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Review: Legend of the Seeker July 20, 2009

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As someone who has never read Terry Goodkind’s “The Sword of Truth” book series, I went into the ABC/Disney TV show, “Legend of the Seeker” with no expectations whatsoever. It became immediately obvious to me what fans of the book series thought of the TV show: they pretty much hate it, with my husband being one notable exception (he doesn’t hate it exactly; he was mostly just disappointed with it). I am editing this post to include a link that really does more justice to reviewing the TV series than I have done here: click here to read it, it’s got a TON of pictures with clever captions.

As for me, well … I thought the TV show was among the best I’ve seen. The acting, particularly the actor who played Zeddicus, was great; the visual effects were absolutely breathtaking, and not overdone (I particularly loved the interpretation of the boundary); the storyline was suspenseful and interesting; the costumes were fabulous – Kahlan’s confessor dress, Zedd’s robe, especially the Daharran’s and Mord’Sith’s uniforms. The TV show as a work of artistic vision that drew it’s inspiration from Terry Goodkind’s literary work stands alone as a great contribution in and of itself. No, it’s nothing like the books; but as long as you go into it not expecting it to be, then you won’t be disappointed.

Of course, there are some pesky continuity issues. You know the type: in one scene so-and-so’s head is tilted downward looking at the ground, and the cut to the opposite view shows their head is tilted up looking in a different direction. Aside from that (which frankly you will find no matter what you’re watching) I have no complaints about this little show.

Gonna party like it’s 1829 January 13, 2009

Posted by SolarSoda in American politics.
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I am pretty sure Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States is going to be an affair the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Andrew Jackson’s inauguration.

Nearly 200 years earlier, the first territorial governor of Florida, Andrew Jackson, had his own mind for change:

Jackson resigned from the Senate in October 1825, but continued his quest for the Presidency. The Tennessee legislature again nominated Jackson for President. Jackson attracted Vice President John C. Calhoun, Martin Van Buren, and Thomas Ritchie into his camp (the latter two previous supporters of Crawford). Van Buren, with help from his friends in Philadelphia and Richmond, revived the old Republican Party, gave it a new name as the Democratic Party, “restored party rivalries”, and forged a national organization of durability. The Jackson coalition handily defeated Adams in 1828.

During the election, Jackson’s opponents referred to him as a “jackass.” Jackson liked the name and used the jackass as a symbol for a while, but it died out. However, it later became the symbol for the Democratic Party when cartoonist Thomas Nast popularized it.

The campaign was very much a personal one. Although neither candidate personally campaigned, their political followers organized many campaign events. Both candidates were rhetorically attacked in the press, which reached a low point when the press accused Jackson’s wife Rachel of bigamy. Though the accusation was true, as were most personal attacks leveled against him during the campaign, it was based on events that occurred many years prior (1791 to 1794). Jackson said he would forgive those who insulted him, but he would never forgive the ones who attacked his wife. Rachel died suddenly on December 22, 1828, prior to his inauguration, and was buried on Christmas Eve.

Jackson was the first President to invite the public to attend the White House ball honoring his first inauguration. Many poor people came to the inaugural ball in their homemade clothes. The crowd became so large that Jackson’s guards could not hold them out of the White House. The White House became so crowded with people that dishes and decorative pieces in the White House began to break. Some people stood on good chairs in muddied boots just to get a look at the President. The crowd had become so wild that the attendants poured punch in tubs and put it on the White House lawn to lure people out of the White House. Jackson’s raucous populism earned him the nickname King Mob.

From Wikipedia

Of course, as many of us know Andrew Jackson went on to commit some of the most horrible atrocities against human life, tantamount to the Holocaust: he is the one responsible for banishing Native Americans living in Georgia to their death, on what came to be known as the Trail of Tears. I’m pretty sure Obama is far more even-keeled a personality than that … but one never knows. The future is rich with potential; hopefully that future is in good hands with Obama, but only time will tell …

About Ralph Nader October 13, 2008

Posted by SolarSoda in American politics 2008.
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I can write about him, right? I mean he stands side-by-side with the Green Party Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney. But I couldn’t help noticing how he drastically outpaces both Ms. McKinney and Bob Barr in fundraising … and upon closer inspection of his website, not to mention the latest Newsweek article on his presence in Florida, well … it’s pretty hard to just overlook him. I mean, heh, this is Ralph Nader we’re talking about.

