Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Big comeback?

I've never seen the like. It's both enlightening and at the same time appalling.

The disgraced Dixie Chicks are making their much anticipated come-back with help and support from every corner of the main stream media. This link will take you to a corporate press release that was syndicated on Yahoo for some reason. The content of this puff-piece is eye-opening for someone like me who doesn't tap into the msm as much. With all this coverage of one music group, OF COURSE THEY DEBUTED AT #1!

No country music group or artist gets this attention from the liberal media unless they politicize themselves appropriately.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

More parking lot thoughts

Have you ever seen a grounds-keeper in a parking lot, using a leaf blower at night?

You haven't?

I have.

A cheerful little parking lot

Woods has closed, but I'm sitting out of doors in front using their wireless network. It's probably the first night of the year to accommodate such a situation for me. The barrista kindly let me keep my chair unchained after she left. Soon perhaps, unless I get mugged in the dead of night--Lynden is so wild and untamed you know--I will try to have a photo description of our Memorial Day expedition.

Stay tuned...this is Mark, reporting live from the parking lot next door.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Campus election irony

This year's head-shaker was the contest for the Vice President for Diversity position on the Associated Student Board of Directors--what was originally an uncontested race for Marcella Tomlin became a three-way contest with Chiho Lai, president of the Western Democrats and student senate chair, and our beloved David Zhang, guitarist, vandal and suppressor of free, diverse speech. Tomlin won the election with 41 percent.

Chiho joined the race apparently for the same reason's he expressed in his op-ed article to The Western Front during "White Privilege Awareness Week." In that article he took issue with the contention that Western is a racist school and ended up sounding almost conservative along side his leftist colleagues. Read about that article here.

I shouldn't be surprised at Chiho's loss, though realistically, he should have been the favorite. He made his frustration with myopic multicultural standards his primary campaign platform. As he put it in a position statement on
Diversity includes not just minorities but also students who are traditionally considered part of the 'majority' as well. Diversity exists in all people, regardless of skin color, and no one person is more diverse than another.
On Zhang...

While I'm sure he meant well, I think he should know better than to expect much support after his disturbing attack on pro-lifers in red square. However, I should know better than to think he wouldn't get support anyway. He ended up garnering 217 votes--half as many as Chiho gathered, but still WAY more than he should have gotten. I wish Ms. Tomlin luck in her new job--whatever it is.

Crossposted at Western Unraveled

Top prize goes to...

Here's a feel-good story from the AP if you happen to need a buzz.

There is one very happy 13-year-old in New York. A veteran presented her with his purple heart after she won a "letters to the front" contest.
"It's important what these children do for us in sending these letters," Staff Sgt. Phillip Trackey said after giving away the medal he received for injuries in Iraq. "The letters mean so much to us. So I thought this was a big way of giving something back to them."
[Fatima Faisal] said she didn't know what to say or do.

"I'm touched. I'm speechless," Fatima said. "This is the sweetest thing ever."
Yeah that's say the least.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A drive to remember

Kelowna is five hours from Lynden, separated by a couple layers of both rugged and soft-featured mountain ranges. The first significant pass along the way the Coquihalla highway (between Hope and Merritt). The incredible alpine vista the Coquihalla offers is matched in my experience only by Washington Pass along Highway 20 in this state.

This leg of the journey ends in Merritt--a sprawling place right on the edge of the east side hill-country. The change at that point is striking...the green of the early spring grass on the sparse hills will probably turn a bright tan in the summer, but for now it is a sight to behold--with the darker clumping of brush adding character and also perspective on the expansiveness of it all. What a sharp contrast and relief (if relief were needed) from the bold, imposing, tree-robed peaks along the Coquihalla!

The drive from there to Kelowna is relatively downhill... I coasted for a long time...saving a significant amount of gas.

On the drive back, you realize just how low Kelowna is, compared to the surrounding Okanogan ranges. The first major climb is a real killer: a consistently high-grade climb that lasts for about 20 minutes--all this, when the speed limit is set at about 70 mph (translated from kph), makes for a huge vehicular challenge, requiring Smokey to do 3.5k rpm in order to keep a consistent speed--which I maintained at about 60 mph in 4th gear...I must have burned almost a quarter of my tank in that 20 minutes!

Regarding the conference itself, I'd do better to direct you to Gloria's blog posts here and here, because I have the same exact set of pictures she does, due to a few instances of "file-sharing" over the weekend.

