Monday, February 27, 2006

Why I'm not crazy.

Some people have suggested that going to Colombia on holiday, not to mention to live, study, and work is insane. Sadly, those people, like most Americans, are criminally ignorant of foreign nations. Two articles in the New York Times this month bear out my point here and here.

One thing I found really interesting: Colombia is roughly twice the size of France. Yeah, it's got it's share of violence and conflict, but it's a big country with a lot of it remaining largely unaffected.

Anyway, I just had to shout this out for the moment since I'm excited to get down there and I'm tired of people giving me "that look".

Friday, February 24, 2006


I haven't been posting much lately. That's partly because my absurd work schedule just leaves me exhausted pretty much all the time, but also because I'm fatigued with the state of American politics and don't want to turn this blog into yet another political rag rant. Instead, the things that I find fascinating are the human condition - life's pursuits and human relationships. Because that's pretty much all that separates us from monkeys. Well, that and a whole lot of hair.

Anyway, as the human condition that I know and understand the best is myself, I've been reflecting on a variety of things over the past few months that I'll share here.

Relationships aren't easy. Whether it's a friend, co-worker, parent, or sibling, every relationship has it's highs and lows. This dynamic is more present, and I would argue, more relevant in a significant other because critical to sustaining and growing that type of relationship is managing the difficult periods and finding a way to turn weakness into strength. But, and here's the real kick in the groin, it always, as they say, "takes two to tango." Both players got to be on the same page working in the same way to smooth out the troubles and continue building the relationship. Generally, people more often than not seem to do one of the following: run, hide, ignore, and/or fight. Instead of working to get at the root cause of the problem, it is more common that couples take the easy road and deal with the surface problems while leaving gaping holes in their foundation.

I think people do that because: it's easier, it feels safer, they don't communicate well, and/or they don't know any better. It's awfully hard to step outside of oneself, analyze the problem, and then target the source. And I don't judge people for that. The real culprit behind it all is emotion - it makes us human but it often blinds us and disables positive growth. Just as ego stops co-workers from taking lower level positions that could eventually lead to something great because it's "beneath them," ego often stops individuals from saying "I'm sorry, I screwed up," and enabling positive growth. Equally troublesome in the human dynamic is that ego can inhibit real communication - "If I tell him X, he won't love me as much," or some such nonsense. Managing emotions is a tricky business.

The reason I bring this all up is that I was reminiscing last night about the time Ms. Colombia and I spent together in London and how our relationship developed in such a short time. What's really amazing to me is that we both realized just how serious and significant our meeting was almost immediately. I believe it was our second date when she asked, "This is serious, isn't it?" "Very," I replied and things blossomed from there. I think in that moment we both knew we had found what we were looking for. It didn't mean we knew we were going to be married or that we were meant for each other, but we knew that for the first time in a very long time, we had found someone with the potential for real, true, and honest partnership.

An example. After less than a week of dating, Ms. Colombia was ill and wanted to go to the hospital to get some antibiotics. I took her. That's right. I took her in a minicab, waited in the hospital, took her home on the bus, made her soup, and took care of her. When I think about that I'm really shocked. I took 7 hours out of my day to care for someone I had just met. How many times have I ever taken care of anyone in my entire life, not to mention someone I barely know? I realize now that even after less than a week I knew how special Ms. Colombia was.

We've had our ups and downs. We've had conflicts (mostly my fault, sadly). We've grown. But the most amazing thing is that the dynamic we described above isn't really us. Ms. Colombia is a true partner in the truest sense of the word. There have been several times where she has checked her anger and hurt and expressed herself in a very productive manner. It's something to build on. And, most obviously and importantly, it only takes one person to be the "grownup" during the rough periods. The road to our eventual union is paved with both of us checking our ego, our hurt, our anger, or what have you, and working to build a stronger relationship that avoids similar pitfalls.

I know it's not always like that. Life has a way of beating you down. From jobs to family to finances, life's stresses erode the edges of the smoothest relationships. That's why relationships, like War's on Terror, are "hard work." But..."necessary work".

I actually don't like to use the word "work" to describe relationships. Work, for me, has such a negative connotation. Maybe that's because I'm finishing career dissatisfied number 3 and looking for career number 4 in what hopes to be the last career transition, but also perhaps because the rewards for a successful and fulfilling relationship are so much greater than the rewards for a job well done. Keep the boat, I'll take Ms. Colombia.

But relationships do take continual effort to grow. Like all in life, grow or die. It's the one overarching theme that dominates life from the basic cellular level to the peaks of human intelligence. Grow or die. And this is the remarkable thing about my novia. A mutual friend told us that the time apart would really help our relationship and we would get stronger. Another friend said, "it either makes or breaks you." And they're right. Almost 4 months apart is a make or break situation. But what's really remarkable is that the first person was right. We are so much stronger now than we were in December. We've grown, but more than that, we have a real appreciation for each other simply because we are in the unique situation where we can't be together. It's the absence that makes us realize how special our union is to us and it's the absence that will drive us to grow for the long term because we both know what it's like to be alone in the world and we both know what it's like to have the one you love 5000 miles away.

