Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ignorance is not bliss for the intelligent people who are expected to tolerate it!

ARGH! I went to www.cleveland.com to see if I could find debate footage (it was streamed on this website live) or some informative articles about what people said. Instead I found an ignorant blogger from this website who tried to be witty but really just showed off how little she knows or understands. I haven't had a chance to listen to footage of the debate yet because I felt it was necessary to make some sort of reply to this woman. She closed her short post by saying:

"So far, the NBC moderators have failed to ask the foreign policy question that people most want them to address: "If you're elected president, do you promise to never, ever, ever, to embarrass the nation by allowing yourself to be photographed in ethnic garb?" (Just so credit is given were credit is do, the blogger's name is Sabrina Eaton and a link to her post can be accessed above).

Here was my response:

It's unfortunate that Obama's willingness to learn about other perspectives and honor other traditions is condemned as a bad thing! No, I'm not talking about making deals with dictators, which I am certain Obama will not do! However, there has been WAY too much uproar about the picture of Obama in traditional Somali garb! I am part of this nation and my first reaction to the picture was pride, not ignorant embarrassment! Obama was given the clothes as gift and he honored his hosts by putting it on as a sign of respect, just as their giving it to him can be seen as a sign of respect! It is the traditional garb of the ELDERS, the wise among the many! Obama is Christian and showing respect to other traditions makes him no less Christian. In fact, as a Christian myself, I think it makes him a better Christian by showing his willingness to be open new ideas and new ways of seeing God's love. If Obama had done something offensive instead of putting on the gift of the garments, he would not have been a true vessel of God's love, something all Christians are supposed to want to be.

The US Government, especially the White House, has shown itself to be close minded and ignorant on most issues of religious diversity in the world. Peace depends on a great deal on peace and understanding between religions. If more people were educated about the religions of our "enemies," they probably would not hate us so much. Soldiers would know that flushing a Koran down a toilet is paramount to burning down a church or smearing an altar with feces. Just because the religion is different doesn't mean it is completely wrong. Respect others and they will learn to respect you.

And something I should have added but just thought of:

I have been more embarrassed by my nation over the last eight years than I was seeing a picture of Obama in ethnic Somali garb from a trip to his ancestral land of Kenya.

Labels: , , , ,

I must be missing something...

So, the latest "huge" attack from the Clinton campaign is a picture from 2006 featuring Barack Obama dressed in the garb of a traditional Somali elder. When I saw the picture, I thought "Oh cool! I think it's great that Obama is willing to go outside the box and try to converse and get along with members of other faith communities, especially the Muslims who have been getting the bad rap for the last 7 years (or more)!" Apparently this is not what I am supposed to be getting from the picture. I'm supposed to look at the picture and think "Oh my god! Obama's Muslim!! He's goin to change America into an Islamist state and promote bad terrorist things to happen to all of the heathen Americans!" Since my interpretation was so totally different, could someone please tell me what I'm missing? Thanks!

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, February 22, 2008

Two guesses as to the subject of this post....

Any more than two guesses would be way too easy, since I'm sure you all got it on the first try....


See? Told ya so... You didn't need more than two guesses.
I know I'm a little late on this post but better late than never! I wrote this post in my head on Tuesday but didn't quite get around to writing it down...

In any case, yay for Obama's 9th and 10th straight wins! I read today that Hillary will need 57% of the remaining delegates in order to get the nomination. In addition, some of her superdelegates are deserting her for various reasons, mainly to align themselves with their state or distracts choice based on the primaries. Good for them! I think superdelegates should listen carefully to what the voters in their area are saying, no matter if it means more for Clinton or more for Obama.

I was listening to last Saturday's edition of Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! on my NPR podcast on Monday and I was literally laughing aloud on the bus to work. My favorite segment was in the first quiz, "Who's Carl This Time." The link above will take you to the show's webpage and if you want to find what I'm about to mention, go to the segment listed above. Or listen to the whole show because it's always pretty hilarious.

One of the questions was about something Obama said in a speech about being ready to take on McCain if needed. That part was funny (involved discussion of boxing and candidates with long arms) but what was really funny was some of the improv following the question. The host, Peter Segal, mentioned how many critics of the Obama campaign are complaining that his following has become cult-like and his rallies are more like revivals. I don't remember which one of the panalists responded but whoever it was said "yeah, but one Obama supporter came back to say 'Well it's obviously not a revival because how many of them have speeches given by Jesus himself!'" I probably paraphrased that a bit but I laughed so hard! The things the panalists (made up of great comedians) come up with are similar to some of the headlines you'd find in The Onion. I particularly found this bit funny because it unabashedly made fun of Obama supporters like me! I like laughing at myself occasionally. The crew at Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! are not afraid of making fun of newsmakers on all sides of political and social debates.

