What I Love About America
October 5, 2005

Joseph C. Phillips (please rise for the mention of a Cosby Show alum) has asked a few of us to write about why we love America. That's an episodic endeavor so I'll probably attempt it later this week when I'm not sleep-deprived. In the meantime, Michael Bowen's list, "100 Things I Love About America" started the first meme I actually thought worthy enough to contribute to. And yes I sure did just finish that sentence with a preposition and start this one with a conjunction. Hi, my name is Ambra Nykol and this is MY website. Grammar is all relative here.

I didn't have time to get to 100, but with all poignancy aside, here are 63 things I love about America:

  1. The overflow of leather-bound Bibles and the freedom to read those Bibles.
  2. Thanksgiving
  3. The Grambling State University Marching Band
  4. Weddings
  5. 20 nail salons within a 5 block radius
  6. The South
  7. The Reflecting Pool
  8. Washington D.C.
  9. Worship Music
  10. Baby Dedications
  11. The New York Subway
  12. Private Schools
  13. Apple Computers
  14. Bacon
  15. eBay
  16. Times Square
  17. the Cheesecake Factory
  18. The Gap
  19. The Right to Bear Arms
  20. Lake Washington
  21. AAA
  22. 24-Hour Walgreen's
  23. Ukrop's
  24. Free Wi-fi
  25. Overpriced coffee
  26. The Debit Card
  27. Google
  28. Jazz
  29. Bill Cosby
  30. Elevator Music
  31. Front porches
  32. Cobblestone roads
  33. Philly Cheesesteaks
  34. The Blue Angels
  35. Collard Greens
  36. Manhattan
  37. Cable Television
  38. Salmon
  39. Dallas, Texas
  40. Strawberry Lemonade
  41. Trader Joe's
  42. Cotillions
  43. Walla Walla Onions
  44. American Apparel
  45. Chik-Fil-A
  46. Northface
  47. Choices
  48. Burgermaster
  49. Jeans
  50. Granny Smith Apples
  51. Nordstrom
  52. The Cosby Show
  53. Peach Cobbler
  54. Barnes & Noble
  55. Hip hop
  56. Malls
  57. Strawberry Shortcake
  58. TiVo
  59. 24-Hour Fitness
  60. Leather
  61. Snood, Minesweeper, Tetris, and Solitaire (otherwise known as the world's most addictive computer games)
  62. Sundays
  63. The Grand Canyon (from a distance)
So I've noticed that the majority of these items have to do with food. Forgive me for being a glutton. Take Cobb's meme and run with it. I think this one is fantabulous.

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The Battle Unseen
October 4, 2005

Yesterday, President Bush made a whole plethora of Republicans upset and I must say, I couldn't be more proud of him. I count myself among the too frequently silent remnant that seem to genuinely believe that President Bush is the man for this hour. Not the man for the Republican Party. Not the man for the Conservative movement, but the man for such a time as this. Nevermind our disagreements. For even prior to his election, President Bush and I had our differences. In fact, on almost a monthly basis, our dear leader does or says something that drives me to frustration. The difference however is that I don't believe President Bush's success in office should be determined by what he has and hasn't done to further the "conservative agenda." His success should be determined by his obedience to what he knows to be right because like everyone else, President Bush will also give an account for his life, his decisions, and his stewardship of the responsibility of the presidency. Whereas it seems that some citizens want a presidential puppet, today I am convinced President Bush isn't out for man's approval. I submit to you that this is exactly the type of president we want to have.

Oh how I love it when the foolish things confound the wise.

It seems President Bush has kicked up quite a bit of dust in the conservative camp with his recent nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. The feedback is oh so telling of the shortcomings of left and right thinking. It's usually selfish and wrought with tunnel-vision.

Chanters from the supposed pro-Bush crowd have emerged in all their elephant hat wearing splendor to declare Miers "unqualified" for the job. Apparently these folks aren't familiar with 75% of the Bible--a living testament of unqualified people doing incredible things. Many people have criticized her lack of judicial experience, her relationship to the Bush family, her thin paper trail and her older age (60 years old won't give her a whole lot of time on the court). Nevertheless, the disappointment and feeling of betrayal with this nomination can be chopped up to one big gripe, "How do we even know she is a conservative?" Apparently, Miers doesn't have the appropriate conservative credentials. Perhaps someone can explain to me the substance of the alleged requisite credentials? A subscription to "The National Review" and a gun?

