Friday, October 29, 2004


Just like 2000, this election seems unbelievably close. In fact, polls show it closer than they did at this time in 2000. I can't make a solid prediction one way or the other, but I've narrowed it down to two scenarios; I think one or the other will happen on election night. Simply put, either Bush wins or Kerry does. I can't call it right now, but it all looks to hinge on Ohio.

Ohio went for Bush in 2000, but is a true tossup state right now, with some polls showing Bush up and others showing Kerry ahead. It's 20 electoral votes, so it's a pretty big prize. Without it (and New Hampshire, which won't go for Bush this time around), the President's 2000 electoral count is down to 254. He needs Wisconsin (10) and New Mexico (5) to tie it up at 269-269. Then the election would go to the House where Bush would win. To win outright, Bush would need Wisconsin and Iowa (7) to make up for the loss of Ohio. Needless to say, this whole thing is just easier with Ohio in Bush's column.

I'm predicting that Iowa and New Mexico will go to Bush this time, making Ohio and Wisconsin the states that will determine victory or defeat. Here are the maps of my final predictions, either of which I see as viable on election night:

Bush wins: 296-242

...or Kerry wins: 272-266

My personal feeling is that however Ohio votes, Wisconsin will fall the same way. However, Bush could win without Ohio but with Wisconsin and Iowa for a total of 271-267. Add New Mexico in for a final vote of 276-262.

This isn't very optimistic, I know, but then again I wasn't personally optimistic (on the inside, anyway) in 2000, either.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Jobs are up to us

Sen. John Kerry has accused President Bush of losing 1.6 million jobs, and Kerry says he is going to create 2 million jobs.Those jobs were lost after the 9-11 attacks. No one but the group called the consumer can make a company lay off workers or a company to hire workers. After 9-11, no one wanted to fly, so the airlines took a big hit. TWA is gone, and several other airlines are in bankruptcy status. Kmart is another example. It could not keep up with Wal-Mart and Target, and look what happened. The consumer did not shop at Kmart and did not want to fly. It has taken three years for the aircraft industry to make a comeback.

Why do manufacturers buy steel from China? Because it is cheaper than American steel. Why do Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart and others buy items from other countries? Because those items are cheaper than American items. Why did DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, Ford and food companies such as Heinz and Dole outsource to other countries? Because the cost of labor is cheaper than in America.

These companies exist because of what the consumer will purchase or not purchase. The bottom line is that if companies do not make a profit, they will go bankrupt. No one can promise jobs unless the consumer makes it so.


(Salina Journal, 10-27-04)

Sunday, October 24, 2004


Josh's re-election battle against Gypsum Republican Tim Null has been an interesting race. Though I'm sitting too far away from the campaign to be of much help, I've encouraged Josh and the rest of the team to stay positive. I think that Josh has a good, moderate record that he can promote. He's dedicated to the 108th district and cares enough about every issue that he votes on to thoroughly research them. Josh has made a name for himself in just two short years in the House by his willingness to join with other moderates on both sides of the aisle to get things done, not to mention his focus on getting Kansas youth involved and interested in leadership and the political process.

Despite his positive record, it's easy for campaigns to stoop to mudslinging, especially when the opposition is doling out healthy doses of negativity. The Svaty campaign team has avoided this very well, but Tim Null has heaped out plenty of misrepresentations and outright lies about Josh in the past few months.

Now, a forged e-mail that seemed to bait Josh into giving an answer that would upset some conservatives has surfaced. It turns out that the Null campaign has been using this e-mail for a while, taking Josh's answer out of context to make the issue favorable for Tim. The problem is that Debbie Neilson, the woman who purportedly wrote the e-mail, doesn't even own a computer. Someone electronically forged her name; used her identity without her permission in an attempt to bait Josh into a trap. We don't know who wrote the e-mail, but we do know that Tim Null has been using it.

I've known about this e-mail for several weeks now, and it got Josh to answer a question about his vote for conceal and carry that, though honest, probably wasn't the most flattering response. He more or less claims that he felt like he could vote for conceal and carry because he knew it would be vetoed by the governor in the end. Thus, he wins either way. What's at heart, though, is that on this issue, Josh voted the way that his district would have wanted him to. More than anything, he was calming "Debbie Neilson's" fears about conceal and carry passing, which he honestly answered that it wouldn't.

