New White House Strategy + Quick Hits

Greetings,

It continues to snow in Washington, and temperatures tonight will be in the teens. I am SNOver this.

Snow HouseDuring WH Press Briefings, Obama and Press Sec. Gibbs relentlessly referenced the importance of working together, ending “petty political games”, or “doing what’s best for the American People” . It’s not just talking though. Since the State of the Union, Obama has attended a public Q & A session with Republicans, held a closed door/ bipartisan meeting with Members of Congress, urged Congress to form a committee on the budget, and has scheduled a bipartisan meeting on Health Care reform for later this month.

It’s an interesting move by the White House–particularly because they know it probably won’t “work”. Republicans have set new standards for obstinacy; blocking routine federal nominations of well respected and qualified candidates. For example: yesterday a nomination for the National Labor Board was held up (as it has been since April) by Republicans. Senator Pat Leahy said he had “never seen anything like it”, while he and others in the Senate are beginning to advocate reform of filibuster rules in light of this unprecedented behavior.

If Republican Members of Congress can’t even cross the lines to appoint mundane and routine federal positions, how can they be expected to cross the lines and contribute to the passage of health care, climate change, or economic legislation? The answer is– they can’t. What the White House is trying to do is put Republicans in a corner, in order to make it even more obvious that they aren’t doing what’s best for the American people.

I saw an article written by Lane titled “Who Killed Healthcare Reform.” I haven’t read the article yet (I will shortly) but I want to throw this point out there:

Republicans had control of the White House and Congress for nearly a decade. How much talk did you hear of health care reform during those years? The Republicans say they have all these fantastic ideas that would provide Universal coverage at no cost (yes, someone actually said that during Obama’s Q&A session). Where was this and other plans in 2005, 2003, or any of the past 8 years? Non-existent, just like today.What exists now is obstructionism and petty politics.There is ZERO interest on the Republican side to compromise.

Hopefully, these sad truths will be exposed by the White House’s latest strategy.

Here are some other quick hits:

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich asserted that Richard Reid (shoebomber) was an American citizen. FALSE, he was British. We still read him Miranda rights.

Sarah Palin had cribnotes on her hand for her Tea Party Q&A with audience. She wrote the words “tax, energy, budget, and lift American Spirit” on her hands. How the hell do you need to write down that shit at a Tea Party convention? I could have gone in there and memorized those lame-ass talking points. Good God, there aren’t even words to describe how stupid that woman is.

Republicans are starting to get called out on stimulus hypocrasy. That is, condemning the Stimulus on the one hand, then eagerly taking credit for projects that succeed in their district BECAUSE OF STIMULUS FUNDS on the other.

That’s all I got for right now

Tim

All My Single Ladies, Gentlemen & Couples

220279254_17c20cbec5Valentine’s Day is almost upon us once again.  I try to embrace it every year.  I make cookies.  I buy valentines and eat unhealthy amounts of candy colored with red dye number five.  Some years I get bunches of roses or balloons and other years the highlight of my holiday is that my parents didn’t talk to each other before sending out the valentines. (each send me a card with both of their names signed and my sister gets nothing.)

But this year I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands and find a different source of entertainment and giddiness for the holiday.  So, for all my single ladies & gentlemen, and even the coupled, here are my top ten Valentine’s activities for Austin…

1. Hula Hut—Thursday February 11 96.7 KISS FM is throwing a single’s mixer with some great margaritas and drink specials 6:00-10:00pm.  The morning show host Bobby Bones is supposed to be there and he looks like a real life version of Adam Brody.  And I love me some Adam Brody…

2. Alamo Drafthouse—Monday February 15.  As previously mentioned in my first blog, Macho Mondays at Alamo hosts Scorsese’s The Departed.  I would suggest hitting up the candy aisles in the grocery store where everything is half off from the already past holiday and sneaking in lots of candy.  It might be best to bring a large purse, or conveniently, a female who carries a large purse, so that you have the optimum amount of candy for your movie going experience.  Don’t eat it first, though, because Alamo has a great menu for the meal portion of your ‘dinner and a movie’.

3. Valloween—Saturday, February 13.  A Kappa Sigma tradition loved by SU, Valloween provides a perfect backdrop to have a good time.  Slutty leftover Halloween costumes, plenty of good drinks, and a more than crowded frat house provide an environment that is not for the faint of heart.

4. Dear John Movie— I just saw the trailer to this movie today, and while I do think Nicolas Sparks’ stories are the cheesiest, a little bit of cheese for Valentine’s Day might work.  (Plus the movie by this romantic holiday’s name has Taylor Swift in it and I’ve never had a burning desire to see her act.) Dear John stars a daydream worthy Channing Tatum and the increasingly popular and ever-surprising Amanda Seyfried.

