There Goes the Ruddy Two-shoes

Archive for the ‘Medleys of Mental Activities’ Category

Chewing the Cud with Some Positivity Juju

Posted by ruddytwoshoes on January 17, 2009

I am attempting to nurse a fragile infatuation with the concept of healthy living through nourishing my psyche with positive energies.  I began to hinge on my iPod for exquisite companionship during work hours – one that has so far seen many successes in fending off the negative forces that devour my already monstrous job environment.  I started to relieve my personal network of dark and superfluous connections, so I may focus on those that offer smiles, learning, and opportunities to grow.  I purchased lifetime access to unrestricted amounts of optimism and free-flowing mementoes of how fortunate I have been in this existence, and I am eager to utilize it in each waking millisecond.

 

The world embraces indefatigable hatred and unrest as its wealth, however, so I am prepared to meet my defeat. 

 

This infatuation really is brittle, as you may observe.

 

I am giving it my best shot, though, at least within the parameters – which happen to be rather fluid parameters – of my “private” life.

 

That said, cheers, and I wish you all a beautiful year ahead.

 

 

America will be inaugurating a new presidential era in three days, and it is creating a concoction of emotions inside me.  The Bush family’s departure from the White House, along with the fact that they are not going to be replaced by the McCains, must be a cause for celebration, but I am too much of a skeptic to be entertained by the idea that Barack Obama will bring about the promises of change that so well graced his campaign literature. 

 

However, it is ridiculous, I must say, that these wing nuts are expressing a lot of anxiety over Obama’s incipient presidency, throwing words like “Marxist” and “Antichrist” around with the false sense of assurance they gather from whoever far-right media personalities they elect as their news sources.  I have yet to hear a logical explanation for what makes him the Antichrist – that news story about 6-6-6 as a winning numerical combination in the Illinois lottery sometime in November just does not do it.  My many grievances against Christian teachings aside, this numerologically-based scaremongering is just laughable baloney.   And a Marxist?  Because he expresses his favoring stronger unionization, tax increases on the rich, and a form of universal healthcare (which is not getting anywhere near “universal” after appointing Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services)?  More importantly, when did he ever declare an interest in wiping out the capitalist system?  He wants to regulate it, as opposed to eliminate it, which is admirable enough if you ask me.  Whether or not it is going to be sufficient, though, I am not certain, but from what I have seen to date, he is not striking me as an individual who is likely to stray from corporate lobbyist interests.  And, no, he is not in any way governing left.  Look at his appointees.  Even Pat Buchanan caught it.

 

He never was my first choice until he and McCain clinched their party nominations.  At that point, it became too easy to jump on the Obama bandwagon because the elections are dominated by regrettably only two parties, and voting against the bigger of the two evils quickly appeared to be the appropriate route to take.  Furthermore, putting a heptagenarian in office was just too precarious when he had for a vice president — who assumes the presidency if and when he kicks the bucket during his term — a hugely inexperienced Alaska governor who bragged about deriving her foreign policy experience from her state’s close proximity to Russia, and had no idea, prior to being coached by McCain’s aides, that Africa was a continent.  No kidding.

 

I listed Dennis Kucinich as my favorite presidential candidate after the Democratic Presidential Debate on November 11, 2007.  I fear that he is not leaving that position for a little while.  A rarity in American politics, he exudes an unpretentious regard for civil rights and the kind of mettle that does not droop when his viewpoints are faced with mainstream disapproval.  Listen to his answers during the November 11 debate:

 

 

If you want to measure him against the other participants of the said debate, watch the entire video. 

 

You can tell that, unlike the others, he was not trying to be safe with his replies whatsoever.  I can just picture Wolf Blitzer’s brain cells going ballistic over Kucinich’s responses, especially during that one invaluable moment where he publicly called for Bush’s impeachment – on national television.  Blitzer was not to let a “radical” like Kucinich challenge his patriotism in front of the American people.

 

So then came more propagandist tactics executed by the mainstream media to alienate voters from the Kucinich platform.  That he was being given very minimal speaking time during the debates was not enough – the mass media had to make sure he was portrayed greatly as a mad individual, completely out of touch with reality, and forced him to acknowledge his belief in UFO’s through a highly irrelevant question during one of the next debates in which he was allowed to participate.  He was banned from taking part in debates shortly after that – a blatant violation of the First Amendment that was shoved under the rug. 

