Tuesday, December 04, 2012

2012 Online Red Kettle and other ways to help out

As has been my wont for the past four years, I am once again hosting an Online Red Kettle for the Salvation Army, for those who have either already finished their shopping or want to plan out their donations in advance.

So, if you would like to donate through my virtual kettle, you can do so by clicking the kettle below:

(Image courtesy The Salvation Army)

A couple of other ways to help out this holiday season (and, really, any time) are as follows:

If you are in the Austin area, the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, where, according to what they have said, your monetary donation can go about five times as far as a food donation, as they can buy in bulk and save money.  They do a lot of good work, and we've supported them before.

And, of course, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, my friends Ryan and Ashley Beard have created an organization, 48 Lives, which will assist with international adoptions.  While Ryan has now finished his 48-hour run (in which he ran over 140 miles), 48 Lives could certainly still use your help to put kids with families who will love them.

All of these options are well worth your support.  This holiday season, let's all help someone out who needs it.

(Yes, some of this is almost word for word what I have posted in previous years.  The need to help people does not change all that much, really.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

The most important race in Austin this weekend

Anyone who has seen any news recently knows* that this weekend, the city of Austin is hosting a Formula One event that is sure to attract the attention of millions (many of whom will be found in every hotel room from Temple to San Antonio, as well as stopping traffic in all lanes of I-35).

But very few know about a different event that will also take place in Austin.

Also occurring this weekend in Austin, a man is attempting to run for 48 hours.  In a row.

Like my friends Danny and Christy, this man--Ryan--and his wife, Ashley, are heroes.  Like Danny and Christy, they have already been blessed with two children of their own.  But Ryan and Ashley have felt a calling for some time to adopt not one but two children--siblings--from Ethiopia, where there are a lot of orphaned children.  Now, they don't know what two children they will be able to adopt, but regardless, they know that they definitely want to bring two children home with them.

As with Danny and Christy, Ryan and Ashley's main hangup is money.  And so Ryan, who happens to be a ultramarathon runner (he runs races of 100 miles!), came up with a unique fundraising idea.  He is going to run for 48 hours straight (and should have been running just over four hours at this writing) at the Runtex on Riverside Drive, and he has collected pledges per mile (he expects to run about 150 miles).

And the best thing?  He is not only going to raise money for himself and Ashley.  Instead, they have created an organization called 48 Lives, which intends to provide money for 48 children from Ethiopia to be adopted (including the two Ryan and Ashley want to adopt).

So go by Runtex if you happen to be in the area this weekend (I understand there might be one or two events in the downtown area) and say hello to Ryan.  Better still, go by and make a pledge.**  You'll be making a real difference in the lives of children who need your help.

And I think that's much more important than any other events that may be scheduled around here this weekend.

* And some of us have known for a long time.

** You may also pledge at the website, linked above.  (And yes, the author of this blog has already pledged to this worthy cause.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The adaptation of the institution

In the past week, I have seen statements talking about how a certain group needs to change, to adapt to a new cultural mindset in order to continue to be relevant in the 2010s.  There are statements documenting the fact that fewer people are aligning themselves with this group, and, moreover, that people are leaving it. 

You might think you know exactly which group I mean.

You'd probably be right.  And you'd probably be wrong.

Obviously, in the past week, we've seen lots of hand-wringing and second-guessing about the Republican Party's defeat in the 2012 elections.  Everyone (with the possible exception, thus far, of sixth-rate bloggers with no spare time) has had an opinion regarding what the GOP did wrong, and what they need to change (which has led, yet again, to Democrat strategists offering advice to Republicans...hey, do I tell you how to run your party?) in order to reach people.

But I have also seen people discussing, in hopefully a much more respectful tone, the plight of my particular denomination with regard to reaching people.  Questions have been raised regarding what we have done wrong and what we might need to change as well.

(Aside:  no, I'm not going to say which denomination is mine.  If you know me, you most likely know which one it is.  If you don't know me, but you think this applies to your denomination, then it most likely does.)

Honestly, I think both of the groups in question (Republicans and Christians of my denomination) have the same problems:

1.  Both tend to value being ideologically pure over being welcoming to others.  For Republicans, this has meant that a candidate must support any number of things, be it a no-tax-increase-of-any-sort-ever-ever-ever-we-mean-it pledge, expressing an interest in one's state seceding from the United States, not being amenable to gay marriage, or whatever.*  For Christians of my denomination, that has meant a devotion to tradition over, in some cases, God.  It has also meant that we have tended to believe that we alone have and know the way to God.

2.  Both have done a poor job of late in getting their messages out.  For Republicans, simply look at the large groups of people who would never vote for you/us.  For Christians, look at the even larger groups of people who would never darken the door of a church building.  Enough said.

But I think the main reason neither group has increased its numbers in recent years is the following:

3.  Neither group has shown that it values people.  And what I mean by that is that Republicans and Christians of my denomination far too easily dismiss large groups of people as not being worth their time.**  For example, take Mitt Romney's infamous "47%" line.  A lot of people saw/heard that quote and thought that Mitt Romney didn't think they were worth his time or consideration, and so they decided the same about him. 

And as for Christians...well, it's been said that the 10:00am hour on Sunday mornings is the most segregated time in the country.  (If nothing else, I just said it.)  Is God's message only applicable to people who look like me, who are of the same social stature as I, who make similar amounts of money, and so on?  Did Jesus come to talk to people like me, people who could be considered the "haves" of society?  Or did he talk to people who were not valued by the culture of the time, the "have-nots"...and in doing so, show that he valued them as people?  So why don't I do that? 

Or, for that matter, did Jesus engage people who did not agree with what he said, with people who thought he was crazy?  Why am I not doing this?

Obviously, at this point, this portion of the discussion has become about what I should do with living the faith I claim to possess, so let's go back to the political side of this, and I will get with my Christian friends offline to discuss how we can live like this.

We need to adapt.  We need to be better, obviously, at talking to people who are not like us.  We can't dismiss people, or assume how they think about issues.  As I believe I've said on this blog recently (not counting two paragraphs ago), we have to engage people, which also means that we truly have to listen to their concerns and desires, and in doing so, be able to empathize with them, or at least sympathize with them.***

For far too long, we have dismissed lots of people offhand.  And now we're reaping the fruits of that in their dismissal of us.  Because if we don't care about them or their concerns, they're not going to care about our thoughts on politics, faith, or, really, anything.

* At this point, I don't think any of those is a good idea.  Streamlining the tax code, which is desperately needed, might just cause someone's taxes to go up.  Those presently advocating seceding deserve as much attention as Alec Baldwin did when he threatened to leave the country after George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004--namely, none.  And haven't I already said enough about the gay marriage debate?

** Yeah, I'm generalizing too, just as these groups do.  But I don't think I'm dismissing...rather, I'd like to think I'm offering a friendly suggestion.

*** Actually, I guess this could apply to both of the groups I mentioned, so this is not just the political side.  This is what happens when I write long screeds using the make-it-up-as-you-go method.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

A post-election prayer

Once again, the election is over.  Once again, things did not go the way half the voting population wanted it to go. 

As I've said on Facebook already today, it would be awfully easy to say "Who is John Galt?" and be done with this discussion, but I can't do that.  My faith won't allow it.