Now that the e-mail is out, the Null campaign is scrambling for excuses. They haven't revealed who forged the e-mail to begin with, but Tim has claimed that it came from a concerned voter. He's been showing the letter off door-to-door, and even now, after it has been discovered that the letter was forged in the first place, Tim is still claiming that the questions about Josh's voting record on this issue are still relevant because of the answer he gave, regardless of who wrote the original letter or what intent it was written with.

Remember the CBS forged document story last month? I didn't think it was right that Dan Rather and CBS would stick with their story about Bush's National Guard service because they were being completely underhanded and lying about the sources of information. The documents that supposedly revealed that Bush was AWOL were forged. Thus, anything else that can be gleaned from such a story is irrelevant. This is how most Republicans (including myself) felt about the CBS forgery. Now, Tim is taking the Dan Rather route; claiming that even though the letter that baited Josh into answering a question was utterly fake, Josh's answer is still relevant. Nope; it's not. This seems like a big-time double standard to me. We can't pick and choose when forgeries are relevant and irrelevant. They're always wrong.

Josh deserves re-election. On November 2nd, Tim's campaign will be declared "Null and void".

Sunday, October 17, 2004


Paradise is, of course, Manhattan, and there's a few things going on that are stirring up trouble, the first on that list being the full week of school that's coming up tomorrow. Last week was fall break with Monday and Tuesday off. The three-day week was nice, but ultimately confusing. It kind of got me off schedule.

The poor KSU football team is having a rough year. We lost (unsurprisingly) to the Oklahoma Sooners this weekend, 31-21. Our team is now 2-4 on the season and winless in the Big XII conference, and even more humiliating, we lost to KU last week. It had been 11 years since we'd lost to the Jayhawks, and they took us in a squeaker, 31-28. I expected to get beat by OU, but it did surprise me that the Wildcats were able to make a good showing of themselves and rack up some points on the #2 team in the country. While it's still a loss, we can at least be proud that we played well. And we have played well in every game except against Fresno State. We're up against Nebraska next week, and I expect that we'll beat them, but you never know. They're not looking very good this season either, but they scored some serious points against Baylor over the weekend.

We may be looking at a year without a bowl game. You have to win six to be bowl eligible. We'll have to win four of our next five games against Nebraska, Texas Tech, Missouri, Colorado, and Iowa State. After our strong showing against OU, I think we can do it, though we certainly won't be getting anything close to a BCS bowl like we did last year.

Our landlady came by on Friday; she had sent out a newsletter saying that she'd be by with the carpet guy to repair any damaged carpet. Most of ours is in great shape, but there is some fraying around our front door. It was too serious to be fixed by just stretching the carpet, so the other option is to take pieces from inside one of our closets to patch the damaged spots. Stephanie, the landlady, said that she'd just like to have all new carpeting put in, and she asked me if I'd like that. I immediately though that it'd be great to have new carpet, but then it hit me: we'd have to move everything out of the apartment. I have enough stuff in my room alone that I wouldn't want to move out and then in again. I told her that I'd talk to my roommates and we'd have a vote on it, and it looks like we won't be getting new carpet.

I flat-out told them to "be decisive and give me a yes or a no". For all this talk about a moral breakdown in society, indecisive politeness seems to be at an all time high. You know what I'm talking about: a group of people are in a car and the driver asks, "where are we going to eat?" The person in the passenger seat says, "Oh, I don't care. Whatever you want." The driver consults with the backseat passengers and gets the same answer. Not wanting to pick a bad place and step on anyone's toes, the driver ends up circling town for 45 minutes before someone has cajones enough to suggest a place. I run into similar situations with my roommates all the time, which is why all of the decorating was done by me, as is most of the cleaning, washing dishes, taking out the trash, checking the mail, etc. While everyone else is looking out for each other's toes, I'm probably stepping all over them. BUT, I'm getting things done. This world has a lack of decisive people today, but with the carpet situation, I looked at them until they told me "yes" or "no". Only one roommate hasn't told me yet, but we've already got three "no" votes.

