Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Week Thirty-Four: France!

Oh my goodness I have done so much in the past two weeks I don't know where to start. Well, let's start with France! That's right, I went to France! We went skiing in France, which totally rocked. France was beautiful to drive through, though rather scandalous. They like graffiti where were were driving through, but not that sissy weak stuff where all they do is write their names over things. They like their graffiti to be art, and artistic it is.

This, by the way, includes at leads on 'artistic nude,' though I debate on how artistic it was considering her facial expression. I also loved the traffic lights. They had two at each stop, one at eye level for the first driver, and the other above the car so the other cars could see! It was very interesting for me, along with the odd grass shaped street lights. France was, in a nut shell, gorgeous. The houses looked a little different there. Steeper roofs than most in Germany.

Anyway, I liked it! France rocked.

Then we got to the ski hall. For those of you who know me, you know I'm simply not athletic, no matter how hard I try. You know that the idea of heights terrifies me. Well, the bunny slop was high. And skiing is a sport. Put two and two together and for the first part of the thing I was terrified, I kept falling, and finally, I ended up hitting my head hard enough it bounced. I very nearly gave in!

Actually at one point after I hit my head I sulked, rubbed by head, and refused to put my skis back on. Skiing, was, in a word, terrifying. I went entirely too fast for my own good and couldn't figure out how to stop.

So my Dad came over. He told me how to do it, and after sulking a bit longer - hey, my head hurt! - I got back on my skis and went halfway up the slope, where I wouldn't chance, you know, going so fast again. After figuring out how to ski it was suddenly much, much more fun. Though I never made it more than halfway up the bunny slope.

So, I love skiing now, and can't wait to go again, so long as, you know, they have a bunny slope. I like bunny slopes. They aren't half as long as actual slopes and not nearly as scary. Not being scary really rocks.

The day after I hit my head it snowed here, by the way, the first snow of the year in a place where it usually snows in October. Clearly, it snowed because I hit my head. I had a headache for a good two days, and those where the only days we had snow. After that, it hasn't snowed again, but it has rained, oh how it has rained. It's a nightly thing here.

So then Christmas came and it was nice. I got a bamboo tablet, and we all watched movies together, but their was kind of a damper on the mood. My littlest sister finally had to go back to her mother in the states, and it wasn't something any of us wanted to celebrate at all. On boxing day, she headed back to Virginia, and Daddy went with her staying stateside with his parents a few days. He should never have had to take her back in my opinion and she didn't want to leave at all.

So we've all been rather sad here. I admittedly cried quietly in my room, when the news came that the lawyer wasn't able to talk them into lengthening her stay somehow, at least to the end of the school year.

One Final Byte: Always wear a helmet or risk head injury.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Week Thirty-Three: And the Next President Is!

Okay, I'm late. Sorry about that. I was just so relieved that my final was over that I forgot to write my blog! Right, but you can learn more about France, skiing and all that next week. This week, I'm going to go on about how the public doesn't actually elect the President, or really have much to do with the whole business.

What, you think I think American politics aren't super corrupt? You're kidding me right? We aren't exactly in the top ten of the least corrupt nation. Actually, according to Transparency International, we're number 22 out of 178 measures countries. Well. At least we're in the top 25. Somehow. Personally, I'd put us somewhere down about between Turkey (56) and Latvia (59). Why? Well, it's simple.

While our local politics aren't corrupt, our state politics and national politics reek like a roadkill skunk!

What the monkeys am I talking about?

People need money to run. On a local level, they need much less. Yard signs putting your name out, maybe buttons and fliers. Maybe. That's for a small town. In a city they need more, so might need sponsorship of small business, for example, or donations even more. On a state wide thing, even if they only have a single bill board in each county and a single TV ad on the state TV stations than they need a lot more. Advertising is very expensive. This means on a state level, your governor/senator/representative is owned by, we'll call them shareholders.

Let's face it. Most people aren't going to give more then ten-twenty bucks now-a-days. Business however will give more, especially if they buy a bit of loyalty from that lawmaker. Later on, maybe the lawmaker will think of them when they're working on say, taxes, imports, exports and the like. So corporations give out money, and let's face it, almost without fail, the richer campaign wins.

