Thursday, November 6, 2008

"I want you"...So?


Now that everyone's all done with the election and hopefully moving on, I want to say something about voting. While Uncle Sam might want me, he gives me no good reason to actually follow him. Everyone runs around yelling about the election...mostly yelling at me because I refuse to vote or register to vote or have anything to do with voting.

"But it's your sacred right as a citizen!"
"But you could cast the deciding vote!"
"But-but...that's just un-American!"
And so much more.

A person I knew once told me that I had the "yes, but syndrome": every fact someone tells me that I don't like, I respond by saying something to the effect of "yes, but...". For example, "You should drink less water." Response: "Yeah, but water is good for you," or something to that effect.
That's what you're doing when you say those things.

Think logically for a second. Logically as in the way you're SUPPOSED to think...the way political scientists assume you think (even though you apparently don't). Why take time (on a weekday, no less), gas money and the possibility of getting caught in the rain to go stand in line for a couple of hours to become one of the millions of people who are, at that very moment, casting the deciding vote in a system that's so skewed even if you were destined to cast the deciding vote, it wouldn't matter because someone like Bush would come along and bring politics into the equation? Funny, how that works out, isn't it?

So I hope you really enjoyed voting on Tuesday. I was taking a nap.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Nothing comes for free, not even candy!

Remember those days when you would dress up in scary/adorable costumes (gender dependent) and go trick-or-treating with your friends in groups of 10 or 20 to beg neighbors for free candy? And it was actually acceptable? Well, not any more.

Granted I'm probably a little old for trick-or-treating and my constant diet implies I'm not going to eat the candy anyway, but the idea of getting to knock on strangers doors, mutter some construed rhyme, receive a handful of free candy, and have all of that be socially acceptable is just too enticing to pass up. So I use my ten-year-old brother as an excuse to continue the tradition. Usually, we get a couple pieces of candy from each house, some better quality than most (there's always those stingy people, right?). Then there's the people whose dogs run out and sniff your butt, which is always uncomfortable. All in all, the free candy makes everything worth it, kind of like old-age hospitality in the new century (think along the lines of baking cookies for the new neighbors).

But not this year. Safety issues aside, poor trick-or-treating yield is yet another hidden consequence of the economic crisis, which is quickly turning into a social crisis as the presidential candidates race to the finish line with polar ideas on who deserves the tax cuts and who deserves the increase. Could the simple, all-american tradition of begging for candy be yet another perk of US culture removed by the recent market crashes? A microcosm of what's to come perhaps?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Practice what you preach

Here's an email I received a few days ago supposedly directly from Joe Biden. And he even knows my name! *fake sarcastic gasp*
Mehak -- 

The McCain campaign is on the ropes, and sadly it's no surprise they're responding with attacks and outright lies.

I've heard some pretty unspeakable things in the past few days -- deeply offensive smears that we'll hear over and over again until Election Day.

John McCain and Governor Palin are setting a new low in presidential politics with their dishonorable campaign.

Barack and I are out there every day fighting back. But we need your help.

Make a donation of $5 or more right now to show John McCain and Governor Palin that when they attack us with lies and smears, it literally makes our campaign stronger.

After last night's debate, it's clear why John McCain doesn't want to talk about the issues facing ordinary Americans -- especially the economy, which his own advisers admit he can't talk about without losing.

Barack won last night by offering clear plans to rebuild our economy from the bottom up, lower healthcare costs, and end the war in Iraq responsibly.

McCain tried to push more of the same disastrous Bush administration policies -- more tax cuts for the wealthy and giant corporations, deregulating the healthcare industry and taxing employer-based healthcare plans, and continuing to spend $10 billion a month in Iraq.

So what's left for the McCain campaign? Negative attacks and lies.

And it's even worse from some of the well-funded outside groups supporting McCain, whose sole purpose is tearing Barack down with smears.

Instead of focusing on the issues that really matter, our opponents are doing everything they can to encourage this toxic atmosphere.

We cannot stand by and let them get away with it.

