Friday, August 29, 2008

This Election Has Never Been About Me

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Have you ever seen Eminem's signature movie 8-Mile? You know the part at the end where B-Rabbit causes his freestyle opponent to choke by rippin and spittin all of Poppa Doc's material first?

That's what happened last night at the DNC. Barack Obama took McCain and his World Class Wrecking Crew to task for every failed decision, every idiotic piece rhetoric and every fear-mongering, misleading tactic that they have pulled and to cap it all, he made it plain that John McCain may care about America, but he's sadly clueless about the people who truly make up America.

Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans; I just think he doesn't know.

Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under $5 million a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies, but not one penny of tax relief to more than 100 million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

It's not because John McCain doesn't care; it's because John McCain doesn't get it.
Barack Obama made a lot of promises last night: about healthcare, taxes, energy policy, education and the future of America in what is now a global economy. But he did not promise that he would accomplish this by Obama magic. To follow Barack Obama is to commit yourself to digging deep and working hard - and working together:

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices. And Democrats, as well as Republicans, will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past, for part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose, and that's what we have to restore.
Finally, for all of us, for anyone of any race, color, creed, political party or hyphenated nationality; for anyone who keeps spouting the diatribe of history in the making, Barack Obama reminded his detractors of something that his supporters would also do well to keep in mind:

I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the naysayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me; it's about you.
Obama is a well-spoken man but what else would you expect of a Harvard educated gentleman who has spent a life in public service? That's really beside the point. He speaks well because he speaks truth and the unmistakable ring of veracity has been missing from the White House for well over 8 years starting with Bill Clinton's fabrication and ending with the much more serious charge of the lies told to bring us into war and mismanagement and theft that have flattened the American economy.

Truth and a need to move on. Obama promises that we do not have to face the future as Dick Cheney would have us - with policies rooted in the past, cowering in our separate corners with fear of each other and of our government - waiting for the NSA, the KKK, the sherriff with foreclosure papers, the soldiers at your door to tell you that your love one has given their all for their country and sorry, so sorry for your loss.

A vote for Obama requires a faith in the future that Dick Cheney and George Sr. do not want the average American citizen to have. They do not merely want to keep wealth and power to themselves, they would rob us of our Audacity to Hope.

You know, this country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit, that American promise, that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night and a promise that you make to yours, a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west, a promise that led workers to picket lines and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that, 45 years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustrations of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead -- people of every creed and color, from every walk of life -- is that, in America, our destiny is inextricably linked, that together our dreams can be one.

"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

America, we cannot turn back...

... not with so much work to be done; not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for; not with an economy to fix, and cities to rebuild, and farms to save; not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend.

America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone.

At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise, that American promise, and in the words of scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Who Dey?

Yeah, 'Who Dey' with a question mark. I'm just not sure about the Bengals these days.

Before I get to discussing Christ Henry's delinquent tendencies, Chad Johnson's supposed arrogance and Carson Palmers overall whining, bitchy behavior, I want to update my fellow Ethan Kilmer fans. Kilmer simply rox and I could not be more heartbroken that he's hurt. I'm not the only one. I get many hits a day on people trying to figure out whether he's playing this year. Well, he's not. According to the Friday, August 22 Sports Section of the Cincinnati Enquirer:
...the Bengals announced that Corner Back Ethan Kilmer (thigh) officially had cleared waivers and reverted to the Bengal's season-ending IR [injured reserve] list.
[09/2009: DebLite Update on Ethan Kilmer here.]

So folks, Ethan won't be back in the game this season but my best wishes go out to him for a full recovery. We miss you Ethan!

The article also goes on to mention several other injured players as well: My beloved T.J. Houshmandzadeh (hamstring injury); Chad Johnson (shoulder injury) ; Andre Caldwell (right foot) and Marcus Maxwell, who like Kilmer, is on the IR list and won't be back for the rest of the season. Get well soon fellas!

Carson Palmer: If you don't stop biting your lip and sighing like a little bitch and get that sad ass look off your face when things in the game don't go the way you planned - a clear indication that either a sack is now inevitable or that the other team has finally trash talked their way under your skin - I am personally going to come and take my get well card I sent you and pop you upside the head with it.

Carson. Baby. Man the fuck up! You are in the N-fucking-FL! When shit doesn't go your way, you need to take a lesson from Kevin Kaesviharn. Yeah, I know you don't want to hear that about right now since Marvin Lewis made a big ass mistake by letting Kevin go. And Kevin went to the New Orleans Saints- which would almost seem like a punishment if they hadn't spanked our ass this past Saturday and, to add insult to injury - Kaesviharn bloodied your nose in a moment that the Enquirer captured so well for the Sunday paper. (Side note: Ever notice how the Enquirer backhandedly trashes the Bengals while pretending to support them? So much for rooting for the home team.)

