cloudy_one: (Default)
Recently I've heard about a couple new developments in the fast food world.  Pizza Hut has come out with a pizza that has hot dogs in the crust.  Burger King is now offering a Bacon Sundae.  I heard of them separately and mostly by word of mouth, but here's an article that talks about it a bit.  Quite a while ago now Wendy's came out with the Baconator.  I was working when this thing came out, at Wendy's, and no one, not even people who had been there for years, could believe that a fast food place would put out something THAT unhealthy.  It has beef, bacon, cheese, ketchup and mayonnaise.  That's it.  We were floored.  It would seem that was only a sign of worse things to come.

It makes me wonder about who is eating these types of food.  The Baconator was actually quite popular when it came out, and probably still is.  Then, of course, these places wouldn't put out this type of food if there wasn't a demand for it.  Most young people I talk to (admittedly in the University area) talk about how they are eating healthier, exercising more, and I'm inclined to believe them most of the time.  From what I can tell, at least college youths are making a point of living healthy lifestyles physically.  Knee-jerk reaction is to think that it must be older people indulging in these things, but I go to greasy spoon restaurants too, and I think that even if folks just have one place they indulge at that can still be enough to encourage those types of places and foods to pop up.  I've been making a point to eat healthier, even when eating out; but I still like going to Griff's here in Albuquerque, and they have really delicious (greasy and unhealthy) burgers.  I figure it's not so bad because most every other place I eat healthier.  But if everyone has their one unhealthy place it's still giving business and encouragement to the hot dog crust and bacon sundae people.

I think in another way it's unhealthy for us as a people to encourage food like that because it's so comically unhealthy.  We all have our vices, and I'm not saying get rid of unhealthy food (people should be responsible enough on their own).  What I'm thinking about here is how we (this country) are viewed by the world.  There are those who would say that we shouldn't worry about what the world thinks, but it's important in an international affairs sort of way.  I don't know about others, but I personally don't like the idea of the Ugly American.  I think most of that is because a lot of it seems to be true.  We are already seen as fat slobs, do we really have to up the ante by advertising to the world that we've just created a BACON SUNDAE available on a mass scale to the public?  It's similar to the Dick Cheney shooting his friend in the face thing; it was so comically over the top it turned Cheney into joke (or at least cemented that position) for how "evil" he is.  Few average Joes could listen to a speech given by Cheney today without imagining him blasting some poor bastard in the face with some bird shot.  Do we need that to happen to the image of the American people?

Maybe I'm going a bit over the top myself here, it is just fast food after all, it ain't supposed to be healthy.  I guess I just don't like the idea of being seen as a backward, fat, ignorant country, person even.  I enjoy reading articles from international news outlets for the sake of balance.  When I come across commentary, opinion pages, on-the-street interviews, even entertainment, I find more and more that the rest of the world sees us as a joke.  50% of Americans don't believe in evolution so we're a stupid people.  So many of us are Bible thumping bigots (though that admittedly is purely a stereotype, I think those types of folks are actually in the minority over here).  We eat Big Macs for breakfast, Whoppers for lunch, and a Double Down for dinner.  For those of you who don't know what that is, look it up if you think your arteries can take it. 

Besides that we seem to be uncommonly ignorant of the rest of the world.  From talking to people (even college students) it seems folks are limited to knowing only who the President of the United States is, and maybe the governor of their state.  Few know who the congressmen or senators are.  Few know who the Supreme Court Judges are.  Fewer still know who the leaders of other countries are.  I think a part of this is the fault of mainstream media not being willing to cover international stories as much.  Most international publications I visit have quite extensive coverage of American goings on.  Der Spiegel even covered the Republican Primaries!  Other countries are lucky if we cover their main elections, even if they are close allies or active enemies.  Of course in the end it comes down to people choosing to be ignorant.  If CNN doesn't mention it it's not important.  Few think to check other sources from other countries to compare reporting of facts.  I feel pretty disorganized with my ramblings but it helps me get my thoughts straight.
cloudy_one: (Default)
As the elections creep up on us more and more I find myself seeing and hearing a lot more political impressions.  I find that one idea still has not changed even given the events of the last ten to twelve years.  People are still willing to vote for the lesser of two evils.  One person put it as the "lesser of two fascists."  These people are stupid.  I'm not one to get too wound up about things that aren't personal, but this pisses me off. 

