27 November 2006

Charitable or Cheap?

So I was buying a new hoodie at a sporting goods chain the other day, and as I waited for my receipt, the cashier asked me if I wanted to donate to the American Red Cross. Noticing my indecision, the cashier politely said that donations could be as little as a dollar. After the immediate hesitation, I said that I would donate. And when asked how much, I quickly responded "a dollar."

Normally I wouldn't think twice about donating to a charity. Some pocket change, a dollar, or even more: I tend to give money to organizations when asked or on my own terms. However, this situation was weird for me. It seemed like I was bombarded by the question and really had no choice but to say yes. I was forced, or almost guilted, into donating-- not that that's necessarily a bad thing. It's probably a very good thing for the charities benefiting from such practices.

Then, once I made it clear that I was giving the minimum amount-- a dollar-- I couldn't help but feel like a cheapskate. There I was spending some forty bucks on a new hoodie, yet I couldn't shell out more than a dollar for the Red Cross? What's more is that I didn't even immediately decide to give anything. Was my early indecision just a result of the fact that I felt bombarded by the question?

Why do I feel so weird about this? I mean, I did make a donation. Was I charitable or was I just plain cheap?

17 November 2006

Weekly Report Card

From the NFL to Capitol Hill, here's how the world the fared this week.

Last Sunday, my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers got a much-needed win, besting the New Olreans Saints 38-31. To this point in the NFL season, my Sundays, which were days of pure joy last season as the Steelers went on an improbable run to the Super Bowl, have been mired in the stench of defeat. It's been disgusting watching a battered Ben Roethlisberger, who was once hailed as the saviour of Pittsburgh football, look like a hapless, has-been type quarterback. And it's been even more disgusting watching the injury-ridden Steelers limp to a 2-6 record just a year removed from a Super Bowl Championship. Sunday's win, in which the Steelers didn't turn the ball over and reverted to a trusty, smashmouth, Steeler-esqe running game, was a much needed one for Roethisberger and the Steelers as well as for irate fans like me. Grade: B+

Tuesday, CNN's Glenn Beck put Representative-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, in a really akward situation, saying, "I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.' " Beck added: "I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way."Not only is Beck a complete idiot, but I also think (and hope) that he's grossly misrepresenting the feelings of most Americans. Grades (for Beck and CNN for allowing such trash to be aired): F

Wednesday, Republican Senate leadership elected Trent Lott as the Senate's new Minority Whip. Lest we forget that Lott is just four years removed from these comments at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party: "I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either." Great. You're proud that your state voted for a segregationist candidate in the 1948 election. What problems might Thurmond have cleared up? That terrible ruckus made over civil rights? Memo to Republican Senators: your party has enough problems, adding a racist to the ranks of your leadership cannot be a good thing. Grade: F

Thursday, MSNBC reported that Fox has agreed to an interview with O.J. Simpson about his new book, If I Did It. First, jeers to Simpsons, who is already creepy enough without writing a book about how he "would have" murdered his ex-wife and her boyfriend. Second, jeers to Fox and Judith Regan for giving O.J. airtime to plug the book, which was published . O.J. should be ashamed. More importantly, Fox should be ashamed. Oh, that's right, this is the same network that lets the likes of O'Reilly and Hannity act as newsmen. This is the same network that brought us quality TV with shows like "Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance". This network shows no shame. Grades: F

10 November 2006

This Is Just Too Cool

Check out this computer interface of the future. I want one now!!! How cool is this thing?

09 November 2006

A Touching Tribute and Other Post Election Ramblings

Last night, the Colbert Report put on a touching tribute (click the video called "Special Memories") to the Republican majority, reminiscing about some of the greatest leadership our country has ever seen. Ah, the good old days... nearly brought a tear to my eye.

Moving on, who else is happy that election season is over, if only for the fact that we don't have to be constantly bombarded with crappy TV ads for a few more years? If I had to watch Rick Santorum punch out a pro wrestler again, I think I'd lose it. It's great to see that Rick's attempts to get the pro wrestling fan vote weren't enough to save his Senate seat.

