Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Monday, December 24, 2012
Sunday, December 23, 2012
As this is Christmas Eve Eve (or, as my brother might say, the penultimate day before Christmas), you get two videos. One is a Mormon Message about feeling God's love on Christmas, and another is a Christmas song by Michael McLean, "Homeless."
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Thursday, December 20, 2012
I need a Christmas lullaby to sing me to sleep, and this was perfect:
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Here's a version sung in St. Paul's Cathedral in London:
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Friday, December 14, 2012
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Friday, December 7, 2012
This song just reminds me of how ridiculous Christmas can sometimes be. I have been blessed with material things far, far, FAR more than I deserve, yet I'm expected to come up with a Christmas list of things I want? It seems an affront to people with far less than me that I should expect or want more.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Handel's Messiah - it gives me chills every time - so so so so so so so so so so so so so so SO awesome! We are *almost* as good as MoTab.
Monday, December 3, 2012
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Saturday, December 1, 2012
Friday, November 30, 2012
(1) Blogging is very different from what I do on a day-to-day basis. It's a lot more creative and extemporaneous than writing work emails and memos. Similar to baking, blogging is just a different skill set than tax accounting.
(2) It's a non-confrontational way to express myself. I generally don't like to argue with people, so blogging is a way to share my opinions, which are strongly felt, but I rarely share them in person because I don't want to offend others. This may be the reason that one of my clients thinks I'm a Republican (I've never contradicted her, which just shows how spineless I am).
(3) Writing gives me a chance to think about why I believe what I do. By writing out my ideas and thoughts, they seem to acquire more definitive contours and I'm able to consider an argument - how to structure it, how to appeal to people who may disagree with me. Writing it all down hopefully makes my Liberalism at least a little bit more rational. I much prefer writing to conversation (anti-social, I know - see #2 above). Perhaps writing is the other side of my passion for reading.
(4) Blogging gives me the illusion of importance without bothering other people and blathering all day long. I have a secret fear that inside the quiet me there is the REALLY ANNOYING ME that won't ever shut up. You know, the person at a party who thinks they are SO interesting when in fact all they want to talk about is how awesome they are (spoiler alert: they are not actually awesome). You may be able to tell that I don't like people like that. So, a blog is a way that the audience can be self selecting. I won't have to intrude my opinions or thoughts where they are not wanted. I'm pretty sure that the only regular reader of this blog is my brother, but that's okay. This girl can still nourish the secret, laughable dream that someday someone somewhere will make a movie about my blog (could Meryl Streep be me? Please?).
(5) Two words: punching bag. Blogging is great stress relief - even if I don't really blog about the stuff that's bothering me (because, along with #4, I'm kind of paranoid about strangers learning my secrets - the internets is forever).
(6) Love of Routine, or maybe I'm OCD? My daily routine is very structured and I like to do everything in a certain order. So blogging every day becomes a part of the routine that is fun and non-accounting related (see #1).
So, this is the end! Or, is it? I may be blogging in December too...just for the sheer joy of it :)
This does not really relate to this post, but I have LOVED my calendar's picture for November. Just makes you want to walk down that lane, doesn't it?
|Cider, a warm sweater, and a cute dog are all this picture really needs. |
Anyone want to vacation with me in Oregon to find this road?
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Pedestal: Noun. (1) the base or support upon which a statue, obelisk, or column is mounted. (2) A position in which one is greatly or uncritically admired.
So, this article happened this week. If you weren't an angry feminist before reading it, you might be afterwards. There have been some good responses (here and here for satire). My response is simply that I don't want to be on a pedestal as something pretty to be looked at, and I don't want a man who thinks I belong on one. I have not been raised to think of men as the enemy, but as equals. There ain't nothing wrong with that. Sitting at home knitting doilies is not going to attract the kind of men I would find interesting anyway.
The woman who wrote the original article seems to be thinking that life is a zero-sum game - if women gain something, men have lost something. I refuse to believe that's true. I think when both genders have equal rights, EVERYONE benefits, not just women. Children of single mothers have a better shot in life if their mothers are paid equally with men (for just one example).
Perhaps the first definition of pedestal does have something that we all can look to as a goal. I DO want to be a base of support - for others and for myself. I want to be a strong, independent woman (and I feel like I need to be, as a Daughter of God) who can bear burdens and help others in her turn. This doesn't mean I view men as the enemy to be cowed and defeated, but that I view them as Sons of God and co-equals. When we view each other as having a spark of divinity, we are able to walk together into a better day.
