FRED Thompson: Over before it began

Anyone else noticed that since Senator Thompson finally declared his candidacy, he and his campaign have suddenly gone into silent stealth mode?

Thompson certainly is not the candidate many people hoped he would be. He is appearing inarticulate and uneducated on many basic issues coming up in his campaign. He has certainly not emerged as the conservative no-nonsense savior the Republican right-wingers have hoped he would be.

The only positive headline I could find on him was that he was the highest internet drawing candidate. Well, I think that is because everyone in the world (including me) is still trying to figure this guy out.

Who is this washed up, ex-lobbyist, cradle robbing, former senator anyway?  I hoped by now he might have told us…

Fall TV Preview: Audience Participation Edition

OK.  I was short on inspiration today for a blog, so I’m going to go with a topic I’ve been actually avoiding lately, but knew I would have to face sooner or later…

The Fall Lineup.

I’m not thrilled about TV.  The formula goes something like this, find a hit, then beat the life out of it for a few years while searching for another hit.  TV is like Fast Food.  Whip it up really quick, consume, defaecate, and repeat; with varying quality and relatively ZERO shelf life.

Every once in a while this tired recipe does actually creates some GREAT television, though.  Something that just hits on all cylinders, makes perfect sense, and fits the time perfectly.  The West Wing, Seinfeld, Cheers, Friends, and others.

Here’s my take on this year’s lineup.

FOX’s House is nearing a critical point. The writers and producers will have to pull a hat trick this year to keep it alive.  Last season was less than memorable, and we are all passed the moment of shock and awe that Hugh Laurie is actually faking the American accent.

NBC is hanging on by a thread, and betting the farm on season two of Heroes.  It was a big surprise from last year, and the most anticipated show of the year.  Hopefully the writers have had an active summer dreaming up an exciting follow on.

Brothers and Sisters was one of my favorites from last year, which I hope gets some good press this year.  Yes, I know it’s like a little self-indulgent domestic drama, but the point is, it has some real seriousness to it, and a bravery to tackle social issues, and even disagree with itself in points.

CBS has been promoting the life out of it’s newest reality show Kid Nation, and for good reason.  The concept certainly draws out your childhood fantasy and works in a 30 second pitch, but can they make an actual show out of it?

Also a surprise for me last year was Shark, a lawyer drama that got past the Law and Order formula, and concerned itself a little more with the life of a defense attorney turned prosecutor who is trying to be a single parent too.  It has good writing and some heart.

I purposefully ignore Grey’s Anatomy and Ugly Betty, mostly because I know pretty much nothing about them.

I’m looking forward to FOX’s new Kitchen Nightmares after I surprisingly fell in love with Chef Gordon Ramsey in this summer’s Hell’s Kitchen.  I don’t have high hopes for the show itself, but will certainly look forward to being entertained more by the Chef.

Now… here’s the audience participation part.  Everyone reply with your take on the Fall Lineup.  Having trouble starting?  Try responding to these questions:

  1. Favorite show from last year?
  2. Show you are sick of seeing the promos for?
  3. Show you wish woud be taken off the air?
  4. New show you are looking forward to?

That should get you started!  I look forward to reading the responses.

Observations of a Texan Autumn

AutumnYesterday was so incredibly beautiful here in North Texas. There was a gentle breeze, the temperatures were around 75 degrees, the sun was bright and gently warming , and the sky was blue!

I drove home with my window down and my elbow hanging out of the window. It reminded me of a study I once read that proved that the further people drive with their elbow out the window, the more happy they are. I looked around me for anyone else who was driving with their elbows hanging out of the window. No one.

In fact, the only other car with their window down was some ‘ghetto blaster’ mobile, who was bumping down the road listening to some cruelly loud, almost noise pollution, hip hop. Both his passenger and drivers windows were down, with the likely dual purpose of broadcasting his music and also relieving the outrageous sound pressure that must have been generated the sound equipment which occupied the space generally reserved for back seat passengers.

On this day, though, it didn’t irk me so badly. At least he was smelling the fresh air and enjoying the beautiful sunshine.

I like heading out into the neighborhood at dusk during the fall. It seems to be the time where the neighborhood is most active. Kids are out basking in the last moments of sunshine, and even the adults enjoying a leisurely stroll around the block. Many pull out lawn chairs and sit in the shadow of their garages, signaling to passing cars and pedestrians alike. They enjoy Texas’ signature iced tea as well as the company of their com padres, and just sit there as if the world was just put on hold for this special evening. Topics certainly drift from sports to current affairs to family and friends, and the old southern courtesy trumps opinion in every case.

