It is now hosted at: http://randaltheresa.wordpress.com. For some reason, Blogspot has started crashing my browser. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but could you please change your links. Head over now for the next installment of my epic journey to Mexico!


Decision 'O8

Canada officially declared its own federal election today. Amazingly, with election day on October 14th, it will be over weeks before its American Counterpart. Now that's and election I can get excited about.


Politics (Don't Worry, It'll Be Just This Once)

Despite the general disutility of labels in general, I am prepared to finally find a name for my political inclinations: I am a liberal-leaning independent. As a liberal sympathizer, I generally prefer the democratic platform to the republican. But as an independent, I am part of that vigorously courted class of Americans who is not completely adverse to voting for the candidate it believes will better serve the country, regardless of his political allegiances. If McCain had convinced me that he would be a better president than Obama enough to override my general preference for the democrats, he would have won me over. However, watching both the Democratic and Republican Conventions, McCain and his party has only deepened my conviction that Obama should be the next American President. In fact, I have become so disillusioned of the Republicans over the past couple of weeks that I am writing this post to ask any of you who were planning on putting your check next to the little R in November to reconsider. Here’s why:

First of all, it is always a good idea to look seriously at your political alliances. After conversing with friends, I have realized it is not a simple matter to transfer Canadian political ideas into an American election, and that I need to consider my choice carefully. So, I encourage everyone to join me in my political introspection – are you political convictions merely a product of your surroundings, or have you come to them yourself?

Second, there are numerous reasons why Obama and the Democrats have appealed to me. For one thing, as I liberal, I like their policies. But I know that any attempt to convince most conservatives to alter their fundamental belief system will be futile. So instead, I will list a few reasons why Obama would be a better president than McCain, independent of their platforms.

1. Obama is a true agent of change. As a relative newcomer and Washington outsider, who has routinely disagreed with the Bush administration, he is in a much better position to alter the course of this country in a good way. He has spent his life serving the poor and needy and is more in touch with the rising generation, who has to deal with eight years worth of Bush’s influence. John McCain has attempted to paint himself as a maverick, but can an old white, rich man, entrenched in Washington politics and greatly supportive of Bush’s policies really bring about the change we need? He wants to be independent, but he is running with Bush’s old playbook and has shown that he is unable to truly stand up to his party in choosing a running mate – opting for a hard-core conservative instead of reaching across the isle to Lieberman, his first choice. And don’t try to tell me that Palin will bring about any real change: although most people have forgotten this, she is only running to be vice-president.

2. Obama has shown much more integrity than McCain. Throughout this campaign, Obama has shown great personal integrity. Although all politicians stretch the truth and attack their opponents, Obama has played petty politics to a much lesser degree than McCain and the Republicans. For one things, the Republicans are much more consistent and personal in their attacks on Obama; the tone of the entire Republican Convention was more about mocking Obama then on promoting their own party. And their attacks are often unfounded, personal, and demeaning. Mocking his service as a community organizer and then turning around and calling him an elitist, comparing him to Paris Hilton and even sarcastically calling him a self-proclaimed Messiah. Obama’s attacks on McCain, however, have been fewer and more appropriate. They mostly focus on issues, and never stoop to the lows that I’ve seen from the McCain camp. When asked about Palin’s daughter being pregnant, for example, Obama responded that family privacy should be respected; the Republicans don’t seem to agree, since they have took aim at Michelle on many occasions.

Also, Obama is more honest than McCain. Both have stretched the truth, but according to Politifact.com, a non-partisan fact-checking website, McCain’s statements are either barely true or outright false twice as often as Obama’s. UPDATE: this issue is becoming more and more troubling for me; it seems that the McCain camp has no problem with continuing its bold-faced lies, even after they have been discredited, since most voters don't take enough time to discover their falsity. See this article.

3. Obama has shown himself to be very reasonable and intelligent. He has run his campaign amazingly: time and time again, he calmly and rationally deals with each problem and promptly brings the discussion back to the issues. And he has shown himself to be very intelligent and an extremely fast learner, which helps quell some concerns about his lack of experience. Isn’t it about time to get someone into the Whitehouse that will carefully and intelligently deliberate over our problems instead of adopting the “shoot first ask questions later” approach of George W? McCain, like Bush, seems much more prone to hasty and risky choices. The best example of this is how he handled the most important choice of his campaign: choosing a VP. Now, Sarah Palin may turn out to be a good choice, but even so, the way he selected her worries me. I mean, McCain has had months to carefully research and decide upon a running mate (especially while Obama and Hillary were still battling it out), and yet at the very last second he chooses someone he only met once and had barely vetted. To me, this just seems reckless, and is not the way I would like my president to make decisions.

