June 29, 2005

My Time in Philadelphia

Or, The Budding Salesman

Yesterday morning, my three intern coworkers and I stumbled onto the street outside of our apartments at six in the morning. We were adorned with our "Sunday best," so to speak, and we were waiting for one of our supervisors to arrive. He arrived, and we loaded our bags and ourselves into the rented Trailblazer.

We were on our way to an educational technology convention in Philadelphia. I was not entirely sure what to expect. I knew that we were going to be salespeople/marketers for one of my employers' websites, but other than that I was practically in the dark.

I was quite surprised when we arrived.

At ten o'clock (after riding for four hours), we arrived at the convention center. We signed in and collected our exhibitor badges, and we walked into the convention. My jaw then hit the floor. We walked by displays and booths featuring Microsoft, Macintosh, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, and many more household names. We met people from California, New York, and everywhere in between (including Canada and Mexico).

This convention was featuring new educational technology and electronic resources. Teachers, librarians, and school board members from across the United States and several other nations were in attendance, and my job was to introduce our website to as many of them as possible.

That's right. For this convention, I was a salesman.

For those of you who know me, I'm sure this thought must be entertaining. Can you seriously see me walking up and starting conversations with random people who linger for an appropriate time near my booth? Thankfully, I was not alone with this. Two of the other interns seemed really natural in this type of situation, a fact which surprised both ot them.

Anyway, we worked our booth and the convention from 10 AM to 5:30 PM, with a break for lunch somewhere between those times. We then walked to our hotel, walked to a Chinese food place, walked to an ice cream/cupcake shop, and walked back to the hotel.

Today, we worked at the convention from 9 AM to 3 PM. We left Philadelphia around 4:30, and we arrived back in DC at about 9:30.

Altogether, we probably spoke to a couple of thousand people. I feel completely drained. Fortunately, we do not have to go to work tomorrow.

Of course, I do have a briefing at the State Department tomorrow afternoon. I'm looking forward to that, but I can't wait for the weekend.

Posted by Randy at 10:00 PM | TrackBack

June 27, 2005

Watch This

I'm breaking my "DC" pledge, but I think it is worth it.

If you have forty minutes to kill (plus however long it takes to download), watch Sticks and Stones. This Canadian documentary is a commentary on the American media. It may have a "liberal bias," but what doesn't?

Posted by Randy at 12:13 AM | TrackBack

June 23, 2005

The President's Rally (near DC)

I was informed earlier this week that the IPJ program (and all of TFAS) had been invited by the White House to attend a rally for Social Security reform in Maryland. As I have never seen any president in person, I leaped at the opportunity.

President Bush led a script reading led a panel discussion about Social Security and why it is going to be bankrupt by 2041. Ben Stein, a financial consultant, and two college-age Republicans completed the panel. I did not find the discussion itself that interesting, though I did find humor in Bush thanking FDR for implementing the Social Security program in the first place and his claim that the people should be able to trust the government.

What I did find interesting, though, is that a group of 300+ interns from across the nation (some supporters of Bush, some not) were invited to a rally in Maryland. Our group was only a portion of the interns present. I've heard as many as 500 were invited.

To get into the event, you had to have been invited by the White House. Once inside, if a person made any vocal disagreement with the President or his plans, the dissenter would be removed, or so we were warned. "While I know some of you may disagree with his policies, this is not the time to express that disagreement," our director said (paraphrased from memory). "They will remove you."

Clapping and other signs of support were supported, of course.

There were a number of protesters outside of the rally location, naturally. After discovering that a significant portion of the audience was not from the area, I felt as if I should have been with them.

Does anyone see anything wrong with this method? The White House invites those who would already support almost anything he wants to a rally supposedly designed to raise support for a controversial issue. The local people with real questions are left outside to protest as interns from across the country are invited into the rally because the interns are part of a certain organization.

There is no interaction with the people. Bush is only receiving confirmation from those that already agree with him, and anyone who may not agree is threatened to be removed if he or she expresses disagreement.

It is all quite. . .disconcerting.

On the plus side, I was able to take photos of President Bush. I really like one of them.

Posted by Randy at 08:46 PM | TrackBack

June 20, 2005

Politics (in DC!)

This post is simply going to be my political opinions on a variety of different controversial topics. It is all going beneath a cut because I have no idea how long it will be once I finish, and I will probably add to it afterwards.

I am mainly writing this in response to the disproportionately large number of comments I have gotten concerning my "Christian" T-shirts post and the one accusation that I was "trolling" with a "controversial" opinion.

Read at your own risk.


Abortion: Politically, I'm pro-choice. Personally, I'm pro-life. I would never encourage someone to have an abortion, but I can not justify allowing my beliefs regarding when life begins to control someone else's body. The main issue in this debate, in my opinion, is where life begins. I do not know where to draw that line, and it can be taken to extremes on both sides.

I believe that abortion should remain legal, but I think that it needs much more regulation.

Euthanasia: I believe that if a person of sound mind wishes to commit suicide he or she should be able to do so. One should not be forced to die a horrific death if one wants to die painlessly. One should not be forced to "live" as a vegetable if one has specified earlier to not be kept alive. As long as this decision is kept in the metaphorical hands of the person who will die or (in Schiavo-like cases) the person responsible for that person's decisions, I fully support the right to die.

Iraq: The USA had absolutely no reason to invade Iraq. None. We were fed false information (whether deliberately or not is up for debate). There were no legitimate WMDs. The supposed humanitarian arguments are easily debunked. Invading Iraq was a mistake.

Gay Marriage: As long as marriage is considered a legal issue, any two consenting adults should be able to marry. The government can not and should not claim that certain relationships are more valid than others.

