Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beck and Call

There's a lot of interesting things to talk about with the Tea Party rally in DC over the weekend. Interesting to me, at least. Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Alveda King were the most famous of speakers. I watched Beck's hour long speech, but I only saw clips of the others. None of what they said was particularly interesting to me. It was mostly about returning to the values of God and what it means to love this country. I did take note that Beck mentioned mosques along with churches and synagogues as places Americans should go to get back with God. Muslim Americans might face the most amount of discrimination lately, and are mistrusted by both major political parties.

It's easy to mistrust what you don't understand. There are some very hateful things in Islam. And two, the only terrorists we've seen in this country lately motivated by religion were Muslims. The word "terrorist" is nearly synonymous with "Muslim Extremist." But let's pick at this perception. There are hateful things in the Bible too. Deuteronomy says a woman who marries and is not a virgin shall be put to death. The Bible says the same about people that eat shell fish, approach altars while sick, or labor on the sabbath. What do preachers do for work? They preach the word of God on the Sabbath. So they're laboring on the Sabbath then... right? The Bible advocates beating your children into obedience, how to treat your slaves, that Lot did the just thing by sending his own daughters out into an angry mob to be sexually assaulted to spare his two male visitors. Horrible, vile stuff. But Christianity has changed with the times. In the recent past, the Christian group, The Klu Klux Klan burned crosses as acts of terrorism. We can easily recognize the KKK as an extremist group that doesn't represent Christianity. We can do that only because we are familiar with Christianity and American culture to know they are the exception. But since most of us do not know or understand Islam, all them Muslim folk seem the same to us.

I saw a political cartoon with an Arab American hopping on one leg. It was after some recent failed terrorist plot. And the guy next to the Arab American was saying something like, "...ok great, now condemn terrorism while hopping on one leg and touching your nose with both hands!"

I think it's sad the way Americans mistrust Muslim Americans. Yes, it's scary that there are terrorist cells. Yes, you never know if your Arab neighbors secretly hate you and want to kill you. But that's true of all neighbors. Crazy runs in all ethnicities, religions, and nationalities.

Anyway, when Beck mentioned it a couple times in his speech, it made me wonder if it was possible for the Republican party to reach out to Muslims. Muslims are mostly independents and feel rejected by both parties. I've heard a lot of disparaging comments about Muslims made from Conservatives. Rush Limbaugh had a link on his website to a ridiculous propaganda video about how the birth rates of Christian Americans and Europeans are slowing while Muslim Americans and Europeans are growing, meaning the Muslims are going to out breed us like cancer. It was a well produced propaganda video, which made it all the more unfortunate. I generally like Rush, and I think that 95% of the time when he's called a racist or hate monger is just plain wrong. But he does hint at playing on Islamaphobia.

While I'm on the subject of Rush and racism. I want to point out something I think is funny that Rush does. He loves pointing out hypocrisy of Liberals. Many Liberals are racist depending on how you define the word. Many believe that African Americans are racially inferior and thus need extra help. This is racist by my definition. But anyway, so Rush will play a clip or read a quote of a Liberal saying something racist. He'll do so in the beginning of his show. Then he'll take part of it out of context and repeat it in new context throughout the rest of his show. Like, with the Tiger Woods scandal. Some Liberal called Tiger a light skinned negro, or something like that. I don't remember exactly. So for the rest of the show, Rush referred to African Americans as light skinned negros. Rush wasn't trying to be racist. He was using the phrase to poke fun at Liberals and left minded people. But his critics, who don't listen to his whole show to hear what he's saying in context, will say, "See! Rush is using the term 'negro.' He's a racist!" not realizing that Rush is repeating what someone "on their side" said and that Rush is doing this on purpose to try and get this reaction. It does two things. The next day on his show, Rush can play reaction clips and read quotes from Liberals calling him a racist not realizing the original context that Rush was quoting someone else. Rush's fans, who do know the context, can then laugh at Liberals. Rush becomes more popular with his fans. Rush's enemies, who don't bother finding out the context, then hate Rush even more and thus perpetuate his notoriety. And when Rush's enemies look towards Rush's fans and calls them "sheepeople," it makes his fans laugh at them because they don't get "the joke." And thus, Rush becomes more popular with his fans. The worst thing Rush's enemies could do is say, "Rush isn't a racist. He just says silly things to get ratings." If Rush's enemies stopped hating him, it would be a career killer.

Wow, I'm really getting side tracked. So Beck organized this rally on the same spot and day in history that Martin Luther King, Jr gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. Civil rights activists, who have incorrectly decided Beck is a racist simply because he's a conservative, decided to plan a counter rally with the purpose of stopping Beck from being able to distort and rewrite history regarding King's dream.

This was a waste of time in that respect. Beck mentioned King a couple times in his speech, but those references seemed thrown in and out of place. Like he felt obligated to mention King and edited his speech last minute to do so. Otherwise, his speech had nothing to do with race or equality. I noticed that nearly every shot of the crowd during Beck's speech had African American spectators. I wondered if the camera crew did that on purpose to make the crowd seem more diverse. The Tea Party is overwhelmingly white.

