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Monday, December 31, 2007

Handicapping Election 2008: New Developments. Oh, and FUCK OFF, HUCKABEE!!!

Seriously, could Huckabee have his head any farther up his ass? For fuck's sake, he's the most bigoted Republican in this year's field, and that's saying something in a party that's tacked farther to the right than a see-saw with Rosie O'Donnell on it with her ass facing the east. And speaking of Rosie O'Donnell, she can fuck herself too; God knows she's too fucking ugly and WAY too fucking crazy for her significant other to find her attractive.

Oh, yeah, I was handicapping the race for the White House. Since I've ripped two of my favorite targets new assholes, let's start with the Republicans. They look as disordered as the response to Katrina, and they're facing an almost equally certain disaster. However, jockeying for the captaincy of that particular Titanic are Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John McCain, and Mike Fuckabee, er, Huckabee. First, the easy call is to get the coroner to pronounce Giuliani's campaign dead on arrival. I never thought his campaign would implode that badly, but in the end, he's a moderate Republican with no real message beyond "blah blah blah 9/11", and he once stayed with a gay person or couple, I forget which, when he was estranged from one of his now-ex-wives. Yeah, that'll rally the conservative evangelical Christian wing of the party... the wrong way. Next, Fred Thompson's campaign has been going down in flames like the Hindenberg ever since he officially launched his campaign. Who knew that a former Senator and actor could lack that much eloquence? From the beginning, he stumbled out of the blocks like Senator Kennedy stumbles out of a high-class bar. That leaves Romney, McCain, and Huckabee, and the next easiest is McCain. He looks good in New Hampshire, but I think he's peaking about 8 years too late. He had his time, and now it's over. I really don't see him doing well in the South. Now Romney and Huckabee. As much as I hate that asshole, Huckabee has generated a good deal of support, mainly on the basis of him not being a Mormon and not being Giuliani, Thompson, and McCain. That said, his record as governor of Arkansas will work against him, and we're already seeing that. Finally, Romney, I think is a good man, and served as an excellent governor of Massachusetts. However, and I say this as a Mormon, he's a Mormon, and how many evangelical Christians (and more importantly, independents and Democrats) will vote for a Mormon, regardless of his credentials? Still, he looks good to go in this race. My pick: Too close to call between Huckabee and Romney.

On the other hand, the Democrats have three advantages: First, they've effectively winnowed the field to three credible candidates versus the Republicans' five; second, with the exception of Hilary, the rest of the field is more likable than the Republicans' offerings; and third, THEY'RE NOT REPUBLICANS! After the last seven years under Bush, the Republicans look about as attractive as Wesley Snipes and Patrick Swayze in drag after a week-long bender. I'm going to make this one short and sweet: Hilary is perhaps the most hated woman in politics since Imelda Marcos, but she looks strong in Iowa and New Hampshire. Barack Obama will continue to feel some love from Oprah, which surprises me because all of her shows are about why men are the root of every last FUCKING bit of evil in the world, including that committed by women. Rant aside, I also like his chances. Edwards is perhaps the most disgusting of the candidates, and I loathe him. However, likely Democratic Party voters don't, especially in the early primary states, so he's also a solid chance. My pick: Too close to call, with Obama having a slight edge overall and a huge edge in momentum.

Finally, there's Mayor Bloomberg. I know we went over this before, but lately, his rumblings of the last several months have taken more of an urgent tone. His positives are that, as mayor of New York, he has enjoyed approval ratings Giuliani couldn't have achieved in even his most sordid wet dreams. If it comes down to him versus Clinton and any Republican, I think we could easily have our first independent president since, perhaps, Washington himself.

Enjoy the music.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A stunning indictment of the UN Human Rights Watch:

This dates back to March 23, 2007, but has a powerful message. I was unable to find a single factual error or logical flaw in this oration, which was predictably stricken from the U.N. record. The video is below:

A follow-up statement from M.P. Professor Irwin Cotler, law professor, international lawyer, and former Minister of Justice of Canada (equivalent to the United States Attorney General in the United States) was equally devastating in its brutal honesty, though, as you might expect from a lawyer of his caliber, integrity, and high esteem, he was far more eloquent about it. I include his video below.

I first viewed the above videos on the website of UN Watch, an organization whose goal is to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own charter. For those who oppose the United Nations because of its corruption, and for those who want to see the United Nations prosper at long last by overcoming its serious shortcomings, this website is definitely a must-see.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bullshit, and then funny shit: Snave, this is a shout out to you.

In the spirit of mass consumerism and a complete and utter disregard for the family togetherness that should be and has historically been the focus for most Western holidays over the course of the last couple of millennia or so, I'm not going to focus on what makes me happy. Instead, I'm going to fart on Santa's lap a few times and make a few wishes, and no one would have to wish for them if the respective situations weren't bullshit. The phrasing was intentional. Follow that link for a very good laugh. Anyway, on with my verbal flatus.

1) Dear Santa: I want Eric Volz free A YEAR AGO! In the U.S., Eric Volz would never have been arrested, much less held as a political prisoner as is happening in Nicaragua. The background: Mr. Volz's girlfriend, Doris Jimenez, was murdered in San Juan del Sur on Tuesday, November 21, 2006 between 11:45 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. while Mr. Volz was in Managua, some two hours away. Witnesses place him in Managua at the time of the murder. Cell phone records place him in Managua at the time of the murder. Internet records even place him outside of San Juan del Sur at the time of the murder. Yet, by virtue of Nicaragua's irredeemably corrupt judicial system, not only was he arrested and tried for brutally murdering his girlfriend, one of the main suspects, who had substantial forensic evidence linking him to the crime, was one of the witnesses against him. Had the minister of injustice over the case been interested in the truth, it would have been a matter of minutes to conclude he had nothing whatsoever to do with this horrible crime. Instead, he has been denied his basic human rights, had his life threatened by fellow inmates and the prison guards, the latter both actively and through their gross negligence of his health. He has since been declared INNOCENT by Nicaragua's appellate courts, yet he remains in prison. This is a gross injustice and should be an outrage to the civilized world. I believe there should be people in prison in this case, and first and foremost among them is "Judge" Ivette Toruño Blanco, the minister of gross injustice responsible for both his wrongful conviction and his continued incarcertation. May she roast slowly in the most rat-infested, shit-impacted bowels of Hell for the torment she has caused this innocent man, his family, and his friends.

2) Dear Santa: I want Mike Huckabee's campaign to implode much like Rudy "Blah, blah blah, 9/11" Giuliani's campaign has. Anyone who seriously thinks that the cynically-named "Fair Tax" is a good idea automatically disqualifies themselves from the pool of intelligent thinkers. Granted, he's a Republican, although he's not a Clinton, but his verbal rectal explosions trump the smelly, hot air to which we have become accustomed over the last 16 years from the Clinton and Bush families. Granted, I'm a libertarian and have very narrow views on the proper scope of government and tax collection in general, but I'm sure progressives, independents, and thinking conservatives can all see how much of a stupid fucking idea this is. When you add in his subtle (and occasionally, not so subtle) religious intolerance, I find him even less appealing than a particularly nasty case of the clap.

3) Dear Santa: My final wish is that Hilary Clinton not get the Democratic Party nomination for president. While I'm not opposed to a woman becoming president, I want the RIGHT woman, or man, or gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender individual, or whatever the unholy FUCK Richard Simmons is, to be president. We've dealt with 7 years of truly shitty leadership, and while it would be difficult for her, or in fact, anyone not named Mike Huckabee, to do as poorly as the current President, she is not that person. She has a different position on each issue for every audience, and while she's an adequate Senator, that does not a great president make. Also, who really wants to hear about her husband banging interns... I'm sorry, not banging interns; getting sucked off by them, in the White House yet again? I find her every bit as loathsome from a conservative standpoint, a modern liberal standpoint, and my own libertarian standpoint, and much like that unholy alliance between the National Organization for Women and Larry Flynt came to support Bill Clinton, I've seen the gripes that could form a firestorm that would torch Hil's presidential hopes much like a blunt that her husband claimed to smoke once but not inhale.

Enjoy this video for yet another blast of Christmas cheer.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Spotlight on the Automotive X Prize, Part II

For the second half of my posting tonight, I'm going to clarify what I posted earlier a bit. While I wrote and stand behind my list of my four favorite concepts, I did not wish to slight the other 39 teams, all of whom are working very hard to see their respective visions come to life. I have nothing but respect for each and every one of the signatories of the Automotive X Prize letter of intent program, and in fact, this respect expands far beyond this competition to all those who are working to make the future better for our children, grandchildren, and beyond, and who are working to improve the world in hundreds of different ways. I say this on the off chance that someone from one of the teams may stumble across this microblog, and as an expression of hope for the future. My hope, my prayer is that we are able to accomplish more than we have before and that we continue to improve, not just because of the potential consequences of failure, but because it is good and right that we do so.

