Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Political Strife

So I was reading today that apparently, Elizabeth Edwards is being "blasted" for keeping her husband, John Edward's affair "secret," and I have to wonder why that is.
First of all, as Elizabeth Edwards states in her blog, she kept the very non-public affair story private because it was "so painful" and she didn't want it played out on the "public stage." And who among us can argue with that sentiment? It's not hard to decode right where private matters should remain (and I don't care who you are).
Some are saying that John and Elizabeth Edwards are no longer capable of handling public matters due to this indiscretion, and as they perceive it, subsequent cover up. Yet, can these people not see the difference between a private matter versus matters dealing with the public? It seems obvious to me. After all, we already had one president not only commit adultery, but also perjure himself to get out of the hot water - and the American public was fine after that - even with that president remaining in office.
I do not condone the actions of Bill Clinton, but his private matters should have remained as such - but once he decided to commit perjury, that is where the true issue should have lied. Same can be said for John Edwards - the affair is a private matter - thus, it does nothing to say how the man will act when given the chance to lead the nation - and lest we forget, he has already lost his parties nomination twice, so anything he could possibly hope to amount to politically is even less than that of the former president Clinton.
And as for Elizabeth Edwards, she chose to keep her private matter to herself, and yet there are those faulting her for it. Even if she kept it quiet only to help push forth her husband's political career, what does it truly matter? Are there truly any among us that do not think politicians lie, cheat, and steal all the time? What difference would it make if John Edwards were a current presidential candidate? The only difference would be that his lying and cheating should be played out on the public stage, even though his actions were private in nature. Please, explain that rationale to me because I certainly do not understand it.
President Bush lies to get us into a war, and that is seemingly forgiven, but if one lies to his wife (quite inexcusable in its own right, but certainly not the concern of the public) then we now have to not only persecute the man in question, but also the wife that chose to keep her private life exactly that, private.
Are we, as a nation, that voyeuristic that we expect everyone to air out their dirty laundry all the time? Unfortunately, in times like these, it sure seems like that is the case.

Olympic Coverage

Well, the Olympics are over, and so I think it is finally time to add my thoughts on the matter. There were quite a few things I liked about the coverage, but at the same time, far too much I did not like.
I enjoyed the events. I did not enjoy the coverage.
When I learned that NBC would show coverage of the events online, I was excited. Come to find out, live events were only shown online when they were not going to be aired in prime time. This left a bad taste in my mouth.
Then, when it was time for the prime time coverage, it became evident the Olympics were all about money - at least to the executives of NBC. It was hard to watch a single event without interruption of commercials. How hard would it be to show a ten-minute medley relay in the pool uninterrupted? For the NBC executives, apparently, that was too hard of a task to master. Same thing goes for the volleyball, instead of showing uninterrupted coverage of a set, we had to take commercial breaks in and around the set, only to return to the game eight points unseen; just in time for a timeout and more commercial breaks.
The amount of commercialization is simply absurd. I don't know when product placement has become such a big industry, or when commercials dominated our society, but it is all too true of a fact. The commercials are fine (honestly, I do believe in advertising) when in tune with the programming, and even would have been fine for the Olympics, but why interrupt an event in progress for the endorsements? There existed plenty of opportunities to have words from the sponsors, but not during an event - a likely taped event at that which could have been edited if you MUST place the ads, but, for the most part, were not.
The coverage could have been so much more, but when I was already able to read the results of the events before seeing the coverage (because online content was unavailable) it certainly left a lot to be desired. If only the forum on the internet had lived up to its billing, perhaps this would not have been such a great issue in my eyes, but the fact that I was forced to endure tape delayed coverage, only to have that coverage interrupted every few minutes for commercials is beyond absurd. Surely, there exists a better way to get the sponsors names out to the public without breaking from the only medium that was offered to view some of the events.
More than once I stopped watching an event due to the absurd ratio of event coverage vs. commercial breaks, and this is truly unacceptable.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I am having a hard time grasping one concept that seems to be running deep in America - a sense of entitlement. It seems more and more people are entitled to things that others before us never were entitled to. Problem is, most people feel so much entitlement that they don't care about the ramifications of their actions, and, for the most part, they get away with their actions because no one ever seems to hold them accountable. And all this does is add to their overwhelming sense of that entitlement.
So, whatever came of hard work? It seems any longer people simply 'expect' things to be done for them. The way they drive? Who cares? They are entitled to drive, thus they do as they please. That job they take advantage of? Well, honestly, who needs to work, the guy next to them will do it, right? And so it becomes a generation (read into this however you please, but I am not defining which generation I speak of because I do not believe this is 'generation specific' but more an overwhelming sense of the word) of those that expect someone else to do something for them. Plain and simple. More and more people are expecting others to watch out for them, and I honestly don't understand the trend. But it seems more and more people lack any sort of accountability for their actions, and due to this, they will continue in their downward spiral.
Late to work (or taking that extra half hour of lunch)? They don't care because they make a set salary, but, of course, they'll be damned if they don't leave promptly at their scheduled quitting time. Heck, it won't matter, since they get paid the same - and their employer surely doesn't say anything about it, so who is it hurting? Well, if these people had any self-pride, it should hurt them, but I guess if they feel it's okay to float through life without being held accountable (whether by others or themselves) then by all means, they should continue to live their lives as loafers. Besides, they're probably too stupid to realize they are doing anything wrong anyway, so in all honesty, the only person they are hurting are those more intelligent than they are - because they sit back and wonder where this entitlement, of far too many people, has come from. And it's the intelligent people (who can hold themselves accountable for their actions) that have to suffer and pick up the pieces when those entitled individuals can't be bothered to work, or bothered to pay attention on the roadways. But I'm sure they don't care because they are getting everything they have ever wanted - they amaze me how entitled they truly are.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Racial Profiling

