Friday, February 21, 2014

Dartmouth Debate: D'Souza vs. Ayers

What's So Great About America?
Had the pleasure of watching two dynamic speakers debate each other on C-SPAN.  Dinesh D'Souza (conservative author and movie maker) debated Bill Ayers (revolutionary/social justice professor) on the pros and cons of capitalism and socialism.  For the record, I am fiercely independent.  Both Democratic and Republican parties repulse me.  They are egomaniacal sell-outs who pander to big business.  My debate review is about as impartial of an interpretation as most viewers are able to give. 
Bill Ayers-A Chicago boy, believes in equal pieces of the pie for all, never had to "work" because of family money.  I'm very familiar with this man because I am from Chicago.  He lives in Glen Ellyn.  For the record, the town is predominantly white and upper class.  Why does this matter?  Because it contradicts his whole anti-capitalism, pro-redistribution of wealth dogma.  He touts the philosophy of social justice or all of us should have equal pieces of the pie.  Guess he doesn't believe in living in the same neighborhood with the very people he champions.  Some might argue that this sounds like rich white boy/Hollywood movie star white guilt phenomena.  Obama loves the guy and his social justice. 
Bill packages his "giving to the less fortunate" idea as a response to white supremacy.  Christians believe it's their duty to help others and perform good works too.  Yes, he made some great points, but should charity be left to the charitable?  Should government be involved in choosing who should be helped?
Bill also mentions how we are not as exceptional as we like to think, using education as one of his many examples.  The U.S. educational system is undebatedly inequitable.  A quality curriculum should be available to all and not those who live in a towns with huge tax bases.  Welfare is a great safety net for those who fall on hard times.  Should it be a way of life?  A counter-culture?  Is there a way to eliminate fraud and longevity of entitlements?  
Bill went into how modern-day war is no longer just.  War is the new way to provide corporate welfare or pay back campaign contributors with Iraq and Afghanistan wars as recent examples.  Are corporations dictating our foreign policy?  Was the real winner Haliburton and Big-Oil?  Are the only voters who matter the ones who run fortune 500 corporations?
When asked about gun control and the 2nd Amendment, Ayers fervently believes that people don't have the right to own "machine guns."  Ironically, this man tried to bomb the Pentagon in the 1960s.  Is this just slightly hypocritical?
In summary, Bill believes that we can be better and we need to be better.  America needs to step it up in so many areas.

Dinesh D'Souza-Indian immigrant who went to Dartmouth who made himself into a celebrity through his conservative preachings. 
Dinesh has a unique perspective of the U.S. as an immigrant.  He states that so many Americans (like his debate opponent) put down this country, but what are they comparing it to?  The Garden of Eden?  He believes America is the best place to live with the best ideals in the world. 
America's biggest contribution to the world is the creation of wealth.  D'Souza explains himself by citing history's old ways to gaining riches.  Empires would conquer lands and their resources to gain wealth whereas America figured out a way to make it without taking it from someone else through trade and invention.  He recites all of the amazing inventions that came from the U.S.  Motivating factors such as freedom, protection of patents, and capitalism encouraged those to succeed.  He believes that America is the only place where one makes big decisions about his life. 
D'Souza believes that capitalism is the U.S.'s biggest gift to poor countries such as India and China and NOT social programs.  Only in America are there fat people who are poor.  He even makes a pot shot at his audience, Dartmouth students, by rhetorically asking them who pays for their Ivy League education.  When asked about these shady wars in the Middle East, Dinesh backs up the last two presidents by claiming that fighting for others' democracy is a good thing, even though it turned out to be a waste of money.  Wouldn't those wars have made more sense if the U.S. took Iraq's oil?  Does anyone really "buy" this whole democracy reason?
Dinesh warns that China and India are going to take over if we don't wake up.  Unlike us, they won't be going to war because of "democracy". 