Regarding my brief commentary about the engine design from Team PsychoActive/THOUGHTFLOW Design, I could put a disclaimer that I do like turbines, since they are highly efficient and have a long and proven track record of good performance. However, my appreciation for that design goes a bit deeper than that, and a bit deeper than simple novelty. I stand by my statement that it could fundamentally change engine design, because I see how this design may overcome the weaknesses that have prevented turbines from gaining widespread use in smaller applications, such as automobiles. Throughout history, people have gone and attempted daring things, not knowing what can or can't be done on a smallish budget (such as the Wright Brothers), or if it could be done at all. Out of that, some fell by the wayside, and others became the Thomas Edison or Rudolf Diesel of their time, and the world was forever changed by their vision, ingenuity, and hard work. We need dreamers, and we need the people to inspire them. When I look at all of these teams, I see 43 dreams, 43 groups of intelligent dreamers, and I see an extraordinary amount of work and, yes, love and hope, that go into each of their respective visions. For my tiny readership, I ask that you share this with others. Maybe they'll see what I see, and if so, maybe they'll get energized by the thought of all of these possibilities. It's a thought.

Enjoy. :)

Tears of joy: University of South Alabama gets football!

Tonight will be a rare two-post night. I'm not going to bother to look to see when the last one was, but I know it's been months. As stated in the headline, the University of South Alabama will have its first NCAA-sanctioned football in the school's 44 year history, starting in the 2009 football season. This is a story I've been watching with great interest, though I didn't allow myself to hope too strongly. After all, there have been near misses before, most recently in 2000. However, when I saw that the student body had gotten substantially more than the required 2,000 petition signatures, when I read that the U. of South Alabama Faculty Senate had approved it 27-4, when I read that the University President and the President pro-tempore of the Board of Trustees both came out with strong language favoring the creation of a football program, and most recently, when I read earlier today, prior to the official announcement, that the president of the Mobile City Council, Reggie Copeland, offered to house the USA Jaguars football program for five years rent-free at Ladd Peebles Stadium, I knew it was only a matter of time, and not much time at that. As it turns out, the formal announcement was made earlier today.

People have been hungry for Division I football here for as long as I can remember. The nearest football schools are at least three hours away, and the high school talent pool is deep in the southern counties of Alabama and Mississippi, and in the westernmost counties of Florida. People in Mobile and Baldwin counties have wanted something more than the Friday night lights of high school football, yet time and again, either through ineptitude at the top levels of leadership at South or through active antipathy towards football among the members of the school's Board of Trustees, it had never happened in the past attempts. Finally, after 44 years, they have listened to their community, their students, and their alumni, and a school that already boasts solid academics and a good medical school will have a football team. So if my eyes look like they're misting up, these aren't tears of sorrow; they're tears of joy.

Enjoy the celebratory music. :)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Spotlight on the Automotive X Prize, and the death of my other blog

First, you may have noticed that I have made some changes to the layout of my blog. Frankly, I was wanting to add more stuff to it that was not supported by the current template, so I took the big leap and changed it. The current design and coloration stays true to my particular aesthetic sensibilities while remaining readable. Expect more changes to occur as the mood strikes me, though the layout will probably not be one of those things that changes. Second, I refer to the temporary death of the TechnoAgrarian Musings blog. The last time I posted on that blog was July 18, 2007, and while it was a good idea, frankly, I have times when I barely have the energy to devote to one blog, let alone two. I will be keeping it up for reference, but anything I have to say about the environment will be posted here first and then copied over there for those who just want to see what I have to say about the environment.

I have been keeping up with the Automotive X-Prize and have looked into the various signatories of their Letter of Intent program. Of those who have websites, I have seen a breadth and depth of innovative thought that frankly boggles my mind and gives me hope for the future. Any of these teams, if they are able to execute their respective visions, will be more than worthy competitors in this competition, and more importantly, they will help reduce our suicidal dependence on gasoline and petrodiesel to drive our vehicles and our economy. However, there are a few that I found, in a word, shocking in their ambition and innovation. Foremost among them, at least in my view, is Aptera Motors Typ-1 gasoline/plug-in electric hybrid. On the details screen, the fuel economy at 120 miles after a charge is a mind-blowing 300 miles per gallon. This later reduces to a still highly respectable 130 miles per gallon after 350-400 miles and beyond, which is its minimum efficiency as stated in the Vehicle Details section of their web site. Given an 11 gallon fuel tank, that would equate to being able to drive from the beach at Santa Monica, CA to Broadway, where the stagehands are currently on strike, on only two tanks of gas. The most notable downside, however, is the capacity: It only seats two plus an infant, though it does have capacity for 15 bags of groceries. Its projected sticker price is under $30k.

Another worth mentioning is Loremo, a turbo-diesel vehicle that achieves a fuel economy of less than of 2 litres per 100 km. I knew that Javascript widget I put on the side would come in handy some day. That translates into a fuel economy in excess of 117 miles per gallon without using any hybrid technology. The tank size is a bit smallish by American standards at 20 litres, but with a range of around 600 miles per tank, well, I doubt I'd have much trouble at all getting used to that. :) The projected sticker price of the more fuel-efficient (and slower to accelerate at 16 seconds to go from 0-60 mph) LS version will be less than €15 000, or just under $22,000 at the current exchange rate. The downside is, of course, the slow acceleration rate if and when it is presented to the U.S. market. However, this is still an excellent vehicle.

A third team is ZAP, a company that specializes in electric vehicles. The main concern with any such vehicle is range, and that is certainly a concern for their current offerings with a maximum range of 25 miles per charge. However, their future offerings have a stated range of 350 miles per charge, which is more than enough for daily use. While that would be a problem for extended road trips, it's certainly more than a step in the right direction.

The last team I'll mention is PsychoActive, whose engine design has the potential to be nothing short of revolutionary. With a turbine engine that has only 9 major parts, it could signal a fundamental shift in car engine design. However, since it has not been tested in a real car, it remains only a possibility. Nevertheless, I found it intriguing enough to add to the list of my four favorites.

I strongly encourage all of my very few readers/blogfriends to look closely at the various teams that have already announced their signing with the Automotive X-Prize Letter of Intent program. Ultimately, fuel economy is a free market problem, and it will only be solved with a free market solution. I am grateful for the hard work and innovation of each of the teams involved in this race, and I'm also grateful for the X Prize foundation for spurring this innovation by creating this competition. It is my hope and belief that their hard work and ingenuity will help lead to a better future for our children, our environment, and our world.

I'm posting this video as an indictment of modern America. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Conscience of a Libertarian:

At first, I was going to call this post, "I now have man-boobs," but ultimately, I thought that would be oversharing. Also, I felt it would be sadly apropos to make a reference to one of the most prominent Republicans of the last century. I decided to do that as an example of how depraved an overwhelming majority of the leadership of the "conservative" wing of American politics has become. I doubt very seriously that Goldwater would even recognize the Republican Party today, and ultimately, his most worthy heirs aren't in the GOP, but rather in the fractured Libertarian Party. While I don't agree with everything former Senator Jeffords believes, I too find myself alienated from the party I once called home in my younger years. This is a problem that has been building for years, but stubborn as I am, I still looked for positive things to say about the mainstream of that party because of my agreement with their stance on fiscal matters. Well, as the last few years have demonstrated, any talk of their fiscal responsibility is laughable at best. As for the rest, well, that's the reason for this post.

The depth of my philosophical differences between my views and my former home, the GOP, has become increasingly obvious. I find the increasing element of extremism and fanaticism among the new "mainstream" Republican Party disturbing on a variety of levels. Perhaps most relevant to today's political climate, I strongly oppose "enhanced interrogation" on 8th Amendment grounds, as not only is that "cruel and unusual punishment", it rises to the level of government-sponsored torture, which is a far more serious offense. Also, it's a clear violation of the habeas corpus rights of prisoners, and of the Fifth Amendment, yet the GOP mainstream considers this acceptable when our government didn't even treat Nazi war criminals as poorly. Certainly, the public opinion of these depraved individuals was no more positive than modern public opinion of terrorists, yet we held to our more noble ideals back then. Instead of lowering ourselves to their level, we held fast to the calling of our better natures. I am sickened to see that we have become that debased in the 62 years since, and I have no doubt that, if they are looking down on us, our departed ancestors are turning in their graves.