Smokey update IV

I must say, Smokey takes to mountain roads much more readily than the Columbia ever did. Having made the same mountain trip from Lynden,Wash. to Kelowna, B.C. in those two vehicles respectively, I can say for certain that I will probably never again buy a Camry if a comparable Honda can be found. Upon returning home, Smokey was rewarded the following day with a new shifter knob and peddle covers.

Note regarding car fresheners: if you don't want your car to smell like a lady's perfume or soap, don't get "Jasmine." It's not bad, but not exactly what I would describe as a "first choice" either. Those things should be sold with samples.

Regarding the last post

Thanks to Mike for questioning the propriety of the last post. It is definitely worth the discussion. Here are some brief thoughts of mine pro and con.

My original reasons for posting it were admittedly not thought out. I simply thought it was funny from several different perspectives. For example: the idea that the world is based on balance is so utterly ridiculous--although interesting. Then the idea that this state balances out our nation's capital is also, while funny, equally ridiculous, but tellingly aware of how some in this state think of themselves.

On the issue of disrespect, it should be given more thought than I gave it before posting. For example, if such a story were told in video form, more people would probably react to it. But is there really a difference? Probably not--the written word should be just as accountable.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

What passes for my Earth Day celebration

If only this were true--but not really.


God was missing for six days.

Eventually, Michael, the archangel, found him, resting on the seventh day. He inquired of God, "Where have you been?"

God sighed a deep sigh of satisfaction, and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds.

"Look, Michael. Look what I've made."

Archangel Michael looked puzzled, and said, "What is it?"

"It's a planet," replied God, "and I've put Life on it. I'm going to call it Earth and it's going to be a great place of balance."

"Balance?" inquired Michael, still confused. God explained, pointing to different parts of earth.

"For example, northern Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth, while southern Europe is going to be poor. Over there I've placed a continent of white people, and over there is a continent of black people. Balance in all things,"

God continued pointing to different countries.

"This one will be extremely hot, while this one will be very cold and covered in ice."

The Archangel, impressed by God's work, then pointed to a land area and said, "What's that one?"

"Ah," said God. "That's Washington State, the most glorious place on earth. There are beautiful mountains, rivers and streams, lakes, forests, hills, plains, and coulees. The people from Washington State are going to be handsome, modest, intelligent, and humorous, and they are going to be found traveling the world. They will be extremely sociable, hardworking, high achieving, and they will be known throughout the world as diplomats, and carriers of peace."

Michael gasped in wonder and admiration, but then proclaimed, "What about balance, God? You said there would be balance."

God smiled, "There is another Washington...wait until you see the idiots I put there."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The vandal's apology

I should have done a separate post on what happened in Red Square last week Wednesday. It seems that the perpetrator has had a change of heart regarding his actions.

David Zhang, the Fairhaven student who destroyed pro-life signs in red square last week issued an apology to the protesters on his blog:
Although i may disagree with the way certain pro-life advocates choose to get their point across, they have a right to express themselves however they wish. that is their right guaranteed to them by the first amendment, and i respect that.

my actions damaging their signs were wrong and violated their right to free speech. i realize that the way i chose to express my anger was inappropriate and inexcusable. I am truly sorry for any harm that i may have done, and i sincerely ask for their forgiveness.
The previous post is Zhang's own (somewhat dramatized) account of his actions and resulting arrest. It looks like some of the pro-lifers have been commenting and also one comment from the person who took the photo that was published in The Western Front, Andrew St. Hilare. A good read.

Zhang is a somewhat well known figure. Most know him as the perpetually barefooted guitarist who can be found either playing in Red Square at mid-day or "open mic" night at the Underground Coffeehouse.

Crossposted at Western Unraveled

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The great American cop-out

Photo: Andrew St. Hilare (published in The Western Front)

Caption: Darius Hardwick, (left) the northwest education director for the Center for Bioethical Reform, a national anti-abortion organization, watches Western junior David Zhang stand on an overturned sign with pictures of aborted fetuses in Red Square

I never thought Western's campus would be big enough to house students who believe the First Amendment is null and void--um, to pro-life groups that is. See this coverage in The Western Front regarding one "offended" student's attempt to ravage the constitution:
In response to the anti-abortion display Tuesday and Wednesday in Red Square, Western senior Cara Pierson started a petition to ban hate speech from campus.

She said the photos of aborted fetuses, lynchings and Holocaust victims bullied and offended women who had abortions or considered having abortions.
For background on the displays and the fallout last week, see this article on the event and this one about the vandalism that ensued from one intolerant youth turned criminal.