Then Peter Sagel mentioned that some people liken Obama and his supporters to Tom Cruise on the Oprah Show, when he did his monkey dance jumping up and down on the couch (see my post from Summer 05 or '06 for more on that issue...). When I got home I told Eva about this and her reply made my day (it was a very happy, laughy day.)

Eva said "Well, you know that if Obama had a really decisive victory and IF we had a couch, we'd be jumping on it." Leave it to Eva to come up with something funnier than Peter Sagel.

Well, that's all I have to say for the moment. I'm still an ardent fan of Obama and don't forsee this changing. Ever. I read a couple other blog posts that Jonathan "shared" on Google Reader and I'll try to put those links up for those of you who don't have access to Jonathan's "shared" stuff on Google. I have also "shared" them on my Reader account if you're interested. I'm up way too late as it is so I'll just have to post them later.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Batman Begins... Again... or "Why I see movies the way I do"

I don't know why I bother trying to state my opinion sometimes. I'm awake way too late tonight because of a quick review I posted on my new Flixter on Facebook page, a review I didn't know would be public although I'm sure I should have figured it out.

If you've been reading my blog for a long long time, you probably remember my rampage on Superhero movies back that started with Batman Begins on June 22, 2005 (that is a hint of where to go in my archives if you're interested). I am still very interested in the ideas I mentioned there about what movies are truly empowering to women as women and when are the women just enacting male roles in order to fit into the mainstream (see Jacob's comment for more questions on that).

So anyways, I decided to cut and paste the comments from the movie review (a sentence or two I might add was all I wrote) so you can see how I can completely overreact to silly, half thought out comments. I deserved since I had only half thought out my review.

Since the review has now been modified, I'll just tell you the gist of what I first wrote was "this is a sexist movie blah blah blah why can't we have a strong superpowered woman or at least a strong female sidekick" That is when the comments began. As you can see, I was getting frustrated responding so now only my friends can make comments on my reviews, as they are the only people I was thinking of in the first place. Read on:

Comment from Random Guy #1

"uh.....it's called Bat MAN for a reason."

I commented

"That doesn't mean there can't be any strong female characters involved in the plot. The women that are lucky enough to make it in the movie could be a lot stronger and less like silly damsels in distress

So the name is BatMAN. Does that mean all men are sexist pigs? I don't think so. I just think this movie did not do justice to how good men can be, including to their female counterparts."
Random Guy #2 commented
"Then you want to watch "Girl Power!: Femine Powers Activate". This was about Batman, about Bruce Wayne. How was he a sexist pig? Because he was more influenced by the male figures in his life than the women?

To call "Batman Begins" sexist is downright puzzling. You may think it didn't have a strong female character (what did you think of Rachel Dawes, an assistant district attorney in a rough, corrupted city...how many female DA's are there in movies again?) but that doesn't make it sexist."

I commented

"I'm sorry, I meant misogynistic, which I doubt will make any more sense to you. I'll change my review accordingly. I was under the impression my friends would be the ones reading my short review and they mostly know they can read more detailed analysis on my blog, where I am able to expand in more analytical and intellectual terms. The characters are not sexist. The movie is misogynistic because it reinforces fundamental patriarchall ideas instead of daring to make women strong and influential."

Then I went and modified my review and commented

at 11:14pm

"Please notice my above changed review. I hope this appeases some the frustration or puzzlement for the two of you."

Before I post the modified review, I feel the need to address a few things said above. I probably wasn't too clear on my responses or at least I used too many sophisticated literary devices like RHETORICAL QUESTIONS! When I asked if the commenter was saying BatMAN meant that it means that all men are sexist pigs, I was trying to make a point that just because a movie is about a MAN, it does not have to be sexist. Then I was attacked for saying the character of Batman was a sexist pig. I don't think I ever said that. I never said his character was anything - I said the movie was sexist. Oh well! So in case more morons read my review, I wrote a slightly longer response that changed the "sexist" parts to "misogynoistic" because that probably is more accurate to what I was saying and really stupid people won't be able to understand what it means anyways so I don't have to worry about them thinking I'm saying Bruce Wayne is sexist.