And I've got further roommate troubles; but not with any of the ones that signed the lease. Two of my roommates have girlfriends; myself and the other roommate don't. The roommate/girlfriend pairs spend quite a bit of time together. One pair splits up their time pretty evenly between his place (here) and her place, and they rarely bother a soul. The other pair is here all the time. They do absolutely everything together, from shopping to cooking to watching TV to studying to sleeping, and most of it is right here. And most of the time, I could care less. I even like having her over here most of the time. But tonight, they got in a fight, and naturally everyone else in the apartment can hear it. It ended with her storming out, which I guess is a good thing. At least I couldn't be collateral damage anymore.

I don't have a girlfriend, so I can't be certain about these sorts of things, but to me it seems absolutely idiotic to spend all of your time together like you're a married couple when you aren't. This isn't a religious or moral thing to me, either; it's common sense.

This girl has her own apartment which costs her $410 a month. She's got cable, which is easily $45, plus electricity, gas, water, and internet (which she has dropped now). When it's all said and done, she's paying over $500 a month for a place she never stays and things she doesn't use. I think that's outrageous. It just doesn't make any economic sense whatsoever. My cable/internet bill is $93 per month; I don't watch more than an hour of TV per day, but I use a lot of internet, so it's worth it. And my bill is split up between four people, which makes it infinitely more manageable. But that's her own money to waste. It shouldn't bother me, but it does.

Because when it comes right down to it, she's using our electricity, our cable, our water, and our internet. But that's a small gripe. The cable and internet is a flat rate; it might as well be used. She's probably not using any more electricity than would be used anyway, even if she wasn't here. The same goes for water. What is a bit bigger of an issue is when a four-person apartment has suddenly become a five. Space is an issue. Now there's another person to compete with for space in the kitchen, or for space for storage (!) in the kitchen, or for the big TV in the living room, or a seat on the couch. The biggest thing that bothers me though is that they're (for all practical purposes) living together and aren't ready to be.

There are fights all the time. That's one clue that you should spend less time around each other. Last weekend I went to walk out of my room (which is right next to the living room), but I heard arguing going on. I really don't want to have to walk through that, or by that, or be a part of it in any way. So I waited until it settled down. Tonight's fight didn't really bother me either, but it's happening and shouldn't be. If I were them, I'd be asking myself if I really wanted to be in that sort of a relationship. Wouldn't a little time apart be smarter? Maybe weeknights? Again, I don't claim to understand it all, since I don't have a time-wasting succubus of my own, but I have a feeling that all will be smoothed over tomorrow and my fifth roommate will be back. They will have made up with each other; her because of an emotional need to have a relationship, and him because of the sex. Just a guess...

Couples who live together should be mature enough to handle it. I don't think that this particular couple is. Not to mention that being or having a live-in girlfriend shows a certain amount of disrespect for the other people who are actually paying for the apartment, both on her and her boyfriend's parts.

...and some people back home seem surprised when I say I'm single.

Click here to watch a Daily Show clip which reveals exactly how I feel about the "undecided" voters, most of whom I think are dumb, dumb, dumb!

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Voting by absentee ballot just doesn't feel right. Not only have I voted 19 days before the actual day of the election, but I did it in the comfort of my own home! I didn't have to do any work besides filling out the original application and the ballot that arrived today. It cost a whole $0.37 to send the ballot back to Ellsworth, which is much less than a tank of gas costs; I'd use around a full tank getting to Kanopolis and back. Somehow, it just isn't the same. I like going into the polling place, getting my "I Voted!" sticker, and actually going into a booth to mark my ballot. I missed that this time around, but the convenience overruled the nostalgia, in this instance.

Some people are very guarded about who they vote for. I don't know whether they think they have to keep their vote a secret or if they just don't want to get into a conversation about politics, but I've run into a few folks who absolutely won't say who they've voted for (or who they will vote for). That's fine, just a little strange, I think. I, on the other hand, am not embarrassed about my decisions at all.

