Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Election 2008: The World Weighs In

The Guardian (a UK post) recently published this survey of various countries throughout the world. If the people of these respective countries were to vote in OUR election, who would win? Well, the article tells you the answer, so go ahead and read it yourself. It's pretty interesting. The article continues on about how the information was collected, so you may want to consider that as well in respect of the findings.

However, I've seen a couple other similar surveys with pretty much the same findings, so it wasn't really the big question of WHO they'd vote for that surprised me, but some of the answers to other questions asked, such as:

How would you describe the actual relations between your country and the USA?

% of from each country reporting relations are positive:
Canada: 43%
France: 38%
Switzerland: 20%
Poland: 43%
Japan: 16%
Mexico: 23%
Great Britain: 49%

% of from each country reporting relations are neutral or tense: 
Canada: 43%
France: 64%
Switzerland: 73%
Poland: 53%
Japan: 81%
Mexico: 71%
Great Britain: 48% 


I first am surprised that Japan hates us so much! haha. I mean I always figured they loved Americans, which I think they DO like our pop culture, but maybe not so much our methods politically? Japanese people are smart folks! They go to school for like 20 hrs a day, 6 days a week! So listen up to them! :) Maybe they are mad about those nasty bombs we dropped...I would be too! They were unnecessary...I digress.

I am equally pleased that GB doesn't hate us terribly. In fact, I think they have one of the more positive outlooks on us, but still, consider that 49% favoring us isn't AMAZING either. 

Anyways, I hope we can take from this that we have some foreign relations to work on. This is one of the most important things for me in the next 4 years, because I truly believe we've been a little arrogant over the past few years. Example: As soon as the Iraq War was announced, there was quite a bit of backlash from the French. The citizens disagreed with our decision, and the government wanted no part in the war. Well, what did middle-Americans do? They started boycotting French goods, such as champagne, and called the French all sorts of sissy names, accusing them of being wooses, simply because they didn't want to get involved in the debacle that most Americans now feel was problematic. No offense, but the French have seen their fair share of the devastation war; WWII took part on their very own soil. I don't think it's a mistake to shy away from war if you've experienced it that closely. Surely we did too, but not as Europe did. Anyways, my point is, there is going to come a day in which we can't do this on our own anymore. We're going to be strapped, and desperate for the assistance of allies, but it may not arrive if we haven't taken care to secure good relations.

Just saying! 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Beauty Shop Robbery's A Drag

Read this story and then follow: Beauty Shop Robbery's A Drag

We all have weird families, but not everyone can say that the man in that article reminds them of their great-Oncle Hans. In 1999, when my grandmother passed away, Hans came calling, and as sad as he was about my grandma's passing, I think he might have been calling for more important reasons. He first noticed my ravishing older sister, Jenn, who at the time was only about 20, and took great interest in getting to know her (I'm sure she wasn't so interested, but ya never know!).

Hans then inquired about perhaps borrowing one of my grandma's wigs, since she obviously didn't need them anymore. My mom asked Hans why he wanted a wig, and he replied that he wanted to dress up as a woman to his favorite eating establishment, Chuck-O-Rama, because the last time he had gone there, the waitress wasn't so fond of him hitting on her, so he got banned from eating there period. He already had the dress from his long-ago-deceased wife, but evidently needed a hairpiece to complete the ensemble.

Well, he didn't get to borrow the wig, but I have no doubts that he managed to put something creative together for himself. Hans is definitely colorful, and there are many stories about his escapades, but very few match the cross-dressing-to-go-to-Chuck-o-Rama story...EXCEPT....

Last year, my Oncle Pete was in the grocery store, when he ran into one of Hans' daughters. Being that that side of my family is from Germany, the woman didn't speak very good English, but they stumbled through an update from each others' lives. Pete asked how Hans was doing, and she responded that he had died a few months ago. Well, of course, this offended half the family, as no one had been invited to the funeral or even notified that he'd died. So most of the family were convinced they would not talk to that part of the family ever again for not even giving the courtesy of telling us of Hans' death. Everyone was sad, and we thought fondly of the memory of Hans's cross-dressing extravaganza.

A few months go by, and one day, my Tante Rita (Oncle Pete's wife) gets a phone call, and on the other side of the phone is Hans. She's like "Hans? What the crap?" And he carries on for some time about something or other totally unrelated to anything, asking to borrow something or I dunno. haha. Well, she was no doubt tempted to ask him "Why aren't you dead?", but opted instead to call another one of his daughters and ask what the deal was. 

Apparently, the daughter who told Pete that Hans had died, was confused in the conversation and thought he meant someone entirely different who had indeed died.

Families rock. 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Heat of the Moment

I just overheard a conversation between some STUDENTS AT BYU about Prop 8, and here's what one suggested: "We should make a state for all the gay people to go to and they can just be isolated there...blah blah blah...and then we should nuke it". 

Students at an institution of higher education for one, but people that believe in being Christ-like? Just another example of how people all too often lose sight of what their religion is even about. Instead of loving everyone (despite their imperfections), it's all about maintaining some rigid, insensible law of sterility.