I'm a little worked up about this, can you tell? This is why I don't think I would be a very good film critic because the majority of the world out there does not watch movies like I do most of the time. I can't turn off the way I watch movies (and read books and watch TV for that matter) and still be true to who I am. I believe that movies, TV, and books have a powerful means of influencing us through subliminal positioning of certain ideals and I would feel weird putting a lot of effort into ignoring what power these mediums can hold. I'm not saying anyone else is stupid for not caring about the subliminal stuff either. It does not make anyone better or worse, smarter or stupider. It just means that I, being who I am, growing up as I did, and studying what I did in college, must be able to have these subtle readings of how books, movies, etc can influence others because it is a part of who I am and what I want to do with my life. All the subtle things add up to much bigger issues, in particular for young women. I want my cousins and nieces and maybe daughters to get reaffirming messages about being a woman without having it hit over their head. I also want the next generation of men to have more men with balanced ideas (like most of the important men in my life - my brothers, my father, my best friend) so that these misogynistic undertones don't accidentally happen anymore in a way that will slowly eat away at self-esteem and self-worth of women. All of what I am saying can be applied to other issues such as socioeconomic differences and race although they are less likely to be subliminal references in movies. I don't know how exactly I can influence this change but I know I'll figure it out. If I could find a paper or website that wanted to hear a feminist academic take on movies, I'd be happy to write for them. But for now I'm starting with my blog, where I can write anything I want and people can comment in a much more intelligent way than the two idiots... I mean people.... on Facebook.

To close, here is what my new review says:

"My previous review was vastly misunderstood. I thought this movie looked good and was entertaining. However, I think the overall story and portrayal of all the characters combined made a very misogynistic movie that hurts efforts to actively change...(read more) society's subconscious sexism in many situations. When I say I want a strong female character, I recognize that the protagonist is a male. However, despite the nominal power of the Katie Holmes character as an Assistant DA, she is still helpless and reliant completely on the men. There are also issues of the way the movie was filmed artistically that affect my view on this movie as misogynistic which I wrote out in detail in a blog post when the movie came back. My friends know me and know I have some backing to my outrageous claims, whether or not they agree with me. Next time you watch this movie, just try to look past the entertainment aspect (which was great) and see a little more of the underlying tones. The subliminal, subtle fabric of the film has more effect on the psyche than one might expect in an action adventure film.

I did not have similar problems with the first two X-Men movies, you may notice, because Bryan Singer did an excellent job of equalizing the forces of masculine and feminine by creating interesting characters who were portrayed in a very different light and shot in a different style from Batman Begins. Of course this all changed in X-Men 3 but that is another blog post. If you're not on my friend list and not able to see my blog, sorry. I am more interested in rating movies and writing reviews for the people who know me somewhat and can take what I say with a grain of salt by knowing my background and where I'm coming from. I have added another star since the 1 star was harsh when I was entertained initially."

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's Too Darn Hot

Yes, you read that correctly. I'm complaining about heat during a relatively long cold snap in Chicago. Here is why: It is 80 degrees in my bedroom despite the fact that I have had my window cracked since 3pm this afternoon. We also have windows cracked in the living room and Eva's room. I'm sure that if we opened them all the way we would have a nice refrigerator since it is going to drop 20 degrees tonight but some kind of happy medium would be nice! I hate not having control over our heating system. At first I thought I was annoyed just because I'm a control freak. Now I'm annoyed because it is interfering with my sleep! Isn't room temp around 72 degrees? That is a nice temperature to fall asleep in. Not 80 degrees.

Recently I was talking to a friend during some icebreakers on retreat and we were told to discuss what we like to do when the weather outside gets extremely cold. His answer was he likes to open his window all the way and then curl up under his covers to read a book. I thought he was a little insane but I think I can understand his sentiment now! He must have building controlled heat-radiating floors. Thermostats were invented for a reason, people! I'd even like to go back to the silly condo thermostat that used the guage "hotter" and "cooler" instead of real temperature settings.

I feel better now having vented my frustration over super warm apartments. It is kind of ironic since at the beginning of the winter I was freezing in my room all the time and had to wear several layers to bed. That was just a fluke, apparently. They prefer roasted tenants rather than frozen tenants in my building.

Oh yeah, and it would be nice to have the other six dryers in the laundry working, seeing as we have 22 floors worth of people doing laundry and only 4 semi-functional dryers!

