Matt's opinion

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Frustrated love

Ok, I tried to do this yesterday but it didn't work for some reason so let's keep our fingers crossed.

I'm in the process of writing my thesis and boy is that a treat. I have my first meeting about a section I wrote (Results and Conclusion) tomorrow. Hopefully my advisor actually remembers to read it. Last time I gave her some writing to go over she forgot and didn't even look at it until I was sitting in her office. Then she said I should focus on something else and handed the paper back to me after reading the introduction. That did end up helping, but I have a feeling reading the initial draft would have helped more. Needless to say this is the most frustrating thing I've had to do yet: trying to make sense out of a large data set that has very little interesting data.

Everything else is going fine. I found out that I got admitted to Northern Illinois last week. The catch is that they won't be making any support decisions for another 3 weeks (max) so I don't know if I'm actually going or not. I haven't heard anything from UIC yet, although their deadline was at the beginning of the month. I emailed Northwestern last week and they told me they were hesitating with a decision on me because they didn't know who I would work with. So I emailed the professor I wanted to work with with an introduction and CC'd the email to another professor who was working in a similar subject. Apparently CCing another professor is some kind of feu pa (sp?) because everyone I tell about it says they've never done that. Oh well, the worst thing they can say is no they won't admit me. Trouble is I haven't heard back from either of those profs or the profs at NIU who I emailed after I found out I was admitted. In this case ignorance is truly not bliss.

Speaking of ignorance, the cable company finally wised up after 3 weeks and shut off my cable. I no longer get to watch the Daily Show or the Colbert Report, which is truly destroying me. I'm not afraid to admit I have a man crush on John Stewart and Stephen Colbert (not in a gay way). It really does pain me to go home at night and not hear headlines like "The Vice President has shot a 78 year old man, in the face" 100 times in the same episode. It never got old, until the next day: "We'd like to make a correction to last night's headlines," John Stewart said, "We reported that the Vice President of the United States shot a 78 year old man in the face. That is not correct. We have learned that the Vice President has shot a 78 year old man in the upper torso, neck, AND face. We apologize for the misinformation"

I love you John Stewart!!! (ok, maybe that was a little gay, but who cares)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Heaping pile of what? ewww

I feel compelled to blog. I was working at home today and remembered that the Senate judiciary committee was meeting and questioning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the President's wire taping NSA program, so I turned on C-SPAN.

Have you ever watched C-SPAN before? I hadn't before today. It was actually very enlightening. Instead of that scrolling bar across the bottom of the screen, they had windows that would pop up and give information relevant to the discussion at that time, and stay visible long enough for you to read them.

During the hearing, multiple senators asked Gonzales about the program and who has oversight, who authorizes the program, and under what authority. There were some pretty impressive questions from both parties. Gonzales' answers were pretty disappointing. He didn't say anything we didn't already know about the program. Not a single thing. The senators could've asked me those questions and I'd had the same answers. I think the administration screwed up big here. If Gonzales would've answered questions more openly the whole wiretapping story could have gone away and people not payed attention to it anymore. Instead, Chairman Spector is going to call more hearings, at least one with Gonzales, and possibly former Attorney General John Ashcroft and his former deputy, some guy named Como.

I think this whole wiretapping issue is just coming into its own. This blatant disregard for the law will hopefully end with enough public outcry for an impeachment trial. As if we needed another reason (WMD, Schivo law, among others).

In lighter news, Muslims in the middle east are now rioting, burning down European embassies, and other, unfortunately normal, violent outbursts. Why aren't these people being arrested and put in jail. What kind of lawless, extremist, rat house societies are these people living in?

In equally appalling news, Aretha Franklin and Aaron Neville sang the National Anthem at the superbowl last night. Honestly, that was the biggest disgrace to the National Anthem since Roseanne Arnold disgraced it about a decade a go. Can't we get some talent? It's the friggin superbowl for crying out loud!!! And what was with those kids commercials right before kickoff. You know, the one with Harrison Ford and Brett Star. What am I, a friggin kindergardner?? Why has this country become such a heaping pile of pussies? Ooooooo, bad mental image.

But seriously, let's bring in the half naked ladies and get the superbowl back to what it should be: lots of drunken partying, overeating, and debauchery (sp??). This is America damnit!!!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Burnt out of what?

Man, all of a sudden I can't focus on anything. Here I am writing my thesis, doing what I'm supposed to be doing and then BOOM! Nothing. Stupid brain. It's not like I can go home either, I've got to stick around for the colloquim tonight, that as it so happens, directly involves my thesis topic. It dosen't help that it's been raining all day and the lights have no flickered three or four times now in my lab. Oh well, maybe it's just time to focus on something else for now and come back to the thesis tomorrow.

I actually did get more done today than I have all week. I've written about a page (single spaced, 10pt font), and I'm on track to write several more for the section I'm working on. All in all, my thesis is about 4 pages (10pt font, single spaced) right now. Not that any of that material could be considered a final draft in any way. Oh well, at least it's something. Hopefully everyone else is haveing a better day. Time to get back to some kind of work.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Part 2 of 2

Because this will post on top of the start to this post, go read the bottom one first. It'll start making sense when you get to the end of it.

I'd like to take a few minutes to discuss the State of the Union address given by President Bush this past Tuesday night.

Did anyone else notice that the President didn't have that same cocky attitude he always does? The pundits all say he sounded conciliatory (sp?), but I think it was something else. I think he sounded like an animal who just got shot in one leg and was limping around patheticly to try and gain sympathy and sound strong at the same time. He did however continue to beat the issues of Iraq and the NSA wiretapping like the now dead and rotting horse he always does. The bright points of the speech, I thought, were his proposals for 2 initiatives: creating more AP math and science teachers, and creating viable alternative energy options in 6 years.

