Here’s to 2013

Suck it, Mayans. Not only was 2012 not the end of humanity, it was packed with major milestones and records. Every blog on the Internet and every columnist known to Man have written some sort of commemorative post or column to look back over the previous year and welcome in 2013 – nothing special here…and since the year is over, I figured I’d write SOMETHING to look back.

There’s so much that I’ve written about over the past year: more states legalized marriage equality and brought national equality closer to being a reality; President Barack Obama beat human cyborg Mitt “Cayman Islands” Romney and won re-election to the presidency; The one and only Queen of Pop (hint: her career is over 30 years old) performed at the Super Bowl halftime to a record-breaking number of viewers and topped the charts with her 12th studio album, MDNA, all over the world.

And…

All previous heat and extreme weather records were broken this year than in all the years that scientists have been studying global climate and planet’s oceans continue to become more acidic…because humans have absolutely no effect on climate change because it is totally fake, or something. The number of mass shootings in the United States continued to skyrocket with tragic results, and still America has grossly inadequate gun control policies – the National Rifle Association’s lobbyists have blood on their hands.

We must make 2013 a better, more responsible and unified year.

Throughout this chaotic and interesting year, my own life saw some changes and milestones. I’m still working and going to school and by 2014, I’ll have a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication with a minor in Mass Communication and Journalism from Fresno State. I may decide to go on for a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. I turned 23 in August, danced to “Gangnam Style” and realized I’m annoyed with the teens and children of today….and I’d just like to say that One Direction can go back the direction they came.

Having said/written that, here are a few highlights from my year:

 

I became a father………….to a beautiful kitten…

I am the proud father of the most beautiful, funny, adorable cat ever – FACT. I got little miss Lucy, named after Lucille Ball, when she was only a six-week-old bundle of fur. I fell in love instantly. For almost seven months, she’s brought be joy and a few headaches. Lucy has abnormally long legs and can literally jump over half-way up a door if she’s following a mysterious laser and she loves to chit-chat with me. I love Lucy. She’s purrrfect.

my little girl

my little girl

 

I saw Madonna LIVE in LA

It was a surreal experience, seeing my favorite artist and the legendary Queen of Pop (I wrote about it for my university newspaper – read it here). I purchased the tickets for a pretty penny, but it was definitely worth it. In fact, for the next tour, I’m paying even more to sit in front of the stage AND I’ll be going to more than one show. Madonna puts on a concert like no other by channelling her pioneering, independent spirit and chart topping hits into one two-hour extravaganza. Seeing a Madonna concert in one’s lifetime should be on everyone’s bucket list. Sadly, my phone died before the concert began and I wasn’t able to take any pictures. So, here’s an iconic screenshot from the highest-grossing tour of 2012…

Madonna wearing a Gaultier corset (homage to her 1990 Blonde Ambition Tour) and vogue-ing

Madonna wearing a Gaultier corset (homage to her 1990 Blonde Ambition Tour) and vogue-ing

 

I *proudly* helped re-elect President Obama.

President Barack Obama is not perfect. For example, I wish he would be more aggressive on fighting climate change via policy, Wall Street reform and gun control. But when one of the parties in a two-party system literally does all it can to fight, tooth and nail, everything the President and his party do, it’s hard to enact meaningful legislation or accomplish anything aside from Congress-wide pay raises. Since the corporate backed Conservative Movement, Religious Right, and the Tea Party took over the Republican Party, Washington has been a nightmare. I agree with most of the President’s agenda and over-all goals and when it came down to him and Mitt “binders full of women” Romney, it was really a no-brainer. Historians will look back in amazement at how politics regressed in this time. The 2014 congressional elections cannot come fast enough…

President Obama - two-term, 44th President of the United States.

President Obama – two-term, 44th President of the United States.

Here’s to a kick-ass 2013.