Okay, now I really feel better. Despite the tone of this post, I really did have an okay day. I went to my new yoga class which went a lot better than last week - my body is slowly remembering how to deal with all those muscles it's not accustomed to using.

Hopefully the yoga will counteract the temperature problem in my apartment. I'm off to try to sleep!

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Books, Thai food, and a movie...

It's been an eventful Wednesday for me (compared to my usually quite boring mid-weekdays when I have nothing to do...). I say eventful because I did more than one thing today. Actually I did a lot of things which was nice. I went to the library to take back four books and ended coming back with at least eight. I answered my phone TWICE which is a miracle since I usually forget to take it out of my coat pocket or leave it in another room (accidently of course) where I can't hear it.

Oh yeah - after I went to the library I decided it would be a great idea to just go straight to the grocery store to pick up essentials (apple juice, Whole Grain Goldfish, and chocolate soy milk) instead of walking the block back to my apartment and then walking the approximately three blocks to the grocery store unburdened of my huge bag of library books. My apartment is not technically on the route from the library to the grocery store - it is about half a block extra (so I would have walked a total of one extra block). You can see the illogical math here seeing as I had a large reusable grocery bag full of books. I had planned to use the bag on groceries. Oops... I ended up buying yet another reusable grocery bag because I feel insanely guilty now when I use the plastic grocery bags. China's way ahead of us and actually has a minimum thickness requirement for plastic bags and forces customers to pay extra if they do not bring in reusable bags! (I love NPR). Now the books would not have been so bad if I hadn't gotten all the heavy stuff at the store - two things of soy milk, a half gallon of apple juice, some frozen stuff, and one of the huge containers of Goldfish (the one that looks like an over-sized milk carton). My arms feel much stronger now, having made this trip to the library and the grocery store.

I just realized that I described above a trip to the library and the grocery store as eventful! I find that sad. I did go up to Evanston tonight though to have dinner with my former roommate and dear friend. We had Thai which I haven't eaten in a long time which was quite wonderful. Mmmmm curry with potatoes, peas, and tofu..... It was just really nice to see her and catch up on our exciting lives. Yes, my trip to the library and grocery store did come up...

After dinner we went to see the movie Juno which was an excellent idea. As you may remember from a former post, I love this movie. What was even nicer than just going to see the movie, though, was that we arrived about half an hour early so we had a good 20 minutes to just sit in the theater and talk. I like moments like that - it makes the movie going experience more social and personal. I often go to movies by myself because sitting in front of a movie or TV with other people does not seem incredibly social for me. However, I had a lot of fun watching Juno with Erica. Afterwards she said "I love this soundtrack!" Luckily I had already brought her a copy of it since I bought it last week.

Then we decided that this is one of our favorite movies. We have very similar taste in movies. I have decided I have three favorite movies. This is a big deal for me because when someone asked me what my favorite movie was freshman year of college, I had no idea. I finally settled on Amelie because it is one of the few movies I can watch over and over again and still love it. The other to favorites are actually both from the last 12 months - Waitress and Juno. I realized tonight that there is one major similarity between all three of these movies - they have strong female protagonists who demonstrate independence and fortitude in a society I can actually relate to! I've been having a lot of dreams about high school lately, mostly nightmares about not having really graduated or having the city bus route change completely. I think it is because of the high school depicted in Juno. We didn't have sports and I wasn't pregnant, but I could certainly relate to Juno's experience in many ways. I could go on and on about why I love these movies but this post is too long already.

So that was my day - it was exciting. It may not seem like it from reading the above but for me, it was a nice change of pace. Next week I have a stage management gig with a mime company which will probably be even more exciting than going to the grocery store but I still have a couple days to wait before that big adventure starts...

And yes, I'm still exuberant about Obama's wins yesterday - we're finally ahead in the total delegate counter, whether you include superdelegates or not! Yipee!

Labels: , , , ,

Yay OBAMA.... And This American Life

Hey loyal blog readers. I'm really tired with abit of a headache so bear with me through this short post.
Take a look at the table below....

Democratic Delegate Count
Needed to nominate:2025
Total delegate votes:4049
Candidate Plgd Supr Total*
Obama 1052 160 1212
Clinton 949
242 1191

Data table from npr.org
Unless you've been living under a rock the last few days, Barack Obama has SWEPT all the primaires and caususes that have been held after Super Tuesday.

