Election '08: Adam the Soothsayer

⊆ 4:57 PM by A. Liebendorfer | , , , , , , . | ˜ 1 comments »

I swore twice I'd never talk about it ever again.

From the bottom of Morton Hill, I could hear the latest voter peddling.  Gone are the "Are you registered to vote in Athens?"  Now we're haggled about early voting.

I walked back from the board of elections office last week feeling relieved.  I hadn't forgotten to vote; I had earned my hindsight.  And in this hindsight I'm seeing things about this election we have on our hands.

There's definitely a few things I would've done differently.

The first time I heard of Joe the Plumber was during that last debate.  Both candidates referred to him and even addressed him.  At first I thought he was a numb-nutted American allegory.

Then Joe the Plumber hit the media.  He's kind of a big, dumb ape from everything I've seen.

But, he's riding the wave.

Old Joe (who's from Toledo; only in Ohio right?) might be just as inspiring as Obama's rhetorical skills.  Think, one loser makes a story for himself and speaks out like a Yahtzee-playing idiot at the Athens Lunatics Asylum and he's famous.  The story's not even necessarily true.

All this has me thinking.  I'm a loudmouth, you know?  I could tell people what I thought.  What's more, I could trump Joe the Plumber and back it up if I needed to.  Why not try to get some media attention?

After all, I've got a face for television.


Just Saying: "...and I approve this message."

⊆ 9:51 AM by A. Liebendorfer | , , , , , . | ˜ 11 comments »

Presidential front-runner Barack Obama has made history again.  Go figure.


The Illinois junior senator simply mauled his previous monthly election fundraising record by almost three-fold.  In February 2008, with the Democratic nomination shifting to his favor, Obama decided to know no longer use public funds for his campaign.  By August he had set the fundraising record as $62 million, only to be eclipsed the following month by $150 in fundraising efforts putting him at $600 million raised.  McCain, who has only raised $84 million, perched from a conservative vantage point at FOX News and questioned the accuracy of this astronomical figure.  And being down nine points in the Gallup Poll, who could blame him?

A graphic attached to a recent article by The Post tries to put in perspective what a $700 billion bail-out really means.  The figures range from 11,667 Baker University Centers and 208 Oprah Winfreys.

$600 million dollars in campaign financing.  At first blush it seems like people are throwing their money at something maybe not entirely necessary.  Whether or not that's the case is debatablt.  Americans have NEVER thrown their money away on things.  But what happens when Obama wins by a landslide?  I doubt any of that leftover of $600 million (which there probably won't be) will be donated to help the Obama administration we're planning for alleviate economic concerns.

We should possibly look into helping and relying on our banks.  I'm not saying donating to a candidate is undemocratic; that's ludicrous.  But democracy is relative.  I'd say the bad karma from people who have already run to the banks and their good karma of getting involved and donating to a campaign even out.

So I end with three quotes from FDR, a rather appropriate voice in our time, I think.

Confidence... thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance.  Without them it cannot live.

The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.  Let us move forward with strong and active faith.

If we can boondoggle ourselves out of this depressions, that word is going to be enshrined in the hearts of the American people for years to come.


Tech: It's Like Apples and Apples

⊆ 10:25 PM by A. Liebendorfer | , , , , , . | ˜ 0 comments »

So, ah, the new MacBooks came out.  There was fanfares in the streets; the pope sanctioned the day as a holiday.  Figures, right when I get mine and am content with it, they come out with the Next Generation.


To the armadas of college kids out there who flip open their MacBooks and MacBook Pros (Even you, you black MacBook owners.  Why you'd fork out an extra hundred or so dollars to get a black MacBook is beside me.), the new fleet of Apple laptops don't seem like anything special.

Let's start with aesthetics.  I think they look like crap.  Then again, I'm a purist, so take that bias into account.  I like the astronaut, 2001: Space Odyssey look of what I guess are the "old" MacBooks now.  Don't worry though, they've kept my "old" 13-inch whitey still around, I think a little bit cheaper.

Photobucket

Notice its black keys and black screen.  The video gave me a migraine just looking at the thing.  Though I will say, the video sells it very well.  Set to what should be The Greatest Hits of Britpop (Coldplay's "Life in Technicolor," and U2's "City of Blinding Lights" namely), three of Apple's higher up's in the design department talk about how making a computer as one unit is better and as always, throwing in how environmentally-friendly the new laptops are.  

