Jul 26, 2017

Virginian Centrism Isn't Going Anywhere (Yet, At Least)

Reading Jeff Schapiro's column in the Metro section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch is always one of the most boring experiences of my day. Everything that man writes is bland, but I suppose that that could be a symptom of writing about Virginia politics.

Today's column, though, actually looked to be somewhat promising: Debate shows Va.'s political middle seems to be fading. The fading political middle is extremely my thing! The first three paragraphs of the column continue to grab my attention, as Schapiro discusses the vanishing of centrism from politics in Virginia. Schapiro hints at his bad politics, but that's another post for another time.

But then something weird happens: Schapiro nearly completely stops talking about political polarization in Virginia. The rest of the column is a criticism of the gubernatorial debate's focus on national politics, rather than state politics. This is absolutely a fair criticism to make, but why did Schapiro lead off with a discussion of polarization, going so far as to title the column around the idea that centrism is going away?

About three-quarters of the way through the column, Schapiro does touch on the issue of polarization again, albeit briefly. He notes that both Northam and Gillespie are centrists, recalling that Northam voted for GWB and that Gillespie is friends with McAuliffe.

I have a theory as to why this column strayed so far away from it's intended purpose of highlighting the polarization of politics in Virginia: it's because the polarization isn't happening. In looking at the four major contenders in the race for governor just over a month ago, one can see that the two centrist candidates won out against everyone else. If this election was between Corey Stewart and Tom Perriello, I think that would be a good justification for the discussion about the disappearance of centrism in the state. But with a race for governor between Ralph Northam and Ed Gillespie, it's safe to say that centrism is alive and well in Virginia.

John McCain and More

Less than two weeks after being diagnosed with brain cancer, Arizona Senator John McCain returned to the Senate yesterday to bipartisan applause. In a rare moment of civility for Washington, senators from both sides of the aisle put away their divisive rhetoric and honored the senator and veteran who has leveraged his power to be a sharp critic of President Trump.

McCain's return allowed for the crucial vote needed to begin debate on repealing and potentially replacing the Affordable Care Act. Though McCain did not vote for the repeal bill that came to the floor, his vote ensured that the Senate could begin deliberating on a bill that would allow the ACA to become history.

In other news, the American Pilots Association hosted their annual luncheon this afternoon. The luncheon, held once a year, is an opportunity for the APA to recognize the best American pilots in the industry. This year, pilot Richard M. Stewart the Pilot of the Year award, the most prestigious title the APA recognizes.

Stewart delivered his acceptance speech to uproarious applause. Notable for frequently flying passenger airplanes while intoxicated, Stewart railed against unsafe piloting techniques. The 52 year old pilot has frequently spoken out about the dangers of flying while drunk.

In his 15 years of service, the St. Louis-based pilot has only crashed planes a total of 11 times. Shelly Tucker, a spokeswoman for the APA, said in a statement that the organization is "so proud of all that Mr. Stewart has accomplished. Though there may be disagreements about his technique, Mr. Stewart has proven himself time and time again to be a real hero; a maverick, if you will. Today's ceremony to honor him is a showing of the most important virtue in our society: civility."

Jul 24, 2017

What Is Going On Here?

Because I am never satisfied with anything I ever do, I've decided to make some further changes to this blog. And because of the many large changes, I'm having a hard time figuring out which change should be described as the biggest. There's the name change, the change in color and design, and the planned change in philosophy. I'll try to address all of them here in this post.

Let's start with the name change. If you read blogs, you'll notice that they always have a fun, eye-catching name. My blog is called Jimmy's Thoughts. Who names blogs after themselves? Only losers. In an attempt to stop being perceived as such a loser, I will be changing the name of this blog to 'macaroni hiccups.' Why? 'Macaroni Hiccups' is a phrase that I came up with early in high school and have always loved. A reflection on life in that it's inherently meaningless, macaroni hiccups has always been the working name of my projects throughout the years. Since it's always been sitting around in files on my computer and never really going anywhere, I think it's time I actually put it into use. So here we go! Of course, you will always be able to access this blog at www.jimmyokeefe.blogspot.com, but starting today, you can also access this blog at www.macaronihiccups.com. Very nice.

Next, the design change. It's really not complicated, I've always loved white text on a black background, and isn't it better for the environment or something? And to put it simply, red is just a cool color. For whatever reason, I feel more comfortable putting my thoughts online in this color scheme than I did with the boring black text/white background design.

And finally, a bit of a change in philosophy (hopefully). This blog has been pretty inactive in the past, and I would really like to change that. It would be kind of cool to actually have a readership, even if it's small, and the way to get a readership is to post more than just once a month. Ideally I would like to post multiple times a week, but we all know how difficult it is to set posting goals. Also, I really do need to write more; I'll be starting school next month as a journalism major, and it would be nice to be able to use this space as a way of developing my voice. I guess it's also worth noting that I feel more comfortable posting when it's not under my real name, so I think that the voice macaroni hiccups takes on will be more natural and a whole lot more interesting than the bland voice one could find on Jimmy's Thoughts.

So, thanks for tuning in, everyone. Let's see where I can take this.

May 27, 2017

More Reading!!!!!!!!

Hello again!!!!

It's a great night to be posting!

My number one hobby is to read the takes! If you're interested in seeing what I'm reading during the day, why not subscribe to my Nuzzel newsletter? It shows the stories that I read everyday!

Feel free to subscribe here, or at the wayyyyy bottom of the page, under the 'what am i reading' heading!

Some Reading

Since finishing the spring semester of college, I've been doing a lot of reading. This past semester required a good amount of reading for each of my classes, and luckily it got me in the habit of reading good amounts of texts.