And so here are the things I pray for our nation today:

  • That President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and the rest of our governmental officials--federal, state, local...Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, independents, whoever--would be blessed with wisdom.
  • That the winning side in this election does not engage in spiking the football, and that the losing side does not become a group of sore losers.  I've already seen some of both behaviors.  I pray it stops.
  • That a deeply divided electorate can discuss our differences civilly without demonizing the other side, be it as a bunch of rich white guys who don't care about anything except their own pocketbooks or as a percentage of the populace who want nothing other than to suckle at the teat of Big Government (and thereby, ironically enough, also care about nothing but their own pocketbooks).  Yes, our viewpoints are fundamentally different.  No, not everyone who disagrees with our viewpoints is stupid and/or evil.
  • That compromise will become a two-way street again.  Maybe no one has noticed this, but the Senate has stopped a lot of Republican legislation, including a lot of jobs bills, as well.  Don't pretend that compromise means only that the House needs to go along with the President.
  • That the Republicans will learn to build a consensus among themselves, rather than remain in factions which each appear to be more concerned about separate splinter issues than about America as a whole.  Hey, y'all, the economy is still lousy.  Unemployment is still higher now than in January 2009.  Focus on the main issue.
  • That Christians, liberal and conservative, will do more to help those who need it.  Government should not be the distributors of charity.  We should.  And, by and large, we have failed epically at this.
  • That Christians, liberal and conservative, will do much more to reach out to others.  Yeah, it's easier to go to Chick-Fil-A than it is to engage people with whom we don't agree.  But that doesn't mean it's the best thing to do.
What my friends and I (and we don't all agree on all issues) prayed hardest yesterday was for God's will to be done, and for us as Christians to do those things I listed above, and for more souls to be saved.

Let's keep praying.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Where did we go after 2008?

Four years ago today, I posted an entry named "Where Do We Go From Here?" which, apart from citing lyrics from an Alan Parsons Project song, spoke to what I wanted to see both sides do after the 2008 presidential election.

Four years later, did anyone take my advice?  (Heck, I rarely take my own.)  Let's see.  (Disclaimer:  I edited some portions of my own post for brevity.)


1. Now is the time to congratulate President-Elect Obama. Pray that God blesses him, and all our country's, and our world's, leaders with much-needed wisdom.

Well, some of us did that, others...not so much.  I'm gonna have to call this one a no.  Graciousness and politics rarely mix, and they certainly didn't mix for a lot of bitter Republicans.

2. That doesn't mean that there is not room to oppose the policies and programs desired by an Obama administration. Of course there's room for that. But there's a way to oppose a policy without tearing down a person. Our party absolutely lost that way with President Clinton, and the other side threw it back at President Bush fourfold.

I would say that opposition to the Obama Administration policies found its loudest voice in the Tea Party.  I will also definitely say that while I have seen some individuals making terribly racist remarks, most in the Tea Party, and Republicans in general, have opposed the policies without demonizing the opposition.  I'm gonna call this one mostly a yes, though I know that many, many people on the other side will disagree with me on this.

3. As several people have said, it is time to figure out what this party is going to stand for. The Contract with America was a concise message that resonated with voters in 1994. There was no message this time, and I would argue that what resonated with the base of the party this cycle was Sarah Palin.

I still don't think the Republicans know what they are going to stand for.  Mitt Romney was the "safe" choice and also benefited from the fact that the more conservative candidates for nomination either cancelled each other out or fizzled out due to incompetence or character issues.  Regardless, there is still an obvious schism between the economic conservatives and the social conservatives, and there is definitely also still no consensus among the economic conservatives as to what needs to be done.  Hopefully we don't have another 36 years to spend in the wilderness before we figure it out.*

4. And that leads to the next action item: do not let the MSM and quasi-conservative pundits tell you that the road to redemption starts with throwing Governor Palin under the bus. This is also not the time for finger-pointing; it is the time for action.

Absolute, utter failure on this point.  Sarah Palin was the one bright spot in the 2008 race, and for that, she was left to wither without support from any national Republican organization.  (Luckily, she had the savvy to start her own organization.)  And I've documented enough on this blog, for those who want to go back and relive the past four years, how many Republican pundits totally threw her under the bus and followed that up by insulting those people who agreed with her.**  Yeah, y'all are right up there with the MSM, guys.  Good job.

5. Like it or not, the other side holds a better hand at this time. There will be opportunities to work with them on items that are important to both sides. Don't capitulate on your basic beliefs, but work with Democrats to help this nation, 'cos things won't be any rosier on 20 January than they are now.

I would say that this was done sparingly, mostly on items like extending the tax cuts in 2010.  Mostly, I don't think either side wanted to consider anything put forth by the other.  Granted, a lot of the propositions put forward by the Democrats were anathema to the Republicans (and to me, really); those would not have been what I had in mind four years ago when I wanted Republicans to work with Democrats.

6. Absolutely, positively, don't be jerks about it. Yes, half the country disagrees with you. That doesn't mean they're any less intelligent or more evil, or that they hate this country. Do not sink to the level to which the other side descended four years ago. 

Again, some were gracious about it, some weren't.

7. Are you still relying on the MSM for news? If so, why? Seriously. There are few reasons left to continue to take a daily paper. Channels such as MSNBC have given us the likes of Chris "thrill up my leg" Matthews and Keith "get a shovel" Olbermann. Why watch them? Stay informed, of course, but understand that there are many sources of information other than the usual suspects.

To be sure, online news sources have mushroomed since 2008.  Heck, I'm not completely sure that I had even heard of Twitter at all in November 2008.  And that mushrooming is a good thing, given the reticence of most MSM sources to cover any portion of Benghazi.  But, honestly, there is still far too much genuflecting toward the altar of old-school media.

8. Hey, 2012 candidates? Don't take public financing!

Apparently, Mitt Romney did not take public financing.  And I think that helped him quite a bit.  Regardless, I guess spending a whole lot more money than in even recent years is the way to go in presidential elections nowadays.


1. Yes, by all means celebrate this win. You earned it, in all seriousness.

Oh, they did.  A lot.  Quite a few tried to dance on the Republicans' graves.

2. Remember that it is possible for people to oppose your policies without being evil capitalistic pigs. And while you're remembering that, phase out the use of the oh-so-original "rethuglicans", "republiKKKans", and the like. Now, please.

Absolute, total failure on this one too.  The last four years, unfortunately, have brought even more wonderful terms into the public square:  terms like "teabagger", "teatard", and the like.  GROW UP.

3. Please stop telling our party what positions and candidates we should support. (For example, I don't know how many times I heard some of you saying McCain should dump Palin because I lost count.) I mean, come on. I haven't seen any of our party telling you that you should run Dennis Kucinich and Michael Moore.

This still happens.  I seem to recall a ground-swelling of support for Jon Huntsman...from the MSM talking heads.  That would be the same Jon Huntsman who, when he exited the Republican race, basically disowned the Republicans en masse.  The same man whose daughter Abby now blogs for the incredibly left-leaning HuffPo.  (As always, HuffPo gets no link from me.)  And yes, I'm counting what the MSM does with what the Democrats do because, honestly, there's little difference between the two.

4. I know this will come as a surprise to the MSM, but bipartisanship does, in fact, include taking some ideas from Republicans. It's not a one-way street.

Nope.  Obamacare passed without a single Republican vote (though I will remind the reader that as some Democrats opposed it, it did have bipartisan opposition).  And who can forget our president saying "Elections have consequences, and I won," as he blew off Republican concerns?

5. Again, do not be jerks about it. And don't go around telling us our viewpoint is invalid because our side lost this one.

A mixed bag.  Some Democrats, to be sure, have also been gracious toward Republicans, but others have certainly not:  accusing every person voting against Obama of being a racist, of not caring about whichever the interest group du jour is...basically, the standard demagoguery.  And I certainly heard enough people saying that the Republican Party was dead in 2009 (though they ate their words in the midterms), and that those people who still dared to support conservative values were jerks, stupid, or whatever.  For that matter, I've read comments in the past month looking forward to when all these older generations who have the audacity to be conservative finally die off.  Charming.

So, how did things play out?  Way too much demonizing, not enough valuing of those who disagree as people.  Pretty much what we've come to expect, sadly enough.

* It could definitely be argued that our 40 years began earlier, when a very Republican Congress decided that taking President Clinton down at all costs was more important than reforming the federal government.  If no one else is saying it, I sure will.