Aside from the shoddy improvements in the regular MacBook, the ones in the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are just as marginal.  The only thing I saw at first glance was the new, ugly design for the 15-inch Pros, the old cool one for the 17-inch, and higher-end graphics cards.  

Positives:
-pretty sweet touchpad, clicky, sleek, one piece
-better displays
-"environmentally-friendly"

Negatives:
-not necessarily a price drop
-new designs look like butt
-not any real, performance innovation

I don't even want to talk about Macbook Airs.  If you own one without stealing it, shame on you.  They either got a graphics card or improved the one that was in it.  Also, the hard drives are now bigger than those of most mp3's players.

Yes, yass, I know I'm being a Negative Nancy here; let's look at the positives.  I'm jealous Apple improved the touch pad.  Now you can apparently use a four-finger combo to toggle Exposé which is nifty.  Thats the only reason I want a Mighty Mouse right now.  The displays have improved too, now using glass and LED backlights.


Bottom Line:
The regular MacBook line has been upgraded, given an aluminum body, and the had price increased so now it's comparable to the "old" MacBook Pros.  The MacBook Pros have gotten a little better graphics card and the MacBook Airs are on the fast-track to being worth their price: graphics upgrade, improved, now-mediocre hard-drive space, same price.


Just Saying: The Mean Gene

⊆ 10:40 AM by A. Liebendorfer | , , , , , , , , , , , . | ˜ 0 comments »

Maybe only Ben Folds can get a crowded auditorium of people scream an expletive in unison:

Y'all don't know what it's like
Being male, middle-class and white
Y'all don't know what it's like
Being male, middle-class and white
Y'all don't know what it's like
Being male, middle-class and whiteIt gets me real pissed off and it makes me wanna say
FUCK!
-"Rockin' the Suburbs," Ben Folds

In a brief, paltry sketch of myself, I hail from a relatively small town.  East Palestine is almost the stereotypical 99% white small town except it's only 98.47% white.  Aside from that, it's the quintessential northern, semi-rural village.  Not surprisingly, college was a culture shock.

Which has got me thinking about race.  Since we're all suddenly talking about politics and that's the one thing you're not supposed to talk about, we move onto what is trying become a less touchy subject: the racial divide.

Having seen the real world that every small towner dreams of, I can't help but get a kick of this "racial thing."  Be it by God or Hippocrates,  I think it's ironic when I hear the stories of how we whites used to try to prove that we were superior, when in fact if you look at it, we're histories most despicable race.

Geneticists are becoming the go-to men and women for divine answers.  They've already supposedly found the blue genes that may trigger depression; in fact, some think everybody has blue genes but only a few slip them on.

We can argue it, but look at our track record.  Whites as we know them --caucasians-- have taken at least the top half dozen spots in the worst atrocities of mankind.  I elaborate without ranking them: The Holocaust, The Holodomor, extinction of the Neanderthals, two world wars, the enslavement and near-extermination of American Indians.

Makes you wonder, where is "The Mean Gene"?


Impressions: Sticks and Stones

⊆ 6:47 PM by A. Liebendorfer | , , , , , . | ˜ 4 comments »

My bucket list has been growing since I got down to Athens:

-kill a bear with my bare hands
-be a centaur for Halloween
-drink a gallon of milk in one city
-run a marathon
-make a documentary that I'd watch

Unlike musicals, I used to like documentaries, but like musicals, now I don't.  This doesn't mean that documentaries were my passion and one day they failed me; I just liked to watch them from time to time.  What burst it for me was the one we watched in Journalism 101 about the elections.  It was very well-done, but between dozing off and the slant it was trying to hide, I had the worst neck ache.  I'm not sure what it is, but now that I have a journalism major cap to put on, I've found myself very critical of them.  

Namely the one we watched tonight at our weekly SPJ meeting.  It was called The Fifth Estate: Sticks and Stones.  It's from the Canadian Broadcasting Company and, though I tried being as objective as possible, it faintly echoed the arrogant, American wannabe stereotype to me.

The entire idea was just stupid, rubbish --it was to illustrate how the apparent great partisan divide in American politics and media is tearing our country apart.  Near the beginning, they had some American say that there hasn't been this kind of partisanship since the Civil War era.  How they hell would he know?

And who the hell do they think they are?  I'm not trying to sound elitist, but they're Canada.  We don't go around bashing their media (which evidently sucks if this garbage was on their national cable).  I guess our all-terrible pundits are too sinister to go into a friendly neighboring country and trash-talk their media.

