Monthly Archives: May 2006

Graduation 2006

So, I went to my old high school’s graduation this year because I know a few kiddies who are graduating this year. Congrats to the Daryl, Delora, Anwell, Biff, and a whole bunch of other band kids.

It was way different being in the audience than being the one graduating. As a participant, it’s a once in a lifetime kind of thing. In the audience, it’s something that happens every year.

With a year’s distance, it’s almost depressing in a way. I didn’t have that great a first year in college. Wasn’t I supposed to be done with school? Instead, I went through another year of hell. *sigh*

INVISIBILITY!

No freakin’ way: “New materials that can change the way light and other forms of radiation bend around an object may provide a way to make objects invisible, researchers said on Thursday.”

Despite some doubts I’ve had in the past, after this, I’ve decided that science is definitely not boring.

Pay Their Fair Share

All the ads for offices in California crack me up. Every single candidate is going to “make corporations pay their fair share.” The phrase is so hackneyed now. Everyone is also for the environment and education. Their overwhelming focus on big business bogeymen really reminds me how liberal this state is.

I’m also loving the Westley and Angelides attack ads. Yes, chew each other up… better for Schwarzenegger.

I’m thinking about running for office too in California. I’ll run my own 15 second ad: “Shawn McDonald… He’s for good things… and he’ll fight against the bad.” I think that sums up about everything you need to know about a politician and leaves you informed enough to vote.

Sprucing up the sidebars

I’m currently working on the left sidebar of this weblog at the moment, something I’ve just added. So far I’ve added an “About Me” module there — I love having a picture of myself here. I’ll keep you updated as I post more. Bear with the temporary “under construction” feel.

UPDATE: Added some links to the side.

UPDATE: Made this whole thing wider so the entries are readable. If your resolution is 800×600, too bad for you.

UPDATE:
I think I’m done for today. I’ll work on other stuff throughout the week on this weblog, including color changes and font fiddling.

Immigration Parody Gets Published

If you hop on over to The Carrollton Record, you’ll find a link to my parody article Immigration Advocates Rally Across Canada, which was originally posted on this weblog here. It’s kind of odd seeing a few of my words changed here and there in the article in The Carrollton Record; I’m not used to that after just putting what I want on my weblog. TCR is definitely not the classiest of publications, but I’m glad to see my work being exposed to a larger audience.

Coast Guard Institutes New Imagination Measures

After hearing that intelligence agencies were not able to deal with 9/11 due to a failure of imagination, the Coast Guard has instituted new imagination measures that will enhance security. The Coast Guard has brought in Hollywood screenwriters to help them think up possible terrorist scenarios.

The program has been a large success. US ports are now safe from time-travelling androids, neo-Nazis out to find the Holy Grail, large albinos, and zombies. The Coast Guard is still working on ways to defend from Ocean’s 11, but those thieves are so damn crafty.

“Now we’re able to defend America’s coasts from any far-fetched hypothetical threat people can dream of, an efficient use of your tax dollars,” said a high-ranking member of the Coast Guard who wished to remain anonymous. (He exists. Really, he does. I am so not making up this source.) “Even if that threat is aliens who look just like normal human beings or a meteor directed to hit Earth by evil terrorist wizards, we are ready.”

The Hollywood screenwriters have also devised a new method of containing terrorist threats, which they call BAMF. (Hollywood screenwriters always write things that are highly original and did not steal this from Dane Cook.) In all Hollywood movies, an alpha male bad-ass motherfucker (BAMF) always saves the day from the terrorists. The Coast Guard is now working on ways to breed these BAMFs.

They have hired ninjas to kill an infant’s parents and have dropped the infant off in a monastery where he will spend all his time learning from monks the art of badassery. The monks will try to instill discipline, but they can’t control him… he’s a rebellious badass motherfucker. They’ll all be like, “Hm. This one troubles me,” but who cares because they’re stodgy old monks, and he’s a BAMF who’s gonna save the world.

The Coast Guard has also utilized a type of training called the montage. They have kidnapped an average Joe’s girlfriend, and now he must learn how to be an incredible warrior. They have taken camera shots of him slowly improving while set to music, since this is the method in which all heroes go “from just a beginner to a pro” (Source: “Team America: World Police”). Other methods have involved exposing a man to nuclear waste, cosmic rays, and dangerous insects. These methods have not yet yielded positive results, but the Coast Guard holds high hopes for the orphan method.