5. Movie marathon—Rent or Netflix some of the best romances.  My personal favorites and suggestions from AFI’s top 100 movies…

True Classics:

Casablanca

An Affair to Remember

A Star is Born (Judy Garland version)

The Way We Were

The Quirky:

When Harry Met Sally

Harold and Maude

The Graduate

Lars and the Real Girl

New Classics:

Sleepless in Seattle

Ghost

Titanic

The Notebook

6. Bake Treats—Easily done in your own apartment, try baking for your sweetie or your friends.  Cookie cutters, cute bags and ribbon are only a few bucks at HEB.  Or you can even go for the pre-made sugar cookie dough with the red heart in the middle by Pillsbury.

7. Haunted House—Friday 12- Sunday 14 7pm-midnight. The ‘House of Torment’ is usually only open on Halloween, but for this weekend they will reopen to host a haunted house based on the Valentine’s day holiday.  523 Highland Mall Blvd.

8. Live Romantic Comedy—Sunday, February 14 at 8:00pm. The Hideout Theatre in Austin.  An Improv troupe will be hosting a comedy night that includes flowers, chocolate and an actual cupid… Provides for a slightly less conventional Valentine’s date.

9. Retribution Gospel Choir—Stubb’s February 11 at 9:00pm.  A trio playing, thankfully, in the indoor venue of Stubb’s.  The band’s received a lot of buzz around Austin for their unique style and incredible rock covers, though I can’t personally attest to this.   Best to check them out yourself!  Tickets are $10.

10. Seclusion— Forget this holiday.  Order in a pizza from Craiggo’s in Wolf Ranch or Papa John’s.  Watch a movie that has a lot of shooting and violence, perhaps The Godfather.   Don’t look at anything pink or red and for good measure, insist that no one calls you.     Just stuff your face and think bitter thoughts about how greeting card companies and corporate America made up this stupid holiday.  (And how a fat baby in a diaper shooting arrows is creepy.)

To all the night owls, enjoy your Valentine’s weekend, and thanks to the Brown Symposium, your potentially free Thursday & Friday.  (Don’t pretend that you’re going to every lecture… we both know you’re not.)

Amante’s Sans Amoure.

the offical amante's on the square shot

the offical amante's on the square shot

Sometimes reading the listserv without a doubt pays off. I have been eying the Palace Theatre in our quaint little square ever since they put on Best Little Whorehouse in Texas last year, but am generally put-off by the $16 *discounted price tag. Hidden amongst the usual dribble, someone fabulous on campus was offering free tickets for students [obviously to promote a younger crowd attendance] so for my accomplice & my faux anniversary date we decided to see Nunsense II: The Second Coming ((and it was nearly as good as the implication.))

Anywho, so the point is we got a coupon for Amante‘s &/or WildFire, and since neither of us particularly has an interest in “wild game” [except, of course, for the accomplice's idiotic obsession with lion farming] we decided to check out the new Italian place on the square & make it an entirely bourge evening out.

atmosphere = crowded

atmosphere = crowded

Obviously slightlyover-dressed for the 5:30 time we went, [happy hour ended at 6] we were pleasantly surprised by the romantic ambiance and generally amicable old-timey restaurant appeal.

Unfortunately, as soon as people started arriving, “quaint” and “cozy” became “loud” and “awkward”. The tables for 2 are literally spaced with just enough room for are thin-waisted waitress to fit, and might as well be one bench seat with the capacity for conversation quickly dwindling to none.

The artisan-baked bread [we were assured by the very cute manager], which has to be requested, is thankfully still complementary but unfortunately was so bland I, plain bread enthusiast, wouldn’t eat it without tons of fresh parmesan & olive oil and the accomplice whined about it being far too crusty. We were allotted a free appetizer with our coupon so we got (my favorite appetizer) bruschetta, which turned out to be more of a tomato relish on a large crouton than true bruschetta. Obviously, we should have opted for the fried mozzarella sticks or fried raviolis, but I am firmly in the camp that doesn’t see “fried” as an appropriate option in an Italian restaurant, much less one that attempts to hint at quality. Call me a snob, but I would have been paying “9.” for it so I feel the sentiment is only fitting.

Anywho, our waitress was nice, if over-attentive, and our food arrived quite quickly (it is only fair to alert fellow thrifty college kids that they charge extra to split it in the back, although it’s free to split it yourself). The linguine  [which is supposed to be a long, thin, flat noodle] was more like spaghetti, and there really was nothing impressive about the marinara sauce– which arguably for Italian places should be what sets them apart– the sauce.

As far as vegetarian options go (obviously there’s nothing vegan beyond the salads– this is Italian), your options are mostly pasta and cheese with cream sauce [way heavy], or what I got, which I wouldn’t recommend [the linguine with marinara and olives & mushrooms]. Nothing stuffed, no lasagna, nothing new or exciting.

So, dear vegetarians, if you’re looking for somewhere to spend at minimum “35.” for 2, look elsewhere– & I’ll keep you updated on where exactly.

happy rainy monday.