So yesterday I was on my way home from work with my wife, and we got pulled over - for driving while white.
You might be thinking right now, that's impossible, but hear me out. We work in downtown Chicago and take the interstate home, often times, the interstate is backed up, and so we, not wanting to sit in traffic, have found alternative means to get home, and this sometimes entails driving through the neighborhoods that are predominantly black. I'm not going to call the area "the ghetto" or "the hood" because I don't feel like these people are out to do harm (the only person that has ever disturbed us driving through this area has been a white, homeless man), they are simply less fortunate and thus live within their means - which just might not be as much as we have, and there is no shame in that.
So we were driving down a street through one of these neighborhoods and we came to a stop sign. At the adjacent stop sign sat the Chicago Police. Since they had arrived at the sign first, naturally, they went before us. But what they did, as they pulled slowly through the intersection, was stare; without a single attempt to hide this fact. My wife and I began to talk about it jokingly with one another since we knew we were the "white people" and they were checking us out. Turns out, they wanted to investigate even further, for when we turned behind the officers (2 officers were in their vehicle) they promptly pulled over to allow us around, only to pull directly back into the street behind us. We instantly thought, "we've seen this on Cops - they want to check us out," but they did not readily pull us over (because we came to another light). When that light turned green, we pulled onto the main artery only to hear and see the familiar "bloop" of the car behind us and the blue lights flashing.
When the officer walked to the driver's side door (with the other officer flanking the passenger side of the vehicle), he didn't utter a single word of "I pulled you over because . . .," nor did he ask us "do you know why I pulled you over?" Instead, he cut to the chase with, "why were you driving down Wentworth (the name of the street we were on)?" Considering it was rush hour in Chicago, chances are we were headed home, and thus, that was the answer we provided. Next, he asked, "where is home?" And so we told him. So then he asked "where are you coming from?" So naturally, again, being rush hour, we answer simply "work." Of course, that is never enough, so he asked, "where is work located?" - which is downtown. The only way from downtown to our home is on the interstate - and then through what some can perceive as "the hood."
So finally, the officer takes my wife's license, only to return a few minutes later with words of caution of, "be careful driving through there."
What a nice guy. He was only concerned with our well-being that entire time. Never mind the fact he had absolutely no reason to actually pull us over, except for the fact we were driving through "the hood" while being white. It was racial profiling at its finest. We were white, therefore, we surely have "no business" being in "the hood," now do we? Of course, forget the fact that the interstate is exactly one block away from the street in question, and we obviously should never use that road when exiting the interstate to head home, right?
So it appears, we were being singled out for being the "white people" in a predominantly black neighborhood. Obviously, or so the officers seemed to think, the only reason we could be there was with criminal intent. And of course, being white, once they realized we had done nothing but drive down a public road, we should "be careful" when driving through "the hood" in broad daylight during rush hour, right?
Now, I do not necessarily feel we have been discriminated against. Yes, I know the reason we were pulled over, and it had nothing to do with traffic violations or impairments on our vehicle - it was only because we were white. Their rationale, I'm sure, was to see if we were in "the hood" to buy or sell drugs - despite the fact we had done nothing wrong, unless it is now a crime to drive on a public street. And so this raises the question, why were we singled out, and I think the reason is that, yes, racial profiling does very much exists.
We are white, and thus had "no business" in "the hood" other than that of criminal intent, but wait, no, it is a public road, so why were we pulled over for that? My wife and I got a kick out of being "profiled" because we have seen instances similar to this on the television program Cops, but what about those who truly are innocent? What about the black population that is singled out on a daily basis for doing absolutely nothing wrong?
I'll be honest with you, if the cops would have asked us to get out of the car, I would have become worried. I would have likely become defensive, and I would have wondered "what are they going to plant on us?" Of course, we are white, so we were left with a simple warning of "be careful driving through there," but what if my wife and I had been black? Would we have been handled much more harshly? Sadly, I cannot say, but if I was worried about being asked to step out of the car (and what they could possibly put on the scene to make us appear guilty) then I know I cannot imagine how a black individual must feel every single time they are pulled over - whether the reasoning for them being pulled over is justified or not. In our case, there was no justification made for pulling us over - not a single word as to why they felt the need to single us out.
Yet, we are white, and thus we had no "real" worries. Had the color of our skin been different, would I be here today able to blog about this incident? Unfortunately, I cannot say. If I was worried, I cannot imagine the feeling if I were a person of color, and that is truly unfair - and it goes a long way in defining our law enforcement agencies. Do they serve and protect, or are they too busy racially profiling individuals to serve or protect anyone effectively?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Spell Check?

