Monthly Archives: November 2011

does government fear-mongering have the United States headed in the wrong direction?

Two things have come to my attention this week that have me concerned and I think both are ultimately due to the government’s continued fear-mongering efforts around terrorism.  How much will we give up to protect ourselves against a military tactic?

1. Senate Bill 1867 – Bipartisan legislation being considered in the U.S. Senate would expand the military’s power to go after any terrorism suspect, including American citizens, anywhere in the world—including within the United States—and confine them indefinitely without being charged or tried.

2. Our Military Budget –

So what does this mean? Why are we spending so much money on militarism and trying to pass bills in which infringe on the rights of American civilians? Are we really that much more concerned with our military might than with our own well being and diplomacy?

Problems I foresee with the current situation:

I honestly do not see how our current trend toward militarism and nation building is sustainable over the long haul.  We are simply making too many enemies and taking away too many civilian liberties (re: patriot act, S. Bill 1867).

Regarding S. 1867: This marks an end to the preservation of American civil liberties and basically grants the military the right to act on American citizens.  Of course the bill says American citizens involved in “terrorist activities”, but how is that defined?  Does a group like OWS speaking out against the government qualify as terrorist?  Does a group dissatisfied with the government qualify?  Perhaps in the short term the government couldn’t get away with doing anything too extreme, such as bombing its own people, but what about 20 years from now, what about 100 years?  Does this bill have the potential to be abused?  YES!

That is the problem.  People get used to things, we become desensitized to the actions of the government and soon it becomes normal.  Then, sooner or later, someone abuses the right and suddenly America is no longer the most free nation in the world.  Remember how pissed off everyone was over the Patriot Act?  It passed because people were afraid after 9/11.  Congressmen promised to overturn it – but it’s still here and people are getting used to it.  Slowly, the people are getting used to such things as invasion of privacy and the assassination of citizens without due process (re: Anwar al-Awlaki ).  Will we begin to accept attacks on groups of American citizens because a private panel of government officials declare an individual or group a terrorist threat?  I hope not!  Being American should mean more than that – it should mean freedom and due process.  I think people will look back on this garbage like we look back on segregation and the civil rights.

Regarding our Militarism: First off, the obvious.  Why the hell are we spending so much on war when we have so many problems at home?  For our safety?  Why does the US have its hands in so many pots?  We spend more on military action than everything else in the budget combined – that doesn’t seem balanced to me.  That sounds more like the redneck down the street spending 60% of his gross earnings on shotguns to shoot the “colored folk” who want to move into his neighborhood.  Not to mention we are almost 15 trillion in debt!  What the hell is going on here and why is no one saying anything!?!  Republican or Democrat the PEOPLE have to agree that something is wrong here!

I can’t help but think that if we continue our current path of militarism that the future will not look back kindly upon us and that the history books of a couple hundred years from now will record us as the token example of why Greed and Violence destroys a nation, not as the savior of democracy and American “values” (which values are we spreading via war?). I hope we can turn it around.

In other news: Also, several of the independent news sources I read/listen to say to expect us to invade or somehow get mixed up with Syria soon.  The mass media isn’t talking about that or covering it at all – so lets see if that comes to fruition.  If it does it will really seal the deal for me regarding traditional media outlets.  Hell, even time magazine seems to be carefully molding our American brains…  (Re: time magazine us vs. them)

any blogs out there worth a damn?

I’ve been browsing blogs for about the last hour.  Really I’ve been just looking for a couple of interesting or new blogs that might be worth reading.  There are some hidden gems out there if you happen to be lucky enough to stumble upon them in the vastness of the internets.  Anyways, my search tonight was a massive failure – I didn’t find anything worth returning to – so I figured I would write something equally not worth reading and post it on my equally uninteresting blog…

Reading through various other personal blogs I did find a patern.  Most blogs are fairly negative in nature and most blogs are not updated.  The negativity doesn’t bother me – I think people often times need a place to vent or write down a few thoughts to clear their head.  That makes perfect sense to me – that’s exactly what I do.  The second thing, a lost blog, sitting out there hosted on some server and claimed by no one – those blogs do me no good.  I can’t return to a blog, or develop a relationship with, a blog/blogger that no longer exists.  I’m definitely guilty of neglecting my blog, but hopefully I can keep this one up for a while – blogging certainly seems more enjoyable when there is feedback – and that is only earned through regular updates.