Another example of my philosophical differences between the mainstream of the Republican Party is the recently-overturned Georgia law that prohibited all sex offenders from living within 1000 feet (305 m) of playgrounds, churches, schools, bus stops, public parks, and other places where children congregate. Can you think of a single place outside of Montana or Alaska that would fit those criteria? I'm in favor of protecting children, but these draconian measures seem more than a bit counterproductive, not to mention unconstitutional. There's that pesky 8th Amendment again, and for all their bloviating about the Bill of Rights, that's one amendment they by and large are determined to ignore.

To those who read this blog, it should not surprise you when I say that I am not a liberal in the modern sense. However, I have come to realize through conversations with a liberal Northern Democrat I know the fundamental differences in how he and I view the world. Even when we agree on issues, it is often for vastly different reasons, though those differences are most likely to occur in matters of governmental fiscal policy. So while I'm not likely to align myself completely with the Democratic Party, I'm much more likely to give them a chance, because the modern Republican Party is something I find frightening and alien to the greater American values, and a complete affront to the ideals laid forth in the Constitution and its amendments. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I'm starting to see parallels between modern America and Germany during the 1930s, and that scares the hell out of me. Also, it hurts me to see this happening to a nation once seen as a bastion of hope and liberty. I want America to be great again, but that will not happen as long as the reactionary wing of the Republican Party has power.

On a lighter note, and I use that term very loosely, I'm including a link to a YouTube video, one that was one of my father's favorite music videos. Since embedding has been disabled for this video, I'm including the link instead. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Reflections on the past:

I mentioned that, back in my high school years, I walked that fine line between genius and insanity, and my feet ended up bloody. In less than 2 years, I wrote 150-200 poems, a couple of dozen short stories, a few extremely bad songs (though they could have been hits today with the extreme shittiness of modern pop music), and 3-4 short one-act plays, all in a bid to express what was going on inside my head and to find at least some peace while I was dealing with the loss of someone very close to me and trying to resolve other issues from my past. Instead, I found myself continuously reopening wounds I really should have let heal, and in a bit of a perverse way, I even started to define myself by that pain. I didn't really let anybody in. Finally, I had to choose: continue to write from that dark place and slip further into the abyss, or give it up and try to make peace with my past and myself. So, I put down my quill, and for the next few years, I went to work, I paid my bills, and I did a good bit of thinking. During those teenage years, I once made the extraordinarily cynical observation that, no matter what, people were always going to do one of three things: betray you, leave you, or die. Over those next few years, I realized I was factually correct, but I also realized that I was ignoring the deeper issue, not even thinking to answer to one last question: Given that fact, is it worth it to keep your heart open? Over time, I came to realize that, instead of really living, I was only existing, so slowly, I started to open up and live again. As you've seen on this blog, I won't say that I haven't been hurt and that I haven't broken my own heart in the years since, but it has been worth it, because I've gained so much more, and more importantly, I've given myself the opportunity to get close to family members I had been distancing myself from, people I would have regretted not getting to know while I still had the chance. I've built friendships, and while I'm still a work in progress, at least I am still working on that progress, and I have my family to thank for that, even if they didn't always realize it at the time.

On a different, happier, note, I don't drink, or smoke, or consume caffeinated beverages. I've never consumed any illicit drug, but I have other pleasures I take from life, other "drugs" if you will. College football, especially that of my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide, is either a stimulant or a depressant, the latter especially after their 21-14 loss tonight to Louisiana-Monroe, a team that is currently ranked in the middle of the Sun Belt Conference, in a game the Tide was favored to win by 25 points. Food, oh the various odes and posts I've written about food. I savor good chocolate and enjoy it like some people enjoy a fine wine, and I can always count on food to be a comforter. Music is another true passion of mine, and the best music moves my soul, from a deep low like Nine Inch Nails music, to an energetic euphoria like some good dance music, or just make me feel better about life in general, or even make me laugh depending on the artist and the song. Literature, art, and movies move me the same way, and afterwards, I feel whatever those art forms inspired in me. In any of these cases, on a biological level, my brain chemistry is being altered by an external stimulus. The key difference is that the external stimulus is not a chemical, like alcohol, nicotine, or other substance that's directly acting on my brain. Granted, the effects are usually shorter in duration and less extreme, but this is the way I see it. And the best thing about it: it's all legal.

Finally, on an odder note, former Alabama Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Loretta Nall, who ran easily the most entertaining (if the least effective) campaign in 2006 for governor, is now protesting Alabama's 1998 (how I wish that were a typo) law banning the sale of sex toys by organizing and encouraging people to send sex toys to AG Troy King. I'm not sure if he's vibrating with happiness or irritation, but I'm sure he's walked in and out and in and out of his office in frustration at her antics.

Enjoy the music, "The Test", by The Chemical Brothers, featuring Richard Ashcroft. Pretty trippy song and even trippier video.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Coming out of the closet, after a fashion...

I've occasionally referred to my childhood and teenage years belonging to an evangelical Christian sect, but I've always dodged or avoided mentioning which sect. This has not been out of any shame or fear. In fact, I have many very fond memories of my childhood in that church, though not so many fond memories from my teenage years. In all fairness, though, I don't have all that many fond memories of any sort from my teenage years until I hit, oh, about 25 or so, at which point I had already gone the better part of a decade years without attending any church. It was my faith, or in the absence of that faith, what I had learned as a child that later had a great influence on my journey from conservatism to libertarianism, and by extension, from there to my current views. No, the reason I have been eerily quiet about the church I attended as a child is because I was so deeply conflicted about it, about life, about sorting out what exactly it is I believe and who I am. Also, I didn't want to have myself associated with a faith's name unless I actually had some belief in the existence of God, and I figured "why give an answer if I wasn't sure?". As of now, I still don't have the answer to that question, but I've reached a point in my life where I have to confront my past before I can move forward. Perhaps it's sad that it took me so many years to get to that point, but however it turns out, this is what I've needed to do to go forward with my life. To be honest, it's long overdue, and perhaps one of the reasons it's taken me so long is that I'm a procrastinator. As of today, I will still be in the closet in my public life about the doubts I have about the existence of any deity, but I will no longer hide my religious and philosophical underpinnings online.

Now that I've given my caveats and apology, I'll finally spit it out: From a cultural perspective at least, I'm a Mormon. It was the concept of "free agency", or free will, or however you wish to term it, that led to my more libertarian thoughts. It was the fact that, growing up, political discussions were and remain taboo inside the church that influenced my belief in the separation of church and state. I could go on and on, but you get the point. Oh, and I prefer my green gelatin dessert (term used to avoid advocating a specific brand name) with pineapple (mmm, tasty), if it needs any fruit at all. I've heard legends about Mormon funeral potatoes, and I understand they're truly memorable. On the more serious charges of misogyny and racism, well, I guess I must have missed that in my attendance of several hundred, if not north of 1,000, sacrament meetings and Sunday school lessons when the teachers and speakers spoke about loving one another and other common Christian themes, or when I knew, even from a very young age, people from various ethnic backgrounds and just saw them as who they are instead of how much melanin they have in their skin. I won't say that I learned tolerance there, because I was never taught intolerance; rather, I was taught that intolerance was and is evil and that respect for other people is good both at church and at home, which I suppose amounts to the same thing. Over the last 20+ years (including the rather lengthy gap when I attended no church at all), one of the most consistent threads of discussion has been the importance of the family and strengthening those relationships. For those who are interested, the official position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was against the Iraq war, which was a very unusual step for the highest levels of the church leadership, and they were fairly early in the game when they said so. As for emergency preparedness, (I don't know how many actually adhere to this in my area, but not me), the suggestion is a 3 month supply of food and water. As I've ranted about ad nauseam, I live in a hurricane zone, and when I was a toddler, Hurricane Frederic hit, knocking out power and water in some areas for a month or more. How useful do you think three months of food and water would be then? In another instance, I've known people who were able to survive on their emergency supplies and needed to do so because of financial hardships. This isn't "apocalyptic thought"; it's simple prudence. An old saying goes, "In every life, some rain must fall." In that context, food storage is an umbrella. This is the church I grew up with and know, and while I may only be a Mormon from a cultural perspective, I'm not ashamed. For those who charge Mormonism with "End Times" thinking, well, all the ones I've met over the years certainly don't want to actively bring it about, and that is, or should be, the greatest concern about that aspect of this, or any other, evangelical Christian faith among those who are concerned with this type of thought.

Oh, and I can and frequently do curse better than some and as good as most; I have an itchy middle finger; I have and will probably continue to watch R-rated movies; I have developed a degree of misanthropy over the years; and I stopped consuming caffeine for health reasons, not religious reasons. In short, I'm not a pod person.