Time magazine has an article entitled "Making an Arguement [sic] for Misspelling" (and if you were to go to the link, you can see that 'arguement' is actually misspelled for the article, which I cannot say if it is done on purpose since it is not mentioned at all in the text). The point of the article essentially asks if we should consider changing the spelling of words to suit those who make errors.
For instances, the article states that words like truly are often misspelled (as is the word misspelled - as 'mispelled') as 'truely' and since these misspellings are a frequent occurrence, perhaps, just maybe, we should consider changing the English language to accommodate these oft misspelled words as a "variant spelling" of whatever word is in question.
Now if anyone wants to talk about dumbing down of America, now would be a prime time to begin just such a discussion - even if the English language is not the sole property of Americans, it would seem most Americans would happily accept such a change to the language for their own lazy reasoning (lazy in that they do not wish to learn how to actually spell a word).
Not to mention the computer age and the glorious usage of spell checker to correct all our little mishaps. Think about how many times the spell checker will change your words FOR YOU, unbeknown to you as a writer. You misspell the word opportunity, and BAM, it's fixed for you, so every time you type 'oppertunity' it changes magically to 'opportunity' - go ahead, go to Microsoft Word and give it a shot, I promise you the word corrects on its own. And this is just one example of such a feat. How many other words are people constantly misspelling that spell check simply changes for them? Sure makes life easier going through it spelling words incorrectly every time, just to have the word processor do the correction for you. After all, your time is likely too precious to take the time to A) know you made an error and B) to find the proper spelling of said error.
It seems almost daily I come across a posting on an article where someone is spelling 'loose' for the word 'lose.' Now I understand this is a common error that one can make when typing and doing so quickly, but the poster often uses the term 3 or 4 times in their post, only to use the term 'loose' each and every time - in the context of "the Red Sox loose the game" ... huh? How exactly does one loose a game? On the same posts, there will be someone specifically telling the individual that types 'loose' to learn 'grammer' ... errr, did you mean they need to learn GRAMMAR? Yeah, thought so. And 'grammer' is another word that should never be 'accepted as a variant spelling.' It would be a travesty if it came to such.
But this Ken Smith (senior lecturer in criminology at Bucks New University in Buckinghamshire, England) seems to think that "oft made errors should just become a variant spelling," but I ask, what about my case above? Loose is the oft made error for lose - but if we now accept 'loose' as a variant spelling, then how are we now supposed to accept the actual word 'loose' when used properly?
I will admit, I am not the best speller ever, but I have worked hard on this aspect of the English language to where now I have become a much, much better speller. And if I can't spell a word, I look it up, or have spell check do it for me - once my spell check shows me the correct spelling, I take the time to learn it before moving on - that way, I don't waste my time again and again trying to figure out the spelling of every word I use, and I certainly don't expect anyone to change the grammatically accepted (not 'excepted') principals to suit my too-lazy-to-find-the-correct-spelling needs.
Now, the language is just fine as is, and besides, if it is now 'exceptable' (I'm making a point here) to 'mispell' (same point) words, then how can I tell who the morons of the world 'truely' (again, same point) are? Oh yeah, it'll be easy because I still know the proper spelling and usage of words. At least I'll know I'm not a moron.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Time to Lower the Drinking Age?

