Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Wine(Accessorized) is now live. Check out http://www.wine-accessorized.com to get started shopping!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Brush With Quixtar

I said I wouldn't post about Quixtar anymore, but reading through Standing Order Tapes (link on sidebar) reminded me of an experience I had last month. I'll also quote the things that reminded me.

My ESS meetings are always at 8:00 PM on Thursdays in a certain lounge in the GBJ Student Center on campus. I arrived early from dinner with my girlfriend and decided to chill in the lounge and read until the other members arrived. I opened the door and walked in to find all of our couches and tables pushed to one side of the room, with a bunch of chairs arranged presentation-style towards one wall. A guy and a girl, both rather attractive and charismatic, were putting the room together for some kind of show. I noticed several things that made me immediately realize it was Quixtar:
1. They were both well-dressed, like they were going to a formal. The guy was clean-shaven. He didn't even have any stubble, so he had shaved recently. Close-cropped, gelled and styled hair. He had an earring hole but no earring. "Your look is key. You must dress ‘successfully’, for men, you should not have facial hair. Tongue rings are certainly a no no. No long hair, no piercing, etc. Doug talks about wearing his ‘uniform’. 'Dress a step above and better than the people you are around.'"
2. They had those irritating flashcard packets sitting on the table. They also had some books and other motivational supplies ready-at-hand. "Jake says, "This is the number one secret: The Britt System…You must learn how to promote and edify…if you will plug into it at all cost, it will give you life and a life of more abundance.' And Doug confirms, 'I also figured out that the Britt System was the key, and if I was going to sponsor people, I had to have the books and tapes to get them started right.'"
3. They had some Quixtar-brand foods, all half-consumed (or thrown away/poured out) around their stations, like they'd been enjoying a snack. "Doug pounds hard on personal use, suggesting that people are not getting in their business because they do not believe. Doug even tells people plainly to buy products they do not have a use for so that they can at least say they use it. Jake confirms with a joke about panty-hose."

I stood in the door for a little, surveying the scene, when they finally notice me.
"Are you here for the meeting?" Asked the girl. She and the fella put on huge grins and opened their body posture immediately.
"No, actually, I have a meeting here in a half-hour."
"Oh," replied the guy. "Well, if you wanted this room you should have reserved it..." He glanced at the reservation board. "Oh wow... I see..." He looked really uncomfortable, but he still tried to hold that grin.
"Do you REALLY need the room?" The girl asked, smiling as sweetly as ever. I think she might've even given me Bambi eyes.
"Yeah, we reserved it."
"Oh, ok. We'll get right out of your way, then." The guy packed up his bag, picking up the food and making sure I saw the labels before he put it away. They moved towards the exit. He looked at me expectantly. "You want me to move these back to where they were?" I stopped, wondering why he didn't just do it, since he had messed it up.
"I guess it's fine if you don't... if you're in a hurry..."
"Nonsense," he replied. "I'd be glad to do it." He didn't move yet, however.
"One last thing," she began, "Would you be interested in an opportunity for free money?"
"No, thank you," I replied. Her smile fell.
"What do you mean, no? Don't you like money?" The guy shifted uncomfortably next to her.
"Not if I'm earning it through an MLM."
"MLM? What's that?" She almost sounded honest.
"Multi-Level Marketing? You guys are with Quixtar, right?"
She placed her hands on her hips, pouting at me indignantly. "Oh, you think you know about that, huh?"
"I know enough about it. I know it's not something I want to do."
"Well, that's fine," The guy said. If I were close enough, he might have pattted me on the head. "This kind of opportunity is not for everyone. It's understandable if you don't want to take it." They left, leaving behind the mess of chairs and tables for me to fix.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Happy Holidays!

Is what the clerk at Parisian said to me. She then looked so frightened and worried that she had to turn around and hide her eyes. I was concerned about it, but I soon remembered what had happened. In Alabama, there has been a massive boycott organized by fundamental Christians who believe that any store whose clerks do not greet their customers with "Merry Christmas" must be deprived of their customers. They've boycotted Wal-Mart, Target, and many stores at the mall here in Huntsville, Alabama.
Now, I can be forgiving of this ridiculous venture as long as nobody actually takes them seriously... after all, what harm is saying two little words? Unfortunately, they're not so forgiving about forgetting to say them. My mother, who works at GAP at one of the malls in Huntsville, thanked a customer after ringing her up by saying, "Thank you very much," with a genuine smile. She turned around to put some hangers in a bin, thinking the transaction was over. The woman reached over the counter, grabbed her arm and squeezed it, and said, "You mean Merry Christmas," with malice and a glare. I think that before they ask to be pandered to they should work on their attitude.

I read a guy (we'll call him B. Johnson) who explained the inappropriateness of their protest against the "Happy Holidays" catch-all this season. I pasted an excerpt below:

The vast majority of the born-again-Christians who are so uptight about Happy Holidays vs Merry ChristMASS have no use for the theology of transubstantiation which is the basis of the mass celebrated by devout Roman Catholics. When the priest blesses the the bread/wafer and the wine, they immediately become the flesh and blood of Jesus. So if these born-again-pro-tes-tant Christians are so strongly opposed to the doctrine of transubstantiation, why they so agressively promoting ChristMASS in preference to Happy Holidays?

