Sunday, August 28, 2005

Remembering The Dream

...When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...It is obvious today that American has defaulted on this promissory note.

Somewhere along the way I memorized the "I Have a Dream" speech. Horrible at memorization and somewhat overwhelmed by the task, I have rarely taken it upon myself to memorize an entire speech. Three exceptions..."I Have a Dream," the Kennedy Inaugural Address, and the Gettysburg Address. Both the "I Have a Dream" Speech and the Gettysburg address were assigned to me as a high school junior in U.S. History, but only a portion of those speeches and they were imprinted in my mind long before then.

Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the March on Washington. August 28, 1963, over 250,000 people converged on Washington D.C. to demonstrate their support of and concern with historic civil rights legislation. It of course was a year later, a president later, and many setbacks later before such legislation would pass. And with the March on Washington came a stirring and historic speech given on the footsteps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Several years ago I was in Washington, D.C. and as I stood at the Lincoln Memorial I was not emersed in the "Great Emancipator," but rather Dr. King as the words of his famous speech rolled through my head and left me breathless.

As one looks back and realizes the magnitude of the event, the March on Washington holds an important and sacred role in the history of civil rights. Within his speech, King addressed the implications of converging on the nation's capitol, he addressed the bitter situation in the southern states, and he condoned the governor of Alabama George Wallace for his segregationist stance. For me the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement came the moment Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus and the end came April 4, 1968 in Memphis when Dr. King was assassinated. But in the time between, in the moments that mattered, the "I Have a Dream Speech" was the defining moment. It was a moment where it was apparent to the world, white or black, that segregation, discrimination, and prejudice would not be tolerated. It was the moment when the world realized that when Lincoln freed the slaves and when Jefferson wrote "all men are created equal" they were merely empty promises.

Today on this significant anniversary plans are under way for a memorial for Dr. King on the mall in Washington, D.C. A memorial not just for the man, but for the march, the many men, women, and children who participated, and for the dream. BuildtheDream.org is accepting donations, suggestions, and support for the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial. It has been forty-two years since a young, brave, and honest man stood at the steps of one of this nation's greatest memorials to peacefully address an important struggle in the history of human rights. It is fitting that his legacy, his memory, and his dream reside their on the mall where forty-two years ago he penned and importanta chapter of history.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Just Not Into The Game

Some days I don't like politics. Some days I wonder why I am getting a history degree. Some days it is safest to not touch the hot political issues. In his glory, Donald Rumsfeld (with the help of the base closing committee) has chosen to close Walter Reed Medical Hospital. Yes, Walter Reed. The Walter Reed. This isn't about soldiers without armor, a war without reason, this is beginning to be about ignorance & stupidity. Some days even I like Chuck Hagel.

Today I was helping to set up an MSN Messenger account, come to think of it I wasn't really that much help, but I thought it was odd the secret question choices offered to a user on an MSN account. When you set up the account you set your password and are given that secret question in case you lose your password. The questions were so random. I of course sat there and wondered if I had an answer to some of those questions. "Who is your favorite fictional character?" Easy, Holden Caulfield. My soul mate. Okay, not really, but the first time I read Catcher in the Rye I really thought so. There isn't much depth to Holden. Nothing that would normally attract me to a character. No defining strength like Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird and certainly nothing that stacks up against any of Steinbeck's characters, but I love him. Just a misguided kid trying to find his place in the world. We can all relate. "Who's your favorite character from history?" Well, isn't that a tricky question? A hard one, too. Rosa Parks. I think for me it is safe to say so. I'm a Kennedy nerd, but even I can realize the importance of one woman who had the courage to say no. And just as happy as I can be with the life of and work of John F. Kennedy, my happiness and interest is matched by confusion and disappointment. "What's your favorite tv show that is no longer on?" Maybe it said from childhood, I can't remember. A lot of the questions referred to childhood. Regardless, The X-Files. No contest. I always liked ALF and Quantum Leap as a kid and was recently annoyed with the cancellation of Judging Amy, but Scully & Mulder get my vote every time.