Anyways, I guess this post is a call for help.  A call to expand my blogroll and find a few decent blogs/bloggers out there.  Anyways, anyone know of any smaller or lesser known blogs out there worth reading?  Feel free to spam the comments with good links.

a definitive end gives people incentive to really live

Last night was one of those nights where you lay awake with your eyes glazed over just thinking.  For one reason or another I started to think about death.  I thought about my grandfather dying of cancer at 60 and my great grandmother dying at 94.  They lived very different lives, but both lead to the same fatal conclusion, death.  We all die.  One day I will no longer exist on this planet – and it will be business as usual.  Even when someone great dies there is barely a hiccup.

I wonder how I’ll go?  I wonder if I’ll die a quick and unexpected death or if I’ll deteriorate in a hospital for a few months trying to battle this or that disease – finally my vital organs will give up and I will pass away.  In any case, the scary thing is, my time will come.  All of our time will come.  One day we will all stare death in the face and have to accept our own mortality.  I wonder what I will do to comfort myself?

Will I turn to God at my last moments (or before then) in hopes of a bit of comfort about my own human mortality?  I wonder if I will die a peaceful death after a long life knowing that I have completed all I had set out to do.  Hell, maybe I’ll walk into the doctor’s office at 30 and find out I have cancer and only a month to live.  Who knows, but things like that happen every day.  The truth is none of us know exactly how long we have here.

I think most people just ignore death, that is until it’s happening.  Death is a topic we don’t try to remind ourselves about, I guess.  Looking at my own life – I always think to myself – I could live my whole life over again and still be fairly young.  That is comforting for now, but what about when that is no longer true.  Is accepting death something we come to terms with as we age, knowing the inevitable ending to our short story?  We want exist forever, heaven and an afterlife is a convenient comfort in that regard.  I have to admit – thinking about it all just being over is kind of sad.

There is some comfort in it all though.  I remember all those who have taken the journey before me.  All the great thinkers and people who have already met death – I’ll be there too.  It’s nothing new and it’s inevitable.  In fact, death kind of keeps you in your place.  It prevents complacency and promotes appreciation.  A definitive end gives people incentive to really live.

college – words of wisdom from a guy who has been there

I remember my first semester at college.  At 18 I was untraveled, ignorant, and had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I had the same blind and arrogant self confidence I have always had for some reason.  Honestly, the first year was the toughest and I don’t think I really knew what I was getting myself into.

To be honest, the first time I stepped on the college campus was the first time I had ever been on a college campus.  Neither of my parents had an education so I didn’t know what to expect.  I didn’t know what college looked like, what I should do, or anything.  Really, it was a miracle that I somehow applied, took the SATs, and was accepted.  I guess you could say that I always knew I was going to college, but I kind of just stumbled into the place.  The whole reason I chose the University was based on name and prestige.  I couldn’t go to the same place everyone else was going – I had to do better – I’ve always had something to prove to myself.

I remember pulling up to campus – expecting some massive gateway entrance to the school.  I didn’t even realize I was on campus.  Finally I found my dorm room and was equally surprised.  It wasn’t like TV, the dorm room was more like a prison cell I was going to share with a roommate.  On the bright side, I had met my roommate and we hit it off.  Looking back, my ignorance to the whole college process is laughable.  I had never even visited a single college campus!  I basically did like a good student and followed the advice of councilors and professors – luckily I had good advice.

My high school educational system was a joke too.  I thought I was prepared.  I had studied very little through high school and thought I could carry those same habits through to college.  Wrong.  That first year was an eye opening one.  To be honest, I stuck it out due to pure desire and unwillingness to quit.  I was homesick, I felt out of place, and it all felt strange.

