Saturday, August 30, 2008

Every Game Has Its Rules

Sometimes the idea strikes me that life is just like an intricate series of games.

As children, we play games to mimic adult behavior, as training for the realities of adulthood.

But sometimes I wonder about the reasoning behind individual actions. Some of the things we do a certain way because we are taught, but other times we do things a certain way because of our own instincts.

But everyone plays. Even adults. But the people who use the term "play" the most of all, are young adolescents, teenagers, college students...those making the transition from childhood to adulthood.

Don't believe me?

Did you ever play in the band? Did you play football? Or are you just a player, straight up?

We won't let people associate with us unless they follow a strict series of rules, which more often than not is a very good thing for us.

For example:

Want to be my friend? Don't be rude. Don't annoy me. Don't antagonize me. Please respect my feelings. Please respect my personal space. Please respect my belongings.

Those are all very simple and obvious rules, because friendship is one the least complex relationships that we form as humans. That is why very small children can be friends, because the game does not require an overwhelming amount of skill or technique.

Other relationships (games) are more difficult, and the closer you get to someone, the more difficult it becomes to play the game, and the more rules you must follow.

I am strongly interested in evolution, and how the human brain works, specifically. I believe that the way we act is in very large part determined by evolutionary precedent, in a much bigger way than we have previously realized.

Based on previous experiences and our own intuition, we define rules for our own protection before we will enter into any kind of relationship or friendship with another human. Everyone has their own rules, some greater, some lesser than the norm. I believe that humans practice natural selection much more than we realize. Other animals have specific mating patterns, and we say, hogwash, we don't; I choose who I want. But no, we very much do have specific mating patterns. These rules we create (and/or are born with) are the patterns we follow: not every single detail of these rules is specific to everyone, but everyone tends to form these patterns (rules) in the same way.

Human females have their own rules, as do human males, just like the individual genders of other species have their own generalized sets of rules. Just like in any other game, he who knows and follows the rules, wins the game: speaking strictly from the standpoint of evolution.

Those who do not know the rules, or cannot learn them, or cannot follow them, are eliminated. Just like in any other game. If you don't know the rules to Monopoly or Battleship, or you are incapable of learning the rules, or if you don't follow the rules or know the strategy, you're going to get killed. The same lesson applies for humans.

I hope this reasoning hasn't completely blown your minds. You'll need them later.

Believe Half of What You See And None of What You Hear

I have heard recently from several people that they believe that Sen. John McCain's selection of a female running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, is patronizing to women. However, I also believe that Walter Mondale's selection of Geraldine Ferrarro was also patronizing to women under this standard. To say otherwise, I believe, would be a double standard.

Soon after Gov. Palin's selection, I heard several TV commentators say that Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, will have to "take it easy" on Gov. Palin "because she's a woman". That attitude in and of itself is far more patronizing than any past or current action by candidates McCain or Mondale.

I am loosely a feminist, I guess. I'm for female equality; but I refuse to advance female superiority. By that sarcastic statement, I mean that if women want to be really equal, they must take the same treatment that men do. I think Biden should go after Palin, with everything in his arsenal. It's only fair. That's what he would do to any male candidate. Real equality cannot allow itself to be obscured beneath a facade of chivalry.

In lighter news, I went to the zoo today! I saw lions and tiger and (pandas). It was fun, a glorious day, though I wish it hadn't been so hot so more of the animals would have come out.

Zoos are sometimes depressing, though. When the animal enclosures obviously aren't large enough, one feels great sadness for the animals. It's a strange feeling for me, I don't care that much about animal treatment, but I can't help but wonder. By the way, read the book "Life of Pi" by...well, search for the title and you'll find it. Amazing book, excellent comparison of animals in zoos and people in society, which is such a great comparison to make, because people are animals, after all.

I was listening to Marvin Gaye's song "What's Going On?" earlier. Marvin Gaye is a great artist. This particular song though, it's really a protest song of the Vietnam war. And I was thinking, about how much protest music was written during Vietnam, and how embraced it was in popular culture. As unpopular as the war is now, I can't imagine that many people either writing or listening to protest music about the war in Iraq. Our culture has changed, and I'm not convinced that it's gone in a positive direction. It's one of many sad notes, and it's even sadder that it's been silenced.

