Scott's Soapbox

Monday, May 29, 2006

That Memorial Day Picture

I forgot to mention that it's from Slate's photo essays. You can find that one and others here. One person already e-mailed me to say it was "haunting."

You can see more interesting photography at the photography company's main site, some haunting some not. The essays by Paul Fusco on life after Chernobyl and the Iraq war are heart-wrenching. I found all of them fascinating.

Another Memorial Day Column

Colbert King has some excellent thoughts here, a couple highlights below:
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, beginning with the American Revolution and continuing through the war on terrorism (as of Sept. 30, 2005), there were 652,696 American battle deaths, including 53,402 in World War I; 291,557 in World War II; 33,741 in the Korean War; 47,424 in Vietnam; and 147 in Desert Shield-Desert Storm. Those totals don't include the other Americans who died in those theaters of war. That total comes to 14,416. To devote one day to the honor of 667,112 American souls should not be asking too much. Evidently it is...

What will you do this Memorial Day at 3 p.m.?

I know what I did- a moment of silence during which tears filled my eyes. I was so proud of all those in my family who have served, so humbled at their achievements, so proud of the country I love. Thanks, guys.

Memorial Day

I saw a bumper sticker today at a Memorial Day barbeque: "Support Our Troops: They've Been Through Enough Fire Already!"

Damn straight, I thought. Here's to all of you who serve our country- we support you, we love you, and we miss you when you are not at home. My little job selling mortgage loans does not quite measure up to providing security and being a force for freedom around the world.

To those on the right, do not let "supporting the troops" blind you to criticism of their leaders. To the left, do not let criticizing the leaders blind you to the heroism of our troops. To all of us, today provides an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifice that has been made by so many to provide the life we enjoy today. Memorial Day is more than just mattress sales, family events and the seasonal opening of swimming pools. It is about the reason we live in a nation free to do these things, to spend our time thinking of these diversions. That reason is the bravery and honor of those who came before us.

Duty, Honor, Country- thanks guys. We owe you all a beer when you get home. It's on us.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

George Will Turns a Phrase

In reading this column on John McCain and election finance reform, I was struck by the sentence below:

"That bit of puffery is simplistic to the point of tendentiousness"

Isn't this just so George Will. :) If only he had called something "piffle" in the same column I could have died a happy man.

Bill Clinton's Third Paragraph

The LA Times Editorial page suggests here that Bill Clinton should be Secretary General of the United Nations. I do not remember where I first read this idea, but it has merit all the way around. Bill Clinton needs a third paragraph in his biography. 1) Served as 42nd President of the United States. 2) Was impeached. What comes after that to soften the blow the impeachment has on his legacy and reputation. While he has done noteworthy work with his foundation in aiding the Tsunami victims alongside President George H. W. Bush, helping with AIDS in Africa, among many other causes, he needs something bigger.

Having Al Gore being elected president would have helped solidify his legacy, but now I think he has only two options left. The first as we all know is Hillary. The second might be this role as Secretary General. Of course it is unlikely (for all the reasons cited in the piece above) but think about it for a minute. There is no more popular politician around the world, than Clinton. He is respected for his efforts as a peacemaker, as an activist, as a leader, and as someone who embodies the idealism for which America is (or is it was?) known. He is detail oriented, a hard worker, a consensus builder, and a good-government type (raise your hand if you would rather have Bush's FEMA over Clinton's- Anybody? Anyone at all? If you think so, you're...well...all wet, pun intended). A well-functioning and more efficient UN would be a boon to all, saving lives (including American ones) all around the globe and enhancing America's declining reputation around the world.

So why not- let's hear it - Bill Clinton for Secretary General! It sure beats the idea of him as "First Gentleman."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Politics- Is It the Consultants' Fault

Joe Klein thinks so in his new book, Politics Lost. Or is the politicians fault for letting themselves be "consulted" to the death of their public soul. See Gore, Kerry, et cetera. How much is the media's need for pre-packaged sound bites to blame? Is this why we hunger so for the "Straight Talk" of John McCain? Why I think Wesley Clark can win on the Democratic side? Answering a question once during a Veteran's Day event in new Hampshire, one supporter asked Clark what he would do if the Republicans [I am paraphrasing- do not have tape] sicked their attack dogs on him. He said, "I'd beat the shit out of 'em" and took another swig of his Samuel Adams. I'm sure the consultants were horrified, but I thought- this man could be president. Not just because of his excellent taste in beer, but because you could tell he was telling the truth as he saw it, a rare quality these days. A Democrat with backbone? Who knew such a creature existed.