My choices were pretty bipartisan: eight Republicans and seven Democrats, though many races on my ballot were uncontested. George Bush, Sam Brownback, and Jerry Moran got my votes for President, Senator, and Representative, respectively. Brownback and Moran won't have any trouble winning their races.

At the state level, I voted for Jay Emler for Senate, and - of course - Josh Svaty for State Representative. In the other contested races, Paula Schneider got my vote for County Treasurer, and I voted Bill Chansler for Sheriff. I said "yes" to a sales tax increase, as well. Raising taxes certainly isn't my style, but property taxes are pretty high, and a slight increase in the sales tax rate for Ellsworth County will help offset that burden by broadening the tax base. When three Republicans - our County Commissioners - ask for a tax increase, you know the circumstances must be pretty dire!

And that was it. I signed the back of the envelope, sealed it up, and dropped it in the mail. That's not quite the same as actually voting on Election Day, but it'll save me some time!


I think I'm going to start lambasting people who write stupid, inarticulate, and unfounded things to newspapers. Letters to the editor are usually from well-informed folk, but occasionally, you'll get a nut. Here's this week's moron:

Dan Mueller of Halstead writes to the Hutchinson News about how the Iraq war was only about greed and oil. Here are a couple of his zany excerpts:

"The Cheney/Bush/Halliburton administration planned this as a business deal. The cost of human life means nothing to them."

"If you still believe Bush is an honest, born-again Christian capable of being president of this country (he's not), ask him if he believes strongly enough in his war to send his daughters to Iraq to be sacrificed for his cause."

Wow...stupidity at its finest. Mr. Mueller, if this were truly a business deal about oil, gas prices would be lower right now. If it were about oil, pipelines would be repaired and rebuilt and the oil would be gushing out of Iraq. Halliburton has had a no-bid contract to provide logistical support for the US military for years; it's hardly novel that the Bush Administration is using their services. Clinton and Halliburton were "partners in crime" in Kosovo, which I'm sure Mr. Mueller thinks was another waste of time. Heaven forbid that we put our butts on the line to stop a little genocide now and then.

And the thing about Bush "sending his daughters" is getting old. It's a volunteer military. It's up to Barbara and Jenna whether or not they sign up with the armed services in the first place. But I've treaded over that territory one too many times. It apparently doesn't register with the likes of Dan Mueller.

Congratulations Dan! By voicing your opinion publicly, you've become my "Moron of the Week"!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


I haven't been to Nevada recently (or ever, come to think of it), but an old friend of mine from EHS is working there right now. Samantha is working for Senator Harry Reid, who I believe is the Senate minority whip. I'm too lazy to look that up right now, but he's one of the top Democratic dogs in the Senate. Sam's also volunteering for the Kerry campaign in Nevada, which is a swing state in this election; possibly an important one.

It'd be interesting to live in a swing state, and even more interesting to be a campaign volunteer in one. Nevada, with only five electoral votes, doesn't get the attention that Ohio and Pennsylvania have been getting, but it's important nonetheless. Though my personal predictions have Bush with a semi-comfortable Electoral College lead, many believe that this year's election may again come down to a few votes. The smallest states made all the difference in 2000. Without New Hampshire (4), Bush would have lost the election regardless of his win in Florida.

Florida seems more secure for Bush this year. I figured that Florida may be a huge focus for the candidates this time around, taking the last election into consideration. But the President is polling ahead there pretty consistently. His support following the hurricanes is one reason; the other is that Florida's economy is one of the absolute best in the nation, and as many say, "people vote their pocketbooks". It seems that Floridians have no reason to vote Bush out of office. After all, Florida Democrats were supposed to get revenge for 2000 by unseating the President's brother Jeb as governor in 2002. Jeb won that election by 13 percentage points, 56% to 43%. Still, election night could reveal otherwise.

It'd be fun to live in a swing state, I think. There are no signs up around here for either candidate for President. Oh, I'll see the odd Kerry sign around, but most people don't bother. Why? Kansas will go to Bush anyway (which is a good thing). Massachusetts was the same way. When I was there at the end of August, I didn't see one Kerry sign or bumper sticker. I guess Bay Staters (the official name for Massachusetts folk) just know that Kerry will carry the state, so they don't bother with signs either.