Marijuana: If smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol are legal, using marijuana should be as well. Put the same regulations on it that are currently on tobacco and alcohol. Make the marijuana industry legal and drug-related crime will drop. Put a tax on the drug and the government can collect revenue. Aside from potential drug-related deaths (which few seem to complain about concerning alcohol), I see no downside to this.

United Nations: In theory, the United Nations is a good idea. In reality, it needs reform. I don't know where I would start or exactly what I would do, but reform is needed. I certainly wouldn't send someone who has blatantly stated disgust with the UN as the ambassador of the USA, though.

Posted by Randy at 11:22 PM | TrackBack

June 19, 2005

Concerts in DC

I saw 10,000 Maniacs and Lifehouse last night. I have photos to prove it.

My ears still hurt. I had fun, but I still don't understand why the music needs to be so loud.

Posted by Randy at 12:50 PM | TrackBack

June 15, 2005

Seminars in DC

Tonight, the IPJ program had the priviledge of listening to a couple of professional journalists speak about their experiences in journalism.

The first speaker was Carl Leubsdorf. He is the Washington Bureau Chief of the Dallas Morning News. I was able to speak with him briefly after the seminar.

The second speaker was Bret Baier. Some of you may recognize that name. I knew immediately that he worked for the Fox News Channel, but I could not recall what he did for the FNC. Baier is the national security correspondent. He was practically smothered with questions (some more about his channel than his work). Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to ask him anything.

Fortunately, I have the office and home/cell phone numbers for both of these journalists. It is quite likely that I will never use them, but it is nice to have them nonetheless. I also have their emails.


Posted by Randy at 08:22 PM | TrackBack

June 11, 2005

Classes in DC

("DC" will be in the title of every post I make while I am in Washington.)

As of now, I have had two classes of ethics, two classes of economics, and an introduction to the "Leadership Scholars" class. I have started to get a feel for the classes.

"Ethical Perspectives on the Media" is going to be a great class. This is basically a secular ethics class which will eventually focus on ethics in the media. The professor has been focusing on a general overview of ethics thus far. I am excited about this class because I am actually going to hear the thoughts and insights of people who are not necessarily from the background to which I have grown accustomed. The fact that it is a discussion class makes it that much better.

"Economics in Public Policy" is going to be interesting. The professor is a fanatic in regards to economic theory. I do not much like his style of teaching, but he definitely seems to know economic theory. This is my first "real" economics class. I can't wait to start reading Regulation, the Constitution, and the Economy. It just sounds fascinating.

"Leadership Scholars Seminar" can only get better, I hope. The syllabus claims that this is a class designed to facilitate discussion about our internships, current news, and our other classes. The introduction to the class was a three-hour workshop that would make any IMPACT retreat planner salivate. I took a "color personality profile" (I'm yellow, apparently) and a political spectrum profile (I'm center-left). Supposedly, this was the favorite class of last year's students. Unless the class itself is quite different from our little workshop, I am going to be greatly disappointed with this program's alumni.

Posted by Randy at 03:44 PM | TrackBack

June 09, 2005

It's Great to be in DC!

It really is. However, the travel to get her really, really sucked. Thank you, Continental, for not loading my most important suitcase onto the plane. I really appreciate having to wait six hours to get my luggage. Thank you for that wonderful experience.

My roommates are . . . interesting. I am living with three people with personalities quite different from my own. My actual roommate is from Baltimore. One of the others is from Slovakia, and the other one is from Orange county. All three are rather outgoing and semi-athletic.

My internship is off to a rather slow start. I am responsible for the reorganization of a project of one of the websites. The website itself can be found here. I will be creating a new category system and sorting somewhere between 1500 and 3000 news stories.

I'm typing this on my roommate's computer. He has gone out to meet some friends who are in the area. I think his sleeping habits thus far have rivaled this guy's.

Anyway, I need to get to sleep. I have an ethics class in the morning. I'll talk about it and rant about my economics class at another time.

Posted by Randy at 11:54 PM | TrackBack

June 03, 2005


I shall be leaving shortly to go to the international airport near Houston. From there, I shall fly to Washington, D.C. Two days later I shall take my first class, and one day after my first class I shall have my first day of work.

For those not "in the know," I will be interning at an online magazine that is a subsidiary of the Washington Times. I found this internship through the Institute of Political Journalism, which is an off-shoot of The American Studies Foundation. Mr. Payton, wonderful professor that he is, brought the IPJ program to my attention in the Fall '04 semester.

I plan to make at least a few posts while I am in Washington, but I am not making any promises. I will be returning to Texas on July 30.

Posted by Randy at 07:27 PM | TrackBack

June 02, 2005

Defending Sin City

I found this article incredibly offensive, and I don't even read comic books.

Are the women in Sin City portrayed as sexual objects? Yes, they are. However, there is a reason for this.

Look at the title of the movie. What is it? Sin City? Are you expecting bunnies and rainbows? The movie portrays a number of seedy characters fighting for what they feel is right and/or just. These seedy characters include a gang of prostitutes, a dumb and medicated murderer, a stripper (who is never actually nude on-screen), an old cop, a lesbian parole officer (I think), and another criminal whose original crime I can not remember. They fight various villains, including a priest, a politician and his pedophile son, a corrupt cop, and a creepy cannibal played by Elijah Wood.

This movie features men and women at the bottom of society fighting against the actions of corrupt men in power in order to survive. I did not leave Sin City feeling contempt against those at the bottom. I actually sympathized with them and felt that most of their actions were justified. I did, however, feel contempt for those in power that forced those men and women to fight for survival.

I can not find misogynistic elements in this film, and I fail to understand how one can take characters from a movie that revolves around "lowlifes" and argue that all "comic book geeks" have a "fundamental" hatred of women.

Posted by Randy at 02:32 PM | TrackBack