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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Poetry, in the Beat style:

I find myself, drawn by two strange attractors,
Seeking order out of my chaos out of my order.
I find my valleys within their flowing peace,
But meet my pinnacles in their chaos.
I see myself, drawing ever closer to two loci,
Farther from the safe, boring sameness,
And I can finally see myself, now, beautiful.

Julia 703

Monday, May 28, 2007

Turn down the speakers for this one.

Or, crank it up if you like this type of music. This song is an old blast from the past by Atari Teenage Riot, the song "Too Dead For Me." Yes, I do listen to a little bit of anarchist punk/digital hardcore. :P

Corruption in Durham, NC, or "I'm active on this blog. What's wrong with me?"

As I read the comments on this post the Durham in Wonderland blog, I was reminded of a very different story in a local newspaper in today's edition. As you know, I'm a bit of a frequent troller for news, and I found this article online about a former Alabama governor by the name of John M. Patterson. It covers his entry into politics as a result of his father's assassination by organized crime in Phenix City. I have absolutely no clue where Phenix City is, but I think I've passed by it on the interstate or some highway, probably on the way to Atlanta. The long and short of it is that his father, then a candidate for the office of Attorney General, was assassinated while he was campaigning to rid Phenix City of the organized crime that had been controlling the city for decades. What I found particularly moving is that then-Governor Persons, mere weeks after the assassination of Albert Patterson, sent in the National Guard and declared martial law in Phenix City, ordered the arrest of the bulk of that town's government, and cleared out the organized crime that had brought so much ruin for so long. If that was possible in 1954, before more current anti-corruption laws were passed, why hasn't Governor Mike Easley taken that extreme measure in Durham, NC? The necessity of such a move is painfully obvious to anyone who kept up with the Duke lacrosse case and has watched closely what's happened in Durham since. It's time for justice to once again (or should I say finally) rule in Durham, because it has been sorely lacking under Nifong's tenure.

Time to go REALLY old school:

On one of the blogs I most often frequent, LieStoppers, one of the most intelligent of the frequent commenters, a man by the name of Bill Anderson, pointed out something about one of my ideas. I had suggested that those involved in the framing of three innocent Duke lacrosse players should receive the sentence in prison they attempted to foist on Finnerty, Evans, and Seligmann. He pointed out that was what happened to false accusers in the Old Testament. I believe this should be done not only in this case, but in any other cases where officials of the state knowingly frames innocent persons. In short, I think it's time to go REALLY old school, so that this type of thing never happens again and that, perhaps, fewer of those of humble means get sent to prison for crimes they never committed or, in fact, that never occurred. Had Nifong, Chalmers, the DPD, and Crystal Gail Mangum (and yes, I am naming the accuser because it is known that no actual crime occurred in this case, save those committed by her and officials of Durham, NC) known this was a possibility from the beginning, perhaps these three innocent young men would not have been subjected to 395 days of hell. I can think of no other just way to prevent this from happening again.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Philosophy Test:

I took a test to figure out which philosopher's beliefs most closely match my own at SelectSmart, and I have those that scored above 60% on the curved rating scale, with #1 being assigned a value of 100. From what I've read about their beliefs, the test seems fairly accurate.

1) Aquinas, 100
2) Aristotle, 85
3) John Stuart Mill, 76
4) Kant, 74
5) Plato, 67
6) Ayn Rand, 62
7) Jeremy Bentham, 61

Thought it was interesting...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Roger Scruton, Philosopher and hunter:

The following is excerpted from this link. I cite it because it rather succinctly states some views I share about animal welfare and the increasing difference between it and animal rights. To wit, the "animal rights" movement is largely led by a bunch of lunatics with poor philosophical and intellectual underpinnings and funded by well-meaning but ill-informed people, but Mr. Scruton is far nicer about it than I. Maybe it's a British thing... The quoted material is in italics below.

Michael Duffy: The animal rights movement which owes quite a lot to the Australian philosopher, Peter Singer, has succeeded in having hunting banned in Britain, although not, I should say, in Australia. What’s your view of their arguments?