I have the most problems with the second initiative. First, setting a goal for beyond your Presidency is such a cop-out. Do what you will now, you can't set policy for after you've left because inevitably the next guy comes in and doesn't follow up, so you're creating expectations you can't reach from the start. Second, if the President really wanted viable alternative energy options he could have put them in his energy bill that got passed last year. Oh wait, that energy policy was written by the very oil and gas companies the President now says we're addicted to. One other thing, coal is not a viable alternative energy source. We currently use quite a bit of coal in this country and getting away from it will be just as difficult as petroleum. I don't think this initiative will get beyond some appointed council recommendation (that will be ignored), if it gets that far.

The first initiative sounds like the most promising to me. Of course I'm a little biased towards the need for more better paid teachers. I think it will fail for two reasons:
1. The No Child Left Behind act crippled state and federal budgets, so there's really no money left to hire anyone without new grant money that will be available over the long term, which leads to my second reason...
2. Because Bush wants his tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% of Americans made permanent the funds for long term grants, or overall education for that matter, just isn't there without cutting something else. Bush is already signing a law this week that will cut college student loans and Medicaid. The point is to spend money more wisely in education, not just blindly cut programs.

I could go on for hours about the speech, but I want to cut that off and talk about the Democratic response. The response was given by the new Gov of Virginia Tom Kaine. I was disappointed as soon as the speech started, when he described his missionary work in some country I don't care about. The American people aren't idiots, you're just trying to pander to conservatives because it worked in your campaign for gov. The Democrats don't realize that these opportunities to speak to America should be without campaign slogans, like "We can do better".

The Democratic message overall was much stronger than it has been in recent weeks, criticizing the President in a much more moderate tone. The problem is, as always, that the speech didn't come up with any counter proposals to help move the nation forward. How will Democrats do better? The answer isn't the typical diatribe about healthcare or outsourcing or social security it's relating those issues to everyday people and not using campaign slogans while doing it.

If I were a Democrat running for office this election year here's what I would do:
-Talk about the contradictions in Republican Policy
-The need for better education and the cuts in education funding
-The failed Medicare Part D role-out that has confused so many seniors and looking at how to make individual state options simpler
-The mismanagement of Katrina (NOT mentioning the word crony)

-Talk about how to fix the problems in the country:
-It's all about education. Get rid of No Child and replace it will more comprehensive program or just fully fund No Child
-Create a personal interest in rebuilding the Gulf Coast
-Reform Medicare Part D to more equal coverage between plans available in a certain state and then let companies compete to provide those standards at the lowest cost
-Start a real alternative energy program, don't just talk about it. Start investing in hydrogen cars and make deadlines for their incorporation into the market. Get the US automakers involved to create jobs. Make money available through the SBA for loans to people starting businesses in related jobs like gas stations that need to convert fuels, auto parts manufacturers, engineering firms and city planners to look at risks/infrastructure concerns.
-Biggest of all: NO GAY MARRIAGE TALK, the public just isn't ready yet. This will take up time from talking about more important issues

If you don't have a plan then you don't win. It'll be fun to come back in November and see how my strategy played out.

Any comments?

Part 1 of 2

So the daily posting isn't going so well, SURPRISE! Oh well. So I thought I'd do two things today to appease all of you fans out there (I think there might actually be more than one, talk show here I come!!) is to discuss my take on the State of the Union address given this past Tuesday and then share some movie critics with you. Let's do movies first.

For those of you who don't know I recently signed up for Netflix, the online movie rental thing. It's working out great, we've been able to see about 5 or 6 movies in the past 3 weeks for like $17/mo which is a lot cheaper than Blockbuster. Anyway here are the movies we've seen lately:

Closer-We watched this one last night actually. It was a lot different from the previews, and much more vulgar than I'd anticipated. For brits, these people threw around the curse words like they were gansta rappers, and not just curse words, but vulgar (sexually explicit) words at that. Needless to say I found it amusing but I think it detracted from the movie. Overall though I thought it was good. A twist on the usual girly crap love stories.

The Life Aquatic- This, again, was nothing like the previews. Most of the movie wasn't even funny, it just dragged on and on with useless crap, much like my blog. I won't go so far as to say I hated it, but you shouldn't waste your time watching it if you haven't already.

Farenheight 9/11- Ok, how did this movie get classified as a documentary? Normally documentaries don't have an agenda, and even though I may agree that Bush is a douche this movie was so poorly done I turned it off after only 45 minutes. That 45 minutes is a part of my life I'll never get back and I regret even putting the movie in my PS2. Michael Moore is a soiled douche, plain and simple.

I also want to comment on a movie that's popular right now, Brokeback Mountain. OK people, get over yourselves, the last thing we need in this country is a bunch of gay cowboys sitting around eating pudding. Didn't we learn anything from the South Park Film Festival? Obviously not. In all seriousness if gay and lesbian people want to promote their agenda (like gay marriage) Hollywood is not the way to do it. The country as a whole will never go along with the now horribly radical liberals in Hollywood. Never gonna happen. If gays actually want equal rights they're going to have to chip single small goals off of the big block of benefits that accompanies hetero marriage.

For example, the first thing I would advocate is the ability to transfer property from one partner to another that supersedes the right of brothers and sisters to things like homes when one partner dies. You'd think a will would do that but it doesn't. If you start small and get larger with time then people are more comfortable with the end result. Last time I checked black people didn't get complete equal rights all at one time, they had to mount a sustained and prolonged fight.

I see this post is dragging on so I'm going to start a new post and get on a little bit taller soapbox when I talk about the State of the Union address.