I did do a few things right.  For starters I got a job (after a couple months) which kept me occupied.  I don’t think I was meant to do nothing – when I’m working I am actually much happier.  Perhaps out of habit.  Another thing I did was join the wrestling team.  I eventually made it to the first team and had the opportunity to travel here and there.  Most of my best friend today came via my job and extracurricular activities.  If I had stayed cooped up in the dorm room all year, I might not have made it.  Looking back, I can’t believe I thought I wasn’t going to have a job – the shit I did at that place was some of the best memories I have.  I think I value people who value hard work – like minds, I guess.

It’s also funny looking back on my time in college in detail.  At first glance the only thing I recall was my last two years – which were by far the best.  Mostly classes I loved, drinking stories, etc.  When I think of it in detail though – there were certainly some tough times, especially that first year.  I think there is something about memory that makes me look back on things a certain way.  I tend to ignore the bad parts of life and focus on the good.  I know people who do the exact opposite so I’m thankful for my predisposition to be positive.

Hell, just to see the contrast of the first two years of college versus my last two is light night and day.  I came into my own those last two years – I really figured myself out.  I think that is what college is all about though, no just lessons learned in the classroom, but about life and about yourself.  I can guarantee had I stayed at home and attended the local University like many of my friends – I would not be anywhere near the man I am today.  My thoughts have changed and in many ways I am a different and better person.  I guess I got my money’s worth.

So what would I tell my brother-in-law if he was to happen upon this blog?  I would tell him to stick it out and enjoy every second of it.  I would tell him to put himself out there and get out of his comfort zone.  I would tell him to do things he normally wouldn’t do and to make memories worth remembering.  I would tell him to read every page of every textbook and to appreciate the education many people take for granted or never have the opportunity to receive.  I would tell him to use this time to grow.

Senate Bill 1867 to further eliminate civil liberties

If you haven’t heard about Senate Bill 1867 to be voted upon TODAY it is paramount that you know about it.  This will basically give the US  “The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself.”  Basically the US could use military action (which has been previously illegal) on American citizens based on a military panel with NO DUE PROCESS of law.  There is potential for a giant abuse of power!

You can read more about it here.

You can listen to an awesome podcast that goes into it here.

You can try to read through the MONSTROUS bill here.  Good luck.

This is coincidentally sponsored by a Republican (John McCain) and a Democrat (Carl Levin).  Bipartisan support for a bill taking away American’s civil liberties and giving the military ability to use force against Americans?  You have to ask – what’s going on here and what is coming down the pipeline?

Oh, and guess what Presidential candidate (Republican or Democrat) is AGAINST this.  I’ll give you a hint – Ron Paul.  Thank you Ron Paul.

Rue Bourbon – my first time on the most sinful street in the bayou

“Legendary-ish Stories” is a series I plan to write occasionally in which I describe actual incidents that happened in my life. These incidents often involve alcohol and at times immorality – neither of which I necessarily condone. With these stories I hope to add a touch of humor and display human imperfection while simultaneously eroding my credibility. Enjoy.

I remember the first time I set foot in New Orleans famous French Quarter.  It is a beautiful and cultural place – I love it.  However, I’m not here to talk about the culture or beauty.  This story is about the shit show that is the legendary Bourbon Street.  There is an energy, I remember even as I approached I could hear the sounds of an intoxicated crowd growing louder.  That, in turn, made my anticipation grow.  I couldn’t wait to get there – I almost wanted to run.  I wanted my first beer in hand, I wanted to participate in one of the most sin-filled streets on earth.  I wanted to be part of it.

Even now I can see it, when I first turned the corner on to Bourbon.  All of the anticipation I had build up inside myself only intensified.  The streets were packed.  There were vendors trying to convince me to enter their sex shops and “gentlemen’s clubs” to watch the latest X-rated act about to be performed.  Places named “love acts” and “barely legal” only surpassed by the sheer number of businesses selling cheap alcohol.

I quickly scanned the street trying to take it all in as quickly as possible.  Then I saw it – “HUGE ASS BEERS”.  A massive beer for only $5 – it was really a college student’s dream.  I didn’t hesitate and I purchased one.  The cold sweet nectar of what was surely a cheap bud light never tasted more satisfying.  A hurricane, hand grenade, and a few more beers later the night became a blur.