And that's the great thing about marriage. Marriage is just the beginning. I've got a lifetime of growth and development and learning with Ms. Colombia. And that's pretty damn exciting.

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Best website ever

For science news.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Very, very tired

I've reached a level of exhaustion that is clearly unheathly but must be endured. That is the sole explanation for the infrequent posting. That and the fact that politics is routinely turning my stomach. The dishonesty, the backbiting, the shooting in the face - all of it is a drain on America, and a drain on those of us that actually give enough of a damn to pay attention.

In fact, if anyone is looking for reasons why there is so much political apathy in this country, a viable explanation is likely to be found in the morass of muckraking and dishonesty that is American politics. There are a few beacons of light amidst that muck, but they are few and far between. Instead, you have dictatorial presidents with politburo vice presidents ready to fling out a pack of well versed lies. At the same time theses people sell the farm to protect the "rights of the unborn" their moral bankruptcy extends wars of aggression that kill a hundred thousand truly innocent people. At the same time they shout for a "return to traditional American values" (things like slavery, racism, and sexism), they eliminate any sense of meritocracy that their party was allegedly founded on. Brownie, anyone?

Add it all up and it leaves one with a sense of helplessness. The Democrats, as currently configured, aren't providing much hope. No, they've got their own form of croynism as evidenced by the power moves performed by Harry Reid and Charles Schumer when they forced Paul Hackett out of the Ohio Senate race by not just endorsing someone else for the primary, but also by calling up major donors and asking them to stop funding Hackett's campaign. The system begets cronies while at the same time has produced an impotent and muted Democratic party that seems fundamentally incapable of a) having an independent thought or b) demonstrating any sense of a backbone.

Progressives like myself are told to relax because progress is being made. When Clarence Thomas was voted on the Supreme Court by a Democratic Congress, the Dems just rolled in the face of overwhelming Bush popularity. Now, the Dems may not have stopped Alito, but at least they tried a late filibuster, which shows progress. "Backbone is developing" they shout from the liberal blogosphere while ignoring that the vote to authorize the war was only possible with strong Democratic support, a vote that was the linchpin in enabling a runaway presidency to lead America down a path of no return in the Middle East.

Whatever happened to principles in the face of opposition? Whatever happened to standing up and saying, "I don't care if my position isn't popular, this is wrong and I'm standing against it"? Whatever happened to the shred of decency and honesty that is, at the least, mythologized in American history books? "I cut down the cherry tree father. I cannot tell a lie." Rubbish. We don't live in an honest culture. We live in a culture of "what have you done for me lately" and "it wasn't me". It's not, "we made some mistakes and we're working to ensure that doesn't happen anymore." Instead, it's, "mistakes were made," the ultimate freedom from all responsibility or admission of human failing.

Someone, pointedly, said last night that the history of brutality that dominates world history has not really been erased, instead it's shadowed with a veneer of sophistication. Allusions to the "glory days" of the past are more a realization that we live in a wildly imperfect word than an accurate association with a previous era of excellence.

I used to believe in America. Now I'm not so sure. I look around and see state sponsored torture in Abu Ghraib and Guantamano Bay while crafty legal arguments are deployed to provide a shread of legitimacy. I see illegal and irrational wars of aggression with grave human, economic, and political consequences. I see an imperial presidency with little to no checks on his power. I see the world's top democracy becoming less and less democratic. I see a government illegally spying on its citizens. I see unbelievable spending deficits and the glory days of the 90's becoming little more than a distant memory replaced with nervous consumerism and unsecure employment.

America isn't great now. I believe America can be great again. But after years of believing strongly that one must work through the system to improve the system, now I'm not so sure. The system is organized to inhibit progressive change. It's organized to preserve the financial resources of the wealthy and connected. The American dream that "anyone" can become President is a lie. Tell that to women, blacks, hispanics and latinos. No, the reality is, politics is and always has been about who you know, how much money you have, and where you put it.

I'm at a loss of how to proceed from here. Perhaps I should just focus on the things that interest me and attempt to make whatever small improvements I'm able. But the overwhelmingly depressing weight of the big picture is crushing the idealism and optimism of my youth. Is this what happens as we get older?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Dearth of Posts

Sorry about the dearth of posts. I'm very busy with work and moving/wedding arrangements, so I don't have a lot of time to post. Hopefully, this will be rectified soon.

Anyway, I couldn't resist passing along this story about Pat Robertson's latest missive. I'm not sure which is more impressive:

- that Robertson is aware that Europe's birth rate is declining
- that Robertson is aware of Jean-Paul Sartre
- or that Robertson has, once again, expressed blatant racism with his mix of religious-radicalism.

Two money quotes:

1. "Studies that I have read indicate that having babies is a sign of a faith in the future. You know, unless you believe in the future, you're not going to take the trouble of raising a child, educating a child, doing something. If there is no future, why do it? Well, unless you believe in God, there's really no future. "

I'll translate: "Clearly then, all Europeans are God-less sinners who have little belief in the future and are all convinced that we'll all go down in a ball of flames when US-fueled global warming drowns us like in Waterworld."

