Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Science Of Love

The primary goal of science is to quantify everything in nature. If something cannot be measured, it is beyond the realm of science. Most things that fall into this category are considered taboo in the scientific community. Ghosts would be the best example. Science has tried very hard to give everything a definition and a predictable outcome. Love is no exception. But when it comes to the topic of love, I believe science falls short. Though scientists have come up with neat little categories for types of lovers, the idea of love is still beyond all science. And to me, that is where it belongs.
As humans, we have a need to organize and groups things neatly. Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., at the University of Washington, is one of these people. Schwartz has developed classifications for the types of lovers in society. Schwartz says knowing your style "can keep your relationship healthy and happy." Schwartz has six groups that she says categorize each type of lover. I think, as many things in science are, this is completely bogus. But it is fun to think about.
The first type of lover is the "romantic." Schwartz describes this type of person as someone who "loves being in love." But Schwartz warns that this type of lover can set too high expectation. She says to remember "true love doesn't recede with his hairline, and romance doesn't have to fade as the relationship matures." To keep things going, Schwartz suggest "Planning dates, weekend getaways, or just-the-two-of-you vacations to rekindle the spark that ignited your relationship."
The second type of lover, according to Schwartz, is the "list-maker." In this situation, a person will "have criteria that are important, and you won't change them." Schwartz suggest doing away with any lists and simply worry about the important things, "companionship, love, a capacity for forgiveness."
The third category of lover is called the "obsessive." Schwartz describes this type of lover as someone who "wants to spend all their time with their partner, and constantly worries about their relationship, even when they've been together for years." This can lead to "partners being overbearing or having highs and lows that drive their significant other crazy." To avoid obsessive love, Schwartz suggest, "Realize that too much of a good thing can be too much. You may need to talk to a counselor who can help you understand why you feel so insecure and help you find ways to put your relationship in perspective."
The next category of lover is called the "giver." Schwartz describes this person as follows: "You're constantly working selflessly to meet your partner's needs, but you're not looking after you." While there may not be anything wrong with pleasing your partner, it is important to develop your own interest and still have your own life. The important thing to remember is always be faithful.
This leads us to the next type of lover, the "player." This type of lover is described as "easily bored in long-term relationships, and your eye may roam." It is hard to keep a steady relationship is you fit into this category. Schwartz says, "Take temptation out of your life. Instead of looking for excitement outside your relationship, try doing new things (salsa dancing, anyone?) with your partner, so you can see him or her in a fresh light."
And the last group of lovers are the "pals." Every romantic movie has one of these. This person is the type that will one day realize what they have missed out on. These types of people need to be adventurous and try a relationship with someone they see as a friend. See science has this all figured out. Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Save The Planet, Win $25 Million

It is hard to imagine what one could do with $25 million. It is hard to even imagine what $25 million looks like. Such a vast sum of money would be hard to come by for most people over a number of lifetimes. However, in the next five years, one lucky person could receive this fortune. The only catch is that the person must, literally, save the planet.
It sounds too good to be true, but it is reality. To try and inspire the brilliant minds of Earth, the owner of Virgin Airlines, Richard Branson, has offered a $25 million prize to the person who can come up with a way to scrub greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. This is a serious issue. If something could be developed to remove a good portion of these gases (especially carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere, we could fight global warming. That is the goal of this massive undertaking. Branson said, "Man created the problem and therefore man should solve the problem." The predictions for Earth are grim if global warming is not slowed. In an interview, Branson bluntly stated the scenario that could be Earth's future. He stated, "Unless we can devise a way of removing CO2 (carbon dioxide) from the earth's atmosphere we will lose half of all species on earth, all the coral reefs, 100 million people will be displaced, farmlands will become deserts and rain forests wastelands."
So all the people of Earth are invited to brainstorm this idea. The "contest" with work as such: The prize will initially only be open for five years, with ideas assessed by a panel of judges including Branson, Al Gore and British ex-diplomat Crispin Tickell as well as U.S. climate scientist James Hansen, Briton James Lovelock and Australian environmentalist Tim Flannery. The goal of the winner is to come up with an idea that will remove one billion metric tons of carbon gases a year from the atmosphere for 10 years. Once the winner is announced, he or she will be given $5 million. Upon the completion of the winning plan, the winner will receive the other $20 million.
I do not believe this is an impossible feat. Some may call this a science-fiction dream, but I think it can be done. All that is needed is a great plan and a great mind to think it up. There is no way to convince me that in all this wide world, there is not a single person who could figure this out. There are over 6 billion people on this planet. One of them can surely save it. Branson said of the project, "This is the world's first deliberate attempt at planetary engineering." If we, as a species, can complete this task, we can move on to greater things. The universe is a big place. If we intend to explore it, we have to fix our problems at home first. Start thinking, I know I will, and maybe you could be $25 million richer.

