Friday, November 21, 2008

Obama's Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy

A little bit o'Friday humor:

Obama's Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy
Andy Borowitz

In the first two weeks since the election, President-elect Barack Obama has broken with a tradition established over the past eight years through his controversial use of complete sentences, political observers say.

Millions of Americans who watched Mr. Obama's appearance on CBS's 60 Minutes on Sunday witnessed the president-elect's unorthodox verbal tic, which had Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opened his mouth.

But Mr. Obama's decision to use complete sentences in his public pronouncements carries with it certain risks, since after the last eight years many Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring.

According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota, some Americans might find it "alienating" to have a president who speaks English as if it were his first language.

"Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in agreement," says Mr. Logsdon. "If he keeps it up, he is running the risk of sounding like an elitist."

The historian said that if Mr. Obama insists on using complete sentences in his speeches, the public may find itself saying, "Okay, subject, predicate, subject predicate -- we get it, stop showing off."

The president-elect's stubborn insistence on using complete sentences has already attracted a rebuke from one of his harshest critics, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

"Talking with complete sentences there and also too talking in a way that ordinary Americans like Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder can't really do there, I think needing to do that isn't tapping into what Americans are needing also," she said.

Andy Borowitz is a comedian and writer whose work appears in The New Yorker and The New York Times, and at his award-winning humor site,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We Remember November 18, 1999

Nine years ago today, the Texas A&M Bonfire collapsed, killing 12 students and injuring more than two dozen others. I can’t believe so many years have passed.

I was a freshman living on-campus November 18, 1999 at 2:42 am. It was push week, and students were working round the clock leading up to the night before the t.u. game when Bonfire would burn. I was actually supposed to be out there working on the stack the night it fell. I remember planning to go, but then something else came up. It’s strange, but I can’t remember exactly what I did that night instead…I have an excellent memory (which is both a blessing and a curse) and can recall quite a bit about my days in College Station, but this night escapes me. I think I went to watch an intramural game and then hung out with friends. What I do remember is getting home around 2 am and walking down my dorm hallway, thinking that I should have gone to work on Bonfire and wondering if I could squeeze it in another night that week.

The next thing I remember is the phone waking me up around 5 am. It was a friend from back home who lived a few buildings over, and she was calling to tell me there had been some kind of Bonfire accident and another friend of ours from home was scheduled to be working there overnight with his squadron and we didn’t know where he was or if he was alright. Luckily, within a few hours we had located him and he was fine. The same could not be said for 12 others that morning.

I—like the rest of Bryan-College Station—spent the morning on the phone. I didn’t have a cell phone back then and so my dorm phone was jammed all day with calls from friends and family from around the country.

This incredibly sad time was my introduction to the amazing spirit of the Aggie Family. As the days went on and we learned the final number of casualties and started to come to grips with what had happened, my parents urged me to come home. Didn’t I want to get away from all the death and sadness? Didn’t I want to rest at home with my family? No. The honest truth was that the only place I wanted to be in the world at that time was College Station, TX. I wanted to be with my Aggie Family. With people who understood what I was feeling and could comfort me without even having to say a word. I remember going to the first memorial service on-campus at Reed Arena that week. Even after the official service had ended, people just stayed and linked arms and sang “Amazing Grace” a ccapella for what felt like hours.

We Aggies have a saying about our traditions and spirit: “From the outside looking in you can’t understand...from the inside looking out you can’t explain it.” And that’s exactly how I felt during this tragedy. I have never been more proud to be a part of the Aggie Family and I still have that pride today every time someone notices my ring, or asks me where I went to school, or mentions “that school with that Bonfire.”

Today we remember those 12 fallen Aggies: Miranda Denise Adams; Christopher D. Breen; Michael Stephen Ebanks; Jeremy Richard Frampton; Jamie Lynn Hand; Christopher Lee Heard; Timothy Doran Kerlee, Jr; Lucas John Kimmel; Bryan A. McClain; Chad A. Powell; Jerry Don Self; and Nathan Scott West.

There's a spirit can ne'er be told and it's the Spirit of Aggieland.

Monday, November 3, 2008

1 Fish, 2 Fish, Red Sex, Blue Sex

This week's New Yorker features a piece on why so many evangelical teens become pregnant. As someone who participated in the "True Love Waits" campaign in high school and now works for a national pro-choice group, I found this article particularly interesting.

A few quick things that stood out from Dept. of Disputation: Red Sex, Blue Sex that I don't have time to comment on tonight:

  • "Social liberals in the country’s “blue states” tend to support sex education and are not particularly troubled by the idea that many teen-agers have sex before marriage, but would regard a teen-age daughter’s pregnancy as devastating news. And the social conservatives in “red states” generally advocate abstinence-only education and denounce sex before marriage, but are relatively unruffled if a teen-ager becomes pregnant, as long as she doesn’t choose to have an abortion."
  • "During the campaign, the media has largely respected calls to treat Bristol Palin’s pregnancy as a private matter." Funny how it's a private matter only if a woman carries a pregnancy to term...

  • "Bearman and Br├╝ckner have also identified a peculiar dilemma: in some schools, if too many teens pledge [to remain abstinent until marriage], the effort basically collapses. Pledgers apparently gather strength from the sense that they are an embattled minority; once their numbers exceed thirty per cent, and proclaimed chastity becomes the norm, that special identity is lost."