Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Humans argue politics without their brains

Or so it would seem in this article over on LiveScience.com. The premise makes sense. I know I find myself heating up when I engage in political chitchat with friends and family. When I step back to ask myself why, I always feel like I've been slighted by the other person. I tend to overreact.

After reading the above article, objectively approach your own views on things like abortion, the growth of government or whatever else you feel strongly about. Maybe it will help you understand how the folks on the other side see you and your point of view during an argument.

Of course, they're still wrong, aren't they? <grin>

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Time...is on (someone's) side (but it ain't mine)

I'm one of those people that you might accuse of living in the past. I love '80s music and yearn for the years when I was too young to pay taxes or do anything other than go to school and play in the yard. In short, I long for a simpler time.

I'm also one of those people who marvel at how fast time slips by. As I've gotten older, the sands seem to have picked up speed on their way to the bottom of the hourglass. I dread the day that I will look in the mirror and finally see those signs that I've reached middle age. People tell me it happens to everyone. I keep praying that it skips me.

But one thing that makes the passage of time somewhat bearable are the memories that come to the surface when I think about key events in history. A few big ones have happened in my 34.83 years on this rock: Watergate. Vietnam. The end of the Cold War. Hostages in Iran. September 11th. And of course, the Steelers dynasty of the '70s.

Our boys are headed to Super Bowl XL. They've been there five times and won four, and as I looked over the list today, I was reminded of what I was doing when those games occurred:

1996: Dallas Cowboys win 27-17
Worked for U.S. Steel. Drove an '89 Ford Tempo, which put a serious bite on my wallet. Dated a few women but no real stand-outs. Lived in Monroeville in a crappy garden apartment with my kid brother. Ate a lot of pizza. Quite a lot, in fact.

1980: Steelers over the L.A. Rams, 31-19
Eight years old, skinny and mouthy. Rode my bike all over the West End of Butler. Walked to West End Elementary every day, and wound up being in the last class to graduate from that building. Ms. Mroczek was my teacher. She was fresh out of college and I had a gigantic crush on her (and her white Pontiac Monza). My Dad bought a used Ford pickup from his company that year. I think our other car was a '73 Impala in a hideous green color. I remember slamming my finger in the door of that car. It's still a little crooked.

1979: Steeler beat the Cowboys: 35-31
Seven and scrawny. Mrs. Winters was my teacher, a stern short-haired woman with a penchant for sweaters. Had a gold metalic bike with chrome fenders and a banana seat to which I had affixed a blue Ranger Rick sticker. It also had one of those handlebar gadgets that made a motorcycle sound.

1976: Steelers and Cowboys, 27-10
Four years old. I barely remember anything from back then, except that it was the bicentennial and my father's parents came to visit that summer. Tornados went through western Pennyslvania that summer and we toured some of the damage. I distinctly remember our old house in Valencia and the two friends I had back there.

1975: Vikings 16-6
All I remember of that year was that my Mom was pregnant. My baby brother would arrive in early December of that year. Everything else is just a fog.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Serendipity and The Dream

Does anyone else find it interesting that TV Land chose to run an All In The Family marathon on the day before Martin Luther King Day?

Their web site purges the programming schedule after a time but I took this partial screen shot for proof.

So, was that a statement or just coincidence? I wish I had caught this earlier; I would love to have seen what their programming schedule included over the week of Kwanzaa.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

All roads lead to Detroit (after they pass through Denver)

Our Steelers are headed for Denver. I hope they spent the night there on Monday, as they'll need time to get themselves adjusted to the thin mountain air they'll be running through next Sunday. My only hope is that the referees from the Indianapolis game are as far from Denver as humanly possible.

I still cannot believe that the NFL doesn't have a set of checks and balances in place to prevent this kind of crap from happening. The officiating at that game was atrocious. I've seen better play calling in midget and college football.

Someone told me that NFL referees are not professional referees (that is, they all have regular jobs and work for the NFL on Sundays). If it's true, it has to be fixed. The league needs the people in striped jerseys to have a singular focus on the task at hand.

Either that, or all of us that threw beer bottles through our TV sets on Sunday should band together and file a class-action lawsuit against the NFL.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Iran may be next, if the Europeans can stomach it

BERLIN (AP) -- The British, French and German foreign ministers said Thursday that negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program had reached a "dead end" and the Islamic republic should be referred to the U.N. Security Council.

I doubt very much that the Europeans have the stones to put a stop to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nuclear aspirations. Should it fall to the rest of the world to do so, I hope that it isn't done with an "Ivory Soap" coalition like we have in Iraq (99 44/100% U.S.).

Speaking of which...have we heard any press reports on how many Islamic countries are involved in the coalition in Iraq? Are there any? Would you see the Saudis involved in a possible conflict with Iran?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

"It wasn't me" the watchword in D.C.

So it looks like Senator Harry Reid (D) has taken as much as $61,000 in Abramoff money.

Yep, it's an entirely Republican scandal alright.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Western culture has an expiration date

Mark Steyn has written an excellent piece on his theory about the West being in danger of disappearing. Here's an excerpt:

Most people reading this have strong stomachs, so let me lay it out as baldly as I can: Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries.

It's long, but worth the read. Big nod to the excellent blog Irish Pennants for pointing this out.

Sago tragedy and some personal reflection

There are days when I don't like my day job. Hell, there are days when I downright despise it. But after watching the Sago mine tragedy unfold, I've decided that I need to be a little more thankful for the direction my life has taken up to this point. I have a decent job in a department full of good people, and I don't have much chance of dying at my desk or going home covered in dirt. After some thought, it has occurred to me that I've got just about the best job there is.

Of course, even if I wasn't doing what I do, I still wouldn't be working in a coal mine. I'm claustrophobic as hell, and just mentally putting myself into a coal mine gives me sweaty palms. I've been saying now for a couple of days that I'd rather scrub sidewalks with a toothbrush than work in a coal mine.

That being said, my heart goes out to those families. My standard of living (and the fact that electricity in Pennsylvania is cheap and coal-driven) is enabled by the hard work and dedication of people like the Sago 13, and I hope that this incident will drive an effort to make things safer for the people who do that thankless job.