Wednesday, March 26, 2008

All-American She-Witch

In a world where Britney and Jamie-Lynn Spears are singlehandedly corrupting our nation's youth, Carrie Underwood is truly a breath of fresh air. She's wholesome, talented, beautiful, and a college graduate to boot. She's the kind of celebrity I wouldn't mind my (completely hypothetical) daughter taking as a role model.

Having said all that, her most recent song annoys me. All-American Girl is a fairly typical fluffy country-pop girl-power song. The second verse, however, has our protagonist falling for the star of the football team. While girls probably think his devotion to her is romantic, any man can see that this girl is nothing but trouble.
'fore you knew it, he was dropping passes
Skipping practice just to spend more time with her

His coach said, hey son what's your problem?
Tell me, have you lost your mind?
Your daddy says you'll lose you free ride to college
Boy you better tell her goodbye
Naturally, he fails to heed the coach's warning. The two end up getting married and having a girl of their own.

On the surface, this appears to be a "Happily Ever After" story. But of course the truth is more insidious. What the hell is this girl's problem that she's letting her boyfriend risk jeopardizing his future so that they can go to the mall? Not to mention that he's letting down all his teammates. If she truly cared about him, she wouldn't act so selfishly.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wisconsin gripes

Ahh Springtime. As we all know, Spring brings us longer days, the sounds of birds chirping, and eight to fifteen inches of snow.

Wait a second! Eight to fifteen inches of snow? Unfortunately, yes. The National Weather Service has issued a 'Why Would You Live in Wisconsin, Dummy' Warning advising against travel of any sort.

I figured there would be more snow before the end of the season, but I foolishly believed that the worst of it would be over. Silly me.

Incidentally, this is the second time the snow has crushed my plans to attend religious services. (We got sixteen inches on Ash Wednesday a few weeks ago.)

In other news, Notre Dame won its first round NCAA basketball game, beating George Mason 68-50. Alas, I wasn't able to watch it because Wisconsin was playing at the same time. Tomorrow the Irish will play Washington State in a crucial 4-5 seed matchup. Again, alas, I won't be able to watch it because Marquette will be playing at the same time.

I hate you, Wisconsin.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Liveblogging Barack

Thanks to the miracle of Spring Break, I'll be brining you a liveblog of Obama's major speech today.

9:12: Senator Obama's major speech on race and politics is set to begin in a few minutes. Obama is giving the speech in large part to address the serious criticism that has arisen during the past week over the extremely offensive remarks of Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. These include "G-- d--- America," "the US of KKK A," and, referring to 9/11, "America's chickens are coming home to roost." Part of the reason that the controversy has become so important is that not only is Wright Obama's long time pastor, but he also married Obama, baptized his two children and received more than $20,000 in donations from the Obama family as recently as a few years ago.

Also, there are no less than 8 American flags behind the podium.

9:50: More than 35 minutes late, it appears the speech is almost ready to begin.

9:54: Obama begins by referencing both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It is a profoundly moving opening. Though this speech is being given in a small room, it immediately evokes much of the soaring oratory from his arena speeches.

9:56: He does a really good job at placing himself into a long train of racial uniters by discussing both America's history ("striving for a more perfect union") as well as his own ("not the most conventional of candidates").

10:00: Obama mentions Wright for the first time. "Unity" has replaced "Change" as the theme du jour of the Obama campaign. He's casting himself as the middle ground between racial dividers on both the right and the left (Rev. Wright).

10:01: Obama concedes that he disagrees with some of Wright's political views and acknowledges that they are profoundly distorted views of the country. He appears to be distancing himself more now than he has up to this point.

10:02: He pronounces "divisive" as dih-VIH-sive. Never heard that before.

10:03: He begins to defend his membership in the church, calling recent reports "caricatures." Even if that's true, I've never been to a church that could be caricatured in the way that Wright's church has been.

10:06: The church is a work in progress that makes up the joy and bitterness that is the black experience in America. Indeed, Wright contains the contradictions-the good and the bad- that make up the black community. I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community in America. People like Wright and my (possibly racist?) grandmother are an undeniable part of me.

10:09: We cannot ignore race at this time in our history. To do so would be as big a sin as Wright's speech to begin with. He gets his first applause when he comes full circle on the unity issue: If we ignore race, we cannot come together to solve the issues facing our country today.

10:10: Gets another education when addressing segregated schools: 50 years after Brown v. Board, we still haven't solved the problem of inferior schools.

10:12: Addressing the persistence of black poverty, he throws a bone to white middle America, acknowledging that old welfare policies may have exacerbated the problem.

10:15: The anger in the black community is real and powerful. We can't dismiss it. We must understand it. But we must understand the white experience as well. Most white people don't feel benefited by their race, don't believe they must bus their schools to the inner city, and don't understand why they must pay a price for affirmative action when they did nothing wrong. Both black anger and white resentment are counterproductive.

10:19: We must work together to overcome the racial divide. The black community must unite with the white community to work toward our shared goals. The black community must demand more from its fathers and must not succumb to despair and cynicism in the face of discrimination. This is good stuff that will really appeal to middle America.

10:21: He is really hitting a stride now, evoking ideals of overcoming our flawed past to come together to form a more perfect union.

10:23: Hits the bible, saying we must be our brother's keeper. Further, Wright is a distraction, and by focusing on him, we cannot accomplish the change for which the country longs.

10:25: The children of America are not "those kids," but "our kids." Whites and blacks and Hispanics don't have health care. People of every race have lost their jobs and homes. Corporations are shipping jobs of people of all colors.

10:29: He closes with a story of a nine-year-old white girl whose mom lost her job because her mom got sick and had to miss work. The girl convinced her mom that her favorite food was mustard and relish sandwiches in order to save money on food. The girl eventually worked for the Obama campaign. In doing so, she met an elderly black man who said he was he was supporting Obama because of that young white girl. I actually thought it was a goofy ending. He would have been much better off closing with the flourish of a few minutes earlier.

Summary: He only touched on Wright briefly, and didn't really address the specific criticisms that have been brought. But his genius is in his ability to move the debate. This speech was an eloquent argument for racial unity. If he can get that to be the lead story, it will be very effective in calming white fears. I'll be interested to see the news coverage tonight.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Great Moments in French History

1. While reading an article in our French for Reading course, a History PhD student mis-translated a sentence because he was unaware that Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena.

2. Our teacher, a sixth year French lit-crit student, learned during our class that the crown prince of France was known as the Dauphin.

Am I taking crazy pills, or is our educational system breaking down?

I like numbers

Here is a complete list of numbers that do not repeat letters when they are spelled out (i.e. 3 doesn't count because it has two E's): 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 40, 46, 60, 61, 64, 80, 84, 5000.

There's your random fact for the day.