Even small states are playing a significant role this year. Sam can speak for the swing status of Nevada (5), and New Mexico (5) is also in play. Oregon and Iowa (both 7) could go either way at this point, as well as Wisconsin and Minnesota (10 each). Michigan (17) is touted as a swing state, but I'm pretty certain Kerry will win it easily. Ohio (20), Pennsylvania (21), and Florida (27) are the "big three" this year, since it's well known that California (55) and New York (31) will go to Kerry and Bush will easily take Texas (34). Theoretically (taking the most likely state predictions into account), the winning candidate will need two of the "big three". On election night, if Pennsylvania goes for Bush, it's all over; that's the least likely of the three to vote Republican this year.

In 2000, Bush won 271 to 267 (raw votes: one Gore elector did not vote when the Electoral Votes were cast, making the final tally 271 to 266). After redistricting, the states Bush won four years ago would add up to 278 votes, making his lead a tad more comfortable. Bush looks on track to win the same states he did in 2000, but some are admittedly tossups. If he doesn't carry Ohio (20), he's down to 258 votes and under the 270 needed to win. In my opinion, Bush will likely not win New Hampshire (4) this year, which drops him to 254. However, Bush is running strong in Wisconsin (10) and Iowa (7), and if he carries them, he'll be back over the hump at 271.

However, Sam is working hard for Kerry in Nevada (5), and without it, Bush is back down to 266. He could make that up with New Mexico (also 5) to be back at 271. And then there are all of the other swingers to take into account like Minnesota (10) and Maine (4). Here are three "tells" on election night, one previously mentioned:

1) If Bush wins Pennsylvania (21) or New Jersey (15), he will have won the election.
2) If Bush carries Maine (4), the election will likely go his way.
3) If Bush wins both Florida (27) and Ohio (20), he'll more than likely win re-election.

Electoral math is interesting because of the different combinations that you can come up with to reach 270. Kerry's got people out there looking at the same states and combining them in different ways, just as Bush does (and did four year ago, too). In September, when he was consistently behind in the polls, the Electoral math was a bit harder for Kerry; many said that it was impossible for him to win, and at that point, it probably was. Now, the race is truly a tossup, though if I had to put money on it, I'd still say that Bush has the better shot at winning.

The traditional swing states are still swing states: Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico. However, Bush has managed to keep his base loyal, with the possible exceptions of Nevada and Colorado (which may split its votes proportionally this year, pending a new Constitutional amendment in that state). Kerry, however, has seen strong Democratic states turn into swing states. Wisconsin hasn't voted Republican in 20 years, and Minnesota hasn't in 32 years. Now, they're both swing states. Iowa and West Virginia didn't vote for Bush Sr. in his landslide victory in 1988 and were both considered strong Democratic bastions. Now, Iowa is a swinger leaning towards Bush, and West Virginia (which voted for him in 2000, also) seems to be a lock for the President. At various times, strong Democratic states have been either tied or polled favoring Bush: Oregon, Maryland, Maine, and New Jersey. This is very indicative of Kerry's lack of appeal and weakness as a candidate. Plus, Bush does have the incumbent advantage.

Well, that's my analysis as brief as I could get it. I e-mailed something similar to Peg earlier today, and she replied back that if I shortened it up, she'd like to post it on her blog. I just don't think I can shorten it up any. It's detailed as it is, and I could talk about the Electoral College all day. It's a fascinating system that works very well; I hope we never fall into the trap of getting rid of it.

I started reading The 9/11 Commission Report yesterday. I saw it at Waldenbooks for $10.00 and couldn't pass it up. I figured that it'd be a boring presentation of facts, and I was against having the commission in the first place, thinking that it was solely a group that would attempt to pin all of the blame for 9/11 on George Bush. I think there is some startling evidence presented in the report, but none of it is damning to the President. A lot of it just shows how generally unprepared we were for an attack of that type and magnitude. It reads more like a Tom Clancy novel than a commission report, actually. The first chapter dealing with what happened inside the planes is heartbreaking; I can't imagine the fear that must have been going through those peoples' minds as the planes were hijacked and their pilots and some flight attendants and passengers were stabbed and killed. United Airlines Flight 93 was full of passengers who fought back, forcing the plane down in Pennsylvania instead of in Washington, DC. We all owe those men and women a debt of gratitude.