As you may have noticed on the sidebar what used to be the section that said "In the CD Player" has been renamed "Songs on Repeat." Strange? Yes, but here's my explanation: I don't really listen to CD's straight through. I listen to one song on repeat for hours, days, weeks on end. One song. A little obsessive, but I'll admit I'm more than obsessive about music. I'm not really one to sit down and listen to an entire album even if I like the artist. So what used to be "In the CD player" has been redefined and narrowed down to individual songs. The only problem is this...if I really listed all of the songs on repeat, several would always be on the list. I have my favorites. There are a few songs that I could listen to every minute of every day for the rest of my life and never get sick of them. Before I get too set in this new adjustment to the sidebar let me give the permanent & honorary additions to "Songs on Repeat"---

1. "Let it Be," The Beatles
2. "Like a Rolling Stone," Bob Dylan
3. "Drops of Jupiter," Train
4. "Please Come to Boston," David Allan Coe
5. "Morning Has Broken," Cat Stevens
6. "Secret Garden," Bruce Springsteen
7. "Behind Blue Eyes," The Who
8. "With or Without You," U2

Those songs seem to appear more than any others. Lately I've been listening to a lot of Van Morrison, a little Joe Cocker, Bob Seger in the car, and strangely enough two more current artists are in my head...Blake Shelton (a country artist) whose single "Goodbye Time" is very good and Tonic (not a country artist) whose single from several years ago called "If You Could Only See" still captivates me.

Now that you know how mad I am about Walter Reed, how obsessive I am about music, and how baffled MSN makes me, I guess that's it. School is still a bit chaotic, I'm really hating it at this point and the history program is a joke, but hopefully soon it, as well as everything else in my life that is upside down and causing me to lose sleep, will mellow out and life will be back to normal. Whatever that is. Look for a good as well as more politically natured post from me on Sunday. Until then, Happy Blogging!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Fall Classes Begin, Specter, & Hagel for President?

**Editor's Note: Please forgive construction on the site. I've been making some color changes and haven't quite tweaked the process. As you can see on some of the posts you can no longer see the time of post or the link to comment. Anyone have any pointers for me?

"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself a fool." I've found myself thinking of the immortal words of William Shakespeare often today. Fall classes began today at Idaho State University. You always know the day is coming, but it seems being prepared is pointless. There are all sorts of hoops and surprises. It is simply a waste of time to have even worried about it to begin with. Latin. Elementary Latin. That's where I began my school day. Latin is for foreign language majors, linguistics majors, ethics, philosophy, even English majors, not me. I guess history majors take foreign languages. If I was an ancient history type person. This could be interesting. I also went to U.S. History. My kind of class. Prior to 1865. I guess I need to learn a little something about colonial America. And he is letting me choose to read Thoreau. Anytime an excuse arises to read Thoreau, take it.
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Some how I have had much to say about Specter recently. I really have never liked Arlen Specter. It most likely stems from the "magic bullet" theory he has baffled me with for most of my life and has nothing to do with him being a Republican. A few weeks ago with his speech on the Senate floor about stem cell research I think I had a change of heart. And then came the Castro thing. Maybe I'm sympathetic because he's dying.

Last night I was sitting at my computer and on one of my many book shelves I caught sight of Booknotes: Stories from American History. I haven't read that entire book yet and because I have too many books in the first place I really hadn't even seen it around lately, but I pulled it off the shelf and saw Specter's name listed on the cover. So...when I should have been sleeping I read in the Social Transformation chapter I read an interesting article penned by Specter on his work with the Warren Commission. In an excerpt from his book Passion for Truth: From Finding JFK's Single Bullet to Questioning Anita Hill to Impeaching Clinton, Specter states: "I'd like to stem the free fall we've seen in voting and the tremendous skepticism...These are issues that we need to deal with to restore public confidence" (367). Bogus theories aside, Specter has class. I wish more of politicos in Washington had the spine & conscience of that man.
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Over the weekend there was much buzz in the news about a Republican senator publicly stating that Iraq is more and more reflective of the Vietnam War...that wasn't the surprising part, the news said a potential presidential candidate, Chuck Hagel, who has 2 purple hearts from his service in Vietnam, is stating that Iraq is looking like the quagmire in Vietnam.