Sweet Band Names Usher in Blaze of Glory

Just in case any of you are musicians, here are some killer names for your new group I've come up with:

-Architects of Modern Physics
-Swan Song of Blood
-State of the Union
-Devil's Advocate
-To Be Announced (really, anytime someone hasn't scheduled a band yet, they'll think it's you...think about its potential)

You know what would be really great? A parody of John McCain written by a musician named Emcee 'Cain. Wouldn't that be completely awesome?

"If there's terror in the house -- Emcee 'Cain!"
"Do you want a man or mouse? -- Emcee 'Cain!"

I heard a few weeks ago that Barack Obama's favorite song is "Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones. Not a bad choice, except that the song references rape, murder, and lyrics such as "war, children, it's just a shot away." Not such a great thing to draw attention to if you're an aspiring President...and not the best way to connect to "middle America" voters. Sure, you may like the song, as I do, but do you really want to remind Americans of the skeletons of the Vietnam era? We all know exactly what happened to the last Presidential candidate who did that...John Kerry...who was defeated.

John McCain's campaign says that he is a big fan of the artist Usher. Right. I'm sure John McCain is a huge fan. Come on, really? I'd pay to see John McCain listen to Usher. Actually, it'd be priceless.

Have I mentioned that I love Rep. Robert Wexler (D., Florida)? Anyone who is vaguely familiar with the show The Colbert Report will know exactly what I'm talking about. But just as importantly, Wexler is a strong voice on issues of the environment and holding the government accountable for its actions. Congress's failure to exercise its basic duty to monitor and restrain the Executive Branch is one important reason why the American people have lost even more faith in Congress recently than they have in the Bush Administration.

If any of you are fans of Brad Neely's George Washington video, I feel obligated to tell you that he also has a hilarious video about JFK. It's not on YouTube, so you'll have to go to Search under "JFK" or "History Lesson No. 1".

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain Selects Running Mate, Soulmate Still Open for Suggestions

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the expected Republican nominee, has chosen young Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), to be his running mate on the 2008 Republican ticket.

It's an intriguing selection by McCain, a sign that the candidate may actually possess a few keen political instincts. I know commentators have said that VP picks don't really matter, but if McCain had selected Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty (Gov. of Minnesota, R), I could have today virtually guaranteed McCain's defeat in November. With the selection of Gov. Palin, McCain somehow continues to actually have a chance of victory in a campaign that his opponent's party is heavily favored in, in a year where anti-conservative, specifically anti-Bush and anti-neocon sentiment, has appeared to reach an all-time high.

So why does the choice of Palin, a relatively obscure figure in national politics, provide McCain such a solid boost in the political standings?

Gov. Palin is female. Her selection is obviously an overture to disgruntled supporters of former Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton. Also, Palin came into office as the Governor of Alaska by defeating an incumbent Republican who had plentiful connections to big oil in the state, while she promised to clean up Alaska's political system. Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) recently came under criminal indictment for his (alledged) deals under-the-table with an oil services company to provide him free services in exchange for his support. Alaska Rep. Don Young (R) was also charged.

So Gov. Palin carries some serious "reformer" street cred by helping to clean up Alaska politics. It's important for McCain to continue calling himself a reformer so he can avoid the stigma of the Bush-Cheney administration the Democrats have consistently tried to tie him to. One Democratic speaker observed this week that "McCain and Bush are awfully close lately" and joked about the Republican convention meeting in Minneapolis/St. Paul, the "twin cities".

Palin, while holding a solid conservative record (pro-life, pro-NRA, pro-oil), apparently lessens the appearance that McCain is just "a twin" of George W. Bush.

And as I have previously stated, it really doesn't hurt that she is a woman.

If any of you readers are former and/or current supporters of Sen. Clinton, I'd love to hear your thoughts on McCain's selection of a female running mate.

It poses an interesting quandary: what's more important to Clinton supporters, electing a woman to high office by voting for McCain-Palin, or promoting liberal policies and stopping the conservatives by voting for Barack Obama?

Or is Palin just conservative enough to appear anti-feminist despite being a woman? Or is one of the ultimate goals of the feminist movement, to empower women, ultimately more important than petty political differences between parties or ideologies? This is clearly a chance for a new generation to define the feminist movement. If you are a woman, and a feminist, what's important to you? What would you like to see in America to improve it for women?