As darkness and even cooler air sets in, the lawn chairs slowly disappear and hush falls over the street.

It is autumn in Texas, and all is right with the world.


Spencer W. Kimball said the important word in the English language is the verb remember.

On today’s sixth anniversary of the tragic events of 9-11-01, take a moment to remember the lives that were lost; lives of the innocent victims and of the heroic rescue workers.

The twentieth century was one of the bloodiest and war-filled in human history, and the twenty-first century is, so far, looking like a continuation of it. Let’s remember what the real war is about: ideology. There are people in the world who hate others for no other reason than the color of their skin or the brand of their religion. This is inexcusable for the level of ‘civilization’ and sophistication we claim to have established in this modern era.

Let’s recommit ourselves to fighting the ideology of hatred and repression that led to the tragic events of that day, and honor the memory of the lives that have been lost in this epic struggle.

May we never forget.

A Society of Inclusion

Several years ago, a large media circus was made out of a certain courthouse in the south who had a monument on government property with quotes from the Old Testament book of Exodus; the ten commandments. As I was listening to this debate unfold, and hearing the impassioned arguments of all sides, I came to a pretty basic conclusion…”Can’t we all just get along?”

America has long been a nation of misfits and immigrants. Most of our fore bearers came to this country to flee persecution, gain new liberties, or experience the freedom of a healthy free-market economy.

The gist is this: we need to be a society of inclusion. Consider the word inclusion. It indicates that everyone is involved. Everyone has a seat at the table. Everyone has a stake in the game.

It’s not tolerance. Tolerance connotes that you are simply ‘putting up with’ or ‘enduring’ someone else’s point of view.

It’s not acceptance, either. You can still disagree with others’ values and choices while still valuing and listening to them.

Inclusion means we are giving everyone a voice, and considering everyone’s viewpoint.

I don’t see anything wrong with having a monument of the Ten Commandments in my town. I would also have nothing against a monument to the Seven Avatars of Vishnu, should someone so choose to fund it. I feel that both can equally contribute something to our society. The beauty of the American constitution is that both of them will be treated equally under the eyes of the government.

This principle can be successfully applied to many of the values issues and moral debates that we face as a nation; school prayer, gay rights, immigration, etc.

Let’s take one of the simple ones: school prayer.  Many who were raised with publicly performed prayers in school seem to think our current educational system has become godless by prohibiting the practice of public prayer.  However, this policy has not taken prayer out of school.  In fact, it has probably allowed more prayers in our schools.  Now students from all denominations. who understand and practice prayer in various different ways. feel free to do so in their own personal way.  In effect, we have freed students to practice their own prayers, their own religion, by themselves and on their own time.

I understand that this is an idealistic perspective, and that in practice it is not always possible to accommodate everyone. We’re obviously not going to be able to fit 10 different religious slogans on our quarter, so for now we stick with our history: “In God We Trust.”

But this should be the basic starting point for the debate about these issues. We should begin the discussion by saying, “hey… how can we best include our fellow human’s rights and beliefs in this discussion.”

Welcoming Fred Thompson

So yesterday it was with much glee, happiness, and outright obsessiveness that I welcomed the new line of iPods. Today though, the story is just a little different. It is with much apathy and ambivalence that I welcome Fred Thompson to the 2008 Presidential Race.

I have taken a few hours to try and get to know this man’s 24 hour old campaign, and from what I can see, I’m not impressed.

Fred appears to be running the un-campaign. He jokes away serious questions about why it has taken him so long to enter the race and how he plans on raising enough money to compete. What he doesn’t realize is that rather than looking like a vociferous maverick (which is what I think he feels like on the inside), he just looks like a lumbering johnny-come-lately who might be too old and too long winded for any 21st century Presidential politicking.

On paper, this man looks good to conservatives. He has a nicely consistent conservative record, has experience in private and public life, and is from the South. However, when you stick this former TV star in front of a camera and ask him what he thinks about an issue, he pontificates, rambles, and struggles to be concise. When Jay Leno asked him about Iraq, he dragged on for about 5 minutes without making much of a point.