Aside: See Wes Clark's son (notoroiusly a hothead) unleash a profane tirade against his father's consultants and the Democratic Party establishment here - he thinks they are, um, "pussies." He only calls them this about 50 times.

Interesting discussion here of the modern-day consultants' role in Slate. One highlight is Markos Moulitsas observation:

As a Republican Party official once told me, "We treat our consultants like the hired help. You guys treat them like equals." That would be bad enough, but it's even worse than that: We treat our consultants like they're our bosses.

Sigh, this one I'm afraid, goes into the sad but true category.

Speaking of Enjoying the Game

The Western Conference Finals begin tonight, with two unlikely finalists- Edmonton and Anaheim. Both of these teams are very similar- fast, young, with enough skill to get by. Anaheim swept Colorado in the last round, so they have been resting for 8 days. Edmonton just won 4 straighjt against San Jose, and played just back on Wednesday. So who has the advantage?

Anaheim is rested, rolls all four lines, and has just a little more skill up front. Edmonton has grit, courage, determination, and is on a roll. Anaheim has Scott Niedermayer, Edmonton has Chris Pronger. It's close, very close. Anaheim- particularly Teemu Selanne, at 35 in his first conference finals- has become the feel good story in this playoff year. They have steadier goaltending, with the proven playoff success of J.S. Giguere now backing up rookie Ilya Bryzgalov. They have a great mix of young and old, of speed and hustle, often on the same line. They also get a trip to the Conference Finals, winning in seven. This series should be a great one to watch, with bodies flying, colliding, and pretty plays still being made.

It's Been Almost Two Weeks...

Sorry, I have lots to say, but work has been...beyond belief. I am constantly there, or constantly on the phone with there, or constantly logged on from home to there, or constantly thinking about there. Really, it's all I've been able to think about for a while. As part of my job co-managing our mortgage shop, I run appointments and meet with clients to see if we can help them, and if so, attempt to sign them up for a mortgage loan. Notice I said part of my job. A small part, normally, as my function is more management/support than sales. Most times.

A big week for me of appointments is 1, maybe 2. These past 2 weeks, I have had 9. The whole office is running like this- running around Central Ohio trying to sell loans. The loan processing (structuring and pushing papers) part of my job has to get done sometime- I'm just not sure when. When my day is, go to office, drive 30 mins to appointment at 10:00, back to office, then 2:00 appointment, then 4:00 appointment, I guess it gets done around 8:00 that night. Which is okay sometimes, but when it gets to be every day, it gets a little old. (Right now as I type this on 7:42 Friday night, my work e-mail is open and I am still sending out follow-ups. While I was at hockey practice- everyone should know when this is- I only missed 4 calls. Work, work, work, and work.) So I am exhausted, and I cannot think about things the way I need to to write about them. Frankly, if you need a half hour, I haven't had it in weeks.

Tonight, is just sit back with a beer and enjoy the game. Work is tomorrow!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I Just Realized...

I never posted Round 2 of the hockey playoffs on here. (I know 3 games have been played already, but I swear these are true- if not, would I pick 2 out of 3 teams that lost Game 1?)

Here goes:

Western Conference:

Ducks over Colorado in 6. Anaheim wins another long one, but this time they have the home ice advantage. They are so confident right now after what they did to Calgary winning the last two games when they had to have it. Clicking on all cylinders right now, they are too big and too solid for Colorado to handle.

San Jose beats Edmonton in 7. Setting up the battle for SoCal supremacy in the next round, San Jose offers Edmonton a simlar challenge to Detroit in the first round, with 2 good scoring lines and solid depth. But the Sharks are younger, hungrier, and believe in themselves. Edmonton will not have enough offense to stay around.

Eastern Conference:

New Jersey past Carolina in 7. The battle of the red-white-black color schemes. New Jersey and Carolina match up to be very simliar teams, each a mix of young and old, with plenty of good two-way players on both teams. The bottom line is though, New Jersey has Martin Brodeur and Carolina doesn't. They seem to have settled on Cam Ward in the net, but he was not even their starting goalie 10 days ago. While feeling great about themselves after beating Montreal four straight, Brodeur will steal a game or two and be the difference.

