essay by John Mellencamp regarding protest songs last week in Vanity Fair, I discovered that Woodie Guthrie wrote "This Land is Your Land" as a passionate rebuttal to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America." I wanted to understand more about this. According to this website (which is an article from The New Yorker), the words were written in anger because Guthrie deplored Berlin's God Bless America as treacle. I had to look the word treacle up in the dictionary. It mean molasses. At first, I thought that Guthrie had a problem with the words of Berlin, but maybe he was upset about what he felt was a lack of musical passion in the song. I skimmed through the rest of The New Yorker article, but I would like to read it more closely. In fact, I would like to begin to study and better understand folk music, its history, personalities and other attribues. The Mellencamp article was interesting. He ranked his top ten protest singers. Among …

E.J. Dionne, Jr. Book

Last night, I began reading the book "Stand Up, Fight Back", written by Washington Post syndicated columnist and NPR contributor E.J. Dionne, Jr. I have always liked listening to Mr. Dionne's political analysis on NPR. He is a moderate progressive, he articulates his points clearly and he is non-combative. He is often on NPR opposite David Brooks.

Mr. Dionne writes that the biggest failure of the Bush presidency was to not take advantage of the popular support he enjoyed in the aftermath of 9/11. Instead, Dionne argues, Bush used his newfound popularity to push his ideologigical conservative agenda, secure the 2002 midterm elections and wage war in Iraq. Dionne asserts that Bush could have used the time following 9/11 to heal national wounds, some of which dated back to the Vietnam war.

Mr. Dionne is also tough on Democrats. He argues that Democrats have lost their identity, and that they don't know what they stand for. However, with the Republican party now controll…

The joy and the pain of being a parent

Last night, Dominic reminded us why it is at once joyful, painful, emotional and unpredictable to be parents. He has recently been watching a video titled "Extreme Dinosaurs", in which four dinosaurs have been transformed into souped-up versions of their prehistoric selves. They battle historic, contemporary and future bad guys. He likes to pretend that he is an extreme dinosaur himself.

As Sharon and Dominic were having storytime before bed last night, Dominic made the seemingly innocent comment that he wants to be an extreme dinosaur for Halloween next year. Sharon agreed that would be a fun costume. Then, inexplicably, Dominic began to get emotional and said that he would never be able to be an extreme dinosaur. Sharon was caught off guard, and told him that nobody could "really" become an extreme dinosaur. Before we knew it, Dominic began to sob. His sobs quickly progressed to full emotional sadness and the tears rolled down his cheeks. This was not a nighttime…

A picture of my son and I

Image
Dominic and Eric

Bloglines

I have created an account with Bloglines. I haven't quite figured out how to take full advantage of it yet, or for that matter, how to use it at all. The interface doesn't look too bad. I need to spend some time with it to understand the basics. What I want to do is create a place where I can look for updates to all of the blogs that I like to read. I know that this is possible with Bloglines, but I haven't figured it out yet, mostly because I just created an account today.

Social Security

I was reading an article in the WSJ yesterday which reported that there is a small increase in social security payments for next year, based on an inflation-adjusted index. The increase is something around 2%. Some 'experts' are saying that the increase is going to be completely offset by the rise in Medicare premiums, which are going to be around $75/month for Medicare Part B (doctor visits).

What I found interesting, for no particular reason, is that the average monthly social security payment is $1575 per person. For all the talk about social security, I had never really known how much each person received each month from the program. I am assuming that this is before taxes. It's not a large sum, but not exactly a small sum either. For those that have supplemental retirement income (i.e. IRA, 401k, etc.), it would be a nice 'bonus' payment. However, for those that have to live off of it entirely, it could be a challenge.

Economist economists poll

I was surprised to read in the Economist that a poll of economists asking which presidential candidate's policies were better for the economy resulting in the selection of John Kerry. Normally, economists tend to be a pretty conservative bunch, especially when it comes to fiscal policies. Granted, as the magazine noted, many academics are endlessly liberal. Still, I found it interesting that many economists are worried about George Bush's economic policy, especially the size of his tax cuts and the fiscal deficit. They did not seem to worry much about the trade deficit, which makes sense, since most economists see a value in free trade. Are the Democrats becoming the party of fiscal sanity??