Classes start back up tomorrow after a much needed fall break. I got a few necessary things accomplished and otherwise rested a lot. I'll be at RCIA during tomorrow's debate. I hate to miss it, but duty calls!

Saturday, October 09, 2004


Above is a picture of me and calf #3396 on September 28th, 2004. I took care of 3396 five days earlier when she was born. The cow had a little trouble delivering her, but after I got her put in a holding pen, she delivered her calf a couple of hours later. Calf #3396 is one of several dozen calves that receive individual attention at the dairy. Within a couple of months, she'll be old enough to be put in a pen with other heifers. By the time she's two years old, she'll likely have had a calf of her own.

Friday, October 08, 2004


President Bush's head is likely swimming with facts and figures now; so many, if fact, that it's possible he'd come across as incoherently as he supposedly did last week. Someone in the town hall audience will likely question our reasons for going to war with Iraq. Bush should say something that's similar to the position I take on the issue:

Motivation is of little concern to me anymore. First of all, the war has been waged. We can't go back in time and change the way anything was done. Right or wrong, we've got to accept responsibility for Iraq now and help in the rebuilding.

This campaign (admittedly on both sides) has become too much about "the decision" to go to war. Too late, folks. The decision has been made. We can't undo it now. Now, we need to be forward looking. We have US troops and Iraqi civilians putting their lives on the line to stabilize Iraq, and they need our support, not our ivory-tower philosophical debates about the past. Debating the decision to go to war will not bring stability to Iraq. It will not stop terrorism. Resolve to finish the mission and support the Iraqis unconditionally will.

With the idea that we need to look foward, keep in mind which candidate has campaigned on nothing but the past: John Kerry. He's wrong for this country. All he's campaigned on is Vietnam and the mistake in going to war with Iraq. He can't do the job. There will be time for debates about the past. Hindsight is certainly 20/20, and this war will be discussed for a long time. But we need a president who is not afraid to get over the past and focus on the future. Bush realizes that now this war is about stabilizing Iraq, not about the decision to go there.


...and I couldn't be happier. I had two midterms yesterday that I had studied all week for. My room has been converted into more of an office, with a second table set up right by my computer desk so I can instantly swing from typing to writing. That setup worked so well all week that I think I'll leave the table out. It's just a card table, but it works just fine as a desk. And if I don't want it up anymore, I can fold it up and put it under my bed.

I think I did well on both tests. Now I've got to start working on a research paper for Dr. Herspring. I think I've finally got a topic nailed down. Dr. Herspring's requirements are different from any professor I've had before. Most professors are fairly liberal about letting us choose a topic and run with it. Herspring wants a clear, consise outline and no chance that we'll just BS our way through the paper. I'd wanted at first to focus on Muslims immigrating into France. He shot that idea down. Then I thought I'd look at French opposition to the Iraq war; also shot down. After pondering several other topics, I think I've settled on one that he can't argue too much with: "The impact of the EU's Charter on Fundamental Rights on Turkey's death penalty policy". It's not exactly the most interesting topic in the world, but it'll meet his requirements for independent and dependent variables having a direct impact on one another.

I'm probably going to pick up a few more hours at work. I haven't been getting a lot lately, which has worked out alright, since I've got plenty of homework and studying to focus on. Plus, over a dozen new people were hired after classes started, so a lot of shifts are taken already. But, we have a new project coming to the tie-stalls, and heifers will be there to have their first calves. Someone has to be on-hand 24 hours-a-day in case a heifer starts calving so we can help her to the maternity barn. Otherwise, the calf would just plop out on the cement and since the heifer is tied up, she'd be unable to lick it off. So there's going to be a midnight to 3:00am shift starting up, and with my schedule, I can do that either two or three nights a week. I know, I should be sleeping, but I'm usually up late anyway. I might as well be getting paid for it. We don't do much else besides wait for the heifers to calve, so that's more or less three hours of paid study time. Yes, we can take our books with us and study in the office. We'd just have to check on the girls once every hour or so.

