Friday, August 29, 2008

We've been initiated!

Just a quick update (we'll post a lot more pictures soon). We have great news! We now have been officially initiated into the city of Chicago! The bad news is that this ritual includes breaking into your car. Unfortunately for the thieves, our car isn't worth too much (probably not worth stealing, so they didn't). Also, they were unable to find anything of value in the car with exception to a five-year-old CD player. Alas, the CD inside the CD player was worth more than the CD player. We will miss you "We Don't Need To Whisper" by Angels and Airwaves.

The good news is that they put on our emergency brake for us. Now that's class.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Just Imagine...

Just imagine a tiny squirrel with miniature shackles on trying to escape from a mini-terrier. ... ... I thought it was pretty funny too.

Concerning the Robin Hood query:

Robin Hood, according to many of the original poems and stories, refused to steal from those who worked, but preferred to rob from dishonest merchants, royalty, government, etc. This is a cheater answer (he's fictional), but I think he'd be most like Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly and Serenity. Maybe in some future episode Malcolm will give his spoils away to starving grad students.

This will most likely be my only comment on the upcoming presidential election, but it fits in too well with the "Rob from the rich and give to the poor" topic to pass up. It stems from this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. I saw that Gibson interview, and Obama's answer troubled me. I will summarize the exchange so you don't have to read it should you choose not to. Gibson pointed out that a higher tax on capital gains has historically lead to less revenue, not more. Here was Obama's answer along with the Wall Street Journal commentary from the link I provided:

'"Well, Charlie, what I've said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness." Translated into ordinary English, what that means is that it doesn't really matter whether a tax increase actually brings in more revenue. It's not about robbing from the rich to give to the poor. Robbing from the rich will do, especially if it's done in the name of fairness.'

So his approach on wealth is less of the (perceived, but not really) Robin Hood approach of "rob from the rich and give to the poor" and more of the Genghis Khan approach, "The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears."

One last comment on this.
Obama stated, "The first part of my plan is to tax the windfall profits of oil companies and use some of that money to help you pay the rising price of gas." In essence, the U.S. government approaches Exxon and says, "Sure, you're paying $3 in taxes for every $1 in profit, but we'd like to buy a few more votes with your money. You have two choices, write a check, or we'll freeze your assets and take it anyway." Because of Ashley's and my archaic belief in "Thou shalt not steal," we will be breaking up our check and sending it back to Exxon, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips. We know we don't deserve to be canonized saints, but we do try to maintain an image above the typical raping and pillaging viking raiding party. Speaking of Vikings, judging by their lineup and their preseason results they won't be winning the Superbowl.

On a related note, did you know? Henry David Thoreau's last words were, "Moose. Indian."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If wishes were horses we'd all be eatin' steaks.

Wise words. Straight from Jayne's mouth. We've been enjoying watching the only season of Firefly. It is surprisingly good. We highly recommend it.

Three points for this web log, or "blog" as some people like to call them:

First, on Sunday we took cookies to our neighbor across the hall from us. She said, "I'm in shock. I don't know what to say. You're not from around here are you?"

No. I guess we're not the typical Chicago couple. Is that good?

Second (you can skip this part if you'd like, it gets pretty long and boring), we went to the Chicago history museum on Saturday with Richard and Rachel Hatch (Rachel Wiggins). Great fun. I believe I now more fully understand the political background of Chicago. One of the great debates in Chicago occurred in the late 19th century. The debate took place between the "Traditionalists" and, I kid you not, the "Anarchists, Communists, Socialists." Hillarious. Now, for anyone who is not familiar with political theory, here is the political spectrum:
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|----------------|
Tyranny Communism Socialism ... ... Libertarianism Anarchy

Just so you know, the official name is not libertarianism, it's liberalism, but in the last 50 years the name liberalism was hijacked by socialists. This occurred mainly because the name "progressive" got smeared by Mussolini and Hitler. They needed a new name, so they took one. Ironically, "Liberal" has now become an ugly word (smeared that name too I guess) so the same type of people have gone back to the word "progressive." From here on out I will just call libertarianism by the name liberalism.