** As I have said more than once, there were definitely those--and still are--who put all things Palin above everything else.  But that didn't and doesn't justify discounting the principles she has espoused.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Gracious winners and sore losers: a history

Four years ago, when Barack Obama won the presidential election, there was a site dedicated to reaching out to the losing side of the election, in what appears to be an attempt to work together.  That site was called "From 52 to 48", based on the percentages voting for President Obama vs. Senator McCain.  (No, those percentages are not correct, but that's irrelevant.)

A sample pic from that site:

(Hope you still are.  Courtesy "From 52 to 48" under Fair Use clause)

Some saw these messages as condescending, while others saw them as inspirational.   But regardless of how each individual picture was intended, it was at least a positive-sounding message from some Democrats to the Republicans.  A quick perusal of that site shows that a few Republicans responded with similar statements.

But would these people respond in the same way in 2012 if President Obama were to lose on Tuesday?  I wonder.  See, there was also another site, eight years ago, from Democrats apologizing to the rest of the world for reelecting George W. Bush.  That site, "Sorry Everybody", did not have the same uplifting message.  No, it was full of anger and, I dare say, hatred toward the people who did not vote for their side.

Here's a sample pic that, unlike many on that site, doesn't require editing to post on my blog:

(Now try apologizing to the 59,422,689 people you just insulted.  Courtesy "Sorry Everybody" under Fair Use clause)

Now, both my examples have been reactions by mostly Democrats, only because these were the only two sites I saw with pictures responding to presidential election results.  If there were any similar sites started by Republicans after the last two elections, I don't know of them.  I did, though, just remember that there have been more than a few people saying that they were praying for Barack Obama using Psalm 109:8:

May his days be few;
    may another take his place of leadership.

(Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.  Courtesy Biblica, Inc./Biblegateway.com under Fair Use clause)

And I've decried that before as well, so I'm not being one-sided about this.

Regardless of who wins on Tuesday, which of these people pictured would you rather be, if in fact you had to choose between these two?  If your side wins, will you be gracious toward the other side, or will you demonize them?  If your side loses, same exact question.

Refocusing Snowed In

Anyone who has read this blog since its inception (a list that, in its entirely, most likely consists of the author's father) knows that it has never had what could be described as an overall focus.  The "Austin" portion of the site has involved many not-exactly-political topics that have virtually nothing to do with the political posts.  (And what was up with those songs?)

And--I could be wrong--but I'm pretty sure that successful blogs (i.e., those blogs not written by sixth-rate political bloggers) have some sort of real focus.  And, honestly, there are too many different topics here for a blog with entries so infrequent.  (Good grief, I haven't said a single word about the elections coming up in just days.  Okay, here's one:  Vote.  Actually, here are four:  Be informed, then vote.)

So it is, sadly, time to bid some of the topics/labels/whatever a sad goodbye.  We've already seen, as I mentioned previously, the departure of Day By Day, a daily web-based conservative comic strip that, while I like its general viewpoint, has had multiple editions that have not met the standards for which I am aiming these days.  There have also been widgets on the right sidebar that are, honestly, clutter.

So, what stays and what goes?  Here's a quick sampler of what's disappearing:

  • "Unfairly Forgotten Songs":  Sure, I like some weird songs.  But are they a force to effect change in the political climate?  Obviously not.  There was an easy solution to that, since I would like to continue that series:  a separate blog.  One with a focus, even!
  • Austin Radio:  I knew that it was not worth it for me to keep this topic up on my blog when I discovered that Jammin' 103.1 had been on the air in Austin for two weeks without my having heard about it.  In the future, I will leave this to the experts, specifically RadioInsight.com, which is very, very good about staying on top of all radio news.
  • Austin news media:  As before, I was going to point to someone who, for many years, stayed on top of this much better than I did, Jim McNabb.  However--and this again illustrates just how well I keep up these days--Mr. McNabb has recently written a farewell post on his blog.  However, two other good sources for news on the news media here are Gary Dinges at Austin360 and former local news director Bill Church, whose blog I hadn't discovered until just recently (to my shame).
  • The "I post at Austin Post" box has already disappeared.  As it turned out, the Austin Post has gone through some leadership changes, and, rightly or wrongly, it appears to have moved to a much more leftward slant (not counting the occasional libertarian post).  Posts that appeared in the "news" section (not "opinion") took to flat-out insulting at least one conservative (Governor Perry).  When I called them on it on Twitter, their response was to unfollow me.  And that's fine if that's what they want.  I just don't feel a desire to be a part of that site anymore.  Besides, the Austin Post has been mostly supplanted by CultureMap Austin, which also appears to slant leftward but is more upfront about it (though that site, to its detriment, also has a vitriolic anti-Dallas Cowboys columnist).  And CultureMap Austin has a much better presentation anyway.
  • And I'm getting rid of the comments widget.  When you post as rarely as I do, what's the point?
And what is left?  I'm not going to post a similar list of things staying simply because I can't say specifically what I am going to write.  To be sure, I still have strong political feelings on the federal, state, and local level, but I don't simply want to link other people's articles and write a line or two about it.  (That's what I have a Facebook page to do.)  When I write, I want to add a perspective that has not been getting as much attention.  (And that's exactly why I was happy when Sarah Palin entered the national political picture four years ago...she brought a perspective that was not coming from the national candidates before that point.)  So the political posts will definitely still be around, in some form or another, hopefully with some insight that makes this blog worth reading and not just another story aggregator.

And I obviously haven't been giving this blog the amount of attention that I have given it in years past, so I can't speak to the frequency of posts.  I'm not apologizing for that, either; more of my evenings has been spent with my two older children, both of whom have read-aloud books that, on most nights, they enjoy hearing me read to them, and my youngest child is still in the newborn phase and needs lots of attention from his father as well as his mother, so I think it's a lot more important for me to be there for all three of them.  (Additionally, on most nights, Mrs. Snowed also enjoys not having me on the computer in the other room.)  And all that means that you can expect to continue to enjoy sporadic posts from me, when I have the time and feel like writing anything.  (Of course, I might be more inclined to write were a few of you to hit the tip jar and ask for new material.)

One other thing about the future direction of this blog is that, as has probably been seen in more recent posts (of which there has been a dearth), is that no matter what subject I am discussing, I want things to be uplifting, and that has caused me to think much harder about the topics about which I want to write.  I believe that this can be done while still discussing political topics on which the country is divided, or at least I'm gonna try to do it.

So, with all that said, I don't know what this blog will look like in the future, but hopefully it will be worthwhile.  Hopefully you, the reader, will stay tuned through whatever journey this blog is taking.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The debate I'd like to see

There is only one more presidential debate, to be held tonight.

Thank God.

A Facebook friend of mine had a great idea for the next debate, based on how multiple candidates behaved in the last couple.  In a nutshell, it was to place the candidates in soundproof plexiglass tubes, so that each candidate would only be able to speak when it was his* turn to speak; this would rid us of all the interrupting--and, in Joe Biden's case, constant laughing--that has kept these debates from being a more civil affair.  No, when each candidate's time is up, his microphone would be cut off.

(Image from set of Twenty-One courtesy The New Yorker under Fair Use clause)

Now, I don't think we'd want Geritol sponsoring this particular debate, as it would obviously lead to the question of age being raised.  I do, however, think it would help matters if the candidates received points based on the correctness and efficacy of their answers.

Building on that idea, here are a few more things that I think would shake up the traditional debate format:

  • In an effort to keep the audience from identifying the candidates and thus preforming opinions before each speaks, make each candidate wear one of those identical sheets that about five different Peanuts characters wore in It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  Then disguise their voices so that they both sound like identical Munchkins.  Or Ewoks.  Whichever.
  • Have each candidate submit a moderator with no veto power from the other side.  Who wouldn't want a debate moderated by Rachel Maddow and Rush Limbaugh, for example?
  • I think I've inadvertently borrowed this from someone else, but as I can't remember from whom it was, we'll proceed:  we need some of that green slime from Nickelodeon that used to (or perhaps still does) fall on everyone's head.  Perhaps give each candidate two opportunities per debate to drop it on their opponent's head when he says something egregious.
  • Speaking of things that opponents can use twice per contest:  give each candidate a red flag to challenge the statements of their opponents.  That might be a better method of contesting statements or misstatements made.  (But the slime would be fun to watch at least once.)