Now I may not be the most profound political theorist, and certainly I didn't graduate from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government but I know one thing: Planned Parenthood is afraid. Take note folks, they do their research. Fear is a good sign. Today on their activist site "saveroe.com," the following was posted:

President Bush has just nominated Harriet Miers to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court. If President Bush puts an extremist judge on the Supreme Court, there will likely be enough votes in place to reverse hard-won gains for women's equality. Some of the rights, liberties and freedoms that we now take for granted may disappear in this new court.
I am certain there is a laundry list of other people that we human beings in our infinite wisdom would deem "more qualified for the job." But I am convinced President Bush is after something bigger here. Years from now, when we look back in the history books, I'm not so sure Iraq or social security or the future of the Republican Party will be lauded as the key focal points of Bush's second term. I believe the major battle in America is the battle for the unborn. It makes perfect sense. The abortion movement isn't just killing babies; it's killing one of the greatest commodities on the earth right now: human potential.

The opportunity of appointing two Supreme Court justices is by my humble analysis, the most important decision of Bush's presidency. If the only reason President Bush is in office is to move this country one step closer to eradicating nationwide infanticide, then so be it. So I'm sorry Cindy Sheehan and all the others who are upset with George W. Bush. I deem this an important enough issue that would cause me to give him a vote of confidence even if it's the only thing he does right (which as far as I can see, won't be the case). Don't be deceived by those who say change is impossible. It is quite possible that Roe v. Wade could be overturned sooner than we think.

The Conservative Voice points out that above all political affiliations (my kind of language), Miers is an "Evangelical Christian" which (not getting into the umpteen improper definitions associated with that word including but not limited to the inaccuracy of the word "evangelical" itself) a little research will show, guarantees that Miers probably knows how to be a better "conservative" than even the most "moral" member of the Andrew Sullivan fan club.

Yeah I'm feeling my independent oats today.

Has it occurred to anyone that just maybe our president is attempting to be strategic? Could it be the very fact that Miers doesn't have a papertrail that may make her a stronger nominee? Time will tell. But the pro-choice (to kill children) camp made it quite clear that they are uneasy. They are uneasy that they can't pin Miers as a staunch Conservative, and they were uneasy with John Roberts' strategic answering of abortion-rights related questions. Answers that without much wisdom, could have surely lost him favor. Thus far, I see one throughline in all of Bush's nominations: calculated ambiguity. Which isn't to say his Supreme Court nominees don't have a clear stance on the hottest of all hot topics. Indeed they do, but they are using wisdom and truth in their reveal.

This is about far more than political gain folks. If we can't begin to see beyond our own man-made political affiliatory hang-ups, we are going play a part in running this country into the ground.

I'm breakin out the pink t-shirt.

President Bush, I trust you on this one.

Update (10/4): Blogger Patrick Ruffini makes it plain:

"At the risk of drawing the undying enmity of The Herd, I'm going to state categorically that conservatism is sitting pretty at this hour. That's because Harry Reid has just been hosed – and he doesn't even know it.

The navel gazers are nabobing about another Souter. That's silly. The Court will almost certainly move to the right as a result of the nomination and confirmation of Harriet Miers. And here's why.

It's true. Little is known about the views of Harriet Miers. But what is known, through official and unofficial channels, paints a picture of a conservative Texas lawyer with rock-solid beliefs on life, strong religious convictions, and a modesty that should allay fears of a renegade Justice determined to remake society through the courts. John Roberts was the silver-tongued, inside-the-Beltway pick for the Court; Miers is the plain spoken red stater."

Read the whole thing.

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So Funny
September 27, 2005

In what can best be described as a terrible airport experience, I was sitting on the floor in Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport last night, wallowing in my own self-pity and extremely perturbed at Delta Airlines for making me miss my connection, when all of a sudden, Jesse Jackson walks by me. Even in my disgruntledness, I just had to laugh. I won't tell you what word jumped into my head the minute I saw his face, but I'd be lying if I didn't say the thought entered my mind to try to stage some sort of racial uprising in protest of Delta's incompetence with Jesse at my side.

Too bad Delta's bankrupt.