Should we have debate about men and women? Of course, it's fair game. Are all men and women the same? Absolutely not! Is marriage an important goal? Definitely. But let's not use straw (wo)man arguments to tear down an angry feminist stereotype that doesn't exist. Feminists don't hate all men, just the ones telling us to get back in the kitchen. Below is one of my favorite feminist songs by Peggy Seeger:
I'll probably never be an engineer, but even if I'm never a mother, I can be a woman of faith, kindness, and courage in a world that needs all of these qualities - and I can seek to bring those characteristics into my career, whatever it is. If men are intimidated by that, then good riddance.
Monday, November 26, 2012
Sunday, November 25, 2012
And of course, This Land is Your Land (all the verses!)
Wish I had bought the soundtrack, but guess that means I'll be scouring iTunes and Amazon for good versions of all the songs.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
|So very true. Motivation is a lot more than a slogan or poster.|
But I think what I took away from the book is that we can have two baseline assumptions about people: (1) we can either assume people are lazy bums who will not work unless we micromanage them (call this "The Older Sister" mindset) or (2) we can assume that people desire to work hard and enjoy the fruits of their labors. This assumption about people changes how we treat them.
It's interesting that Mormonism combines these two views of people. Mormons believe we can be motivated by what's called "carnal" desires or "the natural man" - the desire to be lazy, selfish, mean, and terrible. Or we can be motivated by our "divine nature" to acquire the attributes of God - kindness, love, selflessness, and goodness. I think what the book and Mormonism have in common is the belief that we can choose which assumption we tap into. We can decide to view people as vile or virtuous. But the truth is rarely "all-or-nothing" - sometimes I am motivated by carrots/sticks (i.e. I pay my credit card bill on time because I don't want to pay the late fee/interest) and sometimes I am motivated by a higher purpose (I volunteer because I want to help people).
This is expressed well, as always, by Shel Silverstein. As the poet once said:
I asked the Zebra,
are you black with white stripes?
Or white with black stripes?
And the zebra asked me,
Are you good with bad habits?
Or are you bad with good habits?
Are you noisy with quiet times?
Or are you quiet with noisy times?
Are you happy with some sad days?
Or are you sad with some happy days?
Are you neat with some sloppy ways?
Or are you sloppy with some neat ways?
And on and on and on and on and on and on he went.
I’ll never ask a zebra about stripes...again.
|Jane Knows All|
Friday, November 23, 2012
Here are the top 5 posts by view count:
Capitalism Is the Worst Economic System, Except For... (apparently I need to quote Winston Churchill more often? This is the most-searched-for item that leads to my blog according to my statistical analysis. However, this is also one of my favorite posts so I'm glad it's gotten a lot of views)
Jesus is Risen! (gets a lot of viewers from Russia, apparently)
Inaugural Blog Post (my first big, official post - ahh, the memories)
A Politico's Prayer (this was one of my favorite election-themed posts this year, so I'm glad it's popular)
Epic Book Report Saga Continues (don't know why this one of my book reports last year was so popular, but I like this post too)
Here are some of my favorite posts, in no particular order:
- I enjoyed doing a bunch of posts on Mitt Romney this year.
- Geometric shapes, religion, and politics
- New Year's Resolutions (more to come in 2013, most likely)
- My favorite Christmas-themed post
- Tax Nerd to the max!
- And this and this are probably my favorite political posts
Thursday, November 22, 2012
I have probably shared this every Thanksgiving, but here you go anyway:
You're welcome. If you want some more Thanksgiving soundtracks, click here.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
She loves kids, and someday will be the best grandma ever - she will spoil them something awful. She is also a great teacher who loves doing object lessons. She has imbued all of us with a love of art (or at least an appreciation for it), and currently volunteers as a docent at the art gallery, giving tours to kids. In short, I hope someday to be the kind of mom she is. Mom likes to say that Mother's Day is 365 days a year, and I agree - Happy Mother's Day! And Happy Birthday, Mom!
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Would it sound too much like a personal ad if I say he has a great smile and a great laugh? Because he does.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a great dad, and only four people have the best dad ever!
This is probably a bit of an exaggeration, but was funny enough to share:
It's true, I'll always be Daddy's Little Girl.