Corn as Heat

On today's Talk of the Nation on NPR, the topic had something to do with minimizing heating costs. A caller phoned in to say that he heats his shop with corn fuel. I have heard of people burning corn for fuel before, but this is the most articulate explanation I have heard of the practice. Evidently, several manufacturers make corn-fueled furnaces. The corn demand helps the farmers. The caller was from Minnesota, and he said that the local newsstations in his state have been doing stories on corn fuel. I wouldn't mind learning more about this. Not that I am going to go out and buy a corn heater, but it is an interesting topic. Supposedly, corn heat is more economical than natural gas, propane or oil for the caller.

World Series as an Election Preview??

I'm sure that this has been reported on sports and/or political shows, but I have not seen it. I just thought last night--if the Red Sox pull off a miracle and end up defeating the Yankees in 7 games, and the Astros win one of two games in St. Louis, we will have a World Series pitting Texas against Massachusetts. Remind anyone of a certain political contest being waged this fall? I've seen everything from the NYSE, the Iowa Electronic Markets and the Farmer's Alamanc cited as a predictor of elections. Why not the championship of America's pastime? Alas, at this point I am fearing that the Red Sox have about as good of a chance as John Kerry at winning--not good, but possible. Also, it is interesting that I am neither a huge fan of the Red Sox, or John Kerry, but I am rooting for both of them because I intensely dislike their opponents.

Weight Watchers

I'm starting the Weight Watchers program today. I'll give it a shot to see how it works. I think that it might help both Shaon and me to be on the same program. I'm not actually going to my first meeting until Thursday, but I'm starting to count my points today. I weighed myself on our adjusted home scale last night: 229. That's not as bad as I feared. So far today, I've been eating healthy!

Champaign, IL Trip

Lynae rode with Sharon, Dominic and I to Darin Smith's wedding in Champaign, IL this past Saturday. We were in the car for approximately 18 hours of the weekend. We stayed over night in Effingham, IL on Friday night at a Days Inn, and we stayed in Champaign on Saturday night at a Country Inn and Suites. I'm giving up on Days Inns after a few bad experiences in a row.

The big cross in Effingham, IL is cool. Dominic said it was where Teen Titans lived. That gave us a chuckle.

The wedding and reception were fine as far as they go. Nothing spectacular or unexpected happened. I missed half of the wedding ceremony in the basement with Dominic when he had to go to the bathroom.

Darin and his wife appear to make a good couple, but how does one judge such things. I wish them luck!

Bumper Sticker Contradiction

On the way to work today, I followed an SUV with five or six anti-Kerry bumber stickers. They were unique in the respect that they all attacked Kerry's Vietnam service. One ridiculed him for being a "four-month" veteran, another supported the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. While I have been aware of the attacks on his Vietnam experience, I had not seen any bumber stickers reflecting such animosity. The curious thing about this vehicle was that it also had one of those ubiquitious yellow ribbon magnets that reads "support our troops." I guess this means to support all of the troops except for John Kerry, who was, after all, a soldier in Vietnam. Or, maybe it means to support the troops that happen to agree with the President's decision to invade Iraq, though this would leave a substantial number of them out. It was one more example, I think, of people's inability to seperate the war decision from the war effort.

As a sidenote, I have finished rea…

Hawkeye Homecoming 2004

On October 2, Sharon and I were at the Iowa Hawkeye homecoming football game against Michigan State. The Hawkeyes won a rather lopsided game. I was pretty cold for early October, but I loved it!! Great football weather.

We met Jag before the game, but we didn't have seats with him. He bought a seat from a scalper. Jag had flown in from Colorado for the game. We spent most of the weekend with him, up through Sunday afternoon when we went to the Sports Column to watch the Steelers/Bengals game. That was good also, because the Steelers won.

We all stayed in one motel room to save on money. We stayed at the AmericInn in Coralville, south of North Liberty. I can't remember the name of the Highway it is on. I think it is either Hwy. 1 or 6. Oh, who cares?! It was a nice motel. Very comfortable.

We went to the mall on Saturday (which was also Sharon's 32nd birthday!) I got her some gifts that she was able to open up later that night at the motel. That was fun.

We …

Stemcells and Soldiers

I acknowledge the moral question and debate about when life begins. For those that truly believe that a distinct human life begins at conception, or before, I can understand their argument that this life should be protected. Personally, I don't view a human embryo the same as a crying baby. This doesn't necessarily mean I am pro-abortion. I think that the issue is complicated. It's a debate I don't often like to have, because so many people have emotional feelings about the issue that the arguments soon become irrational.

