Wednesday, September 30, 2009

making some waves...

An 8.0 earthquake was reported 120 miles off the coast of American Somoa today. This is definitely one of the strongest earth quakes we've seen in a long time. At least, the strongest one reported in 2009. At least 180 people have been killed, and that number is still rising.

The American Samoa earthquake was just one day after a 7.6 earthquake in Sumatra. It definitely makes you think about what causes these. I mean we know the physical cause, but why so close? Why do they happen right on top of one another like that? Our world is going through chaos with all these natural disasters. How much more can we take? It's definitely something to think about.

The one plus to this event is that it gives us the opportunity to show how much we care for others. It gives us the opportunity to help them out. The United States has sent the US Navy frigate USS Ingraham, two US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the 154th Wing, and 90 members of the Hawaii National Guard. Other nations, such as Australia have also sent help in the search and rescue of many still in the turmoil of the tsunami. This event has also triggered the European Commission to set up a Humanitarian fund with an initial amount of 105,000 Euros to be used through the International Red Cross to assist in the rescue efforts in Samoa.

Although we may be struggling with all these events that test our patience and our durability, its great to know that as a whole world, we can come together and help each other out. I think the way we support each other in time of need says a lot for how far we've come. We really have just started making it habit to help each other in about WWI times. Before that it was really every man for himself. The humanitarian effort put forth on part of other countries to help each other out is great. I really like it. I kind of gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. That your not insignificant or helpless, but that the whole world out there has your back. ( well to some extent :) )

Well, thats all for now!


X marks the spot...

Malcolm X- considered one of the most influential human rights activists of the 20th century on African American rights, he ranks right up there with Martin Luther King Jr.

He was born in Omaha, Nebraska on May 19, 1925 as Malcolm Little. (He changed his last name to 'X' later on in life after he became a member of the Nation of Islam.) He was raised in foster homes most of his life, after his dad was murdered and his mom was admitted to a mental hospital. In the 40's he was involved in some hustling and other criminal activities and was sentenced to 8 -10 years in prison. During his imprisonment he became a member of the nation of Islam. He changed his name to 'X' like many other black Muslims of the time because they believed it represented the name of their true African ancestors.

In some sense, Malcolm X was sort of the "anti-Martin L. K." because he spoke against the non-violence teachings, saying African Americans should be able to protect them selves however they can. He also believed in segregation, even going so far as to say that Black people should have their own nation. He was strongly against white people. He believed that they were devils, and that the demise of their race was eminent.

Later in life he married Betty X and had 6 daughters Attallah, Quibilah, Ilyasah, Gamilah Lumumba, and twins Malaak, and Malikah, who were born after Malcolms assassination in 1965.

It is hard to describe your feelings toward Malcolm X. He had the right sentiments, but he was wrong. True, white people are not better that black people, but black people are not better than white people. White people are not devils, and black people are not sovereigns, we are all equal. That was the part the Malcolm X did not understand. He had the wrong vision for the world.

Through it all though he was very influential, and had the ability to mold a whole group of people.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

turmultuous times

Today is the one year anniversary of the 2008 stock market crash. The market dropped a total of 778 points- causing unemployment to go up to 9.8%! As a nation, we are in a crisis and I don't think anyone is prepared for the year to come- It will only get worse before it gets better according to economists today. People are finding it much more difficult to find work and are taking anything they can get. I personally don't feel that affected by it, but I know I am. Little things, like the price on bread and milk stay pretty much the same: people are consuming that just as much as ever, But other things such as housing prices, car insurance, all those less stable, "extra" things are just getting worse. You cant get a loan, you can't get a house, you cant even get a job. I of course, am no expert but I do know that we need to raise the value of our dollar, especially in Europe. We live in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, yet we owe so much money!

I'm hoping the market will be back to normal by at least 2012, which I think is long, but realistic unfortunately. This really frustrates me because it seems like our nation can't fix anything! We continue to spend money that we don't have. If we could work on getting out of debt, then we could really start fixing our problems (which there are many of ).