My resume will now have one more addition to my "activities" section: volunteer for the KSU conversational English program. I'll be paired with a foreign student who is trying to get a better handle on English, and we'll meet up, have conversations, go to different campus activities together, etc. My partner is a business major named Diego; he's from Paraguay. I felt bad when I turned in my volunteer form, because I wrote on it "I'd prefer a partner from Latin America or Europe". I specifically didn't want partnered with an Asian. That sounds racist, and you know what? It probably is; I have a bias against Asians. Not on purpose, but it's more of a subconscious thing; the Asian population at K-State (and, I've heard, any university) is very insular. You'll only see Koreans with other Koreans; Chinese with other Chinese; and because they stick to their groups, they don't ever have to be around English in an informal setting. And so, the Asians that I've been around (and there were a lot in Moore Hall) spoke very, very poor English. It was nearly impossible to understand them sometimes. I talked with Diego today, and he sounds like he's got a good grasp of English, which is good. I also told him, "Si tienes problemas con ingles, yo hablo un poco espanol, tambien." I'm so glad that I got a Latin American student as a partner. Not only can I help him with his English, but it's likely that he'll help me with my Spanish, too. When I told him I was bilingual, he replied, "Esta bien!"

President Bush and John Kerry are having their second debate tonight. I never did get an analysis of the first debate posted, but I thought Bush won it; not on style, but on substance. His answers were simply better. That said, I hope he can perform better tonight. He's just not a great speaker, and it came across big-time last Thursday. I seriously dislike the "town hall" format, but it's more-or-less a prerequisite, now. But it's still a bad format. The one woman that asked an almost incomprehensible question in 1992 to President Bush illustrates why this format is bad: it relies on the "undecided" voter to formulate questions, and I'm convinced that if there are undecideds this close to election day, they're undecided because they're dumb and lazy. The woman in 1992 asked Bush Sr., "How has the national debt affected you personally?" What the hell? What does that even mean? I don't know that the national debt affects anyone in a personal way; it will down the line, when younger generations have to pay for it, but it was a stupid, unfair question that totally baffled Bush. Then Slick Willie "felt her pain" and wooed America. At least the questions in this debate have been pre-approved.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


Do you feel the need to engage in some foreign policy? You'd better ask Paris for permission first! Click here to take the "Global Test" that John Kerry is so keen on!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


...there was no link between Hitler and Pearl Harbor, either.

Friday, October 01, 2004


Westar (KP&L) split its gas and electric services last month. Our bill reflected that split, as apparently Westar took the split as their cue to jack up prices. Our electric bill was $55 higher than it was in August. There was no way we used any more electricity in September than we did in August, so the rate hike looks to be significant. We've shut the air off and are using fans or opening windows. A $55 increase is ridiculous, even if we are splitting it up three ways.


I absolutely crashed after work this morning. I'd been pulling too many late nights and too many early mornings. I had several things going on this week which is the main reason why the blog has been so quiet lately. On the plus side, I got a major presentation out of the way, which I'll get to later.

One of the cows in the maternity barn was in some serious pain this morning. I found her in a holding pen with her calf (a heifer), but the cow was down on her right side, both front and rear left legs stretched out in the air, and her head twisted back as if she was trying to see what was going on. She was really straining and bloated. I checked the log book, and she'd had her calf in the middle of the night. It had already been licked off, and the milker had penned them up together. But the cow was having twins; the second one was just a little bit late. Usually you can see front legs sticking out when the birth is going well. All I could see was a tail.

I called Vet Med and they contacted an intern. It was around 45 minutes before she got there, but she was able to relieve some of the gas pressure and start pulling the calf. Once she got the hind legs positioned correctly, she hooked chains onto the calf and she and her assistant started pulling. One of the calf's legs snapped; the bone just broke right in two. It didn't matter. It was dead anyway. We got the cow to lay upright and put a few bales of prairie hay behind her so she was comfortable. She was noticeably relieved when the calf was out of her and some of her gas released. We also put her first calf back in the pen with her; she started licking the heifer again right away, so it looked like she'd be on the road to recovery. Cows are tough, tough animals. She'll be up and around in no time.