I know this must have hurt but you should have been gritting your teeth and tasting your own blood like an over-acting WWE Wrestler instead of looking all pitiful. Plenty of time to look sad in the locker room.

I didn't see the game, but I've seen Kaesviharn hit a mo'fo harder than Robert Gaethers giving somebody a concussion and not blink. Carson, you need to cut your emotional losses, man up and quit blinking. That whining, self-defeated posture does not suit a quarterback of your standing.

Chad Johnson - There's been a campfire pissing contest of sorts between Chad and Carson for the past couple of years. The Enquirer ALWAYS blows it out of proportion yet Marvin seems to ride herd on the situation pretty well; Chad and Carson themselves - two grown ass men, both stellar players on any field on any given Sunday and yes, they can have the big head - yet they still seem to take the semi-manufactured controversy with a grain of salt.

But if I could throw like Carson, lead a team like Carson, come back from injury like Carson and just hell, be Carson Palmer, I'd walk the Earth with his confidence as well. However you never once hear *cough*white folks*cough talking about how "arrogant" he is. However more than once you hear that term applied to Chad. But if I could run like Chad, take hits like Chad and just plain perform Superman-like aerial pursuits and literally run myself into a wall all in the name of six points like Chad, and well hell, just be Chad Johnson, I'd walk the Earth with his confidence as well.

A black man with confidence must be labeled arrogant. From Barack Obama to Marvin Lewis, there has never been a black man in history who didn't "stay in his place" as far as the bigots among white folks were concerned that hasn't been called, at best arrogant and at worst, an uppity negro. I really don't see Chad Johnson's behavior as being that much different from Carson Palmer. Both have shot their mouths off at times - but Johnson gets more scrutiny because he's black. Both have had their childish moments where I wanted to put them in time out - but Johnson gets more scrutiny because he's black. And Chad Johnson has the confidence, talent and yes, arrogance to match Carson Palmer. He should. He's in the N-fucking-FL and he brings the noise and puts his heart into every play.

Chad and Carson need to get their heads out of their respective asses, do what's best for the team and work on getting their mojo back. Ignore the irrelevant Enquirer.

My friendly enemy over at the Nati Life and I normally don't agree on anything. He's all McCain, I'm all Barack. Well our parallel lines found a common plane where Chris Henry is concerned. I posted a response to his recent Idiot of the Week post featuring Chris Henry saying:
I still can't believe they're reconsidering Henry. Even if the current charge against Henry is bogus, the one where he pulled a GUN on the cops in Florida was not. If he'd been in Cincinnati, he'd be dead, let alone given another chance at the NFL.

Even this bleeding heart slaps on a band-aid where Chris Henry is concerned. If he puts a single other toe out of line, I will personally lead the march to Paul Brown Stadium to have him escorted out of the city, never to return.
I get more than I really want to - the most recent charge against Chris Henry was proven to be bogus. I also understand that the Bengals get him back by default because, honestly, who the hell else wants him? But how much more embarrassment and "rap sheet" jokes do the Bengals have to endure?

My Ye Old Matey was not exactly forgiving of Henry, but definitely more understanding than I am capable of being at this point. "Henry has said he wanted to keep hanging with his old friends. But when they got in trouble he got into trouble, and they all bailed on him; none one of them had his back, they were just using him. He will grow up from all of this and he'll be ok."

Ye Old Matey's instincts are nearly always right when comes to people and character. Having worked in criminal justice, he is the last person to have any false illusions about people and their ability to change. Let's all just hope he's right where Chris Henry is concerned. Henry's talent on the field is undeniable if he can just keep his personal life under control. He has to wait four games before he can play; I haven't checked the schedule, but I pray it's not a home game. You'll hear crickets the first time Henry takes the field at home. He needs to get on the field before that happens.

I'm a mom though...and for mothers, hope always springs eternal.

Who Dey!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

No Spelling Suggestions

A) Word doesn’t know how to spell check the proper noun Microsoft
B) Word figured if I didn’t know how to spell Microsoft, (especially as it’s spelled out in the top left of the title bar) it sure as hell wasn’t going to tell me.

Either way, I almost fell out of my chair laughing. One too many English Comp papers I suppose. It is end of term.

Update 08/26/08: I got an A in all 3 of my classes! : )

Sunday, August 17, 2008

As Seen On TV

I had to have it. For the low, low price of 19.95, one tiny scoop of this miracle cleaning powder would make my house a new place. From laundry to the siding on my home, everything would be scoured to brilliance and newness with OxiClean. I ran to my husband. You won’t believe it. There’s this stuff, it’s AWESOME! You can wash red socks with white socks and they’re fine, I swear. And this guy created this stuff and now he sells it on an infomercial. I considered myself fairly skeptical due to all the infomercials I’ve watched over the years starting with Ginsu knives and Christmas albums as a child, through the Home Shopping Network craze in the 1980’s and finally winding up with half hour to hour-long infomercials in the 90’s.

