February 15, 2008

I know perfectly sane people that own guns. Lots of them. They are our fathers, my friends, my customers, and people just like me.

Except, they own guns. No other single factor about these people in any way, other than the fact that they own a handgun makes them any different from me.

But they feel different to me in some way. I do not love them less, or respect them less, but they feel different now, and I don’t know why.

Several times over the last month or so, I have had random conversations about, and one unexpected exposure to, handguns. More specifically, I have had conversations about owning guns and carrying them. But I have to rewind…

This story starts in back in January, at a client’s office in a rough neighborhood. I’m sitting at a table in a small conference room with a client, talking about software for his business.

The wiry, smaller man reaches into his waistband and drops a small automatic pistol on the conference table in front of me. “Check this out” he states, matter of fact like. I am being watched, very carefully, for my response. I also know immediately and instinctively not to reach for it, without question. I can see this clearly in his eyes.

“wow” … is all I can muster. This is a Twilight Zone like moment for me, one I have not experienced before, and my brain is trying desperately to right itself. I have never had a gun pulled on me in a meeting before.

“this is a rough neighborhood… huh?” is all I can blurt out as I try to save myself. Poorly.

“Nah, I always have one on me, anyways. I have a carry-all permit, Check out the other one on my leg.” Two guns now.

“really?” Again, meekly, I mutter. I am surprised again, and I am now mad at myself. I didn’t notice his earlier cue to show all of our weapons, and he takes this as an immediate weakness, and moves his chair a bit closer to me, sensing that I am perhaps uncomfortable, with the guns in the room, and on the table so to speak.

“Guns sure make a conversation go in a different direction sometimes.” he simply states, and pops the little handgun back into it’s secret holster and the guns are all gone.

This is surreal. I am a computer consultant, not a cop, or a army captain. Most of us are not armed at work. I am definitely not. He finishes mumbling that the software is great, and thanks me. He walks out of the room, and I find a reason to leave, quickly.

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Behind Obama’s Wave of Victories: The More They Know Him….

February 14, 2008

Great article on Obama’s surge to overtake Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries over at the Huffington Post…

People want someone to believe in.

Obama Button

When did the comics get all serious?

February 14, 2008

Penny Arcade 02-08-08

One of my favorite webcomics is Penny Arcade, written and illustrated by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik. The content material focuses mainly on video games, the gaming industry, and the gamer sub-culture. However, over the past year or two some more serious topics have come up, as the characters have, gasp, grown up a bit…. Click the strip above for a larger, more legible version.

Funky Winkerbean Landmines

Some of my favorite “real” paper comics tackle serious issue too. Funky Winkerbean, a strip I have read for many years, recently “killed off” a character, and reset the entire clock on the comic. All of the characters have been fast-forwarded 15 years or so, and their lives moved further into adulthood accordingly. Throughout however, Batiuk has covered topics like teen pregnancy, adoption, and U.S. servicemen returning home from Afghanistan with devastating injuries.

Doonesbury - Uncle DukeDoonesbury is always high on my list, but we have always expected serious topics from Gary Trudeau. His own characters are now dealing with issues like the massive number of brain trauma injuries to soldiers serving in Iraq, the elections, and the current administration. Trudeau’s characters are iconic, maybe none more so than Uncle Duke, the character based in part on late “Gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

Trudeau ‘s cast has aged gracefully, at the same time introducing new cast members to introduce us all to the new issues of today. He even has a blog for U. S. Soldiers serving in the middle east called The Sandbox. Here’s a great Washington Post article on Trudeau. I am still mystified as to why his web site is still on Slate. It’s so…. 1999.

Jeremy - ZitsZits features Jeremy Duncan, a now 16 year old aspiring rock musician, and his parents, “who don’t understand anything. The fanciful ways that the strip bends and distorts reality reminds me very much of Calvin and Hobbes. The character often morphs into younger, older, zanier versions of himself, much like Calvin. I cannot express, now that I have my own near-teenage son, how much I can relate to Jeremy’s gigantic feet. Have you priced sneakers lately?

A newer comic with great characters, including an always smoking version of the creator, is Stephan Pastis’ Pearls before Swine. The characters are flawed, but lovable, and if you look closely you will see a lot of subtle gems hidden amongst the simpler humor. Here is today’s strip, for Valentines Day: Pearls - 02-14-08

Charlie Brown - Schultz I have a very soft spot in my heart for Calvin and Hobbes, likely the best strip ever, and I also love Peanuts, but I have left them off of my list for one simple reason – they are not being drawn today. While both are incredible works, but the one thing I like most about the comics is tomorrow’s strip, the promise of a continued relationship. What is goingt to happen to our friends? Will it be a light day, or a grave day? We know these characters, check up on them every day.

Like real life, the comics tug at our heart strings, and invite us along on great and wonderful adventures.

But do they always have to be so darn serious?

Election Results – Good for Obama, McCain, Bad to worse day for Hillary. Huckabee still nuts.

February 13, 2008

Barack Obama and John McCain came out the big winners in the “Potomac Primaries” of Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. today. The Obama tide continues to turn as he took over 75% of the vote in D.C., and 65% in VA and MD. I suspect that insiders in the Democratic Party are noticing these large margins of victory. Obama has also started to eat into Hillary Clinton’s coalition of voters, as her support continues to erode.

McCain took all three primaries in slim wins over crazy pastor, and believer that the earth is only 9,000 years old, Mike Huckabee. Mr. McCain himself is a confirmed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder sufferer, after being tortured in a Viet Cong Prison for several years during the Vietnam war. While that makes him a noble, loyal warrior to be thanked for his service to be sure, do we really want someone known to be that unstable to be in charge?