Actually, forget all that.  Let's just make the debate like this:

And when I say "like this", I definitely mean that the Brady kids need to be included.

* I am not using gender-neutral language in this post because, as you are hopefully aware, both of the major party presidential candidates (as well as both of the major-party VP candidates) are male.  Regular readers might be aware that I had hoped at one point for that not to be the case.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

On finding harmony in Facebook relationships...or not

I'll start with the obvious:  there are many, many different opinions.  If you look hard enough, each and every one of them has found expression, at one point or another, on the internet.  And most of them are expressed regularly on Facebook.

This can be a good thing, but it can also be a terrible thing.  It's good, of course, in that you are passionate about your opinions.  You should be.  And it can be terrible in that when opinions are not expressed in a way that is uplifting, friendships and relationships can be destroyed permanently.  (Long-time readers of this blog--if you're still around after yet another prolonged hiatus--may recall my chronicling of the end of a friendship thanks to this sort of behavior.)

It is about the dangers that I want to opine today.  You see--and this may come as a surprise to, well, absolutely no one--there are people who are unable to express a political opinion without insulting anyone who dares to think differently.  As a supporter of ideas put forth by one Sarah Palin, I've seen that more than once.  I know that people who support President Obama's policies (as, obviously, I don't) have been similarly insulted by others.  (And no, I'm not going to get into which group has received more insults in the past four years.  I honestly don't care.) 

But I write not to bemoan the lack of civility on Facebook.  (I could, but I won't.)  As someone who has friends whom I have met in various and sundry places (such as, for example, playing a now-long-dead internet game show), and wanting to maintain harmony with these friends despite their not sharing my political stances, I have two suggestions, both of which I have already taken for myself:

1.  Start your own political blog.  Then, of course, you can rant to your heart's content, and those who are just as passionate about your viewpoint as you are, or who at least respect you and your opinions, can have a non-Facebook location at which to discuss what you like, or don't, about Candidate X.  This blog has served as such a location for me, allowing me to present my opinions to upwards of 30 people!*

And once you have that set up, you can move on to step 2.  (Or skip to it, as you don't have to have a blog to go to step 2.)

2.  Start a public Facebook page for your blog (or simply your opinions), and move all your political stuff to it.  Why, yes, since you asked, my blog does have such a page, located here.  And yes, almost without fail, I place my political stuff solely on that page these days.  And then friends (or even non-friends) can subscribe to updates from that page if they want, or they can skip it.

But Snowed, doesn't that mean your opinions will be seen by far fewer people?  Who cares.

See, as I said earlier, I want my blog to be uplifting.  I believe it can be so even while being heavily political (and even with a large dose of Palin appreciation).  That is exactly why, on hearing that yesterday's edition of the daily comic strip that adorned the top of this blog for several years used language that did not mesh well with the overtly Christian theme of yesterday's post, I got rid of the comic strip entirely.  I didn't like doing it, as I appreciate its political slant, but if it's going to be a stumbling block, it will have to be seen in places other than my blog, to allow my blog to more toward being more uplifting.

I don't want my blog, or my political opinions, to be a stumbling block for others.  I hope my friends share that attitude.  If you don't--if you can't respect that not everyone is going to agree with you--I will be much quicker in hiding your posts entirely from my page (as I'm sure many have hidden mine).  And I will do that because, from my viewpoint, you are prioritizing your political opinions over your friendships.  I may briefly lament the loss of a relationship, as hiding your posts, to me, is just one step above a full defriending.

I can't put opinions over friendships anymore.  If I am going to be showing godly love to others, then relationships have to come first.  And in this case, I am extremely passionate in wanting everyone to share that viewpoint.

* Yeah, that number is pretty much spot-on.  If nothing else, it keeps me humble.  It is because of those staggering numbers that I refer to myself as a sixth-rate political blogger.**

** I actually did have someone tell me that I was better than a seventh-rate blogger once.***

*** Once.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On Love

Warning:  somewhat long-winded and rambling post ahead.

This post has languished for many weeks as a draft while I figured out how best to express myself.  Please know that it got its start during the Chick-Fil-A brouhaha.  Now, let me say that I'd prefer not to write on the Chick-Fil-A argument.*  Also, I'm sure that not many people want to hear yet another voice added to the cacophony of voices about Chick-Fil-A and gay marriage.**

Unfortunately, this topic seems not to want to go away.  And it shouldn't.  As Christians, we are called to love one another, and too often love is forgotten in the midst of getting ahead, being right, or whatever.  As it happens, I have friends on both sides of the issue that enveloped Chick-Fil-A in July/August, and while I would probably identify more with one side than with the other, I can see both sides of it.

And I'm sick of this.

I'm sick of hearing about some people who applaud Chick-Fil-A for standing up for Christian beliefs while calling gays who want to marry things they would never call anyone to his face.  I don't like seeing people assuming that all gays are automatically pedophiles, or whatever.  (Yes, some say that, apparently.)  Though I am thankful that pretty much every supporter of Chick-Fil-A of whom I know hasn't said that.

I'm also sick of hearing about some people who support gay marriage and who have decided to accuse anyone who believes that gay marriage is wrong of being a bigot, a homophobe, etc.  (Those accusations really aren't hard to find.)  I don't like seeing tweets from liberals, some well-known, others not so much, expressing not just a passing thought but a hope, a fervent desire, if you will, for anyone supporting Chick-Fil-A to die of heart disease soon.  Though I am thankful that pretty much every supporter of gay marriage of whom I know isn't saying these sorts of things.  But some are.

The two questions I see in this issue are the following.  And they both have the same answers.

1.  Are gays going to stop being gay just because some people think they're sinners, going to hell, unnatural, etc.?
2.  Are Christians opposed to gay marriage (obvious disclaimer:  not all are) going to give up their beliefs because some people think they're bigots, haters, etc.?

The answers:

A.  Almost certainly not.
B.  But they are going to get pretty ticked off, and recent history shows that they'll probably do something to antagonize the other side of the argument.  For those in favor of gay marriage, that was to organize the boycott in the first place.  For those in favor of Chick-Fil-A, their response was to sign on with the Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day (which came and went while I slowly wrote this thing).
C.  In response to the actions mentioned in B, the other side ramps up whatever they're doing, and so on and so forth.

In preparing for this post, I've read/watched many perspectives on the matter, including those from a somewhat prominent Christian blogger, a somewhat well-known gay activist, a gay Christian, a former Alaska governor, and the daughter of a former presidential candidate and increasingly moderate "Republican".  Some were in favor of the appreciation day, some were in favor of gay marriage, some (I think) were in favor of both, and some were in favor of neither.

So, you will see that by now I have heard all the arguments.  "It's about free speech."  "It's about our rights."  "They favored legislation to kill gays in Africa."  (That one's not true, by the way.)  "They have the right to do whatever with their money."  "Municipalities have no right to deny building permits just because they disagree politically with them."

It's been hashed out enough, I think.

When I originally started writing this post (seven weeks ago***),  I had intended to write about understanding each others' concerns.  There were concerns that believing gay marriage to be wrong might eventually become a thought crime (as it has apparently become in other countries), or that churches would be forced (yes, forced) to marry gays whether or not they agreed with the idea of gay marriage (as has happened in at least one other country).

But I don't think that's the real point anymore.  Not for me, as a Christian, at least.

A friend, in the middle of a long discussion about this, said that the real issue here is perception.  Christians can be as civil as possible in expressing their opinions, but thanks to how others have used their bully pulpits in the past, this is how a lot of gay people will see them:

Tolerance in action.  Or not.  Image courtesy CBC under "Fair Use" clause.)

We are called as Christians to love.  When we are sitting behind a computer screen, or in a group of like-minded people at a restaurant, it is easy to forget that we are to love not just our friends but our enemies.