As for the music, although the tenor is different from most of the other stuff I post, that's only because I recently found this YouTube video. My tastes in music are much like my tastes in food: Many, extremely varied, and a lot of it. This features one of my favorite instruments, the glass armonica. Oh, and I think the guy's outfit is odd too. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A possibly libertarian defense of laws against child porn:

First, I acknowledge that it is at least possible for people on both sides of the legal debate find child abuse and child pornography abhorrent. For those against the various extant laws, some debate the penalties associated with the crime, while others debate the ethics of criminalizing indirect harm of minors. Of course, some on both sides of the debate are pedophiles, their public stances notwithstanding.

I view many things in terms of power and harm. Who has the power? Is that power being abused? Is someone being harmed? Is that harm justified? Is that harm self-inflicted? The last of those questions is irrelevant in this context, but the four remaining questions are very much at the heart of the matter. There are instances where, because of the power differential, true consent is very difficult, and in some cases, impossible. In lesser cases, true consent may be very difficult or unlikely. We saw this in the LeTorneau case and in other cases time and again.

An easy and valid justification for laws against child porn is that the person who possesses it, by the nature of that possession, is profiting from the criminal and harmful acts of themselves or others. I do not refer to those who discover such materials and make a reasonable effort to bring their concerns and the materials in question to law enforcement. This profit may or may not be financial in nature, but it is, nonetheless, profit in the form of some sick benefit to the consumer. As a result, I have absolutely no problem with those guilty serving time in prison. The problems I do have is when simple possession garners more prison time than an assault on a child; and when sentences are not tied to a mandatory treatment program. Also, I have a problem when the mandatory minimum sentence exceeds the maximum for some degrees of murder, as distinguished from manslaughter. I'm in favor of giving those guilty prison time and a lot of it, but the judges need at least some statutory discretion since every case is different. However, in particularly horrible or extreme cases, I support that discretion all the way to a sentence of the rest of a person's natural life. I don't know if this is libertarian or not, or if this topic even belongs in that particular spectrum. However, this is what I think. Take it as you will.

On a lighter note, enjoy the music.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bush and Cheney are NOT Machiavellian, and we're all worse for it.

First, I'm citing his most famous book, The Prince, not his Discourses on Livy, which some argue is the greater of his political writings. Nevertheless, it is probably the first book of political science in the modern sense of the term, as opposed to the idealism of his predecessors and his contemporary detractors, such as Erasmus. Also, it is the work with which more are familiar, so it is, some may say unfairly, what people mean when they say "Machiavellian". I will take issue with eight points of the book, though others may argue more, and some of those may have a valid point when they do so.

First, let's discuss Chapter 4 and Chapter 5. When Bush took it upon this nation to overthrow the government of Iraq, he found a situation not unlike the France Machiavelli described, and, in fact, not unlike modern France: various provinces, with their own traditional leaders, each of whom have their own agendas which may or (more frequently) may not necessarily mesh with each other. While, on the surface, it appeared to be similar to the Kingdom of Darius, that which lurked just under the surface made such an undertaking that much more difficult. Next, by gutting the existing government and leaving very little in place, he created a power vacuum which has led to anarchy. Sure, Bush took out the main unifying force in that nation, but he left the lesser "princes" in place, and they have created little other than internecine war and problems for us and for the people of Iraq. Reading further in Chapter 14, the sheer scope of his mistakes in terms of Machiavelli's reasoning become even more obvious. I find it painfully obvious that, in those three, related points, Bush and Cheney have been utter failures.

Second, let's discuss Chapter 7. Bush and Cheney did, in fact, achieve their station by good fortune and have had nothing but problems since. Unlike Cesar Borgia, they have not laid a solid foundation for their power, and have, instead, pretty well united the people of the United States against them through their ineptitude and cronyism. In fact, it is only the sheer difficulty in impeaching sitting presidents and vice presidents that have kept them in their offices, and even that will end some 467 days from today. Read especially that bit on Romagna in that chapter. It's interesting in light of the current administration.

Third, let's discuss Chapter 9. True, Bush has rewarded his greatest supporters among our modern nobility, Congress. However, the nobility are, in turn, hired, retained, and fired by the people they govern, and in forgetting this, Bush has allowed many of his supporters' political careers to come to ruin and has encouraged the election of a "nobility" hostile to his views. We've seen the results over the last several months, and from the perspective of many in the public, that's a good thing, but from Bush's perspective, it's been an unmitigated disaster.

Fourth, let's discuss Chapter 12. Bush has invited ruin, infamy, and an international PR disaster on this nation through his use of mercenaries, most notoriously, those from the right-wing Blackwater Security company. Machiavelli had plenty to say about the use of mercenaries, and none of it was good. Bush and Cheney, therefore, fail also on this point.

Finally, let's briefly discuss Chapter 17 and Chapter 19. Bush and Cheney have developed a reputation for cruelty, yet they are not feared in the sense that Machiavelli uses the term. I know of no one, no matter how much they detest this president, live in the kind of mortal fear of Bush that Iraqis experienced with Saddam Hussein. I happen to be quite grateful for that fact, but the simple fact that they have wielded this tactic so ineptly has caused them great problems with no real benefit. As a result, they are neither feared nor loved, as shown by approval ratings in the low 30s. In fact, Bush and Cheney are hated by a great number of Americans and other nations abroad, and this is precisely what a leader should try to avoid. Indeed, not only have they not avoided being hated, they have appeared to intentionally invite it on multiple occasions. This is yet another failure in purely Machiavellian terms.

It would be much better for this nation if Bush were more Machiavellian, but then again, it would be much better for this nation if Bush were more competent using any governing philosophy the people would tolerate. As sort of a novel idea, I would like to see a president govern by the Constitution they swear, and lie through their teeth as they do so, to defend and protect, but that's not going to happen. It is with this hope that I support Ron Paul for President in 2008.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

More outrages

In Georgia, a 60-year-old woman was arrested, strip-searched, deloused, and put in prison clothes for daring to ask why Georgia Transmission Company workers, including one off-duty police officer, were on her property. The rat-bastards claim she was threatening them, but exactly what threat does an unarmed 60 y.o. woman pose to several men? I hope she wins substantial punitive damages as a result of her lawsuit against those cocksuckers and gets a permanent injunction against them putting towers on her property and on that of her neighbors.

Second, Al Gore is from here. Yes, Tennessee has announced that they will start roving across their various borders to catch people who bring more than two cartons of cigarettes into the state. According to this article, bringing 3 to 24 is a Class B misdemeanor, with a maximum punishment of 6 months in jail and/or a $500 fine, and 25 or more is a fucking Class E felony, with a penalty of 1 to 6 years in prison. Both are eligible for property seizures under their contraband substances laws. I can just see it now, two guys on a bus trip to prison, "Hey man, what they got you for?" "Armed robbery. You?" "They busted me for making a run for Marlboros in Mississippi. Didn't steal 'em, bought 'em with my own hard-earned money. Six years. Can you believe that shit?" FUCK!!! Critics have accused Tennessee of making moves towards a police state, and frankly, I can't agree more. If anyone belongs in prison, it's Tennessee Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr. Jesus fucking CHRIST!!! Putting people in prison for buying legal substances? I hope he ends up in prison, and I hope he drops the fucking SOAP. GODDAMNIT!

The older I get, the more tempted I am to support anarchism, and only the realization that devolving to that would be a case of the cure being worse than the disease keeps me firmly ensconced with the minimal statists/minarchists. Watch and... enjoy?, and read and pay attention to the images. Then, go to the poster's YouTube page. It's terrifying.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Police Taser Abuse

I'm sure many of you, by now, have seen footage of a woman who was not resisting arrest getting tasered multiple times by a rogue police officer. This woman, who, understandably, was in a lot of pain, was later tasered again once she was cuffed and in the back of a police vehicle. In the video, available on ABC 2, she can be seen trying to kick her way out of said police vehicle AFTER she had already been tasered twice. Then again, if I had been tortured, I would want to get away from my captor too. This officer should be behind bars instead of putting people there.

Also, I'm sure you've seen footage of an already subdued college student getting tasered after no fewer than FOUR campus police officers already had him on the ground and, apparently, cuffed. What the FUCK is going on? I believe some of the rationale behind the adoption of the taser was that it would be used instead of a gun when the situation warranted it, and I have no doubt it has saved some lives on that account. However, what I've seen in these two videos, as well as this video from UCLA last November, clearly constitute abusive uses of this weapon.

This song isn't directly related to the above videos, but I find it apropos nonetheless. Enjoy this old gem from Skunk Anansie.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jena Six, my take:

By now, I'm sure that my very few readers are aware that I take a long time to form an opinion on matters of import. However, after reviewing the known facts about the Jena Six case, I'm only confused on one matter related to this case: Is it pronounced "Gina" or "Jenna"? I've seen Jesse Jackass on television pronouncing it "Gina", but citing him as a source on, well, pretty much anything is much like citing President Bush: It's likely to be incorrect, or draw incorrect conclusions from the correct data, and any statements are extremely likely to coincide with his own known biases, especially when those biases lead to conclusions that differ substantially from the facts. That said, they are both very occasionally correct.