State of the Union: "less than pessimistic"

State of the Union by Caitlin

State of the Union by Caitlin

On Jan. 27, 2010, President Barack Obama addressed Congress and the nation in the annual State of the Union Address. The event was originally slated to be a two-hour talk because, according to the White House, “a one-hour speech couldn’t get close to covering the extent of how screwed America is.” The move was decided against because “John McCain and the other old senators might fall asleep.” Reactions to the speech varied across groups who watched the speech.
Marijuana advocates originally thought Obama was going to talk about legalization of the drug when they learned the State of the Union would be a joint session. They were quickly disabused of this idea when they heard nothing about drug policy reform.
John Madden offered Michelle Obama some football pads when he heard she was going to “tackle childhood obesity.”

Madden said, in a statement released the next day, “Careful, fat kids can be hard to tackle.”

Environmentalists were happy to hear about environmental legislation being passed but were disappointed when Obama stated that he was pursuing clean coal and offshore drilling to “work toward energy independence and global warming reduction.”
The IPCC reacted harshly after the event when they stated,  “Clean Coal is about as clean as a Vegas strip club.”

Many Republicans were outraged when Obama said that, “Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership,” in reference to repeated Republican attempts at stonewalling legislation. Their outrage was furthered when Obama stated that he wanted a monthly meeting with Republicans.

The chief member of the Republican Party had something to say regarding the idea: “No.”

The Obama administration apologized for making the statement.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “We apologize for stating that Republicans are always saying no. Clearly they don’t say no to mistresses, big business and ignorant constituents.”

College students were happy to hear that all student loan debt would be forgiven after 20 years. One SU student said, “Shoot, I’m just not going to ever pay. Thanks, Obama!”

News sources also reported the many prototype robots exploded due to too many logical contradictions when they overheard the speech on TV. One scientist stated, “My poor babies are gone. If only Obama had clarified what he meant when he said that the government was going to freeze domestic spending while they were going to invest in dozens of programs to revitalize the economy.”

Snuggie Up With a Book

In lieu of the recent weather that encourages rainboots and snuggies, I thought I’d advocate for a form of entertainment that is conducive to staying in your bed.  Don’t use too much imagination here, I’m suggesting reading, though I don’t mean for homework.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m suggesting that you read for pleasure.  But, before you get too scandalized by the preposterous idea that a college student should or could read for fun, let me suggest a few of my favorite books that might actually make a night in, worth your while…

extremely_loud_and_incredibly_close.largeExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Given to me as a present by my sister, (possibly one of the few people who reads this blog) I effortlessly fell in love with this story.  A familiar protagonist, much like that of the late Salinger’s Holden Caulfield, Oskar Schell is an eccentric nine-year-old whose great insight and curiosity toward the world  gives this story the vibrancy it needs to survive its sometimes depressing post 9-11 backdrop.  Oskar searches for his place amidst a chaotic New York, traveling between his family’s past through stories and journals, to the present where he persistently tries to discover and demystify the world in which he lives.  If you’re familiar with Foer’s other, more popular work, “Everything is Illuminated”, you know this author is a must-read.

fraction-of-the-wholeA Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz

Before spending last summer fulfilling the stereotype of a liberal arts student traveling around Europe “finding myself”, I searched for a book that would accompany me through the many hours I would inevitably sit on a plane, train or bus.  I wanted something more than a novel with Fabio on the cover, but easier to casually read than Tolstoy.  I went to Book People in Austin and decided then that I would go against everything I was ever taught in first grade and judge a book by its cover.  That’s right, the book that surpassed even my favorite classics gained its prestige because the cover looked like someone had (purposely) taken a hole punch to it.

Told in a narrative style that I find witty, grotesquely candid and snarky, the established narrator, Jasper Dean, weaves the story of his father’s life that spans the coasts of Australia, bohemian Paris, the hidden jungles of Thailand, asylums, labyrinths and criminal lairs. To give you any more than this would, I fear, spoil a story that is best discovered by simply experiencing.  If you read one book this year, this is the one…

eat-pray-loveEat Love Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book is definitely more mainstream than my other two suggestions  (just check the NY Times bestseller list) and is probably best enjoyed by females or those experiencing a deep existential crisis.  Written in an autobiographical style, Gilbert tracks her three-part yearlong journey to Italy, India and Indonesia.  She takes an honest approach to her story leaving readers feeling comforted despite her struggles.  (You might have also heard about the movie version starring Julia Roberts, though I have my doubts about how the heart of this story could translate to film… best to read the book first. )

Recommended by friends and critics alike (and on my bookshelf queue because of… well, life):

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet

Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill

If you have any favorite books to recommend or ideas on those listed, please comment and share your thoughts!

AND in case you haven’t turned on the radio, been on facebook, or walked down that pink and red aisle at the grocery store, Valentine’s day is just around the corner and so is my blog on ideas for dates and group hangouts alike.

‘Till then night owls!

Who killed Heath Care Reform?