2. "Europe is right now in the midst of racial suicide because of the declining birth rate."

Translation: "Because whites in Europe don't have enough children, they have to import colored people from the Middle East and Asia to provide labor, which is diluting their racial purity and risks the disappearance of the true master race. Heil Himmler!"

There are very few people in this world that I wish death upon. But evil disinformation bastards like Robertson head the list. What we need right here is some of that Samuel L.:

"And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger, those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers, and you will know my name is The Lord, when I lay my vengeance upon thee."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I hate Groundhog Day

My reaction to hearing that a furry rodent had seen his shadow and thus winter was likely to continue for another 6 weeks was, "Someone get me a shotgun and I'll solve that real quick."

Seriously, what would we do if Poxatawny Fill didn't see his shadow, but instead saw a pool of blood and gore where his head used to be? Oh, the humanity. Soccer moms everywhere would be at a loss of how to proceed and there would be a sudden outbreak of soccer mom road rage.

I really don't know how America came to this point where we all collectively turn to a F'ing rodent to cheer us up in the dead of winter. According to legend, either that overgrown rat sees a shadow or he doesn't - which means, either we get an early Spring or we don't. Legend. It's not like the little hairball is really going to predict anything more than tract marks on your front lawn. But really, if you were going to create an ass-tastic tradition to provide a needed wintery diversion, wouldn't you create one that had better than 50% odds of making America collectively swallow another bottle of valium to dull the pain of 6 more weeks of cloudy, gray, cold, and crapilicious weather? Why not "Buxom Blondes do long division" or "Can the lion maul and eat the antelope?" Anything but rodents would do.

I f*cking hate Groundhog day. I hate the entire idea that we should all swallow our common sense for 1 day a year because someone, somewhere thinks groundhogs are cute. I got news for you, you seeker of amorous rodent delights, wherever the f*ck you are, groundhogs ain't cute. Their little furballs of overgrown sh*t that tear up your yard, are insanely difficult to poison, and don't taste very good in soup. If you're an animal and you're not either: cute, useful, or tasty, then what the fcuk is your point?

Anyway, here's a site about the stupid sh*t people in New York say. Pretty funny.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Generally, I'm not a huge fan of the State of the Union. I have watched them sporadically in the past, but I basically think they're organized theater that has little resemblance to anything related to the "truth" or what's possible. Clinton was notorious for using the speech as an opportunity to laundry list dozens of initiatives that would never get done, but sounded good to Joe Average American. But basically, SOTU is a colossal waste of time and little more than an excuse for an extended clap fest for the President.

Last night was no exception. I did not watch the speech (I was working), but I listened to most of it.


Let's see - Same craptacular lies and half-truths about all the foreign policy/war on terror stuff that the Pres and his crew have been trumpeting for months. Add in paranoid delusions of animal-human hybrid clones, a few digs about policy (social security, for example), and a bushel of lies about education. Oh, and a shocking bit of news. Did anyone know that America is addicted to oil? Yeah, apparently, the sky is blue as well.

Oh, and did you hear? Cindy Sheehan got arrested for wearing a T-shirt. Blah. Of course she did. Covering the SOTU is like covering the Super Bowl. Everyone goes nuts for much longer than they should.

Anyway, SOTU makes for boring theater and crappy blog posts. There plenty of other places that are picking through the litany of lies, so anything I add would just be redundant. Instead, I'm going to make a few comments about the Democrat response.

Tim Keane, the new Democratic Governor of Virginia, was tabbed to retort our emminent rhetoritician last night. It was, in my mind, a safe pick with low risk and high rewards. If Keane screwed up, the public blames him for being an inexperienced newbie. If he kicks ass, the whole Democratic party wins.

Well, I have to say, the text of the speech was quite good. Not exactly a grand slam, but probably a home run. The only problem was, Keane sucked. He was terrible. No, he was worse than terrible. His speech had one memorable line that he was supposed to repeat, "There is a better way." It was a theme speech much like Clinton's DNC speech before the last election that I commented on previously. Had it been delivered properly, it would have been an awesome speech. Sadly, Keane sounded nervous and rushed at times. But most egregiously, Keane blew it with the line. He should have said:

There, is, a, better, way.

Instead of:


If you get my drift. I guess that was the risk of getting a relatively unknown to give a national address. I also thought the addition of Coretta Scott King into the speech wasn't as seemlessly deployed as I expected. In the text, it looks like a nice reference, but in the oral version, it just seemed out of place.

At any rate, the next few days will be dominated by the following:

a) Bush's bump - Does the SOTU push his popularity above 40%?
b) Policy - Can Bush get any of his initiative done? (No.)
c) Winners-win - Will Alito help Bush (not bloody likely)?
d) War, war, war

The media are sheep.

Political Favorites
Guilty Pleasures
My Global Position