I'm on a plane back to Seattle now (finally). Regular poting to resume tomorrow.

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Phase II
September 21, 2005

Navel-gazing therein.

I am living proof that even the most quick-tongued individuals take lots of time to think. I sometimes think I'm too pensive for my own earthly good. So when I disappear for a few weeks, it's not because I've fallen into a hole somewhere as some emails have suggested (although the drama of that is rather appealing in some sick, twisted, Aubrey Seiler-type way); it's due to a number of reasons. These reasons could include but are not limited to: bread-winning, mental exhaustion, having nothing nice to say and therefore not saying it at all, distaste for certain commenters, disgruntledness with people who would rather worship political position rhetoric than think or act like Christians, time spent thinking, and most importantly, having a life. Personally, I have never had a problem with the "having something to say" part. In fact, I have written lists upon lists of topics that I may never ever get a chance to address in this forum. My problem is not a bad one to have, I suppose, but it generally consists of me having so much to say that sometimes, it's just easier not to say it. Does that make sense? Probably not.

Read on.

I sometimes think life would be better if I just didn't care so much about all this. Don't be fooled by my fashion rants and penchant for making fun of rappers who can't rap. As many a reader has reminded me, this blogging thing is a very serious endeavor. I've taken on the burden to ensure this joint runs in the spirit of excellence I'd like to be attached to my name. While that yoke should be easy, I am a procrastinating perfectionist, which is the worst kind of procrastinator. Simply put: I'm not out to shoot blanks.

Do you ever wish you had a secretary for your life? Nothing fancy, just someone who can call in sick to meetings, organize my closet, read the books I wish I had to time to read, remember all the birthdays of everyone who will hate me when I forget, tell me where to show up every day, allocate my time, and organize and answer email. In fact, I would pay big money just for that last one. The condition of my inbox(es) are is horrendous. Note to self: cancel all NAACP Google news alerts.

I've found the hardest part of adulthood not to be paying bills or buying property, but instead managing time and the lack thereof. This is code for learning how to effectively say "no."

In about three days I will be 24 years-old and I'm feeling just a little bit anxious about the whole thing. I can't imagine how I'll feel when I turn 50. One of my best and worst qualities is that I set ridiculous standards for myself every year. Don't get me wrong, as a fan of life, you'd be hard-pressed to convince me that the number 24 isn't about to be made "the new black" because I'm associated with it. Don't hate. You should love your number too. And despite what Sir Robert "doesn't have the sense his momma gave him" Kelly may say, age is more than a number. So around this time every year, I get very pensive and retreat into my pathetic shell, only to emerge a few weeks later with the mantra, "Get yourself together, Ambra."

In an unexpected turn of events, the publishers have come knocking and I really never thought I'd say it, but I think it's time to write a book. As terrifying as that sounds, I think I am going to explode if I don't. Five years ago, as a timid college drop-out, the thought first struck me and I began writing what has to be one my most horrible pieces of literature. Back then, I wasn't even close to being ready. Today, I am, and now my mind is just spinning.

Why I am sharing this here, I do not know. I sat down at my laptop and this is what came out. I guess I thought you should be the first to know. No; this doesn't mean I'm giving up my weblog. That would just be too easy.

I guess I say all this to say: Thanks for getting me to this point. You simply have no idea.

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Thursday's Missive: What do you take?
September 8, 2005

I'm lifting this idea from another blogger whose name escapes me right now because I am a lazy websurfer and I don't write things down, nor do I discipline myself to use "favorites," or any of the great web tools out there for keeping track of the blogs you read.

So you have to leave your house. The situation is pretty serious and you're not quite sure the house will be there when you return. Let's just say hypothetically, you have about 15 minutes to decide what to take. You may be leaving on foot, loading up your car or even hopping on a plane. Either way,

What must absolutely come with you?

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Final Thoughts: Reflections on Race, Class, Poverty and a New Season
September 6, 2005

Last week was a tough week for Americans. Not for "refugees" but for American citizens. I need to take the time to apologize for using that word even if it was just once in this forum. There are many conversations going on about the racial implications of such a word and quite frankly, that's not my beef. At face value, the word is reserved for those "seeking refuge," and could easily be appropriated to any displaced citizens of the gulf coast. However today in our society, the relative connotations of that word carry with them a stigma. It is a stigma that I feel ultimately tints our view towards our own brethren and separates us from responsibility to those people as human beings. They are not just "Citizens of New Orleans." They are not refugees. They are Americans and they need to be treated, addressed, and valued as such.

