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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Never Forget, 7 Years Later

It's been 7 years since the day I woke up to the sound of my uncle on the answering machine telling me to turn on the TV. I was going to Heald at the time, living up at my dad's house and he was out of town for work. I came downstairs and turned on the TV and stood in shock watching as flames engulfed one of the towers and a plane hit the other. As many times as they replayed footage of the plane hitting the tower, I just couldn't believe it really happened. Beyond that, if I were to believe that what I was seeing was real, I couldn't understand why.

The instructors at Heald just let us deal with that was going on and mostly we just watched the news for the next few days. That whole week was pretty much a blur as everyone went on with their lives, but now under a daze of disbelief and sorrow for what had happened. What I do remember, and will never forget, was just how unified everyone became in the wake of one of the worst tragedies in U.S. history, almost as an act of defiance to show that we stand together no matter what happens. I really wish the unity that was displayed in the fallout of 9/11 had become the template for society to follow where people are courteous, helpful and respectful of all others, not just in difficult times. It may sound like a fool's dream, but I refuse to accept that all people cannot get along if everyone makes the effort. Unfortunately, ignorance will forever be the fuel that lights the flames of separation that start with religious and racial differences.

Regardless of the differences that separate us all, we collectively owe it to our fallen heroes and troops overseas to pay respect and give thanks for the sacrifices they've made to protect us. As a father, I think about the children born after 9/11 who never met their mother or father because they were either lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center, on the planes that crashed, or killed in combat in Iraq. The war in Iraq has claimed more than 3,000 American troops, in combat alone, who went overseas to serve their country and protect us so please take a moment and remember them. Furthermore, as much as I'd like to see our troops home and safe I think it would be a huge dishonor to those who died to simply pull out and not let us finish what we started, or at least continue the fight. I used to think that our fallen troops will have died in vain if we simply pull out of Iraq without finishing the job, but then I realized that if they fought for something they believed in and served their country, that could never be the case.

All we can do is to make sure that every single person who has died as a result of 9/11 is remembered and that everyone does their part to be a better citizen of the planet, because the best way to honor the lost ones is to fulfill the dream that they died trying to accomplish.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chris Rock: One Funny Motherf***er

On Saturday night of Labor Day weekend this year, I joined my dad in Vegas for a Teppan Yaki dinner at Caesar's Palace followed by the comic arsenal of Chris Rock.

I've admired Chris' expletive-laced humor for many years, but not for its vulgar content. When I first saw his HBO special "Bigger and Blacker", I realized that Chris has got his finger planted firmly on the pulse of America and seamlessly translates the current state of union into side-splitting humor. From his stance on the OJ trial to his famous "civil war among black people" and the current candidate race for presidency, Chris Rock delivers his spin, taking the mundane nature of any topic and unleashes its comic value upon his audience.

Let's face it, if all you want to hear is bad language without really saying much, go see Andrew "Dice" Clay's act. I used to love Dice but then when I heard Chris Rock, who actually has something to say still delivering the language I found funny from Dice, I changed sides. My generation has seen some of the worlds' greatest comics in their prime, who have now passed on. Of course, the immediate example that comes to mind is George Carlin. George's rant-style comedy was so accurate and angry in its delivery at times that he appeared to know something about everything, and know how to fix what was wrong with it. I think Chris Rock is the best comic out right now, the new Carlin for my generation.

"Comic Genius" is not a title that is appointed randomly, but I think it's one that Chris has earned over time. Of course, this kind of genius is much different that that of the collective group of scientists that sent us to the moon, but it takes a kind of genius to use the events of the world and show us all the humor that lingers beyond the surface. Hats off to you, Chris Rock, for keeping us all smiling and being the anti-depressant for the world.

Baby Mama Drama: The Future of the USA?

Upon reading a blog from my friend Pamm, author of "Adventures in Fairbanks, Alaska", I feel it necessary to address my state of mind regarding the presidential race which will decide the fate of our nation indefinitely.

While I have nothing against Sarah Palin personally, aside from the fact that she's introduced baby mama drama to politics, I do feel that McCain's choosing of Palin as his running mate was a publicity stunt. On the other side, I've heard Obama's running mate Joe Biden referred to as a "safe pick" by more than one person. I have to disagree because I know for fact that there were very strategic reasons that led to Obama's choice to pick Biden, primarily his experience with foreign policy.

Among the many points of inexperience which plagues both candidates, one main concern is the lack of experience that Sarah Palin has with Economics, being that Alaska's budget has not recently, if ever, been in need of repair. The residents of Alaska receive large amounts of money every year, a direct reflection of the strength of the state's economy. If you completely ignore the her shortcomings in terms of what she can accomplish in office, how about the huge dose of irony and hypocracy involved in Palin's stance on abstinence while she has a pregnant teenage daughter at home? If Sarah's message isn't being heard by her own family, how will she get her point across to an entire nation?

I will admit, in all humility and honesty, that I have been in favor of Obama since day one but that does not mean I represent a biased vote. I'm all about progression, so this election is the ultimate springboard for that ideal being that Obama will be the first African American to take office, unless McCain wins and Palin will become the first female to take office in the event of McCain's passing during his term which is a near certainty.

What I expect from this change of leaders is a different approach to politics all around from whomever takes office. I want to see a government that actually serves its people and listens to their demands, without allowing kickbacks and corrupt funding to be the steering wheel for the direction our country will take. Being that McCain has supported nearly every decision made by President Bush, I can't imagine we'll see anything different than we have for the last 8 years. I see everyone bashing President Bush left and right, when nearly everyone voted for him (maybe not against Gore, but certainly against Kerry). Bush was the lesser of two evils for both terms, but I don't believe the other candidates could have done any better given the circumstances. The only thing that I fault our president for is focusing far too much on a foreign country than the one he was elected to serve, and our economy has suffered greatly as a result of the hundreds of billions of dollars that we've sent overseas.

I do hope that McCain and Obama respect the troops overseas and the families of those who were lost in this war against terrorism by allowing them to continue the fight. Perhaps we can find a way to put more balance between the focus on the war in Iraq and the battle to revive the most powerful nation in the world.