I just got to work today, it's about 10:30 A.M. I ran 5 miles in a fundraiser for the local hospice program. People at work pledged me, I matched that money, and came to work late after finishing in an hour even. It feels great to do something good for yourself while helping someone else, but I have a training tip to share with anyone else who might consider this: don't drink a bottle of champagne the night before you do it ,;-)
Yes, well, my wife had one glass and I hated to see the rest go to waste, so it went to waist instead. Anyway, the sun is out, it's not hot, but it's too warm to snow, all is right with this little part of the world today...so far.
Enjoy your weekend too.
David Blaine [10:54 AM]
On second thought, there are some rights that Cubans and Americans share. I was still fuming over Cuba's appointment to the Human Rights Commission when it struck me. In Cuba, as in the U.S., You have the right to remain silent.
David Blaine [5:53 AM]
It should hit the fan soon. Donald Rumsfeld sat on the board of a Swiss company who built the nuclear reactors that the U.S. sold North Korea in 1994 Hat Tip to This Is Not A Blog. The article detailing the connection is at Fortune.Com. As your mama used to ask "What were you thinking?"
David Blaine [12:46 PM]
If you can understand what the U.N. was thinking after reading this story regarding the reappointment of Cuba to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, I've got a fox that would like to guard your chickens for you. To see what Castro has been up to these days (in case you just got back from say, outer space) Read this recent Timesonline article out of the U.K.
David Blaine [8:46 AM]
I have been pulling my punches on this next topic, keeping quiet because it wasn't my place to initiate the subject. But now you can read about it from someone who has the standing to speak for the people of Iran. Heshmat Tabarzadi
writes that Iran must have a referendum, or else. What is the "or else"? Read his article here in The Iranian. In the end he is only a bit cryptic. He states if the people don't get what they want through peaceful means they may have to go the same route as Afghanistan and Iraq. Well, not too cryptic I guess.
David Blaine [8:32 AM]
With all the flap about senator Santorum's remarks about sexual acts and orientation, a comment left by Mac, over at The Eyeranian sums it up rather well.
Do we want to have laws governing sex at all or not? I say not, except to protect minors, and you can read why here. You can't legislate morals. In a country where we prohibit teaching morals, out of some misguided idea that we can't discuss religion in public, we can't turn around and legislate morals. Didn't work for prohibition, won't work now either.
David Blaine [4:05 PM]
Like reading blogs but don't want to take the time to write one? Thinking maybe you could do it but want to try it out first? Now is your chance, join Metapop, a collaborative web log that you can read, comment on, and add your own posts to. Unlike most web logs, Metapop contains a very eclectic array of writing styles and subjects, from the moronic to the divine. Check it out.
David Blaine [2:36 PM]
In order to give an even broader picture of how the checks and balances in the U.S. government make that government accountable to it's citizens, I would like to discuss the congress in more detail. There are two houses of congress, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate. Either house can introduce a "bill" or new law, with one exception. Revenue (taxes) bills must originate in the House of Representatives. The reason for two houses is balance. Each state gets two senators. It doesn't matter how few people live in your state, or how many square miles you do or don't have in your state. you get two senators, everything seems even handed that way.
Now in the house of representatives things are apportioned according to population. Large states like California will have over 40 representatives, while lesser populated states like Rhode Island may have only one. But every state always has at least one. More balances are built in, the senators sit for 6 year terms, and each two years, a third are up for re election. That way the senate always has a two thirds membership of veteran legislators. The house term is only two years, and all the representatives are up for re election each time. Both houses must pass a bill in the same form. This takes some time. A bill may pass one house, and get voted down in the other. It then goes back to the originator, and it may be changed to a less objectionable form. There are also riders. Let's say that you have an unpopular project, maybe it only benefits your state and no one else. You add it as a rider on a "must have" bill, and hope no one will turn down the main bill. Your amendment "rides" through on the coat tails. Again, all this can be vetoed by the the president if it doesn't meet his approval, and again, the veto can be over ridden. A simple majority can pass a bill. But a 2/3 majority must be had to over ride a veto. The members of congress are loyal to their parties, especialy if it is the presidents party. Having a popular president come to your state and campaign for you is a powerful aid to re election. But in the end, you have to keep your constituents happy back in your home state. This all leads to balance. I think it is amazing that what was configured over 200 years ago continues to work today with minimal changes. I hope you find this interesting. More info is available at The Legislative Branch: The Reach of Congress.