This being said, I am confused about the argument that the federal government should not be spending tax dollars on stem-cell research where the destruction of an embryo would be required. In a nutshell, which is a dangerous way to phrase such matters, the argument is that we should not take one life to save another. When I heard this on a news program tonight, the irony suddenly struck me. Aren't our tax dollars, much more of them, being spent on…

Bedfellows Blair and Bush

They say that politics makes strange bedfellows. One contemporary manifestation of this proverb is the relationship between Britain's Tony Blair and America's George W. Bush. Tony Blair, of the British Labour party, has been compared to Bill Clinton, with respect to his political philosophies. On the other hand, George Bush represents a stark form of American conservatism. It is interesting how both men are being villified by their opposing parties regarding the war in Iraq. I think that this demonstrates how the war is extremely political. The question of right/wrong quickly gets lost in the partisan bickering. I don't mean for this post to be a major breakthrough in how to deal with moral issues of war. It is just a simple observation.

Immigration in America

NPR has been producing a series of stories titled Immigration in America. Professor Sowa had sent a link to our multicultural education class. We are to listen to one of the stories, and post our thoughts of it on the webboard.

Jonathan Kozol

I went to a lecture by Jonathan Kozol this past Tuesday night at Central High School in Kansas City, MO. I didn't know anything about Mr. Kozol until the day before the lecture when I looked him up on the Internet. When I got to the lecture Tuesday evening, I still knew very little about him. I knew that he had written some books, and that he had gone to Harvard, and that he had spent most of his life as an activist teacher in Boston and New York.

His lecture was captivating. It reminded me of why I want to become a teacher. It also pointed me in the direction of activism. Mr. Kozel explained in forceful language the inequality of education that exists in America today. The lady that introduced him told the crowd that Mr. Kozel has a simple purpose for writing--he wants to change the world.

Mr. Kozel effectively used humor and passion to make his points. He really connected with his audience. He told us that he is especially drawn to elementary teachers. He wonders in awe at those…

WSJ Crossword Puzzle

I was so mad at the end of last week! I had come just 4 clues away from solving the WSJ crossword puzzle (which is only published in the Friday edition) without using any references!! But, I couldn't figure the final clues out. Uuuggghhhh!! I'll keep trying!

Fruits and Veggies

Why is it so hard for me to get 5 servings per day? I like most fruits and a good number of vegetables. I like to eat a lot of them raw, so preparation time should not be the problem. Fruits and veggies could be a healthy snack. Among my favorites (in decreasing order of preference) are:

Strawberries
Blackberries/Raspberries
Blueberries
Bananas
Oranges
Peaches
Plums
Apples
Kiwi

Christopher Reeve

"Superman" died today. He was an activist for spinal chord injuries, and I was inspired by him, as were many others. He will be missed.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

I just listened to a story on NPR about the history and policies of the ICRC. The Red Cross has a mission of ensuring humane treatment of prisoners all over the world. One of their policies is to work "under the radar", and to not go public with information about abuses that they encounter. They claim that this policy gives them more credibility and allows them to negotiate on behalf of prisoners for all sides of a conflict. Earlier this year, the ICRC was aware of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, but did not go public with the information. Intead, they worked with U.S. political and military personnel to try to rectify the situation. The NPR story also noted that the ICRC had knowledge of the systematic extermination of prisoners at Auchwitz, but remained publicly silent about it. This policy of silence has its critics. However, I can see the point of it. I think that the ICRC tries hard to be seen as neutral, and to always fight on behalf of prisoners.

The IC…

Why I am voting for John Kerry

***Outdated post. I had begun this narrative back in early October, and found it in my archived drafts. I thought I would post it anyway, as undeveloped as it is.***


I must first state that I would most likely vote for anyone that is opposing President Bush. I have never been a Bush supporter or fan. I don't respect the protected bubble that he has been able to live his life under. I don't particularly like his "Texas" attitude. I think he intermingles his religion too much with his governance. I think he is dishonest and unethical. Most of all, I dislike the broad themes of his political philosophies. The Democrats would have had to nominate an obvious moron for me to have voted for Bush. Even if the Democrats had done this, I might have voted for Nader. This being said, I have come to like Kerry over the course of the campaign season.

A lazy Saturday

I didn't step outside the house today. I wasn't planning on being so homebound, but it was nice to have a day where I wasn't running anywhere. It seems like we have travelled so much recently, that I wanted to take an opportunity to relax. Tomorrow, I need to clean the fish tank. I did get an article for class partially read. I've got a few papers due this coming week. I'm looking forward to watching the Steelers/Browns game tomorrow. I'm going to do some research tonight on the Rockhurst Catholic studies minor. I picked up a flyer on campus last week.