Oxford's State: Tanked

Last night marked the annual State of the City address from Mayor Richard Howorth. In the address, the mayor stated that the number one problem facing the city of Oxford is the "culture of alcohol." The mayor called for working with the University to solve this problem.
In the seven years that I have lived in Oxford, I have seen the mayor proven right again and again. No greater problem faces this city than the abuse of alcohol. Now don't get me wrong, prohibition is a terrible idea. Many of Oxford's citizen enough drinking in a very legal time and place. But it has become a concern of many that illegal use of alcohol is out of control.
Last year, the University formed the Ole Miss Alcohol Task Force. This group was composed of student leaders and community leaders to combat alcohol abuse on the university campus and in the city. The group presented its final report to Chancellor Khayat on January 23. The report gave the University two options to help solve this growing problem. The mayor, speaking of the task force, said he is more convinced than ever that it is the city's job to apply more resources to law enforcement."
More law enforcement will definitely be a help to curving this problem. The people that break the rules need to be punished. And the mayor discussed a possible way of aiding law enforcement in their pursuits. The task force recommended restricting minors' access to alcohol-serving businesses after 10 p.m. This seems like a great idea. However, the mayor feels this would "greatly impact the revenue of those establishments." The mayor went on to say, "As all establishments that serve alcohol must also technically qualify as restaurants, enforcing this curfew law would mean denying non-drinking minors access to eating in many restaurants after 10 p.m."
My issue with this is that there are plenty of other restaurants open after 10 p.m. Perhaps the minors should eat earlier in the night. It will not affect revenue as much as the mayor believes. Few have realized that little impact has come from the smoking ban that Oxford put in place. I do not think the same thing would happen here. A curfew for minors in these establishments is a great idea. It does not, however, address other means of minors acquiring alcohol in the city.
But the main problem is still the University campus. Unless greater efforts are made to completely stop alcohol consumption on campus, this problem is only going to get worse. I just think that the administration of the University needs to grit their teeth and accept the fact that some rich alumni are going to get pissed off. And frankly, that is just too bad. If they base their support of the University on something as trivial as alcohol, they are not the kind of supporters I want for my school. Campus should be dry and Oxford needs to clean out the drunks and under-age offenders. This people need to be shown that breaking the law is not okay in this town.

Monday, February 05, 2007

War-Hungry Budget Won't Fly In Congress

In his State of the Union speech, President Bush made a lot of remarks about government spending and our country's debt. He said that the budget he sent to Congress this year would change these things for the better. However, we now know that the budget for this year is no different from any other since the war started. Money for the Pentagon makes up the majority of the budget. If we have any hope of ever having another surplus, our spending priorities need to change.
The total for this year's proposed budget is $2.9 trillion. Most of this money is delegated to go toward another increase in military spending. However, the budget also contains measures to eliminate the deficit in five years. With the amount of military spending, I do not see how this is possible. Members of Congress are already voicing their concerns on the amount of money being asked of the American people. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad said of Bush's budget, "The president's budget is filled with debt and deception, disconnected from reality and continues to move America in the wrong direction." And he is exactly right. How can this country possibly hope to get out of debt if it continues to spend ungodly amounts of money on foreign wars?
Members of Congress from both parties have suggested that support of Bush's budget is a bad idea. House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt said, "I doubt that Democrats will support this budget, and frankly, I will be surprised if Republicans rally around it either." The top Republican on the budget committee in the Senate, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, said, "Unfortunately, I don't think it has got a whole lot of legs. The White House is afraid of taxes and the Democrats are afraid of controlling spending."
It is very clear that the way to get our country out of the hole is to find a way out of Iraq. Increased military spending is driving the United States further and further into debt. Anyone familiar with economics can tell you what a bad situation this could set up. Yet the White House is demanding even more money for its war. In this new budget, the Pentagon would receive $624.6 billion for 2008. That's more than 1/5 of the total budget and is up from $600.3 billion in 2007. That number is only a base-estimate. Due to the changing conditions in Iraq, the number may increase. We keep throwing money at a problem that is not getting any better. Soon we will have no money left to burn and the economy will come crashing done. Of course by this time, Bush will be safely out of office. Engineered policy? You be the judge.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Alive and Kicking