Kudos to The Western Front for condemning the petition in this issue's editorial. Honestly, I can't imagine any newspaper coming down on the wrong side of this issue, but I'm sure it's possible.
If this amendment becomes campus policy, it would infringe on every student’s right to free speech.

Western should not ban any display — no matter how unattractive or offensive it may be — unless the display is breaking the law or purposefully inciting violence.
But even some self-described pro-lifers seem to have the makings of this tendency to censor. Censorship is usually motivated by one implicit goal: to squelch debate with hurried value judgments. Even if they aren't out signing petitions to censor, many people have been pointing fingers at the displays themselves instead of being willing to debate the issues. So while I don't know if such graphic displays are the most effective means of starting debate, I try not to distance myself from them because of my visceral discomfort.

Mark Iozzi, candidate for President of the Associated Student board of directors, seemed to attempt a fence-sitting move with regard to the petition:
“It is a slippery slope — infringing on free speech,” Iozzi said. “It is time to re-evaluate [whether] that the line is drawn in the appropriate place.”
No, it's not a slippery slope in this case--it is a cliff.

Crossposted at Western Unraveled

Friday, May 05, 2006

A new look

Maybe you were hoping it has something to do with my car...'fraid not.

Actually, I'll be working full time over the summer--my internship applications didn't draw results, and it's a good feeling. I don't feel rushed...I have the time that I hope will increase my options come fall. Another summer with the pallets won't hurt me I'm sure.

Next available date of graduation: December

I need the time anyway. There are a number of things I need to figure out besides internships.

...or would you rather it was a new hair-do...

Monday, May 01, 2006

United 93 review

Note regarding recommendations:
I cannot take responsibility for what anyone else watches, or pretend like I know whether they will like something. I don't know whether you are worried about being traumatized--or whether you have a problem with watching something with and R rating...etc. For my part, I think it would do most people good to see it--just for the sake of remembrance. I can only say what I saw--what I wrote here is it.


An exam postponed, a study group canceled...there I was with an open Saturday evening with no desire or inclination to study it away in Bellingham. A thought struck me: Why not go see the movie, United 93. I got there just after it started for the 6:50 showing and tried in vain to relax in the seat. Nothing doing! There were at least two parts during the movie where I had to tell myself, almost out loud, to calm down. It's a very well-made film, however, with no embellishment—just a gritty sense of everyday realism. The soundtrack is minimal and many of the actors are playing themselves.

United 93 is an ideal story for a movie, not just because of the powerful subject matter and details, but also because the amount of speculation necessarily built into the plot is relatively minimal. After leaving the theater, I asked an employee what some of the reactions had been up to that point. He described two separate occasions where a male moviegoer left the theater following the movie, stood on the sidewalk and just screamed. I didn't observe anything close among the Saturday viewers, but, all things considered, I wasn't surprised in the slightest upon hearing this anecdote from the employee.

Details for those who don't want to watch it.

Perhaps it's just in retrospect that I am starting grasp the raw power that is United 93. I didn't detect a Hollywood version of humanity among the people on the plane. They were normal, reacted with rage, horror, discord, unity and determination at appropriate moments. The two parts I mentioned above include the buildup to the initial take-over of the plane--the horror of the situation looms incredibly ominous and doesn't at all stop short of fulfilling the dread one feels just before it happens. The second spot is naturally at the climax...or rather the end, during the attempt to take the retake plane. With one single-engine rated elderly pilot on board, the passengers’ intention to subdue the terrorists and get this man to the controls before an inevitable ditch attempt, seems a staggering feat even before its commencement. That sequence of scenes is incredibly vicious and gripping. The director chose to portray a stiff defense by one of the hijackers in the first class cabin. The cockpit is also hotly contested, while throughout the struggle, the terrorist pilot (an extremely nervous character, who the movie implies might have ensured the hijackers’ successful crash into the capitol, if he had just commenced the takeover sooner) attempts to disrupt the passenger's efforts by erratic maneuvering...

At the conclusion, the passengers’ pilot is seated at one of the controls beside the terrorist. In the chaos, while two or three men attempt to restrain the man struggling to put the plane into the ground, the camera affords a fleeting view of the other man's hands struggling on the controls before the movie ends without ceremony as United flight 93 met her fate.

I included those details because I think they are important (for those who will not watch the movie for whatever reason) for understanding just how much this movie makes the viewer wish for a different outcome. The ill-fated effort to retake the cockpit will leave many with a hole in their hearts. I recognize just how much the producers could have risked if they had tried to embellish an already overwhelming story. This story isn't fiction, and could easily have developed a fictitious flavor if it had been tackled from any other angle. There was no need though—the story speaks for itself.