Tyranny and anarchy are opposites. In one, all decisions are made for you, in the other, everyone makes whatever decision they'd like (sometimes at your expense). In one the people are pawns, in the other there is chaos. Now, back to the history museum. We can better label this great Chicago debate between the "Normal People" and "The People Who Have No Idea What We Believe, Even Our Name Is Contradictory, But Vive La RĂ©sistance!" also known as the TPWHNIWWBEONICBVLR's, pronounced Tapwah Newb Eonic Bivlars. Unfortunately, it appears that Chicago politics really hasn't changed since then, and the Tapwah Newb Eonic Bivlars get their way quite often. Check out their latest results:
http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=6327142

In case you're curious to know, Liberalism (or Libertarianism) is a form of government (pioneered by the United States) that exists almost exclusively to protect your life and property rights. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your viewpoint), we abandoned that style long ago, but before we completely abandoned it we were able to catapult ourselves to the most powerful nation on Earth. Fortunately, it seems that few countries are willing to adopt the method the United States used that made it so successful, so we'll be number one for a long time yet. Europe is never catching up. Asia, Africa, and South America really can't compete. Our only real long-term competition might be in Oceania (Australia and Singapore).

Third point for this blog, Robin Hood. The fighter of tyranny and injustice. In the latest depictions of Robin Hood in our culture, he fights against the usurping Sheriff of Nottingham. Here is my question: if he were alive today (assuming he were real), what would he be doing? I'm curious to see your answers. I'll post mine next week.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Museum and Batman

Jake and I are in love...with the public library. As Jake is wont to say, "Libraries are my only socialist leaning. They are the great equalizer. There are two barriers to success: asymmetric opportunities and asymmetric information. While libraries do nothing for asymmetric opportunities, it all but eliminates asymmetric information. Between the library and the Internet, there are very few bits of knowledge that others have that we can't get to. Since asymmetric information accounts for nearly all the 'injustices' in our lives, and since the opportunity for information was offered to us through the library, there is no longer anyone to blame in life if we don't know something but ourselves." Basically, libraries have stuff. And one of the best stuffs about the Chicago Public Library (other than interlibrary loan) is the museum pass. Each branch of the library has a set of passes for most of the museums in Chicago. It's good for up to 4 adults (and kids too, but since we don't have kids, I haven't bothered to read that part of the fine print) for basic admission to the museum. We've heard from many of our new friends that the museum pass is one of the best ways to be a tourist without having to pay like one. Happily, Jake and I acquired a pass to the Museum of Science and Industry. Almost everyone who has been there (that we've talked to) has loved this place and has told us to go there. So we did last Friday.

And it is pretty sweet. There are lots of hands-on and interactive modules, and because it's a science museum, the technology to show you everything was really great too. Check out www.msichicago.org and click on the "what's here" tab. You can see the rotating and permanent exhibits. If anyone wants to visit us, we just might be able to take you. Hint, hint.

Our new friends Kimi and David called us Saturday night to ask us if we wanted to see "The Dark Knight" at the IMAX theater at Navy Pier. Friends, if anyone ever asks you this question, the answer is always "what's in it for me?" Give an inch, take a mile! Not really, just say yes (kinda like drugs, except the opposite). First of all, the movie was filmed in Chicago, and while we don't know all the landmarks yet, it was really fun to watch a semi flip over (you've seen it in the trailers--I'm not giving anything away) on lower Wacker Drive, the street we drove on to get to the theater. Second, Heath Ledger isn't scary as the Joker; he's terrifying. I've never read the comic books, but Jake has, and he said the original character is much more like Heath Ledger than Caesar Romero or even Jack Nicholson. The action sequences were much better, in my opinion, than the last movie because I could actually tell who was hitting whom. This may have been due to the gigantic screen. And every cast member was fantastic. I know there were people with some qualms over having Maggie Gyllenhaal replace Katie Holmes (namely my brother), but Maggie is just so much better. Aaron Eckhart is awesome, and he will definitely get into more major roles after this. Christian Bale is good, although his Batman voice drives me nuts, and not in a good way. Michael Caine is, as always, perfect. Gary Oldman is also awesome. But Heath Ledger absolutely stole the show. Even thinking about him 4 days later, I get the jibblies. The movie is fairly violent, but no sex, minimal language, and an amazing story, cast, and directing job. Christopher Nolan, you've done it again.