Monday, November 19, 2012
Every time I vote, I always think about the Feminists (some might say FemiNazis) who have moved this country forward. They are responsible for giving me the right to vote, for blazing new career trails, for making more equitable laws, and so many other gains for the rights of women.
|Fearless, indomitable - these are the adjectives I would apply to Feminists!|
|Susan B. Anthony and Mormon Suffragettes|
|Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, two of my heroes|
|She was convicted, too!|
I'm also going to add the words to a rousing Mormon Suffragette hymn (someday I'm going to make the sisters sing this in church. Also, why is there not a YouTube video of this?):
Freedom's Daughter rouse from slumber,
See the curtains are withdrawn,
Which so long thy mind has shrouded,
Lo! Thy day begins to dawn.
Woman, rise, thy penance o'er,
Sit thou in the dust no more,
Seize the scepter, hold the van,
Equal with thy brother, man.
Truth and virtue be thy motto,
Temp'rance, liberty, and peace.
Light shall shine and darkness vanish.
Love shall rein, oppression cease.
First the fall 'mid Eden's bowers,
Through long suff'ring worthy proved.
With the foremost claim thy pardon,
When earth's curse shall be removed.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Saturday, November 17, 2012
|We made it through Hezekiah's tunnel together.|
K-meister is the next Bill Gates/Steve Jobs/computing supergenius of the world. He is the Brain to my Pinky, and I'm convinced that he will someday take over the world. He's a quiet one, and sadly is moving thousands of miles away from us, but we'll find a way to embarrass him yet. K is a brave Democrat in the face of near-universal opposition at BYU-Idaho currently. Soon, he will be taking over the computer engineering world of San Diego. This will probably involve his current favorite pastime, smoking meat. He will bring true Texas BBQ to the sunny shores of California. His mission gave him a taste of places that are warm all the time, and I don't think he'll ever live near snow again. Sometimes wacky taste in music, but lovable and loyal nonetheless.
Banjo is currently serving a mission in a beautiful European country with a romance language to wow the ladies when he returns in December. Betting odds lean heavily in favor of him being the first of us to marry, despite being the youngest, as he was the only one to have a steady girlfriend during High School. He LOVES! EXCLAMATION! MARKS! His exuberance will be applied to who-knows-what major when he returns in glory to college in January. During high school he loved to drive my mom's old van around full of his friends. He was three when he joined swim team and is the only one of us with any musical talent on the piano. Did I mention he is multi-talented? In fourth grade, he wrote his future biography and stated that he would be President someday. When he's President, Biggins will be chief counsel, K will prosecute the cyber war with [insert country here], and I will have the best job of all - Christmas tree lighter.
Have I convinced you to marry any of them yet? I am still in the market for a sister or two or three to add to these great brothers. Luckily, I now trust them to choose wisely. I love you guys!
|They look even cuter with beards ;)|
Friday, November 16, 2012
We can practically touch the divine when we look up at Michelangelo's magnificent frescoes on the Sistine Chapel ceiling:
We understand the horrors of the civil war through Matthew Brady's photography.
We experience the pure joy of a good day as Gene Kelly dances his way down a wet street:
Of course this is just what I feel, but I'm going to generalize and assume that you have all been touched by some work of art, whether music, poetry, dance, literature, theater, paintings, or sculpture. We may take away different things from these artificial renderings of reality, but they can show us life's joys and pains in a unique and compelling way.
I remember reading somewhere that would have been literally impossible for Mary to hold Jesus the way she does in Michelangelo's Pieta.
Yet, it doesn't seem artificial to look at - when you stand in front of it you are drawn to her sorrow and it is almost palpable. You are THERE, at the tomb, witnessing the horror and the sadness just as surely as Mary felt those things. That the actual event did not look like this is almost certain, but the universal emotions it portrays resonate with us. Maybe the Pieta doesn't move you - maybe for you it's movies, songs, great literature, or some other art form. The creativity of others can be WONDROUS! One of the things I love about art is that there is no "official" interpretation of something. Sure, the artist can tell us his or her thoughts on what their creation means. But truly great art has so much depth and loveliness to it that it captivates you, and brings you under its spell. You are able to learn things from it that the original artist may never even have imagined.
I'm grateful for art!
Thursday, November 15, 2012
That experience made me really, really grateful to be alive. I realized that I really do want to live a long life!
Because Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I'm going to devote the next week of posts to things I'm thankful for. This post is about gratitude for the gift of life! This gift allows me to enjoy a lot of the other things I'm grateful for. I'm grateful for the beauty of the earth that we live on - it has so many beautiful things that also have the gift of life. So many times I have been inspired and uplifted by the beauties of nature. In counting my blessings, I have to be grateful for my lucky stars that have allowed me many years on this beautiful planet!