It all feels like a neighborhood alley fight.

The most prominent figure to me that they had was Phil Donahue, if that says anything.  

Some of the material had merit.  I always enjoy a Bill O'Reilly burst and Ann Coulter really is the antichrist.  Entertainment.  Those people really should be publicly embarrassed, maybe even tried for heresy.

Near the end they showed that the American press --ahem, my profession-- sometimes take things just fill space.  The example they used were the two or three brief comments about George W. Bush's new Cadillac he rode to his second inauguration.  The CBC seems to think that's trivial, and they're entirely right.  But what else are we going to listen to while we wait for the speech?  Commercials?

This is coming from a country that doesn't even have a president.

For your viewing displeasure:


Fall Quarter '08: Nostalgia

⊆ 6:35 PM by A. Liebendorfer | , , , , . | ˜ 0 comments »

"I know what you're thinking ... a twelve-by-twelve area isn't that much to work with, but what a lot of students do something called 'lofting;' that's where they make their bed a bunk-bed and put stuff under it.  It's like putting your bed on stilts..."


"And now we're coming into East Green."
"I'm sorry, which one?"
"East."
___________________________________________________

These are two of the several lines I've heard lately spewing from the mouths of tour guides as they take their groups through the safari of college life.

High schoolers shuffle around behind their guide with their parents; their eyes strafe the faces they pass.  Few of them have anything to say.  Every once in a while I'll spot one like me, with his or her college-app-filling, greedy little high school eyes daydreaming how they're going to conquer OU.  I guess you could say it's a change of times, but I don't see many like those.

A close friend of mine and I were reminiscing about junior year.  That was my favorite in high school and hers too.  As ages go though, I've heard a line about growing up that says "17 is a test."  This underrates 18 by far, I think.  Senior year, prom, graduation, being a "leader," responsibility.  That was all before the summer; then came work, college planning, shopping.  Then comes "Kristallnacht," that night every soon-t0-be Bobcat has when they good-bye to their best friends as they wait another two weeks for school to start.

Do we need to get into adjusting to the college?

Wait --change of times?

It was a year ago that I was learning about lofting.  A year ago I never thought I'd have my greens down, much less know what a green actually was.

I feel like polling visiting students to see if they're in the same kind of awe that I was in just a year ago.  (Just a year?  Did I really look that lost a year ago?)  What did they want out of college?  Where else are they looking?  How the hell is high school?

Having gotten this off my chest has put me in that same feeling that I get when I linger around to watch the tour groups leave.  I sigh, shrug my shoulders, think about my truncated high school years, and write it off as just feeling old.


Music: Dig Out Your Soul

⊆ 1:26 PM by A. Liebendorfer | , , , , , , , . | ˜ 0 comments »

I finally got my RSS feeds to start working again this morning and my music source had stories about the launch of Oasis's latest, Dig Out Your Soul.  Being loyal to the band, I felt ashamed I missed the first day of the release, I kept to my Limewire devotions and didn't pay for it nonetheless.


An article in The Washington Post describes an "evolution gene" that made humans' brains so big and let them adapt and reason.  One thing 2008 (Viva La Vida and now Dig Out Your Soul) has taught us that Britpop has this gene and isn't going to die any time soon.

Something about this album reminds me of Led Zeppelin.  Most of the songs have that Charlie Chaplin stomping beat --an odd analogy, but listen to "Waiting for the Rapture" and you'll see it-- but some carry a ballad feel.


Courtesy of YouTube user trancemaster66

The first track ("Bag It Up") scared me.  The generic pentatonic riff almost signaled what I thought was beginning of the end of Oasis, but the bridge put me back at ease.  It has a new southern modern rock thing going on, which shows Oasis is still willing to compete and change.

Limewire List:
[Track 2] - The Turning
[Track 4] - The Shock of the Lightning (Jagz Kooner remix)
[Track 7] - Falling Down (Chemical Brothers remix)

Bottom line:
Seeing where Oasis has gone after 2005's Don't Believe the Truth, it's easy to look back and see that Don't Believe the Truth was made up of moments.  Dig Out Your Soul is definitely a regrouping album and shows Oasis is gearing up for great things to come.  It might be worth getting a ticket when they come to New York or Detroit December.

