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With regards to the issue of whether or not Mountain Dew affects the size of one's manhood, I have this to bring to the table:
I am a 47-year old male. I drink approximately 34 cups of coffee every morning, followed promptly by no less than three cases of Mountain Dew in the afternoon. My day ends with the consumption of one full box- religiously- of Lipton Tea (75 tea bags) before I retire for the evening. I go to sleep promptly at 4:00 in the morning, awake an hour and a half later, and begin the process again.
I have a massive penis. Approximately the length of one city block. My pants are tailor-made to accomodate two testicles which slide comfortably down each pant leg, landing roughly at my ankles. I am convinced that were it not for the good people at Mountain Dew, who so tirelessly manufacture their thirst-quenching beverage, my privates might grow to an unmanageable size. So I am eternally grateful for the mystical powers of that soft drink (which, for me, is doctor prescibed).
I'm going to be a pain and speak to problems I have with the question before I even address the question. But that's just the way I am.
Firstly, I think the word 'pandemic' has been beaten up and jostled around a little in this young 21st Century of ours. An old ratty paperback Webster's Dictionary I found calls 'pandemic' an adjective, referring to something "common to or characteristic of a whole people." A belief in democracy, then, can be considered 'pandemic' to the western world. A religion could be 'pandemic,' as could a general rule of thumb.
A 2003 paperback edition of Webster's New World Dictionary, however, goes straight to the Big Ugly and calls 'pandemic,' "epidemic over a large region." (Interestingly, 'epidemic' in this definition is also being used an an adjective.)
It would seem, then, that in this more recent definition 'pandemic' is ever bigger, meaner and nastier than 'epidemic.' I'm wondering if the advent of AIDS didn't require us to use 'pandemic' to mean something really, really scary. One problem with the question on the table, then, is that we're trying to take this thing we're calling a 'Swine Flu'- which in a nation of around 307 million people has claimed exactly one life (a 2-year old Mexican boy, tragically)- and we're trying to say, "To hell with 'epidemic,' let's go straight to frigging 'pandemic.' I find this to be a radically premature prediction, not to mention irresponsible and inappropriate.
Problem #2 with the question is that this thing we're calling the Swine Flu- as I understand it- is not really the Swine Flu. One speculation I read was that (perhaps) a bird infected with the Bird Flu pooped into a pig sty. A pig infected with Swine Flu may have ingested the infected bird poop (accidentally, of course). Then a human infected with a Human Flu came in contact with the infected pig, resulting in a strain of flu for which- at the moment at least- we may have no vaccine for.
But this is the way viruses are forever being born. And our bodies are forever serving as battle ground for chemical invaders and defenders to have at it, so that we might build immunities and get on with our lives. And we seem to be doing all the right things about it: Governments and medical experts are coming together, saying this may be a concern so we need to study it, runs lots of tests on those who seem to have it, and then respond to it (which is why we're reading so much about it in the papers).
It's also been suggested that others who've fallen prey to this virus may be of a culture or cultures that tend to fear doctors, that some of these victims may be people who did not seek out medical treatment until they were at death's door. Poverty and little-or-no access to medical treatment are also probably playing a role.
I wonder if when things seem to be going okay, that we don't sometimes feel compelled to seek out something to scare the bejesus out of us. Right now, the economy (they say) is slowly showing signs of rebound, President Obama has a plan in place to bring the kids home from Iraq, and we're all looking for fun and clever ways to spend a little stimulus money. Here in the Northeast we're having a nice spring. Perhaps we need to just relax a little, and remember that the old adage, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," is pandemic to our culture.
Please, let's not let a clever little Howard Stern piece determine our answers to this question. Often, when a person walking the streets going about their business is suddenly confronted by a guy with a microphone, the inclination is to get very nervous and self-conscious, for fear of sounding foolish. So even if the information being presented by the interviewer is confusing (i.e., mixing up the vice presidential candidates), one is apt to just jump at the quickest answer available so as to get away from the uncomfortable situation. (Stern's a professional, he knows this, and so do his minions). As for Stern's issue of black people voting for Senator Obama because he's a black man: Unless one is prepared to speak to the question of how many millions of old rich white people have voted for old rich white men, essentially for that very reason, I think one has no business "going there," to quote a popular phrase. Yes, ethnicity is an issue, racism remains an issue, and there's absolutely no doubt in my old white mind that some black people will be voting for Senator Obama because he's black; and why shouldn't they?
One last thing about Stern: I grew up in Southern Connecticut, right next to New York, so regretably I heard a lot of Howard Stern growing up listening to 66 WNBC on the car radio. One thing has always struck me about the tone of that voice: that Howard Stern has got to be the most miserable human being on the face of the earth.)
No, I don't believe American voters are ignorant. Rather, I think there's a tendency to delude one's self into believing one can make an intuitive choice, without the need for reading or studying. The issue is not ignorance but self-delusion; comforting self-delusion. And I suppose I'm somewhat of an example of that. I read a few magazine articles, I burn through the newspaper stories, then I vote. I do believe, however, that the televised debates- which I watched carefully- gave me a pretty clear impression of the Democratic and Republican candidates, and helped me solidify my decision.
But just look at Pennsylvania right now. Experts are saying that if Senator McCain can take Pennsylvania (and there's some indication he can) that it could turn the tide on this election. But how could Pennsylvanians, people with a history of working so hard yet still experiencing such economic hardship, want to choose a man who, when asked, couldn't even remember how many properties he owns; whose family thus far refuses to produce last year's tax returns for fear of drawing attention to the incredible weath they enjoy? I am a person of low-income, and it's my belief that I would have to be deluding myself to think that such a man could have my best interests at heart.