2nd Presidential Debate of 2004

I thought it was an even performance by both candidates. Bush was more 'likable' than he was at the first debate. However, I still did not like his answers to the questions as well as I liked Kerry's. I was surprised this morning that polls suggest slightly that Kerry won. I had thought it would be the other way around, since Bush had some good "one-liners". Maybe people really are paying attention to the issues, and not to the candidates' performances. I liked the town hall format, where the audience got to ask the questions. I liked Kerry's answer to the abortion question, where he said that his personal beliefs should not interfere with how he legislates. Bush seemed to reenforce his "country-boy" image, which appeals to some and turns others off. I still think Kerry seems like more "presidential". His political savvy is obvious. This, too, appeals to some and not to others. I laughed pretty hard at Bush's response to the "…

101 Things About Me

1. I was born on Sept. 2, 1972 in Washington, PA.
2. My wife Sharon was born exactly one month after me, at the same hospital.
3. I did not meet my wife until I was 26 years old, and met her in Kansas City.
4. I have trouble remembering facts.
5. I have a masters degree in business administration.
6. I received a B.B.A. degree in Economics from the University of Iowa in 1994.
7. I grew up, for the most part, in Montrose, Iowa.
8. I love to read.
9. I often feel like I have overloaded my brain with information.
10. I have suffered from depression.
11. I am a fan of all sports teams from Pittsburgh, mostly the Steelers and the Pirates.
12. I enjoy going to PA, and I would like to live there again someday.
13. I have many interests, and I have trouble focusing on one at a time.
14. I like to golf, but I don't do it often, and I'm not very good.
15. ditto for fly-fishing.
16. I used to drink a lot of beer, but I don't drink much anymore.
17. I have always enjoyed working with …

Women teaching business

Originally, I was going to do my multiculturalism project on religious diversity in the classroom. But, I had been having a hard time narrowing down research questions.

I moved onto doing a project on multicultural business teaching, which is more focused to my track of study anyway. Specifically, I want to explore why there are not more women high school business teachers, and what the ramifications of this may be.

"Fixing" the Disabled

Last night during Special Education class, an interesting thought occured to me. We had just finished watching a presentation about deafness. Debbie, the presenter, talked a lot about "deaf culture", and how her family is proud to be a part of it.

Debbie explained that many deaf people have a prejudice against hearing people, and against hearing culture. They resent efforts that attempt to make them hear. Throughout history, terrible things have been done to deaf people to try to "fix" them. They have learned to adapt within their own culture.

I began to wonder about my prejudices toward deaf people, and toward all people with disabilities. To be sure, I am not adversarial to deaf people. But, do I think of them as abnormal? Do I pity them? Honestly, I would have to answer yes to these questions. Upon reflection, though, I wonder if there is anything "wrong" with deaf people.

I began to see parallels with the way that blacks used to be perceiv…

Merck and Vioxx

Some dialogue between Jag and I regarding an opinion I read yesterday in the Wall Street Journal:

Me: What's your take on this Vioxx/Merck controversy? I was reading an article in the WSJ (albeit a conservative newspaper) that said that Vioxx should have stayed on the market with an expanded warning label. It said that Vioxx was a "Godsend" to arthritis suferers with high risk of stomach bleeding. Do you think it should have been pulled off of the market? I just wanted to get an opinion from a physician.

Jag: I believe it should have been taken off the market in 2002. That's when the initial associations of Vioxx being linked to increase in strokes & heart attacks came out. The drug company kept denying the claims & proceeded to market the drug even after these initial warnings. Merck is one of the tightest companies with the Food & Drug Administration & they get away with murder.

Merck has been doing this with other drugs as well. Actually Pfizer…

The 1st Presidential Debate of 2004

Just a quick note to acknowledge the debate that took place in Florida last night between John Kerry and George W. Bush:

I didn't see the debate live, however I caught most of a rerun on CNN afterwards. I thought that John Kerry performed better. I also liked his answers to questions. Of course, since I am not a great admirer of Mr. Bush, this does not surprise me. I imagine most people with feelings one way or the other probably get those feelings reenforced after a debate. However, clearly, to me, John Kerry is a better public speaker, and looked more at ease last night.