It was that precise skepticism that led me to become so enamored of this cleaning product. I valued my own reasoning to the point that I didn’t feel I could be taken in. I was wrong. Although many things in the world of advertising may seem random or coincidental, the reverse is true. Great care is taken with the timing and placement of television commercials and their longer counterpart, the infomercial.

Repetition is the key. Advertisers are patient with their potential customers and wear down viewers with the same commercial or infomercial, again and again. Whereas, initially, I would switch channels immediately – “Oh, that’s just another commercial,” with repetition it became familiar and somewhat benign – Hey, the Oxy clean guy is on again!” Even if advertisers engender a feeling of annoyance, they know that they will eventually wear the consumer down to at least resignation – “Can you believe it? Why do they keep playing this stupid infomercial?” This is the final step before, “Wow, maybe they have point, it sounds interesting,” which leads to not only capitulation but also acceptance and even anticipation at buying a product you have never even tried. “Wow, I need to buy some OxiClean. I’m doing myself and my family a disservice by not buying it.”
Advertisers, as it turns out, are not looking for the people who buy any and everything – although they will gladly accept their money along with everyone else’s – the people they are really looking to hook are those who feel they cannot be convinced. People like me.

When I told my husband about the product and he didn’t share my excitement, I was fervent in upholding the values of a product I had never tried. Still, I wondered for a brief moment if he could be right and I could be wrong. Could I really have been taken in by a commercial? After all, I knew better, right?

My husband explained the concept of the “emoter” in advertising; someone who creates a sense of sincerity and urgency about a product. My husband looked at me calmly and said, “He’s paid to be really excited like that.” I felt a momentary lapse in faith in OxiClean but I’d seen the commercial. With my own two eyes I had witnessed the miracle - a clear bowl full of filthy brown water turned white when just the tiny of scoop of OxiClean was added. And it wasn’t bleach because they pulled out a red sock and a white sock and the colors didn’t bleed. I was enthralled, amazed.
“No, he doesn’t get paid to sell it,” I replied loftily. “He INVENTED it! Like the "2000 Flushes" guy. And it really works! So there.”

It is possible to watch television and depending on your schedule and interests, to never see certain commercials. It has been several years since I have seen a commercial for Fruity Pebbles, a sugary cereal marketed to young children featuring Fred and Barney from the Flintstones cartoon.

This is because I no longer watch Saturday Morning television with my daughter as I did when she was younger. As a teenager, her Saturday mornings are spent sleeping in, rather than as she did from the age of five until she was around 12 or 13, rising early on Saturday to watch her favorite animated shows while eating the same cereals she saw advertised on television. Nothing gave her more pleasure in those days than to actually be eating the same cereal at the same moment the advertisement was shown; the same with toys. Any commercial featuring Barbie dolls or another toy she owned would send her running to her room to grab the toy and wave it at the television.

Owning items that we see in commercials on television gives us a sense of connection to the larger world. Commercials tend to focus on the new; even every day staples such as laundry detergent or a loaf of bread are constantly touted as new and improved. There may even be different levels to buying the same item. Why buy plain old Dawn Dish Liquid when you can have the new Ultra Formula? Why buy plain bread when you can buy the Fortified Home-style Recipe?

Advertisers work hard to find out not only what consumers want to buy but what they want to ‘feel” when they buy a product. And consumers want to feel good about the things they purchase. They want to feel they are getting a good bargain. Many consumers today do not bake bread and may not have lived in an era or household where bread baking was commonplace. Yet and still the image of home baked bread as a symbol of the time, effort and care one puts into feeding one’s family, still remains. Whether through literature or ever persistent ads with wistful portrayals of “the way things used to be” advertisers are very careful to offer up the idea that, yes, their products are effortless to use, but that’s not why they are selling it. No, they’re not out to make a quick buck; they only want to save you time and pass along a helpful idea. Not to mention, the results will be as stellar as if you had done the work yourself. The advertiser also quickly assuages any guilt you may feel about cutting corners; any extra labor or time you have saved will surely be spent on your family, your friends or can be devoted to more important pursuits. Any advertiser will quickly assure you that they have put the same care into their product the consumer would have done if only they had the time.

The first falsehood of many products is that they are advertised as only being available by calling an 800#. Recently, however in many a mall across America there is an actual physical store blatantly named As Seen On TV where anyone can purchase many of the hundreds of items offered “exclusively” for television. Also, the popular drugstore Walgreen’s has an As Seen On TV section of its store and many items that are touted on television as “available only via mail order” appear in Walgreen’s within weeks of the commercials being aired, often at the same price or less as there are no shipping and handling and charges involved, merely sales tax. Despite how many times I saw the infomercial, I never actually purchased OxiClean via mail order. It wasn’t until I saw it for sale in Walgreen’s that I actually made my purchase. There was something about mail order from television, no matter how enthralled I was with the commercial, that didn’t seem safe. However buying from an actual store meant if I didn’t like it, I could reasonably take it back.