Another thing that is unsurprising is that I will play the devil's advocate. I could cite a number of reasons, but in the end, it's just fun, and it's fun with a purpose. According to what I've seen and read, and for brevity, I will cite Wikipedia, the victim was knocked out and given a black eye for his trouble. Justin Barker was so severely injured that some reports place him at a party later that day, instead of at a hospital. He was so grievously wounded by six people that he ended up with injuries that can be found at a schoolyard fight, boxing match, football game, or countless other scenarios. What the Jena Six did was wrong. I'm sure we were all taught to try to resolve disputes in a peaceful manner. I also think all six should have been punished. Why were they not sentenced to three days in-school suspension just like the future Klansmen who put nooses in a tree the day after a few African-American students sat down in its shade during lunch? At an absolute maximum, if the prosecutor felt like being a hardliner, a day or two in juvie (or the county jail to cool off for the students who were adults under Louisiana criminal law) would not have been too excessive, or at least, not nearly as excessive as what we're seeing now. Some may argue that they put themselves in this position by beating up someone, and that all that has happened since is their fault. Some might even argue that, since they put themselves in this position, they have no right to any financial recourse, such as lawsuits. Some might argue further that, since they elected those in power there, that this is the worst punishment the town of Jena should face, and this is harsh punishment indeed. However, this is not justice. This is a perversion of justice and an abuse of the civil rights of Mychal Bell, Carwin Jones, Theo Shaw, Robert Bailey Jr., Bryant Purvis, and Jesse Ray Beard. I have coworkers who have at least considered taking the three or four hour bus trip to Jena to join the protesters. While I won't be able to attend, my thoughts will be with them, as will my wishes for the freedom and successful lawsuits of the six accused.

With that in mind, enjoy the music by one of my favorite artists of all time, Tracy Chapman.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Week 3 NCAAF Div. I-Bowl Subdivision recap

First, a small complaint: Why did they have to rename Division I-A and I-AA the "Football Bowl Subdivision" and the "Football Championship Subdivision", respectively? Is this tacit acknowledgment that the Bowl Championship Series is BS?

Some of you may know that I'm a huge Alabama fan. It's something I was born with, something I was raised loving, and something I hope to pass on to another generation. It is with great pleasure bordering on giddiness that I can report that the Crimson Tide beat the Arkansas Razorbacks 41-38 on Saturday. It was a far closer game than it should have been, since Alabama led by 21 points during much of the game, but still, this was the first come from behind victory for the team once led by The Bear in six years. While I'm sure Head Coach Saban was pleased with that aspect of the performance, I'm certain he has some words for his team. Whatever he's been doing seems to be working, and with this win, Alabama has gone from being an underdog to a favorite when they face Georgia at home, and they look good against an uninspiring Florida State the following week on the road.

Auburn University, on the other hand... It looks like Tommy "The Riverboat Gambler" Tuberville has finally drawn 2-7 off suit, and the results have been devastatingly clear against South Florida (who's ever heard of them?) and now, the lovable losers of the SEC, Mississippi State. Once again, their offense looked flat, and I honestly am at a loss to explain their implosion. One thing I do know is that the last time a coach at a major football university in Alabama lost to Mississippi State, he was looking for another job at the end of the season, and good riddance to Mike Shula. The last two weeks have led at least one local sports columnist to opine that Auburn may now only be the third-best FBS team in the Heart of Dixie, behind Troy University of the Sunbelt Conference and of course, Alabama. If you've never heard of the Sunbelt Conference, then you're not alone. At least the Trojans showed some serious signs of life in their losses to Arkansas and Florida, and they beat Oklahoma State. I congratulate the Mississippi State Bulldogs on their stunning upset at Auburn, their first win at Jordan-Hare Stadium in 8 years.

As if that weren't good enough, Florida, the defending national champions, completely annihilated the Tennessee Volunteers 59-20. Any time Phillip "I just got my ASS KICKED!" Fulmer frowns, any time his team is subjected to a humiliating loss, it's like a little slice of heaven, and that game put me on fucking Cloud NINE! Between that game and Alabama's upset win over Arkansas... I'm still coming down from that high. I LOVE SEC FOOTBALL!!!

Snave, I'm sorry, but when I see a Pac-10 team lose, it makes me happy. I have very little respect for that conference, and I base that on what I perceive as a weakness in the middle and lower levels of that conference. In the SEC, you have four head coaches who have won national titles, and a fifth (Auburn's Tommy Tuberville) who it could be very strongly argued was cheated out of a shot at a national title at the end of the 2004 season. Winning the SEC with only one loss is phenomenal, but going 13-0... that's insanely difficult, and then to get cheated like that? Hell no! That shit ain't right, and my only regret is that it was UCLA instead of USC losing 44-6 to give Utah their first win of the season.

On the topic of near-upsets, I cannot close this post without mentioning Texas at Central Florida. The Longhorns' play was insipid, and frankly, I don't know how they eked out a 35-32 win against this unknown team. Had they played Kentucky instead of Central Florida, Texas would have a loss now. I disagree with the AP and the USA Today polls. Texas hasn't played like a top 10 team all season, and unless things change and fast, they won't be serious players in the national title race.

I'm feeling a bit nostalgic and aggressive today, so enjoy this blast from the past from Bjork.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hurricane Humberto:

I, like pretty much everybody, including the experts, was surprised that Humberto reached hurricane strength before landfall. However, I'm glad that, although it made landfall as a hurricane, at least it did so as only a Category 1, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. As part of the reasoning behind my calm over this storm, I cite Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground when he made this chilling statement, "If Humberto had had another 12-24 hours over water, it could have been a major hurricane that would have hit without enough time to evacuate those at risk." As it is, Humberto is mainly a rain event, with my area getting the outermost rain bands and some thunderstorms. In this type of storm, the wind damage, while a potential problem, is not the greatest risk. I forget which storm it was, but a similar storm hit my area and washed out some small bridges in my area, not from wind, but from the rain. Also, there was a fair amount of flood damage in low-lying areas, again, due more to the rain than the wind. I've even been on the roads and gone to work at an office building during a storm of Humberto's size and strength, and I've been in thunderstorms even worse. So while it's a bad day for those affected, I'm just glad it wasn't worse. For those who are surprised by my lack of rancor in this post, I can only say that I don't joke about hurricanes. I may panic or behave somewhat neurotically, but I don't joke.

Enjoy the music. I chose "Rain" by The Cult.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Reflections on the sixth anniversary of 9/11:

Before anyone calls me a miserable, cynical, heartless bastard for what I'm about to say, well, all I can say is that I was actually born within the bounds of wedlock, and I take some issue with being called heartless as well, because it's impossible to get as angry as I do about what I consider very important things without a deep well of caring hidden somewhere. I'll let you know when I find it.

With this being the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I can honestly say I am disappointed, but not surprised, by the "news" coverage. Instead of sharing with the nation items of more immediate and relevant import (although, at least CNN didn't spend all day on this crap), we've had a day full of talking heads, including various people from all around the country, harping on the terrible events of that day and how we should never move on. Fuck that shit, right up the ass or whatever gets your rocks off. There's a significant difference between learning from the past and remembering; and living in the past and wallowing in your own misery. As a nation, I was willing to forgive the latter back on the anniversaries in 2002 and 2003, and to a lesser degree, in 2004. However, since then, the anniversaries have become a national form of mass-self flagellation and scab-picking, an emotional form of self mutilation en masse if you will. If we as a nation choose to wallow in our own self-pity over this event, then, frankly, we might as well all have been in those towers, or on those airplanes, or in that section of the Pentagon, because we certainly aren't living. We're existing, and that's not what the victims did, or at least most of them I'd wager, and existing isn't enough. Existing shouldn't be acceptable. Live, as so many no longer have the chance to do. Remember the past, learn from it, but live in the present. Otherwise, Osama bin Laden will have achieved a far greater victory than that which occurred on that dark day. As for me, I'm not afraid of al-Qaeda. I'm afraid of fucking Sean Hannity.