I’m gonna give Fred Thompson a chance, and I’m look to see if he can get up to speed quick enough, and articulate concise position statements. (Like it or not, Presidential Politicking is done via bullet point, sound bite, and check list.)

Fred is a problem for my current choice, Mitt Romney. Mitt can’t really attack Fred from the right like he is doing with Rudy. Mitt will likely have to resort to his “never run a corner store” offense, which is his best line to date.

Fred is also a problem for all of the 2nd tier candidates. He will easily eat up the votes of the governors and senators who are struggling to find a voice and a popularity point in this race.

If the convention were held today, Republicans would have a choice between a super moderate Rudy, a very conservative Fred, or a guy named Mitt who fits somewhere in between.

Look on the bright side though, at least our candidate’s name would be only four letters and wouldn’t rhyme with Osama!!!

Welcoming iPod “Touch”

Apple hosted an iPod event today, revealing a refreshing of it’s iPod line in time for the holiday season.Here are the key takeaways:

  • iPod Shuffle
    • Just new colors. Yawn.
  • iPod Nano
    • New, fatter, round cornered industrial design
    • It can play videos now!
    • A few small UI enhancement
  • iPod
    • Renamed to iPod “Classic
    • New industrial design.. same rounded corners as iPod Nano
    • Bigger hard disks… up to 160gb
  • iPod Touch
    • New iPod based on the iPhone form factor
    • Large multi-touch display with similar OS X interface as the iPhone
    • Integrated wi-fi
    • Safari web browser, as in iPhone.
    • iTunes wi-fi store now allows users to purchase music directly to the iPod itself, later syncing with the host computer.

The shocker, though, was that the 8gb iPhone, previously listed at $599, will now be sold at $399. The official reasons were that they wanted “an iPhone in every stocking this Christmas,” but I have my own ideas:

  1. The iPhone was overpriced to begin with, targeted at early adopters who would pay any price for the much-hyped system.
  2. The iPhone must come down at some point so new, higher-end iPhones can be introduced at the premium price.
  3. Sales for September and October were likely to slump since all the early adopters had already purchased their iPhone, and all the wait-and-see people were likely to wait for a iPhone v2.0
  4. The number one barrier to most people buying an iPhone was that it’s too expensive. This will start to solve that problem.

Things that weren’t announced that have been in the rumor mill for a long time:

  1. iPhone nano: this one might be a reality, might not. Wait for the next iPhone event in January or February.
  2. Beatles albums now on iTunes. Nope. Not yet. Go buy the CDs if you like the Beatles that much.

The Irony of Labor Day

Labor day has been observed in this country since 1882 “originating from a desire by the Central Labor Union to create a day off for the ‘working man’.”Boy have we gotten far away from that original intent. Don’t get me wrong, most people DO get labor day off, but it’s typically not the people who could use the day off! I’m talking specifically about retail and food service; the industries which require long hours of tiring, ‘on-your-feet’ work. Yes, Labor day has now become the day where those of us who sit in offices in cushy chairs take the day off of work to go find the wicked Labor day sales. Some people even start their Christmas shopping on this dreadful weekend.

I really blame the retail higher-ups themselves for this. Their year over year push to make the holiday buying season start earlier, and drive up 3rd and 4th quarter sales has increased pressure to sell more stuff faster and earlier. These guys never take a break.

I think that’s why I could never be happy in sales. You have to be ready at any moment of the day to close the deal. There is no time off. You have to make yourself constantly available, or you will lose money. And with our impatient, need-it-now culture, people don’t just wait until Monday like they used to.

It makes me respect retail and restaurant businesses who do set better work-life balance schedules. I was reading a placard outside a Chick-fil-a store about why they are closed on Sunday, and their primary reason was, “we were just tired, and needed a day off.” I say, good for them! The world will not starve if Chick-fil-a stays closed one day a week.

In fact, maybe it would be interesting to see what would happen to the obesity epidemic in this country if all restaurants closed one day a week and forced their consistent patronage to actually make a meal in their own homes for once!

Oops. I have diverged from my original post. Last point: while I am clearly pointing out this injustice, I don’t work in retail or food service, and I don’t hear any retail or food service making a big stink about working on these days. Maybe this isn’t an issue then. Maybe we CAN have our cake and eat it too. Somehow these employers are doing right by the workers.

Happy Labor Day! Go join a union or something…