In sharp contrast, Rev. Al Sharpton's counter rally was overwhelmingly black in crowd representation. Sharpton is dead wrong about his opinion of conservatives. Many of the things Sharpton said were propaganda and unfortunate. He said that "those people" at the other rally are the same people that thought of civil rights leaders are trouble makers. That's a pretty despicable thing to say.

Working out at my gym as I do on the elliptical with 10 different tvs hanging from the ceiling in front of me and a box to switch my headphone mix to which ever one, I can see how different news organizations covered the rally. The fact that King's niece, Alveda King spoke at Beck's rally really upset Liberals who want so desperately to believe Beck is a racist and see proof of it. I watched as several news reporters asked Alveda the same question, "Do you feel like you're being used by Beck and the Tea Party movement?" As if "You're being used by the Tea Party movement and disgracing your uncle. What do you have to say for yourself?" is what they really wanted to say. Alveda was gracious about it, no matter how many different reporters asked her that. Her answer was that we need to love each other.

I thought about that as I watched the speeches at Beck's rally. I had read about the counter rally. Sharpton's words were divisive, but many of the other speakers gave more conservative speeches about turning to God, doing more for the community, and of individual responsibility. It occurred to me how similar the two rallies must have been in content, and what a missed opportunity that happened. Rev. Sharpton has said a lot of things that I agreed with in the past. I mostly like him and think he's a smart man. He's just dead wrong about the Tea Party and Beck. What if he had gotten over that and combined his rally with Beck's? And what better day to do so.

Then it got me thinking about the civil rights movement of today in general. The Civil rights act granted all Americans the right to vote without facing intimidation and it ended segregation. The Community Reinvestment Act of the 70's prohibited racial discrimination of bank loans. Many other court case decisions and laws have come down since then to change the practice of overt racism. What more can the Civil Rights movement do?

Then that got my thinking should the Civil Rights movement end and we, as a society, focus instead on loving each other rather than dividing each other? It's an interesting question because, after all, the Civil Rights movement can not gather steam unless it has an enemy. Does Rev Sharpton and Jesse Jackson need Beck and Limbaugh? If the racist boogiemen aren't out there commanding their sheepeople, do Civil Rights activists have any reason to rally people? And if this is so, who is the real fear monger? I'm not suggesting racism is over. Far from it. Overt racism is over. Racism has gone into hiding and many Americans think it's gone. The Civil Rights movement looks like a relic from the passed now. True or not, has that perception undermined the movement's ability to change anything?

If the Civil Rights phase is over, what's phase 2? Like I said, racism still persists. The Curious Formula is still around. African Americans live, disproportionately, in poverty. Well, you can't ignore the fact that poor people go to poor schools and rich kids go to rich schools. So poor people stay poor and have poorly educated kids that stay poor. Republicans want school vouchers and Democrats fight it. Get poor kids out of the ghettos and into good schools and let the poor schools collapse or get taken over by better management. This, I think, is the answer. It isn't a perfect solution. It isn't going to do much in the short run. But I think it's a necessary step for a long term solution.

Until then, Alveda King is right. Instead of focusing on our differences, we should focus on loving each other.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

School Planning

Today was the first day of the semester. I tried to add an Econ class and there were people standing in the back of the classroom and I wasn't even on the wait list. I got confused about what time the class started and was a couple mins late. I just looked through the window and decided not to bother opening it. That's fine. I'll take micro and macro econ next semester. There are two upper division versions offered at Sac State over the summer that I'd need to take for pre-reqs for grad school.

This is "perfect" timing. I'll get another Associate's degree this semester in Physical Science. During the Spring semester, I'll be able to apply to grad school for a Masters in Economics. At the end of the Spring Semester, I'll earn my third Associate's degree, this time in Computer Science. Over the Summer, I'll be able to take intermediate level Micro and Macro Econ and hopefully get a letter of recommendation from the instructor, then, by the end of the summer, I will have completed all the requirements needed to get into grad school starting in the fall of next year. Only problem, I'll only have a few weeks into my first Econ classes to make the decision if I even want to study Econ at all, let alone go to grad school for it and make it my career. That's a lot of pressure.

What about Computer Science? I think I'd rather do CS, but because of the budget cuts, all the CSUs are closed to people seeking second Bachelor degrees. I could go for my Masters in CS, but there's a ton more pre-req classes I need to take first. Now, CSUS(and probably the others) allows you to take classes through their Open University program without actually being enrolled. It's a different price set up, but it's not radically different in costs. The problem is that they don't let you use any form of financial aid using the Open University. Since I don't have any money, this is a problem. I'll have to get a part time job to save up the money and wipe out my savings for the two Econ classes I'll take over the summer as is, and that's just two classes.