I'm sure that some people on the left will say, "Well, in six years, we're no safer than we were before. Give us more power so we can do it right." Some on the right will say, "We've done good so far, but we have them on the run, so give us more of your precious freedoms so we can make sure you're nice, safe, and warm." Anyone who says either is trying to fuck us all, and they're not being gentle about it at all. Sure, they're using the lube of the masses, pretty words, but in the end, they're riding us like a stubborn donkey. We should all rise up and say, as a nation, "Honey, I have a headache." Fucking should take place in a bedroom or other private venue between/among consenting, unrelated adults; not between those in power and the Constitution we should all hold so dear. And with that parting shot, enjoy the video below.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

More thoughts on the Duke Lacrosse Hoax:

Penitentiary: Let's look closely at that word. Of course, it means a place of corrections/prison, but let's look at the root word, penitent. Penitent refers to expressing sorrow for one's mistakes. Taking that forward to the word "penitentiary", then, it would be reasonable to infer that a penitentiary is "a place for those who are contrite," or "a place to make people contrite."

The reason I made the above point is that a friend suggested that prisons should be only to incarcerate those who pose a continuing threat to society. I could scarcely disagree more. Forty-six young men were vilified in the national press, had their basic civil rights abused in a manner reminiscent of the Scottsboro Boys during the days of segregation, and they had their physical safety threatened as a direct result of the words and actions of people in power at Duke University, the Durham District Attorney's office, the Durham Police Department, and various media entities. My friend mentioned prison overcrowding as a reason for his stance. Fine. Free those whose only "crimes" harmed themselves. Free everyone who's in prison for drug possession and selling, and free those arrested for prostitution and soliciting prostitutes. However, whenever such abuses occur as we saw here and with the West Memphis Three, justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. Prison is not simply for incarcerating those who are a continuing danger to society. It is for those who, through their criminal acts, have caused serious harm to others. Also, especially in this type of case, it serves as a warning and deterrent to those who would follow their example. In that latter case, it is, literally, to make an abuser of their power penitent. Society suffers as a whole when those who abuse their power, be they priests, prosecutors, police officers, professors, etc., do not face justice or are not seen to be facing justice. It is for that reason that I advocate a long prison sentence for anyone found guilty of such abuses, because without faith in the system, without a reason for people to have faith in the system, society suffers, and those wounds take decades to heal, if ever.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Final thoughts on Dean and Felix, and a confession or two:

Dean and Felix were truly monstrous storms. If you want to see footage of an eyewall penetration of Felix, it's available here, and stills are also available from that same flight. Please keep in mind that I am in no way intending to demean the suffering of the victims of those storms. I know all too well how awful such things can be, and they have my deepest sympathies and my sincerest best wishes. That said, as awful as they were, as powerful they were as engines of death and destruction, they could have been a lot worse. Dean had a death toll of 39, and caused US$3.8 billion in damage. The death toll and damage estimates from Felix are still being figured, but it's going to be worse than Dean was. That said, both could have been far, far worse, and for those who could have died but didn't because the storms behaved differently, I'm deeply grateful.

For my first confession, I've started to write again. Not the pieces of fluff with which some of you may be familiar, and not the... well, less innocent fanfiction that some of you may or may not know I write. This isn't even like a poem I posted earlier in the history of my blog. This is raw agony given form, and it's why I quit writing creatively altogether for the better part of a decade, and why I haven't approached that dark place in over 11 years. I wrote now, as I did then, for the simple reason that if I didn't let it out, I felt as though it would have consumed me. So I let it out, wrote my peace, and I'll be okay, even if only for a little while, or perhaps longer. I don't know, but I'm hoping it allowed me to let go of what ailed me. You see, while I respect and love writing, and while I am a fan of literature, I fear that darkness, so as a foolish child, I ran away from it. Perhaps it's long past time for me to confront it. Or, perhaps Nietzsche was right when he said, "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

My second confession is something equally frightening, though less intensely personal. I made a terrible mistake today, one I shall regret for a while: I debated a neocon Bushie today. He's an actual member of the local GOP, such a staunch party wonk I doubt any political or social thought of his is his own, but rather, was approved by the party. Discussing obliquely the Patriot Act and more directly the illegal wiretapping, I said that, as a matter of principle, although I have nothing to hide that would be of interest to the government, I am firmly opposed to that (allegedly defunct) program. He said that he'd rather have the government listen in on him. I then quoted Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding philosophers of our nation, when he said, "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." Actually, I misquoted it, but I got the gist of it. He said that he'd rather have prevented 4 or 5 more 9/11's over the last 6 years, and my brain just shut down. I realized, at that point, that he obviously doesn't understand the meaning of America, and that he doesn't understand how dangerous his beliefs, if implemented even more fully than we've seen, are. And I'll admit it, I became deeply frightened, again, for the future of our country. My answer was best said by Dr. Ron Paul, "I'd rather be free AND alive." My loyalty is to the United States of America, to our highest ideals, to our most cherished principles, not to any one political party or group. I love those ideals and noble principles as much as I love my family and family pet, as much as I have ever loved anyone or anything, and it hurts me to see this, because America is, above all else, an idea, an experiment, and what happens when those ideals die, that experiment fails? Then America dies a more permanent death than any outside force could cause. This is my belief, my testimony, my hope, and my fear. This is the prayer on my lips at the end of each day, and the song that plays its dulcet tunes in my heart.

Peace out, and enjoy a beautiful opposite of silence.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

This scares the hell out of me: Possibly the first hypercane

I was on Dr. Master's Wunderblog on Weather Underground, and they were talking about how the Hurricane Hunters had to abort due to extreme graupel, and that winds of 214 mph and 200 mph were spotted at an elevation of about 300 feet. Also, a dropsonde dropped in the southwest quadrant landed in the northeast quadrant. Read this blog, and remember that it's normally a pretty jovial, relaxed place. One person remarked that it's the most serious he's seen it in over 2 years, a time frame which included Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. I have never heard of the Hurricane Hunters being forced to abort due to extreme conditions; that's what they're there for. My name on that board is VentoTresandando, which means "reeking wind" in Portuguese. I realize that a true hypercane technically would require 122 degree Fahrenheit waters and would have winds of about 500 km/h, but this looks like it could be about as bad without reaching that threshold. Please let me know if I am wrong. I pray that I am, but this scares me to the depths of my soul, and I'm not even near its projected path.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

251, a test.

Click to view my Personality Profile page

And I scored a big, fat ZERO on interpersonal intelligence. Big shock there. Maybe I'm just nonsocial minarchist. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

For my 250th Post, a blast from the past:

Arthur Herman Bremer, the man who attempted to assassinate George Wallace (D-AL, d. 1998), will be released some time this year, according to the Washington Post, having served 35 years of a 53 year sentence. Wallace was the last, greatest hope for segregationists around the nation, and this assassination attempt put an end to his bid for our nation's highest office.

What Mr. Bremer did more than 35 years ago was reprehensible. There is absolutely no excuse for attempting to murder someone just because you disagree with their views, no matter how heinous and indefensible. Voltaire once said, "Monsieur l'abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write." His was a sane and rational view, and one that perfectly summarizes the most critical cornerstone of any free society, one that is liberal in the 18th and 19th century sense of the term. While I disagree vehemently with the tactics the coward Mr. Bremer used, I cannot think that, though it should have been done electorally, the United States is much better having not had him as a president. As awful as Nixon was, at least he wasn't George Wallace, a man I find disgusting not only for his expressed views during and prior to the 1970s, but also for the fact that he didn't even believe in what he said. He was, and I hope I can manage to fit in the deep contempt I have for the term and most of its adherents, a populist, a parasite of the lowest order, and one of the least fit men to ever run for any elected office. If he truly repented of his ways, I hope he's in the heaven he believed in, though I hope he had to do some recompense for the sins of his past. If, as I suspect, he merely did so for cynical political reasons, I hope the opposite.