The devastation of last week proved to be an un-wanted magnifying glass for America and Americans. Like the dirty clothes we used to push under our beds as children in haste to get our rooms cleaned--so has America done with the problems and people that have been deemed "less than" by society. See, I knew early on that something was awry when we began getting early reports that Antoine "Fats" Domino was missing and then later "rescued," much to the joy and relief of many fans. No offense to Mr. Domino, his family, or his fans, but just because he is famous and has written many songs doesn't make his life any more valuable than the thousands who ended up shelterless that night because MSNBC, CNN, and Reuters didn't broadcast a missing persons emergency search-and-rescue report throughout news stations coast-to-coast. In fact, the better part of me is inclined to think that had Mr. Domino been forced to remain a few days with the other people waiting to be rescued, certain media outlets would have had a field day with the backlash.

Value--An interesting word with much power. It's amazing what's brought into the light once tragedy strikes.

Without a doubt, the value on human life has come into question this week. There have been a deluge of hefty accusations flung about as of late, so I don't say that lightly. For the most part, those accusations have centered on race, racism, and the neglect of black people, specifically by President Bush. Some of it has been said with civility, but most of it has been said with disdain. As the front man, our President has taken a beating for such sentiment, but to be honest, considering the real issue at hand, I'm not entirely convinced that Kerry, Clinton or Gore would have handled things much differently. For the record, the reality stands: institutionalized racism currently exists. It's not some socialized problem. It is a stronghold that needs to be broken. This is not a deep revelation. The heavens are not parting. Nothing there has changed. What has however, changed are the stakes. This past week, the stakes were high and everything good and bad. about America came forth in all its glory.

Continue reading "Final Thoughts: Reflections on Race, Class, Poverty and a New Season">>>

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US Open
September 5, 2005

It's official. I'm a James Blake fan. Please add me to the "J-Block."

I grew up in a tennis-watching household so I developed a love for the game early. My father played a bit, and my mother--a former actress--always did a spot on John McEnroe fury impersonation (minus the bad language). Cracks me up every time. I am a horrible beyond horrible tennis player, but I love observing the finesse of the game. To this day, I still wake up at 5:00 am to catch Wimbledon in real-time because I can't stand to find out the results without first seeing the match. When Serena Williams plays, I get so nervous that I hide under my pillow. More than anything however, I love that tennis is a sport that gives me lots of opportunities to root for the United States. What can I say? I love my country.

Unlike basketball, however, I've always preferred watching women play. When the Monica Seles era (i.e. female grunting) was ushered in, the female competitive edge always seemed more intense. There are a few men I enjoy watching, among them Agassi, Hewitt, Roddick, and Sampras (before retirement). With James Blake back on the scene, having officially ditched the Tarzan-look (Andre Agassi re-lived) for a clean-shaven head, I just might change sides.

Go USA.

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Perhaps the most important decision President Bush will ever make
September 3, 2005

Justice William Rehnquist's time on earth is up. God give strength to his family and friends in their time of grief and loss.

As far as I am concerned, the best way to honor the Rehnquist legacy is to ensure that a person who will stand for truth is seated in Rehnquist's place. And now two positions are open. Trust, these appointments will be fought with the sincerest vigilance because of what they represent. Certain parties are already in fear of what it might mean if favored appointee as the new Chief Justice, Antonin Scalia is indeed given the honor. What a seriously large burden of leadership our president must bear amidst a national disaster. Pray for this country and its citizens. There is much shifting going on with lots of people looking for someone to blame. This window of opportunity will make President Bush hated all the more.

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The Warning Not Heeded
September 3, 2005

(Comments Closed)

It was my hope to avoid publicly discussing this angle, but I am compelled by responsibility. I will attempt to keep as much of my opinion out of this post as possible.

I am linking to something I believe needs to be read by all. I know there are believers and non-believers alike who grace this site. Here I have often discussed the flippancy with which this country treats the voice of God. The danger in a sin-filled society is that among all our issues, we numb ourselves to truth and outside of God's order and covering, we open the door for chaos.