Despite recent budget cuts, the Coast Guard has insisted that their new imagination measures will ensure the protection of US ports at a fraction of the cost. America believes them. A new poll released states that 90% of Americans “feel US ports are adequately protected” after the Coast Guard recently announced the hiring of well-known bad-ass motherfucker Chuck Norris to defend all 361 US ports.

When asked for comment, Chuck Norris killed our correspondent with a roundhouse kick… through the telephone.

[This is satire and all of it is false, except for the fact that the Coast Guard has enlisted the help of Hollywood screenwriters to defend America from terrorists. At least, I hope that's the only thing that's true. I found the link to the New York Times article via: Schneier on Security.]

Stealing the Health Care Issue

It’s really hard to argue against a national health care system. You can say all you want about bankrupting the nation, you can say all you want about government inefficiency, but it’s really hard to argue that people shouldn’t have health care. Now I understand what it must feel like when someone tries to argue with me about Iraq and I get lazy and turn it solely into an issue of genocide. It’s really hard to argue against me because I’ll just paint you as not caring about genocide. The nuance disappears. Likewise, I feel like I’m arguing that poor people should die. Arguing against a national health care system isn’t very palatable. Frankly, it’s a losing issue. When I really think about it, the question, “Why shouldn’t everyone have some minimum level of health care?” doesn’t have a satisfactory answer. So, I think we should — have a national health care system, that is.

Woah there, you may say, aren’t I abandoning my conservative principles? Hey, who says the issues have to line up this way? There’s no rule that says Democrats are for national health care and Republicans aren’t. I’m against boxing the party in on losing issues, and this surely is a winner for the Democrats.

My opinion, as a Republican, is that we should steal this issue from right out under the noses of the Democrats. How can I do this? Well, listen to me:

“We want health care for everyone, but we want to make sure it’s done in a fiscally responsible way. If the Democrats institute a plan for national health care, they will dramatically raise your taxes in order to pay for it. They will radically alter the system, bringing about all sorts of new problems. These new problems, in turn, require more money to identify and solve, which means… raising taxes again. The Democrats will give you a socialist plan for health care that will put everything in the hands of the government, which will result in inefficiency and the deterioration of our great medical institutions. To those who say a national health care will bankrupt America, you’re right, if you decide to go the route the Democrats wish to go. A socialist health care system will hurt doctors and hurt you. We want a moderate route that will leave everyone covered, but not radically alter our current system. Health care will not be provided by the government, but subsidized by the government. Everyone deserves health care, but only we will deliver it in a way that will not waste your tax dollars.”

Do you see what I’m doing there? The first rule of propaganda is: Define your enemy before he defines you. The health care issue isn’t at the forefront of things at this moment. We’ve got immigration, Iraq, and gas prices. Soon, though, this issue will grow. Gas prices got people angry because they were so high. The cost of health care is rising as well. Not only individuals, but businesses will press for government action as well. If the Republicans don’t act, they will be painted as the people who don’t care about your health, the ones who want poor people to get sick and die. With my way, the Democrats are painted as socialists who will raise your taxes, while Republicans will extend coverage to everyone without need of revolution. Whether this is a correct portrayal of Democrats has no meaning at this moment, since I am only concentrating on the issue of packaging. The portrayal is pointing to the Democratic Party leadership, and tries to bring swing voters, including centrist Democrats to vote for Republican candidates. It’s just a rhetorical exercise at this moment. Policy will come later.

And Republicans can court the corporate side: “Moreover, the rising cost of health care is hurting businesses. Instead of paying you better wages, they have to put more and more money into health care. We want a system that is friendly to capitalism.”

Believe me, businesses are starting to feel the pinch of rising health care costs. It is in their best interest to push this burden onto the government. Republicans can’t afford to lose their backing. On all fronts, this is a losing issue if Republicans continue their current course. I have offered a way out that remains true to core conservative principles.

The Chalkboard Manifesto is Back!

After bandwidth troubles, after web host troubles, after finals, after packing everything up for a trip from one coast to the other, after all that hullaballoo, the Chalkboard Manifesto is back! Today was the first update in about a month. Please visit 3x a week… more updates to come.

Also, there’s a site redesign in the works. I’ll be figuring out a deadline for myself sometime soon.

Worn down…

And so, I finish my freshman year of college. I have been worn down, torn apart. This has been a difficult year for me on multiple levels. When I emerge from the plane ride home, I will be in a new world, in a new season… and I will begin a new era. I will be renewed and ready to face the world once again. My spirit will be rejuvenated.

Bush’s Immigration Speech

I wish I had more time to comment on it, but I am very crunched for time. I will say I liked it, but I wasn’t overly impressed. Congress can pass any bills it wants, but it doesn’t matter if our laws aren’t enforced. I’m not entirely convinced about the sufficiency of the border security measures.