Now, onto sports: I rate the SEC's football coaching staffs as follows:
1) Urban Meyer, Florida, defending NCAA Div. I-A and SEC Champion
2) Tommy Tuberville, Auburn, one of the most fortunate and talented coaches in the SEC
3) Nick Saban, Alabama. He has one hell of a lot of rebuilding to do after years of neglect by Mike Shula, but can be counted on to pull off a few upsets. He should really come into the height of his powers during the 2008 season.
4) Steve Spurrier, South Carolina. I may hate his little smirk, but he's still one of the most dangerous coaches in the SEC, with 1 national title and 7 conference titles under his belt. His team may not look like much, but he has one of the sharpest minds in all of college football.
5) Houston Nutt, Arkansas. After a spectacular 2006 season, he's still very much on the bubble after a particularly dismal 2005 season. Still, I expect great things from him.
6) Les Miles, LSU. This season will really determine if he has a future in the SEC. Still, he's a fitting replacement for Nick Saban, who led LSU to a national title.
7) Rich Brooks, Kentucky. He's really done well in his efforts to build a solid football team at a school more frequently associated with basketball. He's shown fairly consistent improvement, and I expect this to continue.
8) Mark Richt, Georgia. If he's to continue to build his team into an SEC power, he has his work cut out for him. In any other conference, especially the grossly overrated Pac 10, he would be a star. In a conference loaded with current and former national title holders, though, he has to do more.
9) Philip Fulmer, Tennessee. I think he's the fucking Antichrist, and he's still very much on the bubble after a couple of disastrous seasons. Still, his coaching woes have been ameliorated somewhat, although team discipline seems very much an open question.
10, 11, and 12) I honestly don't know which one of the three is worst, so I'll give a brief description. Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State has shown exactly why Alabama was right not to hire him, even if they were wrong to hire Mike Shula. His teams have been consistently awful, and have shown little to no improvement over that of his predecessor. Just when his teams have started to show promise, other problems have cropped up. Bobby Johnson at Vanderbilt is, well, a Vanderbilt coach and seems almost allergic to success, or at least, unable to grow it in the infertile soil that is Commodores Football. Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss has, during his tenure, managed to prove that, even with very successful recruiting, it is possible to be one of the worst teams in the nation. He should be demoted back to offensive coordinator, a job better suited to his talents. I honestly can't say which of the three bottom coaches is the worst.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Enough with the fluff: The Automotive X-Prize

I've given some thought to the original X-Prize recently. While it led to some amazing innovations in the funding of spaceflight, increases in cost efficiency and improving the environmental impact of space flight, it didn't touch the average person. While space flight is nice, and, I believe, vital to the continuation of the human species, it lacks an immediacy, an impact on their daily lives. However, given its successes, it can be viewed as a proof-of-concept for the much more immediately important Automotive X-Prize. The final draft has yet to be released. However, over 30 teams have already signed letters of intent to compete. The goal of this is to produce a commercially-viable automobile capable of a fuel economy of 100 mpg or equivalent. It is my belief and my hope that this venture will be able to do through the power of human ingenuity and the competitive spirit that drives very nearly all meaningful change what government regulations have thus far failed to do, and do them in a much faster manner than the, ahem, hallowed halls of government bureaucracy are capable of achieving.

When people purchase a car, they typically ask themselves if it looks good, if they can afford it, and if it can do what they need it to do, not necessarily in that order. I think if a car is capable of answering all three of those questions satisfactorily and achieve a fuel economy exceeding 100 mpg, the age of the gas guzzler will well and truly be over, and the environment will be improved as a result.

Of Freedom Fries and Friendship with France:

Recently, I saw on the news that Presidents Bush and Sarkozy (sp?) met, and there was no talk of "freedom fries". The first time I heard that term, I recognized it for the utter dipshittery that it is. Actually, the first time I heard that term, I thought it was a hilarious example of Monty Pythonian humor, but stopped laughing when I realized some people actually took it seriously. The second time I heard the term, I recognized its complete and utter dipshittery. Well, I announce that, long after those voices have been quieted, those people having found several other meaningless ideological battles to fight, I am finally opposed to the term "French fries". To use such a term is a slight against the Belgians, who first perfected the art of frying potatoes. Also, the very process of making "French fries" in the American sense of the term is a complete abortion, geared more towards mass production than quality. The Belgians have perfected this art, and create such wonderful homages to the humble potato in the process. In addition, the English have done quite well for themselves in this area, making their "chips" and dousing them with malt vinegar. So while I do enjoy french fries on occasion, I'm largely opposed to their existence. Instead, I believe they should be called "pommes frites" and prepared as such. To do less is to demean a great vegetable.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I hope you are all mad as hell at this.

I watched Dateline tonight, about the case of David Lemus and Olmedo Hidalgo. For a summation of the story, click here. Summed up even more succinctly, we have two guys who were proven to be nowhere near the scene of the crime imprisoned for 15 years, and two men who were guilty, neither of whom will ever see any time for that crime. Two of New York's finest police officers ended up resigning in disgust, as did an Assistant District Attorney who handled the reinvestigation into this crime for the Manhattan DA's office. Evidence was suppressed, and later ignored. Witnesses unfavorable to the prosecution were ignored and not reinterviewed. Other horrific examples of prosecutorial and police misconduct occurred, and two men lost a huge chunk of their lives as a result. Upon release, Mr. Hidalgo was put in cuffs by Homeland Security and deported to his native country, and Mr. Lemus is facing a retrial at the orders of the Manhattan District Attorney in October of this year.

I'm mad as hell. I'm furious that a system designed to protect and defend the innocent is so obviously and horribly broken. I'm sickened that, instead of striving to correct injustices, these two men and many more like them face a system more interested in preserving convictions than in insuring that justice, whatever that may be in a given case, is served. When I see these cases, I ask myself, "What if that man were my brother, or uncle, or cousin, or father? What if they were someone else I loved? What if that man were me?" In this case, I also ask myself what would have happened with these men were it not for the bravery and integrity of retired Detectives Bobby Addolorato and John Schwartz, men who brought far more honor to their offices than those who finally ended their careers. When faced with such men as Mr. Addolorato and Schwartz, our system should celebrate them, mourn their retirement, encourage them to continue doing what they did so well. This just makes me absolutely sick. I hope Mr. Lemus and Mr. Hidalgo sue those rat-fucking cocksuckers in New York City Hall for everything they have, and especially in the case of Mr. Lemus, I hope justice, delayed though it may be, is preserved. FUCK!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My endorsement for President:

I know this is a bit late in the game, but I've finally found a Presidential candidate I can support without reservation: Dr. Ron Paul, who, although he's a Republican, more closely embodies the ideals of the Founding Fathers and who more consistently favors a vast reduction of government than any of the other candidates from the two major parties. I disagree with him substantially on social issues and on immigration, but far from being the least of all evils, he's a man of integrity. I often say that I would rather honestly disagree with someone than dishonestly agree with them, and this is such an instance, though even the disagreements are not as significant as with other candidates. I know he will never be President, but if he were elected to that office, our nation would be in excellent hands indeed.

The end of an era:

First, I note with sorrow the passing of The Weekly World News. The absurdist humor and entertainingly fake stories were a source of much amusement and mirth. Sadly, they found they could no longer compete in the fake news business with the leader in the field of manufactured and falsified headlines in print media, the New York Times.

Second, I note with sorrow the acquisition of Dow Jones by Rupert Murdoch, the current leader in manufactured and falsified headlines in the televised media. I think I tried to read the Wall Street Journal, once. I found it a wonderful sedative. Rupert Murdoch is much like the Borg Queen of Star Trek fame, except Alice Krige is far hotter and charming, and the Borg Queen character was an infinitely more sympathetic and cuddly figure. And this is the point where I realize that Ms. Krige is around my mother's age and go to the shrink... Hell, she's still a very dignified-looking hottie.

Third, some bridge up in Minneapolis collapsed, killing 9 and injuring 60. While I also note this with sorrow, I'm even sorrier that CNN (and, I'm assuming, Fox News though I haven't watched it in ages) couldn't find a more relevant story to the nation as a whole. This reeks of the type of "bystander of a roadside accident" drama that has taken the place of actual reporting over the last few years, and I for one am sick and goddamned tired of it. There's more important things going on in this nation than a bridge collapse, such as the impending collapse of Social Security and the near-exponential ballooning of the national debt.

Finally, R Kelly is finally getting his day in court. Although he is entitled to the presumption of innocence in this matter, I believe he's completely guilty of another misdeed that has made him quite rich: Creating shitty music. Jesus GODDAMNED CHRIST ON A POGO STICK!!! "I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky." I didn't know Christians tripped on acid. Fuck!

Thankfully, I have some real music. Enjoy.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Cheney and his bum ticker:

I'm glad that, as stated by the Chicago Tribune Cheney 'fine' after defibrillator is replaced. As much of a schmuck as he is, I don't wish him, or more importantly, his family, any ill will. However, I find it an interesting juxtaposition that, a week after his alleged boss, Bush, made Cheney acting President for two hours and five minutes, Bush became acting Vice President while Cheney's defibrillator was being replaced. During that time, he admirably fulfilled the modern duties of that office, namely, sitting around like an idiot, not being particularly relevant to much of anything, and making someone else in the government look good in comparison.

As always, enjoy the music. I thought the video in particular was appropriate for this. :)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A random irritation:

First, to be absolutely clear, I have no problem whatsoever with the GLBT community. As long as non-related adults are happy and involved in a loving and healthy relationship based on mutual respect, and as long as they respect my right to do the same (although "right" and "ability" are very much different issues and something I have to work on...), I'm cool. No, what bothers me is all of these beautiful women playing transvestite or transgender males. It wasn't too bad when it was Olympia Dukakis in the "More Tales of the City" miniseries, but lately, I've seen the still beautiful Mimi Rogers on one show playing a male transvestite, and on "Ugly Betty", I saw the stunning Rebecca Romijn playing a male-to-female transsexual. I think it's warped mah fragile little mahnd, to quote Eric Cartman from South Park. Fuck it. Mimi Rogers and Rebecca Romijn are still fucking HOT! Still, it seems like such a shame to waste that kind of beauty on an admittely hilarious plot device.