Reading about Alexander Hamilton, the father of our national debt, as he has been affectionately dubbed, we learn that he created the national debt on purpose, yes, thats right... on purpose. He believed that the more people the government owes money to, the more it would unite the people- the more personal a stake they would have in the success, or failure, of the new republic. Of course it worked, its just that for all his fiscal genius, he didn't think about what it would do to us later.

Oh well, thats too much for me to dwell on right now.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Chicago, 2016

2016: the date for the next summer Olympics is ready, but we just don't know where it will be. A few cities have made it to the finals, Chicago being one of them. I don't really know why I'm writing about this other than the fact that it would be amazing! It is just what America needs to raise the bar on what others think of us. It would bring everyone to the heart of America - the Midwest.

The finalists for 2016 are Tokyo, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, and Madrid. I think the two most likely to get it would be Rio, because they have never had an Olympics in S. America, and Chicago because, well, just because I think it would be a good place to have it.

The Olympic committee is meeting in Copenhagen Denmark Oct. 2 to decide on the final city. President Obama will be meeting them there to promote his hometown.

The modern Olympic games started in 1796, in revolutionary France. This was very significant because it introduced the metric system into sports. Other than these obvious historic facts, the Olympic games have always been important because of how they connect the countries and keep them tied together. No matter whats going on in the world the countries always get together to enjoy and compete in the Olympics. For example: during WWII Hitler even came and competed with the countries he was fighting against. To be included in the Olympics is to be accepted into the "clan". It's also significant to see who gets picked to host the games. It can often show bias(etc...) about who is chosen. The games are a very serious thing among the nations. It is our way of competing, showing out strength without starting a war.

No matter what this is something we can all get together and do together. It will be interesting to see who gets picked to host the games in 2016.

I'll follow up later-


Sunday, September 27, 2009

"O say can you read..."

Tests, tests, tests.... Do we put too much pressure on our kids to do well in government testing? We have the ITBS, the ITEDS, the ACT and the SAT, the PLAN test, and the PSAT.... we pack these tests into a very short period of time- more than most can handle. Of course they do handle it, many of them very well actually.

In this month of October alone there is the ITEDs-Oct. 6-9 ~ the high school general testing where the government views the Junior year scores. Also for juniors is the PSAT- Oct. 17~ makes them applicants for National Merit Scholars, and finally the ACT- Oct. 24 ~ which allows them into colleges. All these tests are packed in for studying and testing. After a while your eyes are permanently seeing bubble-sheets!

National testing is important for some reasons. It does give a good picture of how are students are doing, but there are definitely more accurate ways of telling.

National tests are so time consuming and boring. Did you know that when your body feels like it is put in an emergency or a stressful situation, it shuts down? It releases adrenaline to give you energy, but it turns off everything else that is taking up extra energy. For example- your digestive system. When you are taking a test that you are unsure of or aren't prepared for (stressed) your body stops digesting food, among other things. Your body needs to be focused and unstressed- we should definitely be looking for alternatives.

I guess I'm just trying to say we shouldn't put so much emphasis on tests that don't give us the best picture of our students abilities. Other options may be a teacher writing up grade and behavior analysis types of papers, using the people around theses students everyday, who know the students, to give them the best picture of their abilities.

Looking from the practical side though, I understand testing is the cheapest and easiest way. It's also the most fair and unfair way to learn about the students. Its fair in the way that every student gets the same test and they get compared to people who took the same test. Its unfair in the way that it is not matched for each individual person.\

With such a capable nation it seems like we could come up with better ideas.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

the epic pandemic

Bird flu, Spanish flu, the flu- we have come up with just about every kind of flu imaginable. And now we are threatened yet again with The Swine Flu.

The Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 is one of the most notable and influential flu's ever. During this time it is said at this time that 50 - 100 million people died world wide. In the US alone 675,000 people died due to this flu (195,000 just in the month of October). The disease killed more people than the black plague, and more than all the wars of the 20th century combined!

Throughout the history of America we have been plagued with flus of every kind, with a wide range of outcomes from millions of deaths to a quick and mild out break. Often over the past years the government and health officials have overreacted to "outrageous" cases of flu that have turned out to be nothing serious. But do they have just cause. The Spanish flu really scared everybody! they had no way of stopping it. It just infected so many people it eventually burned itself out. There was one positive outcome of the Spanish flu: scientists began to learn about strains and immunities. From this doctors and officials have begun to take immediate action concerning all possible pandemics.

Now you might be wondering what this all has to do with H1N1, well I'm going to tell you. Many people now are saying that the H1N1 virus will be similar, but I'm not so sure about it. I think that it is good to be cautious, but all the hype everyone's coming up with seems rediculous! We could be in danger of some serious outbreaks, but as long as everone stays home when they're sick and gets treatment ASAP, we'll all be ok.

As for the vaccine... well, lets just say they're working on that. You can only come up with new cures and vaccinations so fast. They have been on this since the beginning and have been working as fast as they can. I'm a little cautious on who should get it though. They are trying to rush daycare kids and pregnant women to get it as fast as they can, but they haven't even fully tested it! it seems rather hasty if you ask me! I don't think its safe if we don't really even know what it will do yet.

"The remedy is worse than the disease."
~Francis Bacon Of Seditions

I'm no expert but its certainly something to think on.



Monday, September 21, 2009

to be, or not to be...

That is the million dollar question. Does our country have morals? Values? Beliefs? Many say yes, many say no. So which is it? How can we tell?

of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical: moral attitudes.

expressing or conveying truths or counsel as to right conduct, as a speaker or a literary work; moralizing: a moral novel.

founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom: moral obligations.

capable of conforming to the rules of right conduct: a moral being.

conforming to the rules of right conduct (opposed to immoral ): a moral man.

virtuous in sexual matters; chaste.

of, pertaining to, or acting on the mind, feelings, will, or character *derived from personal conscience*: moral support.

resting upon convincing grounds of probability; virtual: a moral certainty.
*taken from the Encarta Dictionary: English (North American)

morals. (n.d.). Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved September 22, 2009, from website:

Well I believe as a country we do have morals. We do value things. Maybe not always the right thing or have the right morals, but we do have a strong sense of right and wrong, justice and bias. Compared to other countries we do have a fair country for the most part. We always have a few that slip through the system, and we always have the corrupt and the conspirators and the terrorists, but our country was founded on checks and balances that keep our government accountable. On a set of religious principles that believe in loving each other, taking care of one another, and following ideals to serve one god together, to be a leader among nations. In the past (and I mean the way, way past) we have been known as an independent people. To trust yourself, to believe in yourself, to have a sense of your own rightness, your own beliefs and values- yet we still keep each other accountable. We still expect each other to follow the laws and to respect the rights of others. No matter how independent we get, the boundaries of our independence are still based on the rights of others. So how can a nation so intent on being their own, being independent, each individual having their own beliefs, be so caught up on helping each other? [I’m not saying its wrong to help others, I’m just playing devils advocate here] WE, the people of the United States of America, who want liberty and justice, who want national healthcare plans for ALL, want to be independent and only looking out for number one. It seems rather contradictory here. The definition itself contradicts the different meanings. In the dictionary definitions number 5, it says that we conform to the rules of right conduct of society. As a nation that is so proud of our morals and our nonconformity, we have a lot to think about.

"Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right."
Isaac Asimov
US science fiction novelist & scholar (1920 -1992)

This might be a topic for another time as well… who knows?


Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Baucus bogus

Governor Max Baucus announced his health care plan on Wednesday, stirring up the opposition in the Senate. His plan is predicted to cost $856 billion dollars over a period of 10 years. According to The price tag the Congressional budget office priced it at it will have a total savings of $49 billion on the deficit over the 10 year period. The Bill will make it mandatory to have health insurance, fining anyone who does not. It also places restrictions on the Insurance companies, not allowing them to put as many restrictions on their health care and selling it online so it’s easier to price, compare and buy. Although the bill is meeting a lot of opposition right now, mostly from GOP side, Baucus is convinced that it will eventually win over the republicans. The bill has been widely accepted by most liberals, it meets most of the requirements Pres. Obama laid out last week, but more conservative senators are not agreeing with the bill. Although most people consider this an urgent matter, this is sure to heat the floors of the senate for some time to come.

This bill is, well it’s not so great if you ask me. Although it was made to support the lower and middle class families I don’t think it can do much for them in the long run. The bill is expensive, spending money we don’t have, keeping our nation in debt and laying the burden on future generations. Second, it places restrictions on the people. Although this is potentially helpful and everyone should have health care, it’s not right to force anyone to have it and fine them if they don’t. And thirdly, it places restrictions on the private business owners. Although in this time we often view the insurance companies as the enemy, we need to remember they are not. They are normal American citizens, who are living the American dream, running their own business and succeeding at it. Although insurance is expensive, we can’t be cheating them out of their right as a business owner to set their own prices for their own services. Congress doesn’t tell McDonalds how much to sell their Big Macs for and to who, it’s their right to sell it to who they want. Restricting the private business owner isn’t fair, especially when you’re just targeting a certain kind of business. Congress should try to keep it simple. (Easier said than done) but if you think just the basics, start there and you can work your way up. They don’t have to try and cover everyone first try, just take it one step at a time.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

liar, liar, pants on fire...

One quickie on the governor from South Carolina...

The governor seems to be soliciting quite a bit of flack for his outburst during the Presidents speech last Wednesday. Although I think his outburst was inappropriate and not in the correct setting we should try to look at it from his point of view.
Gov. Wilson has been working on this bill for quite a while. He has been trying to get some more specific language in the bill to verify that illegal immigrants will not be benefit ting from this bill and that our tax money will be used for us and us only. However the Governor has not been successful, (who knows why... perhaps some people want to spend our money on illegal immigrants), and I could see why he was defiantly getting frustrated (I know I would).
Although a lot of ruckus has been raised about his outburst, not much has been said about the validity of his statement.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The deficit...

dunt dunt dunt duhhhhh..... dunt dunt dunt duhhhh... (Beethovens victory theme), this might be what comes to mind when you think on the mess our country is in when it comes to our money (or lack thereof). Because we are in a mess, no matter what you say we are in a mess. No one can decide how it should be done, who should do it, how are we going to make sure everyone is benefited, and perhaps most importantly how are we going to pay for it...? HELLO! is anyone there? we don't have the money. Its not that hard of a concept. Think of it in kindergarten terms.... you have 6 chocolate chip cookies, you eat 4 cookies so now you only have 2. You want to matchbox car that Bobby will give you for 4 chocolate chip cookies so you go ask Susie if you can borrow 2 cookies. Now you have -2 cookies. You can't eat any because you don't have any and even if you did you would have to give them to Susie. Its not that hard!! we don't have the money so we cant get any. Until we can get ourselves out of debt we cant do anything. People dont realize how dangerous it is not to have money. We make enough money in a fiscal year that we coud pay off our defecit but we spend so much of it we can't even provide jobs, or health care for people! If we could just hold off the spending except for the most neccesary (like salaries and millitary => no extras) we could pay it off by the time Obamas out of office! then think what we could do next! we could keep the money we make we could budget and and save up for stuff like kids do. Theres a reason we teach this stuff to our kids - "you want that toy, then you need to save up your allowance..." we do it because thats how its supposed to be done. You can't spend what you don't have.
We are $11,807,630,438,251** in debt.

