Matt's opinion

Friday, April 28, 2006

Curiosity gets the best of Letterman

After all of that serious, somewhat depressing blogging a few minutes ago I turn on Letterman and what do I find? As soon as I turn on the TV I hear the theme song to the cleverly titled game "Will it float?" I'll give you 3 guesses as to what the point of the game is. Tonight's item up for flotation: 4lb jar of salsa in a plastic jar. If you'd like to take a few minutes and guess whether or not it stayed afloat I'll hit enter a few times to enhance the suspense

it sank. I may not be describing things accurately enough for you to get the picture but this bit was friggin hilarious. Time to go, only moments before a married couple gets fired out of a cannon. What was I saying about America reducing politics to entertainment and the eventual demise of the country again?

Breaking News: Rush Limbaugh gets off

You read it, today Rush Limbaugh was booked on charges of 'doctor shopping' and posted bail. But wait, that sentence didn't include anything about actually being arrested. That's right, he wasn't arrested. His legal activities today were part of an engineered deal between Limbaugh and Palm Co. FL prosecutors that allows Limbaugh to avoid jail time in exchange for Rush's continued attendance at a drug treatment center. Well I'm sure this isn't the first time someone's got off for a, presumably first time, drug offense but I still would've like to see good ol' Rushy dragged out in front of the camera in handcuffs and sitting behind the defendants table in court. Oh well.

Here's an interesting tid-bit, I went on to Rush's website ( and tried to listen to his radio program the other day. Turns out you have to pay to listen to his show online, to the tune of $6.95/mo or $49.95/yr. There's also a plan where you get a Rush newsletter as well as access to the Rush archives for only $59.90/yr. Do people really pay for this crap? I mean I hear some excerpts from his show every once in a while and all he does is spew BS for a few hours a day.

Speaking of a big load of crap, I've been listening to Air America radio the past couple of days. For those of you who haven't heard of it, it's basically liberal radio. I listen because Al Franken, SNL cast member from when the show was funny, has a program on that network from around noon to 3 or so. I actually like him, he's quite funny and he approaches political problems in a simple, logic way. I mention this network because after Franken's show this woman comes on and she is quite possibly the most idiotic person I've ever heard in my entire life. All she could talk about is how Bush is proposing to give tax rebates of $100 dollars to every American. Now I commented on this yesterday and I'll say it again: BAD IDEA.

This woman reached the same conclusion, but did so in 1 minute and then just kept repeating herself and saying how she can't believe that Bush is so stupid for like an hour and a half. Lady, get over yourself!!!!!! So much for being a loyal liberal radio fan. I just can't take it. I need insiteful discussion and debate, not this overwhelmingly one sided BS.

I often wonder why politics has been reduced to a mere side-show pulled out for entertainment purposes. People just don't care about politics anymore because politicians don't actually do anything anymore and this country is spiraling downward faster than ever because of it.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bipartisan what?

I heard in the news today about the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee deciding that FEMA should be completely wiped out and replaced with a new agency within the Department of Homeland Security. What's surprising about this proposal is that both parties actually agreed on it. They actually worked together on it, debated it and reached a conclusion, amazing!

The only problem about this proposal is it is absolutely the wrong thing to do. Think about it, that proposal would destroy any ounce of possible emergency management the federal government could offer people in need just as the hurricane season is about to start in another month. In the mean time a new federal agency, which ironically will look just like FEMA (but with a different name so it sounds new), will be created costing tax payers billions of dollars in costs that frankly this nation can't afford. I'm not saying that the small, if not tiny, amount of federal assistance the current FEMA could offer potential victims of a hurricane is great, but it's at least something.

What are the lawmakers thinking? That if you just make FEMA go away and create some new agency it will make all the problems that FEMA has go away with it? Who do you think is going to get the jobs in the new agency? Who else is qualified for those jobs? Why would you spend all that money on something new when you could make some changes, namely in the leadership, and things would be considerably better? Why aren't our elected officials thinking about these things? The answer is simple:it's an election year and these people think this proposal will get them more votes.