I am placated on the National Guard issue. They’re only staying for a year.

In addition, I would like to note that either you give the current illegals some form of amnesty, or you deport all of them. I’m against mass deportation. I’m afraid that many of those who are really “tough” on immigration are for deportation. Yeah, it’s not fair that the illegals are not totally going to the back of the line, but the mass deportation of 11 million people is wrong.

Here’s the text of the speech if you missed it.

This is the best line from the speech: “We must always remember that real lives will be affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say.”

Good old fashioned Christian values.

Finally, I must say that the ID card proposal is likely a very, very dumb idea. It’s not that employers don’t know they’re hiring illegals, it’s that they turn a blind eye to the problem. They should be penalized.

Finals, argh. Plus: More on Bush’s Upcoming Speech

I have an econ final on Monday and a Political Philosophy final on Wednesday. Both are going to be a bitch. There’s a Slate article on immigration that I really, really want to rip apart. I hope I have time enough later today to write about it, but don’t be surprised if I don’t.

By the way, an article on the New York Times also stresses the Bush and border security angle:Bush to Unveil Plan to Tighten Border Controls. I’m still ambivalent as to whether Bush will really stress border security or not. With a quote like this from Senator Mel Martinez: “A good strong statement on border security is the best thing he can do.” If he’s not convinced Bush will push border security, I’m not convinced.

I’ve been worrying about Karl Rove lately, but it seems as if he might still know his stuff: “But Karl Rove seems determined to secure the border, and I like the focus on results right now” (said Representative Kevin Brady). I wonder if he got away from the investigations enough that he was able to do something with immigration.

We’ll all see Monday. This could make or break Bush.

Sketch Address Back Up

The Chalkboard Manifesto can also now be found at sketch.psycho-ward.org. I’m still in the midst of sorting out all the Psycho-ward.org stuff, but I’m not in too much of a hurry. After all, I stopped updating that website a while back. Finals will take precedence, which means it won’t all be sorted out until May 19th, when I’m back home. Most likely, I won’t be messing with the Agnoiologist template until then either. I might be able to squeeze out a TCM comic tomorrow.

In any case, this weblog is up and The Chalkboard Manifesto is up. That’s what’s important.

Bush Will Address Nation on Immigration

Bush will address the nation on immigration this Monday at 8 PM, Eastern Time. If you were wondering how low Bush’s approval ratings can go, wait until you see this. He’s probably going to tout the Senate’s “comprehensive” bill (AKA the amnesty bill) that’s in the works. After that, see the bloodbath that ensues when the conservatives really turn on him. Too drastic a characterization? We’ll see. We’ll see what happens when the talk-show and tv hosts are provided with ammo in the form of clips from Bush’s speech. I will be avidly watching the polls and seeing if there’s a drop in Bush’s approval ratings.

Hopefully, I’ll get to catch the speech itself. If not, I will be reading a transcript and commenting on it. You can count on that.

UPDATE:

Yahoo! News puts out an article on this issue, stressing a possible deployment of the National Guard: Bush Weighs Deploying Guard to U.S. Border. In the article, it states: “Bush’s speech Monday night is intended to build support for broad immigration overhaul by taking substantive steps to secure the border.” Still, I wonder just how much he will emphasize border security.

Despite earlier sentiments I might have had, I am weary of putting deploying 3,500-10,000 troops on the border. “Defense officials said the National Guard may be used only until significant additions to the existing civilian border patrols can be fully funded and completed.” We should make sure that those existing civilian border patrols are funded. If you don’t do that, you run into the same kind of trouble you get when you have soldiers instead of cops. Frankly, we shouldn’t need troops.

Senator Cornyn gets it right here: “‘We need to beef up those (border) operations and the cost will be substantial,’ said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in an interview. ‘People are just not going to accept comprehensive immigration reform unless they are assured the government is going to secure the border. People have lost confidence in the federal government because they simply haven’t addressed this in a dramatic and effective way.’”

Welcome Back to the Agnoiologist

Here’s the story:

Towards the end of April, I went over my bandwidth for my websites. Instead of paying a hefty fee, I decided to just wait it out until the end of the month. So, I did. Finally, my websites — including this weblog — come back up on May 2. I post Stephen Colbert article. Sometime in the next few days, the website went down again — billing issues. You see, my contract with my old web host was just about up and they were asking if I wanted to renew or not. I told them no because, well, I just went over my bandwidth limit. I needed more bandwidth. So, I signed up for a new web host. I changed my nameservers but for some reason, no change for a few days. I wait out 48 hours, and then another day. Finally, I contacted my host yesterday, despite being practically bed-ridden from disease. (I still have a massive sore throat.) BAM! Problem fixed. They say the site will be up tomorrow, and here it is. Welcome back.