In the wake of this exciting night of three wins for Barack - DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Even more wonderful is that he has a significant lead in these three states unlike some previous primaries that ended pretty much 50-50. The numbers right now are showing over 60% in all the two states and DC. I think Zev was right when he told me that the momentum of the Obama campaign is just getting more and more exciting and getting more and more votes. This will be a very long battle, I do not doubt, with the close number in delegates on the Democratic side. Notice please when you look at delegate counts to see whether or not the total includes superdelegates which say nothing about what the voters of America are saying (for the most part - they are not required to vote according to what their state voters want.)

NPR, my best friend, has several interesting stories and articles about all that math stuff I was bitching about the other night.

What NPR also has is the wonderful show "This American Life." I subscribe the to podcast because sometimes I just get sick of listening to the political podcasts I have or I'm not in the mood to just listen to music. Today it was because I wanted something to listen to while doing laundry (which is a hard feat when almost all 10 dryers are broken and there are hundreds of people in our 22-story building wanting to do laundry but having no dryers....).

If you need a laugh-out-loud funny moment, listen to the episode "The Super." The entire episode is about stories involving building supers. For anyone who is unfamiliar with This American Life, it is a great show where the host finds stories of the most random nature in America and compiles them into hour long shows based on themes. Another one I listened to recently was about matchmaking and my favorite so far was probably the one about the 10 commandments. In "The Super" episode, the first two acts are hilarious, one featuring an alleged Brazilian hit-man who is managing a NYC highrise while the second involves a weight-lifting snowman. The last "act" is more sad though. It is about a young super (who inherited the job and building from his dad) and must learn when to draw the line with tenants. This is by far my favorite episode although the one about quiz shows I listened to yesterday was pretty hilarious and interesting as well.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Yay Maine!

So Obama's won Maine and Hillary Clinton is replacing her campaign manager. Nothing says "I'm really confident about how my campaign is going" like replacing the campaign manager. Yeah. I don't think I need to say anything more. Y'all know I'm excited (about Obama of course, not Hillary's problems!)

Labels: , ,


It is freaking cold outside! I got up earlier than usual for a Sunday morning in order to go down to St. C's to shadow the sacristan. When I left, the temperature was -1 degrees, -14 with windchill. I expected it to warm up this afternoon. Nope. It is now a "balmy" 2 degrees now, -19 degrees with windchill.

Now that I'm home, I think I'll just stay curled up in this nice warm corner of my bed with my heating pad and computer. Being outside is not fun. As I was walking to the bus this morning, I felt like I was walking around naked on a chilly spring morning. Only difference is that I had at least 3 layers on all over, gloves, scarf, and hat. Yeah, it's cold. The bus came pretty quickly going to St. C's but on the way back I had to wait for about 5-10minutes. It felt like a lot longer because my fingers were freezing despite the gloves. I suppose it is my faulty since I insisted on reading my book while waiting, forgoing the hands in pockets approach to staying warm.

But now I'm nice and cozy at home and no obligations to go anywhere the rest of the day! Hooray! This will keep me warm AND prevent any broken bones due to stupid people who let their portion of the sidewalk freeze over with two inches of ice! Anyways, hope the rest of you are nice and toasty in your warmer climes.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, February 09, 2008

"This is one doodle that can't be undid, home-skillet."

***I wrote this post over a week ago but got caught up in the election stuff. I know this makes two long posts in one day but I figured I haven't posted since Wednesday so what's the harm. Click on the title above for a great trailer for the movie Juno, which is hopefully still playing in a theater near you!***

Now that my mother has proclaimed that I should be a movie critic, I am very nervous about writing about Juno, an amazing independent movie that is nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. Until last week when the nominations were announced, I had never heard of this movie before. A new friend who is a grad student at DePaul asked a bunch of friends from the retreat I went on last week if we wanted to go see one of the Oscar nominated movies. Juno was the suggested movie so I went to watch the trailer. I fell in love with the movie just from those few minutes of the preview. Luckily I was not disappointed after seeing the actual movie yesterday.

Juno follows the surprise pregnancy of the title character, who at 16 by no means wants to be having a baby. After deciding not to have an abortion (in one of my favorite scenes), her friend suggests that she look in the PennySaver for adoptive parents who are "desperately seeking spawn," in the words of Juno's best friend Leah.