The Turning

Courtesy of YouTube user tururu23

Shock of the Lightning (Jagz Kooner remix)

Courtesy of YouTube user OasisILove

Falling Down (Chemical Brothers remix)

Courtesy of YouTube user missliabum


Just Saying: Nobel Peace Prize

⊆ 2:35 AM by A. Liebendorfer | , , , , , , . | ˜ 4 comments »

It was announced early today that Martti Ahtisaari of Finland was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.  Ahtisaari's role as mediator was pivotal in several international disputes, Yugoslavia and Ireland to name a few.  An undoubtedly passionate and competent man, the former Finnish president has stated that he plans on using the prize money to further the spread of mediating conflict areas.


Ahtisaari beat out jailed Chinese activist Hu Jia for the prize.  Some reports said Jia was "favored" for the prize.   If the inevitable conspiracies of helping fellow Scandinavians turn out to be true, that wouldn't be the only thing a little off with the prizes.  In its history, the foundation has actually brought into thought awarding peace prizes to what I call the Big Badguys of History Class (Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini).  The consideration lasted a week or two at best, but then look at the people who didn't win: Gandhi, César Chávez, Pope John Paul II.  

I'm not questioning what weight the Nobel prizes has; rather, I'm wondering how much weight it should have?  Is it facetious to point out that the inventor of dynamite started a foundation that is the authority on who promotes peace best?


Fall Quarter '08: 13 Stewart Street

⊆ 1:40 AM by A. Liebendorfer | ˜ 2 comments »

When I gulp, I gulp loudly, like they do in movies.


I actually circled the block before arriving; the front door of 13 Stewart Street was in the back.  Ahead of me were a few concrete steps, a well-kept garden and a sign above the door reading something to effect of "MSA Islamic Center of Athens."

Why I was standing there was a culmination of things this week.  First we had an assignment in our learning community seminar.  I ended up enjoying it: we took personality tests and had to respond to them.  According to Jungian typology, I'm an "Inspirer" borderline with "Adventurer/Thrill-Seeker."  Being typed like this really makes you look at the world through tinted glasses.  Couple that with giving a speech in Public Speaking --maybe the biggest adrenaline buzz I've ever got-- and I was on the prowl all week for something nuts to do.

Then two young men spoke at my Religion, Gender, and Sexuality about Islam.  They said where their mosque was and that everybody's welcome to come and learn.  Their day of prayer was Friday and they said that would be a good day to stop by.  No question.

Their "mosque" is nothing more than a house that's been cleared out to accommodate muslim worship.  I knew exactly where they were talking about since it's literally next door to my dorm building.  I'd seen children playing outside.  

Though being so close, it still carried that continents-away feeling.  What was in there?  The night before, when I elected to give it a try, I rehearsed every possible outcome.  I couldn't manage to find a worst-case scenario; each thought kept getting worse and worse.  Actually the best-scenario was that a wall of hookah smoke would hit me and they'd slam the door in my face.

I gulped.  I'd seen people taxiing in and out of its big green front door.  For this reason, I traipsed in without knocking or really thinking about it.

I walked in and the smell inside immediately brought me back to visions of musty old parishes and spaghetti dinners.  I could do this, I thought.

The sign above in the foyer said to take off your shoes, so I did.  To my left was a library, my right stairs, and ahead of me an open room with striped carpet.  From the room emanated rolling Arabic so I went there.  In one corner of the room a man was praying which is much harder to describe when you witness it than you might think.  It's a very powerful prostration; I'll leave it at that for fear of failing with words.

A man was sitting and flipping through forms with another.  They were the source of the talking.  The man glanced at me inquisitively a couple times and his companion didn't notice me at all.  I went back to the foyer and went upstairs.

I was greeted by a "alaykum" from a face down the hall.  A room's worth of young muslim men turned to greet me.  They were confused seeing me but once I told them what I was out to do, two sprang up and said we should go down to the library.  The other two would come down later, after they were done with homework.

And so began my education of Islam.  Mohammed, a kuwaiti and the taller of the two, began by asking me what I knew.  Relatively nothing, I told him, it was similar to Christianity.  

"That's very true," he said.  Then he went into the Five Pillars of Islam.  By the end of the lesson, it seemed odd to me that we even have different religions at all.  You aren't considered a muslim, he told me, if you don't adhere to the teachings of the Old Testament and Jesus.  It all seemed like sweet talk, but Mohammed soon outlined the compromise: Muslims pray directly to God, not even to Jesus, just God.  Maybe this is a shift in my "convictions" but that idea appealed to me.