This is a topic that is scattered about the news today, and it is one that really doesn't take an Einstein to figure out:

Are 18 year old individuals immature? Possibly, but so are 21 year old adults, and so if that is the only argument one can make to keep the "legal" age at 21, then that is an absurd notion.
And at any rate, the facts are much simpler than that - at 18 you are considered an "adult" in that you are now able to vote for elected officials. But what is more convincing is the simple fact that at the age of eighteen men and woman are allowed to serve in the military - and sometimes, tragically, die in the military. Why is it that you can serve your nation and die for your country when you cannot even celebrate the fact that you are doing your country proud with a beer in hand?
Seems like a double-standard to me. You can sacrifice your life to fight for your freedom (the extent of our freedoms is not the debate here) yet you cannot have a beer? Seems kind of a moot point when you look at it in those terms, doesn't it? Tragic really.
So let's make this an easy debate and lower the drinking age to be more in line with when young men and woman are considered "adults" in the eyes of the government (for both voting and the age one can enter into the military). If you are able to serve and die for your nation, then the least you should be allowed is to have a drink from time to time.
Those in favor of lowering the drinking age want to make it more about effectively stopping the binges on college campuses, but again, in all honesty, it is much, much simpler - if you are old enough to die in combat, you should be considered old enough to have a beer.
It's really not a hard concept to grasp, and for eighteen year old men and women, that beer shouldn't be hard (or illegal) to grasp either.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Privilege vs. Right II

I still feel there may be some confusion as to my ranting about right vs. privilege, and I want to ensure that this is absolutely clear so that what I am talking about is understood. The best place to go when wanting to understand something more in depth is the dictionary; so I pulled these definitions from the Merriam Webster dictionary:

Right - The power in which one is justly entitled

Privilege - An immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor

Read these definitions as:

A right is something we are all entitled too - thanks to a document called the Constituiton of the United States

A Privilege is something that one alleges is a right, but the benefits are not widespread in the realm of every day life.

Examples of these are thus:

Your privilege of smoking should be limited to your own homes and/or vehicles. You smoking in public does not benefit me - the non-smoker. Just like you talking on the phone in your car does not benefit me either - especially if you run me off the road. Thus these perceived "rights" - read as privileges (as talking on the phone is also a privilege we have) can and should be banned by law when administered in a way that could cause other's harm (i.e. driving while on the phone could potentially cause an accident).

A right is something we have the expectation of as citiziens of the United States of America to be upheld. Our privacy is a right that we have the reasonable expectiation of being sustained. This is a right that all American citizens can benefit from - just like you have the right to smoke within the confines of your own home - I choose to not accept that right. You have the right to smoke at home, but not in my face (thus the ban on public smoking).

I hope that helps if there had been any confusion within my previous posts.