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Wide White: January 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007

One more reason I won't vote for Obama

He's a nice guy. He's well-spoken. He's fresh-faced.

He's also in favor of universal health care.

Just ask Canada and most of Europe how successful that is. Ask them how the months-long waiting lines for their "free" health care (not to mention the outrageous taxes they require to be supported) are working out.

(By the way, this is coming from the perspective of someone who did not have any health insurance for quite some time between leaving home and just three months ago.)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Hillary Clinton did WHAT?!?

Found this in a mini-bio on Hillary Clinton.
INTERESTING NOTE: After graduating from Wellesley College in 1969, Clinton spent the summer gutting salmon at a fishery in Valdez, Alaska.
This confirms it...she IS a man!!!!

(Yes, I understand that is a blatantly sexist thing to say. I'm not inferring that women can't work at fisheries in Alaska. I'm simply recognizing that social norms probably wouldn't lend to such work from a woman. So sue me.)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Another attempt at a no-spanking law

May this too go down in flames.
A California lawmaker says she has proposed a law that would make spanking a small child a crime to be punished by jail time or a fine.

The bill, backed by Democrat Sally Lieber of San Francisco, a member of the state legislature, would outlaw spanking children three years old or younger and carry a possible penalty of jail time or a 1,000-dollar fine.

"I think it's pretty hard to argue you need to beat a child three years old or younger," said Lieber, who plans to introduce the bill next week.

The bill, which was still being drafted, would make the crime a misdemeanor and be written to ban "any striking of a child, any corporal punishment, smacking, hitting, punching, any of that," Lieber said.
Oh, but it IS okay to beat a child older than 3 years old? Face it Lieber, you're using the term "beat" for the shock effect.

But, what do you expect from a San Francisco Democrat?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Barack is running

You don't form a Presidential Exploratory Committee unless you're actually running.

Barack has played his cards well. He's new to Washington, having been elected with over 80% of the vote in 2004, so he never really had a vote on the Iraq War. He's considered "moderate," though he's unabashedly liberal both socially and economically. Somehow though, he's convinced the media that he's willing to work across party lines.

I'm not sure how he's convinced us of this. It must be his good camera face. Even I like the guy. He's nice. I don't detest him. But simply saying that you'll work across party lines doesn't mean you will. When it comes down to it, Barack will still stay on his side of the aisle on the hot button issues. He may not talk about them much at all because the smart thing politically is to not talk about them. But he does believe them.

He's downplayed his role as a presidential candidate until the hype got so big you knew he just had to run. Right here in the Twin Cities, rallies have been held with hundreds and even thousands in attendance with one express purpose: "Run Obama, Run!"

If things continue as they have been for the next year and a half, Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee. There's no question about that. What is in question is what will happen once the media and the Republican Party have gutted him for all the public to see.

In other word, will his popularity stand up when dragged through the fire?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Thank You President Bush

Dear Mr. President,

I just noticed that the price of gas across the street is down to $1.95 a gallon. Obviously, this must be your doing. I've noticed that every time the price of gas goes up, you get the blame. So, I naturally assume that you must be the reason that it has come down a whole dollar per gallon in the last six months.

Oh, I know that your approval rating is at an all-time low of 32%. What do I care? My gas is cheap! And you're to thank!

You're the greatest president ever! What other president has ever brought the price of gas down an entire dollar during their term? YOU ROCK!!!


Stupid American Citizen Who Thinks the President Controls Everything (including, but not limited to, the price of gas, my salary, my lack of a salary, how quickly my disaster relief arrives, the number of murders in my city, and global warming)

The tax man giveth, the tax man taketh away

A long-time Stillwater, MN, bookstore has been claimed by taxes that are too high.
"After 17 years of selling books in downtown, the tax man has finally driven business into the ground," owner Thomas Loome said. "Count, therefore, on one more large empty building in downtown Stillwater."

Loome's taxes on his 12,000-square-foot bookstore are now pushing $30,000, up about 45 percent from 2006.

"This is just the last straw," he said. "I'm literally in the position of having to go to the bank to borrow the money to pay my taxes."
"The downtown is failing, and businesses are pulling out, and the 'for rent' and 'for sale' signs are posted up and down and all around," he said. "And the end is not in sight. People like me, an independent sole proprietor, doing the best we can, we just can't compete."
It's no surprise that it's a Democrat - one who's been in office all of a few weeks - is running to the rescue.
Sen. Kathy Saltzman, DFL-Woodbury, represents the southern part of downtown and will meet with merchants Jan. 25.