I'm reading a few books at the moment. Slowly but surely, I'm making my way through David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. Today, a friend told me that I'm trying hard to be a "David Foster Wallace Bro." I don't know what that means, but I really do not want to be a David Foster Wallace Bro.

Additionally, I'm reading Shattered, that book about the horrible Clinton campaign that everyone's been talking about. To be frank, I don't think that the writing is that awesome. It seems like the writers just wanted to use explicit language as much as possible in order to prove some sort of point about how they're still young and relevant and edgy. They're lucky in the fact that they have a good story to tell, and that saves the book.

(Also, it's inevitable to think about the fact that Allen and Parnes wrote a ridiculously celebratory book about Clinton prior to running. You get the feeling they're so bitter about how awful she was during the election that they wrote this book to spite her, which I can appreciate to a degree.)

In between these books, I've been reading a lot of short stories. Last week's New Yorker had a great read from Samantha Hunt called "A Love Story" which dealt with the challenges to identity that comes with motherhood. It reaffirmed my desire to not have children.

J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories is also really awesome, he's such a great writer. Big thanks to my high school government teacher for telling me to read Salinger.

This year I've finally come to terms with the fact that there's a great deal of classic literature that I just do not like! But wait!!! I feel like I can offer a justification for this opinion: what's the fun in reading about rich white aristocrats (I'm looking at you, Jane Austen)? With this confession comes the realization that I really enjoy the voice of the contemporary woman; Maggie Nelson is great, I consider Leslie Jamison to be one of my favorite writers, etc etc etc....... A recent trip to the bookstore brought Marina Keegan to my attention, and I really want to grab a copy of 'The Opposite of Loneliness."

So that's what's been going on with me, in terms of books. Any recommendations? Email me!

May 12, 2017

The Largest Escalator in the Western Hemisphere

Yesterday, I had the distinct privilege of being able to visit the largest escalator in the western hemisphere.

At a height of 230 feet and a slope of 30°, the that escalator brings riders in and out of the Wheaton Metro station takes a full two minutes and 45 seconds to ride from one end to the other.

The escalator at the Wheaton Metro station is truly a remarkable sight to behold. As soon as I learned that the largest escalator in the western hemisphere was among the many escalators in the Metro system, I knew that I had to pay it a visit.

My journey to this holy site began where all of my adventures into D.C. begins, at the Vienna Metro station. I head towards New Carollton and got off at Metro Center. From there, it was towards Glenmont on the Red Line. The farthest I had ever been in that direction prior to yesterday was Brookland, so it was nice to see what the rest of D.C. was like down in that area.

As soon as I passed the Silver Spring station, I could feel the train descending into the ground at an impressive slope. Upon arrival in Forest Glen, the first stop in Maryland, I was delighted to discover a type of station that I had never seen before: separate tunnels and platforms for each direction. This is a feature specific to stations that are deep underground.

One platform and tunnel per direction!
Continuing one more stop down the Red Line, I arrived at Wheaton. Again, there were separate tunnels and platforms for each direction (fun fact: Wheaton and Forest Glen are the only Metro stations to employ separate tunnels and platforms for each direction).

Getting out of the train and the tunnel, there it was: the largest escalator in the western hemisphere. My excitement could hardly be contained. Immediately I got on it, and instead of walking up as I usually would, I decided to let it do the work for me. Two minutes and 45 seconds later, I was at the top.

But during the ride, I couldn't help but laugh to myself as I became conscious of how long the ride was. The height of this escalator is unbelievable! This lighthearted thought was interrupted as soon as I looked behind me and saw the terrifying height I had travelled -- and I wasn't even halfway up. As someone scared of heights, this was not only a moment of pure fear, but also a moment for reflection on my life. Here I was -- young, excited, a little bit scared -- doing something that should have been completely horrifying. But I was doing it. Me, a person scared of heights, was traversing the largest escalator in the western hemisphere! It was an experience wrought with emotion, one that I will not soon forget.

If you ever find yourself in the metro D.C. area, I encourage you to ride the Wheaton escalator at least a few times. Not only will it provide you with a few moments for some serious self-evaluation, it's also a fun, adrenaline-inducing ride.

Apr 11, 2017

Another Reminder That Corporations Are Bad

It's been a great week to hate corporations.

First Pepsi releases a ridiculously tone-deaf ad, and now United violently forcing a passenger off of a plane he paid money to get home in. And so violently forcing him off, that is, to the point in which the passenger was bloody.

Any take that attempts to defend either United or the law enforcement officers involved in this incident is a bad one. And what it says in the terms and conditions of the plane ticket really shouldn't matter: it is a moral disaster when a human being is battered in the way that the man on that flight was.

It took way too long, but United did eventually apologize for what happened. But even if they had apologized sooner, it wouldn't have made any difference. It's absurd to think that United, a ginormous corporation, has feelings whatsoever, and nonetheless "feels" sorry about any of this. Corporations are not people, no matter how much they would like for you to believe otherwise, and thus they cannot feel things. It's simple.

All that matters to a corporation is profit. This incident shines a light on that very basic truth. Rather than treat a human being with dignity and respect, United decided to forcibly remove a paying passenger in an incredibly violent manner. Neither the man's feelings or physical well-being was taken into account: for United to continue making a profit, what had to be done was done.

Clearly, there is also the glaring issue of law enforcement serving as the agent of capital. That's a whole different issue deserving of it's own post.

It's nearly impossible to hold United accountable for this considering that airlines have formed an oligopoly. And in the age of Trump, where consumer protection regulations are continually assaulted, things look especially grim. But if anything, this is a painful reminder that corporations, in addition to being bad, are also not your friend whatsoever.