David Blaine [10:57 AM]
Farid has recently helped me understand a little more about the culture in Iraq, and why the Tikritis celebrate the birthday of Saddam even when they may not admire him, because he is from their "tribe", he is a Tikriti. I think the closest thing I could compare it to, as I understand it, is the way we in Michigan cheer for the Tigers, Lions, Pistons, and Red Wings, whether they win or loose. They are our team, good or bad, win or loose.
I would like to help others understand a bit more about our government in the U.S. Some have spoke recently of how we really don't have a good democracy in the U.S. because although we get to vote for the president, we only get to pick from two main candidates, and those candidates get their campaign money from big business. That is true enough, but perhaps I can help show a bigger picture.
In the U.S., we don't have just one government, we have many. There are three main divisions of federal government, the executive branch, presided over the the president, is in charge upholding the laws, and the constitution of the government. The legislative branch is in charge of enacting federal laws. The judicial branch, the court system, is charged with enforcing and interpreting the laws. The judicial branch has a subsystem within it, with courts that have primary responsibility, and appeals courts, right up to the supreme court, that decides constitutional questions that can't be agreed upon in the lower courts. The power in our government is limited by checks and balances. If the congress passes a law that the president doesn't favor, for example, he can veto that law. If the congress feels strongly enough about the law, they can overide the veto, but it takes more votes to overide the veto than it did to pass the law in the first place. The judiciary can interpret laws differently through time. Supreme court justices are appointed by the president, so a conservative president can appoint conservative judges, but these judges sit for life, so once appointed, they can vote their conscience and remain safe from political consequences. If the judges get too radical in their decision, the congress, the legislative branch, can vote to change the laws so that the court must uphold what the rest of the government wants. Now we haven't scratched the surface because we are just talking about federal government. A similar scenario unfolds in each of the 50 states as each state government mirrors the federal, and then you go to county, city, township governments. Each taking care of their local issues. It is very hard for one person, the president for example, to become a fascist dictator, as Mr Bush has been called a lot lately. Even if the president gets both houses of congress to have a majority memebership of his own party, and appoints many judges, he can't become a dictator. There are too many ways to defeat his will, unless he gets the mandate of the majority of the citizens. Students study our government in college for years when they will major in political science, so this is just a tease. There is a good website at An Outline of American Government which goes into more details. I hope this gives some light to people who question the U.S. way of government. No, it isn't perfect, but it has a long history, it is well thought out, and there are even ways to change the constitution, if enough states want to make the change. I hope to learn much more from others, I wish this post may return the favor to some. Thanks,
David Blaine [8:20 PM]
If you liked the poem "Forbiden" that I shared several days ago, you may be interested in reading the authors comments about living in Paris, his outlook on life, and his new English-French Album. Read about Shayar at Take One.
David Blaine [11:14 AM]
You know what is crazy? There is this weblog, if you haven't already seen it, called The Dullest Blog in the World and it's
about absolutely nothing, and everything. I don't know about other people, but I don't go there
so much to see what the author wrote, but to see the comments people make about it. No that's not the
crazy part yet, the crazy part is that off my comments at the site, I get three time more referrals than any of the serious sites I visit and comment at. I'm still not sure if the guy is a moron or a genius, or if there's a difference.
David Blaine [11:17 PM]
Here is a short illustration of how traditions can develop. It is taken from my own life and family. My wife's family is a mixture of German and Polish Americans. My own family is a mixture of Italian and French (through Canada) Americans. Our cooking styles differed a lot when we first married. One Easter, at my sister in laws house, I asked why she cut the ends off of the ham before she cooked it. She said it was because her mother always did. My wife asked her mom why that was, and the mother replied "because my roaster was too small" It was funny but it shows how we will sometimes blindly mimic someone we trust and respect without question. This is good for a child and her parents, but maybe not so good for a people and their government.