"When you see small businesses struggling with this, we've got a problem," she said. "We have to have a strong downtown."
And what is she going to do about it? You're talking about someone who upset the incumbent on a platform that included a blatant willingness to RAISE TAXES!!!

Good grief.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Soon cars will be shorter than me

The new (to America) Lilliput by Daimler-Chrysler is 8 feet, 2 inches long, making it less than 2 feet longer than I am.

Pretty soon cars will be so small they won't even need gas.

No, wait. My bad. Those are strollers.

(You may recognize the name "Lilliput" from the book Gulliver's Travels. Maybe not. I had to read it for school though, and Lilliput is an island nation on which tiny people who are around 6 inches tall live.)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

February 24, 2007

That's when I'm getting married to the world's greatest girl.

This was decided a week ago, but I thought I should let you all know. We're getting married at Cove Point Lodge, which is pretty much exactly what we were looking for in a venue. (To see the room we're getting married in, click Virtual Tour on the bottom left side of the page. It's the first room that comes up, the Great Hall.) Only 35 people will be there (us, our immediate family and grandparents, our wedding party, and Pastor Brian and Jen with their newborn).

We'll be on a cruise in Hawaii for our honeymoon on the Pride of Aloha :) It's been a dream of mine for a long time to make Hawaii - the 50th state I'll have visited - my honeymoon trip. I guess I've just thought it would be special to share the last state with that special person.

An open house reception is in the works for when we get back. I'll try to keep you posted.

(Oh, and I just realized my last post was my 600th. For what it's worth.)

The United Kingdom, Great Britain, Scotland: deciphering what it all means

There is often great confusion over the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England. Scotland, Wales, and Ireland are often a part of this confusion as well, as they were in my last post. So, I thought I'd clear up all confusion once and for all.

1. United Kingdom

This is defined as "a country and a sovereign state." Its official name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is also defined as "a political union made up of four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland."

The Act of Union 1800 actually joined the entire island of Ireland with the island of Great Britain, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. This union lasted until 1922, when the Irish Free State (later called the Republic of Ireland, comprising all of the island of Ireland except Northern Ireland) broke off from the United Kingdom.

2. Great Britain

As noted in the official name of the United Kingdom, Great Britain is just a part of the greater United Kingdom. It is actually the largest island in the British Isles, comprised of England, Scotland, and Wales. Only Northern Ireland is not a part of Great Britain (as is obvious in the United Kingdom's name). Northern Ireland is part of the island of Ireland (not to be confused with the country, the Republic of Ireland).

The political union known as the Kingdom of Great Britain was formed with the Acts of Union 1707. This seems to be where the terminology of the country of "Great Britain" began. Technically, it is now the United Kingdom, not Great Britain. Great Britain is simply an island, not a country.

But, while England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland all compete at the Olympics under one banner, that banner is "Great Britain". Last year, one medal went to "Great Britain". The country's official Olympic website encourages support for "Team GB".

Whether they're holding onto "Great Britain" because of the uncertainty of things in Ireland or not is beyond me. Maybe it's sort of like us calling the United States of America simply America. Yes, there's North and South America, but who wants to use 9 syllables to say their country's name (or in the United Kingdom's case, 14 syllables). Still, don't you feel just a little sorry for the poor folks in Northern Ireland?

Well, I do.

In any event, Wikipedia offers this:
In everyday speech and non-official writing in all English-speaking and most other countries, "Great Britain", and simply "Britain", are much more commonly used than "United Kingdom" to designate the sovereign state officially known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (see United Kingdom). In addition, "Great Britain" and/or the abbreviation "GB" (or "GBR") are officially used for the entire UK by the Universal Postal Union, the International Olympic Committee, NATO, the International Organization for Standardization, and other organisations.
So, make what sense you can of it, but it is what it is.

Wikipedia also has this to offer on the terminology:
"Great Britain" is used as an abbreviation for the country formally known as the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".

The United Kingdom includes Northern Ireland in addition to the three countries that make up Great Britain. The three countries that make up Great Britain itself collectively include over 100 other islands.

The correct international foreign vehicle identification code for the whole of the United Kingdom is GB as are the ISO 3166 geocodes GB and GBR.

