Saturday, February 4, 2012

Virginia Foxx is an Idiot

Back by not so popular demand (as in mainly just Odin's) more Cynical Report! Let's skip all the "sorry about the hiatus" shit because let's be honest, no one really missed it. TO THE POST!

In “Mixed Reviews for Obama Plan to Keep Down College Costs” Tamar Lewin tells us about the enthusiasm of college students regarding President Obama’s rhetoric about keeping college tuition down. Tamar also details the tempered reactions of the President’s peers, and talks about the chances of something actually getting done considering the tumultuous times our current political system are facing. The article does a good job at drawing the divide between idealistic academia and the more cautious crowd that is President Obama’s peers.

An Idiot
One quote from the article that caught my eye was one from North Carolina’s Republican Representative, Virginia Foxx, in which she states “The president is saying that people can’t afford to go to college anymore, and that just simply is not true…”. I am not big on partisan politics, but leave it to a Republican to make such a ludicrously out of touch statement. Representative Foxx is clearly not familiar with the typical middle class family’s finances. But I will be sure to send her my student loan notifications so that she can pay them, since they are so affordable.
However, I am not blindly optimistic about President Obama’s plan to keep tuition low. He said in the State of the Union Address that he would take federal help away from schools who cannot manage to keep tuition “affordable”. The only problem with this is, at least in the case of community colleges like ours, one of the reasons tuition is going up is because the cutting of state budgets, and a further decrease in funding would not help those schools.

I know this was short, but there IS more to come, I promise. Also, a start of something new. More details as I flesh it out. 

As always I fully encourage any criticism, advice, suggestions, or general discussion in the comment area.
If you wish you can contact me at, and please like/share my blog on Facebook and Twitter using the links on the side!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What We Have Going for Us | The Hairpin

So I was feeling rather down the other day about my prospects in life, and my sister sent me a link to help make me feel better.

It did wonders for my mood that day, and I re-read it every time I feel discouraged, and I thought I would share it with all of you, maybe it will effect you like it did myself.

What We Have Going for Us | The Hairpin: "There are a few things people forget to tell you.
Each year of your twenties is worth three in regular time. The decade moves like dog years except that in the end you suddenly turn 30 as if you didn’t just age a single lifetime. Something happens between the ages of 20 and 25. This is your first go-round as an adult. Your brain shifts and closes and hardens like the soft spot on an infant’s skull. You try harder. You begin to stand up on those baby deer legs and learn how to carry yourself in challenging situations. You eventually grow into a human who is brave enough to wake up before brunch is over, and offices start answering phones with “good afternoon” instead of “good morning.” You’ll never quit being an animal, however.
Around 25 or 26 you will decide to really feel the rain on your skin. It may hurt. By this time, you have already made the big move from your parents’ nest. You’ll look around, survey your life and decide what to carry with you. Who to carry with you. This is the first time you let go of living life by reaction.
Make a list every morning of the smallest expectations. Note each item with a box, not a bullet. Draw an“X” inside each box after completing its corresponding task. This will give you a sense of accomplishment greater than simply striking through. Today you will email the last flagged address in your inbox. Today you will buy handsoap. You will end the night with a single window’s width of tabs open in your browser. You will sleep. It’s OK to add completed items in retrospect, if only to record your performed adulthood.
We are not so mysterious. If you want to get to know someone infinitely better, meet their parents for five minutes. We are attracted to people who were loved in the ways we were loved as children. We are attracted to people who are lacking in ways we understand.
We are all terrified to take our clothing off and equally eager to show our genitals to each other. Do not be so afraid. We tell people we love them when we are unprepared. When we don’t mean it. When we’re drunk. When we’re sober but filled with so many delicious chemicals in our infant skulls standing on our baby deer legs naked in the dark that we may as well be drunk.
Mostly, your relationships will end. You will hold people close to you with the knowledge that everyone is on a timeline. That everyone’s heart will eventually stop beating. Most of the time, though, things will not be this grim. If they were, no one would get laid.
The right people will be your memory bank. The right people will bring out the best in you.
Some people are the wrong people. Do not confuse them with the rare people who are inherently evil or bad. These people are just not for you.
There are the friends you meet for the occasional happy hour, and there are friends with whom you have longstanding Taco Tuesdays. Taco Tuesday means a bottle of wine for each person and peeling back the business-casual mask of the weekday while relaying mortifying tales of performed adulthood to one another. You hit reply all. You cried at your desk. You said “I love you” when you were unprepared or drunk or sober. Any day can be Taco Tuesday. These are the people who fill in your blanks. These are the right people.
We are social but we are not social media. We are social but we cannot survive on content alone. Sometimes being passive consumers of content works against us. If you don’t do it today you’ll put if off and then it will be awkward when you decide you really, really want to email this person. So do it today. Or don’t do it. Or maybe do it tomorrow, but if you don’t do it today you definitely won’t do it tomorrow. Again, make a list. Wash your face.
There is no IRL. This is everything."