We need to increase the cost of these desperate tactics for McCain's campaign. Please make a donation of $5 or more right now:

Thanks for your support,
So, let me get this straight. Joe Biden, Obama's running mate, is emailing me smears, slurs and accusations against McCain with a FORM letter asking me to give them money to stop McCain from using smears and slurs.
What happened to the American dream?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Screw college, I want to learn something

There's this place at the corner of my mind where I want to care about what's going on around me. Where I want to understand what that funny haired man is blabbering about. I haven't felt that tug in a long time and I don't know what to do with it anymore.
I thought, ever since I graduated, that there was nothing left to learn, in the academic sphere anyway. Or, rather, nothing left worth learning. Now, I find myself wanting to learn, just for the sake of knowing more, but there's nothing. I want these people to teach me something new, tell me something I don't already know, but they don't. They tell me everything I've heard before. 

They give me long sets of numbers to memorize --the value of this, the rate of that--but they never tell me what the numbers mean, where they come from, why they are what they are. Isn't that what matters in the end? Knowing WHY rather than WHAT? But, in this world, it's all about the whats, isn't it? Who has the highest pay, who has the highest grade, who accomplishes the most, weighs the least...

And so my mind wanders. I go to class for the physical exercise I get walking there. I take the tests like a robot. Is that what our universities are producing? Breathing robots, number spewers that can't make educated decisions about the things that really matter to them? Is that really what I'm paying for? It doesn't seem right.  

And people on the street complain when people in the big house screw up. What else are they supposed to do going to institutes of higher education that don't even educate them? Don't teach them applications, only numbers. Lots of numbers.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's a bird, it's a! It's Superbama!

At least that's what it felt like when  I went to go see Obama at Michigan State today. Don't ask me why I went. It was mainly because I felt I needed the exercise (that is, after all, why I go to class) and there's no exercise like walking straight down Grand River in the rain and getting splashed on by cars. In all seriousness, though, I went because I had heard he was a great orator and...I wanted to judge for myself. What I found was a little more than I had bargained for. 

The line, I expected. The hustle and bustle, I expected. The $2.00 bottles of, chalk it up to capitalism. But what was with the metal detectors? And the frisking. Isn't that a little extreme? Plus they stole my water bottle. They didn't even steal the bottle on the plane (just made me dump out the liquid). But, for Mr. Obama, the whole bottle's gotta go. So much for his environmental initiatives. 

Those are still individualized complaints though. Specific to me. What really got to me was the way the whole thing was set up. It was a "get more voters" fest with undertones of a party. With "change" signs everywhere. There was music. And dancing. Like a "pre-show". Want to know what the "during-show" was? People were climbing on the porter potties to catch a glimpse of him. And one fell down (a potty, not a person). While someone was in it. Needless to say, I didn't stick around for the "post-show". 

I don't think people would have been more rowdy if Obama were 50-cent rapping away on that platform. When did presidential campaigning turn into a concert with the singer's lyrics focusing on issues he doesn't even support in reality (see bottle rant above)? I guess it was around the same time people started caring more about the VP's daughter's pregnancy status than the VP's leadership abilities...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Public university" doesn't mean publicly aware

It's a little (if not extremely) sad that I'm in a university where I'm bombarded by people asking me to register to vote (some guy came by my Journalism class today and gave us a 20 minute spiel about it) but I still have to get my news from Time Magazine/the internet/my dad (recently). Why is no one talking about the financial crisis?! 

I wonder if all universities are like this. Or is it just Michigan State? *waves to college readers out there* If you're reading, comment and tell me whether or not your campus is buzzing with morbidity over the onset of the next Great Depression. 

Now I'm being morbid!

So why aren't we talking about it? Is it because we're scared? Isolated? Or do we have better things to worry about? If it's option c, that's scary: the future of this country lies in the hands of 30,000 students more concerned about this weekend's football game than the economy's meltdown. 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

(Wall) Streets paved with gold (it's really plastic, but who cares until the paint chips?)