The same abbreviation, 'GB', is used informally, for example, in the Olympic Games, where the United Kingdom team may refer to themselves as 'Team GB'. A common alternative abbreviation is UK for United Kingdom, though this can potentially be confused with Ukraine. On the Internet, .uk is used as a country code top-level domain. A .gb top-level domain was also used to a limited extent in the past, but this is now defunct.

There is a similar situation with the terms Britain and British, which are used to relate to the whole of the United Kingdom, as well as overseas territories and Crown dependencies and not just the islands of Great Britain. This usage is well-established and generally considered to be correct. Examples of this are "British monarchs", "British culture" and "British citizens" - which would generally be considered to embrace the whole of the United Kingdom. As if this was not confusion enough, the term "British" also has specific historical and archaeological usage, referring to the Celtic Brython peoples on the island prior to and during the Roman occupation.

The colloquial term 'British Isles', usually refers to Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and all other islands as listed above. The Channel Islands are not included in this designation, as they are located approximately 12 miles off the coast of northwestern France and are geologically related to mainland France.

The legal term 'British Islands' refers to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland together with the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey as well as the Isle of Man.

In rugby league the RFL fields its representative side under the name Great Britain.
Okay, now that you're sufficiently confused as to what the "United Kingdom" and "Great Britain" mean in the context in which they're used, what about the "four constituent countries"? What exactly is their status?

3. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland

These have been referred to as "constituent countries," "constituent nations," "component countries," "constituent parts," and "home nations."

Rather than regurgitate information on this strange conglomerate that's already out there, I've tapped Wikipedia's wealth of knowledge, which can be found here.

(I have bolded things I thought were more pertinent for the skim readers out there. I'm not sure why...if you're skim reading, you've probably quit reading by now anyway.)
The word country does not necessarily connote political independence, so that it may, according to context, be used to refer either to the UK or one of its constituents. Thus, for example, the website of the British Prime Minister refers to "Countries within a country", stating "The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland". This article discusses the use of the phrase 'constituent countries' within that context, but it should be remembered that the phrase necessarily takes its meaning from its surrounding context which may be different.

Although the term constituent countries is sometimes used by official government bodies in the UK, such as the Office for National Statistics, it is rarely used otherwise. Far more frequently, they are simply referred to as countries; thus the UK Government's 2001 Census asked residents of the UK their "country of birth" with tick box options of: England; Wales; Scotland; Northern Ireland; Republic of Ireland and Elsewhere; and the Office for National Statistics states authoritatively in its Glossary that "In the context of the UK, each of the 4 main subdivisions (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) is referred to as a country".

The British Embassy in the United States uses the word countries on its website, rather than constituent countries: "The United Kingdom is made up of the countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."

All four have always had and continue to have distinctive variations in legislative and administrative status and England and Scotland were originally independent states. All four are still generally regarded as possessing distinct nationalities (an attribute of civil society), although they have no distinct citizenships (an attribute of the state). To varying degrees, their inhabitants may view themselves, for example, as English/Irish (Unionists may use 'Northern Irish')/Scottish/Welsh or as British by nationality, or frequently indeed as both.

Northern Ireland was the first part of the UK to have a devolved government, under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, until the Parliament of Northern Ireland was suspended in 1972. Subsequent attempts at reinstating a form of devolved government in Northern Ireland have stalled, and the area is currently governed directly by the UK government. The complex history of Northern Ireland has led to differing views as to its status, but almost nobody in day-to-day speech, and even in more semi-official or official usage, refers to it as a "country". The term "Province" is used more often by unionist and British commentators, but not by nationalists, who use the term when referring to all of the nine counties in the province of Ulster, rather than just the six counties which are still part of the United Kingdom.

Scotland and Wales adopted devolved governments in the 1990s, but have long been described as countries in their own right. Although England lacks a devolved government of its own, and no real legal existence, except as part of "England and Wales", it is almost universally thought of as a country and a nation.

All four constituent countries of the United Kingdom have political parties campaigning for further self-government or independence. In the case of Northern Ireland, both the desire for union with the Republic of Ireland and a small movement for independence from both the Republic and the UK have existed. There is a movement for self-government in Cornwall which has campaigned for Cornwall to be recognised as a constituent country of the UK, rather than its current status as an English county.
All citizens of the United Kingdom, from whichever constituent country, are British citizens (although many people in Northern Ireland are entitled to, and often do, hold Irish citizenship) and are also citizens of the European Union.
If you've made it this far, frankly, I'm very impressed. I hope you've learned something.