My earliest memory of Ralph Nader dates back to the early days of Carty Finkbeiner, Mayor of Toledo. Let’s just say Mr. Nader wasn’t exactly a fan. Okay, the truth is whenever Nader was in town it was guaranteed to be a great day for the local press because when Nader and Finkbeiner got together fur was sure to be flying. But then Carty has that effect on just about anyone he deals with. The biggest point of contention as I recall was the now-defunct Jeep plant. Something about eminent domain, I think. I can’t find it exactly, and my mom would know better than me.

But I digress.

Take a look at Nader’s website, votenader.org. Pretty impressive not to mention easy to navigate compared to votetruth08.com. Also, I wouldn’t put a big ol’ picture of Roseanne Barr on the front page either. I’m not even sure I would bury a benign text comment about how she supports me either. Not in a bid for the ultimate expression of American patriotism: the Presidency of the most powerful country in the free world. And I like Roseanne! But I wouldn’t use her as the celebrity vehicle to promote me for President. That’s just dumb. (I’ve made sure not to point people to that website for that reason.)

After reading the latest Newsweek article on Mr. Nader, I can honestly say I’m rethinking my vote. The point for me is not to vote for who’s most likely to win – the point for me is to vote for who is most likely to effect change. Mr. Nader seems to have chosen a very strong running mate in Matt Gonzalez, too. Matt Gonzalez was elected president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2003. This was significant because he ran as a Green Party member at the time.

So I urge you dear reader to give Ralph Nader a closer look, as I am doing. He has a proven track record. He has more ballot access than Ms. McKinney, and I don’t mean to knock McKinney’s run for the Presidency. But I still believe my vote counts, and Ralph Nader feels the same way I do about all the issues that are important to me. I want there to be effective change – I don’t want to just be sweet-talked about it, like I feel Obama is doing. And although I don’t dislike McCain, he’s been making some stupid mistakes. And don’t get me started on Sarah Palin. I just don’t know about her. Part of me likes her, part of me is really scared of what she would do to women’s rights if she got anywhere near a leadership position in the White House. I think I would rather be sweet-talked about change, quite frankly.

Moreover, I think Ms. McKinney and Ms. Clemente stand a better chance of having their voices piped through Washington if Nader became President.

Common Enemy October 13, 2008

Posted by SolarSoda in American politics 2008.
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[Originally written on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2008]

I really have to work at suppressing the urge to make political slurs. I am conscious of the smarmy remark as it bubbles up within me: the kind of remark that would make those who share my political ideologies laugh out loud and nod their heads approvingly. I began to notice my tendency to do that after listening to my co-workers making comments (we all work at a television news station – uh, kind of can’t escape the political coverage there). It’s completely understandable. It’s school spirit, good old-fashioned competition.

Except these days it is all too evident how damaging it can be to fly the flag of our political ideals. It really only serves to alienate us from each other, and so I decided to try a different tack: I’ve decided to listen to those whose views I fundamentally disagree with to see if I could learn something from them.

Let me tell you, that is not easy.

It really does have the effect of making one want to lash out or turn away and clap your hands over your ears. So I decided to listen: I’m listening to Obama supporters, McCain supporters, and anyone else who cares to share their views with me, whether I agree with them or not. It really takes some skill to be able to do that – not to sound arrogant, but I’m here to tell you if I can do it, anyone can do it. In fact, I believe more of us should do it.

From talking to people I already see the positives that BOTH sides have to offer: democrats are good at some things, republicans are good at others. Neither side is good at EVERYTHING! Both sides, ultimately, need the strengths of the other. What if all the countries who are trying to put astronauts into space worked together instead of racing each other to be the ‘first’ to accomplish something? Imagine if you had the strength of the Russians working with the strengths of the Chinese and Americans to explore the final frontier? I bet those 3 countries working together could come up with some amazing things! Better lifestyles all around! (Edit, 10/3/2010: Duh, SarahSoda, that’s what they’re doing at the ISS!!!)