Is Chuck Hagel really thinking of running for president? Hagel, a Republican senator from Nebraska, said "the longer we stay the more problems we're going to have." I didn't think I'd hear Hagel announce that 'stay-the-course' is not a policy. It's about time some common sense started surfacing in the Senate.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

To My Faithful Readers

So, I was on my way home tonight from Burley where I had been to a wedding reception...I HATE WEDDING RECEPTIONS. It was actually for my friend Chris Hartwell. If I didn't like the kid so much and if his mom wouldn't have called me personally to tell me to come I certainly wouldn't have gone. I'm quickly running out of single friends. I'm only twenty, you'd think I'd have oodles of single friends. Nope, not really. Of my closest friends it would be a stretch to say I have five single friends. And if said five that would be counting one that's out on a mission and one that is leaving on a mission. I'm not sure missionaries count! Anyway...the hour ride home seemed like centuries. As I belted out "If It Makes You Happy" by the lovely Sheryl Crow and "Total Eclipse of the Heart," come to think of it, I don't know who was singing that one, it was almost too soft to be Air Supply, I was thinking about how happy I am to have this medium to vent my frustrations that aren't always political. And someone actually reads them! We must all be bored or have too much time on our hands. Ina nut shell I just wanted to tell all of you thanks. You make the blogging world and politics enjoyable for me. Have a great week!!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Crazy Summer Wrap-Up

Fall semester at Idaho State begins Monday. The fool in me has allowed the nerd in me to take seventeen credits. Understandably, I'm going to be busy. But before I dive into learning the dead language of Latin and before there are books to read, papers to write, and real informative posts to create, I have a few clarifications, explanations, and observations.

In the craziest summer of my life...never thought I'd be saying that after the summer following my high school graduation...I've learned some unbelievable lessons. A few I could have done without and a few were lessons it may take me the rest of my life to learn, but nonetheless, the lessons were numerous.

One of those lessons came a few days ago in some reading I was doing on Arlen Specter. Specter who is the chairman of the judiciary committee in the United States Senate recently requested a meeting with none other than Fidel Castro. At first I thought this is ridiculous. Who does he think he is? But more and more as I read and as I considered his point of view I realized that this man isn't seeking publicity or controversy. Specter serves in one of the most influential seats as the Supreme Court battle rolls around. Though often referred to as a RINO, he is Pennsylvania's first 5-term senator. And most importantly Specter served on the Warren Commission (the body that investigated the circumstances surrounding the death of President Kennedy) where he authored the "single bullet theory" (also known as the magic bullet which perplexes me to this day). Specter doesn't need publicity. He's dying of cancer. He stands on the Senate floor day after day giving his last speeches. He wanted nothing more than to live his life as a public servant. If the man wants to meet Castro and has the capabilities to do so, let it be. I never thought in a million years I'd be the one to say Arlen Specter has taught me an incredible lesson, but he has. He has taught me that you can't leave this world knowing that the things you wanted the very most were unattainable because you weren't willing to go out on a limb. For whatever reason he wants to speak to Castro, whether it be for his understanding of history or whatever, his request is an admirable one.

Specter is observation number one. Clarification comes in the form of one simple song. Last month I wrote a post on "Landed" the new single from Ben Folds. I probably said it was Ben Folds Five, which it isn't, just Ben all by himself at that piano. Anyway, tonight Ben was on Jay Leno and as he sat there, I sat admiring what raw talent that man has. Just looking at him you'd not think he was anything special, just a geeky looking guy sitting at a piano, but no. Ben Folds is amazing. If you don't play the piano you can't really understand it and I'm not sure I can put it into words, but when you sit with your fingers gently playing the keys, there is the solitude and completeness. Sitting there you can pound out your anger, fear, and disappointment. There is nothing like playing "Morning Has Broken" on a baby grand. I've played a lot of instruments in my life and none have the same effect on me. Ben Folds as a pianist gets that, I think that's why I like him so much. The song hit a nerve with me tonight. It's much deeper than I gave it credit. Like "Brick" it has many layers. And as I reread my post on it I realized I really dissed the Backstreet Boys. Sadly that boy band phase hit me too, but the comeback album of the Backstreet Boys is awesome. I would recommend listening to and even purchasing Never Gone.