I’ve always believed that if there is something that needs to get done that is really important to you, you should put as much time and energy needed into making it happen.  Makes sense right?  I don’t want to speak for all of humanity, but I’d venture a guess that many people would agree with me.  If health-care reform was a major pillar of a national party’s election back in 08 (enter from stage-left the Democratic Party) than wouldn’t you pour as much energy into getting that done?  So now after months of work it looks like heath care reform (at least as we know it) is dead.  There are rumors that some-sort of insurance reform will be passed instead, but that does little to solve some of the greater problems.  So who is responsible for the death of health care reform?  Through the months of ups and downs, eight names have been mentioned non-stop.  Are all of them guilty of killing health care reform?  No.  But let’s take a look.

 Not Guilty:#2 Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI)

 

Rep. Stupak authored the amendment to the House bill that would have banned federal funding from going to abortions.  Without the amendment he, along with many other Blue Dogs, would not have supported the bill.  The amendment was extremely controversial and several liberal Democrats threatened to vote against the final bill if the amendment was still in-place.  The bill ended up passing with the Stupak amendment.  Even with these controversies Stupak didn’t play a role in killing the bill.  While his amendment is infuriating to liberal Democrats, it was necessary to secure the support of more moderate to conservative Democrats.  You need votes to pass a bill, and if the amendment brought more votes to the table than it drove away then it didn’t kill the bill.

#1 Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

Love her or hate her, everyone knows who Nancy Pelosi is.  Regardless of what your opinion of her is, the fact is that she is the most powerful woman in American history.  As recently as a few months ago Time named her the most powerful Speaker of the House we’ve seen in the past 50 years.  She played a central role in working on health care and it is clear that she is not to blame for its demise.  When the Senate was just beginning to start on their bill, Pelosi had a bill passed in the House.  She had to balance the wishes from all wings of her party: the liberals, centrists, and even conservative Democrats all wanted a say in the bill. She masterfully crafted a bill that was able to gain support from both the most liberal Democrats and even some Blue Dogs.  If anyone deserves to be cleared from charges, it’s her.  She did everything possible to pass this bill.  When she says that the House doesn’t have enough votes to pass the Senate’s version of the bill, you better believe it.

 Guilty:

#6 Senator Scott Brown (R-MA)

You can’t really blame Scott Brown for doing what he was supposed to do.  He was supposed to be against the health care bill.  Rumors were that he was going in the senate election not to win, but to raise his profile across the state so he could run for Governor later.  Surprise! Guess who the newest senator from Massachusetts is!   While he has every right to be ecstatic now, he should be very cautious going forward.  He is up for reelection in 2012 and there is no doubt that the Democrats will have him targeted.    Unless he makes a huge about-face to the political-center it is unlikely that Massachusetts will re-elect him.  He seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place.  If he stays conservative he is likely to lose the general election, but if he moderates he is likely to lose the primary.  My advice to Scott Brown is to enjoy your victory while you have it.  As soon as the 2010 midterms are over your job is going to get a lot more difficult.

#5 Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

Senator Snowe found herself in a difficult situation as the health care battle unfolded.  She, along with fellow Maine Senator Susan Collins, were well-known as being the only moderate Republicans left in the Senate.  It became clear early on that Senator Collins was unwilling to work with Democrats, but Senator Snowe always left that option open.  When negotiations over the public option began to break down, she quickly announced her opposition to it and refused to vote for any bill that contained a public option.  When the final senate bill was voted on, she joined her 39 colleagues in voting no.  She essentially voted against the type of bill she originally said she’d support.  With Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts she is assuring that a health care bill will not pass.  With polling data showing that she could be vulnerable to a primary challenge when her term is up in 2012, it is clear that she is in thin ice.  By voting against the bill she is making it more likely that she can defeat a conservative opponent in the 2012 primary, but will Maine voters re-elect her after voting no on the bill?  Only time will tell.

#4 Martha Coakley (D-MA)

It seems like it would be easy to say “Oh Martha Coakley, you tried…”  She tried?  Really?   I missed the part of the election when she took it seriously and made some sort of attempt to win.  She didn’t go out and shake hands with voters and decided the insulting the Boston Red Sox was a good plan.  Calling her campaign “poor” is a gross understatement.  She had every right to see herself as the clear favorite, but that is no excuse to take everything for granted.  With so much on the line you would think that she would make some sort of attempt to win.  She, without a doubt, deserves to be blamed.

#3 President Barack Obama

Yes, he did a good job in staying out of the dirty-work in negotiating a bill, but that is exactly why the President should be blamed.  This was his imitative, he did a good job in pressuring Congress to get a bill written, but he did little to outline what he wanted.  So much time could have been saved if he had clearly outlined what he wanted in a bill.  The last time he did that was in the campaign a year ago.  All Congress needed was a little direction and weeks of worthless debate and uncertainty could have been avoided.  And the question needs to be asked “Was this the right time to deal with this?”  Was the start of his presidency when the economy was the chief issue really the best time to take on the monumental task of health care reform?  Clearly he expected it to be a tough battle, but did he underestimate just how intense it would be?  I certainly don’t know.