But of course, that means setting aside some pride and stubbornness. And frankly, I see both Obama supporters and McCain supporters being able to do that. Because if there’s one thing both sides agree on, it’s the strength of the citizens of this country. Even in the midst of our current economic situation, everybody knows this country is going to bounce back eventually, somehow, some way. It might be sooner, it might be later, but it’s going to happen.

Perhaps in the voting booth there should be a place where voters are encouraged to write one positive thing about both candidates whose views they ‘oppose’. Find one positive thing, something you like about the candidates you didn’t vote for. Nobody is completely evil – Randy Pausch said that (The Last Lecture). Everybody has something good to offer, even if it takes a while to reveal itself.

Another thought I had was maybe if enough people voted for a third party, it would get the Democrats’ and Republicans’ attention in a way that would force them to look at each other as compatriots rather than as enemies. In other words, the third parties would become their ‘common enemy’, the one thing that brings 2 bickering parties together, usually. I’m not naive, I know the next President will be either Obama or McCain; but my pressing question is what will the next President do to get both parties to work together? Do they even know what to do? What happened to that spirit that unified the House and Senate members singing “God Bless America” together right after 9/11? The 9/11 terrorists are not sufficient anymore; that’s why I think a good, strong third party, preferably the Green Party, but I’ll take just about any one of the bigger ones, to get Democrats and Republicans to build off each others’ strengths, rather than dividing our fine country.

Bad News These Days October 13, 2008

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[Originally written on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2008]

Wall Street is setting the kinds of records today it would rather not set. Obama and McCain are at each other’s throats. People are out of work also in record numbers. All day long I sit and listen to this, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about moving to Canada. Running away, no matter how nice it sounds, never works, and running away is precisely what is wrong with our economy right now. People like me who ran away from our civic duties, taking all our freedoms, rights and privileges for granted for too long. Forgive me for sounding like a broken record but it’s the truth. So far I’ve spent my adulthood mostly in blissful ignorance of the houses of cards being built out of our economy, content to let someone else make the decisions for me, content to not have to deal with the boring details that take me away from my very own pursuit of happiness. Because after all, I’m worth it … right? It’s all about me – isn’t it???

Well I’m not running away this time. No matter how much it hurts I plan on staying put, weathering this storm and the storms ahead (this Wall Street crash is not going away any time soon). I have a lot to learn; I hate to admit it, but I really don’t know that much about the finer workings of our government. And when you multiply that by how many other 30-something adults like me out there? Not to mention the 40-somethings, 50-somethings …

… and THAT’S what is wrong with our economy today. Among other things.

Ridiculous USA Ballot Access Laws designed to discriminate against third parties September 30, 2008

Posted by SolarSoda in American politics 2008.
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I forget just now what I was looking up – meant to make this post last night, but as usual I got uprooted and the moment was lost. However the website was not lost: click here to see what I found. I found this when I entered a Google search for “ballot access florida”. Even more interesting is further down in the article is the title,

“Sore loser laws” designed to foster major-party rule and prevent dissent

Even MORE interesting is, at the bottom of the page when you follow the link above is a link that says “Return to Main Page”. When you click on that it takes you to the main page of the website ScoreVoting.net which sings the praises of score voting (or “range” voting) versus our current way of voting.

I can tell you after reading a little bit of both pages, it seems our problem is not the people we’re electing so much as it is needing a new way TO elect them. Simply put, we need to radically alter our voting system.

The website says the best way to vote democratically is to use the Olympics way of scoring as a way of effectively rating candidates. For example, let’s say you’re in the voting booth and you have a choice of Candidate A, Candidate B, Candidate C, and Candidate X, Candidate Y, Candidate Z. Next to their names is a range of numbers from 0-9 for example. If you prefer Candidate B over any of the others you simply give that candidate a score of ‘9’ and the rest a score according to your preferences. Let’s say that if Candidate B doesn’t win you would still feel comfortable with say, Candidate X. Then you’d score Candidate B a ‘9’ and Candidate X a ‘5’, for example.

The website goes on to list the “Virtues” of score voting, and they give 13 points in all, and all of them are tough arguments to make in favor of score voting. It seems to me honest, hard-working people would have no problem switching to score voting, but “fraudsters” would argue against it.