Now, once I get into grad school for Econ, I can take undergrad Computer Science classes as well to prepare myself for that. It's the same amount of work taking the undergrad pre-reqs needed to be able to start the Computer Science Masters degree program as it would be to take the graduate level classes to finish the Econ Masters degree program. There's another problem. Due to budget cuts, Sac State is hard capping grad students to only 9 units. Well, what if I'm a grad student taking under grad classes? Am I still capped? That would cut the amount of classes I could take in half and make getting a CS take twice as long.

At this point, it makes a hell of a lot more sense to just go be an economist rather than a programmer. But is that what I want to do? I guess when the time comes, I'll have a better idea. Maybe by then, Sac State will open up to second bachelor degree students or lift their unit caps. Who knows? I get really sick and tired my life plans being conditional on uncertainty.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I didn't know what to expect volunteering for Meg Whitman. I showed up to a tiny campaign head quarters in Rancho Cordova. There were about 8 people there. All of them were clean cut white guys in casual dress clothes. Something about too many clean cut whites guys in one spot creeps me out. I'm just being honest here. Like I think they're going to start telling me about Jesus and how I need to be saved.

They were actually really nice, as it turned out. I let them know I had no idea what was going on, but that I've been a registered Republican all my life and I wanted to help. They put me with another guy that's done "whatever it was we were doing" before, gave us a bunch of pamphlets, a folder full of addresses, and sent the two of us out to go walking door to door. It was called a Precinct Walk, as it turned out. I really, really hate bugging people about stuff. So going door to door to talk to people was flat out not something I wanted to do. I hate it when religious people come to my house with their talking points, completely unable to put together a logical argument or be able to follow what I say to them. Now I was about to do it to other people.

It ended up not being that bad though. We only went to the houses on our list and they were homes of registered Republicans. The guy I went with, Mike, was a pretty cool guy. We never argued with people. We just listened to what people had to say. On our list, about 4 out of 5 people weren't home or didn't answer. But the ones that did, they usually told us who they were for and who against. A few people spent some time talking to us and some of the comments they made really taught me a lot.

To give you an example. I go to the bios of candidates on their websites and they all have the same layout. They start with the city they grew up in, where they got their law degree, how many years they spent in the private sector being rich and awesome, and what they want to do in office. That sounds like common sense stuff to put in a bio to try and impress people. But it occurred to me that most voters really don't care about that stuff. They don't believe politicians in the first place, so their promises are meaningless. Their stances mean nothing. How they feel about abortion, the "ground zero mosque," and the rest is meaningless if they don't have the power at their office to affect it. A County Supervisor can't repeal Roe v Wade, so who cares if they're Pro Life or not?

A guy we talked to said he can never get a hold of any of his representatives. He got the impression candidates saw lower office as a stepping stone. They don't want to be there. They don't want to serve the people. They just want to move up the ladder and get on to bigger and better things. None of the three candidates we passed out fliers for where there today. I know Meg Whitman was in San Diego today doing a walk through a mall and talking to people. I'm sure the other two were equally busy. But it got me thinking, how great would it be to be a candidate walking door to door, listening in person to people tell you what problems, unique to that area, need to be fixed? How great would it be to tell them in real time if it's something you can fix or not, or if you have an easier solution? It would sort of be like being a legislative hero. Like, "I'll save you from rising property tax hikes!" or "I'll fix those pot holes!" Dun-da-Duuunnnn! Ok, now I'm being silly. But doesn't that sound cool, being able to help people like that? Yeah, I bet potholes take months of debate to be able to fix. Government moves incredibly slow.

Something else I was thinking. If there's a problem in my community, I don't really know who to go to amongst my elected officials. I'd bet an over whelming majority of people don't even know who their elected officials are at the local level or care, let alone who is responsible for what. It would be interesting to see a website with a message board with a list of what a candidate has power over, what are the top suggestions voters in that region have to better their community, and what the status of those ideas are(for example, looking for funding, dependent on a zoning law change, up for a vote, under review, etc). It makes sense to me that all candidates should have such discussion boards where other voters can discuss these issues and the candidate can respond. But I haven't seen too many. No doubt they get clogged with spam and topics on national politics. You'd need a moderator to clean it up. But it's doable.

It reminds me of when I got into the alpha testing for the MMO game, Champions Online from Cryptic Studios. We'd make suggestions to improve the game, and people from Cryptic would say if it was a change that made sense, why if not, or they'd ask our opinions about solutions to it.

My point is, a candidate could spend a lot more time building a fanbase with voters that way rather than going to big business conventions looking for big donors. Of course, what do I know? There has to be a reason why politicians go where the money is instead of focusing on the voters. But, I'm reminded of how much my blog helped my band years back, how many people came up to me at our shows and talked to me like they knew me. I think people would respond, especially in the Facebook age where word can get around rapidly.