Nah...your'e probably just more confused. Yeah, me too.

Demand your "right to housing!"

France is granting it.

But then, is that really a surprise?
PARIS (AFP) - The French government announced plans to create a "legal right" to housing in response to a snowballing campaign that has seen a tent city for the homeless spring up in the heart of Paris.
[Prime Minister Dominique de] Villepin said the government wanted the right to become legally enforceable by 2008 for "people in the most difficult situations: the homeless, but also the working poor and single women with children."
By 2012, the government wants the right to housing to be legally enforceable for all, with a guarantee provided by the state, or in some cases regional or local authorities.

From that point onwards, "every person or family housed in unworthy or unsanitary conditions" will able to take legal action to have their rights enforced, he said.
Don't worry, there is (sort of) opposition to this.
But a spokesman for Segolene Royal, the Socialist presidential frontrunner, warned the government against making "great announcements", saying what was needed was a massive commitment to build more public housing.

The thing is, I already knew France was messed up. What irked me even more than the enforcement of a "right to housing" (I'm wondering what "legal action" you can take to have your "rights enforced" and how those "rights" are defined and what is considered to be a breach of those rights and...) was the fact that the journalist made a major blunder.
The law, if passed, would make France the second European country to guarantee the right to housing, after Scotland which adopted similar measures with its 2003 Homeless Act.
It's true that only a geography nerd like me would notice something like this, but Scotland is NOT a country!! Scotland, along with England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, are part of the United Kingdom, which IS a country.

Oh, forget it. This whole Scotland business deserves its own post.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

8-yr-old sues his parents

What's worse, his parents are encouraging it.
Teddy Harrison was 3 years old when he flew from his mom's SUV during a wreck. He suffered a serious brain injury that left him permanently disabled.

The boy, now 8, is suing his parents — with their support — for failing to buckle his car seat properly.

The Anoka County family hopes Teddy wins his suit, which would force the family's auto insurance company to pay $100,000.
And that, my friends, is the nation (or for me, the state) in which we live.

22 feet of snow...

I wish I could build one that big. But that would require snow. Which would require cold weather. Hmm... I think I'll take the 40 degrees!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tommy Thompson for President

Tommy Thompson's name has been mentioned a few times as a presidential possibility, but rarely seriously. I just saw the man in April and, while his speech was great, he's getting older, and I didn't think there was any way he'd run.

Apparently, I'm wrong.
DES MOINES, Iowa - Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson promised Wednesday to become a familiar face in Iowa in his quest for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination against better-financed rivals.

"I'm going to be here every week, at least one day every week," Thompson told The Associated Press. "I'm close enough to be able to do that and I'm going to develop a field organization and a grass-roots campaign like you haven't seen before."
I think he has a good shot at winning Iowa, considering his enormous support in his neighboring home state of Wisconsin. I think his health could be an issue, but then, everyone thought it would be an issue for Reagan too.

I love where he stands on welfare reform. He's not a diehard conservative by any stretch of the imagination, but then, I really don't think a diehard conservative will be our next president. In other words, I think old Tommy could have a shot.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Breathe easy, [if] you live in the Twin Cities

Apparently there are only 6 out of 75 U.S. cities that get a top disaster rating for readiness in case of disaster. They are:
Washington, DC
San Diego
Minneapolis-St. Paul
Columbus, Ohio
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Laramie County, Wyoming
I have yet to figure out why Laramie County is considered one of 75 cities in the U.S., or American Samoa (it finished near the bottom), but hey, I live in Minneapolis-St. Paul, so what do I care? It's safe baby!

Video of Saddam Hussein being executed

I hesitated to post this at first. I don't want it to appear that I'm taking glory in Hussein's death. I don't take any glory in Saddam Hussein's death. I think it's sad. However, this man's actions have hurt more than those in Iraq. Saddam Hussein has been a leading news story my entire life for his atrocities.

Normally only a criminal's victims are allowed to witness an execution. I don't think it's a stretch to say that Saddam Hussein's victims include everyone who has gone to Iraq or has a loved one who has gone to Iraq. In other words, I believe it is appropriate that we have the opportunity to witness Hussein's execution.

If you don't believe it's appropriate, then don't click Play.