 

“Change” has been a tremendously overused word during the past two years, but I feel that very few Americans are actually ready for it.  Many of us want to change the players but crave more of the same center-rightist policies.  I trust that a Kucinich administration has the ability to facilitate a huge and much needed change in this country, but I am not about to continue daydreaming about the possibilities.  The American population is too weighed down by McCarthyism to rationally ponder – even consider for a second – a Kucinich presidency.

 

I will closely watch what Obama does over the next four years – too short a time, perhaps, for any president to neaten the mess he is inheriting.  I am eager to know, however:  is his efficiency in solving the current economic crisis, the conflict in the Middle East, or the immigration problem going to match his impressive eloquence in speech?  What is he going to do for our poor?  How is he going to affect the worrisome situation in Gaza with a strong Jewish lobby behind him? 

 

 

Oscar Grant’s BART cop killer, Johannes Mehserle, was finally arrested on a murder charge.  If you have not been keeping tabs on the news, you must watch this spine-tingling footage of what transpired at the Fruitvale BART station on New Year’s Eve:

 

 

A white police officer shooting and killing an unarmed black man who showed no indication of aggression or intent to contest authority – all of it is sad, yet hardly surprising.  And the idea that phenomena like this are lacking in their elements of surprise doubles, triples, quadruples the horridness of the world we wake up to every morning, where racial discrimination is an inextinguishable plague that pounces on us day by day. 

 

This time, at least, the charge was appropriate, but the dramatis personae in this case would, over the next few months, do well to remember how the Los Angeles riots looked like.

 

Viva justicia.

 

 

On a much lighter note (I have to keep the positivity juju alive around here), I have given in to Comcast’s sports entertainment package, so I could stop missing my UCLA Bruins!  They are doing well this season, despite the absence of Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook, who both contributed an enormous deal to the triumphs of last year’s team.  We are presented with some of the depth that we had been missing in the previous seasons – thanks to the nation’s top recruiting class, Michael Roll’s much awaited comeback from the redshirt roster, the highly evident improvement of juniors Nikola Dragovich and James Keefe, and the splendid leadership of seniors Josh Shipp, Alfred Aboya, and the hands-down best pointguard in the country, Darren Collison.

 

 

Not to say that I had little faith in Ben Howland’s ability to develop this year’s team into something comparable to last year’s, but I was very concerned about losing Kevin Love in particular as a one-and-done Bruin to the NBA.  I know I have only been following UCLA basketball for a relatively short period of time, but I had not seen or heard about a big man performing that superbly for UCLA in the post-John Wooden era until he came onboard.  Love’s profound understanding of the game never failed to manifest itself – he just always knew where exactly he was on the court, which led to his being able to convert opportunities into points.  His aptitudes for ball handling, passing (check out that lob to Collison about 23 seconds into the video above), and scoring from anywhere (yes, even full court shots he makes happen) are addicting to watch, and I am not even going to talk about his marvelous defensive ability that made him such a perfect fit for a Howland-coached squad.  And he preserved his modesty through it all.  He was not your showman athlete with the fancy tricks; rather, he had an amazingly unselfish game that he carried out to obtain a W for the team, instead of individual statistics.  And, that, too, is a Howland team trademark.

 

Highlights of the day when he schooled thousands in Oregon and one of his greatest days in a UCLA jersey:

 

 

On the other hand, it was Westbrook’s energy that made watching UCLA an even more exhilarating experience, and there is no doubt that he was one of the more athletic players to come out of a Ben Howland program.  I will never forget that “Let’s go!” facial he did on Oregon’s LeKendric Longmire:

 

 

Anyway, I am awfully excited to see what this year’s team is capable of becoming.  UCLA is ranked 9th/7th in the nation with two losses so far (and to very good Texas and Michigan teams at that) and is currently undefeated in the PAC-10, which remains to be one of the best and strongest conferences in the NCAA.  No one ever expected this year’s big men to pull off feats similar to that of Kevin Love’s, but it is a certainty that J’Mison Morgan’s and Drew Gordon’s already obvious potential to explode will be nurtured and enhanced under the supervision of the best coach in college basketball today.  I am also anticipating Dragovich, Keefe, and Aboya to grow further during the season, both defensively and offensively.  As for the backcourt – Jrue Holiday, Collison, Shipp, and Roll – there are no big concerns at all, but I do expect to see more from Malcolm Lee and Jerime Anderson and hope to see them being given enough playing time to develop, as they will be needed greatly next year.  Plus, we want to avoid losing promising players like we did last summer when Chace Stanback left.

 

As the Wizard of Westwood has suggested, this group has the potential to be a very, very good team, so I will just sit back, relax, and watch my boys get better every single game as they make their way towards not just a probable fourth consecutive Final Four appearance, but perhaps another national championship banner for UCLA, too.