Okay, last, but not least, the explanation. All summer there has been hype over Jane Fonda's return to the big screen. Starring in Monster-in-Law and with a recent book publishing, Fonda has been everywhere. I watched her on Dateline talk about her sex life. I listened to her on NPR. She's everywhere. AND I HATE IT!! I've avoided the topic all summer, not because I don't find it interesting, but because it makes me livid. Some of us weren't around to know her as Hanoi Jane, but for an entire generation, Jane Fonda's name is not to be mentioned. Her trip to North Vietnam was one of those moments where a whole nation sat and watched the line being crossed. Hollywood suffered, the troops suffered, and Jane's reputation has never recovered. On a personal level I despise Jane Fonda because of the public relationship she had with her children, neglect, abandonment, the works, but that's not why I've avoided the topic. Jane Fonda is just as guilty as wrongdoing in Vietnam as the U.S. soldiers who participated in the My Lai Massacre and I realize that, but my problem is this: Jane Fonda has spent the last 30 years apologizing to everyone who will listen for her actions. She once upon a time felt strongly enough about Vietnam to do what she did and as she did it there were no regrets. It wasn't until much later that she took the nation enforced guilt trip. My message to Jane Fonda--quit apologizing for something you did 30 years ago! Stand by your actions. Believe what you believe. Do what you do. Don't apologize for it.

Okay, that's about a novel and more than I thought I had to say. Who knew three of those crazy summer lessons would come from Arlen Specter, Ben Folds, and Jane Fonda. As school starts there will be less frequent attempts at posting, but I promise to try and keep on top of it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Random Questionnaire

For days now I have been trying to think up something political to post about, it's just not happening. Gaza is too much of a mess at the moment to even begin to explain it, the Supreme Court situation hasn't really heated up yet, and I couldn't care less about Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush visiting the great state of Idaho...so I'm going to do something a little off the wall and completely non-political.

There's this questionnaire originating from a French series, "Boullion de Culture" hosted by Bernard Pivot (the Pivot Questionnaire) that James Lipton, host of "Inside the Actors Studio", has adopted. At the end of each episode of the series where Lipton interviews actors ranging from Harrison Ford to Will Smith, he asks them this series of ten questions. I'm always surprised by their answers and have been thinking up my own for some time now. I'll never be on the show so why not post about such nonsense? Hey, Nick posted on Jimi Hendrix and the blues, Cory and Ang get to post on Harry Potter, and Uncle Orson (Orson Scott Card, no I don't really have an uncle named Orson) recently gave his review on toilet paper!!

The Pivot Questionnaire

1. What is your favorite word?
Liaison.
2. What is your least favorite word?
Retard.
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
Top hats? No, just kidding. A combination of passion, sensitivity, and sincerity.
4. What turns you off?
Cruelty.
5. What is your favorite curse word?
Favorite PG rated..."oh holy hell." A favorite phrase really.
6. What sound or noise do you love?
The crack of a wooden bat as it connects with a baseball.
7. What sound or noise do you hate?
The sound of a door slamming.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
If I had a mathematical brain I'd really like to work for NASA.
9. What profession would you not like to do?
1st Grade Teacher or Social Worker.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
"Oswald didn't act alone." No, in all seriousness, "good enough."

Alright, that's it, my random contribution to the blog world for the day. Back to politics soon...I promise.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Promise of a Coming Day

No real news to report for the day, not really anything political on my mind either...unless you all want to know that the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. was evacuated today. A suspicious package was found in the basement. I don't even know that because it is located blocks from the capitol, I actually know that because Crosby, Stills, and Nash were in town for a concert and were evacuated.

Pointless and irrelevent, yes, but I thought that was ironic since "Southern Cross" has been stuck in my head for days now.

Anyway, I'm going out of town in the morning. I'll most likely be back late Tuesday, but don't expect a post out of me until at least Wednesday. That is of course if nothing all together earth shattering happens between now and then. The Iraqi Constitution deadline is tomorrow, I'm not holding my breath on it, Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) is calling for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and there is a new plan for a Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the Washington Mall, but all of those things can wait.

Someone once said that a trip is what you take when you can't take anymore of what you've been taking. This wasn't even a planned trip and maybe I'm running from chaos or toward it, but nonetheless, I'm taking a day or two off.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Castro, Cartoons, and a Country Song

Today marks the 79th birthday of Cuban President Fidel Castro...or 78th depending on whom you are asking. It seems quite strange to me that we don't know how old he is. Yes, he has been around for a very long time, the period of ten American presidents, but someone should know this sort of thing. I checked CIA information online and they also have cited either date...the CIA. Don't you think the government agency that has attempted to assassinate the man numerous times would at least know how old he is? Best guess, Castro was born either August 13th, 1926 or August 13th, 1927. Either way, he's getting up there.