In either case, if I can get into some Econ classes this semester, I'll see if I like it or not. To get into grad school for Econ, I'm going to have to pretty much ace all my classes. So assuming I can add, and that's a big if since the waiting list is long, I'll make a decision at the end of this semester if this is a good path for me, or if I should stick with Computer Science.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Arden Arcade

I think we'd all like to consider ourselves informed voters before we head out to the polls. That's not always easy. Case in point with some local politics here. I live in a neighborhood of Sacramento called Arden Arcade. For years, we've seen our neighborhood slowly decline. Businesses go under. Local services and police coverage degrade. Gangs slowly creep in.

Meanwhile, other neighborhoods that have become cities have made changes for the better. Citrus Heights neighborhood voters voted for cityhood, and the new city of Citrus Heights was able to renegotiate new contracts with police, waste management, and schools, and get more efficient services for less. Elk Grove is also a success story.

My neighborhood of Arden Arcade sees much of our property tax money leave the community to go to other areas of Sacramento county. Since we have no mayor or city council, we have no representation, no one to fight to keep money in our community. No one in power with any reason to care about improving things. This November, we have a chance to vote on Measure D, a measure that will turn my neighborhood into the city of Arden Arcade. This sounds like exactly what we need to do. Or do we?

What if our poor neighborhood can't afford 8 well paid council members and an even better paid mayor? Mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson makes over 100k, and the 8 member panel over half that each. How much would property taxes have to increase to cover that? Citrus Heights has Sunrise Mall to our right. The city of Sacramento has Arden Fair Mall just across the street from us to our left. Between that, we have our Country Club Mall which has struggled for decades. Tower Records closed and is now a Good Will. A big grocery store by my house is now a $0.99 Cent Clearance Center. More and more, I see homeless people sleeping in our neighborhoods or digging through our trash for cans.

Is cityhood exactly what we need to pull out of poverty, or the last straw of financial tax burdens on the backs of businesses already struggling? I don't know. I wish I did know.

It's this kind of thing that makes me think maybe I really should work towards a Masters in Economics, get an understanding on exactly what's going on, and do something about it.

Tomorrow, I'm going to a campaigning event for Meg Whitman. I have no idea if she's even going to be there or what we're supposed to be doing. I signed up on her website to volunteer. I got a form letter telling me to show up somewhere. What's the dress code? Do I need to show up early? Can I take pictures? I have no idea. I just hope I don't have to sit in a call center calling people and giving talking points off a script. I don't mind walking down the street waving signs. Maybe I'll just stand there listening to people talk for photo ops. I have no idea. But it's a good insight into... something. I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


So, I tend to hop around from major to major. I spent almost 10 years in a two year college trying to decide what I wanted to do. When I transferred to a 4 year university, I still changed my major to something else almost immediately, got a degree, and decided it's not what I wanted a year before I graduated. So now I'm back at the 2 year college working on another major. Already, I've thought of several other majors I could try along with it. Is there anything I *don't* want to study? Not really. I'd stay in college forever, learning everything they can possibly teach me until they ran out of classes.

In this case, I want to finish my BS in Computer Science no matter what. I really like programming and, unlike Anthropology, would actually enjoy the work. But, I don't want to get a Masters in it. I'd like to get a Masters one day, but I've never been able to decide in what.

So the other day, I got a hold of a textbook on Economics. There are a few things I like about the subject. It's sort of about business--which I like. I've aced every business class I've ever taken. But it's also about human behavior. I love studying people as well. I think what put me off the first time I took Macroeconomics is all the terms and memorization. But, I'm older now from when I first took those classes at age 22. Nearly all those terms, I now already know, so it would be a lot different.

But I thought this textbook was really interesting. Another thing I've sort of looked down on Economics about is I know Keynesian Economics is really trendy. If you don't know what that is, one way of summarizing it is to say it's the belief that if the government taxes the living snot out of people, then uses the revenue from that to inject money directly back into communities, that will ensure a robust and stable economy. The Liberals / Socialists love Keynesian Economics because it's Big Daddy Government taking away our freedoms and telling us how to live. Obama and his economic team are all supporters of Keynesian Economics.

Now, I have no idea if the author of this textbook is representative of all economists, but he wrote that Keynesian Economics has been disproven because it's failed every place it's ever been tried. He said Economists have gone back to free market solutions and believe that Government is too inefficient to compete with a more nimble and flexible free market system in terms of ensuring a strong and stable economy.

It's interesting that this book was published in 2004. And here 5 years later, Obama passed the "Stimulus Bill" that was a huge, expensive tribute proving that Keynesian Economics doesn't work. How many real jobs would have been created had that money instead been massive tax breaks to businesses to encourage them to hire people? Obama's top Economic adviser, Christine Romer, recently stepped down, and not long after another on the economic team stepped down. She was dead wrong about the Stimulus Bill. Don't believe Biden, the Idiot, trying to say the Stimulus Bill was more successful than anticipated. Romer, and thus Obama, promised the Stimulus Bill would prevent unemployment from exceeding 8%. It went to 10%. They were dead wrong. The Stimulus Bill either far under performed, or had next to no effect at all. I would argue that Obama could have gotten better results if he piled the trillion dollars in the back of his limo, and tossed fistfuls of it out the windows as he drove around neighborhoods all over the country. A trillion dollars thrown down the toilet to test an Economic theory that's already been disproven. And people think Bush was an idiot because he stuttered in his speeches but otherwise made sound economic decisions? Some Obama is an idiot but articulates his wrong ideas better and people like him. Sad.

