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April 12, 2009

Bluntly, there is no other way to express where I have been the past six months besides the words: “I screwed up.”

In a nutshell, I suddenly abandoned my healthy readership, and disappeared into my supposed alibi consisting of sad excuses of overloading homework and events. I took a break, fiddled with a possible culturedecoded.com, and ended up less than I started with. And although I understand that most likely some of you — my readers — may not read my work again, I want to apologize for my naive pause from blogging and come back just as I left Culture Deocded. 

An overwhelming amount of events have occurred in the political world as I have left, and I want to discuss them as soon as possible. A President Barack Obama has taken countless actions to bring the free world back to where it once was, some of which I disagree with and some of which I agree with. Iraq has remained a focal point in the middle east, and there is still question in the air over when american troops will really pull out. Somalian pirates have put a fixture in the previously quiet Gulf of Aden, and America is torn over what actions should be taken. The president has purchased a long awaited dog, and Vice President Biden has taken swings at Karl Rove, and the press is taking sides.

As far as the status of the blog, I encourage all of you visiting and returning to leave comments on what you think about the issue at hand. A successful blog is not just written by the author, but by its readers, and if you contribute, there will be very interesting conversations for a long time. 

So without further ado, I will continue where I left off, and work as hard as possible to initiate political discussions that will benefit everyone.

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An interesting point was raised in a past comment section by Huxbux, who questioned that the recently news-absorbing election wasn’t as unique as it has been perceived to have been. 

This past election was in itself extremely fragile, but in my view held a surprising turnout as far as the political paths both campaigns took. 

Previously I analyzed a surprisingly accurate quote in conclusion of both parties’ conventions, reading:

“The party that can’t lose [Dem.] has nominated a candidate that can’t win, and the party that can’t win [Rep.] has nominated a candidate that can’t lose.”

This quote’s accuracy, however, flows directly against reality. The McCain campaign was in its entirety a momentum stricken campaign with one weakness: the party and president it was overshadowed by. But what proved to be a more or less fatal flaw and now a strategic focal point, McCain essentially played away from his original advantage — and into the hands of Barack Obama, the Economy and George Bush — via a relentless blacklash attack campaign and an obvious disregarding of past political strategy with a PR boost as a running mate. 

Obama Campaign

And this is precisely what game Barack Obama the political momentum he needed, and as it is said, the rest is history.

But in a completely different manner, I believe that the main reason Obama won is also the main reason that this historical election was indeed unique — Obama didn’t win purely on strategy, the most notable show of this being the youth. 

In short, never before has one political figure been so extremely accepted by the youth and never before has such a political barrier been placed between the youth, but most impressively — never before have I personally felt such an urgent and strong vibe within my surrounding classmates and school on any issue.

I think that if studied from a less strategic standpoint, Obama has truly been a transcending figure across the United States, and the globe for that matter, but his and this past election’s uniqueness has been shown almost completely by the youth.

On the morning of August 20, Barack Obama and John McCain were in a virtual dead heat for the White House.

Obama was five days away from the Democratic Nation Convention, where his campaign hoped to put in a press swing that would ride him through the GOP’s Convention. He was also riding up attention for his extremely anticipated Vice Presidential decision, as his anxious base and the country alike stood at a standstill. 

But as the infamous truth holds, none of this essentially played out — Sarah Palin was standing in the way.

Blanketing world news, Palin’s entrance to the global stage both wiped clean any and all publicity from Obama’s historic convention and in doing so started a “press wildfire,” exploding into the media for weeks, then months.

But now, as we look back on late August, the daunting shadow in our minds looms between McCain, the press, and the oval office — the polls. Gone from a dead heat to a widening eight point Obama lead, McCain’s promising late August media swing has seemed to backfire.

And as early ballots begin storming in, the McCain campaign finds themselves in a run against the media, the independents, and finally, against Sarah Palin.

Politics is an extremely fragile game in itself. Taunting some and seeming vague to others, political moves are to be perceived by opinion — the Sarah Palin pick being no different. 

As a thirteen year old not effected by voting week or polls, it is more or less clearer to see the strategic effect rather than the emotional toll, and in that respect I believe that the choice of Palin as running mate has essentially the snowball that has turned into an avalanche.