For the Beauty of the Earth, sung by the Cambridge Singers (I think?)
Photo website with GORGEOUS pictures of earth's bounties: http://500px.com/
Photo of the day by National Geographic: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
|Girl Reading by a Waterfall by Maria Konstantinovna Bashkirtseva|
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Note: I apologize to Blondes, as some of these are Blonde jokes. I also apologize in advance for any jokes that offend you. In no particular order, here are some the jokes and photos.
So one day, a liberal, a conservative, and a moderate walks into a bar. "Hello, Mitt!" says the bartender.
Two blondes are hiking in the woods, and come across some tracks. "These are deer tracks!" says the first blonde. "No, no, these are moose tracks!" says the second. "You're wrong!" They were still arguing when the train hit them.
Two blondes are on opposite sides of a large river. The first blonde calls out to the other blonde: "How do you get to the other side?" The other blonde yells back: "You ARE on the other side!"
Bill and Hillary Clinton are driving down the road in Chicago and stop to get gas. The gas station owner runs out and gives Hillary a big hug. "Joe was my date to prom over forty years ago!" Hillary tells Bill. Joe and Hillary have a pleasant conversation about old times and old friends. As they drive away in the car, Bill turns to Hillary and says, "See? Aren't you glad you married me? If you had married him, all you'd be is the wife of a gas station owner! I was President!" Hillary replies: "If I had married HIM, HE would have been President!"
Two missionaries are tracting in the bible belt. They knock on one door, and hear a warning from behind the door: "Get off my property RIGHT NOW!" Before the missionaries can back away, the owner comes out shooting - aiming straight at the Senior Companion's chest, who jumps in front of his Junior Companion. The bullet hits him, knocking him down. To everyone's amazement, the bullet is lodged in the Book of Mormon in the Elder's suit pocket, and he gets up. He opens the Book of Mormon and says "Wow - I guess it's true, NOTHING really can get through Second Nephi!" (Note: I told this joke in the first talk I ever gave in Church)
St. Peter is giving a tour of Heaven to some newcomers. They all get on a tour bus. St. Peter points out the Lutheran section, the Methodist Section, the Buddhist section, etc. Then he tells them that they all have to be very very quiet as the pass the next section of Heaven. They drive up to a hill overlooking this section, where they see a well-ordered neighborhood. Getting back on the bus as St. Peter hushes them all, one of the newcomers asks, "What section was that?" St. Peter replies, "Those are the Mormons, they don't know that anyone else is here."
Monday, November 12, 2012
Eric Bogle, The Green Fields of France
Liam Clancy, And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda
Sunday, November 11, 2012
|A stony heart turning to flesh|
Someone else shared today that she noticed that compassion has "compass" in it. She talked about how one of the definitions of "compass" is "to extend or stretch around; hem in; surround; encircle" (that's Dictionary.com's definition, but that's basically what she was saying). Compassion should be that kind of feeling, the kind that encircles those we love and serve in a warm embrace.
Henry B. Eyring said in a recent talk:
My heart is so imperfect and stony sometimes, especially when doing good inconveniences me. My heart misjudges, condemns, and hardens far, far, far too often. It's not like a soft heart is unalloyed joy, either. Having a heart of flesh is risky - it opens you up to rejection, heartache, betrayal and other heart-pains. The other side of it, however, is the lovely emotions of generosity, compassion, empathy, sympathy, kindness, and love - things we would never get to feel if our hearts were stony.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Friday, November 9, 2012
However, I also like this one from the soundtrack of the movie Holes (which is a fun movie and book, by the way - I recommend both):
Mostly, though, I need confidence to survive the future. So that's when I whip out this classic from the Sound of Music:
Congratulations on making it to FRIDAY. What songs do you listen to when you've made it through a tough day or week?
Thursday, November 8, 2012
In Which...I am Awesome
I had an awesome idea for my parents' 30th wedding anniversary. I would make them a quilt, and have a bunch of their friends make squares. Okay, it was going to be my mom's friends. But still, I thought it would be heartwarming and they would enjoy it. So, using my best Tom-Cruise-Mission-Impossible impression, I broke into my mom's email and stole the email addresses for a bunch of her friends and relatives. I emailed them and asked if they would be willing to help. And yes, I was so on top of it - I emailed them all about 2 1/2 months before my parents anniversary. I bought a bunch of fabric (hid it in my car trunk, because I was still living with my parents) and mailed each quilter a bunch of fabric so they could make a square, along with instructions on size.
