have a great weekend!
Friday, April 15, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
So I'm reading Cory Doctorow's Little Brother on the recommendation of Becky. Very interesting and very much captures the zeitgeist of today. For all the craziness the Tea Party represents, civil liberties is one issue that they share with liberals, though the motivation and inspiration behind the preservation of those liberties can be different.
Sadly we are probably one major terrorist attack away from something like The Patriot Act II.
All I have been thinking about throughout the book is the quote of Ben Franklin's...
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety."
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
So April 2011 will not be the month where I blog everyday. Sunday I was exhausted from my saxophone/clarinet choirs concert and then got wrapped up in watching The American President and more West Wing and before I knew it, I was asleep. Similar story for last night's entry which I'm not even bothering to try to make up.
I'm very mechanically inclined but I'm not real creative. I wish I had the creativity to invent something. My wife is always looking for a million dollar idea. She loves to cite the woman who came up with the jewel decorations for CROCS in her basement with her daughter and ended up selling the business to CROCS for millions. I have a friend who has a provisional patent for a ingenious device to make it easier for beginning brass players to take care of their instruments. I just don't have any ideas...not just good ideas, but no ideas. I usually operate under the idea that everything has been thought of by someone.For example, we didn't have Snuggies, someone thought we needed them and invented them.
Honestly, I think this points to how self-defeatist I can be. Someone else has invented it, or done it therefore what can I really contribute. This could prove problematic as I work on this idea of a Ph.D. and thesis and whatnot.
If I had an idea, and believe me, most of what I've written above is an attempt to delay in hopes and idea would pop in my head, but the one idea I can think of centers on my dream to want to be a baseball pitcher. Practicing pitching was always a pain. It either took two to do it, or I was beating the crap out of my dad's shed doors. I would come up with some kind of ball return so someone could practice pitching using only a few baseballs and not have to run after the baseball after every pitch.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
So I feel like I lied last night about last night's post being short.
Tonight's definitely will be.
Kind of a blah day today. Just sat alone with my thoughts and watched The West Wing most of the day. Still watching it right now. I for some reason am having trouble uploading photos to the blog so I don't think tonights tell a story through photos will work for me.
Not a horrible day, but honestly not much to write about.
Friday, April 8, 2011
I think I'll make this one short. I got a new book today which I'm super excited about.
Presidential Leadership in Political Time: Reprise and Reappraisal by Stephen Skowronek.
In my Modern Presidency class, we read Skowronek's article by the same title and his analytical framework really stood out when I took the class and has continued to stuck with me since the class ended. Simply put, Skowronek's framework shifts the study of the presidency from the typical linear, sequential, chronological pattern into what can be described as a life cycle of a political regime or coalition. For example, Skowronek's original article compared the Jacksonian and New Deal regimes.
Presidents Jackson and Roosevelt are the beginnings of their respective regimes who came to power as a result of the American public rejecting and displacing of a long-standing regime (Jeffersonian for Jackson and the Prosperity/Do-Nothing Republicans of the 1920s for FDR). In the middle, Skowronek compares Presidents Polk and Kennedy as those charged with maintaining extending their regimes. Finally, Presidents Pierce and Carter are compared as the two presidents who saw the their respective regimes come to an end as the coalitions fractured to a point where they could no longer govern and gave way to a new regime (the Jacksonian regime pretty much ended but could have possibly been replaced by a Lincoln regime had his presidency not been cut short and the Reagan regime replaced the New Deal Coalition).
This is a book of six essays that spell out Skrownek's main thesis of presidential leadership in political time. I've only read his initial article that compared the presidents above which as I mentioned, made a huge impression on me. I'm really excited to learn more about how recent presidents are placed in the political time model.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Since this was the first year in several that I have not had to worry about studying for classes, I decided that I would watch American Idol this year. In part because I actually thought the show might fall flat on its face with the departure of Simon Cowell and the addition of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. I was impartial about Lopez being on the show, but I felt they were really grasping at air with Tyler. I predicted before the this season started that the relaunch would not be successful and they'd try get Cowell back on the show next year. Like many, I had a hard time imagining an American Idol without Simon.
Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised with how the show has turned out this year. I could tell from the audition shows that the tone was different. The early audition shows this year really focused on what the talent they were seeing at each of the stops and not as much on the crazies that come out the woodwork at the auditions. Steven Tyler was better than I could have ever expected. He brought a new energy to the show and really fun to watch. It took awhile for Lopez to acclimate herself to the show, and she really does know what she's talking about in terms of what it takes to be a music star.
The contestants have been amazing as well. There were 5-6 out of the final 12 I thought had a realistic shot at winning the entire thing. If you're watching the show, a few weeks ago, I predicted that the top five would have consisted of the following contestants: Casey Abrams, James Durbin, Jacob Lusk, Scotty McCreery, and Pia Toscano. Of those five, I thought that James Durbin was the most likely to win it all but at this point, ANY of those five could win.
The one thing I've always been suspicious towards Idol about was the America voting part and there have been some odd voting results this year. That Idol is more of a popularity contest than it is a singing contest should not be a surprise to any one. I'm skeptical of the public voting because I believe by the time Idol reaches the voting stage (or within the first two to three weeks of voting) America has already divided themselves up into voting coalitions. If fans of a certain performer are passionate enough, regardless of how their favorite performs on a given week, they're out in force voting for their favorite making sure they continue. One of the most egregious examples of this possibly happening was Bristol Palin's appearance on Dancing With the Stars where there was some strong, but circumstantial evidence of Sarah Palin's base pushing Bristol through the competition even though she was one of the weaker performers each week.
Now there always seems to be one or two shockingly surprising eliminations during each Idol season. The one I can remember was the elimination of Chris Daughtry, a heavy favorite the year he was on the show but he was among the top 5 or 6 of that season if I remember right. Because of their quality, it has tough, pretty much from the beginning, to predict how this year's crop performers would be whittled down by the voters. A couple of weeks ago, a surprise elimination result got me to thinking about voting behavior. One of this season's stronger performers, Casey Abrams was unexpectedly voted off the third week of audience voting. The judges used their one save of the season to keep Casey on the show and he hasn't been in the bottom in the past two weeks.
The fact that Casey was one of the stronger performers combined with the fact that he had not been the bottom three in the previous two weeks started looking for other explanations for why he was eliminated so early. The only thing I could think of is that the perception that Casey was absolutely safe as a contestant led voters to vote for other candidates.
In other words, nobody voted for Casey that week because everyone thought everyone else would vote for Casey and that resulted in essentially nobody voting for Casey. They saved their votes keeping the contestants who were more likely to be voted off on the show. I'm sure there is a term in political science that describes this type of behavior but I don't know it off the top of my head.
That was two weeks ago. Last week's results were too surprising but if Casey's elimination was a surprise, this week's result was shocking when judge favorite, Pia Toscano, was sent home. Pia was one of my favorites as well and I thought she had a great shot at winning as well if not runner-up behind James. Once again, this result had me wondering if my "well she's safe, so I'll vote for others" theory came into play again.
Either that or the American public are idiots...
I wonder if some political scientist somewhere has looked at the voting patterns of Idol results (or if the raw data of Idol voting results is even available anywhere). Ten years of Idol voting in the United States could produce some interesting data on voter behavior.