Friday, April 27, 2007

Hooray for Stephen Hawking

If you didn't already know, Stephen Hawking rode on a Zero Gravity Corps flight to experience weightlessness. Although he was excited about the idea of it the quote tells it all:

"After one zero-gravity ride, crew members asked if he wanted to go again. Hawking dramatically stretched his eyebrows upward in an apparently emphatic yes. 'He was grinning the entire time,' Diamandis said."

I can't really think of anything right now that makes me feel more giddy inside. It's that whole childish imagination of space flight, of Stephen Hawking reliving his own little boy fantasies, and the possibility of exploration all rolled into one. Also, Hawking's flight was a fundraiser for Lou Gehrig's disease and Easter Seals.

Now I'm only shocked that these flights are only $3,500 and will be available through Sharper Image!! I remember sitting in my apartment not 6 months ago watching TLC with one of my housemates and watching the competition between companies to "fly" in space. At the time the flights were $1 million a piece, which still kind of seemed a reasonable amount for someone who wanted to do such a thing. But only $3,500 is like the cost of two people going on a cruise-- I can't imagine that everyone wouldn't want to try it. Who knows, maybe they'll get a 12-month payment plan going.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Politics of it All

My friend LMNtal Attraction wrote about an interesting issue today breaking with his all-too-relationship-centered blog world. I however have absolutely no qualms with getting into the nitty gritty of politics. Found an interesting definition that I think is the most perfect one I've ever found for the word politics (Of course I had to get past all of the other definitions that use the word politics in the description. Did everyone else forget that you can't use a word to describe itself?) So here it is: Politics- "The often internally conflicting interrelationships among people in a society." How much truer could that be? It is after all the art of governing, and deciding between what we want as individuals and what is best for us as a nation.

While my friend LMNtal argues that people are slack in their knowledge of world events, I have to give people a bit more credit. Governance IS an art and it's never perfect the first time. As the first modern democracy in the world, the US has come a long way from appointed governors and senators, landed elite voting, and the 3/5ths clause. Just looking into that a bit more, voting rights have been only universally established for about three quarters of a century. You could really argue even less than that with southern Jim Crow laws and such. So for the last 50 years people in our own country have been granted (-for lack of a better word) voting rights who never had any engagement with government before.

Unfortunately what ails the US is not the lack of awareness of government and world affairs, but the disconnectedness of individuals with government. As we sit in our computer chairs browsing news headlines on our own separate continent, it's hard to relate to the sheer terror that occurs daily in the rest of the world. My college roommate had a huge picture of children starving in the Sudan hanging over her bed. It disturbed me every time I went over to talk to her, but it's a jarring image that can only hint at what some people around the world live with every day. Moreover it's difficult to know what I can do about it. I've worked in a senator's office and let me tell you how ineffective writing your congressman/woman is. So that leaves the voting booth as the last bastion of effective public engagement with our government. I do have to admit that after the response in 2006 I still have hope that people come together and act when they realize how government affects our everyday lives. Democracy is not the ideal government, it's just the best we've been able to come up with yet.

In a similar vein, HOORAY to Charlie Crist, governor of FL, for reinstating voting rights to ex-felons. It may be an unpopular idea, but the right thing is rarely ever popular.

"Never doubt that a small group of dedicated individuals can change the world. In fact, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Men and Their Toys

OK, so this time it really worked out in my favor. How did it ever start with men tinkering with things to make them work? Not just work, but work BETTER! Every man I have ever known has definitely been partial to this at one time or another. Whether it's building something from scratch or fixing some electrical gadget, there's just a guy-thing about tinkering and doing more with the appliances you buy that makes them just not quite good enough and in need of expansion.

So back to my initial discussion. This time it worked in my favor. My boyfriend is a game buff ('course I don't know many guys in their 20s who don't own at least 1 game console). Anyway, I don't really care much for the games. Even the Wii-- yes, it's great that it's wireless, but I only have so much patience for the games. Could be the poor hand-eye coordination I've got going too.