Anyway, I have at least a year before I'd need to decide to go for a Masters in Econ or not. I just think it's nice to know the field might not be dominated by nitwits, forcing me to learn a bunch of discredited crap. There was a woman in my Calc II class who was an Econ major. She said that California was bankrupt because people pay too little in property taxes. I just shook my head. The state with the second highest tax rate in the country, and we're bankrupt because we're not taxed enough? It's mind boggling how stupid people are. There are too many memorize / regurgitate people in the world. They can ace tests, but they can't think their way out of anything. I think most the people currently running this country are that way.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

You're not a Republican

I've been thinking more and more about one of those goals I mentioned--running for public office. I looked up some things. You know, in 2008, a woman won an elected office in California with only 600 votes? It was for two positions. The guy that came in second with 500 votes, also won a seat. It was a member board seat for the Arhole Unified School District. I've never even heard of that place. I'm guessing there's not many voters in that area. But still, if I wanted to start out small, there's room for that. The dinky offices in Sacramento are a few thousand votes. Still, that's doable with a lot of campaigning.

I'd want to get a more appropriate education. A BA in Anthropology is cool and all, but not all that helpful for dealing with political issues. Yeah, I know. Most the people in lower elected office only have under graduate degrees, if that, and in less useful areas. You can tell because they just list "alumni" of the college they went to, rather than their degree in their bios. Maybe that means they didn't even finish school.

Well, I looked into what it would take for me to get into a Masters degree program in Economics at Sac State. Not much, as it turns out. Let's say I worked on my Masters in Econ at the same time I worked on my BS in Computer Science. That might be pretty cool.

But here's the big problem I face. Both political parties are basically controlled by outside groups. The unions control the Dems, and the corporations control the Republicans. The unions can organize votes for lower election offices. The big corporations can back the higher offices. Maybe this is why California tends to have Republican Governors, but has had a Democrat controlled state congress for the last 40 years. As a Republican starting out small, I'd have an uphill climb. I'm certainly not pro unions and not willing to pretend that I am. I like that being a Republican makes me an underdog, though here's another issue. I'm a social moderate. I could score big points with Republicans opposing gay marriage, but I don't oppose gay marriage. This sort of puts me in the worst of both worlds in terms of support. Dems might agree with me on social issues, but won't vote for a Republican no matter what. Republicans who really care about social issues might not see me as an improvement over the Dem, so might not bother voting. But if I did run, I'd have to run as me. I like who I am, even if it doesn't make me a politically viable candidate. I'm not afraid of challenge though.

Well, speaking of gay marriage, I want to talk about Prop 8 for a while since it got repealed. I've been pretty unhappy about the comments I've seen made by other Republicans on the various Facebook pages I frequent. Most of it has been despicable. Let's go through some of these comments.

-- "This Liberal activist judge over turned the will of the people!"
There's a lot wrong with this. Judge Walker isn't a Liberal, for one. He was appointed by Ronald Reagan. His appointment was challenged by, and fought against by Nancy Pelosi who labeled him a homophobe. She didn't know he was a homosexual. Dumb ass Nancy just assumed since a Republican nominated him, he had to be an intolerant hate monger. Dumb ass hypocrite Nancy, in turn, showed who really was the hate monger, but that's beside the point.

I find it offensive that too many Republicans call him a Liberal. Gay marriage is a civil rights issue. Calling someone a Liberal because they care about civil rights is a massive insult to the very many of us non Liberals who care about civil rights. If you don't care about civil rights, then you don't belong in the Republican party.

Ok, next "the will of the people." I want to remind people that the US has never been, and hopefully will never be, a Democracy. We are a Republic. That means the masses do not rule simply because we can. We have the Bill of Rights and the mob cannot take away rights from people just by out numbering them. Polls show that most Californians favor gay marriage. Prop 8 only passed by 52%. It barely squeaked by. Let's not get all high and mighty about the will of the people when the vote is about a 50/50 chance each time it's put up for a vote and polls show younger voters tend to overwhelmingly support gay rights... aka, as the older generation passes on, the polls shift more and more. It's just a matter of time before it's legal all over the country. Prop 8 supporters are on the wrong side of history.

--"Homosexuality isn't natural"
This is an opinion based on what "natural" means. Our closest cousins in the animal kingdom are bonobos(close to chimpanzees). Homosexuality is a lot more common in bonobos than in humans. Look it up. All you people that think homosexuality doesn't happen in the animal kingdom, you're dead wrong. Dead wrong. All sorts of things can be considered unnatural. Being born infertile, birth defects, mental illness, and The Icecapades.

