Sunday, September 25, 2011

Picture Sharing

Just a few pictures/cartoons that have recently been shared to me.  They should all be self explanatory.

Lot's of Sports Fun!

It's been a good weekend for Valley sports.  The Dbacks beat the Giants Friday night to clinch the NL West, then followed that up with a shellacking of the Giants on Saturday night to eliminate them from the wild card.  Then, the ASU Sun Devils took it to the USC Trojans, or as one fried called them, the University of Spoiled Children.  But wait, it gets better?  How?  The Oregon Ducks beat the crap out of the UofA Mildcats.

As for lesser items, Liberty University lost.  Yeah!  Notre Dame won.  Damn them!  And, I mean that in the most biblical way possible.  I certainly didn't mind seeing Florida State or Miami lose.  Never cared much for the big three Florida schools.

Even though am I'm pretty much indifferent about the Arizona Cardinals, let's hope they put up a decent showing against Seattle.  They should win, but then again, this is the Cardinals.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wait, What? Government isn't Supposed to Create Jobs

This is classic.

Michelle Bachmann visited a small business in Iowa called OMJC Signal Inc.  I will let you guess at what OMJC stands for.  Anyway, the owner, a very conservative Republican, runs a company that specializes in temporary signalling equipment most often used for road construction.  She cited the struggles of this company as an example of Obama's failed policies.  Um, OK.  They specialize in signalling equipment used in road construction. You know, like infrastructure, like, things government spends money on.  The same government that isn't supposed to create jobs.  This guy WANTS Obama's new jobs bill to pass.  It increases investment in infrastructure, for companies like OMJC to grow and hire people, and yet, it is her party that is standing tall and proud in the way of companies like OMJC to grow.

By the way, OMJC stands for Our Majesty Jesus Christ. 

Another prime example.  There is a bridge that connects Cincinnati with Covington, Kentucky. The bridge has been declared deficient and obsolete.  The bridge connects the state of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to the state of House Speaker John Boehner.  Both are rather infamous in their lack of interest in infrastructure spending, because, you know, government doesn't create jobs.  Only the private sector can create jobs.

It is so incredibly simple to point out the complete idiocy of the Republican position on these policies as to not even be funny anymore.  There are only two explanations. One, the Republicans have their heads so far up their ass, they can only see their own radical ideology.  Two, they intentionally are trying to sabotage the economy in the hopes of electing their candidate.  Personally, my money is on both.

American Electorate Needs to Get Smarter

A few days ago, I posted a link to this article about the fact it was three years ago to that day, when Lehman Brothers collapsed and set off the Great Recession.  The point being made was that Lehman Brothers and other major investment banks thrived on high risk investments and derivatives with little or no regulatory oversight.  Here we are three years later and all the Republicans want to talk about is the fact that we have to much regulation and that is inhibiting growth, especially with respect to the financial sector.  Lesson.  Not.  Learned.  Steve Benen went on to comment, "Republicans are awfully lucky most Americans don’t follow politics closely. If the public was better informed, I suspect GOP candidates would struggle to win any races at all."

This FB post spurred a couple of comments, the first being about how if we did have a smarter electorate, we wouldn't need political parties and people could run on their own merit.  And, second, we should disband the electoral college.

Certainly some interesting discussion points and they actually tie together.  So, another civics lesson.  One of the reasons why the Electoral College exists in the first place is that the founding fathers knew, quite simply, that most people were really not smart enough to vote directly for the President of the United States.  This is not to say our ancestors were stupid.  No.  Back then, we didn't have 24-hour news cycles and cable TV.  Newspapers were rare and most news was disseminated by a town crier.  The population as a whole was simply not informed well enough to make decisions on such important matters.  Hence, the Electoral College.  The idea simply being that the people should vote for someone they know locally, who they would trust to make the right decision as to which candidate for President they should vote for.  The Electoral College would then meet and cast their votes.  Back then, I think the runner-up became the Vice President, regardless of ideological affiliation.  I may be wrong on that.  Also, at some point, it became a matter of voting for the group of Electors who were committed to a certain candidate and their hand chosen running mate.  This certainly deviated from the intent of the founding fathers.  Also, at some point, it became a winner take all approach for most of the states.  Regardless of the percentage vote, the candidate who "won" would be able to send all of their Electors to the Electoral College.  Only a few states split their electoral votes.  Nebraska being one of them (They went 3 for McCain, and 1 for Obama I believe).  In the news more recently is the fact that Pennsylvania is thinking of abandoning the all for one approach and adopting the split Electoral process used by Nebraska. 

Also, I know of a couple of times where an Elector elected for one candidate did change their vote at the Electoral College.  These vote changes never had an effect on the outcome of an election however.