And the winner is....
Dinesh, but Ayers was almost as good!  I think Dinesh was a better speaker.  He also made a stronger case for growing wealth over redistributing it.  Let me know what you think.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Author and Wine Entrepreneur Dave Terry Stops By

Dave, thanks for being my guest! Congratulations on Uncle Boo and Me (from Xulon Press)!
Dave the Writer
How long did you aspire to write a book? 
I had wanted to write books since I was a little kid. I entered and won several writer’s competitions in school (won 2 of them) but I mostly put it aside until 1998, when my wife and I wrote a cookbook together. Since then, I’ve written 3 other books, a blog of several thousand pages (daily on weekdays since 2010), and have a number of other irons in the fire.
How long did it take you to write it? 
Get this: it took less than a week. I did most of the prose in a day, but then tinkered around with it for a few days after.
Tell us about your road to publication.  
The road to publication is paved with…rejection letters. I’ve shopped all my books around to established publishers and I could paper my office walls with the rejection letters. So, in late 2012, I started looking at self-publishing. I interviewed 3 publishers before settling on Xulon. They made the entire editing, galley, and purchasing process mostly painless.
LOL-Been down that road! 
Tell us about the illustrations. 
They’re the coolest part. The book is comprised of stories about my son, Dillon’s, imaginary friend, Uncle Boo. BUT it was illustrated by a boy of 10 (at the time) who was Dillon’s bestest buddy. Matt Waters liked to draw even then, and I’m very pleased with both his illustrations, the love he put into it, and the backstory to the whole thing.
Who are your favorite authors?
Why, you, Dina, of course. I enjoy Stephen King, Pat Conroy, Tom Clancy, and Vince Flynn. I also very much enjoy reading anything Max Lucado writes.
What makes a story good? What makes a story bad? 
Same answer for both: passion. I think authors write for themselves, and if we’re passionate about telling a story well, then it shows through. Likewise, if we’re pretentious and fond of our adjectives, it reads like drivel. I like concise writing; tightly packed, sparing on the flowery descriptions, and dialogue that sounds authentic without being improbable.
What best-selling book is your book most like? Hmmm….If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…
I love that book!

Where do you like to write?
That depends. I like quiet places or, strangely, very crowded rooms. I mainly like places where I can tune things out and focus on the words. I write my daily blog entries, mostly, in hotel rooms and on airplanes (because I travel for my day job).
What are you working on now?
Well, there’s that daily blog: I’m finishing up another devotional (have four in various stages of incompletion). AND I’m writing a novel about one of the more timeless stories in our history: Ruth. I also have another love story that occasionally calls out to me, depending on whether or not the muse is silent. And I sometimes write poetry if I’m feeling particularly morose.
Dave the Wine Vintner
Have you always been a wine connoisseur? 
Actually, no…for only about a dozen years. My wife and I are the dumbest wine fancies ever: we lived in Italy for 3 years and barely drank the local wine. Oh to be young and stupid. But I started drinking wine when I started traveling regularly in 2001, mainly because it was free at the hotels where I stayed. From there, I discovered I really liked it, brought some home to Kim, and the rest is, well, fermented history.

Name some of your favorite flavors and brands. 
We’re pinot noir drinkers. Started with merlots (and we really dig this white merlot that we found at a winery in Rhode Island), but we are mostly into pinot’s at the moment (although I kinda dig temperanillo and malbec…would love to grow a Texas malbec). There’s also a grape called the Norton that’s popular in Virginia, and I really like Norton wines.
Besides age, what makes a bottle of wine expensive? 
Wine snobs. Seriously, I think it’s just what the market will bear. Reputation, popularity, rarity, location: they all drive up the price.
Why do people spend so much on French wine? 
Because they’re fools. The French don’t like us anyway.
What kinds of wine will you and your wife produce? 
We’re looking to start small, probably with merlot, temperanillo, and chardonnay grapes. With those, however, we can make both full wines and blends. We’d also like to make strawberry and peach wines.
Will your winery also be a bar/restaurant? 
No m’am. We’ll offer wine tastings, plus a few select foods to complement the wines. Since we’re in Texas, if you come to Second Chance Vineyards, you’ll get biscuits and jam, cheese balls, and maybe even guacamole.
What will your bottle and label look like?  
That’s a secret for the moment J. Our son, Dillon, is designing the logo as we speak.
Who is your target consumer?
Middle class wine enthusiasts. The neat thing about a vineyard is coming out for the experience. You can have a drink in a bar, but you enjoy a glass of wine at a tasting room. We’ll invite people to come in, taste our vintages, and enjoy a glass: all before buying a few bottles to take on the way.
God-willing, we’ll be selling our first vintage in late 2015 or early 2016.
Dave Terry
"keep pressing"

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