 

California Ballot Initiatives/Propositions 2012 Edition

It’s that time of year, when the world falls in love…..with excercising their right and civic duty to vote. With less than two weeks until Election Day, I figured I should write a post about how I’ll voting on the damned propositions here in California.

I say “damned” because, as I’ve said countless times before, the ballot initiative is a horrible way to make law; the whole point of having a republic and legislature is that we vote for people to represent us and make our laws, people who are (supposed to be) educated and spend numerous hours debating policy at the Capitol. It shouldn’t be a newsflash to anyone that the average Joe or Jane don’t exactly make the best lawmakers.

But until California either gets a new constitution, makes the process of placing an initiative on the ballot much more difficult, or does away with it altogether, I will faithfully be voting in every election I’m able to vote in for the rest of my life. 🙂

Here’s a short ‘n sweet summary of how and why I’m voting on Propositions 30 through 40. I strongly urge you to do your own research yourself, cutting through the political junk mail and making your own decisions. But seeing how this is my blog, you have the privilege of reading how I’m voting. Enjoy 😉

 

Proposition 30: “Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment” This is big fat YES. California’s education system is in shambles (thanks in large part to 1978’s Prop 13) and is in dire need of more funding. Prop 30 temporarily (seven years) increases the income tax of wealthy individuals ($250,000 and above) and raises the sales tax by 1/4 of a cent for four years. This translates to $6 billion ANNUALLY over the next seven years for the state’s public school system. It should be noted that none of this revenue will go toward administrative costs but completely to schools, 89 percent to K-12 and 11 percent to community colleges. If Prop 30 fails, tuition at colleges will go up and the amount of classes available will go down. Vote Yes!

Proposition 31: “State Budget. State and Local Government. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.” Definitely NO. This creates a two-year budget cycle that is much more complicated and devastating to state services; expenditures over $25 million must be met with cuts to programs that effect several million people in the most populous state in the US. Prop 31 would result in an even more broken state incapable of funding programs effectively (think of how it is now….times 10). Vote No!

Proposition 32: “Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Contributions to Candidates. Initiative Statute.” Here’s a big fat NO. This initiative sounds appealing and fair – it bans all corporate and union donations to political campaigns. Sounds good, right? Get money out of politics! HOWEVER, millionaires and billionaires can still give unlimited amounts of cash to candidates of their choice. This proposition is a huge win for rich conservatives and a huge loss not only for liberals but people who work for a living because unions pretty much always donate to Democratic and populist campaigns. Don’t be fooled. Vote No!

Proposition 33: “Auto Insurance Companies. Prices Based on Driver’s History of Insurance Coverage. Initiative Statute.” No, No, NO. Given how Corporations crashed the economy in 2008 and do everything they can to undermine reform, how many people think they should have even more power to over charge you for something like car insurance? Anyone? Prop 33 penalizes those who have never had car insurance before by charging them more. Vote No!

Proposition 34: “Death Penalty. Initiative Statute.” YES. I, like most industrialized, liberal democracies in the world, am against the death penalty. This issue is too controversial to write about in a single paragraph. For now, I’ll simply say that the government should not remove violent criminals from society only to kill them after they no longer pose a threat to anyone out of revenge and adherence to a barbaric tradition.

Proposition 35: “Human Trafficking. Penalties. Initiative Statute.” YES. I’ll admit I was torn on this issue at first, mainly because the federal government already handles human trafficking cases. But, given how horrible and unimaginable human trafficking is (and thankfully it is rare), I definitely support increasing the penalty on sex and labor trafficking. Current law gives traffickers who force minors into prostitution only eight years. Prop 35 brings that up to a life sentence. Those same traffickers are currently fined only $100,000. Under Prop 35, that goes up to $1.5 million. Prop 35 requires sex traffickers to register as sex offenders and provide all law enforcement with information on their Internet access and online identities. Prop 35 is a definite Yes. Both the California Democratic Party and the California Republican Party support Prop 35.

