Monday, March 31, 2008

I'm a Champion

At least that's what my plaque says. Over the weekend my younger brother and I played in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament hosted by the Houston Rockets with 2 of my cousin's in laws and managed to win or division.

I'm actually not sure how we pulled it off. Every team we played seemed to be bigger and more experienced, but we managed to go 6-1 and win. And, only one of the games was even that close.

What a fun time. I've played in dozens of sports tournaments like these and have never managed to win, so it was pretty exciting, even if it was just for bragging rights. Today I'm dealing with blistered feet, sore muscles, and a few cuts and scrapes (who knew basketball was so physical?), but it was definitely all worth it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What to Do

I've been sick this week and as a result have missed boot camp for the last few days. Which means I feel like a slacker and out of shape. I'm planning to go tomorrow and Friday, and then I'm playing in a basketball tournament this weekend, so hopefully that will help me not feel so lazy. I am sick, though, so maybe I should just cut myself some slack.

Whenever I start feeling lazy or unproductive I start thinking about things that I've kind of always wanted to do but haven't really ever done. I'm really not artistically or musically inclined at all. Basically my creativity is pretty nonexistent. I always admire people I know (both in real life and online) that are artistic or creative in some way. People that are good at art or design, people that can play music or write songs. Sometimes I wish I had that kind of talent, but every time I try I usually get frustrated with my lack of talent and give up.

I'm decent at sports (even if I need to start playing more), but for some reason something artistic seems more valuable to me. Maybe it's a "grass is greener" thing. Maybe if I got back into playing sports regularly I'd feel more content. Maybe I should just be more disciplined with my free time and force myself to actually get out and do something. Who knows.

So, for those of you that are reading, any ideas?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Is a Hummer better Than a Prius?

Is a Hummer better than a Prius? Well, if you're talking about looks, then I vote yes. And, if you're talking about hauling things around or going off road, then I vote yes again. And, if you're talking about being better for the environment, some people would say yes to that too.

You may have heard the claims (or read the email forwards) recently about the all-mighty, environmentally friendly, Prius being less green than the folks at Toyota claim. But, are they so anti-green that even a Hummer uses up less of the environment's resources? Well, that's the word around town these days, but it turns out the rumors aren't as true as they claim to be.

It all started with Rush Limbaugh. Well, actually it all started with a 400-plus page marketing report titled "Dust to Dust" from a company called CNW Marketing Research. Then the rumor got a bit more steam when the student newspaper at Central Connecticut University cited the CNW "Dust to Dust" report (yes I said student newspaper at a college you've never heard of) in an editorial. Then Rush Limbaugh really took the rumor to the next level when he praised the editorial (yes I said Rush Limbaugh praised an editorial from a student newspaper about a story that has little basis in fact--I'll save my disdain for him for another time).

So, with the rumor going full steam now, some people decided to really look into this "Dust to Dust" report. The report basically claims that the lifetime of a Hummer is more environmentally friendly than the lifetime of a Prius, from research and manufacturing until the end of the car's life. Unfortunately, it takes some pretty ridiculous liberties and makes some completely unfounded claims, including claiming the life of a Prius is only 109,000 miles when Toyota offers a warranty of 150,000 miles on the car. I'll let you decide if the claim of the average life of a hummer being 379,000 is accurate (the industry average is nearly 179,000 miles). I'll just say that I didn't know that GMs were known for their reliability, especially more than double the industry average.

Go to the article to read some more of the baseless claims this study uses to justify their opinion-shrouded-as-fact. But, you should know that the author of the student editorial partially recanted his claims from the CNW study, basically saying that the study was dubious at best, but his beliefs that hybrids aren't as environmentally sound as they are being marketed still stands. Fine, but at least now we know it's his opinion and not hard fact. For the record, Rush Limbaugh has not recanted in spite of the still-flowing rumor. Rush Limbaugh isn't ever wrong, you see.

So, in the end, it's all a hoax. Just like the rumors about getting HIV from a hypodermic needle in a pay phone (I guess that one's going to die pretty soon due to lack of pay phones). If you want a Prius for lower gas mileage and to help the environment, go buy it. Just don't buy it if you are trying to drive a nice looking car. If you want that, I say stick with the Hummer.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

To Sally Kern: Words Have Meaning

I haven't posted yet about Sally Kern's recent anti-gay rant over in Oklahoma. But, unless you've been living under a rock, I'm sure you've heard about it. I can hear the "hate the sin" argument until my ears bleed, but what many people like Sally Kern fail to realize is that words have meaning.