David Blaine [5:23 PM]
Think outside the box. That has been a buzzword in American business the last several years. If you never heard of this, it means consider non traditional options. Consider factors you may never have thought of before. These past few days I've considered input from several people who were born and raised in whole other parts of the world. It's easy to think we are wise when all our experience has led us to success after success. We begin to think we have all the answers, but what if we are facing all different questions? What if the very definition of the word "success" is different from one culture to the next? Maybe what sounds like wisdom in your ears sounds like foolishness to someone else. Now our counterparts in other places have lived their lives growing wise in their own experiences.
I give you a choice. Would it be better to argue with each other about who is right and wrong, and who knows better, or would it be better to combine the knowledge and experiences of two people, and apply that power to solving the problems before us? If you only speak to people who have had the same experiences as you, you can't learn anything new. And if you are sure you are already full of knowledge, you don't have room for anything new anyway. I say, make a new friend out of a stranger today.
David Blaine [2:47 PM]
Today at Winds of Change there is reference to an article in the Toronto Star that pretty much seems to establish the link between Bin Laden and the Iraqi regime of Saddam. This gives me no great sense of joy or relief, as some might suspect. It does give me a feeling that I've got a bit more breathing room. maybe Bush has been playing his cards close to is vest, and won't turn out to be the paranoid bully so many would like to portray.
David Blaine [2:41 PM]
Since I started blogging I have found a few blogs that interest me and I try to read them each day. I suppose it is normal for me to get involved discussing the issues that are viewed on these other pages, but I may have gotten away from my original purpose. I would like to meet people from all over the world and share ideas with them. We may not always agree on things, it would be boring if we did, but I still want to get to know people from other countries. I hesitate to use the word "friends" because it may seem trite. We will probably never get to meet face to face, still, if we know each other, I hope our countries would be less likely to fight against each other in the future.
It doesn't matter about your age, gender, political views, religion, or lack of it, or anything else. If you would be interested in getting to know a 48 year old American man, go ahead and write me. Tell me your hopes and fears, and I'll tell you mine.
David Blaine [11:30 AM]
President Bush will be in the neighborhood today. He is scheduled to fly into Detroit and visit the Iraqi population in Dearborn . It's interesting how you can spin the war in Iraq any way you want if you speak to the right people. The Iraqis are a diverse people with several ethnic groups in different regions. It's pretty easy to find a group to say what you want. Last week while one group was shouting U.S. go home, another Iraqi wanted to erect a gold statue of President Bush in his town. I also find it interesting that while an individual may feel CNN or Fox News are just propaganda machines, they will cling to some other news source that seems just as biased in some other direction, and feel that "their" source is as true as the scriptures. Over at Winds of Change the other day there was a heated debate on how many innocent civilians died in this war. While most news organizations report numbers under 10,000 at most, there are some educated people who believe it to be 75,000 or more. I'm amazed at the difference, and don't know how anyone could decide who to believe if they werent' there to count themselves. What I would like to know is, now that we are in a rebuilding phase, how are we going to move forward? I feel that if all you want to do is argue about the past, you aren't contributing to the future. Many people, Americans and those abroad, want to rail on the president right now. Well that's fine, but if time shows that the president did a poor job, Americans can vote him out as early as next year. If you aren't from the U.S., can you say the same thing about your government?
David Blaine [8:36 AM]
It's a beautiful day out, I just got back from a 10K run. I'll read the Sunday paper, visit my fave blogs and have something scintilating for Monday. Get offline and do something fun outside today.
David Blaine [3:00 PM]
I'm trying to develop an RSS feed for this blog. Sassan over at Me and Sassan helped me. I think it's great that I can meet a teenager than can guide an old man through something like this! Thanks so much, Sassan.
David Blaine [10:30 AM]