Anyway, if you've heard anything about Apple's iTV I have the boyfriend mocked-up version of one and I LOVE it. So all you need is a Netflix account, MactheRipper (for Mac users), a router, and an X-box. Netflix has now become so much more valuable to me. As soon as I get my movies I can run them through the ripper and they are on my hard drive. Then the amazing boyfriend set it up for the Xbox to recognize those movies and I can scroll through them and select the movie I want to watch. That means 1 day turnaround for my Netflix, which means more movies I can see (since I usually want to watch a whole lot at one time), and no fiddling with DVDs and cases and that whole putting it into the machine. I know it sounds crazy, but it's the best thing since Tivo. Props to the amazing tinkering boyfriend!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I love a Ball

So tonight was the Prevent Child Abuse NC "Picture This" Gala. I got to dress up in my beautiful gown and go bid on silent auction items for charity. It was great fun and I always remember how much I love a ball. Everyone smiles a little more friendly, chat more openly and generally have a great time. I wish there were even more balls I could attend every year. Now that I'm in a new city I have at least 4 gowns (that still fit) that have never graced the eyes of people here. I'm trying to think of excuses to wear them, but think I'm going to have to search out more charity balls. They really are the most fun anyway.

However, one very good suggestion was made--to have a party wearing bridesmaid's dresses. It would be a bridesmaids' party, only without an actual bride involved and everyone would actually be able to wear those hideous (or um, unique) dresses that they had to buy. We could have a contest for worst dress and just lots of fun. Unfortunately I can no longer wear the bridesmaid's dress I wore to my sister's wedding, so I'll have to scrounge up my other one. I think it'll work.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The New Foreign Service Exam

So every April the US State Department gives their once-a-year Foreign Service Exam, which is universally renowned for being one of the hardest tests in history. It comprises such varied questions that are nearly impossible to study for (their list of suggested readings and study materials is 3 pages long in 10point single spaced font). Also, only about 1% of the people who take the exam pass it, which is only the first step to a 3-part selection process.

So as I was going to their website to check out taking the test this year (because it is my ultimate dream career to work in an embassy, particularly the one in Prague) I found out that they are changing the test. BRAVO to the State Department! Again, they have reinforced my admiration for being probably one of the best government departments in the whole federal system. But sadly, no test this year; or in April at any rate. Yes, it seems this summer they will be releasing their new test, which will be computer-based (I'm thinking GRE) and given 4 times a year during an 8 day window. What a great idea! Instead of forcing everyone to sit down one day a year, they are giving you a window to schedule it. Unfortunately, you can only take the exam once in a 12 month period, but that's not so bad.

This message brought to you from an utterly devoted civilian.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Chocolate Jesus

So this is a little bit of yesterday's news, but it's still amazing to me. What really blows me away is not that religious groups are boycotting the show, but WHY they are boycotting. You'd think with Easter coming up they would take offense to the comparison of a chocolate Jesus to the Easter bunny-- as in a commercialized idol that can be dismissed by adults like Santa and the Tooth Fairy. But oh no. They are upset because Jesus is depicted as a true nude (no shroud).

It's so great to know that we have come so far in the past 500 years. Michaelangelo refused to cover the nudes behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel, so the pope ordered a lesser painter to go back and paint shrouds over all these nudes. Only in the 1990's during cleaning and refurbishing of the paintings were some of the nudes thought to be med discovered to be women. It changed the whole meaning to some of the characters. I'd just like to applaud the advancement of human understanding for the protesting religious groups thinking so deeply as to oppose the statue on such visible grounds rather than the underlying metaphor.

I just have one last question for them, though. Do they really think Jesus was a eunuch? If not, what's so objectionable?

I hope I've successfully delivered your daily dose of politics and religion for the day.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Hello and welcome to the world.

Alright. I would like to take this opportunity to initiate myself into the world of blogging. I know that it was suggested to me only about 4 years ago, but I am now finally getting around to it. So although I am a late-comer to the game I hope you enjoy.

So this totally got me started.

Because it was super cool and I love all things in the personality test genre (it's like going to a palm reader, but FREE!). However, I wasn't able to post it to a friend and figured I'd start a blog to show it off.

So now that you can see my personal DNA I'm sure you can figure out exactly who I am and that might be just enough for one day.