Ottawa through Buffalo in 7. Wow, might this one be fun. A buddy of mine who is a big Sabres fan said to me last week when I caught him on the phone "I'm just sitting here watching the offensive juggernaut that is the Buffalo Sabres." We laughed about it, but then after they dropped 7 on Philadelphia in Game 6, I do not think anyone is laughing about that anymore. Both these teams are fast, hit, and can score goals in bunches. The Senators are more talented, the Sabres play more defense. I think the Sens will score enough to win, but it will be a close one- Buffalo made believers out of me with the way they skated past, around, and through the Flyers. (Keep in mind, this is what I thought before Game 1 ended with a 7-6 Buffalo victory. Old time, high scoring hockey.)

Another Video Clip

Sorry boys, no car crashes or porn or anything naughty. Just something I found one night while killing time playing poker.

An amazing hockey goal- I have never seen anything like this move. I could try this until the day I died and never pull it off. Actually, I think I would die very soon if I was trying this, after crashing head-first into the boards a few hundred times. As Don Cherry might say, "Love-ly!"

If Anyone Remembers Mike Tyson's Punchout

From their (and mine) Nintendo days, they may enjoy this crazy reenactment video. If not, you will not have any idea what is going on. (Personally, I laughed my head off.) I played the game 1000 times, and it is still a head-scratcher why someone would bother to do this. Fond memories, though- the music brings it back.

Bill O'Reilly's Wrath Strikes Beyond the Grave

Courtesy of the fine folks at "Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly" comes this lovely story. You see, Bill is a little angry at the Syracuse Post-Standard because they have "smeared" him in yet another example of the liberal attack dog media going after our unassuming correspondent. He called out on his show April 26th "the villains at that paper [who] are publisher Stephen Rogers and editorial writer Mark Libbon. These men are not only unprofessional, they are incompetent." Their competence and professionalism may be in dispute, but one fact about them is not. Steven Rogers died on November 12, 2002. Bill's "No Spin Zone" strikes again. I'm sure (wink, wink) he will apologize for smearing a dead man's memory. Don't hold your breath waiting...

Sorry to be so slow in updates...

Crazy busy at work this week- lots of late nights to sell people loans they either do not want after all or do not qualify for upon further review- "Oh, didn't I tell you about that bankruptcy?"- I also had hockey games Thursday and Friday. My legs and hips are sore as can be from 2 days straight.

I did enjoy a nice night out last night, went to a friend's Cinco De Mayo party. They had a really nice setup where he cooked sirloin and chicken out on the grill, while inside it was basically a make your own burrito kind of thing with all the fixings. So, freshly cooked meats plus great toppings. Your own personal Chipotle! (I thought it would have been more topical if there had been an illegal immigrant there to fix your food whilst waving a Mexican flag, but I digress.) Anyway, the food was excellent, and a good time was had all around. His dog quickly spotted me as an easy mark, and huddled under me giving me that look that says please feed me I have not been fed in weeks how will I ever survive without some of your food. I wasn't buying it for a moment, but a little chicken may have "accidentally" gotten down to her anyway.

I left early because I was tired after practice and I had not even taken a shower afterwards! So I came home and watched the late hockey game as Anaheim "blew away" the Avalanche. "Shoveled"? "Plowed"? "Buried"? The Ducks look great, and flew past the better rested Avs. Selanne just keeps doing his thing, another 3 points and smiles the whole time.

This weekend looks lovely, I plan on hiking once my legs feel better. Tonight, I would like to go to Gallery Hop downtown so if anyone is interested in Columbus, just let me know.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

How'd We Do?

Eastern Conference - I got 3 out of 4 correct here- missing only Philadelphia. Buffalo just skated circles around them. To come out and lose at home 7-1 in a deciding game is just incredible. They will have that game to think about all summer. Ottawa looked as good as predicted, so did New Jersey. Carolina made a nice comeback, but nothing I saw changed my picke of Ottawa over New Jersey in the East finals.

Western Conference- Oy. Of course, if the Ducks win tonight (the only Game 7!) the seeds advancing will be 5,6,7, and 8 so, by the standings at least, every series has been an upset. Upsetting to my picks anyway. I only have 1 of 3 so far, with my Ducks needing a win tonight to bring me to .500. I am looking forward to tonight's game- it has been a great, hard-fought series so far.

Actually, the hockey has been great- the refs have kept on calling penalties, so we got some higher scoring than normal. There have been some really tick-tack calls that slowed the game down, but that will happen. I'm still happy they have cleaned things up. If anybody needs me tonight, I will be watching the game, Molson Canadian in hand.