--"For two thousand years, marriage has been between a man and a woman."
I don't know where this "two thousand years" comes from, but I've seen and heard a lot of people quote it. Marriage is a hell of a lot older than 2k years. As far as we know, the Neanderthals might have practiced marriage. That would make it hundreds of thousands of years old. But in either case, I don't understand what this is supposed to say and why it's supposed to carry any weight. Slavery has been around a lot longer than 2k years as well. Does that mean Lincoln was wrong and we should bring it back?

--"If gays can get married, what's next? People marrying their dog?"
This is the same argument you can make against interracial marriage. This does, perhaps make it easier for the people fighting for the rights to marry their pets. But I'd bet you can fit all of those people on a single episode of Jerry Springer. This just isn't a serious issue. If people want to marry their dogs, we can cross that bridge when we come to it. No one would be able to get enough signatures to support it being on the ballot. No politician would bring it up for a vote. No law maker would slip it into a bill. It's an incredibly empty argument that has no weight.

--"If gays can marry, I don't want to have to let my children be taught that homosexuality is ok."
Part of this is the incorrect idea that homosexuality is a choice. It isn't. No one would chose to be gay if it was. So if your kid is taught that homosexuals exist, it doesn't make your kids more or less likely to be gay themselves. You can't be recruited into being gay. Second, by saying this, you're not only condemning an entire group, but you're passing on your hate and ignorance to your children. I'd much rather my children know that some people are gay than be taught hurtful stereotyping and intolerance.

--"The point of marriage is to procreate."
One, says who? And two, not a damn person would tell an infertile couple they can't get married. This is the dumbest of the excuses.

Well, that's all the arguments I can remember seeing. As a side note, let me remind people that we Republicans are the party of Abraham Lincoln that freed the slaves because it was the right thing to do. The Democrats are the party that fought to maintain slavery, that fought for segregation and that founded the KKK.

Republicans are the party of Teddy Roosevelt that fought for the 8 hour work day and to end child labor exploitation. Democrats are the party that fight to take freedoms away from us like if we have the right to pay for health care or not.

Republicans are the party that overwhelmingly supported the Civil Rights Acts of 1966 and 68 and President Lyndon Johnson could only get luke warm support from his own party on it--and ultimately lost any chance of re-election from his base because of it.

Republicans are the party that have fought for school vouchers to get poor kids out of the ghettos and crumbling schools and let the parents chose to send them anywhere they want to. Democrats are the party that exploits the poor and keeps them in endless cycles of poverty to keep them as reliable voters while convincing them it's the Republicans' fault.

Never forget that Republicans have had a very long history of fighting for the little guy. Homosexuals are the little guys. Fighting for their rights should be a Republican cause. You can't call yourself a Republican if you disagree.

If you don't think Republicans are the party that fights for the rights and freedoms of all Americans, then you're not a Republican.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I've never really written out all my life long aspirations of career goals. But I thought it might be fun. This list doesn't include things I've already done, like years of working in the construction industry. That was never by choice.

Long term goals:
1. Robotics Engineer - to rest
2. Fantasy Fiction Author - active
3. Computer Game Designer - active
4. Computer Programmer - active
5. Professional Musician - to rest
6. Marriage Counselor - to rest
7. Ethnographer - to rest
8. Politician - possible
9. Business Tycoon - possible
10. Model - not likely
11. Comedian - not likely

Short term goals:
12. Sign Language Interpreter for the Deaf - to rest
13. Night Club Owner - to rest
14. Journalist - possible
15. Teacher - active
16. Webpage Designer - possible
17. Night Club / Concert Promoter - to rest

Let's go through these.

When I was a little kid, I wanted to build robots that could do... well, what robots in cartoons do. In high school, I took electronics classes. But being able to solder broken wires is about the extent of my education on that front. I did retro fit non motorized toy cars with small engines to make them go. It was something I had a lot of fun doing, but without any other bigger applications for me to move on to, my interest fizzled out. There was a computer game called Robot Odyssey that came out when I was a kid. In it, you use your cursor as a soldering gun to change the wiring of robots to perform different tasks. I loved that game. I've heard of electrical engineers that credit playing that game as kids that got them started. I've put this interest to rest. If I work with anything robotic, it will probably be computer / virtual related over mechanical.

I started playing Dungeons and Dragons when I was 12. I had reading learning disabilities. My parents thought that would be a good way to get me to read, so they got it for me. It sparked in me my interest in the Fantasy, sword and sorcery genre. I don't have a natural talent for writing. If I'm good at writing at all, it's because I've worked very, very hard at it. Maintaining things like this blog is good practice. I'm constantly thinking about how to make my sentences clear and easy to understand. I still have a long ways to go. This is still a very viable goal for me, though one that will be a hard route to go.