I suppose this movie could easily be classified as a "coming of age" story yet I think that classification implies something contrary to the message I got out of the movie. Coming of age implies that a character goes through a process of maturity that leads into the next phase of life, such as teenage to adulthood. However, Juno is searching to discover her place in the phase she is supposed to be in as a teenager. Being pregnant complicates the difficult social trials every teenage girl deals with in high school. It is almost as though she is backtracking to the stage of life in which she belongs. In a great scene between Juno and her father, her father asks where she's been. Juno replies "I've just been out dealing with things way beyond my maturity level." The fact that she can recognize this is proof of her high level of maturity for a 16 year old, in an ironic sort of way. It is fascinating to watch a young woman who is acting more like an adult - taking pregnancy tests, acting above the other specimen at her school, etc - become more like the teenager she should be.

It has been a long time since I have seen a movie that is so purely pro-woman with amazingly strong female characters. Most movies tend towards traditional gender roles with subtle inferences of sexism (if you're wondering what I mean, go back to last year's posts about X-Men 3 and Batman Begins). Juno, on the other hand, is empowering (enough so that I want to go see it again soon). The funny thing is, nothing about the gender dynamics seemed artificial, proving that women can dominate a movie without it either becoming a chick-flick or seem like it is trying too hard! I hope other filmmakers pay attention and start making more women heroes! In addition, the male characters show a spectrum of strengths and flaws, just as the women do. We need balance in movies instead of taking sides with one gender or the other.

For example, Jennifer Garner's character, the wife in the adopting couple, seems unlikable at first until we are shown the flip side of the relationship. I don't want to give away too much but if you see this, pay attention to who sympathies change towards Jason Bateman's character (the husband in the adopting couple) throughout the movie. I was pleasantly surprised by my own reactions in the end. Juno's father, on the other hand, is like the wise old owl and loving father, played brilliantly by J.K. Simmons. Just so you know, all the performances were brilliant so I won't go through each of them here. Watch out for Ellen Page who played Juno, though! She was amazing and brought things to the character I'm sure no one else could have pulled off.

I really liked this movie, can you tell? The last issue I want to mention is fertility and adoption. I took a class in college called "Feminism and Fertility" in the Religion department. Since that class I have developed very strong feelings about infertility treatments and adoption. Juno shows us the struggle and journey of the individuals involved in adoption - the adoptive parents, the birth parents, the friends and family of the birth parents, etc. A lot of people don't think about the pain couples go through when they are not able to conceive on their own. Most people know that adoptions take months or years to go through the system but I've found even myself thinking of that time as mere "annoyance. Society has a "normal way" that children are brought into this world and become parts of families. Even though adoption is much more accepted in modern society than it was in the beginning of the last century, it is often seen as a "last resort." It is often assumed that only people who are "defective" in terms of reproduction adopt and therefore the couple can be stigmatized amongst others, especially in non-American cultures. In this film, however, we are shown the emotional journeys of both the adopting parents and the willing birth mother (and father and grandparents). Adoption takes just as much patience, hard work, and LOVE as being pregnant yourself and having a baby. I think this movie is a strong reminder to those of who may forget this from time to time. I have even more respect for my aunt and uncle who adopted two children and for all others who take the emotional risk to help children who need families.

tackles these issues and more, highlighting both the humor and sadness found in all of the characters' lives. From the stress of high school dances to the pain in the delivery room, this movie shows what is real in life and what truly matters.

Labels: , ,

Three more wins!

Hooray! In case you have not heard yet, Obama has won Washington State, Nebraska, and Louisiana! It looks like he won Washington and Nebraska with leads of over 30%! His momentum is still going strong and I'm excited. The results from Louisiana are still coming in at this time but he has a definite lead there no matter what - it is no Missouri or New Mexico with the even split votes.

Tomorrow will be interesting for two reasons. The first is that Maine will have it's Democratic Causus with 24 delegates up for grab (it may not seem like much but take into account how close Obama and Clinton were earlier today in terms of pledged delegates - it was a matter of single digits). The second is seeing how the delegates from today's caucuses and primaries are split up. Right now, CNN is saying Clinton has 1085 delegates and Obama has 1009 (this includes the imprecise count of superdelegates which is only an estimate). That is without all of the 78 delegates from Washington State and the 66 delegates from Louisiana split up! (Obama gets 17 of Nebraskas; Clinton gets 7).