#2 Senator Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT)

When he ran for President in 2004 he campaigned for health care reform and a public option.  Regardless of your political affiliation you can understand why liberals hate Joe Lieberman.  It goes far beyond his vocal endorsement of John McCain in 2008, he is essentially back-stabbing his supporters.  It came as a complete shock when he came out and openly said that he would filibuster any bill containing a public option or Medicare expansion.  It was a complete 180 from what he campaigned on, and severely complicated the bill-writing process.   Senator Lieberman’s complete change opened the door for other conservative Democrats to openly oppose the bill.  I can’t even begin to figure out what it was that Joe was thinking.  He already was on shaky ground before he went turncoat on the bill, but his approval numbers have plummeted.  If Lieberman runs for re-election in 2012 it is bound to be a very bloody race.  The worst part is that it wouldn’t have to be that way.  If Joe had stuck to what he originally campaigned on he wouldn’t have to face these problems, and we’d likely have a health care bill.

#1 Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

I struggled with who deserves to get the most blame.  I really wanted to blame Joe Lieberman, but that was out of vengeance for his betrayal.  When it comes down to it the most blame lies with the Senate Majority Leader: Harry Reid.  He controlled the largest majority the Senate has seen in years and somehow that ended up not being enough for a bill.  It is true that the Democrats’ majority was a collation; the caucus was composed of liberal, moderate, and conservative members.  Balancing such a diverse group is challenging but it is clear that Harry Reid is not up to the task.  Mitch McConnell has been more successful in his goals with a 40 member caucus than Reid has been with a 60 member group.  When the House had their final vote, the Senate hadn’t even begun working on the bill.  Under Harry Reid’s leadership the Senate has turned into a giant quagmire.  Who would have guessed that 60 seats weren’t enough to pass bills?  The worst part about all of this is that I actually am hoping that Harry Reid loses in the midterms this November.  Yes it will put Democrats down a seat, but if the past two years in the Senate have taught us anything it is that being “filibuster-proof” doesn’t get you far.  The #2 and #3 Democrats (Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer) are already laying the groundwork for a campaign to become the next leader of the Democrats in the Senate.  Both Durbin and Schumer are known   as being hard-line and for not taking prisoners.  Democrats would lose a seat but gain a strong leader.  After the fiasco that has been health care reform, that’s a trade I’m willing to make.

Diversity – What It Truly Means

Diversity is a word thrown around on a college campus almost as much as the word party. It is reflected as a desire in the mission statement of almost every major university, and schools that actually possess it tout it constantly. But very few people ever question what the word really means. To most it is something that can be seen by a quick look at demographics or in a cursory view of the palette of skin colors present on a campus. To me though, it is a variety of thought and ideology that really qualify as true diversity.

Personally, the only reason why I would ever care what skin colors were present on a college campus would be if I was trying to cast students for the Color Purple. Sure, people who are of a different ethnicity tend to be from a different culture but the truth is that most of the students that make it into college, especially a private university, have money to begin with and are usually not of a traditional minority culture. The sad truth is that most students of an impoverished background, and who happen to be of a different ethnicity, do not perform highly enough to make it into college. I know because most of my friends from high school were like this and it truly is heartbreaking but it is a reality that exists.

So from the predominant type of culture that comprises the bulk of college applicants I think you need to choose students who have a unique mindset and perspective about life and the universe. Some people might think this is an impossible thing to gauge but it’s as simple as a college essay.  Check out what some of the top-tier schools are doing to get an idea about what a truly good prompt would look like:

http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/37041

What matters in an educational environment is what the students think and discuss. And on top of this, we should not forget the diversity of thought that the teachers have. Simply having student diversity means nothing if the academicians aren’t open, tolerant, and hold a heterogeneous set of beliefs. In addition to this, if all of the students superficially look like the members of an inter-faith camp but they all think the same then what the hell does their ethnicity matter?

Now it is of course important to try to draw students from other cultures, as this will of course increase a certain type of diversity, if not just simply increase a variety of skin color. It certainly looks good for recruiting purposes, but this is no guarantee of intellectual diversity though. Just because you get a student from Botswana doesn’t mean that he or she will truly be different intellectually. It’s desirable to strive for cultural diversity but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of ideological diversity.

Update, Tim Tebow is a Jackass

Ladies and Gentlemen,

tebow I write you today from the center of the snowpocalypse in Washington D.C. This “snowpocalypse” has poured about 20 inches of snow on the District, and as of yet there is little sign of it letting up anytime soon. Needless to say, I am holed up in my apartment. There is no where to go, not many places are open and even the metro has shut down. Blerg.

Earlier today I went out and explored my neighborhood. The streets look like a completely different planet, while the Capitol building looks even more majestic than usual. I took some pictures–they’re pretty cool. Mostly snapped some shots of the trees, the buildings, and this one guy who was skiing on Constitution Street. So that’s been my day.

The first week of the DC internship experience was absolutely insane–climaxing when I got 10 feet away from Obama and gave him an air five. Read more about that here… I promise you it’s the truth. Hopefully I will get pictures emailed to me soon.