But Snowed, I don't look at anyone as my enemy!  Good.  How are you treating people with whom you have fundamental disagreements?  Have you ever even had a discussion with someone with whom you have a fundamental disagreement?  It's simpler to avoid that, to be sure.  But avoiding confrontation is not what we are called to do.

We are called to love others.  To do that, we have to get to know others.  And that includes others who have been hurt by the actions and/or words of Christians (possibly even our own).  I mean, just look at that picture again.  To many, this is what Christianity means.  We have to show these people (as well as those who treat others in this way) the true love of Jesus.  It's not going to be easy, and it's not going to be quick.  No, we have years (centuries, in some cases) to overcome.  And yes, as in the case of gay marriage, we won't agree on what all the solutions are. But we have to be willing to have that dialogue, to engage with those who do not look/act/think like we do.  Because He did.

* Anyone who follows my blog knows that I haven't really wanted to write about much of anything for a while.

** "Gee, I wonder what 'Snowed In' has to say about this?" - said by no one, ever.

*** I do have a life that doesn't involve the internet, y'know.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Life's a Tripp premieres tonight

As I posted earlier this year, Bristol Palin has a new reality show entitled Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp, to air on the Lifetime channel.  That show will premiere this evening (June 19) for those, unlike me, who actually receive Lifetime.

Bristol and Tripp Palin.  Image courtesy Zap2It.com under Fair Use clause.

Already, of course, there is controversy over the as-yet-unaired 14-episode series.  Part of this series includes Ms. Palin's confrontation with a Los Angeles-area heckler and hater of her mother, and apparently because Ms. Palin had the audacity to respond to him, he is suing her.  Spare me.  Who started this confrontation again?  Watch and see for yourself.  The heckler starts at 1:44, and almost right out of the gate, he shouts "Your mother's a whore!"  Classy guy.  How dare she stand up to him!

Of course, as I've also pointed out here before, Bristol can take care of herself.  Anyone who has read her blog (which I've linked several times from my Facebook page, but not, I don't believe from here) knows this already.

The show airs tonight at 10/9c on Lifetime, and not only do I recommend you watch it, I recommend that you DVR it (or tape it, if you still live in the 1990s) so that I can see it later.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin at Right Online 2012

This weekend the Right Online 2012 conference is going on in Las Vegas.  This is a conference for conservative new-media types and bloggers (even, I suppose sixth-rate ones such as myself).  It features a lot of speakers whom I would love to hear. 

As neither the day job nor the Snowed family budget allow for traveling to Las Vegas for two days, I usually end up missing such events as this.  (Heck, my time budget doesn't even allow for blogging a good portion of the time.)  Thankfully, a lot of the speakers and sessions are streamed online at this page.

I got to see two very good speakers last night in Sarah Palin and Michelle Malkin.  Both of them talked about the impact that the "new media" can have; in addition, Governor Palin spoke of the failure of the old media (which isn't a new theme for her, but it still rings true).

And thanks to The Right Scoop, both speeches have already been preserved for posterity.  (Specific links to the individual speeches are here and here.)

Here is Sarah Palin's speech (approximately 35 minutes, and worth it):

And here is Michelle Malkin's speech (approximately 18 minutes, also worth it):

Monday, June 11, 2012

What's important again? Part 3

I have a couple of friends named Danny and Christy, and they may not know it, but they are heroes.  They haven't (as far as I know) done anything earth-shattering, but what they are doing is definitely a lot better than what we see some overexposed celebrities doing on the news, or TMZ, or wherever.  And it's even better than...wait for it...writing a sixth-rate quasi-political blog (which hasn't been updated in about seven weeks until this entry).

See, Danny and Christy have two wonderful children.  One of them, their daughter, has Down syndrome, and she had some serious health issues that had to be resolved very early in her life.  If I were meeting Danny and Christy for the first time, I would probably think, "That's great that they have sacrificed to raise that sweet girl and keep her healthy...but they needn't do more than that." 

But they are.

Danny and Christy are in the process, through an organization called Reece's Rainbow, of adopting another little girl, about the same age as their daughter, who also has Down syndrome.  The little girl, Juliette, is currently living in an orphanage in eastern Europe, and Danny and Christy would love to bring her to live with them.

Juliette, who hopefully will be Danny and Christy's daughter soon.  (Image courtesy Reece's Rainbow)

The only hangup at the moment, as far as I can tell, is money.  It costs a lot of money to bring a child home from an orphanage in eastern Europe.  Thus, Danny and Christy are raising money through their blog, Bringing Juliette Home.  They need something like $30,000, and so far they have raised about a sixth of that.

If you are reading this and feel so inclined, I hope you will head over to Danny and Christy's blog and donate to help them adopt Juliette.

And Danny and Christy, if you happen to read this:  you truly are heroes.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy belated birthday, Trig

As most Palinistas are aware, yesterday was Trig Palin's 4th birthday.  (And, as everyone who has accepted reality over really strange conspiracy theories knows, Trig is the son of former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin.)

Every time I have ever been around a child with Down Syndrome, he or she has always been one of the sweetest people I have ever met.  I have friends who have been raising a DS child over the past year and a half, and whenever I see her, I have seen the most loving child who very often has a big smile on her face.  Children with Down Syndrome are truly a blessing, though they are also a challenge.  My friends, as well as the Palins, have truly risen to that challenge, and for that they are to be commended.

As readers of my blog may remember (if they haven't all gone somewhere else that updates more often than this particular blog) that last year, Trig's birthday brought about some of the nastiest, hate-filled writing I have ever seen.  Thankfully, it also brought out a firestorm of condemnation toward such hatred, as I blogged the very next day after the last piece I just linked.

I think Ron DeVito may be correct when he posted the following yesterday in his birthday greeting to Trig"How you react to him – and Gov. Palin as his mother – tells the whole world who and what you are as a person."

(Image courtesy Palin Promotions under Fair Use clause)
And so today I wish nothing but good things for the Palin family, particularly Trig.  Happy birthday, Trig.  May your fifth year be filled with blessings and happiness.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Palin on Today: what to watch for

Now that, as was plastered all over the net today, pretty much anyone following the news in this country knows that Sarah Palin will be hosting the Today Show tomorrow, here are a few things I expect to see during the broadcast.  (You might call this a drinking game, but as this is a morning show, I do not recommend drinking any adult beverages, especially if you are planning to leave for work after watching.)

  • Some mention of Katie Couric, who will be guest-hosting some other morning show at the same time.
  • Some mention of Tina Fey, who originated an infamous quote about Russia that many people think Sarah Palin said, and whose quote was incorrectly attributed to Governor Palin in a Politico article just today.  Really?
  • Some mention of the four men still contending for the Republican nomination for President.  And I'm sure Matt Lauer will ask some snide question to the effect of whether she is plotting to steal the nomination in an open convention.
  • The phrase "you betcha" will be spoken almost certainly by someone who is not Sarah Palin.
  • The word "rogue" will appear in the first five minutes of Governor Palin's appearance.
  • Trig and Tripp will both be mentioned multiple times...as they should be; Sarah Palin is a proud mother and grandmother.
  • And, of course, there will be some mention of President Obama.  I wouldn't be surprised to hear some version of the phrase "failed policies".
Mostly, though, I think viewers will see a very easygoing Sarah Palin who does not match the caricature that has been imprinted on too many people's minds.

Now, here are a few things that you will not see, though they will undoubtedly happen:

  • A lot of people with nothing better to do will post innocuous things Sarah Palin says during the broadcast on Twitter and find some way, logical or not, to attack her for it.
  • People will complain that she was even allowed on "a real network".  Bonus points if you find complaints referencing "Faux News", which is, as you know, the peak of originality for some of these haters.
  • I'm sure Ms. Couric will have something to say about Governor Palin.  But I know I won't see it, as I have no desire to allow Ms. Couric's show into my home.  I'll watch next week, when Robin Roberts is back.  Maybe.
All in all, I'm looking forward to watching.  See the preview for yourself (without having to endure the general ugliness of the YouTube comments):

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Useless celebrity of the month: Spike Lee

For many months now, I have been moving away from my previously much more frequent posts labeled "useless celebrity".  I had wondered, in a somewhat recent entry under this label, whether spotlighting celebrities for saying ill-informed things was rewarding them for their behavior; indeed, I didn't even name the celebrity who inspired that particular post, as he probably could have used the attention, and I did not wish to give any to him.