On a more serious not, I just read that George Allen is set to concede the Virgina senate race today, avoiding what could have been a really messy, ugly re-count. I'm pretty shocked by this, as I really thought that leading Republicans would go to great lengths to re-count those votes and somehow make up for the some 7,ooo votes Allen is currently trailing by. It's very unlike Republicans (hell, it's very unlike Democrats, as well) to simply give up a race that's as close as this one wihtout any sort of fight, dirty or not. Could this be a sign that these guys are more down and out than we thought? Did the Democratic defeat drain most of the energy out of the Republican party on a national level?

That's all for now, just thought I'd weigh in on some stuff that hasn't yet been hashed to death.

08 November 2006


Post here and headline here, but not much news on it yet. Supposedly, Shrub will announce a replacement at 1 pm press conference. More thoughts later.

UPDATE: Bush nominating Robert Gates, former Director of the CIA and current Texas A&M President to the post.

From the Horse's Mouth: Bush said, "I thought we were going to do fine yesterday. Shows what i know!" during today's press conference...our fearless and well-informed leader.

06 November 2006

PA Election News

Courtesy of reader onmyway: http://www.keystonepolitics.com/Article4758.html.

It appears that Slick Rick has got a pollster in his corner now. Now I have no empirical evidence to back these thoughts (though I'm sure someone out there knows of some studies done), but it seems to me that polling data could effect voters in a number of ways:

1. Data that shows a closing gap in a heated election such as this should increase voter turnout for both sides. Those who oppose Santorum should be moved to the polls to bolster the opposition, those who favor should be energized and excited about the opportunity for a win. Will this be a null effect or will there be a greater effect for one side or the other? I don't know.

2. The bandwagon effect. Some people just want to be on the winning side. Will undecided voters jump the Democratic ship as they see the incumbant gaining momentum? You see it in sports as the playoffs dwindle to a few teams...all the sudden everyone's a Cowboy's fan. Does this effect exist in politics as well? I'm sure it does to some degree.

3. Disenfranchised Democrats. Will Casey backers lose steam as at the sight of poll numbers showing the gap closing? This is in opposition to the first point, but both are plausible reactions within different groups of voters. Will some begin to think that a chance at ousting Rick was a pipedream?

I'm sure there are other possibilities I'm not hitting on, but these are some thoughts. Polls seem like prophecies that can be self-fulfilling. Bad poll numbers, as this article insinuates these may be, could plausibly have a real effect in the election.

02 November 2006


If this story is true...pure hypocrisy. A self proclaimed male prostitute claimed on a local Denver radio station this morning that he has been accepting money for sex from Rev. Ted Haggard. Haggard, the President of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor of New Life church in Colorado Springs has stepped down from both positions while an investigation is undertaken. Haggard also has the ear of the President as he participates in weekly conference calls with White House staffers. Oh, and did I mention, he's a vocal proponent of a Colorado ballot initiative to ban gay marriage. If this allegation is true, it's simply serves as another glaring example of the hypocrisy of the Christian right. If it's not, it should at least make for good theater.

UPDATE: Pastor Ted has admitted to calling Mike Jones "for a massage" and purchasing meth from him, though he never used it. B/c, you know, we all buy meth from our masseuse...and it's something we all like to keep lying around the house just in case.

"Apologize, Mr. Bush"

(Part 2)

I've been waiting to comment on the much debated John Kerry remark/botched joke/Republican talking point, holding back as the backlash continues to reveal itself. Keith Olbermann, however, provides a much more nuanced response than I could ever conceive of, so I point you in his direction, care of last night's Special Comment.

"There is tonight no political division in this country that he and his party will not exploit, nor have not exploited; no anxiety that he and his party will not inflame."

That line is so utterly true. As always, Republican spin doctors seized this flubbed joke, which if you read within the context of the entire speech it clearly was, (off topic, but, who else is shocked that John Kerry screwed up the timing of a joke?) as an opportunity to paint the Democrats as elitist, unpatriotic ass-holes. A week before election day, Republicans, with their backs against the wall, focus on some made-up idea that Vietnam vet John Kerry and other leading Democrats don't support our troops rather than pointing to their own accomplishments. (Oh, that's right, they haven't accomplished anything.) These guys play on something, real or not, that tugs at the heartstrings of Americans instead of pointing to substantive issues, about which their views are clearly out of touch with the way this country feels. Uggh, the pattern of deceit continues.