Future plans include watching the Superbowl tomorrow. I love the Superbowl (and really sports in general) because it’s such a great way to escape from the stresses and conflicts that daily life throw at me. Yup, it’s going to be a great escape.

Oh, fuck. Thanks a lot Tim and Pam Tebow. Click on that video and check out what hockey (football) mom wanna-be Pam Tebow has to say about her reasoning on why she didn’t have an abortion.”The Doctor told us it was a mass of fetal tissue, but we prayed for Timothy by name.”

I’ve got some news for the Tebows. God did not bless you with your son. Your son is a curse–he is by far the most annoying college football quarterback in recent years, he will FAIL as a professional, and he is completely clueless that his views might offend other peoples.

Obviously, that is just my opinion. Here is fact: praying won’t turn a mass of tissue into a human. What Pam and Tim are arguing against here is science, medicine, and Doctors everywhere who try to give good advice to women who need it. The idea that God singled out the Tebows so their son could grow up and try to ruin the Superbowl is so asinine that a 4th grader would dispute the “logic”.

Furthermore, it really is sad that there are so many people out there who reduce such a complicated issue by using a binary, black and white, good vs. evil system of judgment. I love the look on radical pro-lifers faces when I tell them I’m pro choice and interested in reducing abortion rates. If someone could ensure me that Pam or Timmy Tebow’s heads would not explode, I might write them and try to explain what I (and many others) believe on abortion.

So thank you, Tebow family. You’ve given us an overdramatic, juvenile QB to watch, and now you try to ruin a day where all Americans can come together. What’s even shittier is that CBS pulled an advertisement for a church that welcomed Gays a couple of years ago. No sign they will pull this hateful ad. Sadly, this says a lot about the American character. A major broadcasting company is more weary of airing an advertisement for love and inclusiveness than this irrational, hatemongering bullshit. Fuckin CBS. As if listening to Phil Simms give color commentary wasn’t enough…

Will write more soon,

Tim

Texting a Complicated Form of Communication

At least one editor texts way too much.  Courtesy of Caitlin McCown.

At least one editor texts way too much. Courtesy of Caitlin McCown.

I wait. I wait. It’s on silent. That way there’s hope. At least a little. The screen is face down. Maybe when I turn it over the little red light will blink its happy little blink. Maybe not.

I feel exactly like Jacinda Barrett in the 2006 film “The Last Kiss” waiting for an unfaithful Zach Braff to at last contact me and stop fooling around with slutty Rachel Bilson. I want that text. I want it bad.
I never thought I would join the texting mafia. I don’t remember that much about high school, but I do remember being a lame, technophobic self-styled Luddite. I looked down on all the sweating masses of Jersey Village High – what with their pithy abbreviations, erotic one-liners and lightning fast thumbs.

I was a real jackass back then. I guess I still am, but whatever. I never thought a little screen would hold such sway over my whole life. Boy, was I ever wrong.

I didn’t really start using texting until college. And here, I began to think about it honestly. In high school, I was an awkward closeted kid who had trouble making and keeping friends.

Now, as an  undergrad, I have a social life that consists of more than sitting in my room alone and listening to Public Radio and Bjork albums. I have important inside jokes to repeat with 26 of my closest friends. I have meaningful dinners at Chili’s to coordinate. I have rumors to spread.
Sometimes I feel like I have a tiny 24-hour postal service in the front pocket of my jeans. I can reach anyone, anytime, always. I feel closer to people, and I hope they feel closer to me. Unless I said something mean about them. In that case, they can stay away.

Usually a feeling of alienation invades my relationships with other people, but 160 character messages help to lessen that feeling. They let me build a real, if somewhat disingenuous, construct of my interactions with friends and others.

And I get to be extra nosy. And I really, really love being nosy.

But texting can be hell – the waiting. The agonizing, tortuous waiting that makes me want to scream. But when the wait is over that little flash of light is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world.

If you go for annoying metaphors (like I do) texting can be seen as a microcosm for human relationships. It’s got the same pain intermixed with ecstasy. It’s confusing and gets muddled through its inability to communicate clearly. I could extend this further, but that would be really boring. We can’t go back to life without texting, and it would be ridiculous and awful to even try.
In short, texting, more than any other activity, makes me feel most like myself: simultaneously mopey and chipper, and gossipy. All the time. Always.

Avatar: Impressive, but Classic?

Avatar is a movie that features the Na'vi, who are blue.

Avatar is a movie that features the Na'vi, who are blue. Courtesy of Google.

After over a month since its premiere, James Cameron’s “Avatar” is still receiving critical attention. Audiences are still pouring into theaters and IMAX showings are still selling out. And now “Avatar” has won a Golden Globe and received several nominations for the Academy Awards, such as Best Director and Best Picture – a remarkable second for Cameron, who first one the awards with “Titanic.” Clearly, there is a public fascination with the cinematic techniques used to make “Avatar,” but is this attention warranted?