However, when a celebrity crosses the lines of decency and honor, they need to be called out and shamed, and, in my opinion, people who agree with me ought to decide not to patronize any of the celebrity's work until he apologizes for what he has done.

I refer here to Spike Lee, who, as many people know (and many more don't), retweeted what was purported to be the address of George Zimmerman, the killer of Trayvon Martin.

(Aside:  I am not going to address anything further about the killing in this post.)

Notwithstanding that tweeting anyone's address is a violation of Twitter policies, and also notwithstanding that this would have been little other than inciting of confrontations even if it were Mr. Zimmerman's address, Mr. Lee (and many others) retweeted an address belonging to people entirely unrelated.

Per Fox News:

An elderly Florida couple have been forced to move into a hotel after their home address was wrongly tweeted as belonging to the man who shot teen Trayvon Martin.

The tweets were traced back to a man in California and the address was also reportedly retweeted by director Spike Lee to his almost 250,000 followers.

The couple, aged 70 and 72, have been harassed with hate mail, been hassled by media and had scared neighbors questioning them since the tweet, their son Chip Humble told the Orlando Sentinel.

Fearful for their safety, and hoping to escape the spotlight, the couple have temporarily moved to a hotel.

Well, at least there's a good reason for all this:

The confusion seems to stem from the fact the woman's son is named William George Zimmerman and he lived briefly at the address in 1995.

Way to do your research before doing something utterly stupid, unnamed California tweeter.  But I'm certain that once confronted with the error, the originator corrected it, right?

When William Zimmerman pleaded with the man who tweeted the address, the man responded, "Black power all day. No justice, no peace" along with an obscenity.

Oh.  Spike Lee, by the way, has had nothing to say about this in days.  Certainly he has not apologized to the terrorized couple as of this writing.  Now, he may have been distracted by the racial tweets some have directed at him (which, just to be clear, I do not condone in any way), but I think he owes something to this couple.  Perhaps seven figures' worth of something.

And until he makes this right (if he can), he is deserving of little more than scorn.  And maybe a little pity.

Update 3/28:  Spike Lee has apologized (hat tip to Jim Treacher).  But is it too little, too late?  I know the McClain family has already lawyered up, so I'd be surprised if this story ends here.

Update 3/29:   And he's settled with the McClains.  Good.  I'm glad he did.  I'm not so thrilled, however, at the original idea of tweeting out the address of anyone, killer or not.  And Mr. Lee is now paying for such stupidity.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bristol gets it: calling out hatred is not a one-way street

Bristol Palin, in only the third entry in her new blog, nails it in calling out President Obama for his selective treatment of women who have been publicly insulted.

Now, as I have previously said on my Facebook page, I am absolutely not excusing what Rush Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke.  Calling people out for their double standards and/or selective outrage does not excuse the person on my side who says something uncalled for.

Regardless, I think Bristol Palin has a singular vantage point to make her point, as she does in her post entitled "Mr. President, When Should I Expect Your Call?" (which, for those who have forgotten, refers to President Obama's call of consolation, or something, to Ms. Fluke):

“One of the things I want them to do as they get older is engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on,” you said.  “I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way. And I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens.”

And I totally agree your kids should be able to speak their minds and engage the culture.  I look forward to seeing what good things Malia and Sasha end up doing with their lives.

But here’s why I’m a little surprised my phone hasn’t rung.  Your $1,000,000 donor Bill Maher has said reprehensible things about my family.  He’s made fun of my brother because of his Down’s Syndrome. He’s said I was “f—-d so hard a baby fell out.”  (In a classy move, he did this while his producers put up the cover of my book, which tells about the forgiveness and redemption I’ve found in God after my past – very public — mistakes.)

Now, unless I'm quite mistaken, Miss Palin, despite her status as the daughter of a public figure, was not herself a public figure when the insults against her began.  (Obviously that has changed at this point.)  Ms. Fluke, on the other hand, put herself out in front of a faux Congressional hearing and said what she said, and I see a huge difference there.

Again:  none of this excuses any of the comments made about either one.  As I have also acknowledged on my Facebook page, I used the word "slut" once on this blog, in reference to a celebrity, and I regret that statement.

And I do know that then-candidate Barack Obama basically said that Bristol's then-pregnancy should be kept off-limits.  And that is good.  However, a lot of people who revere President Obama totally disregarded that statement from him then, and, really, for the four years since. 

Let's face it:  Bristol Palin has received a lot of hatred ever since John McCain picked Sarah Palin to be his running mate.  Most of this hatred has been because of either her mother or her child.  And she is right to call on the president to make a statement about the insults she has received, and to call for civility toward all women, or, really, all people.  As she says:  "After all, you’re President of all Americans, not just the liberals."  Well stated.  And well worth a read.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Game Change: a hit piece masquerading as truth

Tonight, HBO will air what they believe to be a blockbuster-type movie, "Game Change".  As most people know by now, "Game Change" the movie ignores well over two-thirds of what was covered in the original book.

The original book had a fascinating portion about the 2008 Democratic presidential primary season, covering the implosion of John Edwards, the absolute mismanagement of Hillary Clinton's campaign, and the rise to prominence of Barack Obama.  There were literally hundreds of pages of material detailing how, for example, even when Senator Clinton's campaign appeared to be doing well, it was still reeling.  There were several moments when the Obama campaign was stressing over issues as well.  Brought to life on the small screen, it would truly have been must-see TV*.

But no, HBO and the makers of "Game Change" decided that the portion of the book that needed to be brought to life the most was the portion involving Sarah Palin.  And why not; the conventional wisdom when this movie was commissioned was that Governor Palin would be a huge factor, if not the front-runner, in the 2012 Republican presidential primary.  And HBO planned for maximum exposure for their movie, scheduling it to air the Saturday after Super Tuesday, when, they were sure, Governor Palin would have had a huge day.

And why?  Because they planned to kill her campaign with this movie.

This movie, as has been reported in many places, showcases a fictional version of Sarah Palin who couldn't spell "cat" if you spotted her the C and the A.  Gone is the fighter who took on corruption in both parties, instead, you can find, as John Nolte discovered (to his disgust), some "cold, snippy, power-hungry and cruel" two-dimensional character who "is 'flipping' fascinated to discover Germany was our enemy during the world war", who "had no idea in 2008 that England has a prime minister", and who was "shocked to learn Saddam Hussein wasn't behind 9/11, [needed] a flashcard to memorize what NAFTA is and [had] never heard of the Federal Reserve."

Monica Crowley had little good to say about it or its network either:

The film centers on Palin's selection as John McCain's VP and what a "huge mistake" it was, because, you know, she was such a Big Dummy. There's a brief mention of how McCain actually went into the lead over Obama by about 5 points after her selection and dynamite convention speech. But other that that, she's cast as the sole reason McCain lost. (Never mind that McCain was a terrible candidate, wouldn't go full-frontal against Obama, and that the entire global economy was collapsing. No, it was Palin who single-handedly lost the election for the ticket.)

Her conservative values are mocked, from her belief in limited government to her faith in God. Each time she prayed in the film, the leftwing elites around me in the theater laughed at her. But really, they were laughing at US. This is what they really think of us. This is what Obama thinks of us: "bitter clingers," and all that.