Now all this math has kind of messed with my brain over the last week or so. I remember listening to NPR between the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary and hearing one of their political analysts assure us that delegate counts have never really mattered and probably wouldn't matter this year. WRONG! This is an unprecedented year, as far as I know, in terms of uncertainty so late in the primaries. Guess what - delegates count this year. Hard to have missed that now... I'm giving myself a week to make a decision on who's delegate count seems the most accurate because honestly, the news network reporting the numbers influences what those number are until things are more settled in the states. As mentioned in a previous post and comments, we are still waiting for absentee ballots to be counted in many huge states like California, which could make a difference of a few delegates distributed on either side. So far I'm still liking NPR the best! They list superdelegates and pledged delegates in seperate columns before adding them up so we can see just how "firm" Clinton's lead is(n't).

As I look at the above, I am thinking to myself "wow, when did my blog posts get so boring and technical!" Probably around the time I got confused. I'm still trying to figure out who to believe and how much hope to have. One of the stories posted on NPR about 20 minutes ago (but no longer to be found) said Obama had won a "decisive" victory. I'm sorry, people, there is nothing decisive about the Democrats right now. Yes, Obama has caught up well with Clinton and has had decisive leads in three states today, but there is nothing decisive about an overall victory! We're going to have to wait probably until March at least for any decisiveness! Texas and Ohio, two of the "larger" states, get to have their say the first week in March, along with the half dozen of the "smaller" states with primaries and caucuses before March 4. I'm sure there are a lot of math people employed on all sides of the campaign and the media trying to figure out who needs what votes where. However, no one is telling me, that's for sure. I'm just as confused as I was 15 minutes ago when I started writing this post.

Well, I guess satisfaction and security must once again wait for another day (at least in terms of knowing Obama will be our next president).

For now I guess I'll celebrate the wins of today and look forward to having many more suspenseful moments to come in this election year!

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Anticlimax anyone?

I'm too tired to write much tonight after being hyped up all day for the primary returns tonight just to be greeted with basically a tie between Clinton and Obama. It will be interesting to see where the rest of the delegates fall tomorrow when all the votes are in. In any case, both candidates seem to be willing to stay in the race after today, meaning people in the later primaries will get a chance to have a say in the nominee (which I guess is good). I would prefer it if Obama had a clear lead though. As a friend told me tonight, though, it is encouraging to see how far Obama came in the past month despite the expectations so if he keeps up this pattern, he can easily win the nomination over Clinton.

As this nomination process is far from over, I would like to point out two pet peeves with American voters.

1. Just because Hillary Clinton is a woman does not mean that all women must vote for her! Just because she is woman does NOT mean she will do what is best for all American woman or even the women abroad caught in the middle of military conflicts! Yes, I would like to see a woman elected. However, I REALLY do not want to see Clinton elected because I believe it will backfire on the chance of women getting elected in the future.

2. Hundreds of thousands of people voted for candidates in both parties who have already WITHDRAWN from the race! If John Edwards says he no longer wants to run for president, VOTE FOR SOMEONE ELSE! In New York, for example, Edwards, Richardson, and Kucinich each got 1% of the vote. I understand people want to show their support to these candidates in some way but I believe it would be more productive to channel that energy into voting for a second choice so that at least the third choice won't get elected! I know this could mean more votes for either Obama OR Clinton but I don't care! I think it is irresponsible (in terms of our civic duty) to vote for someone who has pulled out of a race instead of making considered judgments about who would be the next best person to represent the party. This does not apply to the general elections when people vote for third party candidates. Although it annoys me that sometimes third party votes means my favored candidate does not get elected, at least the third party candidates (such as the Green Party and Independent candidates) are still running for president!!!

Do those objections make sense to you? What do YOU think about the above issues?

In a more positive note, I loved my voting experience today! The polling place workers were really cheerful and encouraging. They were even joking with voters they knew about coming back to vote in November, saying things like "I'll have you a steak here when you come back in November!" It was a nice feeling to be part of such a friendly neighborhood.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, February 04, 2008

One last (maybe) reason to vote for OBAMA tomorrow...

I have written before about my skepticism and dislike of political polls that can negatively affect the actual results, as seen with the New Hampshire Democratic 2008 primary. But after listening to Morning Edition today, I think I have a new appreciation for the fact that polls can report information instead of or in addition to speculation.