I do believe that McCain's selection of Palin was a great political move, but it is up to history, and ultimately up to this generation, to decide what her selection means for women, and for America as a whole.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

White Collar, Blue Collar, Just Don't Pop Your Collar

This past week, the Democratic Party convention held in Denver, CO electrified millions of Americans, and the Republican Party convention possesses the potential to electrify millions of Americans as well: in anticipation of better TV viewing once the NFL season starts in a few weeks.

Barack Obama is now the official Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. For his running mate, he has selected Democratic Senator Joe Biden, of Delaware. A man who once plagiarized parts of a speech from a British parliamentarian, a man who composes every sentence with the following elements: a noun, a verb, and an onslaught of cops, firefighters, teachers, and line workers.

Obama's rationale for selecting Biden appears to be Biden's ability to connect with "blue collar" citizens, who in many cases just happen to be "cops, firefighters, teachers, and line workers". Also, Biden has considerable experience in foreign policy. He went to Georgia recently on a diplomatic mission. He is also the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee. He openly refers to his wife as "drop dead gorgeous". A fortuitous catchphrase for a possible Vice President?

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have once again come mindnumbingly close to outdoing each other: fortunately, this time the contest is between which of the two politicians could deliver a more effective speech at the Denver convention. Both Sens. Clinton and Obama were freakin' amazing at the podium. Obama had so many great one-liners, I wondered if he could have a chance on "Last Comic Standing". Perhaps he should share a timeslot on NBC with George Bush's new show, "Last Neocon Standing".

I'm glad Senator Clinton was able to make it Denver A-OK. Unfortunately, she couldn't rid herself of her jumpsuit and escape from incarceration in time to make her convention appearance. Orange pantsuit? Really? Orange really isn't her color...who does she think she is anyways? Tom Ridge? John Ashcroft? Fashion Homeland Security Alert: Level High!

Barack Obama said the word "change" a grand total of fifteen (15) times during his speech on Thursday night at Invesco Field. For a 42 minute speech, that's not actually a bad ratio by Obama. He typically uses the word so many times in speeches that listeners begin to wonder if the change he promises at the end of a speech hasn't itself changed since the beginning of his speech.

In the next day or two, expected Republican nominee Sen. John McCain is expected to choose his running mate on the GOP ticket. Prospective candidates to ensure McCain's victory include, but are not limited to:

Master Yoda (Pro: strong resolve against terror)

(Con: violates classic rule "never pick a VP who looks better than you do")

Edward Cullen (Pro: stops loss of the youth vote to Obama)

(Con: reinforces McCain's old age by picking 117-year-old)

Rihanna (Pro: female, African-American, more popular than George Bush)

(Con: heartbeat away from the Presidency)

Emeril Lagasse (Pro: promises to "kick it up a notch" in war on terrorism)

(Con: too many cooks in the kitchen?)

Mitt Romney (Pro: counteracts Obama as another "candidate of change")

(Con: owns more flip-flops than Kerry, also from Massachusetts)

Salutation and Introduction

What is this wondrous series of tubes I spy?

Before I proceed to arbitrarily dump material on these tubes, I feel that a (somewhat) brief introduction is necessary.

I am a poli. sci./history major/aspiring writer.

This is a place for me to note my random thoughts and observations that occur to me. I will attempt to explain why I am writing these down.

To begin with, "Teleprompter" is kind of an Internet alias of mine, in an ironic sensibility. I view it as the culmination of the gaping disconnect between politicians and average citizens that the teleprompter has become the hallmark of the governing class. Between the politicians who are out of touch with the needs of typical American citizens, and the civic ignorance of most Americans, the teleprompter stands as the ultimate symbol for the current dysfunction of our democratic process in the United States.

I believe in the power of the average citizen to stand up for justice. I believe in the power of comedy to reveal and demolish hypocrisy, lies, and double standards. I strongly believe in the ability of a few well-reasoned and able citizens to come together to affect change when it is so desperately required.

This will certainly not be limited to the serious; this will certainly not be all about politics. This will be about living and life in general, slapstick and sarcasm and satire. I may note some things of interest that happen to me, or memories that are lodged in my psyche, or notable things I observe.

Most of all, I just hope someone will read this. Welcome!