But who is really surprised by this type of treatment given Sarah Palin by HBO?  This is a movie in which the principal stars and executives have given over $200,000 to Democratic causes and absolutely nothing to Republicans.  This is a movie with an executive producer (you might have heard of him...his name is Tom Hanks) refused even to take a copy of a much truer movie about Sarah Palin entitled "The Undefeated".  Oh, and this is indeed the same Tom Hanks who can currently be heard narrating a Obama 2012 campaign video.  Certainly he would produce an impartial movie about his preferred candidate's potential opposition, right?  Don't make me laugh.

But I think the best response to this work of fiction came from SarahPAC:

Bottom line:  "Game Change" on HBO is not worth your time or attention.  Give it a pass, and while you're at it, you might evaluate whether HBO is truly geared toward someone on your side of the political aisle.

p.s.  If you have not seen "The Undefeated", you can check it out tomorrow night on ReelzChannel, or you can buy it right here**:

And, for those interested in the original "Game Change" book, you can purchase that here**:

* I hope I can use that phrase without running afoul of any trademarks.  I know NBC Thursday nights certainly don't deserve it anymore.

** As with all Amazon links on this blog, I get a pittance from all sales.  PLEASE BUY SOMETHING!

A visit to the Alamo (on Slaughter Lane)

As most people in the greater Southwest Austin area know, the Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane (at Slaughter and Mopac) opened on Thursday.  Mrs. Snowed and I were fortunate enough to attend one of the preview/training shows earlier this week, and, for the most part, we were happy with what we saw.

The inside of the theater itself was quite attractive and inviting.  The tables are quite different from any other location; instead of the long tables running across the whole row, pairs of seats get one small table.  This worked out just fine for the two of us (though I'm not sure how that would work for an odd-numbered party).  The seats were very comfortable.  The only concern with the design was that, as with many theaters, a loud enough sound from the adjoining theater could be heard in ours, though it certainly was not too terribly distracting from our movie.

The food, of course, was excellent.  Honestly, I've never had a meal at an Alamo Drafthouse that wasn't very good.  The only thing that we noticed was that there seems to be a dearth of gluten-free options (though, as we discovered, more than one menu option becomes gluten-free simply by removing the bread on the side--the menu does not make this terribly clear).  The waitstaff was helpful in guiding those of us with food allergies to good choices.  There were moments when we were reminded that this was a training screening, but overall the staff was top-notch.

The one huge concern for this location is the parking.  Parkside Village, the shopping center Alamo anchors, is managed by Stratus Properties, which has been a presence in Austin for a while, and so I'm sure they ensure that the proper amount of parking is provided for all their properties.  The City of Austin, of course, requires a fair amount of paperwork in site packages to guarantee this.  I therefore have to assume that the amount of parking is adequate to satisfy these requirements.  Alamo's website itself states confidently, "There will be ample parking day and night in the surface parking lot."  With that said, though, we saw many, many people who had been forced to park all the way at Slaughter, a distance of at least 500 feet from the front doors.  Now, we did notice that a few parking spots were blocked by construction equipment, but not enough were blocked to have housed all the people who had to park far away from the building.  Given that some of the other tenants at Parkside Village (such as, say, the AT&T Store by which many of the aforementioned people parked) have not completed their finish-outs, I believe that parking will be a major concern at this location, more than any other non-downtown location in Austin (and I say this after having dealt more than once with the not-so-great parking at the South Lamar location).

Don't let that stop you from checking the Alamo Slaughter Lane out.  Just add a few extra minutes on the front end to drive around the lot.  The movie and dining experience, once you get inside, will more than make up for it.

(Full disclosure:  I have worked for a company that did business with the Alamo Drafthouse.)

Monday, March 05, 2012

Facebook posts: 3/5/2012

For those who need the reminder, this blog has a public Facebook page.  It now also has a easy-to-remember URL:  http://www.facebook.com/snowedinblog

Since I've gotten more in the habit of posting links to my Facebook page (articles that interest me but about which I do not have time to write a decent entry), I figured I would compile those links here for your benefit (along with the comments I posted on the FB page).  And I'll also include further cajoling to like said Facebook page, or maybe hit the tip jar, or something.

On Rush Limbaugh, Sandra Fluke, and selective outrage:

  • Rally for Rush:  This isn't about a personal attack (or these same people would be concerned with similar personal attacks by liberals toward conservative women); this is about a coordinated effort to destroy Rush Limbaugh.
  • A little discussion on my wall:  A question to those who are bent on getting Rush off the air: were you similarly upset when Ed Schultz called Laura Ingraham a slut, or when Bill Maher repeatedly called Sarah Palin the c-word, or in many, many other similar liberals-insulting-conservative-women situations
  • The left's respect for women: a look back:  Language warnings apply.
  • Where's My Presidential Phone Call?  "The media played up a carefully orchestrated story designed to shield the President from criticism that his health care mandate was a violation of religious freedom. Why is that not a story? Because if the Obama campaign slips and allows this election cycle to refocus on the economy, he will lose." Dana Loesch nails it.
  • AOL Drops Rush for “Slut” Remark, But Allows This? Hypocrites.  More selective outrage.

Various and sundry other stuff:

Be sure to like my page, so you can see these links when I post them.  Thanks.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Andrew Breitbart, 1969-2012

Like most ardent followers of American politics, I was completely shocked to hear this morning of the very sudden death of Andrew Breitbart.  Love him or hate him, you can't deny that Mr. Breitbart had an impact on the American political scene. From his early days with the Drudge Report to now, he had a hand in shaping the conversation.  Now, I certainly did not agree with everything he said or did (two quick examples:  dancing on Ted Kennedy's grave, even if he seemingly left a woman to die; and his habit of retweeting every piece of hatred directed at him), but to say that he did not make a difference would be silly.  One only needs to look at all the filth and vileness spewed by some people since the announcement of Mr. Breitbart's death was made to see that he had an impact.

And what was that impact?  For many conservatives, it was the inspiration not to sit back and take what some on the left have been dishing out for so long (aided and abetted by certain media outlets, of course), but to speak out for what is true and what is right.  While he will be missed, he has left more than a few people ready to step up to continue where he left off.

As an example of how he inspired many is his CPAC speech from just three weeks ago, courtesy Mediaite (h/t The Right Scoop) (language warning applies):

While I never met him, many people I have met online considered him a friend as well as an inspiration, and my thoughts go out to them, as well as his wife and four children.  Godspeed, Mr. Breitbart.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bristol gets real, again

Per The Hollywood Reporter (hat tip to Lisa Graas):

Bristol Palin is filming another* reality show, this time for the Lifetime network (which, up to now, has been known to me mostly for Golden Girls reruns, men-are-evil movies, and Denise Austin).  In it, viewers will see the life of a non-glamorized single mother raising her three-year-old son, Tripp.

(Bristol Palin, image courtesy The Hollywood Reporter under Fair Use clause)
Lifetime announced Wednesday that Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp will see a 10-episode run on the network later this year.

Focusing on the former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's daughter's life as a single mother with son Tripp, the series will follow the young Palin's new life in her native Alaska after brushes with fame on Dancing With the Stars.

Good for Bristol.  I'd certainly be willing to watch this show (if I got Lifetime, that is).

Now, of course, this will bring out all Bristol's detractors yet again to waste inordinate amounts of time whining that Bristol isn't a star, or that she's a publicity hound (the actual term they would use is not suitable for this blog), or that her family is stupid (the perennial fallback insult), or whatever.  But Bristol, I think, has proven that she can handle her detractors just fine, and I don't think things will be any different now.  And it isn't as if she's just been waiting for someone to offer her a reality show; she's been working a regular job, as I understand it, and I'm sure this offer was unsolicited and probably welcome in that it will certainly help with raising her son.

And besides, what were you going to watch?   I guarantee you will see a better program watching Bristol than you would watching, say, mom-to-be Snooki.

* There was a previous show that she was filming with Dancing With the Stars competitor Kyle Massie, but apparently it was shelved.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Who Are These People?