To be honest, they can do what they want with their energies. If this is makes them feel productive, it's better than them pushing the Moral Majority agenda over the holidays. I just worry about independent businesses who will be hurt financially because they would rather be inclusive...

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Demonizing Liberalism

I wrote an editorial for submission to various locations of printability... for an Advanced Comp assignment, that is. It's something that I (obviously) feel strongly about...

“Liberals hate America.” - Ann Coulter.
The past 5 years of American politics have seen a rise in rabid partisanship, bitterly dividing communities and families between the Red and the Blue. This isn’t to say that there were no disagreements prior to 2000; I know my family has always argued about the merits of differing political ideologies. However, the pitch of confrontations between liberals and conservatives has risen into something that could very well be a war. Rather than debate, the popular way to try to discredit one’s opponent in this atmosphere is now wholly dependent on propaganda. The difference between liberals and conservatives, now, is the level of success in this new arena, where the conservatives have wholly dominated.
Whoever controls the rhetoric controls the public opinion. This is how it has always been. Sometimes opposing groups both manage to define their side positively, such as in abortion (pro-life instead of anti-choice, pro-choice instead of pro-abortion). Up until now, it has been relatively even in terms of which group defines what. Rhetoric that casts both sides in a positive light prevails, and the opposition acquiesces because they, too, are getting the gentle treatment. There is only one term in politics, however, that has held a strange dichotomy for several decades: liberal. The term liberal, to conservatives, at best signifies a restless movement, a constant dissatisfaction with the status quo. At worst, they describe liberalism as an attack on fundamental values and morality, an atheistic movement and interference in the free market. They often equate the liberal ideals with communism. The funny thing is, though, liberalism used to be something that they welcomed into their discourse and their strategy and even once employed as a political weapon against the USSR. Even today, they embrace economic liberalism, though they claim not to, redefining it as their own in “fiscal conservatism.”
The Liberal movement began as humanism during the Renaissance, a school of thought that questioned the authority of the church to impose law and sanctions on the people. Centuries later, in the Enlightenment era, free thinkers such as John Locke and Adam Smith injected the movement with the revolutionist idea of natural rights, that there were certain freedoms that no government could violate. The economic aspect contended that a free marketplace was the only way to provide economic equality, that people who were forced to share wealth would find ways to avoid it. By the end of the 19th century, the movement had split into two groups: economic liberalism and social liberalism. Conservatives embody the former completely, contending that any unnecessary interference in free-market economics is an encroachment of communism and an assault on capitalism. Present-day liberals trend towards social liberalism, claiming that the government should enforce individual rights when the people infringe upon them.
Liberalism was largely uncontested as a movement until the 70s, during the Nixon era. Tensions over the failure of organized labor, the Nixon administration, and the failed Vietnam War (a liberal endeavor) led to a rise in conservatism. Once Americans became disenchanted with liberalism, the demonizing began. Splits in the Civil Rights Movement began to side almost all liberals with the Democratic side, giving conservatives, for the first time, the ability to attack the side as a single ideology. It was then that the misleading and redefinition of “liberal” began.
The neo-conservative movement is wholly based upon these attacks upon liberalism. They have managed to dirty the word to mean hatred for the American way of life, communistic, anti-Christianity, anti-patriotism, sympathy for terrorists, and disregard for human life. Coulter, for example, has never mentioned “liberal” without bringing up abortion or atheism, cementing the view of liberals as wanting to “kill babies” and destroy God. Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, also attacked liberalism and humanism: “We're fighting against humanism, we're fighting against liberalism... we are fighting against all the systems of Satan that are destroying our nation today... our battle is with Satan himself.” Liberals have yet to respond to (or sink to the level of) these false characterizations. The attacks have only increased now that conservatives hold a majority in both elected branches of government, and conservatives claim that America is leaving liberalism behind. They like to forget that the country was founded on liberal principles, the idea that government should support individual freedom, as long as others’ rights are not encroached upon, and rarely limit it. Marc Forné i Molné, former president of Andorra and current president of the Liberal Party of Andorra, said it best: “Discoveries made during the last hundred years have shown that liberalism is the best system to improve a country's well being.” It is always the best idea to embrace change and freedom over the status quo.
Unfortunately, the term “liberal” has now been redefined as a pejorative, allowing pundits such as Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity to spit the word with utter contempt, using it as a defense when their own position is indefensible. This has been transferred to the common man, providing non-politicians with ammunition for debates of their own, though I use the term loosely. The malice is most evident in online forums, with neo-conservatives calling out liberals as “libtards,” “libshits,” and other dubiously respectful terms, asking them to define their position as bait for more liberal-themed taunting. Honest, cool debates can sometimes be found, but by and large any mention of the word “liberal” signifies a decline in reason and a rash of name-calling soon to follow.
The Virginia election of 2005 was a showcase of the hatred for liberals that conservatives want to ingrain in mainstream America. Each Republican candidate had at least one ad attacking their opponent as being “liberal,” treating it as a horrific negative. It’s a shame that the best attack on Kaine, other than “he’s going to raise your gas taxes,” as Kilgore so eloquently stated, restated, and stated again, was that he is liberal. According to Republicans, Attorney General candidate Creigh Deeds was a liberal, which is appalling in itself. This combined with the fact that, as a private attorney, he plea bargained his clients out of jail time, should be enough to frighten away all mainstream voters from the liberal threat. The commercial, of course, neglects to mention that Deeds supported more “conservative” positions, such as 2nd amendment rights, than most Democrats, meaning he is truly in support of individual freedom, the actual, original meaning of the word “liberal.” Leslie Byrne was attacked even more mercilessly than the others. In one commercial, a picture of her flashed in one corner, while “LIBERAL” flashed in large red letters in the lower right-hand corner. Nothing else was offered as proof of her ineptitude. Another commercial alternated the word “liberal” with “reckless,” suggesting that all liberals have a dangerous disregard for established law. Because of the success in demonizing this political view, these irresponsible and misleading attacks proved victorious, which will likely cause more of the same attacks in elections to follow. Byrne was soundly defeated by her much less qualified opponent, while Deeds lost a recount by 300 votes. Only Kaine won, and solidly, which hopefully demonstrated that the attack using “liberal” in a derogatory way is changing as a viable campaign option.
So what is left for the liberals of America? Some have abandoned ship, adopting the term “progressive” in order to escape the hex that has been placed upon their 200+ year-old tradition of support for the people. The political ideology that was coopted into every surviving political party since the beginning of the country is being discarded by a defeated Democrat Party. If the liberals become desperate, they may shuffle loose their identity that Wesley Clark describes as “loving and embracing all genders, sexual orientations, races, religions, physical and economic conditions,” in favor of a more electable, conservative bent. The Democratic Leadership Committee is one indication of this change, reining in the more centrist democrats into a ideology that tries to straddle the fence without losing its base. Will this be the death of liberalism, the school of thought that raised a superpower, despite the claims of neo-conservatives to the contrary? I hope that the American people are smarter than this, realizing that the word “liberal,” whether prefixed with “bleeding-heart,” “knee-jerk,” or “tax and spend,” doesn’t have to be so dirty after all.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Election Thoughts