As for the party system, I think they are inevitable.  Having watched a number of governments with multiple parties try and and govern through coalitions seems somewhat crazy.  But then, the Republican Party has gone crazy with the Tea Party within a party.  I'm just not sure in this day and age if an independent candidate could pull off a national election without a major support base.  If a candidate were to be able to pull that off, I would have major concerns about special interests, like, say, the Koch brothers, being able to fund a candidate with now restrictions on amount they could give....Oh, wait...

As for that, getting smarter thing, I don't have any answers except that we need to do a better job of educating our kids about how government works, and how to think critically about things, and how to ask questions, and how to check facts, etc.  Most of the BS coming from the Republican candidates can't pass a basic sniff test, yet millions of sheep follow along.  The less informed the electorate, the better of Republicans will be, because that is when propaganda, when done correctly, can swing entire nations into doing some very despicable things.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Who Has the Guts?

The Republican Presidential hopefuls are giving the Democrats a gift wrapped in a pretty bow.  They are a bunch of idiotic, anti-education, economy sabotaging, homophobic, hostage taking godbots.  They are all the same, vying for the same extreme right-wing vote to get the nomination.  There is not a single sane, credible idea in the lot.

Along with the Presidential election, the whole House of Representatives is up for re-election.  See above description.

And, in the Senate, many long term Republicans have watched in fear and loathing as their party has taken a sharp turn to the right, yet they have said nothing about the guanophrenic approach taken by the House leadership.  They seem to be along for the ride.

You would think a reasonable, intelligent Democrat could squash these Republicans like a little bug.  Unfortunately, there don't seem to be many of them willing to have the guts to stand up and call these idiotic legislators out for their insane behavior. 

The only elected official that has really come out and called the Republican tactics has been Bernie Sanders, an Independent.

I sure hope the Democrats find their voice soon, because they have let the Republicans define the playing field.  I can only hope Obama is saving it up for the campaign once the Republican nominee has been determined.

Texas is Burning

Several months ago, Texas was experiencing a severe drought and some really nasty wildfires.  Since Governor Rick Perry had no idea what to do, he decided to pray, and issued a day of prayer for rain.  God's answer was apparently no.  Here we are, watching headlines of horrendous wildfires, an even more severe drought, and hundreds of homes destroyed.  Very sad. 

This is not to say that Rick Perry could have done anything different.  Not praying would have ended up with the same result, but at least he wouldn't look like an ass. 

It will rain again, and probably soon.  This is an inevitability.  And when it does, I'm sure he will claim victory for his prayer, because, whenever you pray for something that is inevitable, your prayer is always answered.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Nook Book

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I have been doing more reading lately.  This is a good thing.  I also decided that it was time to consider my reading options, such as going electronic or not.  I looked at the two options (Kindle and Nook) and decided on the simple non-color Nook.  I decided I didn't need the fancy bells and whistles.  I didn't need to check email and the internet from it.  I didn't need social networking access with it.  I just wanted something small and simple that I can use to read.  The Nook fit that need very well. 

One of the reasons I went with an e-reader was because I am finding myself reading several books at once, depending on my mood.  A book on historical spy fiction, a book on atheism/skepticism, a book on science, a book on probability and chaos theory.  You know, the standard light reading...for insomniacs.  Anyway, I'm not always sure what my mood is and I find myself putting a book down after 4 or 5 pages and moving to something else.  Carrying around all those books for travel is not convenient.  Neither is getting out of bed after getting all settled to find the right book.

As a bonus, you can get a lot of free books.  In the case of the Nook, a lot of "classics."  You know, the books we were all supposed to read in school?  Admittedly, I have not read may of them, and I wasn't particularly in the mood to buy them or even to check them out at the library.  I've downloaded about 15 of these classics so far.  So, when the mood strikes me to read a classic, I have it handy.  I'm sure I will find a few "keepers" in my reading and as a result, I will probably still buy the hardback for the bookshelf.

Fitness Program: P90X Review

I started the P90X program back on July 4th.  I am now in week 10 of 13 and I have to say that I am quite pleased with the results so far.

When I stated looking for a fitness program for myself, I really had two things in mind.  Lose some weight and improve my overall level of fitness.  I knew the losing weight part was going to involve by diet and exercise.

Now, when I use diet in that context, I was not thinking about diet as in some sort of fad thing where you starve yourself.  No.  I was looking for a balanced nutrition plan.  Not being a dietician or a nutritionist (I'm not sure what the difference is), I knew enough to know that the diet fads were not the way to go.  While cutting calories will accomplish short term weight loss goals, these fads are simply not sustainable.  I don't think any of them can truly become a lifestyle change on their own.  When you cut calories, your body goes to its fat reserves to find the extra calories that it needs just to function.  The problem is that you are neglecting your body's need for X calories a day, so when your body does receive calories, the first thing it wants to do is store it as fat so it can keep it in reserve.  That is exactly the opposite of what you want to do.  With the P90X plan, you actually increase your calorie intake.  Why?  First of all, your body simply needs X calories per day just to function.  This is the couch potato caloric intake.  On top of that, you need calories to get you through other activities throughout the day, including exercise.  The idea here is that you need to convince your body that it will get all the calories it needs, so it doesn't go into fat storage mode (and give you enough energy to complete the workout) while convincing your body to dip into those fat reserves to fuel the calorie deficit of the workouts.  The P90X nutrition plan does just that.  I actually increased the amount of food I ate and the weight just melted off in the first month.  There were some meals where I looked at my plate and just thought there was no way I was going to eat all of that food!  That is the kind of diet/nutrition plan I like.  Bottom Line?  You need to eat to lose weight.  You just have to eat the right things.