One last vote getting proposal. I'm not sure where this one comes from but I've heard on the news that Congress is considering offering $100 rebate checks for all Americans. This proposal is similar to one actually taking place in Florida, as Gov Bush is sending $100 rebates to all home owners as a result of a budget surplus. Most say the rebate is to help offset the recent high gas prices. Again, I can't help be ask why? For most people $100 bucks will cover say two or three fill-ups. Then what? So poll numbers will go up for a couple weeks and then go right back down to where they were or even lower because you didn't use that money to invest in something that will provide meaningful returns for all Americans to see that you're doing something right. Examples of such an investment might be: grants to high growth areas for schools, hiring the right people for FEMA, U.S. Boarder Control and Customs, Port Security, Re-newable energy infrastructure.... I could go on but you get the idea.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Democratic Strategy Review

So as I was watching the Sunday talk shows yesterday I noticed that almost everyone is talking about the democrats taking back Congress in the upcoming midterm elections and the strategies of both parties to either make that happen or not. Then I remembered that a while back, on this blog, I laid out what I thought the democratic message should be including several talking points democrats could use to be more effective in their campaigns. I'd like to take a few minutes and review those comments and discuss if those are being used or not. If you don't remember, I discussed this in my Feb 2, 2006 post.

1) Talking points:
-Contradictions in Republican policy
-Republican cuts in education funding
-Failed Medicare Part D role-out
-Mismanagement of Katrina (NOT mentioning the word crony)

So far Democrats really haven't done any of these things effectively. The one thing I have heard a lot of lately is the Dems are going to talk a lot about Katrina and general incompetence throughout the administration. I just don't think that will work. When you are the minority party you have to be specific and use overwhelmingly clear logic as to how the majority party is incompetent and what they did wrong. The other thing that bothers me is whenever a Dem gets on TV and someone asks about healthcare instead of talking about Medicare Part D (which is frustrating everyone in America) they start rambling on about universal health care coverage. STOP TALKING ABOUT UNIVERSAL COVERAGE!!!!!!

Any time someone thinks about universal coverage they thing about communism or massive government programs or anything except making sure all Americans can get adequate healthcare. If Dems can't control their urges to about healthcare then talk about the plan passed recently in Massachusetts, it's close to universal coverage but it's not a huge government program.

Ok Matt, enough attacking and let's start talking about action. As you said before, the Dems can criticize all they want but if there's no plan of action for a return to a great America then the Dems don't win.

What I said before:
1) All about education
2)Create personal interest in rebuilding Gulf Coast
3)Reform Medicare Part D by reducing the number of available plans from the hundreds to tens and requiring companies to be more flexible with covered medications
4)Start real alternative energy program
5)No gay marriage talk

Again, the Dems have been way too general in their criticism of this administration. Yes, they talk about high gas prices and that the federal government was asleep during Katrina, but COME ON!!! I'm dying over here in ambiguously unspecific land. Everyone knows they screwed up!! How do we fix the response? Get involved! Why isn't someone on the Homeland Security Committee out there making speeches? Why aren't people calling for specific reforms? Hell, I've been through a few hurricanes, I could almost be an effective FEMA director.

What peeves me the most these days is all the talk about high gas prices. Get over it!! We need to invest in alternative energy, and not just research, actual infrastructure. We have the technology, we have several alternatives like ethanol and other biofuels but we don't have the infrastructure to process it or transport it. One of the big reasons that gas prices are the way they are now is that we can't get enough ethanol into the gas supply so we're supply limited because we didn't have the necessary piping, shipping, and processing infrastructure in place for this transition from MTBE's.

If gas prices continue to be an issue this summer and through fall I'd make this a big issue. If there was one issue besides Iraq that would decide the election it's this. If you build the infrastructure then we buy less oil from middle east and we become less dependent on them, meaning we can be more forcefully diplomatically in resisting their attempts at acquiring nuclear weapons and denying Israel's right to exist.