Recently Castro came up in a discussion I was having and since I've been thinking quite a bit about the future status of Cuba. With Raul Castro so high in the chain of command one must wonder whether or not he is waiting in the wings to take power following Fidel's death, but also one must wonder if Castro dies will Cuban Communism also? Communism is waning in China, has long since seen an end in Russia, the previous communist threat in Southeast Asia is gone, Cuba really is all that is left. An island forgotten by most of the world since 1961 & 1962 (except for the occasional mention of Gitmo) , Cuba economically is unsound, trade barriers are enforced, and the last thing out of Cuba before the U.S. embargo was a box of Cuban cigars, ordered by President John F. Kennedy. Years of desertion could equal years of instability.

Regardless of its future, Cuba's leader is merely a year older. He did quit smoking those cigars years ago. Maybe he's there for the long haul. You could probably put Castro in the category with cockroaches and Cher...after nuclear devastation and the end of the world, they'll still be standing.
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I read political cartoons. I even have favorites. There is this guy out of New Jersey that I keep an eye on. During the Terri Schiavo ordeal he was right on the money and ahead of most other political cartoonists and every so often he sketches something great. Being out of New Jersey he also covered the gubernatorial debacle and the subsequent frauds, embellishments, and lies that followed. Anyway, in the last few weeks since the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, I've noticed the political cartoons taking cheap shots at NASA. Not just shots at the administration, shots at the astronauts, the engineers, the whole nine yards. I guess my point, if I had a point, is this...political cartoonists are a dying breed, they of all people should understand an entity trying for dear life to hold on to something that was once great. Just as quickly as the shuttle program is headed out the door so are those insensitive cartoonists. Give NASA a break!
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Tonight I was channel-surfing and stopped on CMT for a moment as something caught my eye...it was a caisson caring a flag draped coffin. Not something I'm used to seeing as I flip through the channels, I watched carefully the new music video from Trace Adkins for his single "Arlington." I have a soft spot for Arlington National Cemetery; it is one my favorite places in the world and the humbled feeling you get there is unreal. As I watched the video, I completely ignored how much I don't like Adkins' voice, completely ignored the grammatical imperfections of the lyrics, and became completely immersed in the pictures. The graves, the fallen, the 21-gun salute, the flags. It was breathtaking.

It seems that we live in a time of bitterness and cynicism. Since 9/11 we have had a few other country singles including "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning," "Have You Forgotten," and "Courtesy fo the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)," but never have I felt the sensitivity, the honor, and the understanding, the recognition of the war's costs until "Arlington." It isn't about a war we should or shouldn't be fighting. It isn't about a president we should or should not be supporting. It's merely about a small, sacred, and hallowed ground, right in the heart of this nation, where brave men and women have been laid to rest, in recognition of their service and sacrifice. This is what our divided nation needs, not another reminder of it's failures, shortcomings, and anger.

For the lyrics to "Arlington" here is a link and if anyone knows where online I can watch that video again, please let me know.

Monday, August 8, 2005

Peter Jennings & The End of an Era

I walked to the bus stop not knowing that the world had stopped. It was when I arrived at school and I heard his voice that I finally realized our nation was under attack. For sixty hours following the attacks on 9/11 I heard only one voice, the voice of Peter Jennings. He was calm, yet at times showed emotion. He was strong, yet subtle in displays of human weakness. His voice I will miss the most. Peter Jennings, 67, died yesterday at his home of lung cancer.

April 5th I wrote a post about Jennings' announcement that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. It was that shocking to me. You have to realize that the only voice I've ever known on ABC's World News Tonight was that of Jennings. He became the anchor in 1983, two years before I was born. Of course I've watched the Powerhouse-3, Jennings, Rather, and Brokaw, my entire life, but of the 3 he was always my favorite. There was something about his voice, his smirk, his style. On 9/11 and the days that followed, the news was personal again like it had not been since the days of Walter Cronkite that fateful November in 1963 when Kennedy was assassinated, Oswald was shot on national television, and a country mourned and buried their president.