The poll that I want to point out for anyone out there who is still undivided about how to vote in tomorrow's primary (if you are one of the states with primaries tomorrow) deals with how Republican voters respond to Democrat candidates. The story is linked above for you. The results of one poll showed that out of Republican voters, Hillary Clinton has a 5% base and Barack Obama has 13% base. This is important for anyone who adamantly does not want another Republican in office. I'm sure these numbers are somewhat dependent on who is the Republican nominee. According to this story, I am not the only liberal out there who would rather vote for McCain if Clinton is the Democrat nominee... So I urge voters to look at these elections with a view towards the long term. We are not just picking who we think is the best speaker or who will "advance" women's rights (which some people think just electing a woman will do even if that woman is not the right person for president). Primaries are about picking the best candidate to run against the opposing side. We have no idea what can happen in the next few months but I think there is a lot to be learned from how people are feeling now.

So that's all I think I have to say before Super Tuesday but I may be back later.

I get to vote as an Illinois resident in less than 24 hours! Yay! This will also be my first election in an actual polling place since elections always happened while I was away in college!

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, February 02, 2008

A funny ad before a great new addicting game!

So in my boredom today (exasperated by still being a little sick), I found the game Phit which is a stationary version of Tetris in many ways. You are given an assortment of block shapes and have to fit them together within a designated rectangle just as you fit Tetris pieces together as they fall. Besides the fact the pieces in this game are only moved by you, you cannot rotate the pieces which makes things harder. I love puzzles and this was definitely stimulating. Be warned that the first 10 or so levels can be insultingly easy but the difficulty gets harder as you go. Also there seem to be 100 levels which I like because I hate running out of levels!

One last thing about the game, I noticed that it is actually distributed by Armor Games, the same website that made the last addicting game I posted! Maybe there is a thing with Armor and cool puzzle games...

***UPDATE: Apparently not everyone is as lucky as me and able to see the "HI-larious" (in the words of Frances) Skittles commercial about the man who turns everything he touches into Skittles. Here is the YouTube link.

Friday, February 01, 2008

A commentary on the film Black Book***

I watched the movie Black Book this evening and it got me to thinking about the rhetoric of war. This is Dutch film made in 2006 about a female spy with the Dutch Resistance during WWII. The most interesting part for me was in the English subtitles to the German dialogue. I wish I spoke German so I could be sure it was an accurate translation! In any case, the Nazis always referred to the Resistance as "terrorists." Although this movie is by no means supposed to be from a Nazi German point of view, it did make me think about how the "other side" often thinks the same thing about the "good guys" as we think about the "bad guys." Everyone thinks they are on the "right" side to some extent.

Even more interesting was one of the main German characters, Muntze, who was a high ranking Nazi official who was one of the most compassionate characters. I know it seems strange to think of "Nazi" and "compassionate" in the same sentence but Muntze (who I think is fictional but I'm not sure) spoke out against worthless executions of Resistance prisoners and actually tried to negotiate with the Resistance to stop killings on both sides (the movie takes place towards the end of the war from 1944-1945 so the smart Germans knew it was just a matter of time before they lost). Muntze was given a death sentence by higher ranking SS men under the accusation of "negotiating with terrorists." I do not think the writer's words were chosen lightly. It seems that every time I hear Bush or his posse speak about the war in Iraq, it is something about "we will not negotiate with terrorists." It is an "us" vs. "them" mentality. This does not condone the actions on either side of these wars - either the Nazis or Al Quaida. However, as I have ranted about in Religion Major terms before, more needs to be done to understand the other side in order to eventually negotiate peace. And I do think that peace in the Middle East needs to be a negotiation. Yes terrorism is horrible and by no means should be condoned. However, there are a lot of other people in the Middle East who are not terrorists who would REALLY like to live life without the fears of suicide bombers or civilian casualties of American and other international "peace-keeping" occupying militaries.

Black Book was a very well made and fascinating movie but I would caution you that it contains a lot of graphic nudity and violence, often at the same time. However, it is good sometimes to be reminded about what WAR is really like and how many lives are affected by even a few violent deaths. The performances were all amazing, especially the lead actress Carice van Houten, who played the Jewish protagonist Rachel Stein who goes undercover for the Resistance by becoming Muntze's lover. The only flaws in the plot were probably too many characters with not enough exposition to keep them straight. However, the main characters like Rachel Stein and Muntze were incredibly deep and they really humanized the brutal story in a way that made many of the outcomes heartbreaking. It is because of the strong performances and characters that I actually finished watching this long movie without even multi-tasking like I usually do! I sat and watched straight through and cried quite a few times. So if you like history and want to see a Dutch take on WWII, go out and rent Black Book.

***I do promise that I will post my already written review of Juno soon but since it is now one of my favorite movies, I want to edit it to make sure it does justice to the amazing movie.

Labels: , , ,