With one month til my parents anniversary, I had received many of the squares and I started planning the quilt. Aided and abetted by my visiting teacher and her roommate, who let me sew at their house, I managed to sew together the quilt just in time for the actual day of their anniversary. Here is a picture of the cutest couple in the world and their quilt.
|The Lovebirds on their 30th Anniversary (ignore the date on the photo - completely wrong)|
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Seriously, I had to exercise self-restraint to NOT comment on statuses that declared the end is near and we should be stocking up on canned goods. Obama's reelection does not merit sackcloth, ashes, or discourses on how we are all going to Hades in a Handbasket.* If the re-election of a president you disagree with is the end of your world, maybe you need to get some perspective. Obama will not have unilateral power, and the Republican party still controls the House of Representatives and can filibuster the Senate ALL. DAY. LONG. I may disagree with Governor Romney, but I don't think his election would have spelled disaster for all mankind. Of course, you may point out that it easy for me to say this, because my party was victorious. You are completely right, but hopefully I will remember this post the next time a Republican wins the White House.
As C.J. Cregg once had to remind President Barlett in the fictional world world of The West Wing, "In a democracy, often times other people win." Now is the time where we should be sitting down as a country and saying, we are very divided - this was a close election. People elected a Democratic President, a Republican House, and a Democratic Senate. How can we make this work? It's time to govern, and I hope both the Congressional Republicans and President Obama can make the tough choices that it's going to take to deal with the debt and all the other problems facing this country. In that respect, I am hopeful - Speaker Boehner said he is open to "new revenues" to address the fiscal cliff. I'm hoping the parties can reach a deal.
Besides the headliner, here's other election news I found exciting:
- Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee, was elected to the House of Representatives.
- New Hampshire has the first all-woman congressional delegation (two senators and two representatives!).
- Speaking of women, for the first time 20 (!!!!) of the U.S. Senators will be women. That's one in five!
- Jim Matheson, a Democrat, held on to his seat in that reddest-of-red states, Utah.
- The Mormon Church put out a classy statement about the election.
The other big Facebook comment by Republican friends? Already gearing up for 2016...sigh...
*Incidentally, Hades in a Handbasket would make a great band name.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Take a Bow, America. We have survived our first election with a Mormon presidential candidate as a serious contender. With some minor exceptions, there have been no ugly anti-Mormon tirades and no sustained attacks on Mitt Romney because of his faith. As a Mormon and political junkie, I just want to say: Thank You, America. Thank you for respecting my beliefs enough to consider Mitt Romney just a normal American. I know we're a bit unique (we like to refer to ourselves as a "peculiar people"), but thanks for respecting religious pluralism.
Oh, and DON'T FORGET TO VOTE!!!!!!!!!!
Monday, November 5, 2012
For example, the 538 Blog at the NY Times predicts the "Return on Investment Index" - which is the likelihood that one vote could impact the ultimate outcome of the Presidential election. The top three are Nevada, Ohio, and New Hampshire. I live in none of those states (and it's likely you don't either). But I will still go to the polls along with millions of voters who live in states where the outcome is not in doubt (see: Utah). There are probably a lot of reasons we go to the polls, but I'd like to focus on the "unique" factor.
We believe in America that one person can change the world, that one person can make a difference, that each American voice is unique and part of a great melting pot of cultural richness. Each individual has a say in their own unique way. I'm reminded, however, of a surly retort I used to throw at my mom as a sullen pre-teen. She would say "remember you're unique" and I would reply "just like everyone else." We are all unique and therefore we are all similar. We are all Americans united in our love of country. We argue fiercely about what America should be. But isn't it wonderful that for the past 224 years Americans have gone to the polls and cast ballots? This is our 57th Presidential election! With the obviously vast exception of the civil war, Americans have settled arguments not through violence, but through a (relatively) peaceful democratic process.
We've become part of our democracy, and our vote is precious because it was fought for - in some cases in the American revolution, in some cases by the suffragettes or civil rights marchers, and in some cases it is granted through a citizenship test that we have waited and studied for over long years. We vote because even though we know our individual vote won't make a difference, we know that the aggregate of all our votes does add up to something: a government that is our own, that is "we the people." Even if Obama doesn't win tomorrow, I will be proud to call America my country. America has a long way to go towards perfection (don't we all!), but it's a beautiful land.
Don't forget to vote tomorrow. Participate and let your voice be heard - all across this great land!