That's my review. I just asked Jake to put in his one cent, as the blog title suggests: "When you go see it, make sure to bring the Depends. I pooped myself." Well said.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Gorbachev Pictures and Random Update

As promised, Jake does Gorbachev:
"The world will not accept dictatorship or domination."
In other words, "I lose." Alrighty, now that's out of the way, don't you feel better? I sure do.

We'd like to tell you a little bit about what life is like when we're not writing long blogs or wasting mass quantities of time online. Chicago is a pretty cool place, not that we've done any real tourist things, but we hear they're awesome. Our apartment is coming along. Below are two pictures I took while we were unpacking. I wanted proof of progress.
It looks much better now, and I will post more when I get pictures hung on the walls. Our apartment is generally a nice place to live, except for one small area. You see, we live on the fourth floor, and apparently water pressure is none too good, as we found out our first night there. Imagine: you're hot, tired, sweaty, and not used to the humid Chicago summers. You are ready for a powerful, steamy shower to set you to rights. And all you get is this:

That's it folks. Full blast. We're thinking if we get a showerhead with smaller holes, maybe it will be better, but we're not holding our breaths.

Things we've learned now that we've been here for three weeks:
1. Speed limits are totally optional. If you go the 45 mph posted, you will die. The people going 70 will kill you.
2. Pedestrians have a death wish. They go halfway into the street to look around a parked car to see if any other cars are coming. And because they're (usually) in a crosswalk, you will get sued if you hit them. Beware!
3. Don't go out at night. Our first night in our apartment, we decided that because we didn't have any other food in the house, we'd go to the gas station nearby and get ice cream. At the first store we tried, a man came in the opposite door on a cell phone saying, "Dude, the cops are everywhere. I couldn't get in the place. The cops were swarming." So, we left. Quickly. And then foolishly, we walked farther down the street. When we found ice cream, it was in a scary teeny grocery store locked in a freezer. The clerk had to unlock it for us. Everyone looked at us like we were crazy to be white and on the street after dark. Lesson learned.
4. Watch out for fights. There is a supermarket near our house (a nice one, I might add), and the first time we went to get food there, two women got in a fight and had to be escorted out of the store by a manager. When we finished checking out and walked out to the parking lot, there were four police cars, and at least one of the women was in cuffs. Welcome to the neighborhood.

But there are good things too! Our ward is amazing! We've made some friends, helped with a service project, and have even been invited to a couple of BBQs. Everyone has been so kind and friendly to us. I've gotten some great information on teaching and substituting as well.

Speaking of which, I have a job. Two jobs, actually, and I'm looking for a third. My first job is with an in-home tutoring company. They pay well, but it's only a few hours a week in the afternoons and evenings, so I needed something else. I will also be substituting for a local high school, but that's only a couple days a week (and won't start until mid-September at the earliest). I'm currently looking for work at retail places and two universities. I'll let you know if anything comes up. I'm considering subbing for Chicago Public Schools, but their sub requirements are pretty heinous. Check it out: http://www.cps-humanresources.org/Careers/becomingsub2.htm
If I have two sub options, I can probably have a job at least 4 days a week and then I've got the tutor thing. Wish me luck! I also attended a CPS teacher fair last week, but I really don't think I'll be able to teach full-time this year. Getting a certificate takes time, and now that it's August, most schools have already hired. Because I don't already have an Illinois certificate, I'm not even being considered. Bummer.

On a happier note, Jake and I got two awesome finds in the $5 movie bin at Wal-Mart yesterday: A Knight's Tale (starring Heath Ledger) and 20 Alfred Hitchcock movies. Yes, 20. Ok, so 2 are from his TV show, and 4 of them are silent, but how cool is that? We watched one this morning called "The Lady Vanished." Really good. We even caught Hitchcock's cameo as the cab driver. The man can make movies, people.

This has been long enough. We really should go eat dinner. And watch more movies.