No matter what the numbers suggest, the outcome of this election is not at all certain. There is a pervasive suspicion that there may be some or many Americans whose vote will be based on skin pigmentation.
I don't believe there can be any doubt as to who the winner of the presidential debates has been, however. Barack Obama's poise and self-control has never been so evident as it was last night. To his credit, he seemed genuinely put-out and uncomfortable when the focus turned to personal attacks, repeatedly trying to bring the discussion back to the issues. I don't think it would be fair to say that it was an ugly debate with both candidates bemoaning the personal attacks coming from the opposing side. John McCain was very much on the offensive, with Obama taking a defensive stance. And only when boxed into a corner did Obama bring up the subject of people directing chants of "Kill Him!" ("Him" meaning Obama), at McCain rallies.
McCain came at Obama with everything he had last night, it seemed, and may have done some damage bringing up mirky things from Obama's past, like his affiliation with ACORN, a group most of us had never heard of before. (ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is apparently a large community organizing group which spends most of its time and energy addressing housing issues for low-income families. It has, however, come under fire for voter fraud, apparently illegally registering homeless people. When thinking of voter fraud in this country, of course, most recall the debacle that was the vote count in Florida in 2000, which to this day brings into question whether or not President Bush actually won that election.)
Obama was willing to address calmly and (allegedly) factually all of McCain's charges. McCain came off as sarcastic and snarly, and seemed to be working hard to maintain his composure. Both candidates, once again, failed at times to speak directly to the questions, leaving one to wonder how effectual either of them could really be in turning things around in this country. Still, we must continue to hope, and Obama's ability to remain cool under fire, I guess, gives me a little more hope.
I'm glad Joe Biden found time near the end of the debate to bluntly assert the obvious regarding John McCain: That McCain is not a "Maverick" when it comes to any of the issues that are pertinent to the welfare of the American people. Both Obama and Biden have been giving examples of this throughout, but Biden- Finally- just came out and said it. The "Maverick" label grew tiresome a long time ago.
Most of Biden's arguments were both impassioned and informed. His controlled anger and outrage regarding McCain's stance on the issues seemed believable. Overall he came off as a seasoned professional who's in it for the long haul, and still has a lot of fight left in him.
It seems unfair that all Palin had to do to "win" the debate was to not embarrass herself; hardly a criterion for who should run the country. Palin would continuously put on this sexy little smile while endeavoring to attack her opponent- like a salesmen staring deep into your eyes and smiling warmly while gouging the life out of you. Then she'd wiped it off, put it away and dive into the meat of what she wants you to believe. "I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear," firstly, is a nonsensical sentence. And secondly, it flies in the face of the very nature of a debate. If you're trying to become Vice President of the United States, answering the moderator's questions directly is exactly what you're supposed to be doing. And most of us probably don't know the definitive answer to the energy crises, but if "Drill, BABY, Drill" as a national chant is the answer, then how can we not be in trouble?
Palin came off as a well-trained student, a talking-head who's been fed the histories of situations, so as to sound as if she's been there. She is a very beautiful woman. The eye make-up is intoxicating, but I'm not big on hair highlighting. Under no circumstances do I want her running the United States of America.
Though it took him a while to do so, Obama eventually addressed McCain directly, looking at him and speaking to him. This is something McCain was either unwilling or unable to do from start to finish. It suggested a willingness on Obama's part to show respect for his opponent, whereas McCain would only look down at his notes and sneer his smart-alecky grin. The implication on McCain's part was that his opponent deserved no recognition whatsoever. In this respect, Obama came off as the bigger man.
When McCain accused Obama of allegedly saying he'd be willing to sit down and negotiate with terrorists, Obama's defense was strong and pointed, declaring that as President he would reserve the right to speak with whomever he saw fit, that he would not enter into illusory talks where foregone conclusions had already been dictated by a military or political machine. Here Obama turns an accusational negative into a strong and refreshing positive.
Obama continuosly faced down and spoke to McCain's allegations, and appeared more on point and present than McCain, who turned maudlin at the end, professing, "I love the Veterans." And to repeatedly conjure up Ronald Reagan during an economic crises suggests McCain was basically addressing only his constituency; he was not addressing America in a time of need, and he was certainly not addressing Obama.
Neither candidate were capable of providing specific details on how they will approach the economic crises, or what will have to be cut from their proposed budgets. But again, though it took him a while to do so, it was Obama who eventually raised the obvious point of suggesting a link between economic hardship and a seemingly endless "war on terror," costing trillions of dollars and thousands of lives.
Throughout the campaign Obama has avoided speaking deliberately to a very painful but neccessary question: Is John McCain really fit, physically or psychologically, to be President? He's also- cleverly perhaps- avoided speaking to McCain's bizarre choice of running mate. It will be a sad moment, and a defining moment in our history, if some Americans allow skin pigmentation to sway their choice for our next President.
Though it took him a while to do so, Obama was eventually willing to look at and address McCain directly, something McCain was either unwilling or unable to do from start to finish.
Obama clearly wins the debate, from my way of thinking. Obama never said he'd sit down and drink some beers with terrorists; he said, very firmly, that as President he reserved to right to sit down and talk with anyone, not just those whom a military machine would dictate he talk to.
Throughout the debate, and throughout the campaign, Obama has respectfully avoided the painful, unanswered question which no one seems to be asking: Whether or not McCain is fit to hold office. And this issue goes beyond just the candidate's age.
I am probably a good person but I haven't taken the time to fill out my profile, so you'll never know!