Sunday, November 4, 2012
O love that glorifies the Son,
O love that says, "Thy will be done!"
Pure love whose spirit makes us one-
Come fill my soul today, come fill my soul today.
O love, that overcomes defeat,
O love that turns the bitter sweet,
Pure love that makes our lives complete-
Come fill my soul today, come fill my soul today.
(Hymns, pg. 295)
The world needs a lot more of love. I hope you feel loved, and are able to feel love for those around you.
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Friday, November 2, 2012
I'm finding that my electoral choice on Tuesday is a combination of these "pro and con" reasons. I'm definitely voting FOR Obama, as I like his policies and I think he's done a decent job over the last four years. But, I'm also voting AGAINST Romney, because I literally don't have any idea what he stands for - it seems as though he will say or do anything to get elected, including changing positions on almost every issue throughout his career. And the positions he has articulated during his Presidential campaign are things I don't want to happen.
While planning this post, I thought that it was perhaps sad that so much of my vote is made up of Anti-Romney sentiment. Sometimes, the pro and con arguments are both sides of the same coin - in order to be "pro" Obama I must necessarily view his policies and ideals as "better" than Romney's. It's not that I think Romney is a terrible human being (unfortunately some on the Democratic side seem to argue this). However, at the extreme, the pros and the cons can convince us that the other side is evil. The for and against arguments that are so necessary to the electoral process can actually impede governing once the election is over. So I'm hoping that, whatever our differences, we can come together on November 7th, the day after the election, to work out our pros and cons and compromise on solutions to move our country forward.
Someone will be making a concession speech on Tuesday night, and so I wanted to share John McCain's speech from four years ago. Not because I want to rub salt in wounds, but just because I thought it was a great example of "coming together" rhetoric that we need to turn into reality no matter who wins on Tuesday.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
One of the reasons I like my blog is that it gives me an opportunity to pontificate and sound important. It also helps me practice writing. So maybe this year I will participate in NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month. One post per day. I invite you to join me in honing your writing skills. Post a link to your blog in the comments and we will keep each other honest!
Monday, October 22, 2012
The One who will create jobs and do all things righteous.
I thank thee that thou hast made me pure in heart to see
The flaws of my opponent, while ignoring any and all flaws of my candidate.
Give me strength to ignore factual inaccuracies on my own side,
Disregarding the cognitive dissonance that exists within my contradictory positions,
Erecting straw man arguments which the other side is not making,
And strenuously pointing out each truth stretching by the other side.
Grant me eyes to see only with my prejudices,
Ears to hear only sycophantic cable news hosts,
Lips to speak only with those who agree with me,
And fingers to type accusatory Facebook comments.
Help me to ignore nuance, complexity, and compromise
Thus reducing this contest to Good vs. Evil
And thereby demonizing the opposite side
For they hate America and do not share my values.
Bless me to see the ridiculousness of the nonsense issues
Which the other side lobs my way,
All the while nit-picking unimportant missteps
Made by the candidate I disagree with.
Bestow upon me the gift of blaming outside forces for my candidate's failings:
The Media, The Moderators, The Altitude, Etc.
While holding my opponent responsible for issues over which
He has no control - macro-economic trends, Clint Eastwood.
Help me enlist the aid of The Founders, History, and Economics,
Selectively choosing only statements and statistics which support me.
Lead me into vast oversimplifications and generalizations, and
Deliver me from any ideas that support the opposite side of the argument.
And, finally, grant me the ability to dig in to my entrenched positions,
Validating all my preconceived notions of the candidates,
Never exercising critical thinking or principles of logic,
But instead relying on predetermined opinions about who I support.
Now, obviously, this post is hyperbole (and sorry if it comes across a bit cynical and/or blasphemous). But I find myself exhibiting some signs that I fall prey to the failings listed. For instance, one of the things that really irked me about the second debate was Governor Romney's "selection" of facts as they related to energy. Romney cited a statistic that oil drilling was down on Federal lands 14%. This statistic is technically true from 2010 to 2011, but ignores the context, and the fact that oil drilling on Federal lands is actually up over President Obama's term of office. Most of the decrease is due to the moratorium on drilling Obama ordered after the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and production is now increasing again after that moratorium was lifted. Thus, the context of this one year statistic is important and contradicts Romney's assertion that Obama is limiting oil drilling and thus responsible for rising gas prices.