 

And 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8!

U…C…L…A!

UCLA fight, fight, fight!

 

 

 

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A Few Things

Posted by ruddytwoshoes on December 21, 2008

I thank the universe for the luck it has bestowed upon me. In a rather blue state such as Washington, I have the opportunity to spend forty hours of my week around staunch ultra-conservatives, who have posed good enough reason for a coworker, who leans center-right, to make the pronouncement that I have landed “in the wrong office.” I have, indeed, felt that way a number of times, but instead of harboring anxieties over our diametrically opposed socio-political viewpoints, I consider it sheer luck that I am in the company of individuals who further my personal growth via thought-provoking conversations. Such discussions have not only broadened my knowledge on various matters but also led me to delve deeper into my strongly held beliefs, dissect and improve my reasoning, enhance my analytical skills, and better my rhetorical abilities.

I do not remember exactly how they sprung, but several debates on gay marriage, all of which saw me as an ardent participant, silently broke out in the office in the past week. I was, not surprisingly in this case, one of, perhaps, only two people — the other one being a lesbian who has lived and parented adopted children with her partner for years — subscribing to the idea that the right to marry should be extended to same-sex couples.

Interestingly enough, the only relatively flamboyantly homosexual there, who also happens to be a devoted Republican and member of the Pentecostal Church — something that I find quite mind-boggling — is firm in his conviction that due to the purported sanctity of matrimony, gays, who he insists are all unfaithful to their partners, should not be allowed to marry. Others consistently voice their concern over the hypothetical effects of legalizing same-sex marriages on the traditional, biblically prescribed family unit — that which is created by two parents, one male and one female. Some, on the other hand, slightly go off on a tangent to maintain that homosexuality is a choice, and therefore, homosexuals have the power to choose to be heterosexuals. This gives me the impression that they do not deem same-sex marriages necessary because gays can straighten up to partake in the business of customary matrimony if they choose to do so.

To respond to the third argument, I say some people confuse sexuality and lifestyle. Lifestyle — how you express your homosexuality, what you wear, who you engage in sexual intercourse with, your manner of speaking — is a choice, no doubt. But can you name one homosexual — in a society that forces everyone to go under two and only two gender boxes — who ever said he or she wanted to be gay?

Then, to kill the first two arguments with one stone, I cite the sacredness of marriage and the gleaming, scripturally supportive family model that Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, both perfectly heterosexual, have championed.

And if that does not cut it, we can look at that super-holy matrimonial ceremony that also involved Britney Spears and a childhood friend in Las Vegas a few years ago. Oh, and what about Whitney Houston’s sanctimonious union with Bobby Brown? What about my mother’s short, unfortunate marriage with my biological father who was clearly unable to attend to his responsibilities as a husband, a parent, and a family member?

Furthermore, you are not taking marriage away from homosexuals who supposedly do not have the ability to keep marital relationships. You are taking it away from those homosexuals who are prepared to commit to, or have already committed themselves to, their partners. Besides, there is no question that heterosexuals have the tendencies to be extremely disloyal to their spouses as well. Are there really any grounds for upholding the exclusivity of marriage to heterosexuals?

And, finally, I just have to ask: What is it that really makes a marriage? Is it heterosexuality or the scientific potential to procreate? Or is it love — the magnificence of which unquestionably outshines color, geographical distance, religious denomination, and gender?

Mike Huckabee appeared on The Daily Show two weeks ago. I loved the discussion this video shows, and Jon Stewart was golden that night.

Also, watch and hear Keith Olbermann’s gripping statement a few days after Proposition 8 triumphed in California:

In addition, check out Milk, a powerful Gus Van Sant film detailing the struggles of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay city supervisor of San Francisco, starring Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, James Franco; For the Bible Tells Me So, a stirring documentary on how the Christian right wrongly exploits biblical passages to justify gender discrimination; and Nava and Dawidoff’s Created Equal: Why Gay Rights Matter to America. I am certain that there are heaps and heaps of films, videos, and literary works on gay marriage and gender equality out there, but these are what I have gotten my hands on over the last month or two.

The passing of Carol Chomsky, who contributed greatly to the study of language development, should not go without mention here tonight.

Here is the obituary that appeared on The Boston Globe yesterday.

I am deeply saddened by the news and sincerely hope that Noam, who reached his eightieth year on earth just a few days ago, does not run out of fuel to stay around a little longer. This world is going to keep needing him for a bit.

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