A bit of context... I'm not an American citizen, and I can't vote.  I was born in Germany to two German parents (Holger and Gudrun) and moved to the United States after my mom divorced and then re-married to an American Soldier (Antonio).  I was between second and third grade when this happened.  Since then I've lived in America, in Kansas, Arizona, Tennessee, and now New Mexico.  I've been here long enough people tell me I have a Midwestern accent, I get funny looks when I explain I have a green card.  I have thought about where to live, country-wise.  I have a lot of family in Germany, and folks have expressed that they'd be willing to give me a place to stay until I adjust.  Of course as I've gotten older I've thought about other countries to move to with systems I believe in more.  In the end though I've chosen to stay in America.  I don't like how things are going here, politically, economically, militarily, etc. but I strongly believe in what this country stands for, or at least used to.  This was a country built on live and let live law.  The Bill of Rights enumerates and guarantees these rights.  Today, theoretically, the people still have a voice to change what they don't like.  That is why I choose to stay.  Eventually I plan to become a US citizen, because I feel like I can make a difference with a vote, be it cast at the ballot box or at the grocery store in the form of my hard-earned cash.  The downside to this plan is that it costs a hell of a lot of money to become a citizen and I just don't have that cash lying around yet.

Having said all that, I can't understand why people are still willing to put others into office that they don't believe in, and in some cases know will mess the country up even worse.  I don't like the idea of a basic theocracy forming due to the clowns on the Right.  I don't like the idea of a nanny/surveillance state being set up by the Left.  Because I don't like these ideas, it logically follows that I wouldn't vote for them.  These two premises ring true to most people that I've encountered (online and offline) and yet they don't draw the same conclusion.  This isn't the conclusion to all vote for the same third party candidate mind you, just a conclusion to NOT vote for the people we don't support. 

In my mind it's a matter of winning.  I hear over and over and over about how voting for a third party candidate is a waste of a vote.  I am currently resisting the urge to write a long string of expletives here.  "A third party candidate could never win so why bother voting for them, you might as well at least vote for someone who could actually win."  ....resisting the urge....  Who gives a rat's ass if the candidate you voted for wins if they still fuck up the country?  Congratulations, your "winning" vote helped constrict civil liberties.  Congratulations, your "winning" vote has helped America fall further into debt.  Congratulations, your "winning" vote has contributed to the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers in a war no one wanted.  Aren't you PROUD of yourself?  The man (or woman) you voted for won the election, and you were a part of it.  This is why I get so pissed off when people complain about what's going on in the government, not just at the presidential level.  Most of the time THEY are the ones who voted them in.  There is no sympathy for the person who aided this situation.  I'll stand for the moaning and groaning if it comes from someone who actually had the cojones to vote for someone they believed in instead of helping to aid this mess. 

Then the argument of how no third party candidate could ever win.  There are a number of reasons for this.  One, most third parties, inexplicably, refuse to put up candidates for offices lower than presidency.  Sometimes it takes a low level grass roots effort to get people used to your stances.  It wouldn't hurt the Libertarians/ Green Party/ Constitutionalists/ etc. to try and get some folks in as town councilmen/ women, mayors, state government representatives, etc.  This is a much better way to spread your message, through action.  Then there's the numbers game, probably the biggest reason.  People are dumb.  You know why third party candidates don't win?  Because even though you like what they have to say you still vote for the idiot you keep complaining about.  It's logical to assert that if everyone who supported the ideas of a third party candidate actually voted for them, that candidate could very realistically win!  The other day I heard a classmate say they would vote for a third party candidate if they polled high enough.  This person has researched a particular candidate and is in love with his stances.  He still won't vote for him if he's not popular enough though.  People wonder why these amazing third party candidates can't gain traction; well, it's because of morons like these folks who find them, support them, and then don't vote for them.  So many Americans are slaves to the bandwagon effect, except they're not even the types of slaves in chains or at gunpoint, they're the type stuck in front of the TV who don't WANT to go out and explore the world.

If I could vote it would be for Gary Johnson.  I feel like his views reflect those of the majority of modern Americans.  They certainly reflect mine.  He is socially liberal.  The government has no place in our bedroom.  To this affect, he is in favor of legalizing marijuana, he is in favor of gay marriage, he is in favor of women's rights (including abortion and contraception), he is in favor of making the naturalization process easier for immigrants.  He is fiscally conservative.  He has a plan for a 2013 balanced budget.  43% budget cuts across the board.  This would close down unnecessary military bases across the globe, this would end our involvement in many foreign matters (he is in favor of an alliance with Israel).  This would close the IRS, the Department of Education (Education would become state-run instead of federally), and he would do away with so many of the "security" agencies created by the Patriot Act.  Federal funding would slim down (which is not sexy to a lot of people) which means less government hand-outs, but our government would no longer be owned by China.  We wouldn't turn into the New World Greece.  I understand that these things cannot (and should not) be done by one man and that this "Utopia" would not occur because these things have to be voted on by Congress; but I would feel a Hell of a lot better knowing that the fella I voted for is at least genuinely trying to move forward ideals I actually believe in.  But I guess that's just stupid, after all, he probably won't win anyway.
cloudy_one: (Default)
As the elections creep up on us more and more I find myself seeing and hearing a lot more political impressions.  I find that one idea still has not changed even given the events of the last ten to twelve years.  People are still willing to vote for the lesser of two evils.  One person put it as the "lesser of two fascists."  These people are stupid.  I'm not one to get too wound up about things that aren't personal, but this pisses me off. 