The other, Rahiif, was an Indian with more broken English but had several good points, especially when it came to Sunnis versus Shii'as.  Sunnis predominantly outnumber Shii'as I learned, probably 90% to 10% according to Rahiif.  The difference, he told me, was purely political: same Qu'ran, same language, same prophet ["bless his name"].

After a while, I let them go and started back for the door.  The told me to come back.  The other two from upstairs came down and were disappointed to see me leave.  I promised them I'd come back and they slapped me on the back.


Impressions: The Douchebag

⊆ 5:51 PM by A. Liebendorfer | , , , , , , . | ˜ 4 comments »

If the bluesy guitarist-turned-ladykiller John Mayer feels pressed to find a mark he's made on the world aside from his hit lament "Gravity," he need not look further than a simple Google search.  The inquiry "douchebag john mayer" generates an even 50,000 hits.  Many of us would never see this as a positive thing but --is blogging old enough to say this?-- Mayer's blog post about douchiness has set the proverbial blogging "world on fire."


It's a masterful blog, one to study.  First, Mayer calls to attention a common 21st-century archetype that's floating around, the Douchebag.  Being such a new term, I doubt there's a direct style on how to write it, but I'm sticking with the one-word nomenclature here.  Using the technically incorrect way to write it differentiates it from the now well-known piece of feminine hygiene.  (Truth Three: The Media brings everything from the fringes of society inward.)  He skillfully presents the definition of douchebag in its own inflaming, douchey form.

I hadn't realized how much the idea of writing about douches has taken off until I came across Joe Donatelli's blog.  Donatelli is an OU alum from the mid-90's whom I found while researching a story for a publication I'm involved in.  In his post, he offers more insight on the Douche (an abbreviated but just as stinging for of douchebag) as Mayer's blog emerged when douchedom was relatively a new thing.

We ask, Where has the Douchebag come from?  From what hole in the ground has he sprung?

Different theories arise.  The one I subscribe to is that douchebags have evolved from the "village idiot" stereotype of old.  At the core, the two groups are essentially the same and treated similarly.

The self-esteem phenomenon is what has kept the village idiot alive all this time.  In fact, it's brought him to the town center.  What infuses the village idiot and makes him a pure douchebag is his or her sense of numb-nutted confidence.  The douchebag thrusts himself or herself into the center of attention and is routinely not able to deliver.  They live, bask, bathe in shock value.

Watch out, douchebags aren't just the douches you graduated with.  You'll find them: in bars, chilling as hillbillies, at dances, even as girls!

Expect a follow-up on this.  We're not done with the douches.




Sex-volution: Uprising in Chile

⊆ 1:27 AM by A. Liebendorfer | , , . | ˜ 1 comments »

In Tangle of Young Lips, a Sex Rebellion in Chile

-Alexei Barrionuevo
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/13/world/americas/13chile.html

Chile's Sexual Awakening
-photos by Tomas Munita
http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/09/09/world/20080913CHILE_index.html?ref=americas

____________________________________________________________________

For me, this article echoes memories of Craig.  "Craig" was the name we had given to the Chilean exchange student our senior year, for what reason, I'm not sure.  He just looked like a Craig, though I argued Kenneth.

Before Craig's suave, misogynist aura offended his first host family the last time, the predominately-female household ate him up.  He was everything a small-town Ohio girl would want from a South American exchange student: ever-bronze skin, good eyes, kind of tall, aloof most of the time.  Him and I had grown close and he confided that his father back home owned a perfume store so he always smelled as some put it "scrumptious."

For an exchange student, Craig was a young gun.  If I remember, we took him out for wings for his birthday, and I'm pretty sure he turned 17 then.

His age wasn't flushed out until he started talking to my alumnus friend Mara.  At the time Mara was 19 and took Craig to be like the rest of the exchange students and out of high school already.

Craig thought he was really bad:

She walked away.  "I've got her in ...  hmm ... how is said ... ah, bolsillo?"

"Pocket, Craig?" I asked.

"Yeeah.  I've got her in my pahkett," and he punctuated with a smirk.

"You like how that sounds, huh?"

"Yeeah," he belched.

He went with her after whatever function it was we were at and I let him go.  In the week that followed, I had to cover for Craig because his family had a grudge with Mara and wouldn't let their supposed young love blossom.