Whew! And I didn't even touch on Iraq yet. That's all I got though, it's getting late and if I started talking about Iraq I'd write for about another hour. Hope you found this interesting.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

From Big East to Big Ten

For those of you who haven't already heard, I got into Northwestern. I got the letter about a week ago and I was jumping up and down at the mailbox, making the lady next to me very uncomfortable. So now that the wait for the decision is over it's time to starting looking for summer jobs and for Melissa to look for a new job up north. Other than that it's just a waiting game till the big move.

That's it for now. I really don't have much motivation to blog, I just wanted to tell those who hadn't found out the good news. Perhaps I'll be more motivated after watching the Sunday talk shows and reading the opinion columns in the paper. I have some thoughts about the immigration legislation that's before congress right now, but I'll save those for another time. Melissa and I are going to a friend's house for dinner tonight and Melissa has to approve my wardrobe, because I'm obviously not capable of dressing myself in a respectable fashion (just a hint of sarcasm).

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The thesis has been defeated

Isn't that a Jack Johnson song? Oh wait, that's "the horizon has been defeated", my bad. I finally get to say this: I'M DONE WITH MY THESIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now all I have to do to graduate is a class project and pass an exam for my fluvial geomorph class. It's actually a little sad, because there's so much I think I should be doing, that's pretty much it. Although that's not exactly true, there are some more things I need to do, like turn my thesis into a journal article, and work on another paper from the work we (a class) did in the Geopark on campus. I think there are a few other minor things but that's not bad. I will post a link to my thesis when it becomes available online through the USF library.

I still haven't heard a definitive yes or no from Northwestern, which is really frustrating. It's been more than 2 weeks since my visit. You'd think they would get together right afterwards and decide but I guess not. Although I should say that it's possible that they did meet and decided but the letter just hasn't arrived yet, but damnit that's frustrating too. Stupid mail.

Other than that I'm kinda waiting in limbo to finish my projects and hear where I'm going to be next fall. The one bad thing is that if Northwestern for some reason dosen't accept me then I would go to Northern IL, and that prof has to be getting impatient with me holding out on making a decision for this long. They offered me a spot there about a month ago. He seemed to understand that I was waiting on other offers and that could take time but how long will he wait?

Oh, for those of you who are dying to know what book I decided to read next I picked up John McCain's book "Character is Destiny" last night. It's different from what I'd thought it would be. It's not stories from his life, but stories about historical figures' lives and how they demonstrated the kind of character we should emulate. The first story is about Thomas Moore, an English man who would not betray his faith despite a death sentence from King Henry V (or was it Henry VIII, I can't remember now). I'll keep you updated on how it goes. Next up is Ghandi, but I don't care what kind of character I read about, I'm not starving myself to protest anything. If Bush cared how well I ate he would be concerned with how middle class wages, after being adjusted for inflation, are going down while weathy people are earning more. Zing!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Don't be so defensive

For those of you who are on the edge of your seat waiting for news from my defense.................... I passed. My talk went ~35 minutes and I was done with the whole thing (post defense questions from committee and all) in about 2 hours.

It wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined. For the most part my committee made more recommendations on how to improve my thesis rather than drilling me about why I did what and when. I'm starting on the revisions tomorrow and I should be done by the end of the week (hopefully). I wish I could say it was a huge relief to be done but it just wasn't. I'm still really anxious about where I'll be this fall.

The good news is that I had nothing to do this weekend, which is the first time in quite a long time that's happened. Saturday I read the newspaper for the first time in 3 weeks, and finished reading Al Franken's book "The Truth, with jokes" which was funny, but just a rehashing of all the gripes about the Bush White House. I'm having trouble deciding what to read next, maybe you all can help. Should I read "The Da Vinci Code" or "Character is Destiny" by John McCain?

Today we went to the coolest beach I think I've ever been to. It was at Fort DeSoto Park near St. Petersburg. There wasn't a condo development in site!!! I would recommend this park over Clearwater Beach any day of the week. Miles of beautiful beach with crystal clear water that's shallow enough for you to walk out about 50 feet or so and only be 2-3 feet deep. Ironically the water at Clearwater Beach isn't clear, false advertisement if you ask me.

That's all for now, let me know what you think about the next book to read.