What bothered me is that Romney choose one fact while ignoring the context of that fact. In essence, he lied. But as I've let this stew since the debate last week, I've realized this: President Obama did the same thing. When responding to Romney's attack on Libya, Obama stated a true fact - that he had referred to the attack as an "act of terror" in his Rose Garden Press Conference on the day after it happened. Semantically, this was true. However, this fact ignored the broader point that Romney was making, which is that Obama and his surrogates were blaming a spontaneous demonstration for the attack, long after other evidence pointed to a planned attack
So, Obama selected one fact which supported him and ignored the context of that fact. He misled in the same way Romney did. Yet that has not bothered me really since the debate. I think this is because I am voting for Obama and not for Romney. I decided who to support first, then went looking for reasons for my support - not the other way around. The problem is, I don't really know how to combat this. I mean, I'm pretty sure that any evaluation you or I make of the candidates at this point is going to include our already-formed and long-held opinions. But the best we can do is be self-aware. Recognize that you have a bias, and try to catch yourself giving too much credit to your side or blame to your opponent.
With that in mind, I would like to challenge each of you to do something as you watch the third and final debate tonight:
1) If you are a Romney supporter, find an issue where you think Romney is wrong and Obama is right.
2) If you are an Obama supporter, find an issue where you think Obama is wrong and Romney is right.
3) No matter whose side you are on, try to examine the arguments rationally, and appreciate that both men are trying to serve their country as best they can. Both candidates are good, imperfect people. Obama is not a socialist. Romney doesn't hate poor people. Please, please, please play nice. At least, that is this political junkie's prayer.
If not, enjoy the laughs at the Al Smith dinner this year:
Friday, October 19, 2012
Some people are like those trees. We look at their outside and think that they are nothing special. But then we find a moment that is a burst of glory where they show their true colors. They show that they are beautiful spirits. Just like you can't judge a book by its cover, or a tree in January, you can't judge people just by a glimpse of them on one day. There is so much beauty in nature and in people!
I don't have pictures of the trees (imprudent to take pictures while driving), but you can read this old post with lots of pics of autumnal glory.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Monday, October 8, 2012
Monday, October 1, 2012
|And I like watching the comedy that inevitably follows! Strategery For The Win!|
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Nonetheless, 'twas a glorious trip. So, if you have an hour or two to spare, let me recount "Tales from the Trip." FYI, this is a super long blog post, and full of random thoughts about random topics. At many points, I may (perhaps speciously?) draw conclusions about current political situations based on past events. Also, you should note that I have a tendency to overuse words like "awesome," "beautiful," and other "glorious" adjectives. All the pictures are from my cell phone, so apologies for the quality (some of which is due to user error). You have been forewarned! Proceed at your own risk.
|Forest Road during Church Retreat - such a beautiful forest :)|
Also saw a deer family!
Next morning, I forced my brother to get up "earlier than he had all semester" to go visit Montpelier (in case you were wondering, that was before 8 a.m.). We did a special "behind the scenes" tour and it turned out that we were the only ones there at 8:30, so we got a personal tour of James Madison's house and could ask as many questions as we wanted! Our tour guide escaped two hours later, no joke. I learned a lot about Madison. One of the coolest things was that he was an environmentalist (well, sort of). He was big on preserving trees, stating "Of all the errors in our rural economy none is perhaps so much to be regretted, because none is so difficult to be repaired, as the injudicious and excessive destruction of timber." I like to think that means that he would have been for the protection of the rainforest, in favor of recycling, and against the clear cutting of old growth forests. There is an old growth forest behind his home, and I posted a picture of that in my previous post.
|Madison's Temple. No recommend required.|
That night, we also got to go to a great concert at the UVA amphitheater - a bunch of great Broadway tunes, including medleys of "Guys and Dolls" and "West Side Story" - I love it when unplanned things like that turn up, it was one of the highlights of the trip.
|Dome Room at Monticello|
The highlight of upstairs was the "dome room" - a beautiful gem of a room. I had to laugh though, because it was typical Jefferson. The room was beautiful, but also completely impractical. It was too cold in the winter (no fireplace) and too hot in the summer (too little ventilation), so it never really got used for anything. Jefferson just wanted it because he wanted his house to have a dome and follow the classical rules of his architectural hero, Palladio. Reminded me of Jefferson's impractical idealism in the political realm. He refused to see the excesses of the French revolution and continued to be a committed Francophile even during the Reign of Terror. After his presidency, he advocated that slavery be spread to new western states, and he thought that by doing this, slavery would peter out and die, and the former slaves could be returned to Africa. He didn't believe that whites and blacks could peacefully co-exist in the same society. I'm glad we are proving him wrong on that.