You’ll notice the site looks a little bit different right now. I installed a new version of MovableType. Another funny little side effect is that now all my links (within old weblog entries) to previous entries probably aren’t working. I’ll get that fixed over a long period of time, slowly working my way backwards.

Something else I took the liberty of doing is posting a few entries that I had posted on MySpace because I had to feed the weblogging urge. So, you probably haven’t seen All Quiet on the Eastern Front or The GOP Majority is in trouble. In other news, I broke my old Minesweeper expert record.

If you’re looking for the Chalkboard Manifesto or Psycho-ward.org… they’re not up yet. They’ll be online probably May 12… maybe the 13th.

So, in the coming days, I will be doing a few things. 1) Definitely changing this template. 2) Maybe changing my categories. 3) Regular weblogging goodness.

I’ll finally get to do that entry on Soltero that I was planning on doing.

You can now once again enjoy near-daily Agnoiologist updating.

The GOP Majority is in trouble

With Bush’s dismal approval ratings, it is extremely likely that the Democrats will take the Senate and/or the House. This statistic from the NY Times stopped me dead in my tracks: “The [negative] reaction [to the $100 gas rebate] comes as the rising price of gasoline has put the public in a volatile mood and as polls show that cynicism about Congress is at its highest level since 1994.” If you don’t know your recent history, 1994 is when the GOP gained majorities in Congress from the Dems. We could be seeing a stunning replay of history, only this time in reverse. The Republicans have coasted on the ineptness of the Democrats for a while, but where Cindy Sheehan (remember her?) and Katrina failed, the Dubai Ports Deal, high spending, and immigration have just destroyed the base’s trust in the party. It’s not enough to hope the Democrats will mess things up again. Indeed, some parts of the Democratic Party are figuring out how to get back on track. Nancy Pelosi, though, is excluded from this contingent. Maybe the Kos crowd wants to impeach Bush, but the nation doesn’t want another presidential witchhunt. Still, Karl Rove’s probable strategy of scaring the base into voting because of this is not going to be enough. They need the reassurance of specific conservative policies.

I do, however, have a sure-fire way to keep the GOP in the majority. It’s an easy plan. Immigration and ANWR. The Senate’s plan for amnesty is going to make the base, which is extremely riled up about this issue, sit home on election day and not vote. The GOP needs its base more than ever. Furthermore, tough immigration policy will grab swing voters and centrist Democrats. The second thing making Americans angry is high gas prices. The gas rebate was a stupid idea. If you want something that will grab people’s attention, say you’re going to drill ANWR. We all love the environment, but most Americans are willing to sacrifice a frozen wasteland in order to get some more oil. Call for alternative energy too, but drilling ANWR will draw a distinction between Republicans and Democrats that will play out in favor for the right.

I also have a plan for the Democrats: Don’t listen to Nancy Pelosi. Just don’t say anything stupid regarding national security because the Republicans aren’t likely to seriously push for those two issues I outlined earlier. Bush loves illegal immigrants and he is the party, so you probably don’t have to worry too much about that issue. Be warned: A mistake on national security will cost you the election just as it did in 2004. Instead, sit back and enjoy the show — namely, the coming implosion of the GOP.

[Note: This originally appeared on myspace.]

Straight from the gut

I urge you to listen to Stephen Colbert’s performance at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Alternatively, you can read a transcript here. (Don’t spear me! I don’t read Kos. I was just link-following.) It’s flat-out hilarious. Don’t mind the non-laughing prez, press, and co. because that just struck too close to home to be funny.

This had to be the most powerful line: “I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound — with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.”

Folks, this is satire that cuts straight to the bone. To tell you the truth, I can’t even laugh at that statement. Scientifically, a component of laughter is a sign that the danger is passed. I can’t laugh because the danger has not passed. We are living in a world of “truthiness” so to speak.

In case you’re behind, “truthiness is the quality by which a person purports to know something emotionally or instinctively, without regard to evidence or to what the person might conclude from intellectual examination” (from Wikipedia). Honestly, when Stephen Colbert coined that word, I think he captured the zeitgeist of America in the 21st century.