Sadly, this I believe this may be the end of something amazing. With the emergence of the 24-hour news networks, Fox News, and CNN, the days of commanding broadcast anchors are quickly departing. Jennings was the last to go. Without Brokaw, without Rather, and without Jennings, news will just be news again. With Brokaw we had a warning that he was soon to retire, with Rather we had a scandal that pointed toward the exit, but with Jennings we just woke up one morning and he was gone. What we should love about America is that every night a man on television who came into our homes to tell us the news was once a dropout and he made it. His is the ultimate success story.
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Peter Jennings
1938-2005

Seemingly Obvious Stupidity

A research firm, Insight Express, in conjunction with the Women's Entertainment Network, has named Paris Hilton the American princess of the 21st century. Why would I post on such a thing? Because Ms. Hilton (with 48% of the vote) beat out none other than Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. Okay, Kennedy biases aside, how can U.S. women over the age of 18 seriously choose someone who's broadest stretch of vocabulary is "that's hot"?????? It seems to me what might be considered royalty in other countries need not apply in the U.S. with the media feeding frenzy around trash reality television. The research firm asked 1,000 American women for their perception of royalty and who they felt most embodied that perception as well as the American perception of royalty as a whole.

When I think royalty I first look toward the executive office. Wouldn't you logically conclude that royalty implies power and governing? Evidently not on the Women's Entertainment Network. Nicky Hilton came in 3rd place behind her sister and Schlossberg-- that tells you what kind of royalty we're talking about, big money, no brains, and a poorly written sitcom.

I'd say I'm not so bent out of shape strictly for Schlossberg's sake, but I'd be lying. Does Camelot not mean anything to anyone? The Kennedy's were royalty. Caroline is the keeper of the flame, the sole keeper of the flame for that branch of the Kennedy family tree. She carries on, grace under pressure, beautifully. And Paris Hilton? A very scandalous video. I rest my case.
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Suspended Orioles infielder Rafael Palmeiro will face a congressional investigation into possible perjury for statements regarding his use of steroids. Come on! Okay, I realize the magnitude of perjury charges. I also realize that Palmeiro was asked by Congress to appear at a congressional inquiry regarding steroid use in Major League Baseball and he agreed. What I don't get is why...if Congress has evidence that he may have lied, charge him with perjury, don't have another inquiry that will be drawn out (and televised on CSPAN more time than even an interested human being cared to watch). Does Congress have nothing else to do with their time? I do believe we have a floundering Social Security program, a war on our hands, and well isn't there a Supreme Court vacancy?? I better be careful, the last time I asked if Congress had something better to do than investigate steroids they dove into the Teri Schiavo mess.

My question with Palmeiro is this---if the positive test came before his 3,000th hit, should it count? Should he be allowed to remain in the presence of Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Eddie Murray, as the only players in the history of the league to hit 3,000 with 500 career homers if he was juiced (oh, forgive the reference to the Jose Canseco book)? I've always felt Palmeiro belongs in Cooperstown. He's earned it. Maybe this too shall pass and just be an overreaction..what are the chances?
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And last, but certainly not least, one more bit of stupidity in the news...Reuters is reporting that in a poll of musicians, actors, and experts, Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone" was voted The Song That Changed The World. What? You've got to be kidding me!!! (And this coming from a girl who's favorite song, next only to "Drops of Jupiter" by Train and "Let It Be" by the Beatles is "Like a Rolling Stone.") How did it change the world? Maybe the music industry, maybe the way we look at music, but not the world. Did it put an end to poverty? Did it cure AIDS? Tell me, what exactly are the criteria?

The article said that ex-Beatle Paul McCartney (which I though was funny because once a Beatle always a a Beatle) voted for Elvis' "Heartbreak Hotel" and the Rolling Stone "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" ranked as number three. The survey for Uncut magazine ranked movies, music, books, etc. Number five on the list was the highest ranking film Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. Interesting. How'd that change the world? Maybe a widespread outbreak of insomnia out of fear and bogglement, but really, did it change the world?

At the peak of stupidity is the fact that the highest ranking book on the list is at #19 and is Jack Kerouac's On The Road. Changed the world? Have none of these voters ever read The Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath, or even the Bible? Kerouac is a stretch even for something this far-fetched!

It seems to me that if you're really going to take a stab at a survey like this you might want some educated voters. Really, Keith Richards?

Friday, August 5, 2005

Mehr Licht

It has taken me three days to formulate the words for this post. And even now I don't know where to begin. So, I guess I must begin at the beginning...

A little less than a year ago, right after fall semester began, I posted three different times on something highly personal to me, my education. Ray Charles and a Week That Changed My Life, Methods of Higher Education, and Methods of Higher Education: II, revealed how I feel about public education, how important education is to me, and both how I had changed my major and had found my mentor.

Three times a week for an entire academic year I would walk out of a classroom, spinning with ideas, curiosity, and motivation. Some of my most heart felt and important posts spawned from moments and questions within that classroom...an English classroom.