More coming soon. Sorry about the hiatus everyone, I had some plans that fell through, so we are back at it here :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Casey Anthony is Not Guilty

Casey Anthony
On Tuesday, July 5th, Casey Anthony was judged by a jury of her peers, as the U.S. Constitution calls for, and she was determined to be not guilty, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Full story here.

This is another case of me being disappointed in humanity, but not for the reasons you are guessing.

First of all, this woman is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, so the mass surprise of everyone is kind of ridiculous. In the mind of the public she should have never been viewed as anything but innocent until the jury decided otherwise. 

I understand people are going to take sides, so I really wouldn't expect anyone to be able to pull this one off.

Sign Seen After the Verdict Was Handed Down
But, second of all, and this one is what disappoints me, is the amount of people still harassing Casey Anthony after she was declared not guilty. From the TV talking heads acting surprised that she was  to the people that stalked her to the restaurant across the street from the court house to harass her, that is not their place in this. The pundits on TV have no right to attempt to instill doubt about the verdict into the public. They should have only reported that she was not guilty, and the facts based around that verdict. 

As far as the people harassing her, they couldn't be more wrong. Everyone harassing her should know they can't do anything about it, she cannot be tried again for her alleged crime.

My argument is very simple and very black and white. Guilty, or not guilty. She was determined to be not guilty, and she should be treated as such. Let's not Scarlet Letter this poor woman into exile, she had a fair trial, and was fairly deemed not guilty.

As always I fully encourage any criticism, advice, suggestions, or general discussion in the comment area.
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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Conversations With a Soldier Part Deux

When I first started talking to my brother, Kris, about his experiences as a soldier in Afghanistan I promised him that I would not blog about it. He said that I could blog if I wished, but I could not make the blog political. So here I am, blogging about Afghanistan in a non-political way, trying to be as objective as possible and probably failing because Kris, my brother, is at war. This is part two of a series of discussions with my brother about his time in Afghanistan, part one can be found here.

Feeling established with Kristofer from part one, this time around the questions and conversation came much easier. I had just watched Restrepo, a documentary about a group of soldiers in Afghanistan, and that helped me come up with some more questions relevant to his activities on the ground. 
So for this part in the series we jump right in. The first question I directed at my brother was how he and his company manage to communicate with the locals. He told me that all of the communication is done through a translator, and informed me that they don't really speak Arabic, and that there are two different tribal languages in the area he is in.  

I asked him if interaction with the locals is frustrating, knowing that it must be due to the cultural and linguistic barriers. Shortly, he answered "Always...they will only tell you what you want to hear." Going on to explain that effective communication is possible as long as you have an interpreter, and that most of the time they do have one. As a side note I mentioned that I thought communication would be damn near impossible without a interpreter, and humorously he responded saying "Everyone speaks .50 Cal."
I then asked him if he ever has to deal with violent locals, clarifying that I was not referring to the ones with guns, obviously those are the people we are fighting, but that I was referring more so to disorderly people, and I found his answer quite surprising. "Not so much. I honestly can't think of one time..." I expressed my surprise and attempted to broach the subject more, attempting to clarify by asking if everyone was amiable, if not cooperative. Kristofer said, "The biggest thing is... You never really know who you are dealing with. You might be talking to a person that is completely cooperative at the time, but little do you know he shot an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) at you last week."
I went on to ask him how his relationship with his fellow soldiers is, curious about how they interacted and on what level. He responded summarily, stating that "These men and women out here are my brothers and sisters...they are all I have." 
In Restrepo they built an Observation Post, alternating between firefights and digging into the mountain, so I decided to ask my brother if he had ever been a part of building such a thing since he has been over there. H responded, "Funny you should ask...yes my platoon did build a COP (Combat Outpost) from ground zero."
To this point Kristofer had been surprisingly revealing about their operations over in Afghanistan, so I decided to push the envelope and asked him what his missions usually consist of. He responded much like I imagined he would saying with hesitation, "Uhhh...I can't give you too much on that one. We do a lot of different things...that is all I can give you for now."
Attempting a more general question, I asked him what his days normally consist of, mentioning observing from mountaintops and patrolling villages. He said "Both. Everything I do...I do it a lot."