I remember people offering us free beer to come in their bars.  One major advantage of Bourbon Street is the sheer economics of the situation.  Supply and demand, my friend.  Few places on earth is there such a supply of alcohol and sex – which in turn drives prices down.  So far down, in fact, that alcohol becomes so dangerously cheap that even a college student can afford to drink themselves to near death.  Which of course, we gave our best shot.

Now let me explain something.  Walking around Bourbon Street while under the influence is kind of like being in the twilight zone.  You see things you aren’t sure that you can explain.  Under normal, completely sober circumstances the events would still be strange.  For example, take the street performers.  They do cartwheels around the damned street like something you would see at a circus whilst on psychedelics.  There are men who make a living by spray painting themselves silver and acting like a statue.  There are women, barely dressed, trying to coheres you into their little sex shop in hopes of taking all of your hard earned college monies.  There are voodoo shops and haunted mansions – there is even a haunted bar.  Needless to say, it’s sensory overload.

Then comes the parade and the beads.  What’s interesting is that women – even the most conservative – seem to be willing to expose themselves for $1 beads.  What is even more interesting is the men.  It seems like every man in the parade who was given the responsibility of handing out beads was over the age of 65.  Perhaps it is an earned right that one has to be promoted to over the years via hard work and labor – and finally given the privilege of commanding nudity at the cost of a few worthless beads.  The truth of this matter I have never found the answer to.

At this point, perhaps you are asking yourself “Did you ever attend one of the sex shows?”  The answer, of course, is yes.  What intoxicated 21 year old can resist the temptation of a no entry fee, sex show combination?  Not us, that’s who.  Upon entering we found seats and grabbed a beer, which was surprisingly as inexpensive as any other beer.  However, what we soon learned was what we were witnessing was a sight that they should be giving beers away for free.  It became obvious, as a elderly black woman came on the stage, that barely legal meant something different in NOLA.  The train wreck we witnessed was one of wonders and I have vowed to never speak of the events that took place on that stage – that intoxicated night.  We left no tips, just tears.  Lesson learned, sometimes when the entrance fee is free – you pay for it with your dignity.

Back on the street at what must have been 2am we continued our intoxicated journey, but I have to admit, I do not remember much after that.  I have a few blurry memories of losing my voice and the flashing lights of what in retrospect seems like a rave, but I couldn’t tell you how true or exaggerated that story is.  What I do remember is being teleported to my hotel room and time traveling to the morning after.  I do not remember going back to the room – nor do I remember where I lost my shirt; but I guess that is the things memories are made of – the ones you can’t remember.

*I will be headed back to NOLA for new years 2011-2012.  I will be sure to keep you all posted.

having a place to run makes life better

Almost every time I write it is soon after my run.  I think it helps me clear my mind.  Since my running routine inspires me so much I figured I would share a part of the experience.  It’s not much, but I really enjoy it.

I put in headphones and let my mind race.  I think about all of the things going on in my life and I usually solve one or two problems I’ve been dealing with.  Its kind of like meditation on the move, I get in a certain pace and just think.  After a few minutes everything around me is just grey – it’s just me and my thoughts.  I think everyone needs a mental break like that – just a little while to work things out for yourself.

Fall/Winter Yard Work

I love to do yard work and I take pride in my little yard.  Took a trip to the nursery today to add some color to the yard for fall/winter.  I told myself when I moved into my house that my backyard would be my little zen palace where I could escape the world.  I grill, do yard work, read, and even use my back porch as a home office when it’s nice outside.

my first video

I figured I would spice up the blog a little and add a new way to communicate.  Videos.  That’s right I created a Youtube channel and figured I would talk to you guys every now and again in addition to the normal written rambling.  Anyways, this is my first video, ever.  I wasn’t even sure what my voice sounded like and I was a little nervous, so please don’t judge too hard.  (okay judge all you want)  I’ll make the videos in the future more interesting and a little better quality (hopefully). In the mean time, I’d like to know what you think about it.

Thanksgiving Grub

As much as I have complained about the holidays I have to admit one thing: my family can cook!  Here is some of the grub I’ve consumed in the last few days.