I guess we forgot that the law once had an extermination order for Mormons and that didn't make any of our ancestors feel to good, to the point where we still cry about the mistreatment today. The fact that the students with this one laughed and agreed that this should occur is not even surprising at this school. 

AFTER-I-COOLED-DOWN-EDIT: I should just clarify that this is not aimed towards ALL BYU students, as I know that a good percentage of them would never make such a hurtful, pathetic statement. However, I do feel that this feeling is all-too prevalent at "The Lord's Institution", and that of all places, it should not be tolerated here. Conservativism (sp?) does not mean you have to be bigoted, right?

All said, I am still annoyed that that conversation even took place. Even if it was meant in jest, would you ever make a joke like that if you liked a group of people? If you said that about Asians, would you just turn around and say "it was a joke, I really like Asians"...No, why would you ever say that in the first place? 

BYU students need to be aware of who is listening, and how their ignorant statements can really hurt people. What if someone who had a family member that was gay, was listening? Or a gay person him/herself? We are at BYU but that doesn't mean people don't deal with this issue on  a daily basis.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Get out there and Shop!

So apparently, retail sales dropped 1.2% in September, which doesn't seem that much, but it's the biggest drop in 3 years! :( Now, I encourage everyone to go out there and do your economy some justice by going shopping! I cannot deny that I love to shop (as long as it doesn't involve Cabela's), and quite frankly would be pleased to help out our economy. Unfortunately there's this thing called Money, and I have none. This reminds me of when the government gave us money last spring to help the economy. It is no secret that I did indeed spend mine, but I have to wonder what good it did since here we are, worse-off than before. I'm not going to complain if the gov't wants to give me free money (after all they gave wall street $700billion, so that should mean I deserve at least $10,000), but I have to laugh that just like everyone predicted, that extra tax money didn't do anything. Except allow me to shop! 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Gay Rights

Ok so as long as I can remember, my conscience has always told me that gay people weren't quite as "evil" as people often make them out to be, and that they deserve equal rights. This has been pretty difficult to reconcile with my religion, one that believes that being gay is a sin. Over the years I have maintained that even though the church will never feel the way I do, I still feel that gay people should still have equal rights, since we our government does, after all, believe in this idea of "separation of church and state" - particularly if they are born this way (and a BYU professor recently held a symposium that proved this is mostly the case). 

The other night, I felt really overcome because I was thinking about how I never had any gay friends growing up, neither any close gay relatives, and even though now I have a few gay friends, they never influenced my opinion on the matter, but even still, I've always felt strongly about this issue. It's weird, why do I care so much? I believe that there is a reason why I am supposed to be an advocate for equal rights, just as I feel, if I had been born in any other era, I would have fought women's rights, black rights, etc. I don't know what my purpose is, but I know there is one, and if nothing else, I know I shouldn't be quiet about this issue. 

But going back to religion, now the LDS church (my church) is spending millions of tithe-payer dollars to fight gay marriage in California, even though really the only big difference between civil unions (which they're o.k. with according to their official site, preservingmarriage.org) and marriage, is the term "marriage". Now it may also be mentioned that the church's policy is generally not to get involved in politics ("we do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government..." d&c 134:9) , and so I am like, well why now, why this matter? I may also add that in many countries like England, the government doesn't even deal with marriage, they just deal with civil unions, then you go to the temple and get your marriage (see mormonsformarriage.com) so, the government civil union doesn't even affect the religious marriage. They are entirely different. 

Now, I must say this is hurtful, especially to see the church that I love so much, fight against another thing I am very passionate about. I cannot tell my conscience how to feel, and I doubt I would ever forgive myself if I tried to change my conscience. But, if I don't agree with the church's opinion, or if I say, fight against Prop 8, then I am participating in activities that are  against the church's teachings, which is wrong. But how can I not when the church is now going to make a name for itself in the world where if I talk to my friends that are gay, they will say "you belong to that church that wants me to be a second-class citizen, that I am not worthy of marriage because of how I was born". I mean, take a tiger and try to say it can't have stripes- impossible right? Well, one would reply, it's because he's born that way- well, gay people are born a way too, and just b/c it's not a part of your skin, doesn't mean it can be changed. Or tell a straight person they have to be gay- wouldn't work, I can't be gay, so why expect a gay person to be straight?

ANYWAYS, I just feel weird about the whole thing, but the one thing that has brought me a little comfort is knowing that I need to put my pride aside and say that God knows all things, he knows why this is happening, he knows it all. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" (Isaiah 55:8). For me to think that I could understand God's way, would be to say that I am on the same level of a God, and let's be honest, that would be straight up blasphemous. So, I don't know why this is happening, but I need to have faith that it will all work out. I haven't stopped hoping that Prop 8 will fail, but I couldn't do that even if I tried and lied to myself- because God would still know my thoughts. When I see all these celebrities contributing to the No on Prop 8 campaign, I feel excited deep down. I can't help it, and somehow I don't think God will blame me for wanting equal rights for all, especially on an issue about love. But, I concede that I cannot criticize my leaders, because they probably don't want to be in this tough spot either -they probably don't want to be criticized by others for these efforts, but it is for a purpose that I don't know.

I hope his makes sense.