With that in mind, I post the following flashback to a more innocent time. Enjoy. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More on minarchism vs. isolationist anarchism:

Paul, please forgive me, but you raised an interesting point in the comments section of my post.

1138 said...

"No, I'd put you somewhere closer to an isolationist anarchist than a conservative.

"I think there are a lot of folks who thing they want what you believe you want.
All I can do is pray that you never get it.
A modern technological society can't run on the governmental division you aspire to, just look at the Balkans."

7/25/2007 10:39 AM

My response was as follows:

Not quite. I'm a minarchist, which is similar (to an anarchist), but unlike anarchists, I at least acknowledge the necessity of the existence of government. I echo a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany in 1819, "Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual." Yet the paradox that is inherent in this statement is who steps in when the "equal rights of others" are violated? This common defense of the rights of others is the greatest purpose of government, and in fact, the one that is most ethically sound for a government to undertake. Leave charity to individuals, churches, and other organizations. They're far better at administering it, and they're not nearly as likely to misuse the funds for other ends as we've seen with Social Security.

The cite for the Jefferson quote is here, and is available on the University of Virginia website. In short, I believe government is a necessary evil, but one whose scope and power should be as small as possible while defending the rights of the individual from harm caused by others. I'm not opposed to the use of military force; I merely think we as a people should think long and hard before we do so, and that it be done very judiciously.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Please, don't call me a conservative.

First, I believe the most succinct crystallization of the proper role of government can be found in the Wiccan Rede: "An' ye harm none, do what ye will." I'm a Christian by philosophy, upbringing, and culture, yet I've never seen my political beliefs stated better.

Also, don't get me wrong: If this were the 1960s, I would at least be aligned with the Goldwater conservatives. The modern neoconservative, however, I find as distasteful as the abuses of power and fiscal mismanagement that have also been, if not typical, then at least not atypical, of the American liberal movement in the past, most notably in the form of LBJ. Of course, this is in contrast with classic liberalism which is a completely different creature.

If you choose to pick my stances apart, I am extremely fiscally conservative. I believe the government should judiciously manage the hard-earned money every taxpayer entrusts them with, while doing their best to take as little of it as possible so as to do minimal harm to the economy.

However, it is my stance on the proper role of the military that my conservative credentials start to fall apart. I favor either a completely non-interventionist policy or a minimally-interventionist stance. The proper role of the military is to defend the United States. In some rare and very proscribed cases, such as stopping genocides such as what we see in Darfur and elsewhere around the globe, I would support the insertion of our troops, but only if there were a clear mission and if we had the resources to help. In such a case, however, I would much prefer other forms of humanitarian aid.

As for the government's intrusion into people's personal lives, frankly, I think Las Vegas is too conservative by half, and I even think The Netherlands could use a bit more liberalization in the classical sense, though at least they are almost there. What consenting adults do with their own bodies, as long as they harm no other, should not be subject to the government's intervention. However, I do support using intoxication as an aggravating circumstance in the consideration of other crimes, such as Lindsay Lohan's recent stunt. In her case, the possession and consumption of various substances should not be at issue directly. It's the fact that she endangered others and knew this was a risk of what she was doing. Had she done that at home and slept it off, that would have been an entirely different issue.

On immigration, as long as the immigrants are willing to assimilate to our culture and can function at some level in our society without becoming a burden, I say open the floodgates. We're all a nation of immigrants here. It's just that, for some of us, it happened so many generations ago that we've forgotten.

I'm also very irritated about this "left vs. right" thing. The terminology hasn't had any true relevance since Revolutionary France, when the terms were defined by the seating arrangements at their assemblies. In this White House, I've seen some telling elements of fascism, and this is not a term I use casually. Fascism is every bit as much anathema to a moderate conservative as socialism is to a moderate liberal.

I believe people should be kind and generous to one another, but the government has proven time and again that they are grossly inefficient at handling charity, and that, frankly, is the least of their problems.

So, if I'm not a conservative, what am I? For one, I'm an anti-federalist. The government works best that works closest to the people they serve. Therefore, I support vastly increased decentralization of government power. In the end, I love freedom, and a strong central government, as proven most recently by this administration, is anathema to such a goal. While I'm not entirely a pacifist, I'm very restrained in my support of uses of force, again almost exclusively for the purpose of self-defense. In short, I'm a minarchist, though one who's intelligent enough to know that if this is to work, an incrementalist approach is necessary, and we must clean up the messes of those who came before to avoid further damage to the country.

Finally, conservatives and liberals have hope that the government will right itself just on the brink of disaster. Based on the evidence, I believe the time for such action is now to rein in the spending and reform and/or eliminate programs, and I believe it's not going to begin to happen until it's already too late. Whenever someone calls me a conservative, I think at times they grossly overestimate my optimism. At my best, I'm a pragmatist, and at worst, I'm very much a pessimist.

Enjoy the music.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Woohoo!!! I did what South Park worked to avoid:

Free Online Dating

Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

I would like to thank my filthy FUCKING mouth for this award. :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Russ Feingold Censure Resolution:

As I was watching Meet The Press, it was impossible to ignore Senator Feingold's announcement that he would be putting forth a measure to censure the President, though he made a point not to rule out other people who may be the subject of a censure resolution. Last year, when he made his censure motion and only three of his fellow Democrats joined him, I respected him for his courage. However, in a time when justice cries out for this President to be impeached, he's acknowledging that his proposition has no legal binding and will, in essence, tell any Republican President should know when they serve concurrently with a Democrat Congress: They don't like him. I'm deeply disheartened, yet far from surprised, that none of the leadership of either major political party has the courage and integrity to do that which must be done for the good of our nation: Impeach President Bush.

Also, I'm equally disturbed by something I mentioned earlier: Congress' failure to get rid of the national debt and reform and/or eliminate the entitlement programs before our nation is only able to pay for the interest on the debt and some, but not all, of our basic infrastructural needs. May our descendants forgive us our pettiness, shortsightedness, and weakness.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Handicapping the 2008 Presidential Election:

Democrats: Hilary brought in Bill far too early. She could very easily become the Howard Dean of this election cycle, a task made even easier by the widespread... hatred isn't too strong a term for the emotion engendered by the mention of her or her husband by those on both the left and the right. She's running this race as though it were a 400m sprint, but elections these days are more like an Ironman triathlon.. She's peaking far too early, and I predict she'll be out of this race in everything but name by January. I see it being between Obama and Edwards, and Obama has a decisive advantage. He has greater charisma, minimal baggage, and is generally far more likable than Edwards. Also, he would be far tougher to beat by a Republican because they wouldn't be able to successfully use a large number of Rove's dirty tricks. Prediction: Obama by a whisker.

Republicans: I agree that Fred Thompson is the 800-lb. gorilla in the mist for the GOP, though recent revelations hurt his chances of winning the GOP nomination. McCain's campaign is only waiting for a physician to call the time of death. Giuliani has done a fair impression of the Hindenberg. Romney isn't looking much better, and will continue to have trouble with the evangelical wing of the GOP because of his faith. Brownback's campaign is rotting so badly it's drawing flies, and the rest of the GOP field isn't worth mentioning. The hour groweth short if Thompson wants to enter the fray. Prediction: If Thompson enters, he still wins by a mile. If not, too close to call between Giuliani and Romney.

Wild Card: Mayor Bloomberg of NYC could be the spoiler for the Democrat candidate, perhaps this year's Ross Perot in reverse. However, this would be mitigated substantially if Obama gets the nod. He's a businessman first and foremost, and I don't see him entering if he doesn't think he has a real chance of winning. Prediction: He enters only if Hilary wins the Democratic Party nomination. I get the sense that he hates the Clintons as much as Perot hates the Bushes.

My thoughts on the GOP and politics in general: With Romney, I have little doubt that he may be a good father and husband. He certainly did good work as the governor of the state of Masochism, er, Massachusetts. If he were running on his record as governor, I would have absolutely no problem voting for him with a clear conscience. His latest move to the right, however, has left a very bitter taste in my mouth, and I'm not sure I like anyone running any better, certainly not among the front runners. Perhaps it's because I'm more of an anti-federalist than a classic libertarian, although I am very libertarian on social issues. Fiscally, I advocate the government pinching pennies so tight Lincoln's beard comes out the other side. The evidence is clear. The Emperor is bare-assed NEKKID, and if we don't financially clothe him (to abuse the metaphor even more), it will be our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who will pay a terrible price.