It’s all captured in that quote I gave from Colbert’s routine. We are all show and no facts. The media’s complicit in it. I wouldn’t call them sycophants of Bush. I also wouldn’t call the press a monolithic liberal entity (aside from Fox News). The media is just a product of our culture. The American people don’t want the truth; they want sensationalism. We want to be comforted after 9/11, so they give us some nice pictures. Stand proud Bush and comfort us emotionally. Media, do your duty and trumpet the uplifting truthiness to all.

Sensationalism… truthiness… Aren’t those two different things? Am I seeing a link where there isn’t one? Am I guilty of twisting things into one overarching narrative?

Haha, maybe, but if so, I’m a victim of the culture too. Still, I’ll make my case that it’s all one in the same. From the Wikipedia entry on truthiness: ‘Michael Adams, a professor at North Carolina State University who specializes in lexicology, said “truthiness” means “truthy, not facty.” “The national argument right now is, one, who’s got the truth and, two, who’s got the facts,” he said. “Until we can manage to get the two of them back together again, we’re not going make much progress.’

The truth and facts have been separated. Sure, the news media may report “facts” but they only report the flashy facts. We want the whole truth. I think we’re getting tired of all packaging and no substance. I think we’re getting re-Enlightened.

It’s not a right-left, media-government thing. It’s everybody. It’s all the politicians. It’s all the media. We’re sick of all of you, frankly.

Finally, I will leave you with this passage from an earlier weblog entry: “Face it, the news media is failing the American people. I say this not as a lame media-bashing blogger, but as an American citizen. I say this as an American citizen who demands to know more about what’s really important. I want to know what my government has done in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. I want to know why it took so long for the government to respond to Katrina. Instead, all I get is the blame game in the latter story, and a story about an Australian news outlet regarding the former. I want to know, not to play the blame game, and try to attack the Bush administration. I want to know in order to force the government to fix what’s going on. I want to know if the anti-torture bill has had any effect. Believe it or not, public opinion does have some sway on politicians. If the news media did its job, the American people could help fix these things merely by voicing their disgust.”

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

Supposedly, today was supposed to be a Day Without An Immigrant, a day of marching and economic boycotts. Here in Baltimore we fared pretty well. The New York Times tells me they had rallies coast to coast, but it was quite quiet here. I think it’s because we have black people to do all those jobs. That’s the point where you scoff and say I’m horrible, but hey, you know it’s true. You praise me for my political incorrectness. Of course, no one utters a word when the pundits tell you undocumented migrants from Mexico often displace unskilled African-American workers.

They say they want to be American, but their movement has become a parody of itself. First, they want to be American, but they wave Mexican flags. When somebody finally gives them good PR advice to wave American flags, they up and go translate the national anthem into Spanish, call it “Nuestro Himno.” Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything stupider if I was trying. Well, I could try: Take our flag, put an eagle over the stars, color the stripes red and green, and call it “Nuestra Bandera.” On second thought, I probably should’ve kept my mouth shut because I’m afraid I’ll see someone waving it at the next immigrant rally as proof of how American they want to become.

I think their marches are really counterproductive. Since when did you see Americans marching for anything? Oh, the 1960s? Yeah, well, newsflash: The 1960s are over. 9/11 changed everything. If they really wanted to show how American they were, they would be more like Alex Sanchez. This is what the New York Times said about Alex, regarding the boycott: “‘I was thinking about not buying things, but then I needed to buy stuff,’ said Alex Sanchez, 28, a construction worker buying an avocado, chilies and beer.” If you really want to be American, stop marching and start sitting on your asses. That’s what the rest of us are doing.

I know, I know, you’re marching because the House made it a felony to be in here illegally. Big whoop. There are already 11 million of you in here and you think a silly little law is going to change things? Look, we had laws in the first place and they didn’t do any good.

But if you want to march, hey, go ahead. Good luck. Congress doesnt even listen to Americans; do you think they’re going to listen to you? Our good Senators will just work really hard to preserve the status quo while pretending to make comprehensive reform. Hint to the sleeping giant awakening to American politics: Comprehensive doesn’t actually mean comprehensive. And neither does reform.

If you really want to make an impact, get a Spanish version of Bill O’Reilly and put him on Telemundo. Get a bunch of your DJs and make them talk-show hosts. That way, all your people can be angry and promote capitalism at the same time — instead of this silly marching business. They can buy whatever the equivalent of Factor Gear is in Spanish. If you’re really lucky, you can get some Congressman on your side. You could even work hard and control all three branches of government.

Good luck with that, though. We Republicans have done it already and we can’t even kick you out.

[Note: This is intended to be humorous.]

[Additional Note: This was original posted on myspace.]