Surely, Cameron has made some strides in cinematography through “Avatar.” His use of 3D and computer animation is unrivaled by any other film to date. Its colorful textures and gorgeously animated action sequences certainly can keep an audience’s attention for hours.

Not to mention the films extensive marketing campaign, from viral marketing to ads on just about every major website (including articles, which have appeared in such high profile websites as cnn.com and bussinessweek.com). When “Avatar” was released, the world was waiting, and audiences were not hard to find. Many left the theaters awestruck by the sheer size and presentation of Cameron’s decade long project. Others, however, were not impressed.

Critics of the film find their qualms within the story. In the film paraplegic marine Jake Sully is put into an “Avatar,” a body composed

James Cameron, the director and writer of Avatar.

James Cameron, the director and writer of Avatar. Courtesy of Google.

of both human and na’vi DNA, and through a series of unfortunate circumstances is admitted into the species’ inner circle, falling in love with the na’vi princes Neytiri. The story has been criticized as an overused Pocahontas archetype of a man falling in love with a foreign culture and “going native.”

The motivations behind each of the characters are common tropes within the film industry: There is the man who is changed from his prejudice by love, an entire race fighting to defend their dying and misunderstood culture (supposedly this is a metaphor for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it can apply to almost any international conflict), and even the evil government officials who can be described only as heartless.

Lastly, there is the predictable outcome of the film: Good guys win, bad guys lose, hooray!

Despite these qualms with the story, the bare fact remains that “Avatar” is something new. Its use of CGI has created a mixture of real time action and computer graphics that creates a flawless stream of picture and motion throughout the entire film.

The characters themselves, while simple are believable due to the solidarity of the plot. Unexplained actions and random spurts of emotion so common in other films with romantic elements are absent from Cameron’s latest film.

Bottom line: While critics may be snipping at “Avatar,” it is a uniquely presented film and should be valued at what it is, something refreshing. Because of this, it is no doubt going to be receiving attention for years to come.

With recent talks of a sequel, new problems revolving around the film arise. Will audiences be satisfied with the same technology used behind the first, or will it grow unimpressive by the time of a sequel’s release? If Cameron does not direct, will an “Avatar 2” be the next “Alien 3”?

And lastly, if “Avatar” does not win any of the Academy Awards, will there be enough hype to keep the sequel afloat?

Vedge Pizza.

Like this... but with better and MORE veggies.

Like this... but with better and MORE veggies.

With the clean-up intensity of last week’s recipe, and the stress-level of this week’s SU-sized workload, I decided to do something considerably less work-intense and much more kid (or, more obviously, boyfriend) -friendly. [or ((excuse my binary assumption)) really any other kitchen-dysfunctional loved ones.]

Admittedly, I am not a “pizza” fan, when referring to the greasy-fastfoody-delivery type slab covered in Mozzarella Americana. [call me a snob] but I do love flat bread, which is much closer to the original intention of pizza than the gross overhaul that now frequents sport-watching events and whatnot. [no really, I am not quite sure why anyone eats it.]

So put on some Dean Martin and pop in a movie, [{ or the superbowl, i guess }] and have your cooking accomplice (dysfunctional or not) do the rest.

Also, I put the low-fat recipe here (my accomplice is self-conscious), but obviously you can use all the full-fat products exactly the same and I’m sure it will taste a little bit more like heaven.

  • 1 Pillsbury (or preferably off-brand) refrigerated low-fat crescent rolls package (it’s 8 oz)
  • 1 c room-temp cream cheese (low-fat, garden vegetable, or garlic herb are the best)
  • 1 tomato (Roma or House, whichever you prefer)*
  • 1/2 c sliced olives (generally canned)*
  • 1 bell pepper (preferably yellow or orange- NOT GREEN)
  • 1 cucumber, skinned and chopped*
  • 3/4 c chopped red onion (or about half a large red onion)
  • 1 can diced pineapple (or about 1&1/2 c fresh)
  • 1/2 c shredded carrot (fresh is best)

*i stole these from the commons (1 c halved the cherry tomatoes) and they worked out splendidly and “free”.

  1. Heat oven to 375veggie pizza
  2. Roll out dough without separating the crescents, like one big rectangle, and carefully pinch together any threatening-to-separate pieces as you stretch the dough nice and thin, shooting for about 1/4″ thick– but not too thin!
  3. Pop it in the oven (middle rack) for as long as it says on the package you ended up buying, or until golden brown
  4. Prep/chop/grate/open-cans-of all veggies
  5. If you’re using plain cream cheese, mix in a little garlic powder or fresh garlic. (because I assume you love garlic as much as me)
  6. Pull dough out of oven and let cool completely (or near to)
  7. Generously spread cream cheese evenly on all of the now baked and cooled crust– right to the edge!
  8. Sprinkle all of your fix’ns onto the cream cheese evenly, especially in the corners. It should look like a rainbow at this point. Mmm.
  9. Cut in rectangles and use spatula to remove. Enjoy.