It is common knowledge to this blog's dozens (half-dozens?) of readers that there are rather few comments posted here.  What is less commonly known (or cared about, really) is that many other comments having nothing to do with the topic at hand (which might, at any given time, be music, Palin, Austin, Palin, politics, or Palin) are also left here.  These comments are filtered by Blogger as spam, for which I am eternally grateful.

Most of the spam comments follow what one might expect:  a lot of gibberish, or a paragraph having nothing whatsoever to do with anything, followed by a link to a website, almost 100% of the time located on another continent, selling something I don't care to promote on my site.  (Those things I do want to promote are in the ads that do appear, and your humble host would very much appreciate it if you do all your St. Patrick's Day shopping through those links.  And thanks.)  That seems normal enough in today's internet.

What I do not understand are the spam comments that have no links to anything.  They are always left by "Anonymous", which obviously doesn't link to any sort of webpage (unlike, say, Blogger IDs), so I really don't know what the point of posting these comments is.

Maybe you can make sense of why examples such as the following are ever generated in the first place:

  • Nice site!  I've just shared it on Facebook.  (Sure you have...)
  • As a web site owner I think the material here is really magnificent.  I appreciate it for your time.  You must maintain it and keep it up forever!  Excellent work.  (I'm blushing...or not.)
  • hi there every one - hope yous had a good christmas - pity we didnt get snow was all prepared wi sledges kids loving it any ways , all the best for the comming year - mick b  (This, perhaps, is the result of a newbie to the internets, so it may not fit in with the rest of these comments.)
  • The above writing was excellent.  I stumble on it very exciting and I will certainly forward this to my buddies on the net.  Anyway, thanks for sharing this.  (I'm gonna guess that English is not this writer's first language.)
  • Thanks for your review!  Actually I have never seen anything that cool.  (This was posted on a five-year-old, not-very-cool article.  I really don't get it.)
And here's my personal favorite:

I was impressed with the way you expressed your thoughts about Blogger:  Snowed In - Post a Comment.  I can not believe that somebody can write an amazing story like thet about I love Blogger:  Snowed In - Post a Comment.

Maybe the answer is the simplest explanation that comes to my mind, which is that some spammers simply aren't very web-savvy.

Last-second addition before publishing:  It has come to my attention before this entry was published but after I wrote all of the above that I am not the only one thinking along these lines today.  Randy Cassingham (of "This Is True" fame) also had something to say about spammy comments.  Though it should be noted that his spammy comments are signed, which means his is obviously a more advanced group of spammers.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Is it open season on Sarah Palin or something?

"Hey, let's go after Sarah Palin...it's what all the cool kids are doing!"

Enough already, people.

I have no idea why so many on the right, in an attempt to be relevant (which I have almost never been, politically speaking), have decided that the best way to do so is to attack Sarah Palin, who, you may recall, isn't presently running for anything.  But this behavior appears to be encouraged, based on the way some of it gets promoted.

Case in point:  Eddie Scarry, who writes for Mediabistro's FishbowlDC and The Blaze.

Mr. Scarry apparently took issue with a piece Gov. Palin wrote for Newsweek Magazine, an increasingly leftist-slanted magazine which very recently spotlighted an article by Andrew Sullivan, noted expert on Sarah Palin's uterus.  (I commented about that in a Facebook note, which is what I do sometimes when I don't have time to blog about things.  Of course, the dearth of posts on my Facebook page doesn't speak well for my use of my time either.  But I digress.)  In her note (entited "Life With Trig: Sarah Palin on Raising a Special-Needs Child"), Gov. Palin paints an almost-idyllic picture of the blessing her son Trig has been to her and her family.  (Note to readers:  You might want to follow my example and not read the comments...as usual, some of Newsweek's readers have displayed what appears to be a typical (for them) hatred.  Yes, I did read a couple of comments, and then I forced myself to stop, as they all appeared to be coming from a hive mind afflicted severely with Palin Derangement Syndrome.)

An example of what seems to have set Mr. Scarry and a bunch of angry commenters off:

God knew what he was doing when he blessed us with Trig. We went from fear of the unknown to proudly displaying a bumper sticker sent to us that reads: “My kid has more chromosomes than your kid!”

So, what in the world could someone who writes for a conservative site such as The Blaze have against Sarah Palin gushing, as any decent mother would, about her young son?  Well, Mr. Scarry got it into his mind, somehow, that Gov. Palin was supposed to be writing about Rick Santorum, who has his own special-needs child.  She wasn't, but Mr. Scarry based his four-paragraph rant (entitled "Somehow, Santorum’s family troubles relate to Sarah Palin") on this incorrect premise.  Hey, why fact-check this stuff when you can score cheap points against Sarah Palin, right?

A sample of his comments:

For more perspective, the names “Rick” and “Santorum” appear three times total and are all found in the first paragraph. The word “my,” in reference to Palin herself, appears 15 times throughout the rest. I didn’t bother searching for “I” and “I’ve.”

Thankfully, many people tried to correct the record about the reasoning behind Gov. Palin's piece.  Notable among these was Stacy Drake:

Now, while this blog does not care for the last term of endearment Ms. Drake used, it certainly did not deserve Mr. Scarry's response (courtesy Big Journalism, since Mr. Scarry has since whitewashed the following tweet):

(there used to be an image of a tweet calling Stacy Drake "whore" here, but it has since disappeared from Big Journalism's site)

I wonder how The Blaze's founder, one Glenn Beck, feels about that response.  I'm hoping he's a bit upset about it, but at this point, who knows?

Regardless, of course, Ms. Drake was right, as evidenced by the Huffington Post piece she linked:

[A] Daily Beast spokesperson says the Palin piece was assigned last week following the news that Rick Santorum's daughter, Bella, had been hospitalized and he was briefly leaving the campaign trail.

"We asked Sarah Palin if she would like to share her personal story about life with a child with special needs upon learning about Senator Santorum's decision last week to place his campaign on hold to be with his daughter," the spokesperson emailed. 

I couldn't sum up the issue any better than John Nolte at Big Journalism:

In other words, in the wake of what happened to Bella Santorum, Newsweek reached out to Sarah Palin — and I’m going to repeat this carefully for the Beck-impaired — to… share… her… personal… story… about… life… with… a… child… with… special… needs…

So what is Sarah Palin guilty of here? Writing the piece she was asked to write.

But what is The Blaze guilty of here? Again, telling a lie of omission and, just like Wonkette and Andrew Sullivan, using Palin’s family as a weapon against her. After nearly four years, this tactic is well-honed and easy to spot. Anytime the Governor writes about or speaks of or is seen with her family, some bottom-feeder weaponizes the event, weaponizes her own family, to beat her senseless with. And that’s exactly what The Blaze did.

As it turns out, though, Mr. Scarry has now added the following to his rant, which he left untouched otherwise:

UPDATE: Many Palin supporters have read this post and taken issue with the fact that it does not mention Palin was actually asked by “Newsweek” to write about her experience raising a special needs child. She did not approach the publication and that is a crucial piece of information that should have been included for BLAZE readers.

This post was a brief analysis of the perception I, among others, had of Palin contributing to a magazine she regularly criticizes. And though my thoughts on Palin’s column still stand, it‘s also important to acknowledge that Palin’s experience raising her son Trig is a fascinating story and is worth a read in her book “Going Rogue.” –Eddie Scarry, Eddie@theblaze.com

Some of the above does not ring true.  Mr. Scarry devoted one throwaway phrase ("a magazine she loves to hate") in his initial rant to the idea of Gov. Palin writing for Newsweek after having slammed it.  No, Mr. Scarry, the original post was a brief assumption that Gov. Palin had made something all about her when, in your mind, it should not have been.  The problem, of course, is that Gov. Palin's piece was indeed supposed to be about her own family, and you still haven't acknowledged that you were flat-out wrong about it.

But, as has increasingly been the case, facts don't seem to matter to those who want to take down Sarah Palin.  And a lot of the Palin-hatred, unfortunately, is coming from our own side.

Update:  Welcome, Conservatives4Palin readers!