My mom called me yesterday. She said my dad was stressed out because Merrill Lynch declared bankruptcy. I was driving (please don't hurt me mom). I almost hit the guy in front of me. I felt the need to confirm. My mom repeated: "Dad's really stressed out." Me: "THAT'S nothing new, I meant the other part." Mom: "Merrill Lynch declared bankruptcy." scccreeeeeechhh (my brakes).

Of course, my mom, being the bread maker instead of earner in the family, got it wrong. Merrill Lynch did not declare bankruptcy...they were bought by Bank of America. I guess I can see how that works: bankruptcy, Bank of America, what's the difference? A lot less than first meets the eye. 

So I rushed back to my apartment, called my dad. No answer. Called again. No answer. Called again. Got yelled at by my dad. Realized there were other places to get information. Turned on the computer. Internet was broken (serves me right for trying to get free internet). Screamed in frustration. Picked up my Time Magazine. Thank God for Time Magazine. On the cover, in bold letters, were the exact words I wanted to see: How Wall Street Sold Out America. I read the article. I didn't understand very much, so I read it again. I'll let you read it for yourself because it's too much to explain here.

Basically, add hubris to greed, pinch of ignorance (or handful, really) and bake it all in a governmental laissez-faire plan and you've got the heart of the current financial crisis. The government bailed AIG out, but watch Lehman Bros. collapse. How far are they going to let this go? Who's the next one to fall? More importantly, who's the next one that's going to get bailed out and how much is it going to cost America this time around?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

From houseboat to mostly house with a dash of boat

There's a new trend emerging in Holland. Thanks to, yours truly, global warming (*frustration* it's climate change!). These new houses, currently small in number, are, quite possibly the houses of the future because they solve the problem of flooding. According to many climatologists, if we stopped producing all carbon right now, we would still be underwater-eventually-but, if we continue to live the way we do ("business as usual")...let's not go there (think Noah's Ark -- times 30). But I digress.

The main point, that we can either change our lifestyles or change our coping strategies, is what Holland is focusing on. Since the probability of drastic globally social and economic change in the next x number of years is, um *opens calculator, realizing it is unnecessary* zero, the only option is to change our coping strategies (or move to Mars, but who wants to be dissected by aliens or become morbidly obese like in Wall-E?)

So how do these "floating houses" work? They're built on a foundation, already underwater, that's made out of buoyant materials. That way, when it floods, the houses still float, just higher up. But, wait! Don't hop into your SUV guilt-free just yet! What about all the developing countries (like India and Bangladesh)? Or, more importantly, what about the US: New Orleans didn't have floating houses and I highly doubt Florida's getting them anytime soon, not to mention that floating the Toys 'R' Us in Times Square (complete with ferris wheel) is really going to raise the price of those cheap plastic toys your kid/dog/deranged aunt is chewing on right now.

What do you think? Is this a better idea than decreasing our consumption of grocery store bags and increasing our recycling efficiency? Is this really where scientists' and innovators' energy should be going? Or is there something better that can be done? 

Check out the npr article:

Monday, September 22, 2008

A little reassurance

I can't remember who said this, but it gives a little hope in a world full of people who smile while pulling the trigger:

Be nobody but yourself in a world that's doing its best to make you just
like everyone else.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Global Warming, no, wait, I'm sorry, "Climate Change" and fat people

That's a big pet peeve of my journalism professor. "It's not global warming! It's climate change!" Okay, well, I'm sorry...but I guess that comes with the professional territory. 

All political correctness aside (did I ever say I was politically correct?), I just ran across a little known study done by a professor at the University of Illinois that said...wait for it...

wait for it...

obesity causes global warming (it's climate change!)

So not only are fat people hated by Allah (see The Medicine of the Prophet, a supplement to The Koran), but they are also causing climate change *is proud for remembering the politically correct term*

So if you're looking for another reason to go around and promote Obama, you can tell people he causes significantly less climate change than McCain does. 

In case you don't believe it (I wouldn't!), here's a link to The New York Times article discussing the study and it's "implications":

Friday, September 19, 2008

Why don't more people vote?

That was a bumper sticker on facebook. So true. 