Then by the next weekend Mara had some words for me.  Craig was starting to creep her out and "court" her.  Yes, she used "court."  He would kiss her hand and try numb-nuttedly to smooch her.  She wasn't very happy about not mentioning how young he was.

Reading this article and looking at those pictures, I can't help but wonder where Craig is and what kind of obscene shock he's gone through.  It wouldn't take much to get ahold him --just a few clicks and a Facebook message-- but I can't help but wonder what he would say if I said I wanted to visit sometime. 

I can see the response now, just like the one my Bolivian friend's already given me, "You need to get your butt down here.  I can get you all the girls and ... you can't believe it, man!"


Impressions: Right Thing to Wear at the Wrong End of the Gun

⊆ 6:59 PM by A. Liebendorfer | , , , , . | ˜ 0 comments »

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/06/world/americas/06mexico.html?_r=1&oref=slogin


Call Colombian Miguel Caballero (miguelcaballero.com) an entrepreneur.  His trendy fashion line appeals to most upper class people around the world.  Sorry ladies, he mostly focuses on men's clothing, but there are some for you in his American Gold Collection and everything is custom-tailored.  And his website is just supremely cool: It's flash-based with quick access to all of his clothing lines and a ribbon of smoke snaking across the background that evokes fantasies of Amsterdam discotheques.

The clothes on his website look promising --at least enough so look at the features and start rooting for prices.  Right down the list: Tailor-made, Thermo-regulating, Flexible, Thin, Lightweight.  Still no price.  It must be so expensive you have to inquire.  The last thing is on the far right of the screen, a table of handguns in ascending "protection levels."

Call Miguel Caballero an entrepreneur; he is the world's leading designer in bulletproof styles.

The clothing, which boasts a trendy European line and a cheesy, rough 'n tumbler American line, is crafted to protect its wearer from most small-arms fire at point-blank.  In spite of what you would think, the clothes look extremely comfortable.  

Don't believe it?


Courtesy of YouTube user VBSdotTV

Don't expect to go out and buy one any time soon.  Price tags for Miguel Caballero clothing can range up to $7,000.  The likely customers?  Presidents, ambassadors, celebrities.  According the New York Times, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and Colombian president Álvaro Uribe have already bought.


Fall Quarter '08: Midnight

⊆ 12:39 AM by A. Liebendorfer | , , , , . | ˜ 0 comments »

There are interesting phenomena among college freshmen.  The first is how easy they are to spot the first week: traveling in herds, visible lanyards, copious college apparel.  The second is how they disappear in the second week.  Suddenly the most straight-laced of freshmen emerge with body piercing and some start tattoo tableaus on their backs.


I got out of my shift at The Post tonight at midnight.  I can't put my finger on it but there's something whimsical about midnight walks home.  Only the Asians walk the streets that late at night, skirting back from their midnight classes.  It's an inherently reflective time of day.

I couldn't help but ponder all this self-reinvention going on, and I couldn't help but feeling I'm squandering this opportunity.  It's amazing how I'm with the same friends in different skins.  I still eat more than I should, not exercise enough, not read enough.

I opened the door to my musty room.  "This is the base of operations" was what came to my mind.

Now the question.  What am I going to change?


Fall Quarter '08: Voseo

⊆ 10:28 PM by A. Liebendorfer | , , , , , , . | ˜ 3 comments »

I'm trying to think of a euphemism.  I had a lofty opinion of myself in high school Spanish class, especially the last year.  So much that I wasn't surprised in the least to learn I tested into Spanish 341.  I was kind of cocky about it, really.  I still am.


But every Tuesday and Friday, Professor Porter tears me a new one in Gordy Hall.  I consulted my old friend and Spanish teacher this summer, and she said to expect what I now call The Rapture.  But thus my latent fuego for Spanish has been rekindled.

The voseo was a ghost in my Spanish studies.  To make it brief, many European languages deal with their verbs by sticking on suffixes on roots to show who's doing what and when they're doing it.  This goes without saying that it's much --MUCH-- more complicated.  Well, Spanish has a dialect in Latin America that uses another word instead of the normal "tú" for you, and that is "vos."  What's so weird about it is that how it's used changes from country to country but it still has its own rules.  I spent a week searching for the rules to get a straight answer and still nothing.

Then one day last week, I was sitting at the end of a test.  I was exhausted and irritated.  I had studied until wee hours for that test and I knew the best I could hope for would be a low A.  I did what I always do and started flipping through pages.  Then, de repente, there it was.  A full two pages on el voseo right there in the text book.