A bit of context... I'm not an American citizen, and I can't vote.  I was born in Germany to two German parents (Holger and Gudrun) and moved to the United States after my mom divorced and then re-married to an American Soldier (Antonio).  I was between second and third grade when this happened.  Since then I've lived in America, in Kansas, Arizona, Tennessee, and now New Mexico.  I've been here long enough people tell me I have a Midwestern accent, I get funny looks when I explain I have a green card.  I have thought about where to live, country-wise.  I have a lot of family in Germany, and folks have expressed that they'd be willing to give me a place to stay until I adjust.  Of course as I've gotten older I've thought about other countries to move to with systems I believe in more.  In the end though I've chosen to stay in America.  I don't like how things are going here, politically, economically, militarily, etc. but I strongly believe in what this country stands for, or at least used to.  This was a country built on live and let live law.  The Bill of Rights enumerates and guarantees these rights.  Today, theoretically, the people still have a voice to change what they don't like.  That is why I choose to stay.  Eventually I plan to become a US citizen, because I feel like I can make a difference with a vote, be it cast at the ballot box or at the grocery store in the form of my hard-earned cash.  The downside to this plan is that it costs a hell of a lot of money to become a citizen and I just don't have that cash lying around yet.

Having said all that, I can't understand why people are still willing to put others into office that they don't believe in, and in some cases know will mess the country up even worse.  I don't like the idea of a basic theocracy forming due to the clowns on the Right.  I don't like the idea of a nanny/surveillance state being set up by the Left.  Because I don't like these ideas, it logically follows that I wouldn't vote for them.  These two premises ring true to most people that I've encountered (online and offline) and yet they don't draw the same conclusion.  This isn't the conclusion to all vote for the same third party candidate mind you, just a conclusion to NOT vote for the people we don't support. 

In my mind it's a matter of winning.  I hear over and over and over about how voting for a third party candidate is a waste of a vote.  I am currently resisting the urge to write a long string of expletives here.  "A third party candidate could never win so why bother voting for them, you might as well at least vote for someone who could actually win."  ....resisting the urge....  Who gives a rat's ass if the candidate you voted for wins if they still fuck up the country?  Congratulations, your "winning" vote helped constrict civil liberties.  Congratulations, your "winning" vote has helped America fall further into debt.  Congratulations, your "winning" vote has contributed to the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers in a war no one wanted.  Aren't you PROUD of yourself?  The man (or woman) you voted for won the election, and you were a part of it.  This is why I get so pissed off when people complain about what's going on in the government, not just at the presidential level.  Most of the time THEY are the ones who voted them in.  There is no sympathy for the person who aided this situation.  I'll stand for the moaning and groaning if it comes from someone who actually had the cojones to vote for someone they believed in instead of helping to aid this mess. 

Then the argument of how no third party candidate could ever win.  There are a number of reasons for this.  One, most third parties, inexplicably, refuse to put up candidates for offices lower than presidency.  Sometimes it takes a low level grass roots effort to get people used to your stances.  It wouldn't hurt the Libertarians/ Green Party/ Constitutionalists/ etc. to try and get some folks in as town councilmen/ women, mayors, state government representatives, etc.  This is a much better way to spread your message, through action.  Then there's the numbers game, probably the biggest reason.  People are dumb.  You know why third party candidates don't win?  Because even though you like what they have to say you still vote for the idiot you keep complaining about.  It's logical to assert that if everyone who supported the ideas of a third party candidate actually voted for them, that candidate could very realistically win!  The other day I heard a classmate say they would vote for a third party candidate if they polled high enough.  This person has researched a particular candidate and is in love with his stances.  He still won't vote for him if he's not popular enough though.  People wonder why these amazing third party candidates can't gain traction; well, it's because of morons like these folks who find them, support them, and then don't vote for them.  So many Americans are slaves to the bandwagon effect, except they're not even the types of slaves in chains or at gunpoint, they're the type stuck in front of the TV who don't WANT to go out and explore the world.

