Monday, February 28, 2011


Today I lost my beloved 80 GB iPod. Or rather, I discovered it was missing; I only know I lost it sometime this weekend. It's pretty tough, but I'll survive...somehow. Actually, I'm encouraged by how little the loss is affecting me. (Though this is probably partly because I still have my internet-capable iPod Touch) The sudden loss of something I've used almost every day for years got me thinking about the importance of not getting overly attached to possessions, because ultimately we can't keep any of them.

How you approach material things depends on your worldview of course. If you believe there is nothing after this life, then go ahead and enjoy your things; you might as well. But if you believe there is something that comes after death, something eternal, then it's foolish not to seek things that matter in that. Jesus taught that we should not "
Store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Imagine your most prized possession (which, admittedly, my iPod was not). Suppose it was suddenly gone. (Or do more than imagine and go without it for X days) If this is unthinkable, maybe you need to think about your attachment. No thing lasts forever.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Another Political Rant (sorry)

I think I've been one of the very few people I know to remain silent about the debacle going on in the Wisconsin state capitol thus far, but as a fellow blogospherite, I feel like I should give my two cents.

Shameful. I can't sum up the situation any better. Scott Walker's unyielding insistence on pushing what seems to me to be a highly personal agenda, particularly the part that strips union workers of their collective bargaining rights, strikes me as almost...evil.  But Democrats' undermining of the democratic process, personal attacks on Walker, and equal refusal to negotiate are no more impressive.

The fiasco is an outstanding example of the polarization I've been seeing in the political scene ever since I became old enough to follow it. Democracy was (and continues to be, on small scales) a process that took a nation of widely differing views and distilled them into decisions that, while not always smart or agreeable, worked well enough to get America through some pretty intense history. Today, there's not much going on in government that I would call "decision". Just imagine if a world war were happening today. Or an impending meteor strike.

At some point in the past 60 or so years, political debate turned into argument and outright strife, and opposing viewpoints became opposing sides in an idealogical war. Listening to other views took a back seat to being right, and talking to like-minded people who are also right. There is an incredibly pervasive "us vs. them" mentality in state and federal politics. Political parties no longer seek to merely influence policy according to their platforms, but to gain total control. Being an amateur commentator, I can only speculate on why. I suspect the culture of the internet and its serving as a medium for debate have contributed. (PoliSci/Sociology majors: senior thesis! Credit me!)

If, as I suspect, I'm not making my point clear enough, the situation in Madison speaks much more clearly. Both sides have repeatedly shown a complete unwillingness to negotiate: Republicans by sticking to their guns and continuing to try to push Walker's legislation through, and Democrats by filling (and fleeing) the capitol in protest. I would expect this kind of behavior from children arguing over whose toy is whose, not grown adults and elected officials.

So, readers, I urge you to take a step back. Look at where all this partisanship has gotten us. Stop blindly supporting your chosen side and think for yourself. Realize that maybe, just maybe, you might not be entirely right. Talk to someone  with a different ideology and really listen. An open mind needs to be cultivated and actively maintained, but it is one of the most valuable things in life.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

American Football Championship Game!

So, how 'bout that Super Bowl? Two of the best teams in American football coming together to beat the crap out of each other like good all-Americans for a shiny trophy. (Well, until the Packers got their hands on it--literally) The Green Bay Packers versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Seriously, what kind of a name is "Packers?" and I really think the Steelers should wear metal armor or something. That would be awesome and would make them unstoppable.

For me the big question when preparing for the Super Bowl party was simply: who to root for? It was hard to decide. At first I was thinking of picking the team with the cooler-looking uniforms. The Steelers are yellow and black, but they were wearing their away uniforms so it was more like yellow and white. Not as fun. And since they were playing in Texas for some reason, shouldn't both teams have been wearing their away uniforms? I guess Texas is a bit closer to Wisconsin, right?

So then I decided to look up all the numbers on the players' jerseys--those represent their power level, right?--add them up, and pick the team with the highest total power level. This was quickly defeated when my American football-savvy friends asked if I was counting all the players on the teams, or just the ones in for the season, or just the ones eligible to play in this game... I had no idea how confusing it was. How many players does an American football team need?

Quite a few, I learned. As the game began, the Steelers pursued a "war of attrition" strategy, taking out most of the Packers' defensive line. Were they going to run the Packers out of players? Would the Packers be forced to defend their lead with five guys by the last quarter?

So anyway, I apparently got invited to one of two Superbowl parties. The Packers one. That pretty much settled, if not which team I would root for, which team I wanted to win. Don't blame me, Minnesotans, it was the peer pressure!

But jumping back to before the game, that pre-game show was pretty exhaustive. I wasn't sure if they'd cut all the ribbons and sang all the songs they needed to to make the game officially on. Luckily we were enjoying fantastic food and each others' company. Which made it almost tolerable when the teams both ripped off two fantastic Guitar Hero/Rock Band songs for their self-promoting videos! And who was that cowboy they had narrate both of them? What a turncoat.

Apparently Christina Aguilera messed up the national anthem. I didn't notice during it, or when watching it on Youtube afterward, and eventually I had to listen while following along with the actual lyrics. Nice save. I doubt too many people noticed, right?

Anyway, back to the game. I don't really understand the rules of American football too well. Basically the teams run back and forth chasing the ball and trying to get it to their end, while beating the crap out of each other. And the Steelers were doing an especially good job of it. I kept hearing everyone groan and seeing another player getting hauled down the medical corridor. I don't think I'd enjoy American football, considering most of the players are twice my size.

How did that Ben whatever get to be a quarterback, anyway? His name is impossible to spell, and he has the lowest power level of anyone on his team! I guess it must only apply to attacking people and not to throwing, and he just left the clobbering to that guy with the bushier beard and 99 power level.

And the commercials! Excellent. For a while we rated them out of ten. I decided I liked the commercials more than either team and started rooting for them. The game was just the "commercial break", as in the break from the real show: the commercials. It was pretty funny when a completely ordinary Menards commercial aired in the middle of the high-budget ads. You'd think they'd try to do more with it.

I knew I was skipping the halftime show as soon as I heard it was the Black-Eyed Peas performing. Groan. Luckily I'd just picked up my old Sennheiser HD-201s from a friend I'd been lending them to, so I drowned the whole thing out in glorious metal. See my imminent music blog post on the mainstream. I saw a total of maybe 5 seconds of the show (all from checking if it was over) and heard about as much, so don't ask me how bad it was.

So anyway the Packers got off to a pretty early lead. Why did their endzone get painted green!? It was the right shade of green before it was painted! But of course the American Football committee or whoever controls the game--they're all fake, right?--couldn't have them washing out the Steelers, which was about when the beatdowns and injuries started. Things were looking pretty grim for the Packers going into the second half with their defensive players--especially some important Woodson guy--out of the game. The Steelers were starting to catch up. But the Packers managed to hold onto their lead until the last few minutes...

I've always wondered why, if the timer repeatedly fails to stop when the players are just walking around doing nothing, a team doesn't just stall it out. Well, today I learned why: it's lame and boring. That was a disappointing last minute. And so, through ingenuity, running around, and holding the line at all costs, the Packers won and got to touch a not-so-shiny trophy. See you next year!

Anyway, I think we can all agree who the real winners today were: those guys in the yellow pants. Also Brett Favre and all those commercials.
"What's a Bieber?"