Palin’s political entrance in the McCain campaign put an extremely positive effect onto the conservative base, but in doing so moved the McCain campaign significantly to the right. 

In addition to strategically abandoning liberal Republican voters and the center, Palin opened the McCain campaign up for examination from almost every political side of the isle, detailing that Palin was the female form of President Bush — far right in many of her individual policies.

But what interests me is that the McCain campaign didn’t solely defend Palin, but set off an array of attack ads to the left, sending off the first signs of agitation from his campaign.

And as Obama simply defended them with response press statements and ads himself, the media simply caught on, causing many have accused the media of — bias. The Obama press endorsements kept racking up, backing the McCain campaign closer and closer to the wall. 

The press had caught the strategic unstableness of the McCain campaign, and simply reported it. McCain, in a deeper and deeper hole, executed the response that ultimately will keep him out of the oval office — more attack.

Strategic failure and a political gamble have brought the McCain campaign to their knees — and this is why, as the Fall leaves are raked off the street and world politics comes to a standstill on November 4th, we will see a President Obama elected.

Mixed feelings surround tomorrow’s (August 28, 2008) change in the MLB’s rule policy toward instant replay, which is noticeably only geared towards disputes on home runs. Most proclaim that its too little of a change, that baseball should suck it up and admit to the new age of technology, and forget all the old stuff. And very few, including me, argue the other way, claiming that baseball should stick to the original rules. 

Why? Baseball is all about the old stuff — the crack of the bat, the outdoors, the spitting on the ground like no one is looking, the game of gentlemen, the slow pace, the rain delays, and yes — the pile of chewed gum at the side of the dugout. But most of all, my favorite part about Baseball is letting the umpires call the shots. This game isn’t just like any other sport; its America’s pastime, and it deserves to be recreated every time the ball-players step onto the field. 

Personally, I am a huge fan of the JumboTron and its counterparts including Cricket and Tennis’s Hawkeye. Trust me as a die-hard Lakers fan, I’d die without correct calls, instant replay or not. But although Baseball isn’t exactly my forte, I can go this far — as a sports fan, and an American — the one sport that is ours entirely should stay entirely as it was meant to be, and if that answer is “old” — then so be it.

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Athlete 

n.

A person possessing the natural or acquired traits, such as strength, agility, and endurance, that are necessary for physical exercise or sports, especially those performed in competitive contexts.

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It’s been hovering around him since the opening ceremony, and now after he has shattered six world records and won seven of his seven entered races, there is no question to many sports fans and journalists alike that Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete ever to set foot on Earth. He has the three key components of a true athlete: strength, agility, and endurance, and he happens to compete in a sport that demands each of those traits. But is he really the best? I beg to differ.

There is no disputing that Phelps is the greatest swimmer ever, but some people need to seriously contemplate making a statement like this, which in my opinion is very premature. The world has only seen this guy for less than a week, and whatever he has managed to accomplish is admittedly extremely impressive, but the world has simply seen better out of a human being. It seems like in all this excitement the world has forgotten the flawless performances that have been displayed thus far in the world of sports ranging from Kobe Bryant’s 81 point performance, where relentless scoring met grace and agility, to Michael Jordan’s illustrious career. And who can forget Walter Payton’s mesmerizing speed and toughness in the dirty sport of American football and Usain Bolt’s recent world records with arguably the best sprinting ever showcased. And what about Pele, Gordie Howe, Magic Johnson, and the many others who really were sports during their era. 

And we keep forgetting the unknown sports that really showcase the most challenging and athletic ability — Big Mountain Skiing, Biatholan, the marathon, horse racing, gymnastics, and (my favorite) — parkour.

So is Michael Phelps the greatest athlete ever? It’s very hard to tell, and it all comes down to a long and hard thought by a well respected journalist. So who is the greatest athlete ever? David Belle. Look him up.

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Times have changed. Five years ago the war in Iraq was supposed to be already over, Time.com  claimed that the internet was too crowded (no, really?), and above all, gas prices were nearing an all time high at an outrageous $1.72 per gallon. So you could imagine how the garage wars around your neighborhoods were going, with one guy whipping out his 2003 Acura NSX, which (at the time) was one of the fastest cars in the world, and bragging about his 5.2 0-60 time. 

