Thursday, October 30, 2008

Can we please get a third-party candidate?

Election, election, election. It's all anyone's talking about and it seems like it's all we're hearing about these days. Even the regular TV shows are sneaking in election plotlines.

What I find interesting is that of the three shows that I'm aware of who've recently featured election plotlines, (and there are probably more than just the ones I'm aware of,) two of them had a third candidate win by write-in. Ther original two candidates in these plots were just too radical and too involved in the politics of the election to consider what the population voting for them really needed and wanted. 

This third-party feature is no coincidence, I'm sure. I've heard so many people say that they don't like either candidate, and while a third candidate in this election wouldn't work because there's no room for a third party in National American politics*, there are probably a lot of people who wish that they had someone other than Obama or McCain to vote for. 

In the American History course that I'm currently taking, in which I'm the only Conservative in the room**, I've had both the professor and classmates challenge my vote for McCain and all I can say to them is, "I don't like McCain either; I'm just voting for him because he's not Obama." 

It bothers me terribly that I'm going to be voting this coming Tuesday for a candidate I neither like nor trust, but I dislike and distrust Obama so much more that I just don't feel like I have a choice. 

Maybe I'll write-in my own third-party candidate; it's not like a vote for McCain really count in California anyways. 

*Third-party candidates in previous elections have only ever made a difference by taking votes from one of the major candidates, such as when Ross Perot took votes that George Bush Sr. would have gotten, possibly ruining the election for him, or when Ralph Nader takes away votes that the Democratic candidate would be getting otherwise. 

**There might be other Conservatives in the classroom, but if they are, they're keeping quiet. When the course just began I was sure, based on his facial reactions to some of the professor's liberal rants, that one guy was Conservative, but he stopped coming to class after the first two weeks or so. Maybe because he couldn't take it anymore. 

Me? I've become pals with the professor, who think that he's going to crush all of my Conservative beliefs with his liberal logic. Apparently, though, (according to one of my classmates,) the two weeks of class that I missed due to the Jewish holiday season were really boring. All liberalism and no logic can get a bit stale, I suppose. 

Monday, October 6, 2008

Potter Magic Comes to Life

This post is for any Harry Potter fans out there.

Remember the "Decoy Detonator," one of Fred and George Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes? If you don't, here's a brief description:

"Decoy Detonators are [...] small devices which scurry off into shadows and then make a noise, thus decoying people away."

They become an important plot device in the 7th book when Harry is trying to get one of the Horcruxes at the Ministry of Magic. (If you don't know what a horcrux is, this post is obviously not for you.)

In any case, I was just reading through the most recent issue of Wired Magazine, (yes, I'm a geek,) when I read a description of a new-and-improved stun grenade that sounds remarkably similar to the Decoy Detonators:

Decoy Detonator Description: When Harry sets off a Decoy Detonator in "Deathly Hallows," it,
scuttles silently to the far side of the room, then blows itself up, making a sharp noise and a cloud of smoke. There's no explanation for how this product works, aside from the given assumption that it's done by magic. But maybe Wired can give us an idea...

Fuel/Air Distraction Device Description: "Yank the pin on the new stunner and a gas starts combusting, which pushes out and ignite a cloud of powdered aluminum. The result is [...] a blinding burst of light accompanied by a boom of up to 170 decibels - about as loud as a shotgun". (Wired Magazine, 16.10)

Science and Potter magic coming together... Wonder how much Rowling knows about defense industry inventions. Or maybe they got the idea from her? Which came first, the decoy detonator or the stun grenade?

Rock the Women's Right to Vote

This is an email going around and I thought it very appropriate that I post it here. It is especially important for women voters to vote this coming election in California with initiatives important to women on the ballot such as requiring parental notification before giving a minor an abortion.

Register to vote at


This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.

Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because -- why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry.

She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think
a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know.

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so
hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

History is being made.