4. Even as McCain announces his plans to “reach across the isle,” the Republicans are methodically tearing the country apart. Through Sarah Palin and many of the convention’s other speakers, the GOP have reignited the culture wars. More and more, they are shifting the focus of this election from important issues like the economy and the War to little things that are comparatively less important and yet extremely divisive: abortion, teen pregnancy, and the role of God in the public sphere. They are also actively attempting to pit the rural population against the urban elitists who don’t think Wasilla is “cosmopolitan enough.” (Which is quite ironic, considering that the GOP is filled with rich white men, while Obama grew up on food stamps, and got through school on student loans). A good indication of this division is the fact that after Palin's speech was the largest fundraising day ever - for the Democrats (she really made some people upset). In the end, this country needs to work together, and fostering these kinds of divisions is not the way to do it.

5. Obama will be good for America. He is extremely popular internationally, and as president, he will do a lot to restore America’s status in the world and help us make the alliances we need to stay safe and compete in the global economy. Electing Obama will also show the world that we are an intelligent, progressive country that really believes in the equality we so often profess. Imagine the children who grow up under the first black president: what better lesson in civil rights could we give?

6. Do we really need more war? OK, this one is more of an ideological complaint, but I really don’t think we should elect someone who is as committed to the war and tied to the military as much as McCain is. And I don’t see the problem with meeting hostile world leaders? Is diplomacy dead? This is not giving in, but trying to resolve problems without killing.

In conclusion, I think McCain is national hero and fairly decent guy. I was impressed with his acceptance speech. It is more his party in general who I am opposed to, and I don’t think that he is maverick enough to separate himself to a degree that would win my vote.

And that is why I support Barack Obama.



Here is a link where you can watch Radiohead's webcast of their tour-closing show in Santa Barbara. I am posting this today because this blog was on hiatus back in May, where Theresa and I, as well as the Cummings, traveled down to North Carolina to catch the show ourselves. To prevent myself from running on like a gushing fanboy, I will just say that the show was easily the best I have seen, and the culmination of my concert-going existence.


DNC 08

Watching the Democratic National Convention these last few days, I must say that it is good to see Barack and Hillary finally getting along. It seemed like their prolonged primary battle would never end, and I for one (and Theresa for another, I can safely say) will not miss it. Well, I will miss videos like these...


A Redecorated Life

This week has been one of designing, or perhaps more properly, redesigning, and I'm not just talking about this blog. For months, Theresa has been sketching and re-sketching a new design for our apartment. But since we have be transient for the last while, her careful plans have had to wait - until now. For those of you who have seen our Charlottesville apartment, you may remember our tattered furniture, most of which was obtained for free. Well, with a lot of Theresa's creativity, we have transformed our hand-me-down furniture into a set of new-looking pieces. And perhaps Theresa's biggest accomplishment was getting me involved in the whole project by allowing me to populate our walls with my musical paraphernalia. All and all, I think we were able to put together a chic living room, and we did it on an extremely small budget. But take a look yourselves (click on the pictures to make them larger).

1. Radiohead Poster, purchased at the North Carolina Radiohead concert we attended in May, displayed in a ramshackle homemade frame.
2. Our Ansel Adams print of the Redwoods, to remind us our future Californian home.
3. Rubiks Cube: one of the many useless trinkets offered by law firms during on campus interviews, transformed into a picture holder
4. DTV - its in the air.
5. Fabric curtain hiding our electronic equipment (stereo, DVD player, turntable) inside this dresser-turned-entertainment center (Fabric from IKEA)
6. Our Alberta Temple Blanket covering the loveseat that served as Theresa's nemesis during this redecorating (it doesn't match).
7. Restored Furniture: I obtained these pieces for free from a neighbor that I helped move. They were tattered, broken and ugly, but with a little paint and some new knobs, Theresa turned them into beautiful, modern pieces.
8. Album Covers: these three Wolf Parade album covers by Matt Moroz are my favorite part of the living room.
9. Miru - our Superfly Monkey
10. Sea Shell from Virginia Beach