Combine this with the very low poll rating of the incumbent president, right now, and the forerunners for the Presidential race are, well, obvious. Romney, Perry, and Paul are the only ones in the tens of millions, and Romney outstrips the other two. Obama of course, ass around 99 million. However his approval rating is around about where Nixon's was was Nixon left office. I suspect it'd be lower, but for the whole Bin Laden bit. Historically speaking, his approval rate is low enough that his chances for re-election are slim, especially considering the economic hardships right now. He will be blamed, whether he had anything to do with it or didn't have anything to do with it.

As I'm not God, and not an economist, I simply do not know. That means, in essence, that right now, the next President is likely Mitt Romney. Now, admittedly, I'm only 21. I have paid attention to that many elections, but I can look at history and grimace.

So whats wrong with all this?

Well, let's face it, the corporation own our candidates. Due to the electoral college, we don't actually elect directly, and we have no direct control over who the next bumbling idiot in control of our nation is. Except for the fact that we have two choices: Romney and Obama.

I could be wrong. Obama could somehow miraculously end up with a second term somehow. But it doesn't look it. So what the devil is the problem? Well, it starts at our education system, which you don't want to get me started on. Then it goes to the rich people, which you also don't want to get me started on. But it boils down to use only having two major choices for President. Every election, we only have two choices. Two!

Oh, occasionally, there will be an independent that can swing votes, but never enough. And the candidates don't court the people who form the bulk of the nation. They court the rich. You don't get campaign donation dinners with plates costing 25 bucks. They cost thousands of dollars.

I don't ever trust the president of the United States. Unless they are humble enough to realize they need help on the many things required of them, then they are a poor choice, and I cannot call anyone cocky enough to run for President the least bit humble. They are owned, and care little about the people, so long as we don't rebel, and when we think of it, they promptly work to suppress it all.

One Final Byte: Politics has never been transparent enough to trust.


Transparency International Corruptions Perception Index:

New York Times: The 2012 Money Race

Approval Rating for President Richard Nixon, with the Data from Gallup Poll:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Week Thirty-two: Yeah, Not much.

Week Thirty-two

So two weeks since the last post of this type, makes this a post about what's been happening! Honestly? Not much! I know, I know, "You're in another country, and you aren't doing anything? What's wrong with you!"

Well, let's just say there are plans in the works, but I'm in college, dudes and dudettes. And it's that cold time of year again, which means going out into that fierce and unfriendly cold isn't my forte. It's cold out there!

However, there have been some amusing highlights. Last week, for instance, I was at work and left the drive thru for a few minutes to get something from the back. I come back and someone put a religious tract in the drive thru. It was nice! Little surprises, you know. They had done it to both windows, and I ended up giving mine to a German.

I have discovered I have a pet peeve. People who have to be the best in absolutely everything they touch. I can't imagine they have happy lives though, as there will always be someone better. That's kind of life, after all!

Also, I think by this time next week, I may have reached 500 page views! Super woah! Considering this started just for my family in Alabama, I'm impressed! Also, a shout out to my favorite people in the world: Hi Miss G! Hi Big Sis! Hi Brother In Law! I have got to come up with some nick for you or something. That is just sad.

Anyway, finals are next week, but I think I got that down pat, and found a few additional study resources. Tow of my classes I had finals for last week! An A in one and a B in the other, due to a minor dispute over when I turned in my paper. My computer time stamp insists it was on time, but hey. Can't win them all!

I'm not too worried about my finals mind.  I tend not to worry over my studies at all.  I've found the harder I try in the majority of cases, the worse I do because I've stressed myself out.  Since it's a math final, all I really have to do it practice the work.  I found a free online textbook, and I'm using that to get the problems from  I have...a lot of problems.  Around 140, give or take 20.  Because they come from another book, a lot of them are nothing like what we do in math class!

I think I shocked my professor when I asked how to solve a problem than and a logarithm in it, because we haven't don logs as a part of our course.  He answered me though. 

A hint for anyone out there: Creative Commons is an excellent thing.  The book I'm using, Elementary calculus by Keisler, is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.  All that means to me is that it's free, so there.  I wish it was our text book too, because it explains how to do the problems.