Proposition 36: “Three Strikes Law. Repeat Felony Offenders. Penalties. Initiative Statute.” YES! If there’s one thing that has led to a gargantuan increase in California’s prison population and budget, it has been the infamous Three Strikes Law. The fatal flaw: If someone committed two felonies and then a third, they were sentenced to life imprisonment even if the third felony conviction was not violent. California has the largest prison population of any state in the country and more and more of the state’s budget is sunk into building and maintaining new prisons. Prop 36 changes the current law of life imprisonment convictions only to VIOLENT offenses, including rape, murder and child molestation. It also authorizes re-convictions of previous life imprisonment convictions if those convictions weren’t violent or involved rape, child molestation, possession of drugs or illegal use of firearms. California would save anywhere from $7o-$90 million annually.

Proposition 37: “Genetically Engineered Foods. Labeling. Initiative Statute.” YES! This seems like common sense, but actually, food producers aren’t required to show which of their foods are genetically modified. It is estimated that this law would cost, at most, $1 million annually (it is expected to only add a few hundred thousand dollars to the state budget). The biggest opposing force to this statute: Monsanto. Enough said. Vote No!

Proposition 38: “Tax to Fund Education and Early Childhood Programs. Initiative Statute.” Surprisingly, this is getting a NO vote from me. Increasing our historically low taxes slightly to exclusively fund education programs is an excellent idea, especially considering Prop 13 (1978) drastically reduced state revenues. However, this statute conflicts with the desperately needed Prop 30, and under California law, when two propositions conflict, which ever has more votes trumps the other proposition. THAT’S why I’m voting No.

Proposition 39: “Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding. Initiative Statute.” YES! This would raise state revenues by $1 billion annually, and that number is expected to grow. It does this by requiring multistate corporations that do business in California to calculate their income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in California. Common sense, right? Current law essentially allows them to choose the plan that works best for them. Just a little FYI, corporate taxes, state and federal, are at historic lows. The billions of dollars gained to the Golden state would fund the future: new clean, renewable energy projects and community colleges. Vote Yes, Yes, YES!

Proposition 40: “Redistricting. State Senate Districts. Referendum.” YES, but only because this is simply annoying. I was against this “citizen’s commission” when it was on the ballot years ago and I’m still opposed to it now. My view: leave redistricting of state senate districts to the legislature where it has always been. But since we have this law, let’s allow it to work. The commission made a decision following the census. Let’s not waste more money and tie more hands by rejecting the plan from the very commission we supposedly love so much. Vote Yes. Both the California Democratic Party and the California Republican Party support Prop 40.

It’s A Celebration

Here’s my first post of 2012…and…it’s about….Madonna. Twenty-twelve is going to be the Year of Madonna and to celebrate, here’s a great remix of 1983’s “Holiday” and 2009’s “Celebration,” mixed with the videos spanning her 29-year career.

Studio album number twelve is set to come out in a matter of months and her first single, “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” is being released later this month. A world tour is also expected later this year, which will be M’s ninth world tour. As a devoted Madonna fan and member of the Millennial Generation, I eagerly await the latest material from the one and only Queen of Pop.

What To Expect In 2012 (My Two Cents)

I’m going to take that crystal ball out of storage, polish it up and gaze into the future…..ok, so I’m just going to guess what I think the following year will bring based on what’s happening as this year comes to a close.