Recently I had gotten word from my mother, who talks to Kristofer more than I do, that he would be opting out of coming to Louisiana for his last nine months of service so that he could stay over there and finish out his time. Suffice to say, I was upset about this revelation, and the next few questions revolved around that.

I mentioned what mom had told me about his plans, and simply asked why he would volunteer to stay in Afghanistan rather than coming out to Louisiana to finish out his time. My brother responded, "Kameron...there is nothing that will make you feel more alive than death lingering over you with every step you take."
My Brother, Kristofer
Now, this response didn't surprise me, my brother has always been a bit of an adrenaline junky. Enjoying fights and playing football, dangerous activities have always been in the forefront of his day to day life. So I mentioned that, asking if it was like a high for him. I didn't mean to oversimplify or devalue it, but I couldn't understand. 
"Its more than's... hard to explain. It's momentarily losing total control and then picking your nuts up off of the ground and, for lack of better words, embracing the chaos...Its like this... I know that the people around me are better off because I am around. I am completely confident (not cocky) that there is nobody that can do my job as well as me. Knowing this, I would stay because I am the best man for the job."
Curious about what would lead him to believe that he is the best man for the job, I asked him about the amount of praise he receives from his superiors. He told me about how he is in the running for solider of the month. This was news to me, I was not aware that the military had any such thing, so I inquired further about that. Kris responded, . I'm also going to a promotion board next month (your leaders have to submit you for both of these things) I would say that they trust in all of my abilities."
Curious about my brother's interactions with his superiors, I asked him if they get inspirational speeches a lot or something (in Restrepo there were a surprising amount). He said, "If there are I don't notice them. When we get new soldiers (we have gotten 4 since I have been out here) I try to instill them with fear. Fear will keep you alive. Fear is an emotion that will give men wings. Men have done absolutely incredible things, not because they were brave, but because they were scared shitless." 

To wrap up this series of questions, I decided to ask what his favorite part of being in the Army is. He said "Without question its the camaraderie."
And, finally, I asked you guys to submit questions for me to ask my brother. Sadly, I only got one, and at first I wasn't going to ask him but I decided it would be fair to see if he would like to respond. 
Anonymous asked "Does he feel we should be over there?"
Kristofer wanted to avoid a political discussion, and he wanted me to make it clear that he would only answer a question like this one time. 

He said, "I feel like most Americans suffer from ADD. How can people so easily just discredit the fact that our country was attacked by terrorists? When you where a kid and someone said that your mother was a whore didn't you punch them in the mouth? If not you should have. True Americans are fighters, we are bred that way. We fight for our rights, we fight for our loved ones, we fight for our country, and, hell, we even fight for fun. Our country was founded by people willing to bleed for the freedoms that people now hide behind freedom of press and freedom of speech being two big ones. Now, at this point it is imperative that we fight to reform Afghanistan to prevent further attacks on American soil. Just in case the anyone feels like I didn't answer the question already...yes I feel like it is of utmost importance that we are over here.
...I will never answer a question like that again."

If any of you guys have a question for my brother, PLEASE feel free to post it in the comments or e-mail me at and I would love to ask him for you the next time I get a chance, and it may be used in a post like this one.

As always I fully encourage any criticism, advice, suggestions, or general discussion in the comment area.
If you wish you can contact me at, and please like/share my blog on Facebook and Twitter using the links on the side!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Stephen McDow and the Stupidity of the IRS

Stephen McDow
A man by the name of Stephen McDow was arrested after the IRS mistakenly deposited $110,000 into his back account, reports The Huffington Post. The money was a tax return meant for an elderly lady. Stephen was taken to jail with a bail of $110,000 and faces up to four years in prison after spending $60,000 of it on student loans and his home mortgage.

When The Huffington Post linked their article on Facebook, they had included a status that said "Fair?"

Now I really love The Huffington Post, but this was really a stupid question. Of course it is fair.