But draw your own conclusion.

Dear Congress: September 29, 2008

Posted by SolarSoda in American politics 2008.
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First let me extend my sincerest sympathies that the hotly debated HR-3997 didn’t pass. I can only imagine how scared and vulnerable many of you who so desperately wanted this bill to pass must feel. I’m actually well-acquainted with the feeling, being the hard-working, tax-paying citizen that I am. I too have money invested in a retirement plan, a 401(k) plan to be exact. I’ve actually had to make 2 early withdrawals from it in recent years in order to survive. I know you’re not supposed to do that, but I was facing imminent ruin to my plans I’d worked so hard for. Yeah, I’m familiar with that feeling of dread, that feeling of deep worry that I’ve made an unalterable life decision for the worse. But I did it because if I didn’t I would not have been able to maintain my middle-class lifestyle. And at the time I just couldn’t accept that.

That being said, I must assert my relief and satisfaction that ya’ll didn’t get what you wanted. Ya’ll are fat while the rest of us starve. I heard BOTH house leaders, Hoyer and Boehner get up in front of the House and wax poetically about how a ‘yes’ vote will “benefit” the American people. I daresay I think Boehner even got tears in his eyes. He definitely sounded choked up. Just curious, which “American people” exactly were Boehner and Hoyer referring to? Because I happen to know for a fact that since I don’t work on Wall St. (I work at 3719 Central Ave. to be exact) I don’t get ANY of the $700 billion you were crying for. (Yes, crying. I was sitting at home watching you on C-Span, I could see you.)

You want to know who I blame for all this? Me. That’s right – me. Your constituent. Because as an adult who can legally cast a vote in this country I have allowed myself to become complacent. I’ve been downright irresponsible. I’ve gone about the business of living my life casting blind eyes toward Washington and deaf ears toward your policies. I sat back and allowed myself to be spoon-fed by MSNBC, CNN, and when that got to be too much I just flipped the channel to The Simpsons and Family Guy. And yet you didn’t get where you were for any reason other than because you were elected – by somebody. But that somebody sure wasn’t me because I’ve managed to avoid voting in primaries, or in anything else for that matter. And yet I sit at work and grumble and complain along with everyone else because gas prices are too high, everything’s too expensive, and my paycheck seems to get smaller on top of everything else.

And don’t get me started on health insurance. The healthcare profession in Florida is a JOKE, for starters – I’ve discovered I’m actually better off staying away from the doctors down here. Seeing a doctor in SWFL is hazardous to everyone’s health. I’m not saying that because it’s a shocking statement to make: I’m saying that because I’ve witnessed with my own eyes the truth of it. I’ve witnessed as several people I know personally go to the doctor and come back with bags of pills, only to discover the diagnosis was wrong, and who receive rather indignant and very condescending reaction from their doctors when confronted with why they were misdiagnosed. Yeah, I’ve seen it firsthand. I watched my husband get laughed at in the ER at Cape Coral Hospital when he was in dire pain – he was told he needed to “toughen up” – when in Grand Rapids, MI by comparison he received pain medication, 100% undivided attention, and a solution to the same problem instead.

And my own personal hospital bills from having an incomplete miscarriage back last December? Those got sold to another company, the selling of which magically transformed those same hospital bills into … consumer bills? As in, consumer bills that affect my already badly-bruised credit???

Do you think if I stood on a soapbox in a public area and began asking people how they feel about their hospital bills affecting their credit that I might get their attention? Do you think once I had their attention they might consider voting for a third party?

This is no one’s fault but my own, me being that aforementioned constituent who has allowed herself to be lulled into complacency from years of psychological assault waged by the negative ad campaigns on the trail to the White House.

And then I discovered something, something that, quite frankly, I know for a fact will make you shake in your shoes (and possibly soil yourself) more than the failure today to pass House Resolution 3997: I discovered I have a choice besides Democrats and Republicans on the ballot. In fact, as luck would have it, in the state of Florida I have many choices, why, I have more than 10 choices running for President and among them are: Ralph Nader (I), Cynthia McKinney (GP), Bob Barr (Lib) and Chuck Baldwin (Const). I even discovered the one ticket that is exclusively female also happens to represent one of the largest Third Parties in America – that is Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente of the Green Party.  The Green Party, which as you may or may not know, is only 5% of the Electorate away from becoming a Major Party alongside Dems and Repubs and thereby becoming eligible for federally matching funds in their campaigns.

