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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.

— pacer521

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In the already delicate presidential election, race has truly worn many masks from the start. Bloggers and the media alike have thrown out suggestions of the race card, and the issue has now become the latest talking point among the press. 

But truly what amount of votes will actually swing because of a candidate’s race?

I think the reason that this question is so debated is because there is truly no answer. In an election that I still stress is different from every other, many issues will not truly be answered with previous election trends, but to correctly answer the race question would be essentially impossible. 

Why? After a comfortable dinner at home, a somewhat race affected voter leaning Obama most likely will answer his phone to a pollster and tell him that he will be voting Obama come November 4th. 

But in a sense this means less than what it its importance is perceived. After a half-hour drive to the polls, that same man will stand in front of the ballot and thousands of questions will be screaming at him, one being race.

Am I saying that this man won’t vote Obama because he is African American?

No, I am essentially saying that not a single pundit predicting race’s affect in this election will be looking over the voting booth at that man’s vote, nor will that pundit know what that man was originally going to vote if race was not the problem.

But what we can debate is the volume of people who may be swung because of race, which the answer being completely not enough. In my opinion, the amount of people who will vote McCain because Obama is African-American will be close to the amount of people who vote Obama because he is African-American. 

So again I’ll open this up to the commenters with the obvious question: What importance does race truly hold?

Today on Friday, August 29, 2008, the world knows the true meaning of political chaos.

Just the previous night, Barack Obama completed a historic speech for the record books to close a remarkable in itself Democratic National Convention, only to be greeted early this morning to a previous rumor made reality, the choosing of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin for John McCain’s Vice President. Throw that in with a newly-named Katrina #2 headed for American land — in the wake of the newly-hyped Republican National Convention — and you have a story: not to mention some busy bloggers. 

So how does all this fit into place in the world of politics? Its really a two way outcome that comes down to what it has always — a floor brawl between the two political powerhouses — Obama and McCain. Obama — fresh off his brilliant speech in Denver, is short pressed to respond to Sarah Palin’s nomination — preferably for him in the form of a official press statement. McCain, on the other hand, is in a bittersweet position that in my opinion could be politically suicidal if mishandled. 

Currently sitting on the momentum throne, Senator McCain has many options, but none as daunting as his long term decision with Sarah Palin. He knows that from a political standpoint that the next week is not just vital to his campaign, but it could make or break it. By choosing Palin as his running mate, he has made Obama look (in contrast) as familiar to America as Britney Spears, and that is something he needs to change very soon. 

So what better time to do so than the convention? And now that the previous focus for the conservatives (trying to top the party-like atmosphere the democrats featured) is out of the question, McCain must use his media attention wisely in introducing Sarah Palin to the world — and more importantly — his future voters. 

And then there’s Obama. 

A recent powerhouse in the media, Obama’s “Messiah” stature in media reportings and stories has just been snatched away from him, replaced with news that he knows he can use for his advantage. CNN journalist Soledad O’Brien put up a good question by asking if the McCain camp has put “firepower in the democrat’s hands” with their veep pick, but that question actually divides into a strategic answer that is more complicated that one might think.

The line between weakness and political retaliation has been very slim this election, but it is one that Obama has mastered, as I wrote in another post about political ads. And now that Obama has been given the ball next to the hoop practically unguarded, he must choose to simply lay it in or attempt a demoralizing dunk. What I mean by this is that Obama has been given a situation that he can take advantage with, but if he goes to far with it — he could come out as weak rather than powerful. What he must do, what he will do, and what he can do are totally different approaches that will lead him in totally different directions.

What he should do (in my opinion) is take advantage of the fact that McCain, a hard hitter on the “ready to lead” diss for Obama, has chosen a less experienced, younger running mate. Questioning her political stance (i.e. her foreign policy weakness) is very risky and would be something he probably would like to use as ammunition for one of the many debates he will have with McCain and Palin. 

Enter the storm.

Politics will soon take a turn to the scientific as tropical storm Gustav takes a turn for the bad, projected to make landfall near major city New Orleans, which we can’t forget was the victim of deadly hurricane Katrina. Gustav will probably win the conservative “best timing awards,” as it is expected to hit the city right when the Republican Convention opens up, concerning many convention executives, as it will drive the the president himself away from the convention, where he may make a political difference. 