A NOTE FOR ANY INTERESTED: The conjugation of the pronoun "vos" varies from country to country, but mostly it is conjugated like Spain's "vosotros" just without the "i."  This is different in Chile and Venezuela mostly.  In Chile, -ar verbs take of the "s" on the end of the vosotros form and -er and -ir verbs only have "ís."  Venezuelan Spanish is faux-Castillian.  Vosotros isn't used but vos is conjugated like it.  All other tenses are conjugated the same way (but subjunctive uses the opposite vos) and direct and indirect object pronouns are "te."

So while the professor was up there, turning my head upside down about preterit and imperfect, I kept day dreaming about saying "vos."  Ok, that's a little extreme, but really, Spanish is bottomless.  And my basic understanding of past tenses in Spanish just got thrown into the creek.

So, what's next week?

Who will ever read this and get as much of a kick I would if I had read this, I don't know.


Election '08: '08, Oh God...

⊆ 9:14 AM by A. Liebendorfer | , , , , , , , . | ˜ 3 comments »

I'm partisan!


"Can I call you Joe?" Washington Hall echoed with derision.  I took this as maybe the only chance I'll have in the next hour and a half to refill my water bottle.  Walking down the hall, every room had the debates on and it seemed like Palin's thick, gerund-decapitating accent seemed to seep through the walls.  People had been practicing their impersonations of her all week; by last night they were getting good.

I heard our next cue: "I thing a good barometer here is we try to figure is this a good time or a bad in our economy is go to your kid's soccer game..."

Watching her --not a hard thing to do-- she was bleeding youth.  She fidgeted a little behind her podium, stumbled on her words.  Don't get me wrong.  Biden had his hiccups, namely struggling through pronouncing I think it was "characterized" and dancing around the Alaskan governor a little too much.  I love Sarah Palin.  She's got the image of who should be president.  It's just... she doesn't even know the NATO commander for Afghanistan.  

"Governor Palin," we hoped the moderator would've said, "is there any way you could be more vague?"  I heard talks of drinking games going on where people would chug or what have you when either of the candidates said their lame signature lines.  There were a lot of sirens last night.  I figured them to be Team Palin suffering from alcohol poisoning.

With all the pundits declaring Palin won by not losing, I can't help but disagree.  I'm with everybody else in the middle class that's completely enamored with Sarah, but she just needs time.  She shifted up too many gears too quickly.  Not to mention, you win by winning.

I think it was McLellan-McKiernan mix-up that ruined my view in balanced commentary.  I realized that I really have specific things I want out this election.  Looking at work abroad, the chair of the senate foreign relations committee just appeals to me.  And that's that.

So with a heavy heart, I end this commentary series.  Punditry has no place anywhere, especially on my blog.

Good thing veep debates barely matter.


The Monthly Washingtonian, Vol. I

⊆ 1:27 AM by A. Liebendorfer | ˜ 0 comments »

Hopefully this will be the first in many photo essays depicting life in and around Washington Hall.  First is a picture of when a fire alarm tripped across the street at Read.  The rest are of mattress jousting.  Don't ask for names.  I promise the photojournalism will improve for later editions.

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Fall Quarter '08: Extemporaneity

⊆ 6:03 PM by A. Liebendorfer | ˜ 2 comments »

The litany of every walk to anywhere on campus:
"Excuse me.  Are you registered to vote in Athens?"

I really hate public speaking, but Public Speaking is starting to grow on me.

Tammy our professor makes it a point to call the depressing state of the country to our attention every class period.  There are one or two of us that I spy texting or having that glazed over look, but every time she makes her case the room gets a little grave.

Yesterday we watched famous speeches and she wanted us to take note of things.  These are my favorite classes periods, ones where you can sit back, marvel and analyze.

The first was Peter Peterson addressing the House of Representatives about the economy.  Who Peter Peterson is and why they named him twice, I have no idea, but I do know that he started the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and has floated above the rest of the economic know-it-all's and is as articulate as he is passionate about everything America.  

His somber numbers and figures were (something I'm determined to make a cliche) like out of a movie.  The people behind him moved little and moved concertedly.  This set the stage for the RFK speech.

I had never seen RFK's announcement of Martin Luther King's assassination; it put me in awe. I'll leave you to the YouTube video.  Everything in the speech from the Aeschylus quote to quipping that both JFK and MLK were killed by white men were incredible to me.  And all of it impromptu.