Also visited James Monroe's house, Ashlawn-Highland. Did you know that he and his wife attended Napoleon's coronation as emperor? They were the only Americans invited. Monroe ALSO died on July 4th, just a few years after Jefferson and Adams died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Love stories like that!
|The main section of the memorial, which has water |
jets to simulate the flying bullets
|See the wedding ring? It's real gold.|
During my tour of the memorial, several of my fellow tour-goers made really derogatory (and incendiary) remarks about President Obama. Unfortunately I have a lot less courage than a D-Day soldier, so I didn't call them out on it. Nonetheless, I left the memorial with a feeling of gratitude for all those brave veterans who fought on D-Day and who still fight to protect liberal me.
Near Bedford is another, less-visited home designed by Thomas Jefferson, called Poplar Forest. It is GORGEOUS. Designed as a perfect Octagon (until Jefferson realized he forgot stairs - he added those to two sides of the Octagon later...slightly less narrow and high than the stairs at Monticello), almost each room in the house is also an Octagon. The awesome thing about this house is that it is so full of LIGHT. Lots of floor-to-ceiling windows, a skylight in the central dining room, and glass doors in between rooms mean that there is a really beautiful feel to the house (which is almost totally devoid of furniture right now - they are still restoring it).
|Poplar Forest - Jefferson later added the kitchen wing on the right|
|Apparently my face is bad voodoo for cameras...|
I used that as an excuse to not take any more pictures with me in them for the rest of the trip. Trust me, it's better this way.
Final note about Poplar Forest: even the outdoor privies were octagonal. Jefferson didn't mess around when it came to his favorite shape. He really, really, REALLY liked Octagons.
|McLean House at Appomattox Court House|
|Give me Liberty or Give me Death!|
During the trip, I finally finished reading an 800-page biography of Washington I have been working on since July, and it made me appreciate him so much more. I'm not sure our country could have survived its formative years without him. He was so wise! Glad that he supported the constitution and served as our first President. Patrick Henry, and many others of the revolutionary generation, didn't support the Constitution, calling it a betrayal of the spirit of 1776. Also, made me realize that dirty politics is nothing new. Did you know Washington was accused of being a Benedict Arnold to the British during the war? This allegation was made during Washington's presidency - which is just so wrong and terribly untrue!
|Marshy Jamestown Island on a perfect day!|
|Telling stories of|
Rachel, an indentured servant of 1620, showed us around the original site of Jamestown. She was a hoot! She told us of the travails and triumphs of the early years at Jamestown, truly making history come alive. They have recently uncovered the site of the original fort at Jamestown, and recreated some of the walls. The remains of the foundation of the first English Church in North America are still there, too. This was where the first legislative assembly was held! (One year before the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts!) Jamestown saw the beginning of some of our most tragic history - arrival of the first slaves, and the beginnings of the intentional (by war) and unintentional (by disease) destruction of the American Indians.
And yet, as Rachel pointed out - even with the terrible survival rate and sometimes horrific conditions in Jamestown, English settlers kept coming - because it was still better than life in England, where the only plot of ground you owned was when you looked up at it from your coffin (as she put it). There's a sort of theme park near the Jamestown site where they've recreated the entire fort, and all three ships that sailed into Jamestown in 1607 (the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery - doesn't it give you chills that one of the ships was named "Discovery"? Love it!). That was cool - they also had an Indian village.
|Yorktown's Redoubt 9, taken by the French in an assault |
on British Defenses
|Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg|
I liked what John Adams had to say about the American Revolution: "But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American War? The Revolution was in the hearts and minds of the American people." The revolution was about ideas - radical ones, like equality. Those radical ideas continue to be argued about and discussed today.
I also listened to "American Creation" by Joseph Ellis on CD as I drove all around on my trip. He emphasized the gradual nature of the transformation of the American mindset - it took a long while for the majority of Americans to come around to Independence. Additionally, most people were against the adoption of the Constitution when it was written! It really is a miracle that America exists. But somehow, we have endured as an American people. Through danger, despair, and desolation we have somehow overcome. This entire trip reminded me of how much I love America. Hip Hip Hooray! Also, it reminded me that I have so much more to learn about! So many of the places I visited reminded me that I know so very little about the fascinating history behind the sites.
*I couldn't say "state" here, because Virginia is technically one of four commonwealths in the U.S.A. Bonus points to you if you can name the other three.