Why are voters so stupid? Really...

Aside from VA and NJ, where the centrist Democrat defeated an extreme right-wing Republican (thank you very much), as well as Maine, where voters shot down a conservative attempt to repeal a gay rights law, voters just displayed their idiocy in massive quantities.
Shall we start in Texas, where they amended the constitution with a "traditional marriage" amendment? Gays couldn't get married in Texas anyways... what this amendment did was use intentionally vague wording to further strip the rights from gays (such as potentially the ability to visit one another in case of grave illness) as well as override court attempts to regain ground that gays had lost. What can you expect from Bush's "home" state (it's as real as that drawl he's been trained to dribble from the side of his smirk). But, of course, it was touted as a "protect the sanctity of marriage" vote and not "stomp the queers out of Texas" vote... I hate Texas and 90% of politicians involved with it.
Or how about Ohio, where the controversy for both parties during the election struck? Proposals to clean up, expedite, and protect the electoral process were soundly defeated due to Republican opposition. Great idea... listen to the people who screwed you over last year...
Now California... Schwarzenegger put 3 important proposals on the ballot that anyone with sense would have agreed with... nevermind the other, less meritable ones... and they were voted down because the people were convinced that the election was "unnecessary." I mean, Christ, people... a Republican offers you a chance to put redistricting in the hands of a non-partisan group, guaranteeing fair and equal elections in EVERY COUNTY, and you vote him down because you don't like him spending the money? Or how about the increased requirements for teachers to become tenured? 2 years to determine if a teacher is a fluke before you HAVE to give them tenure? Who doesn't think that's ridiculous?!? And, of course, the proposal to give the power to LIMIT STATE SPENDING... the problem that they have been having for decades now... and it's probably the Hollywood bias against anything conservative in nature BUT NOT ALL CONSERVATIVE PROPOSALS ARE BAD! Anyone who cannot find merits in both sides is too partisan. Honestly...
And last, but not least, Kansas. The bass-ackwards state. The school board voted to put evolution in the same group as Intelligent Design (aka Creationism part two) as well as order teachers to voice serious doubt as to the validity of this "unproven" theory. Thanks a lot... now can we get the church board to vote to put evolution in church? After all, the fundies and neocons claim that "it takes more faith to believe in evolution than in creationism." Why shouldn't we put it in the house of faith.
So Kaine won, Corzine won, and gay rights won in Maine. At least Virginia is starting a tradition of rationality, and New Jersey demonstrated that a "gay scandal" is not nearly as bad as close-minded assholes make it out to be.
Thank god all the commercials demonizing liberals will stop. Tim Kaine is "too liberal to be governor"? That's like saying water is too wet to be refreshing...