We earn 14,466,112,000,000*- thats fourteen trillion, four-hundred and sixty-six billion, one-hundred and twelve million dollars!

I don't really see why we couldn't pay this off with some careful planing. We make THE MOST money as a nation, in the world!!!! thats a lot of money! I understantd its hard but if we cut out the unnecessary stuff and didnt try to pass anymore bills that would spend money we could do it. I wish someone in Washington had this kind of motivation to do this.
As a nation we think we need to have more money to have a national health care plan, we need money to get rid of our clunkers, we think we need things more than we really do.

"Christmas is the time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it. Deficits are when adults tell government what they want and their kids pay for it."
Richard Lamm
We could do it. I wish we would. If this is what we think it is to live in America, than its sad really because it doesn't have to be like this. It should be our priority not to have our children paying for our mistakes.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

THE speech

"The strength of the United States is not the gold at Fort Knox or the weapons of mass destruction that we have, but the sum total of the education and the character of our people."
Claiborne Pell
US Democratic politician (1918 - )

On September 3rd, President Obama announced that he would be giving a speech to school students to welcome them back to school. This however was not how it was taken by many people. Almost immediately after he announced this conservatives were already reacting with either "sure, ok" or "NO! He’s trying to indoctrinate our kids!" ... Well, although I am a conservative thinker I don’t necessarily think this was his intended plan.

1. to instruct in a doctrine, principle, ideology, etc., esp. to imbue with a specific partisan or biased belief or point of view.*
2. to teach or inculcate.
3. to imbue with learning.
*emphasis added

1. brainwash, propagandize.

“indoctrination." Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 10 Sep. 2009.>.

Now this is the dictionary definition of indoctrinate- although this may be what people (particularly far-righters) are claiming he was trying to do I don't think he was trying to “brainwash” the children of America. However, I did listen to some of the speech and I did notice some things… Before you jump to conclusions let me explain- I had already heard all the controversy and knew what some people were expecting, with this in mind I tried to listen openly and think about everything that he was saying. Since he was intending to make it casual and smooth, just a pep talk, it would be easy to not notice anything. However, when I was listening to this speech I noticed he talked a lot about striving to do well to support your country, that your education is the future of this country. This may be true, but we don't live for our country. This country was made to serve the people. The view that we all put everything we have back into our country is the socialist view of nationalism. Now I'm definately not saying that Obama was trying to make the kids all nationalists and that he was trying to brainwash them, because its true- however far we take our education is as far as our country will go, but we don't live for our country- we live for the ideals and morals and vaues that our country represents: liberty, justice, equality, independance, etc... But we don't live to gratify the state.

I believe that we live in an amzing country, a country founded on the principles and ideas that all men are created equal, where justice is upheld as best as we can at all costs, and where we live by our personal freedoms. We believe in second chances and we accept all that we live among.
Is there a better nation? I don't think so.

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
Ronald Reagan
40th president of US (1911 - 2004)


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"...we are, after all, all fish."

When you start with just an idea, it often blooms into a plan. Because I don't have either of those right now I'm just going to write. All over the world people debate topics such as science, religion, government all the way to music and pop culture. These debates arise mostly because of the differences people see in each other. Drawing from Dr. Sues' book One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish I kind of adopted the idea that while we all may be different sizes and colors we are, after all, all fish. We have more in common than we are different and when we remember this we can avoid so many conflicts.
Obviously we all have different oppinions and ideas but sometimes I think we could all avoid a lot of problems if we drew on each others similarities instead of our differences. I'm going to talk about a lot of different issues that interest me or that seem to be the common subject of peoples attention at the moment... I talk about pretty much anything that has something to do with poeple, peoples ideas, peoples actions, anything. Without people there would be no point - people make this place interesting and diverse. What would we do without them....

" If we cannot end now our differences, at least we
can help make the world safe for diversity."

John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)
35th president of US 1961-1963