Just don't ask me where I picked up my copy, I don't know.  Also, it's pretty much the only math book I've encountered that comes with, you  know, an epilogue.  An epilogue on a math book.  I haven't read it yet, but I am curious!

I've actually been planning a lot more than studying lately, and managed to get my Christmas gifts online quickly enough that I hope they'll arrive soon.  Tow have!  Unfortunately, the ones I'm shipping out will probably be late, due to lack of trip to pick up a box to put them all in.  And I need to wrap and label them. One of the gifts, I'm especially not certain about, but I had to change the intended gifts at the last second due to odd circumstances.  However, I hope most of them will be well received!

My dad's already made it clear my gift won't actually make it until January, because everywhere is sold out, even the factories.  In other words, they didn't make near enough!  IT makes me sad, but I'm good.  After all, I'm still getting one, just late!

I kind of hope they wrap it anyway, because I like unwrapping the best.  It's the anticipation, I think.

One Final Byte: Sharing is one of those things quick forgotten.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Week Thirty-One: An Empire

It's hard to acknowledge when the truth smacks you upside the head. But occasionally, you have to realize something that disturbs you, especially given your knowledge of history.

Sometimes, you really don't want to know thing. No, this isn't going to be a ridiculously deep blog about something or another deep and challenging. Rather, this is going to be about empires.

To be perfectly clear, an empire is a large nation that has control over other former nations, often as colonies or territories. The British Empire would be the most familiar one to most Americans, but weren't the only empire in their time.

Now, there are fewer empires, and one in particular that hasn't learned the truth of empires yet. It is large, and unwieldy, and uncertain. A teenager in the realm of nations, it no longer manages to provide for itself, instead, trying to provide for everyone else.

Fairly nice for the teenager, except there are, of course, motives behind this seemingly kind act. The United States may be in more trouble that they think, if they keep it up.

Don't get me wrong. I am an American citizen, and proud of it, but I look at the empire I live in, and it is an empire, and I worry.


Take a look. What happened to the British empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Roman Empire? They lost their empire status and shrank. Quickly. I don't think the spirit of the United States will ever completely fall, but considering the precarious situation we face economically? Well.

What's a solution? Well, while isolationism is impossible in today's world, a policy of interventionism needs to be halted. Temporarily, or permanently, we need to learn to say, I'm sorry, we can't help you. We need to focus on helping ourselves, for a little while.

Sounds selfish? It is. But I would rather my nation selfishly survive than participate in conflicts that have existed for centuries. But what about the poor, the suffering! Aren't they our responisibility?

They are our responsibility. And the responsibility of every other nation out there that can help, but we are a member of an organization devoted to these causes. Perhaps we, as the younguns on staff, should pause and consult them too. Besides, we need to examine why we are helping them. It isn't our responsibility as a government to alleviate the suffering of every person on earth, whether or not they are a citizen.

What else? Well, while I know it sounds a bit silly, and tired, but if we want to survive we need to raise, not lower, educational standards. Yes it will be hard, yes it will be difficult, but it's needed. Most eighth graders today could not pass an eighth grade final from a century ago. Perhaps a fourth grade. Maybe. Do you see the problem there? We need to raise standards, not let no child be left behind. It sounds harsh, but if it matters to them, they will work to improve. And if we expect more, they will, I promise, deliver.

I wont discuss specific economic policies here, but I will tell you we need some austerity measures of our own, at least until our deficit is less than ten percent of our GDP, bare minimum. There is a difference between a healthy deficit, and a deficit that ruins the value of our money, thus our purchasing power. This makes it harder for the average Joe to live.

It's only a few things, but, well. It's my empire too. And I worry. People say Occupy Wall St is about this, that and the other. When it comes down to it though, it is about fear, about anger. About changing policies that will destroy America the Empire.

Don't believe we're an Empire: Puerto Rico, the Native Americas, Hawaii, Guam, the Northern Marianna Islands, the United States Virgin Islands, various uninhabited islands in the pacific, in the carribean, need I go on?

There is, by the way, more, both historically, and current.

A nation is a single nation. An Empire is many ruled as one, or with one head over many governments.

One Final Bye: Fox News complained about 'brainwashing'. Laugh with me.