Tuesday, August 26, 2008

GOP proves the point that Obama was trying to make

I watched the DNC on primetime last night, which basically covered Michelle Obama's speech and not much more. I enjoyed the speech though, and I think she got across a lot of what she supposedly wanted to: that they are normal people living the American dream, that they can relate to the average American, and will make changes in Washington for the better.

I read through a few commentaries about the speech this morning online, and one of the articles on CNN caught my eye. In this article, we basically read excerpts from comments made by GOP members about the first day of the DNC. Ironically, their criticisms actually brought out the points Michelle Obama was trying to make. For one, Ben Stein said that she was nothing special in the fact that she's a mother, and had a sick father. Exactly the point! She wanted people to realize that she understands their struggles because they are her struggles as well.

Other Republicans commented that the theme of change is the same one the Democrats have been spouting since the 1960's. Well, I do believe that progress is a main focus for the Democratic party. We don't believe in the status quo as being the right way by default, especially because there are so many people that struggle to make ends meet, or to get their fair chance. Once we make it possible for everyone to live a decent life, and break down racism, sexism, homophobia, and all other ways that Americans try to make others sub-human, then maybe change won't be necessary. But there are still so many major changes that need to be made, of course it is still a major theme!

I suspect the fact that the Republicans are saying that the American people should "rely on more than convention speeches" is a good sign: it shows that so far the speeches have been strong, and well done. I'm looking forward to the rest of them this week!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Goodbye, Olympics!

I'm so sad to see the Olympics end; I really enjoyed watching so many sports! Fortunately I had the mental strength to avoid watching all day long and mainly watched prime time coverage (except for watching fencing online, indoor volleyball during the day, and some other online clips)! If you didn't see the Opening Ceremony, you must find a copy of it somewhere! It was gorgeous, much as one would expect from Zhang Yimou, who directed both the opening and closing ceremonies. I love his movies for their artistic elements, so seeing his creative genius in a live performance was fantastic (I wish I had been there!).

The Closing Ceremony was equally pretty, but obviously not as elaborate as it was shorter. I have to say I was a bit disappointed in the British part of the closing ceremony though. It wasn't as pleasant to watch or hear, although I think that may partially be due to the television feed. I thought the hand-off to the Brits was done in an interesting way, but the level of artistry seemed much lower than we've seen in the rest of the Beijing performances. I hope that London has a more artsy opening/closing ceremony in 2012 than it appears they will; I won't bother to watch if it's just music celebrities performing.

The good thing about the Olympics ending is now I can be a better grad student and spend more time doing work! I was definitely not the only one here who spent extra time in front of the TV (even some of my grad student housemates that rarely if ever watch TV watched much of the Olympics), but that doesn't help the work get finished. To my credit though, I did do some mindless research-related tasks while watching some of the primetime coverage!

Well, good job athletes, I look forward to seeing you on TV again in 4 years!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dr. Horrible, fencing champion!

Have you seen Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog? If not, you really must! You can watch it for free at that website, or you can download it from iTunes for $5. It's a show created during the writer's strike as an alternative to using the big name studios, and has only been released on the internet. The main character is played by Neil Patrick Harris, with other major characters played by Felicia Day and Nathan Fillion.

The plot revolves around Dr. Horrible's attempt to join the Evil League of Evil, his love for Penny, and his nemesis Captain Hammer. Much of the plot occurs via song, as it is indeed a musical. Very entertaining!

So why do I call him a fencing champion in my title? Well, I swear that his outfit looks much like fencing gear! For the first few minutes of the show you only see the top half of him, and his jacket looks almost identical to a fencing jacket. Similar material, similar fastening, and similar fit. Once you see a full length shot you can tell that it's a much longer jacket than would be worn in fencing, but it seems vaguely inspired by it. His gloves however, are definitely fencing gloves. They look exactly like a very commonly used brand of glove (similar to ones seen here, with a blue "grippy" material on the hand. I hear many people have been trying to replicate the costume; use fencing gear! The gloves especially are quite cheap, the jacket not so much....but if you're like me and have it lying around under your bed, it could be a good use for it!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Tornado in MA??

Although we've had a lot of crazy weather lately, I was definitely not expecting to hear of a tornado warning here in Massachusetts. I actually missed the warning as I was on vacation in Maine (posts about that soon!), but my housemate told me about it when I got back last night. Tornado warning! That is definitely not something I have ever expected to experience anywhere that I've lived, much less here.

Apparently, however, MA ranks number 35 in states for tornado frequency, according to the Disaster Center website. This website also states that MA has an average of 3 tornadoes per year, based on data from 1950-1995. Since this was my first tornado warning since moving here (at least that I'm aware of), I supposed that means many of these tornadoes do not happen in this area (we are in a mountainous region, after all).

Finding the Virginia webpage from the same site, however, shows that it has an average of 6 tornadoes a year and is ranked number 29. I remember one tornado/strong storm from when I was in middle school. The other storms I remember were not quite tornado strength, although we did have to go into the basement for many of them.

Well, I suppose tornadoes are not exactly something I should fret about, considering that I've moved to a state with fewer of them, and I've only really experienced 1 in VA. Still, I hope we don't have any more tornado watches or warnings any time soon, especially since our only real warning system is weather.com.