What I further discovered is that the Green Party rejects corporate funding, that is to say the same corporate entities who are represented by the House Reps. down on their knees pleading and snivelling today for the yes vote they did not get. By comparison, the Green Party is not for sale! I like that – they have my vote on that alone, but they also have my vote on many other issues too, such as the war in Iraq which, if they were elected they would put an immediate stop to that war and bring ALL the troops home – ASAP, no questions asked, just open your arms and welcome the troops home as fast as they possibly can. I also like their stance on the environment which, for me anyway, carries even greater significance than the war in Iraq.

Guess what else? Cynthia McKinney is both female AND African-American! Her running mate? (Obama supporters listen up:) Rosa Clemente is a graduate of SUNY Albany and Cornell University. She also happens to be a widely recognized and respected Hip-Hop Activist. Why is that important? Um, have you seen the numbers of the hip-hop community? She has the distinction of having been a founding member of the first ever National Hip Hop Political Convention in 2003. They just held their 5th annual Convention this past August. The Hip Hop community is organized and has representation on a legally registered political party in the form of Vice Presidential candidate, Rosa Clemente.

The funny thing is, Cynthia McKinney caught my attention several months ago, this past spring. I just wanted to see what she had to say, and I found I liked the way she talked about the issues that matter to me. But I kept an open mind. I was prepared to have my mind changed by either the Democrat or Republican party, and so I listened to both sides these past several months.

However as time went on and Hillary conceded to Obama and then the Democrats and then the Republicans had their national conventions, I wondered aloud: why aren’t we also following the movements of the Green Party? And it made me suspicious. And then my suspicions were handily confirmed through a magnificent piece of citizen journalism called, Split: A Divided America. And the more time that goes by, the more convinced I am that neither Obama/Biden nor McCain/Palin deserve my vote, and the more time that goes by the less distinct they seem from each other. I listen to my colleagues at work bickering with each other and I think to myself, hats off to the bipartisan effort to make this country even more complacent than we already are.

Well … no more. Not for me anyway. I can’t control anyone else, but I still have control over my vote. Just think, Reps. Hoyer and Boehner, just think Reps. Pelosi and Frank: how many other constituents are having the exact same thoughts as me right now???


SarahSoda, constituent

P.S. Don’t worry. The Green Party is a peace-loving party and we will extend to you the same help we have expected in our time of need, that you so stubbornly withhold from us.

Hello world! September 29, 2008

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Welcome to my inaugural post in the wacky, wonderful world of WordPress.  I have to say I can’t believe the username “sarahsoda” was available. I am delighted it was, because it’s perfectly kitschy for my tastes and that makes me happy.

So … *looks around* … so this is WordPress. So far I’m liking it. A lot. Very user-friendly, intuitive, both traits which are very important to me in blogging. I’m not big enough to require a full-fledged WordPress account, so I’m just making do with this already-set-up blog account. Ye-e-e-e-s … *strokes chin thoughtfully* … definitely lots of possibilities here.

Moreso than any other blog I’ve ever used.

I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to not promise to write something “every day”. Already I can feel myself straining against that, and frankly this site is so functional and beautiful, it makes blogging very inviting. WordPress offers relief from writer’s block by it’s mere existence. It’s beckoning me with great promise of tall tales to be told. Goodness, I haven’t felt this enthusiastic about blogging in a long time! ‘Twill be interesting to see if the initial glow of new love wears off as quickly as it’s done with the other blog services that seemed just as promising at the genesis of each affair. But I’m approaching this one differently; this time I’m not making a lifelong commitment. This time, we’re going to be friends first. And the minute you start monopolizing my time I’m outta here! Whether I like it or not!

Yes, WordPress, you have great potential to become my new best friend. You however are going to have to prove yourself. I say that knowing deep down you already have, and all this preamble stuff is just a formality. I really don’t want to add you to my link list of broken promises.

So, I’ll see you around then?