If there is one thing that must ring true in the days, weeks, and months to come, it's that God is not behind this, but he certainly has allowed it. As a mere human being, I cannot begin to understand why God allows what he does. On a personal note, I too wrestle with understanding the ways of this world like why innocent people are forced to suffer; or why the poor often die because of the sins of the rich; or why my 6-month-old brother had to die so tragically. And why so young? And why did I have to be there to watch it? Nevertheless, not once have my own life-tragedies shaken my faith in God.

One thing I know: God has never promised He'd be fair, but He has always promised to be just. Justice will prevail on this earth in all things. This I know.

Continue reading "The Warning Not Heeded">>>

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Civil Responsibility
September 3, 2005

This will be my second third to last post on Hurricane Katrina. I'm not beating this horse any longer. On the rare occasion of a free Saturday, I've spent much of today pondering the events of this week, considering what I personally should be doing, and trying to make sense of all the emotion flying around. While I do not believe this is the time to be assigning blame for why this country is facing such a disaster (can we please get people to safety first?), certain ignorance provokes it.

If I read one more person say that President Bush needs to be impeached because of this, I am going to be sick. Carelessly suggesting presidential impeachment is almost as ignorant an accusation as those who proclaim in front of the cameras, "I'm going to take this all the way to the Supreme Court!" It's emotional, but not founded in reality. And trust me, I am sympathetic. Chances are, if Clinton's scandalous self were in office, I'd be blaming him too. I'd be in the wrong, but I'd be doing it nonetheless. It's very easy to make the adversary the eternal enemy by default.

There are two realms within which this tragedy can be understood: the natural and the spiritual. Owning up to the spiritual reasons why humanity faces certain suffering is too controversial to discuss at this time. Let's deal in the natural.

Much blame-shifting has taken place around the question of who has responsibility for the city of New Orleans. To answer that question, fellow CB member Darmon Thornton appropriate links to a succinct comment left on the "Blogs for Bush site (I know, the site name is ironic)." I think both the commenter and Darmon effectively snap us out of our emotional haze with some painful realities:

In case you aren't familiar with how our government is SUPPOSED to work. The chain of responsibility for the protection of the citizens in New Orleans is:

1. The Mayor
2. The New Orleans director of Homeland Security (a political appointee of the Governor who reports to the Governor)
3. The Governor
4. The Head of Homeland Security
5. The President

What did each do?

1. The mayor, with 5 days advance, waited until 2 days before he announced a mandatory evacuation (at the behest of the President). The he failed to provide transportation for those without transport even though he had hundreds of buses at his disposal.

2. The New Orleans director of Homeland Security failed to have any plan for a contingency that has been talked about for 50 years. Then he blames the Feds for not doing what he should have done. (So much for political appointees)

3. The Governor, despite a declaration of disaster by the President 2 DAYS BEFORE the storm hit, failed to take advantage of the offer of Federal troops and aid. Until 2 DAYS AFTER the storm hit.

4. The Director of Homeland Security positioned assets in the area to be ready when the Governor called for them

5. The President urged a mandatory evacuation, and even declared a disaster State of Emergency, freeing up millions of dollars of federal assistance, should the Governor decide to use it.

Oh and by the way, the levees that broke were the responsibility of the local landowners and the local levee board to maintain, NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

The disaster in New Orleans is what you get after decades of corrupt (democrat) government going all the way back to Huey Long. Funds for disaster protection and relief have been flowing into this city for decades, and where has it gone, but into the pockets of the politicos and their friends. Decades of socialist government in New Orleans has sapped all self reliance from the community, and made them dependent upon government for every little thing.

Political correctness and a lack of will to fight crime have created the single most corrupt police force in the country, and has permitted gang violence to flourish. The sad thing is that there are many poor folks who have suffered and died needlessly because those that they voted into office failed them.

Now that will Preach.

Read the rest of the discussion (minus the one bad word) on Mayor Nagin, lack of preparedness, and the bye you get as black politician. Forget political sides. We have got to be rational about assigning accountability.

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Why I'm Not a Republican Parts I, II, III, IV
Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
The ROI of a Kid
The Double-Minded Haters
Hindsight
Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
Oh parent Where Art Thou?
Requisite Monthly Rant: the State of the Nation
College Curriculum Gone Wild
Walmart Chronicles
An Open Letter to American Idol
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