  1. One World Trade Center will be completed in 2012. The 1,776-ft. tower is on schedule to be completed by late next year. Opening to the public is scheduled for early 2013. The world (and this blog) is loving the amazing progress at the new World Trade Center site.
  2. Iran’s nuclear ambitions may cause a steep rise in gas prices. As Iran continues to invest in nuclear weapons, it faces the threat of economic sanctions from the United States and the European Union. So, Iran has threatened to close off the Strait of Hormuz (at the base of the Persian Gulf) from all oil exports if the US and EU go through with the sanctions. If this were to happen, a large chunk of the world’s oil supply coming from the Middle East would go nowhere and the price of gas would skyrocket. Let’s hope a deal is reached…
  3. Donald Trump may still try to enter the 2012 Presidential Election…as an Independent. Mr. Trump recently left the Republican Party (that’s a very good thing for the GOP) and re-registered as an independent. The infamous media whore and chronic attention-seeker has indicated he may still run. Sarah Palin has also flirted with running as an independent. If either or both of them decided to run, they would split the GOP vote, which would definitely give the President a second term.
  4. The crazy GOP field of candidates will hand a second term to President Obama. Michelle Bachmann. Rick Perry. Herman Cain. Newt Gingrich. Ron Paul. Mitt Romney. Rick Santorum. If you need any more explanation, you have been living under a rock the past 12 months. The GOP can’t decide on a candidate, each candidate keeps saying insane, insulting things, the economy is improving, and, as mentioned in my previous prediction, Trump and/or Palin may still enter the presidential race. These things combined equal a second term for President Obama. The crazy, far-right crop of GOP candidates is a sad reflection on American politics today….but it’s also incredibly entertaining. 😉
  5. Madonna’s 12th studio album will come out! I cannot wait for Madonna’s new album. Her new single, “Give Me all Your Luvin'” will feature Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. and is set to be released in late January. She will sing it live, along with a few Madonna classics, at the Super Bowl on February 5th. If the new single is anything like the demo that leaked a couple of months ago (entitled “Give Me All Your Love”), it will be an incredible album (Benny Benassi and William Orbit are co-producers). A world tour is expected to start in late 2012.
  6. Democratic revolution will continue to rock the Arab world. Many Middle Eastern dictators were ousted and one (Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi) was killed in the midst of revolution. Young people all over the Arab world are overthrowing the regimes of old in favor of democracy. The revolutions continue to rage; In Egypt, there’s an uprising against the military-led government…the military that took power after Hosni Mubarak was thrown out earlier this year.

Give Us All Your Best, Madonna!

I know I write a lot about Madonna. I can’t help it. She’s my favorite artist and a major source of inspiration. So, if you are reading this and find yourself annoyed, thinking, “Oh brother, ANOTHER Madonna post?!” then simply skip this post. She’s hard at work in the studio working on album number 12 AND will most likely be singing at the 2012 Super Bowl. So, expect many more Madonna posts. 😉

Now that I got that out of the way, I’m happy to write that, judging by the reactions of mega talented producer William Orbit (Ray of Light, Music) and long time manager Guy Oseary, Madonna’s new album just may be her best yet.

Orbit took to Twitter to announce:

Madonna has phenomenal understanding of both the minutiae of music and the big picture. Zooming in, zooming out. 4ever amazing

…and…

Working with Madonna is a treat. Fantastic tracks and vibes. Going deep. She’s ON IT !!! This is THE album!

Guy Oseary, Madonna’s manager, also had nothing but praise in his Twitter feed for “THE album.” He told one follower the music was “so goooooooood.”

Industry insiders also revealed that her new single, supposedly entitled “Give Me All Your Love,” (due out early next year) is a catchy, tour de force tune that will include the vocal credits of Nicki Minaj and MIA.

Love will prove, yet again, that Madonna is still on top of her game. Since the beginning of her career, she’s paid close attention to the evolving sound of popular music and stayed a step ahead of other Pop divas like Janet and Britney. From the neo Disco sound of her debut album to the R&B groove of Bedtime Stories, Madonna has delivered something fresh and new on every album.

It’s easy to see why a relatively new artist like Lady GaGa is constantly being compared to The Queen of Pop. Unusual style that captures a generation? Done it before. Put on amazing tours with incredible – and in many cases androgynous – dancers? Done that before. Released videos that revolved around religion, sex, self-expression, love or acceptance and upset religious conservatives in the process? Been there, done that.

No other artist has influenced the music industry and pressed buttons quite like Madonna has. She towers above the rest. This new single and album will be no exception. Get ready.

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