If I could vote it would be for Gary Johnson.  I feel like his views reflect those of the majority of modern Americans.  They certainly reflect mine.  He is socially liberal.  The government has no place in our bedroom.  To this affect, he is in favor of legalizing marijuana, he is in favor of gay marriage, he is in favor of women's rights (including abortion and contraception), he is in favor of making the naturalization process easier for immigrants.  He is fiscally conservative.  He has a plan for a 2013 balanced budget.  43% budget cuts across the board.  This would close down unnecessary military bases across the globe, this would end our involvement in many foreign matters (he is in favor of an alliance with Israel).  This would close the IRS, the Department of Education (Education would become state-run instead of federally), and he would do away with so many of the "security" agencies created by the Patriot Act.  Federal funding would slim down (which is not sexy to a lot of people) which means less government hand-outs, but our government would no longer be owned by China.  We wouldn't turn into the New World Greece.  I understand that these things cannot (and should not) be done by one man and that this "Utopia" would not occur because these things have to be voted on by Congress; but I would feel a Hell of a lot better knowing that the fella I voted for is at least genuinely trying to move forward ideals I actually believe in.  But I guess that's just stupid, after all, he probably won't win anyway.
cloudy_one: (Default)
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Though I'm originally from Germany (and hold citizenship there) I do consider myself an American.  Which is just as well because I have no idea what the equivalent of Independence Day is in Germany.

When I lived with my nuclear family we did the traditional fireworks and barbeque.  I was really excited when I got to start setting off fireworks of my own.  The first ones I got to light were in Germany when we were on base for a celebration.  My dad (Tony) let me hold the punk (incense stick looking thing used to light things) and light up an artillery shell.  It was really exciting.  As I grew up it was about blowing things up.  By the time we moved to Kansas I would start gathering together old toys I didn't play with anymore and go out with my friends and our firecrackers to try and blow them apart.  Usually it was Army men or something like that, a big favorite was kids' meal toys.  The toughest one was a Lion King character.  We ended up jokingly setting him up on a brick with a sparkler which we lit and then left to go swimming.  We came back and he was melted.  I'm not particularly proud of having done those destructive things, but they are what characterized my 4th of July holidays.  The food, barbeque stuff was just like most other barbeques, my parents cooked up hamburgers, hot dogs, steak, and had a good time with their alcohol while us kids drank way too many sodas and blew things up.  Once I was in my teens and we had moved to Tennessee my dad (Troy) showed me how to fire bottle rockets at each other.  That was more than a little dumb I'll admit.

Nowadays I'm perfectly happy enjoying the day off without fireworks and alcohol.  Today for example we stayed at home and lounged for pretty much the whole day.  CD (mother-in-law) has been out house sitting since this morning so it was just me and Byron and Sam (wife).  It was very relaxed.  We watched a couple movies and had some Frito Chili Pie style munchies with turkey dogs.  Byron was the only one who drank and it wasn't that much.  It's nice to have a more relaxing version.  Normally we would do something a little more (depending on whether it fell on a weekend or not) to combine it sort of with CD's birthday since it's so close to the Fourth.  A visit to the zoo or aquarium, maybe even a little trip to Bosque del Apache.  Fireworks-wise we obey the city limit of under 10 feet.  As I've grown a bit older (not a lot mind you) I've come to enjoy the fountains more than the booms, and it helps that our dogs are afraid of the louder noises anyway.  This year we didn't light any off because of a particularly dry dry season.  With all the fires in the state it didn't seem worth trying our luck, or spending the money.  Sam and I watered down our yard the last three nights to make sure that our plants and ground were well saturated, we didn't burn down.

Someone else who answered this post had posed the question about whether most Americans even know why we light off fireworks on Independence Day.  I don't think they do.  The reason is because it's to serve as a reminder of the war fought to ensure our freedom.  The fireworks represent gunfire, bombs, and artillery.  It's even in our National Anthem (Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that would become the Anthem while he was present during a battle for the Revolution.  "The bombs bursting in air," were literal.).  As time removes us from the event I think it gets easier to forget the reasons behind the traditions.  Another thing that came up in response to this question was the leaning attitude of the question itself, being posed on the 4th of July (instead of say, the 1st, which was Canada Day) and asking about "Independence Day," which is not what all countries call their holidays celebrating similar circumstances.  I suppose if you want to get picky it's alright to point out the flaws with the wording, but I don't see the point in making a big fuss about it.  If your country has a day celebrating national freedom, I would love to read about it, instead of reading your complaints.  

Having said all that stuff, Happy Independence Day to all those Americans out there, and happy freedom for those others who are lucky enough to enjoy it.  The worst thing we could do as citizens of a free nation, whatever the name, is take it for granted.

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