I was a pretty decent athlete in high school, so I knew what it was like to be in great shape.  I also understood the amount of work and effort involved.  A 10 minute a day routine just doesn't cut it.  Neither does walking around the block every morning.  I wanted something that was going to work all parts of my body.  Also, I wanted something I could do at home that was instructor led.  In other words, a list of workouts on page 36 wasn't going to cut it for me.  I knew that I needed something that I had to keep up with, probably video.  I was prepared to have to do some cardio on my own.  Maybe a bike ride, perhaps a jog around the block. What I didn't want was a jazzercise,. hip-hop dance, or Taebo like video where I just do the same thing every day or every other day.  What I found with P90X was that it mixes a lot of traditional workouts with a nice mix of cardio and a few other pleasant surprises.  The very first workout was push-ups and pull-ups.  Basic, simple, this ain't no Taebo workout.  About half the videos are just good ol' hardcore gym type stuff.  Pick up a set of dumbbells and start pumping!  Chest, back, shoulders, triceps, and biceps.  There is also a legs workout with squats and lunges.  There is plyometrics where you get your feet off the floor and do some jumping around.  There is Yoga, yes Yoga.  A kickboxing video (Kenpo), a cardio video, and an all-around core muscle workout.  There is also an abs workout as well.  A real good variety of workouts that change everyday and keep things interesting.  Finally, the thing that made me buy this fitness program was the last workout.  Stretching.  A whole video dedicated to just doing stretching.  I had contemplated started my new "get fit" plan by doing some stretches on my own and just trying to improve flexibility and tightness so that I wouldn't get killed when I started a program.  Well, this program has it built in.

Overall, I am very happy with this choice and when my first 90 days is over, I plan to do the whole thing again after a few weeks off, and by off, I mean I will probably do the "rest" week routines.  All I know is that I feel a whole lot better and I can't wait to get home from work and do that day's workout.  That should tell you everything you need to know right there. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Changes are Coming Revisited

A couple of months ago I had a post about how some things were going to change.  I had stated four things that I was planning to do.
  1. Do something on the house projects every day.
  2. Practice my guitar.
  3. Blog.
  4. Get fit.
So, how am I doing?  As far as house projects go, I have not been doing something everyday, but I have accomplished some painting outside and I have done a few minor projects inside.  Not stellar, but not bad either.  As for practicing guitar.  Not so good.  I underestimated the time commitment related to #1 and #4.  Also, I just haven't had the motivation for it in recent months.  It is something I definitely want to work on, but the motivating factor just hasn't hit me yet.  Blogging?  Well, just check the archives for July and August.  I started out OK, but the wheels came off.  I'm trying to put the wheels back on.  The one thing that has picked up recently, unintentionally, is reading.  I am doing more reading that I have in quite some time.  I think that is a good thing.  Now, I just have to find a balance for guitar, reading, and blogging.

As for #4, well, I give myself an A+ here.  I did some research into some fitness programs back in May and June and found something that looked interesting.  I am currently starting week 10 of 13 of P90X.  Now, I'm not giving myself an A+ here because I'm all buff and ripped now.  No, far from it.  But I have lost a non-trivial amount of weight, added some muscle here and there, and I have greatly improved my eating habits.  Basically, I am very happy with the results thus far and I am looking forward to doing it all again.  The individual workout videos are anywhere from 50 to 90 minutes.  While this may seem like a lot, the fact that I don't have to drive to a gym and deal with all that stuff is easily worth 45 minutes alone.  Also, the fact that I am now cooking a lot more is taking up more time than I had anticipated.  The goal was to get fit.  I feel that I have already accomplished that goal, and I haven't even finished the program.

Where the Hell Have I Been?

That's a good question.  I've been right here.  Here meaning home and work.  Just doing my usual thing.  Except for posting blog entries.

Strangely, while I've been quiet on the blog front, a lot has happened in the real world.  Yet nothing has changed.

Our economy continues to limp along at a blistering slow pace.  Our President is letting the Republicans set the agenda with respect to public discourse, and not in a good way.  The Republican Presidential nominees are every bit as bat shit crazy as they were a month ago.  The Republican Party is the still the party of economic sabotage, anti-science, anti-education, anti-employment, and anti-sanity.

Oh, and a frighteningly large number of people still believe that a magical sky fairy exists to solve their life's problems.

It's almost like I never left.