I didn’t have a giant glass bowl to swish a red sock and white sock around with. I could have emptied my old aquarium of its dried rocks (the fish had long since died) and gone through the motions, but I wanted to put OxiClean to the test right away. After all, they had shown no hesitation in the commercials in giving OxiClean the dirtiest jobs to clean. I immediately took down an old blouse that I had been saving, heaven only knows why. It had a set-in stain – the kind that once you miss it in the wash and run it through the dryer, the stain is simply not coming out of the cloth.

But this was exactly the type of stain OxiClean claimed to be able to remove. I ran upstairs, got my blouse, excitedly took it to my laundry room where I had stashed the OxiClean importantly on my “Corner Shelf” after turning on my “Tap Light” – two other As Seen On TV items I had purchased in Walgreen’s along with the OxiClean.

The “Corner Shelf”, advertised to be a space saving device so “easily installed in any corner without using a single tool or bracket” and that should have been able to stand the weight of a large vase full of flowers and water. (I’d seen it on the infomercial and the flowers never fell) However it did not stand up to the weight of my 8 oz container of OxiClean. My “Tap Light” burned out after a week and no amount of batteries could get it to work again. Plus, it gave a toy-like squeaked when you tapped it whereas it had worked silently but well in the commercial. I was disappointed that the Star Trek like magic of the "Tap Light" was ruined by the everyday sound of a giant plastic push button hitting its plastic base.

I think we got rather caught up in how the OxiClean worked rather than whether the product worked. It bubbled and fizzed vigorously, seemingly doing all the work for you, which I guess is why I bought it in the first place. Why should I scrub the blouse, or even look for stains to pre-treat before washing, if OxiClean will catch and eliminate them all without any extra work from me?
Yet, I didn’t realize that, following the instructions on the canister, I was actually doing what I would do with any laundry detergent: Making a watered solution of the detergent, using that to pre-treat the stain and then actually washing it. Only I had gone the additional step and expense of buying an entirely different product to do the work that I already could do with my usual laundry detergent.Furthermore, although it did get out the bulk of the stain, it still left a faint outer ring of the stain, which, while improved, still made the blouse look stained and un-wearable. I was disappointed but I was still a bit impressed. It had done a better job than my usual detergent – considering I hadn’t pretreated first only after it got out of the dryer.

Budgets get tight. And when they do, for whatever the reason, you learn to do without certain things. One of the first things to go was OxiClean. As I became a better housekeeper and learned to never let stains set or forget to pretreat or inspect clothes before I washed them, OxiClean was no longer needed. I also didn’t need the idea of OxiClean; the feeling of laundry safety, a world that OxiClean had promised but had never really delivered no matter how many times I purchased it. And in the end, I even switched to a cheaper brand of detergent than I had been using and found that, with a small bit of extra care, it did just as well as my old detergent and without OxiClean.

Remember the man who I thought invented OxiClean? You cannot imagine my shock and my hurt when I saw him promoting other As Seen on TV items. Gullible to the end, I thought, he did such a good job inventing OxiClean and was so sincere about his product, that he was hired to promote other products. Well, I was only half right and my husband completely so. He had never invented OxiClean; he was just really good at selling it and getting other people to want to buy it. He had the face, the voice, the charm, and the sincerity of a neighbor or friend who just wanted to share a good thing with you. Even though it had been several years since I’d bought OxiClean it hurt very much to see the man I’d trusted to help me make decisions about my laundry and household cleanliness touting other must-have As Seen On TV items.

I still haven’t quite forgiven him for that but I know now that it is a mark of how I wasn’t just sold on the product but also the person selling the product. He has gone on to sell various items and I can never view any infomercial he does without, not just a return of my old skepticism, but a feeling of slight distaste and revulsion. It’s like seeing an old friend on the street you’ve stopped speaking to and can’t quite remember why, only that the grudge is still there.

Once we opened the door to As Seen On TV products with OxiClean, six more products found their way into our home. “Nads”, “Corner Shelf”, “Tap Lights", "Home Rotisserie", the "Marvelous Quesadilla Maker" and a "George Foreman Grill". Of these items, bought over a period of years, only one is still in regular use today, the George Foreman Grill. Last month when the Home Rotisserie, long since resigned to a top shelf, fell on my head, I dusted it off with care and put it in a safer place, lower to the ground.

I still may use it someday, as soon as I find a store that sells cooking twine to truss the chickens.

English Comp Grade 50/50