Game Designer
My learning disabilities made socializing hard for me as a kid. I became pretty introverted, but not necessarily purely from shyness. As such, I turned to computer games a lot, especially the adventure ones where you communicate with characters in the game. This is a perfect career for me. It combines my creative side, with my drive for communicating through art and story. This is the career I'm currently working towards.

I like programming. I've done is since the mid 80's in BASIC on my first computer--an Apple IIC. This is more of a short term goal... a stepping stone towards becoming a Game Designer. Though being a computer programmer for the rest of my life wouldn't be bad, as long as I got to eventually oversee large projects. I don't want to retire as a lowly code monkey.

Of everything I've done, I've spent maybe the most amount of my time trying to accomplish this goal. The most joy I've ever had in my life is creating art and communicating it to others. I remember playing in new cities for the first time, and seeing people in the crowd singing lyrics I wrote along with me. The lyrics I write are very emotional and personal. And to see perfect strangers connect with me in that way, it always made me feel like I wasn't alone. But, being a musician is a hard life. There's no money in it unless you get signed. And then there's money in it, but non of it goes to the artists... just enough to keep them alive. Michael Jackson was in debt $50 million dollars to his record company. Doesn't that say it all? Ultimately, I gave up on this dream as a career goal. Though, I still teach music and I cherish the memories, good and bad, during this time in my life. I'll will still pursue this goal, but not as a career.

When I transferred to a 4 year university, I did so as a Psych major to pursue this goal. My personality type of INTJ makes me the perfect candidate for a Therapist. I'm excellent at listening to people and understanding things from multiple perspectives. I didn't get very far before I decided that it's not as easy as simply caring about people and "curing them," after months of therapy and that's that. There's no cure for any mental illnesses. I like helping people. That's why I love teaching. But there are so many people that will never get better from counseling. There are some that will in extreme cases. Suicidal teens, some non violent felons, drug and alcohol addicts, I think these people can be helped. My brother is following this path, and I think he'd be really good at it. I can relate to teens pretty well. Still, I put this goal to rest. I don't like the idea of spending the rest of my life doing the same thing especially if I know a lot of the people I try and help will not improve.

This is a type of Anthropologist that lives with a group of primitive people in the jungle somewhere and writes down how they live. Sounds great and interesting. The problem is that every "primitive tribe" in the world has already been studied many, many times over. I've thought about joining the Peace Corps. I sent in for their information and they sent me a huge packet of forms and what not. I love the field of Anthropology. I just sort of feel like it's mission accomplished and we(as in the greater scientific community) pretty much understand every culture in the world. No one person knows it all, but everything there is to know, some Anthropologist somewhere knows it. Now, for cultures no longer in existence, that's a different story. There are more fossils and artifacts to be found to learn about people and cultures in the past. To be an Archaeologist, you pick a site, spend the next 20 years excavating it and hope you find a chip of bone or something that adds a tiny piece of some puzzle. Most Archaelolgists dig for years and find close to nothing. I don't see myself doing that. But back to the modern day side of Anthropology, I no longer want to go live in a mud hunt to study a people that I can just learn about in the library or off the internet.

This is a real possibility for me. I could start off running for the Sacramento City Council. Maybe run for State Assembly after that. Doris Matsui is the House Representative here in Sacramento. I'd love to run against her one day in the distant future if she was still around by the time I was ready. I think Congressman is a decent, long term goal for me, one I'd have to work very hard for. Senator is too unlikely. I don't have the ivy league school connections, a mass of wealth, or celebrity status in anything(nor will I ever). I know I talk about politics on this blog site like I think I have the answers. This blog site is mostly for me to practice my writing. The more you study something, the more you realize how little you know about it. I know very little about politics. I've gotten an A in every college Business class I've taken. I love business. I know human nature pretty well. I have the basics down... the gut, common sense intuition about how policy should go down. But I still have a heck of a lot to learn about economics before I would seriously tackle running for office. I've eyed getting a Masters in Economics. I've completed all the lower division, pre-reqs for it. I'd just have to take a couple upper division classes at Sac State, then I could apply for the Graduate program. Again, this is a real possibility for me and something I think about.

Business Tycoon
Possible, but I don't know. I have the fiscal discipline to be wealthy. I'm good at coordinating things. I'd be good at running a business. The funny thing is I really don't care for money much. It's an odd quirk of mine, I suppose. I live pretty modestly. I'm fine without the fancy cars and house. Becoming rich takes a lot of hard work--something I don't have a problem with. But it boils down to me working my butt off for something I don't care about. Now, if I found another motivation other than money, running a business or cluster of them, would be something I'd consider working towards. The challenge of it, would certainly motivate me. Plus, not being motivated by material things would be a plus. I'd use the money I made to re-invest, rather than waste on cars. This is a goal I should think about working towards.

Yeah, I feel pretty egotistical mentioning this. I'm a decent looking guy. Or at least I could be. I'd have to work really, really hard on reshaping my body and I have a very long way to go for that. I'm in the process of doing that--not to become a model, but because of the challenge of it. Even if I could be a successful model, it's not anything that would satisfy me by itself. I have friends that are not what society would consider attractive that model, but what they do is more like work as extras. Being an extra might be fun.