This news, if timed right, can take away from the election, and not only for the Republicans. The delay of the convention will give the Democrats time to get to their senses and stitch together an effective ad towards McCain regarding anything from his convention to his running mate. 

And as politics continues, one might wonder how and why anyone could keep up with the recent chaos, rumors, press stunts, announcements, ads, and conventions. The truth is — you can’t.

pacer521, author of Culture Decoded this post is also featured here

Are Hybrids Bad?

July 15, 2008

Although your Prius may get 40 miles per gallon, some say it is pulling us in the wrong direction. Even though petrol-electric cars may visit the gas tank less often, they still need the fossil fuels that all other cars use, which contributes to global warming. And because of this new Prius frenzy, car companies like Toyota are investing millions more on making and upgrading their line of hybrid cars and less money on trying to invent new alternative ideas to gas. That point was attempted to be made recently by French researchers that suggested instead of buying a Prius or some other hybrid, you should buy a carbon credit for the same amount of money and help clean up a factory that is emitting 10 times the amount of carbon dioxide that you are saving with a hybrid. They also pointed out that creating the complex battery that makes a hybrid a hybird creates a lot of pollution and carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. Although some of the study I don’t agree with, it surely is something to ponder. Here is the link: (click here).

After the smoke cleared from the countless MLB and Tour De France news of athletes that tested positive to performance-enhancers, we all hoped sports would clean up its act. Did it? Ever since late 2004, players have been suspended, the sports press has had a field day, and we’ve all had our questions and accusations.

“Show me the test that says Bonds was clean!” 

“Explain to me how McGwire got away from the hearing without saying a word!”

On March 15, 2005, Mark McGwire and other big players including Sammy Sosa and Curt Schilling survived an eleven and a half hour hearing where members of the courtroom blamed and ridiculed them as well as several players that weren’t invited, including Barry Bonds — but as expected, all stuck to their previous statements and swore they weren’t on steroids while on the field. One of those in the audience was Jose Canseco, author of the book “Juiced”  which claimed he had injected McGwire when they were teammates on the Oakland Athletics. But after those hearings and several other press conferences, baseball and its steroids issues gradually became fainter. Here we are in July 2008, right into the 08-09 season, and all you I can hear is loud crack of the bat, the thump of the ball hitting the glove and the crowd munching on those peanuts. Maybe baseball will never be the same as it was before it was juiced, and maybe it will never be perfect, but hopefully it will someday once be as it was meant to be…guys on a diamond playing some good ball.

Moving across the Atlantic, the Tour De France has had similar doping allegations thrown against them. Countless bikers have been accused, and tested positive for doping from blood tests. In 2006, Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes was accused of purposely giving performance-enhancing drugs to over 200 athletes, allegedly including two of the race’s favorites, Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, who were expelled before the race started. One of the most famous and newsworthy accusations was from an Italian trainer who claimed he saw Lance Armstrong use doping substances, but a 132 page report by Dutch investigators and the World Anti-Doping Agency report says otherwise. It completely excused Armstrong from any allegations against him and with that he was clean in many cycle-enthusiast’s minds. During this year’s Tour De France, the race has been totally clean so far and one biking legend is coming back to the sport. Greg LeMond, who was the first American to win the tour in 86, has made his first full visit back to the famous race in 18 years, claiming the sport has cleaned itself up more. 

Although sports will always have its big stories and its steroids, it looks like its slowly ambling on the right path back to redemption.

Let’s face it — technology today is flourishing and getting ourselves on the moon is becoming more and more of a reality in the near future. But there is something that I feel we are forgetting, and that is Antarctica. If we plan on really colonizing other planets and moons, we need to be able to deal with the hostile environment of our own south pole. Now-a-days, getting onto either pole is such an accomplishment you’ll end up on Larry King and probably on some 10 year-old’s lap with your picture in the Guinness Book of World Records. So, before we even think about getting a civilization on the moon, we need to make Antarctica easy enough to access that tourists could get a non stop flight from Cape Town or Santiago, Chile to the South Pole. We need to find a way we can walk around in tee-shirts as we look out at the penguins. We’ve got to put a McDonald’s, an airport, business buildings, homes, even a newspaper office in the south pole before NASA can lay one finger on another space shuttle (that will create enough carbon dioxide to melt Greenland). So before we can organize a trip to our moon, lets take complete control of our geological world and colonize Antarctica.