It makes you wonder where old-school orators have gone.  My first thought was that pundits kill our chances to witness these great moments in history.  But listening to him, it's really flawless.  I don't think even punditry could dissect this on-the-spot address, a hallmark to the public virtuoso of the Kennedy's.  

I've witnessed dozens of responses to the Athens voting question.  Some people have cut them off, asking if they have registered to vote in Athens; most or cordial to the last; I have a little wave that I've got down.

But now, it's hard not to want a share in this helter-skelter world we're inheriting.



Election '08: The Man's an Idiot pt. 2 pt. 2

⊆ 10:19 AM by A. Liebendorfer | , , , , , , , . | ˜ 1 comments »

Anyway, Obama's an idiot.


Barring all Goonies-era verbiage, an Obama-Clinton ticket would've been a real double whammy.

The family image in a dual-gender ticket makes its case on Democrat side too.  Let's beat the dead horse for a minute here and restate that times are tough.  Nobody wants to be lead by parents who are at odds with each other.

Though nothing says family values like this:


courtesy YouTube user: VoteMcCainPalin

Near the end of my senior year we were driving to Law Day of all things and we got stuck behind a car going to our county seat.  On the back so eloquently was written, "Clinton '08: Vote for the B****."

That's how people like Hilary Clinton.  If you talk to a Clinton supporter, not one of them will give an epithet describing how approachable she is.  It's her --forgive me-- ideas that drew people to her.  Though some argue that she's the Antichrist, Hilary's all business, and when businesses start failing, all business sounds handy.

Don't get me wrong, after Edwards said he'd decline being on the ticket, Joey the Shark is second-best.  Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is a strong choice for Obama's assertive platform abroad.

And who can't love a guy that does this?


courtesy of YouTube user: rthuffma

But come on Barack, sign on the b****.

Biden's doing minimal work in filling the gaps in Obama's ticket.  Go to their campaign website.  The outline of the foreign policy plan is shoddy at best and gives next to no details on McCain's stand and sparse ones of his own.  If there were a prequel to 1984, Big Brother's campaign website would probably have more specifics than Obama.com.

Word on the street is that Biden might be stepping down from the spot early this month.  If that's the case, Hil better get back into the picture.  That doesn't mean she has to be president.  Actually, the best way to make sure she isn't president to take her in as veep.  You don't see many vice-presidents throwing out their old running mates.

Besides, if we just had that Dream Ticket, we wouldn't be all worried about a close race...


Election '08: The Man's an Idiot pt. 2 pt.1

⊆ 10:03 AM by A. Liebendorfer | , , , , , , . | ˜ 1 comments »

Headaches were abound yesterday at my Religion, Gender, and Sexuality class.  The class is structured around about an hour of review of the reading or expounding beyond the reading followed by a forty-five minute group discussion session.


We finally crossed the no-no border yesterday.  In a class that's aimed at making you comfortable talking about your beliefs, yesterday was the first time we touched on politics.  I elected to take the current presidential race (and what about the congressional one?) philosophically, which proved much more interesting.

Though Sarah's paling in the media, she symbolizes something intriguing on a deeper level.  All this time it was the stereotype that the Democrats would be the first a woman in the Oval Office.  They put the first Catholic there, the first paralytic, and the first man the moon.  Hilary seemed like a shoe-in, but no, we decided to put the first black man this time instead.

Maybe for another blog, McCain's veep pick makes a lot of sense when looking at Republican values.  I've never once heard a liberal stand in front of a crowd and preach about the importance of close families, which is probably Palin's strong point.

The philosophical conclusion I came to while the rest of my group were butting heads and misconstruing each others words yesterday was that McCain is going to be America's dad, and Palin America's hockey mom.  The dual-gender ticket was aimed at making America feeling they were in good hands, Republican style.  McCain didn't only pick Palin to get the woman vote, but also for the imagery and symbolism.  Mom and Dad are going to put a band-aid on the country.

Nothing says American mom more than a mother of five with serviceman for a son, one pregnant daughter, two other daughters, and a son with Down syndrome.  They really are a type of core sample of what the American family is up against these days.

Did it work?  An young, under-qualified governor from one of the country's most corrupt states wasn't the best move.  But wow --I'm not leaning any which way this election--, as a conservative symbol, pure genius.