Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Turning purple with anticipation

Well, it's far from official, but it's looking more and more like Bethany and I live in a purple state.

CNN is reporting that Barack Obama has doubled his lead in Colorado, leading John McCain 53-45 as of this writing.

There's still a long way to go (but only a few more days), but I just wanted it on the record that when WE moved here, it was a red state (infer from that what you will).

Marxism on the rise?

I already wrote an MTS blog about the recent charges of “Marxism” brought against Barack Obama by citizens who seem not to know what Marxism is. After tracking back the claims through my social network, I discovered the charge originated with Tom DeLay, passed along as talking points to a group of conservative bloggers.

The smear campaign appears to be working, not necessarily in hurting Obama’s chances of winning the election, but at least in leading at least some Americans to express fear about a word that appears new to their personal lexicon.

But I thought I’d go ahead and write a blog post about the recent rise in discourse about Marxism and socialism (which are paradoxically used interchangeably, as if they are the same value system).

A few ironies:

  • Many conservative friends and colleagues I’ve spoken with have pointed to the $700 billion bailout of our market (really a $850 billion bailout, but why quibble over a paltry $150 billion?) as one indicator of Obama’s “socialistic views”. And yet, while G.O.P. candidate John McCain suspended his presidential campaign to oversee the crafting this monstrous act, Obama was largely criticized for not appearing enthusiastic. Why is Obama to blame for this bill when McCain seems to escape criticism from the remaining base?

  • The bailout doesn’t appear to be a good example of “socialism.” Having the Commerce Department goad the president and Congress into bailing out an industry full of private corporations is technically not socialism, but fascism (“a political system in which economy is collectively managed by employers, workers and state officials by formal mechanisms at national level.”, Davies, p. 143)

  • Fascism is hardly compatible with socialism, communism, liberalism or even conservatism. And yet, others have argued that America has become increasingly fascist since George W. Bush took office (and just Google “fascist” and “America” for quite a few more sources on this topic).

  • Whether you view the $700 billion bailout as fascism or socialism (which seems to have an amazing number of new meanings these days), neither view would be compatible with Marxism, since absolutely none of this money is directly delivered to workers.

And yet, somehow, Barack Obama is both a “socialist” and a “Marxist”? (Again, never mind the contradiction between these two claims).

How can someone running for public office in a democracy be charged with demonstrating Marxist views? By definition, wouldn't that individual be calling for a worker's revolution or a military coup?

We apparently need a new emphasis on civics education in this country if our democracy is to function. Or at least (read: AT THE VERY LEAST) teach our citizenry how to use Google and Wikipedia BEFORE its members engage in whisper campaigns.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Well, I voted today.

Navigating through all the changes in culture between Colorado and Texas was a pain, but I'm good for a couple of years.

I actually was confused for a moment when I didn't see John Cornyn's name on the ballot. I had already voted for president and spent a few moments perplexed before I realized "Duh, I'm not in Texas anymore."

Who did I vote for? Let's just say that I've now voted in five presidential elections: three times for one party's candidate and two times for the other party's candidate. If my politics follow their current course, I'll probably break even in 2012.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The First Snow

We were told we would not make it out of October without seeing snow in Nederland, and that once it stuck, we would probably see it until May.

Last night, it began to snow: a little at first and then heavier as the night wore on.

Although I am coming to understand that "heavy snow" is a matter of cultural experience.

Before it was over, we received about 2 1/2 inches of snow. For us, who have seen about that much when you combine all four years of our Dallas tenure, this was quite a bit.

However, I found in my AP style manual this morning that "heavy snow" refers to amounts greater than 4 inches in a 12-hour period. So we did not have heavy snow, but half-heavy snow.

I took three sets of photos: one from the night the snow began, one from the morning after and a final set from the late afternoon of the same day.

It turns out that Austin LOVES snow. We were worried about this, because in Dallas Austin seemed to freak out at the moderately cool winter evenings. He has a tendency to burrow into the warmest place he can find on most occasions.

But in the snow, he's a different animal altogether.

Austin tears up the hillside, jams his nose into the snow, races through the trees and just generally rockets across the snow like a dog we've never seen.

He's a Tibetan Spaniel. Up until now, we thought it was merely because his spaniel ears look like Sherpa ears muffs. Now, we're wondering if he isn't more suited to the cold winter environment than the warmth of Texas.

As usual, we took dozens of photos of Austin, all of which can be found in my photo archive.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Texas 45, OU 35

Thank goodness!

With almost no running game, a mostly freshman secondary and a flat showing the previous week, I was concerned that the OU Sooners were going to run all over the Texas Longhorns this weekend.

Not so.

Texas, who trailed until late in the third quarter, slowly gained the advantage and mounted several impressive drive late in the game to outscore the Sooners by 10.

Bethany and I watched the game in the Pioneer Inn, a small bar in Nederland. The only other game-watcher was a loud OU fan, who took many opportunities to rub in OU's early success.

Thankfully, we pulled it out. We're not gloaters, and we simply left the post-game reaction to a "good game" comment.

But we've been here before. Texas has three tough games ahead against ranked opponents, so I'll breathe easier when we hit the "Baylor break." :-)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

My Brother's Birthday

I love JibJab.

Ever since the first videos they created, I've been a huge fan.

My brother's birthday is today, and I just couldn't help putting him in the latest Job Jab video, "Campaigning."

Here it is:

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

CU vs. Texas ... an unusual homecoming.

Well, it's no secret that Bethany and I have been looking forward to the October 4th weekend. And it's not because it's CU's homecoming.

This weekend, we had a homecoming of our own. The Texas Longhorns came to town, and with them came our uncle Larry and aunt Nancy.

We had a great weekend. We met Larry and Nancy Friday night at Bacaro Venetian Taverna, a wonderful Italian restaurant in the West End of the Pearl Street Mall. We ate and traded stories and then made our way down Pearl Street (against the tide of the CU Homecoming parade, as it turns out).

The Fullers followed us back to our house where we turned in early.

Bethany made breakfast the next morning and then, after a quick tour of Nederland, we drove to Boulder to take a quick tour of the CU campus.

We ate lunch on the Hill, combining Jimmy Johns sandwiches with a sampling of the local brew. Then we headed off to the stadium.

It rained just as we arrived at the stadium, but as with most Colorado showers, it dried up quickly.

The game was great. Texas looked a little flat, but handled the Buffaloes. We sat directly in the home section, but received little harassment (CU fans are MUCH more gracious than most of our Big 12 South rival fans).

After the game, we headed home for some wine and relaxation and called it a day.

After so many weeks of unfamiliar adjustments, it was wonderful to fall back into some familiar routines.

I just hope Texas picks it up before the showdown with OU next week.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Pictures of our house posted

Things finally slowed down enough for me to take and post some photos of our new house.

We live on Caribou Road, just 1.5 miles from downtown Nederland. The house was a spec home built in 2004, which we are renting (we'd have to be crazy to enter a mortgage with the economy being what it is). It has 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms (though the bottom floor, including two bedrooms and one bath, are unfinished and currently used for storage).

The property is located on a small mountainside amidst an aspen grove. Th trees are beautiful and the breeze is amazing.

The silence actually makes my ears ring at night. Too much city life for me, apparently.

Austin loves his surroundings. More to see and chase than he ever had in Dallas.

For good measure, I also included some pictures of him.