But sadly, times like that are far away from us now. The cars have gotten better and more expensive, and in a sense so has the oil. Ok, maybe not better, but you get the point. The grass will always be greener on the other side — like always — and now everyone wishes instead of buying that flashy Corvette, maybe they should have hung onto their good old 50 MPG VW Rabbit. 

Enter the hybrids. Victor Wouk’s genius creation turned hybrids and other green cars away from their hippie image, and suddenly they were as popular as bell bottoms in the late sixties. With streets flooded with brand new Prius’s, and a new EcoGeek community rapidly forming, it was suddenly cool to be an environmentalist again. 

Meanwhile, truck and performance companies like GM started their downfall. No one wanted a new Chevy Tahoe anymore, and despite valiant efforts to “green-a-tize” these gas-chugging trucks, GM’s popularity and credibility took a giant blow. Toyota and their squeaky clean factories dangled Detroit’s credibility right in front of them, mass producing their trademark cars at a fraction of the price it took Ford and GM to. So GM rallied back, trying the most sensible thing to do — fighting fire with fire — and creating a green car of their own. But what they came out with? It makes me think to myself: “What the are these idiots thinking?!” 

As you can see in the pictures, what GM failed to do here was make a car that could sell. In short, they sent Chuck Norris to a black-tie formal. What I mean by that is they planted themselves in a market that they had never experimented in, and because of that they couldn’t hold back, planting a sports car with gigantic shiny rims and a futuristic muscle tone to compete with a Prius. And that’s not going to sell. Sorry for offending anyone, but the average tree-hugging Prius driver would not exactly fair well with a high-performance electric sports car with bigger rims than Ice-Cube could ever dream of.

So its not going to sell. Plain and simple. GM went way too far with a good idea and tried for something new, inventive and sportsy for a car that is their future’s last ray of hope. So would I drive it? Well, first of all I can’t drive, but if I had a choice between a Prius and the Volt when I turn 16 in a world of horribly high gas prices, I would take the Chevy in a heartbeat. But I’m afraid that this wouldn’t be the choice of the average middle aged driver looking for a fuel-efficient car. So what do I think? GM just made a big mistake.

After two weeks in South America, daily reminders that I’ve been spoiled keep presenting themselves. But I had always thought that the skiing would be different. Trust me, after all that time I spent on vallenevado.com, many assuring thoughts entered my mind. The pictures on the site described not a resort, but a huge central lodge surrounded by mountains on all sides blanketed with powder, much like a volcano inside out (if you remember your 6th grade geometry). But after a rather frightening one and a half hour drive, which had more traverses than the Yankees have pennants, I was getting a bit skeptical. So as far as the actual skiing: I’ll quote Andy Roddick here: “It was horrible, it sucked. Otherwise it was great.” 

My point is the skiing here is not an exception to my spoiled points. The snow quality wasn’t great (I ski in Utah so that’s another world in itself), there was only one high speed lift, and to top it off it was extremely overcast which probably got me into a bad mood. But besides that, it was great. 

What I mean by this is the resort itself has great potential. First off, let me say Valle Nevado has a lot of terrain. South American ski resorts have a different mentality than the ones in the States and Canada — there are no rope lines. Everything out of the groomed runs are at your own risk, and that’s great. You don’t get your lift passes clipped from you, and most of the non-groomers end up at a lift, plus its a ghost town anywhere away from a groomed slope. But it’s not like you should stay away from the off-piste though, its amazing. Sadly we came too late (3 days after the storm) so we only found patches of the untracked stuff left. Here’s the video — bare with me on the on music…

But if you get bored with all the huge area that Valle Nevado offers, don’t worry — you have access to two other great resorts: La Parva and El Colorado — which border Nevado on both sides. So with a clear day and powder, you can have the day of your life here. And hopefully that’s what I am going to get in a matter of days — the weather man is calling for a meter of fresh snow. By that time I will be skiing in the famous Portillo resort, entirely in another direction. And hopefully then I will be able to see beyond a few feet in front of me. Well, we’re excited — I am writing this in the car smack dab in the center of Santiago our two hour pilgrimage to Portillo.

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