For years now, there has been one man that is the thorn on the side of the United States. That man is Fidel Castro. It comes as no surprise that the news of a serious illness in October made many Cuban refugees and American officials happy. Many rumors began to show up that Castro was dead. He has not been seen since the announcement of this illness. And these rumors ranged from Castro's brother leading the country to Hugo Chavez (from Venezula) running things. But after today, all these myths are officially busted.
A video has surfaced of Castro and Chavez meeting on Tuesday to discuss various topics. Many have said the video is dated. However, closer inspection will reveal that Chavez is holding a Saturday edition of the Argentine newspaper Clarin. This shows that Fidel is, in fact, alive and kicking. According to Chavez, the two leaders met to discuss "the threats of the empire." And all the planned rejoicing came to an end.
It was revealed this weekend that a group in Miami is planning a huge Castro-death celebration. Is that really neccessary? I mean, I know Fidel Castro is a Communist dictator and is not to be trusted. But should we really celebrate his death? Of course not. If "W" fell over dead tomorrow, I wouldn't party. He is a human.
What we should really be discussing is what is going on in Latin America. There is a growing anti-US mindset in this ignored region of the world. Leaders like Chavez and Castro represent a new threat to the US. We are focusing on the Middle-East and are ignoring one of the most populated regions in the world. Unlike Asia, Latin America may be the breeding ground for new attacks on America. And this does not include things like terrorists attacks. In the years to come South America will be a world leader in oil production. The Middle East will run out soon. South America holds the energy of the future. And if we let an anti-Western sentiment fester, it will come back to bite us.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

New Target Revealed

It was only a matter of time before the Bush administration made its intentions none toward Iran. Many of us have been waiting for some time for these words to leave the President's mouth, "a firm response." We haven't been waiting because we are hungry for war, but rather to prove our point that this president is the war-hungry one. Yesterday, in an interview on NPR, the president made it clear that Iran will see military action from the US in the near future.
It is all in how you interpret what was said. In the interview, the President is quoted as saying, "the United States will respond firmly if Iran escalates military action in Iraq and endangers American forces." And while there is no mention of invading Iran, a firm response means many things. In order to get the right message from Bush's words, you only have to look at history. Before the invasion of Iraq, Bush said a similar statement. It was the brief period in which the US claimed to be working on a diplomatic solution. The Bush administration promised "firm action" if Iraq did not comply with UN rules. This "firm action" turned into the war we see today.
The US is already building a case against Iran that will lead us into war with the nation. Besides bickering over their developing nuclear program, the US has also accused Iran of other rogue-nation offenses. Among these, the US claims Iran is "supplying terrorists and insurgents in Iraq with improvised explosive devices that have become the most lethal threat to U.S. forces. " And this will be the bulk of the US case. Bush will push for military action based on the situation in Iraq. He will claim that the lives of our troops hang in the balance. Of course the actual situation is that the US simply waits to invade another Middle-Eastern country for our own unknown, yet selfish, reasons.
According to Bush, this is all common sense. In a quote from his NPR interview the president said, "It makes common sense for the commander in chief to say to our troops and the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government that we will help you defend yourself from people that want to sow discord and harm. And so we will do what it takes to protect our troops." But at the present, their is no proof of this and it will take a lot to convince Congress. In an interview yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "Bush does not have authority to launch military action in Iran without first seeking congressional authorization." Bush reacted by saying it was all Washington politics. According to Bush, "People ascribe, you know, motives to me beyond a simple statement -- 'Of course we'll protect our troops.' I don't know how anybody can then say, 'Well, protecting the troops means that we're going to invade Iran."'
This is "ascribed" to you because it is exactly how you act. You have shown us over and over again that once you take up an aggressive stance with a country, you invade it. You make up some intelligence report, lie the American people, and get Congress to approve your fight. Of course a few of those steps will be extremely harder this time. Let's hope Congress will not be so easily swayed this time.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Best Picture Too Close To Call