Rev. Huckabee on the other hand is just plain crazy. He has said “I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ”, and he means it. He also thinks that wives should just “submit” to their husbands. On a lighter note, he has vowed to be the anti-obesity president, a self titled “foodaholic” himself, who has lost over 120 pounds.

The Clinton campaign continues to struggle, with even Yahoo getting snarky, “As the votes were counted in her latest setbacks, her deputy campaign manager stepped down. Mike Henry announced his departure one day after Patti Solis Doyle was replaced as campaign manager with Maggie Williams, a longtime confidante of the former first lady.” Hillary’s top two campaign staffers are out, they have suffered 10 losses in a row, and they are running out of money. No wonder she has been railing at MSNBC over Chelsea being slighted. She has focused her energies on winning Texas and Ohio.

Mike Huckabee still has the coolest endorsement ad ever though. Chuck Norris approved.

What the heck is a Superdelegate?

February 12, 2008

SupermanSuperdelegates! The word is everywhere. It seems that the Democratic nomination may come down to being decided by these superdelegates. I had some questions – What are they? Who are they? How does this all work? So let’s see…

From Wikipedia – At the 2008 Democratic National Convention superdelegates will include all Democratic members of the United States Congress, Democratic governors, various additional elected officials, members of the Democratic National Committee, as well as “all former Democratic Presidents, all former Democratic Vice Presidents, all former Democratic Leaders of the U.S. Senate, all former Democratic Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democratic Minority Leaders, as applicable, and all former Chairs of the Democratic National Committee.” Barack Obama and Hillary are both superdelegates.

There is an exception, however, for superdelegates who endorse another party’s candidate for President; they lose their superdelegate status. In 2008, Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman was disqualified as a superdelegate because he endorsed Republican John McCain. A detailed list of superdelegates and how they are projected to vote can be found here at the 2008 Democratic Convention Watch.

Donnie Fowler over at The Huffington Post, says that his dad is a superdelegate and that “we have nothing to fear” from the superdelegates. Some other folks are not so easily reassured. The Washington Post has a great article on superdelegates and how they are being courted. Bill and Chelsea Clinton have been calling superdelegates personally to ask for their support.

A new CBS Poll has Obama ahead, including the superdelegates. Other people are sure that Obama is Winning.

The real issue it seems is that the superdelegates are voting along similar lines as the general population, and that more importantly, the margins of victory or defeat in Ohio and Texas are even more important. This race will go down to the wire. Let’s just hope that There won’t be a Superdelegate Train Wreck come this summer.

It really just comes down to this doesn’t it – who can beat John McCain in the fall? I believe that the Democrats superdelegates will ultimately support whichever candidate gives them their best chance to beat John McCain. As we all know, A rising tide floats all boats, and the Democrats will all be better off with either candidate in office, wouldn’t they?

The Problem

February 12, 2008

The Road to EscondidoJ.J. Cale is best known for writing hit songs – for other people. Over the years he has penned many classic rock songs, including “After Midnight”, “Call Me the Breeze”, and “Cocaine”. He is a musician’s musician, having been an inspiration to Eric Clapton, The Grateful Dead, CSNY, and many more.

His newest album, a joint effort with Eric Clapton, The Road to Escondido, finally produced a Grammy for J.J. Cale. The politically charged record is an outstanding representation of his work.

Another song of Cale’s was set to a video recently. It’s his song “The Problem”. I agree that the video is a bit amateurish, but the message is clear.

Pimps and pundits

February 12, 2008

The Clinton’s are STILL up in arms about last weeks comments from MSNBC anchor David Shuster. The reporter, David Shuster, had said Thursday that Ms. Clinton had been “pimped out” to make calls to superdelegates on behalf of her mother. OK, he said something unfortunate. What next?

Shuster apologized. MSNBC apologized in a very public statement by Keith Olberman, telling the Clintons, “We are, literally, dreadfully sorry.” So we all move on, right?

Not Hillary Clinton, who continued to lobby for further repercussions for Shuster, and threatening to pull out of a scheduled debate on MSNBC in a lettter to the network. The Clinton’s are clearly angry, and as they have always done, scurried to protect 27 year old Chelsea Clinton.

Barbara Walters was not on the View the afternoon that Chelsea Clinton called the view anchors. However, she has made the most sensible statement about this yet – GET OVER IT! Here was her statement at the time :

“It was as if she was advocating more than just his being suspended. Perhaps I feel this because of the years, and all of you, we are live, and sometimes you say something unfortunate. You apologize, he’s getting suspended, he apologized, MSNBC apologized. Drop it already! It’s OK. He made a mistake.”

I agree. Chelsea is 27, out of college, out of grad school, and campaigning for her mom. Let me repeat that, CAMPAIGNING for her mom. She is openly calling superdelegates to ask for their vote for her mom, appearing at campaign rallies, and generally putting herself in the spotlight. Commenting that she is out there is fair game too.

I certainly understood the protection and privacy for Chelsea back when Bill Clinton was president – she was only 10 or 11 years old when he took office. But if she is going to be a political wonk as an adult, then she has to be prepared to take her lumps.

Chelsea Clinton is NOT your average campaign staffer making calls. Hillary DID “pimp her out”. I agree that the term is regretful, but the reality of the situation is what it is. Chelsea has been activated as a campaign resource by her parents. Hillary did ask her to go out and sell the family name.

Enough already Mrs. Clinton, can we get back to the issues please?