27 March 2008

Interesting Weather

It's raining at the house, but up at the highest point on the farm it's snowing. I just drove home from filling up the car and it was snowing at 1500 feet, snowing but not sticking at 1400 feet, and raining at the house (1150 feet). We're supposed to get between 5 and 10 cm of snow tonight, a pretty good amount for this time of year.

It's been an abnormally cool March. I don't think that we have had one day with a high temperature above 45 degrees F., which is the average high temperature during the middle of the month. I've loved the weather, though another 10 degrees F. colder would've lengthened the hockey season by three or four weeks.

The Crocus ancyrensis 'Golden Bunch' started blooming on March 21 - a full week later than last year. Ironically, the Crocus chrysanthus 'Blue Pearl' started blooming on March 24 - two days earlier than last year. The Crocus tomasinianus 'Ruby Giant' plants look like they need another two or three warm, sunny days. The Crocus sieberi sublimus 'Tricolor' plants look like they need another week or more of warm days.

Other than the cooler than average weather, it appears to be a rather typical spring!

09 March 2008

Tell me what you think

I wonder, do most foreigners perceive the United States to be a neo-fascist, theocratic, right-wing state? It seems to me that a lot of people in our own country think so, and I find that view incorrect for a number of reasons...

*In 2006, the Democrats (our major left-of-center political party) won control of our government's legislative branch. They appear poised to win the presidency this year, and, even if they don't, the alternative is a liberal Republican (our major right-of-center political party).

*At this time, the United States has the second-highest percentage of foreign born citizens as it has every had. Immigrants have a significant tendency to vote Democrat. In addition, the fastest growing segment of our population (Latinos) tend to vote Democrat an overwhelming majority of the time. Our higher education institutions continue to be hotbeds of left-of-center thinking, and it is incredible how lop-sidedly our young people support Democrats over Republicans.

*While the United States may have been a Republican-dominated country for the past 28 years, the Republican grip has grown ever weaker in the last 8 years. At no point during the "neo-Conservative Era" has the United States been anything like a fascist country. During the Republicans' time in power, religion has seen a declining importance in American society. Ironically, the "Reagan Revolution" sought to return the United States to some of the ideas of our founding fathers (freer markets, reduction in the size of government, etc.).

In my opinion, it is not that the United States has moved farther to the right. On the contrary, the political parties of the United States have moved farther to the left. The fact that we have generally elected governments from the far right of our political spectrum does not mean that we have elected governments from the far right of the political spectrum.

One other thing that I find interesting is that Europe has been moving away from its neo-socialist policies of the 1990s. Instead, much of Europe has swung back toward more conservative policies. However, here in the United States we seem to be behind the times (despite what most Americans would tell you). In fact, it seems as if we are following in the footsteps of our European cousins at the very time that they have begun heading a different direction.

What do non-Americans think of our government? Are we right-wing fascists in your eyes? Are we left-wing socialists? Are we level-headed moderates? Put your dislike of our president aside and tell me what you really think about our government.

04 March 2008

Passion versus Restraint

Note to readers: I am having a hell of a time getting this post how I want it. I'm just going to give up and post it as is. Good luck...

Per my "William F. Buckley, Jr." Post, I am putting fingers to keyboard to discuss ideas sparked by the death of Bill Buckley.

The first ideas that I would like to discuss are the lack of passion in political discussions and the dwindling percentage of people involved in political discussions. I am often conflicted by my desire to argue passionately about a topic. However, to be taken seriously, often one must debate an issue without emotion and with sophistication. This has resulted in the exclusion of the average person from political discussions. This exclusion is a travesty; everyone has a right to express their opinions - regardless of education level and speaking ability.

In this era of apathy, I worry that many people lack strong feelings on important issues. It is my opinion that society has contributed to this. More and more, it is becoming unacceptable for people to express their opinions. Many people argue that an expression of strong opinions will result in the hurting of someone else's feelings. Perhaps that is the case, but does it matter? As the old addage goes, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." Apparently, an ever-increasing number of Westerners* disagrees.

This is a frightening development, for our freedom of speech is the freedom on which all others rest. I often applaud those who speak their mind - regardless of whether I agree or disagree with them. Personally, I believe than an unsophisticated but passionate argument may be just as legitimate as a calculated but emotionless one. It is imperative that we stop robbing our children of passion and drive. Inspired individuals created the world that we live in. If we are to continue to improve society, our children must know that everyone has a right to express their opinion - even if they aren't a member of the debate team.

Freedom of thought, speech, and expression is necessary in a healthy society. Promote these, and (it is hoped that) the result will be increased dialogue and improved society.

*Westerners used in the context of Western Civilization

William F. Buckley, Junior

On A.D. 2008 February 27, William F. Buckley, Jr. died in his home in Stamford, Connecticut, United States of America. To be honest, I know of Buckley more for the attention surrounding his death than his life. Ironically, the first and only time that I remember listening to him speak was on "Charlie Rose," sometime in the past six months. At the time, all I knew about him was that he was a "Conservative political strategist." As it turns out, that was only half true. From the articles I read, Buckley seemed to have been an aristocratic, Socratic, party animal. At that same time, he is with credited with single-handedly making Conservatism a respected political ideology.

After reading so much about Buckley, I wanted to type a few ideas that I have been thinking about. In the coming days, I plan on putting at least three of these ideas on screen.