Rising 3L

Everyone in law school circles knows that a the third year has a reputation as being the easiest. With offers in hand, most students need only to graduate, and therefore do not have the same pressures as either first or second year students do. Which means that this, the beginning of my third year here at UVa, is the perfect time to rededicate myself to blogging. And so, to my faithful readers, welcome back. You'll notice that I've redesigned my webpage, including the title, which represents the one persistent criticism my writing has faced throughout my life. Like Batman, I've embraced my deepest writing fear and displayed it prominently.

I will be continuing as I did the first go-around, with some posts about Theresa and I, some about the music I am listening to, and some random musings. I will occasionally post the continuing story of Petey, Daniel Harker and I in Mexico, and in short order, will catch you all up on our summer in California. And if you haven't already, check out the Canada Day quiz below.

So stay tuned...


The Second Annual Canada Day Quiz!

Here it is – what you have all been waiting for: the second annual “Randal and Theresa Canada Day Quiz!” The game is simple – answer the questions. And we all know you could just look up the answers on the Internet, but because this is a Canada-themed quiz, I trust you will all be polite and honest, and play the game without cheating. The answers will be posted in the comments, so take the quiz, check your answers, and post your score in the comments section (remember – we’re using the honor system). When everyone has participated, we’ll name the winners in two categories: Canadian and Non-Canadian. Prizes will follow…

1. Which of these cities is furthest north?
A. Halifax
B. Ottawa
C. Vancouver
D. Winnipeg

2. Which Canadian Province is the setting of “Anne of Green Gables?”

3. Which Canadian Cities have or will in the near future host the Olympic games?

4. Which Canadian City was named the most livable city in the world by The Economist in 2008?

5. The Parliament in which of these Canadian Capitals is pictured here?

A. Edmonton, AB
B. Regina, SK
C. Victoria, BC
D. Whitehorse, YT

History and Politics
6. What is the term for people descended from Canadian aboriginals and European settlers?

7. Which of these reasons was most influential in the building of Canada’s first transcontinental Railway?
A. To assist in the war effort during the war of 1812
B. To beat the United States in a race to build the first transcontinental railway
C. To persuade the people of Brittish Columbia to join the Canadian Confederacy
D. To transport Chinese workers to the east

8. Which of the following is NOT a registered political party in Canada?
A. The Animal Alliance Party
B. The Democracy In Action Party
C. The Christian Heritage Party
D. The Marijuana Party
E. The Work Less Party

9. During the Conscription Crisis of 1917, what group of Canadians refused to go to war?

10. Which Canadian aboriginal tribe famously dwelt in structures like the one pictured?

A. Cree
B. Inuit
C. Iroquois
D. Kwakwaka'wakw

Sports and Entertainment
11. What Canadian chanteuse won the most Juno awards (i.e. the Canadian Grammy) in 2008 (1 bonus point for naming all of the categories)?

12. What are Canada’s two national sports?

13. What is the main focus of CBC radio 3?

14. What Canadian Author penned the popular Book, “The Life of Pi?”

15. Which Canadian Hockey team made it the furthest in the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

16. Which Canadian company produces the BlackBerry communications device (1 bonus point for naming where it is based)?

17. According to the Times Higher Education - QS World University Rankings, which is the best Canadian University?

18. For what is the Bay of Fundy famous?

19. This is the mascot for what (1 bonus point for giving his name)?

20. As you might expect, the top two countries of origin for Canadian Immigrants are China and India. Name one of the other birth countries of Canadian immigrants that round out the top 5 (1 bonus point for naming all three).

21. Which of these figures is closest to Canada’s population (the other three are the populations of Tokyo, New York State, and the UK)?
A. 18.9 million
B. 33.3 million
C. 34.4 million
D. 60.6 million

22. Who is on the Canadian $50 bill?

23. Which Canadian author was born and raised on St. Urbain Street in the Mile End area of Montreal, Quebec, and wrote The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz?
A. Margaret Atwood
B. Stephen Leacock
C. Saul Bellow
D. Mordecai Richler

24. In what year was Quebec City founded?

25. Which Canadian-born architect built this?