In this case, he knew the money wasn't his. If you go to the bank, and you have $110,000 that you didn't earn, don't spend it. I can only imagine the temptation one would feel in the case of this man, but with a sum of money that large, someone is looking for it, and they are going to find it. To be honest, this man lucked out that it was a Government mistake and not some criminal mistake, because he would probably have to worry for his life if that was the case. It was just an all around bad decision to spend a dime of that money, there was no way it was going to end well.

I do not think he should spend four years in prison though, because it is important to remember that the IRS did make a mistake here, it doesn't all fall to him. He should have to pay the money back through some sort of payment system, but there is no way this man should lose four years of his life because of the combined stupidity of himself and the IRS. That would not be fair.

We have too many people caught up in our penal system for ridiculous things anyway, let's not add Stephen to the list.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Birthdays and Black Holes

Scientists recently watched as a passing star was shredded by a black hole, which is significant since black holes are invisible to the naked eye until they are in the process of devouring an energy source, such as a star. That whole news story can be read here, but I want to talk about something it else it got me thinking about.

We are all going to die. At some point every single one of our lives will end due to some condition. Cancer, disease, etc. But what this news article got me thinking about is that all the things we associate with death are things we understand (to an extent).

I can handle death by random illness, or perhaps less commonly a random act of violence. Not that I want to die, dying scares the hell out of me, but I can comprehend incurring a fatal injury or disease. However, the fact that I could die due to some random cosmic act is something I had never explored at any length up to this point in my life. 

Ungodly Radiation Incoming
I know it isn't likely, and this isn't the beginning of me becoming someone who worries about the world ending at any given point, but I find the thought of my death being attributed to a wave of radiation from a star exploding in some distant galaxy to be rather unsettling.

Or perhaps more likely, the idea of my life ending because of a massive solar flare from our own sun raining down an ungodly amount of radiation upon me seems like a total ripoff. 

I would much rather get the cancer or full blown AIDS, at least then you get some sympathy, and maybe some cool or insightful stories.

When I get to the pearly gates of Heaven or the fiery ramparts of Hell I want to be able to have a good death story for my partners in necrosis. That would be much more badass than to be left standing before my maker saying "Oh, I don't know, I was playing some video games and here I am, you tell me."

By the way, it's my birthday, so there's that. 

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Politicians, Please Stop Using the Work Computers for Porn

Lulz Security Logo
Update: As of around 6 o'clock on June 15th The Huffington Post is reporting that Lulz Security hacked into the CIA's website. I think they may actually be doing us a favor, maybe our Nation's vital infrastructure will get it's shit together so we can prevent more serious cyber attacks in the future.

Reading headlines this morning, I stumbled upon a news story that involved our US Federal Government being hacked by a group called Lulz Security (that story can be read here). Now, the attack didn't put any of our information at risk, but it got me thinking. 

I remembered to a few years back when China's Government successfully hacked into the Pentagon (to jog your memory) and I decided to find out how often these kind of hacks into our vital Governmental systems actually take place.

What I found was pretty shocking. All according to the Office of Management and Budget, there are more than one hundred cyber attacks against Federal agencies everyday. In 2009 there were about 30,000 cyber attacks against us, and in 2010 Federal agencies reported 41,776 cyber incidents. That represents a 39% increase in cyber attacks going from '09 to '10. 

The worst part is, most of the attacks came from instances of phishing, also known as filling out that e-mail form for your free trial of Viagra. The fact that the people that run our country are constantly falling for fake forms to fill out and clicking dirty links is frightening to me. These people should have to go through some classes or something on how to protect US interests.

Just knowing that the US Government has the Office of Management and Budget on the case for cyber attacks tells me that we are obviously not prepared to handle an attack, we should have a specialized Office of Cyber Attacks or something, these things are pretty serious. I really don't want a group of Government hired accountants in charge of keeping our information safe, I don't even want them to be the ones keeping track of how often we are attacked.

Two pieces of advice for the US Government. One, helping that Nigerian Prince isn't going to help US foreign relations, and sure as hell isn't going to get us any more oil (hint: he isn't really a Nigerian Prince).

And two, get an external hard drive for all that porn you are downloading.
If you enjoyed this post please hit the +1 button at the bottom, it helps get the blog noticed, and as always I fully encourage any criticism, advice, suggestions, or general discussion in the comment area.

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