I found Kay Walter by chance, a very lucky chance. I randomly selected an English 102 professor. One day I walked into Walter's classroom, was scared to death of failing and yet too stubborn to not accept the challenge. One day not long after that I walked into her office and simply asked if she always knew from the moment she started college that English was her field and teaching was her calling. That was the day I changed my major. That day on her office door I read "mehr licht" and that was the day I finally understood Goethe when he said, "every step is an end and every step is a fresh beginning." That was the day I realized Special Ed isn't my calling in life and if I want to be truly happy, I have to do what I love, what I'm good at, and what comes naturally.

The only problem with such a philosophy is Special Ed is what I love, it comes naturally, and with time I guess I have become pretty good at it. The day I decided to change majors was not the day I chose History as a major. It was up in the air for a while. Considering Political Science, Sociology, American Studies, History, and yes, English, it wasn't until much later that I decided History was where I belonged. Happiness comes not just in doing what you love, loving what you do, and being good at it, it comes in devoting yourself to what you do and choosing that happiness. I could never have been happy in the Special Education field because I would have always felt it was forced upon me and expected of me.

A friendship grew as more and more I realized my English teacher had something amazing to instill in me. There are lessons you can't learn in the classroom. There are lessons you can't find in books. There are lessons you have to learn in order to succeed. Of course I learned how to write a three-part thesis, how to "let the force of [my] ideas be the power of [my]words," and I even suffered through and learned to love Sir Walter Scott. I learned that comments on a graded paper mean something, just as comments about inhumanity do. I learned that fifteen hollow readings of poems ranging from Tennyson to Dickinson mean little in comparison to one sincere reading of "Invictus."

I'll never again forget James Fenimore Cooper or take for granted a serious talk about Percy Shelley. I may never understand the fundamental difference between affect and effect or why Virginia Woolf cannot be included in good American literature, but for the rest of my life I'll know how to spell Hemingway and I'll know why Oscar Wilde wrote his most important works.

Most importantly, over the last year I have learned that there are people in our lives, for whatever reason, that come at the exact moment when we need them. They stay with us for as long as they can, but reside in our hearts for lifetimes. There are people who want to guide us, who know things we have yet to learn, who will, if we let them, lead us. In a criticized and often ridiculed public education system, there are those, if only a few, who stand out and make education worth saving.

In the words of Philip Booth, "whatever your route, go lightly toward light." Fort Smith, Arkansas now awaits an English teacher, a mentor, and most importantly a friend. My time at Idaho State University would have been incomplete without this chance encounter and my life, well I guess that's something only time will tell.

Monday, August 1, 2005

Insert Foot In Mouth--Palmeiro Suspended

If you lie to a Congressional committee on the use of steroids in major league baseball, does that constitute perjury? Maybe he should ask Mr. Clinton what exactly constitutes perjury. On the 15th of July, Rafael Palmeiro had his 3,000th career hit. Today on the 1st of August, Rafael Palmeiro took a ten-day suspension for breaking the league's new steroid policy. Before I get into the dirt, I still believe wholeheartedly that Palmeiro is one of the best players in the league and he deserves a place reserved for him in Cooperstown.

"Palmeiro had appealed the suspension, but an independent arbitrator ruled the first baseman, one of only four players in major league history with more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, had to serve the suspension starting Monday. The suspension and the appeal had not been made public until the announcement of the suspension Monday."

"I am here to make it very clear that I have never intentionally used steroids," Palmeiro said in a statement. "Never. Ever. Period. I am sure you will ask how I tested positive for a banned substance. As I look back, I don't have a specific answer to give. "Unfortunately, I wasn't able to explain to the arbitrator how the banned substance entered my body. The arbitrator did not find that I used a banned substance intentionally -- in fact, he said he found my testimony to be compelling -- but he ruled that I could not meet the heavy burden imposed on players who test positive under the new drug policy" (The Washington Post).

Okay, so not so important given that Saudi King Fahd has died and President Bush sidestepped the Senate (a bad idea if he wants a smooth Supreme Court confirmation process) to get John Bolton installed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations...BUT-- on my fantasy sports Yahoo! baseball league, Palmeiro is my third player to get suspended under the new steroid policy. What a team. When Raffy returns in ten days, he's going to think the heat he took back in his Viagra commercial days was nothing. Viagra vs. performance enhancing drugs? Hmmm...