Naturally, being a college student in Michigan (which has somehow become a "swing state" what?!), I can't walk more than 20 feet without being assaulted by someone asking me if I have a) registered to vote; b) would like to register at that very moment (although it should be quite obvious from my panting that I'm already late); and c) how I could be such an anti-American, pro-whatever the opposing candidate is rallying for. All as I'm missing very important lectures on elephants, "alien" boxes, and $100/hr minimum wages (but that's another story). 

This is the main problem with campaigning. I always want to stop, look at those people and say one of two things: a) go jump of that bridge over there and leave me alone or b) what if I voted for *insert opposing candidate's name here* (so tell the Obama recruiters I would vote for McCain)? But that would just be mean. 

And a waste of my breath.

So what is it about this election that makes me NOT want to vote. I think it's mainly that I have a choice between Mr. "Change" and Mr. I'm going to pick a vice based on her appearance (I swear, that was the only comment my mother gave when she saw Palin -- at least she's pretty). 

Then there's this whole thing about Brittany or Bristol or whatever the hell her name is. No, New York Times/USA Today/TIME/*insert newspaper/periodical name here*, I don't really care if Sarah Palin's daughter had a kid. Unless you're going to sit up there (God forbid McCain is elected) and give Congress parenting lessons, it's not really going to be an issue for me. 

Now your policy on oil drilling...that's another story.

Flax Wraps

I love these things. They're perfect for dieters: low-carb, low-calorie, low-fat...whatever bandwagon you've hopped on. Diabetics. Sandwich-freaks. And people who hate destroying the environment with Ziploc bags. 

And the best thing is *pause for dramatic effect* 
they're edible. (I know, amazing, right?)

My favorite way to eat these is as "nachos," five minute nachos, to be exact (or 10 if you obsessively measure everything like I do).

Mekkie's 5-minute nachos
1 flax wrap (or two, or three, whatever)*
paper towel
nacho toppings (I like bean dip, fat free cheddar, 0% fage yogurt, and salsa)

Take a flax wrap, put it on a paper towel, microwave it for 1 minute (in my microwave anyway), flip it over, microwave it for another minute until it's hard. 
Break it into pieces and arrange on a plate. 
Put whatever toppings you want hot/melted on the broken pieces.
Put the rest of the toppings on.
Eat. Chew. get the idea
*Note: this works with any tortilla as well. 

That was me trying to make a pathetically simple "recipe" seem worth being called a recipe. 


If you've ever been to England, I'm sure you've heard of Boot's Pharmacy, i.e. the pharmacy on crack. Why crack? I don't know, you'll have to ask the person who said that to me. 

Anyway, while I was there studying this past summer, I, in all my wisdom, decided I didn't want a meal plan (who wants to eat Cambridge dorm food anyway?) so I was forced to, every day for two months, go hunt down 2 meals "in town". 

This is where Boot's comes in. Boot's, unlike the famed CVS or Walgreens, has sandwiches (and a better name, if you ask me). Not only are these sandwiches vegetarian, low-calorie and just all around delicious, but for a measly *gasp* 2.99 pounds, one receives a sandwich (or salad or something else that wasn't worth getting), a "snack" (pineapples with coconut-mango dip for example), AND a drink (diet coke, of course). I was addicted. 

Just like crack. 
Or diet coke. But that's another post. 

So, in an effort to make sure I was able to recreate an exact replica of my pharmacy sandwiches, I ripped the ingredient labels off of all three (there were three vegetarian varieties) and, attempted, rather obsessively, to calculate the exact amount of each ingredient (based on the percentages listed by weight). It didn't go so well. 

But, just in case anyone else wants to try to get the perfect balance, here're the ingredients for one of the more exotic sandwiches:

Thin Lizzie (what a fun name)
bread (obviously)
smoked tofu
chili jam (which is depressingly hard to find, unless, I hear, you live in the south)
rocket (arugula, which very few people at the grocery store can actually identify)
alfalfa sprouts

If anyone ever wants to meet me for lunch to help me figure this out, that would be really great. We'll go to Boot's.