The Oscar nominations are an exciting time of year. Each January, a list of nominees is presented and voted on by various Hollywood types. The winners are announced in the middle of next month. Personally, I will be trying to predict the winners. This year's best picture category will surely present some problems. The list of films acquired only limited attention during their runs in theatres. Each is a mystery to me, because I have not seen a one. But I will try to make an objective choice based on what I do know about them.
The first film in the category is Babel. It tells the stories of six different families. Each story is connected to the others. The film stars such icons as Brad Pit and Cate Blanchett (who has been nominated for best supporting actress for the film). In the box office, the film grossed around $23,000,000 and was seen in 889 theatres. The critics gave this film a "B" average. And that is about all I know. This film came out of nowhere and now is an Oscar nominee.
The next film nominated is The Departed. Of the five films, this one has seen the most press. This is yet another movie by director Martin Scorsese. Many of his films have been nominated, but he has never won as a director. Perhaps this year will change that. I doubt it. Unlike it's competitors, The Departed has grossed over $120,000,000 and saw a wider release. It also got a better rating from critics with an "A-."
The third nominated film may blow all the others out of the water. Literally. When two powerhouses like Clint Eastwood and Stephen Spielberg get together, a hit is sure to be born. Unlike Eastwood's other film from this year, Flags of Our Fathers, this film is entirely in Japanese and tells the story of Iwo Jima from that perspective. It too had a limited release and only managed to gross around $3,000,000. This may not stop it winning though. If it does, it will be one of the few foreign language films ever to win best picture.
Next is the much talked about Little Miss Sunshine. This independent film tells the story of a family trying to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant and the cross-country trip that ensues. The ten-year-old star of the film, Abigail Breslin, has been nominated for a best supporting actress award. Maybe this film can win on cuteness alone. It's worth a shot. The film did gross around $60,000,000 and was highly acclaimed by critics that gave it an average of an "A-."
Last, but not least, is a movie about an untold true story. The Queen gives us a glimpse into the life of England's Queen Elizabeth II after the death of Princess Diana. The star of the film, Helen Mirren, is almost guaranteed to win best actress for the film. But this is another film that went under the radar for most movie-goers. Although it did have a semi-wide release, the movie made around $35,000,000. It too got an average "A-" from the critics.
With such stellar performances to choose from, the category of best picture is too close to call. After finding out more about the films, it seems likely that Letters from Iwo Jima will walk away with the Oscar this year. This movie has the power that is needed in a "best" picture. It has some stiff competition, but I think that name recognition and the snubbing of Scorsese will elevate this film to the best of the year.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Democrats Diversity No Good for '08

This past week has been busy in the way of candidates for the 2008 presidential race. The three people that stand out, however, could spell trouble for the election of a Democratic president. Should any of them even get the nomination. Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Barack Obama, and New Mexico's governor Bill Richardson have all started bids for the White House. All three have high expectations that they can win. All three have no chance.
See, in this case I am some sort of prophet. I hear someone talking about running and take a good look at them before figuring out they have no chance. In 1996, I took one look at Bob Dole and said, 'No way...too old." I was right, he didn't win. In 2000, I examined the campaign of "W" Bush. I said to myself, "The US is so conservative, he'll win for sure." Although I wanted Gore to win, I was not really surprised at the outcome of the election. And in 2004, I convinced myself that John Kerry was an evil tree from the Land of Oz. And because of this, he would not win. And of course, he didn't. What I see in these three potential nominees is not a winning combination.
First there is Hillary Clinton. While she is a dynamic figure in politics, she lacks something that all other presidents have had. A penis. Yes, only because she is a woman, will she lose a presidential election. Her platform is not a problem. Many women and men would have no problem with her stances on just about anything. But the voting public in the US is not at a point (and I fear never will be) to elect a woman to the White House. Her name recognition is second to none, but that is as far as it goes with Hillary. If she were a man, she would have this thing wrapped up by December.
Next is Senator Barack Obama. He too is dynamic and pleasing to both voters and politicians alike. He has developed a platform that he appears to stick by. He is "hip" and young like Bill Clinton was. You would think he would have no problem. But his name and his race are the stumbling blocks. Here too, the voting public has not reached this point. It is not racism (well in some parts of the country it would be), but a fear of change. Also, the name "Barack Obama" is too strange in some people's eyes to be that of a president. Voters will also cite his lack of experience in international relation and politics in general. While I think he is the coolest of all three, he stands no chance in 2008.
Lastly, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico. To most Americans, he is a virtual unknown. What most people do not realize is the amount of international relations experience the governor has. And will a name like "Bill Richardson," you would think he would fit in nicely in Washington. However, there is one nagging problem. Richardson is Latino. He is a completely natural citizen but the label of "Latino" would kill any chance of being elected. And I think that is a racist thing with the majority of voters in especially conservative states.
The Democratic Party has a lot of work to do. So far, it has presented the public with a cast of characters that would be historic first to the White House. But they would only get there if they were a woman, a black man, and a Latino governor. At this point, John Edwards seems to be the only promising candidate that would stand a chance next November. Though, I think the party will take the risk and go with one of these three. This may be the end of the party and a slammed door for change in America.