I'm not naturally funny. I can bust out with some one liners here and there. I can make my mom laugh. I've taught a lot, and I can make my students laugh. I once gave a presentation on use of blood in Mayan purification rituals, and I got laughs. But I can make people laugh because I do something random or unexpected. But to walk on stage where the audience expects me to be funny from the beginning, it's a completely different vibe--one I've never even felt first hand. This is something I'd have to spend several years working really hard to be decent at. Could I handle being awful on stage in the beginning and still keep going? Though I don't have a natural talent for comedy, it's something that's really challenging, and that intrigues me. It's not just about telling jokes. It's a mastery of human communications and psychology. Still, I stopped being a musician because there was no money in it. Being a comedian starting out would be the same.

Short term

Interpreter for the Deaf
I had to take 2 years of a foreign language for the Anthropology major. My learning disabilities made this really, really tough. I struggled until I finally decided to try sign language where I didn't have to use my ears. Turns out, I was pretty good at it. I never did get good enough that I could sign fast enough to keep up with someone speaking. I have trouble understanding people finger spelling quickly. Still, with a lot more practice, I could get good at this. Finding people to practice with isn't all that easy. With Spanish, I can watch tv in Spanish or hear lots of people speaking it. Deaf people don't like people watching them sign a private conversation, nor do they really want to sit around signing with students. I considered using my ASL skills to study the culture of Deaf people. That would be a nice way of combining Sign Language and Anthropology. But yeah, I gave up. I'm really rusty at signing now.

Night Club Owner
Working first hand as a booker at a night club, I got to see how little money they actually bring in and what a pain in the butt it was. Live music, at least. Clubs with DJs make tons of money. I started off booking bands to make connections to get my own band booked. Playing politics with the other bookers at the club I booked at, quickly made me see the advantages of running my own club. Then I figured out how expensive it was. This goal is "at rest" for me, though the idea of being rich one day and opening up a club just for the fun of it is still something I'd think about. I always loved the movies where the villains have their conference table on the second floor and it's over looking the stage of a night club and some really cool metal / punk / industrial band is playing to a packed crowd. Not that villains in real life have conference tables, nor do I even know anyone remotely villain like in person anyway that I could have a conference with. But it's still really cool.

I've worked as a paid staff writer for a magazine before. I've also sold my political op ed pieces professionally. Don't google them. They were poorly written and I'm fairly embarrassed I didn't put a lot more effort into them. But being a journalist is something I was / would be again, good at. I just don't like it. There's a huge difference between creative, poetic writing and journalism. There's nothing artistic in journalism. It's just dry statements. I like reading journalistic pieces on subjects I want to know more about. But I don't like writing it. Still, this goal is a possible future one if I need money on the side. I'm more likely to do this if I get other benefits. Like, when I used to write for a music magazine I used to make a lot of contacts with other bands and promoters. The site I wrote for got 9 million hits a month and I was one of the main people writing articles. That made it pretty easy for me to meet people.

I like teaching. I like it a lot. It's hard and challenging because no two students are alike. You're communicating a lot of ideas trying to pack the most amount of meaning with the least words. In person, you can use real time and alter your meaning on the fly if it's not received as intended. You know how many times I write something and think, "Is the reader going to know what I mean by this?" But teaching in person, you get feedback instantly. I teach music now, but only during the summers. This is a part time goal for me. I like doing it for now, but it's a little too stable for me. I want to end up doing something big.

Webpage Designer
I do this now on rare occasion. I don't really like it. I like the programming part, but it's the graphic design part that I get stuck on. I'm great at all the parts of graphic design other than the actual free hand drawing part. I can't do that. I can photoshop the hell out of stuff. I can manipulate, retexture, and animate 3d figures, but not create them. I'd be ok with this if I was part of a team that just did the layout and programming. Still, I'd only want to do this as a means to an ends with some greater project on the horizon.

Concert Promoter
I liked doing this. I liked giving bands a chance and seeing their fans enjoying a show I put together. I liked seeing hundreds of people in one place and knowing I put it together. I like promoting too, although I was one of the few promoters in town that actually promoted. Most promoters put together a show and expect the bands to do all the promotion and they just take a cut. I worked my butt off promoting and never took a cut, not even to cover the expenses of the fliers I printed out. I did it for free. It gave me a reason to walk up to people hanging outside a club and talk to them about bands and why they might want to come out. Again, another thing I don't see myself doing forever unless it's a means to something big. I could see myself working for a big company and putting together a big company party--something cooler than a lame company picnic with a boring band.

Well, that's that. What about combining some of these? I'd love to own a computer game company that made educational software and fantasy adventure games. Maybe use political connections to get more educational software into classrooms. I think a hybrid of teachers and virtual software will become the new educational model one day. And I know I'll still keep writing, whatever I do.