Keep in mind you can add/remove any ingredients at will, if you are allergic to something or have leftover raw zucchini/squash/broccoli, etcetera.

Happy superbowl weekend [& of course superbowl monday].

Black History Month

Every February. Courtesy of Google.

Every February. Courtesy of Google.

February is Black History Month. To honor and celebrate Black history here on Southwestern’s campus, there will be events and lectures all throughout February. All of these activities are meant to celebrate not only the history and the people who have paved the way for change, but to also recognize the issues that are still prominent in America and around the world.

The many events for Black History month kicked off on Jan. 21 when Angela Davis, retired professor with the History of Consciousness Department  at the University of California, political activist and feminist  spoke to the Southwestern and Georgetown community in the McCombs Ballrooms. Davis spoke of liberation movements past and present and of the challenges she faced for her political ideas and activism.

“We felt it was important for Davis to come to Southwestern as she is a well-known, influential speaker,” said Nneka Maduka, junior and introductory speaker for Davis. “Davis was a leader in the Black Panther Party and fought to spread awareness for quality of life for all people at a time when that was hard and so many people were against her.”

Davis shared the story of how she was falsely accused for murder, searched for, arrested, and put in jail. A movement was organized to fight for Davis’ release from prison and promote the positive effect she had on many. This movement reached a farmer in Florida. Inspired by the work of Davis’ political movements and the unjust legal treatment she faced, the farmer sold his land and donated the profit to post Davis’ bail from prison.

“The point I really liked and took away from the speech was that Black History Month should not just be appreciated by African-Americans, but that everyone should be aware of and learn more about the history and importance behind Black History Month,” Maduka said. “She also promoted the remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. for everything he did with the church and in the movements for the liberal rights and freedom rights of all people. We should also remember and be aware of how long it took for Martin Luther King Jr. Day to become a national holiday.”

Angela Davis, when she lectured on campus.  Courtesy of Eric Gonzales.

Angela Davis, when she lectured on campus. Courtesy of Eric Gonzales.

“The lecture was really excellent in addressing a wide range of issues for the Southwestern community and was a great event to start the Black History Series,” Marie Castagna, a senior, said.

The Black History Month Lecture Series continues each Wednesday starting Feb. 3. Speakers include Assistant Professor of English, Dr. Carina Evans, motivational speaker Romeal-Dorasay Johnson, and Associate Professor of Education, Dr. Alicia Moore.
Evans will present a lecture entitled “The Legacy of Slavery in “Post-racial” America,” and Moore will present a lecture entitled “The Quest for Black Citizenship in America: From Picking Cotton to Picking Presidents.”

Johnson is commonly welcomed onto university campuses to prompt and mediate open forums about typically hard to discuss and taboo topics, such as social pressures, labeling, stereotypes, drugs and alcohol, and sex and relationships. On Feb. 3, the Southwestern and Georgetown community were welcomed to join Johnson’s discussion and engage in an interactive workshop about “Mistaken Identity.”

All of the lectures will be open to anyone who wants to come, and some will even provide lunch for those who attend.
Lectures are not the only activities planned this month. E.B.O.N.Y. is sponsoring a dance this weekend called “Cupid’s Shuffle.” The money will go to AIDS/HIV education and resources in Lesotho, Africa.

“This is a Valentine’s Day dance and at the same time functions as a way to raise funds for people in Lesotho,” Maduka said.
Tickets to the Cupid’s Shuffle are $3 and are being sold at concourse tables in the Bishop’s Lounge.
If you want to help Lesotho but don’t know how to dance, E.B.O.N.Y. will also be selling “Crushes for your crush” at the concourse tables to benefit the AIDS/HIV education resources as well.

“These events raise money and the Valentine’s Day spirit,” said Maduka. “Its a trade off, give money to help others and in return get a crush or a dance. Its a fun way to donate, help out and celebrate the spirit of Valentine’s Day.”

For these fundraising event, E.B.O.N.Y has teamed up with The Links, Inc. Foundation of Austin and Baylor Medical’s International Pediatric AIDS Initiative. According to their website, The Links, Inc. “is an international, not-for-profit corporation, established in 1946,” whose “membership consists of 12,000 professional women of color in 270 chapters located in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.”

E.B.O.N.Y. and UPC are co-hosting an event on Friday, Feb. 12. The well known and influential comedian Marina Franklin will be performing in the Cove. This event starts at 8 p.m. and is free.

On Feb. 24, the Commons will be serving “soul food” and exploring its importance in honor of Black History Month. “Soul food” is the Southern-style cooking of Black Americans, has roots in American slavery and is a reminder that African-American slaves greatly influenced the development of African American style cooking. This will be a meal that is covered by your meal plan.

The other important day of events will be Feb. 10. While the exact times and events haven’t been revealed, this day is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Be on the lookout for more information about events or lectures going on this day. Also, for more information on any of the aforementioned activities, find someone at the concourse tables in the Bishop’s Lounge, look for the red fliers up around campus, or just ask around.