I'm more and more attached to the cows every day. Not necessarily any specific cow, but just being able to work with them is, believe it or not, a stress reliever. My classes consist of discussing the governments of foreign countries and my homework is all about international relations. My hobbies are working on political campaigns, keeping up with both President Bush and Josh back home. That's on top of my volunteering at different places and just taking care of general, day-to-day things like cooking dinner or getting enough sleep. It's nice to have a job that sticks me in the middle of such simplicity. Cows are simple; they don't give you any lip, and the hardest test one will give you is when she doesn't want to get up out of her stall. My job is relaxing, and I'm not out there a lot during the week, but when I am, I'm appreciative of it.

On Thursday, I had a group presentation on North Korea to give before my American Foreign Policy class. My group seemed to be doing well. We all met over at my apartment on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and by midnight on Wednesday, we had our whole presentation squared away. It looked good and sounded good. The presentation could last between 25 and 30 minutes and focused on US policy options and our recommendations towards North Korea. I can't say that we totally bombed it, but it wasn't good at all.

I presented the introduction, a brief history of North Korea, and a slide on political considerations (this was all done on PowerPoint). One thing you absolutely have to take into consideration with any presentation is who your audience is. With a class like this, our audience wants the information to be short, sweet, and to-the-point. I felt like mine was; my presentation was a bit over five minutes long, and that's what we tried to shoot for. If each of us took around five minutes, we'd hit the 25 to 30 minute goal easily. That's just, I thought, something that everyone took into consideration; being a former State Champion speaker (Was I? I think I won state one year...maybe second place...anyway, I was good and I'm not ashamed to say that.) I knew that we had to be brief with each section of the presentation. I shouldn't have assumed that everyone else knew that.

After my section, the second presenter got up, and he did a good job, too. The third guy, focusing on North Korean strategic factors (like their capabilities versus ours) talked on and on and on. The night before, I'd tried to get him to narrow down his section to an outline so we could be sure of what he was going to say. He said, "No, just type an outline on the slide; I've got this article that I can go off of." That's a mistake. Any time a presenter is tied down to a paper that they have to read, the speech gets ugly. I didn't use notes...I don't use notes. That way, I could make changes within my speech as I went, if I saw that I was running low on time. He talked for nearly 10 minutes and was interrupted by the professor who said our group had around six minutes left. That sucked. We hadn't got into the important part of our presentation yet.

Our next presenter got up, and she too was tied to an outline. Her presentation went long, and the real goal of our speeches - presenting a viable policy option - was bastardized into something unrecognizable because the final presenter was limited to about a minute to speak. There was nothing I could do. There was no point in losing my patience or my cool (though I was gripping my rosary beads really hard to keep from grinding my teeth). I just had to assume that in a group of a bunch of political science seniors, we'd be able to give a good presentation. I was wrong. It didn't turn out well, and the project that I spent a lot of my week on went down the tubes. I'll probably end up with a C on it.

I watched the debate last night, of course. Yikes, George Bush is a bad speaker, though Kerry didn't impress me much in the style department either. The media is proclaiming Kerry the victor. That's unsurprising based on not what he said but how he said it. Dick Morris said that Bush won on substance, Kerry on style. That's closer to how I feel. I scored the debate, and I'll present those results in a separate post, but I felt like Bush made over twice as many good points as Kerry and answered most of the questions better, too. But style and speaking ability plays a big part of these debates, and in that category, Bush looked tired, annoyed, and did not speak well at all. Let me put it this way: if you read a transcript of the debate, Bush won hands-down. Kerry came across much better on TV than he would if someone were only paying attention to the substance of what he said.

Mr. Marsh and I were going to compare our scores of the debate. I dutifully watched the whole 90-minutes, pen and notebook in hand to jot down anything of importance. Guess what my favorite old teacher did? Fell asleep in front of the TV. It's hell to get old, I guess!

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