Sure, she didn't tell anyone to call gays names. She didn't tell anyone to beat a gay person, and she obviously didn't suggest to kill gay people. But in the end, words do have meanings, and what she did do, very clearly, is tell people that gays are worse than terrorists. She put normal Americans that happen to be gay on the same (no worse) footing as murderers and killers.

Sally Kern is claiming that her words were taken out of context, but I simply can't imagine any context that would make such inflammatory words acceptable. And while she'll get the backing of the far right claiming that she is simply exercising her free speech rights and that her words certainly aren't inciting or advocating violence, I'll know that her words have had an impact. Somewhere (probably lots of somewheres), those anti-gay folks that do like to taunt gays, beat them up, and even kill them feel just a little more vindicated when they here words like Sally's.

I'm not alone in this. Over at Pam's House Blend, a high school student named Tucker shares similar sentiments and offers a first-hand account of what kind of impact speech like this can have on impressionable youth:

On April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City a terrorist detonated a bomb that killed my mother and 167 others. 19 children died that day. Had I not had the chicken pox that day, the body count would've likely have included one more. Over 800 other Oklahomans were injured that day and many of those still suffer through their permanent wounds.

That terrorist was neither a homosexual or was he involved in Islam. He was an extremist Christian forcing his views through a body count. He held his beliefs and made those who didn't live up to them pay with their lives.


Let me tell you the result of your words in my school. Every openly gay and suspected gay in the school were having to walk together Monday for protection. They looked scared. They've already experienced enough hate and now your words gave other students even more motivation to sneer at them and call them names. Afterall, you are a teacher and a lawmaker, many young people have taken your words to heart. That happens when you assume a role of responsibility in your community. I seriously think before this week ends that some kids here will be going home bruised and bloody because of what you said.

Words really do have meaning, and as long as this kind of hateful speech continues, I'll remain unimpressed by the far right's claims that their hands are clean of any anti-gay violence that just "happens" to take place.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ex-Gays and Politics

I've blogged a couple of times here about my thoughts on Ex-Gays and politics and why I really think the two don't mix. Ex-Gay Watch recently posted a post about Exodus' announcement to remove their organization from the political arena, and I'm hoping they actively going to seek that type of direction (in spite of a follow up post that is a bit concerning). For me, it seems like a conflict of interest to try to attract gay people over to your worldview when you are working hand-in-hand with people from the religious right--a group that has had anything but positive things to say about gay people thus far. Not to mention fighting against what gays believe are their fundamental rights. Why would I want to join a group that I perceive to be fighting against me?

After reading the Ex-Gay Watch post, I decided to look around and see what some of the Exodus guys had to say about the issue, and over at Mike Ensley's blog I found a comment from Karen, a woman involved in ex-gay ministry, but who nonetheless articulates my frustration with the mixture of ex-gay and politics perfectly. I encourage you to read her entire comment, but here's my favorite part:

My concern about the political involvement is that I am afraid it keeps people from Jesus. I am concerned about the lesbian feminist democrat who may have just ecided to leave homosexuality and how in the world will she ever connect with Exodus that has so much of a Religious Right cultural flavor? Or what about the youth who are very turned off by the Religious Right and will identify less and less with Exodus and other organizatons as a result? Focus on the Family is on the decline with donors etc for this very reason. Or what about the gay community at large? I am worried that this fight for our rights has put ourselves first before others and thus is not in best interest for the gospel. To me it feels like a stumbling block to the gospel.

What are the specific objectives of talking to politicians? Are these objectives being met? And are the objectives gospel driven? Do the benefits outweigh the costs?

Very nicely put, Karen.

Happy Anniversary--A Little Late

In my defense, I did actually remember my anniversary on Sunday--I just forgot to blog about it. Hopefully that makes it at least a little better.

I was talking to my mom this morning, and she told me what a wonderful blog post J had written about our anniversary. It's been up since Sunday, and here I am on Tuesday and I hadn't even read it yet. So, I went over there today to read it for the first time.

I'm going to keep my post short. I've spent plenty of space on my blog saying how lucky I am. So, go over to J's blog to see one of the sweetest blog posts I've ever read. For me, I can say that these 9 years really have been better than I ever thought they could be. Can you believe it's been 9 years? We've been together since sophomore year in college...when I was still a teenager. How crazy is that?

I hope J's post is more true than the little "poem" he wrote. I'm sure it is though. Here's to 90 years more (oh, and for those of you that are wondering...our wedding anniversary is this summer, so expect a similar post then too ;-)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Ellen DeGeneres on Anti-Gay Murder

A friend of mine just sent me this Youtube post from the Ellen Degeneres Show. Ellen is commenting on the recent murder of a 15 year old by his classmate because he was gay. It's worth watching. I'm glad to see people like Ellen with mainstream appeal that can share these types of messages and actually be heard.