Roger Scruton: Total rubbish. The arguments that are given are that somehow this is a cruel sport and doesn’t belong to the modern age in which we have proper compassion for animals, but anybody who’s done it realises that it is not only the natural way of controlling the fox population (which has no other predator, after all) but also is the least painful and most instantaneous form of death that the animal can actually encounter. All the alternatives like shooting and trapping and snaring and so on are, to my mind, far crueller and should actually be banned. But the point is that the real objection to hunting by those who oppose it is that people enjoy it. It’s a kind of modern Puritanism, and this Puritanism you can see totally infecting the philosophy of Peter Singer…a kind of inverted Puritanism which doesn’t allow people to have morality based upon the sense of the distinctness of the human being, everything has to be brought down to the lowest level.

Michael Duffy: Where does that come from, do you think? Why has it triumphed, as it has in this case anyway?

Roger Scruton: I think the reason why the animal rights thinks it has triumphed is that, with the loss of religion, people have lost all sense of the distinctiveness of the human species and what actually gives us a destiny apart from the animal kingdom, so to speak, and so the people have become worried that in fact they are only animals, there’s no difference between me and a fox. So what I couldn’t possibly do to a human being, I couldn’t possibly do to a fox either. But this is based on a complete misunderstanding of the nature of human life.

Michael Duffy: And the nature of foxes probably...

Understand that while I am against the animal rights movement, I'm equally against people who torture kittens or set up or watch dog fights. I'm not against animal testing, as long as it's done as humanely as possible. Nevertheless, if it comes down to Fido or someone I care about, I'm going to choose the welfare of my loved one first.

Texas really just likes to kill people.

I know this is a bit late, but it's something that really spoke to me. First, in accordance with Texas law, a hospital in Austin attempted to remove life support from an infant against the mother's wishes. And here I thought Texas was supposed to be pro-life and in favor of protecting children. Yet, according to their law, hospitals are only required to provide 10 days notice of their intent to remove life support before the parents must find another institution to take them, oftentimes in the full knowledge that none will do so. So, in short, one of the most (theoretically) conservative states has something tantamount to an involuntary euthanasia law. Well, I guess that does make Texas truly conservative, in much the same way that fascist Germany was. This decision was best left with the mother, not some wonks at a hospital, and it only added to the already intense agony she was suffering because of this situation. My thoughts and hopes are that she, her family, and her friends somehow finds a way to move on from this terrible event.

Oh, but wait, there's more. Texas also likes to kill people for killing other people, moreso than any other state in the United States. With at least 385 executions since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976, that one state has put to death more than 1/3 of those executed in the United States in the last 31 years. Is anyone noticing a pattern here? The state of Texas just likes to see people die. Utterly and completely disgusting, but they're pro-life. Just ask them.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Why, oh why, does the President speak?

Bush said what may have been one of the dumbest things in a presidency marred by stupidity, incompetence, and cronyism at the highest levels of government. To wit, he said that Osama bin Laden is free "because we haven't got him yet". What. The. FUCK! Well, here's another one: I'm not rich because I haven't earned millions of dollars yet. I'm still broke because I have to spend about as much as I make on bills and shit. I'm still fat because I haven't started exercising yet. Fucking idiot...

Friday, May 18, 2007

A minor complaint about life:

I was looking in the mirror at the top of my head, and I noticed something unsettling: daylight. If I comb properly, I can sorta hide it because it's not to the point where it would require a true comb-over (and I'll just shave my head once I get to that point), but the hair is definitely thin, and not over a small part of that real estate. *whimper* So, now, I'm going to be browsing various hairpieces and other similar products. I'm thinking I'll get photos taken while I still have hair so that I can show any possible future generations that yes, I once had hair, and yes, it was a lovely color. Getting older is a bitch!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A website that addresses some of my concerns:

I had been wondering if more libertarians were interested in the environment, and I was curious to find out how they reconciled their environmental concerns with their political philosophy. This was purely selfish on my part since those latent concerns are coming to the fore and since I'm starting to struggle with those concerns. Since many who self-identify as such are actually left-libertarians, a completely different and unrelated group that is anathema to pretty much all that libertarians stand for, that task was slightly more difficult. However, I've found an interesting blog by a Canadian journalist by David Reevely, The EcoLibertarian, and I find his work compelling. Might want to check it out. And while you're at it, visit something that Toronto's trying to do, Zerofootprint Toronto. While it's an interesting concept, I don't see it as being anything more than a small niche thing.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

New steel mill to be built in Coastal Alabama:

This has been all over the news in my area for the last few... months, and it had finally come down to two metropolitan areas: Baton Rouge, LA, and Mobile, AL. As announced on local news at 6:00 a.m. Friday, May 11, Mobile won the plant. The plant will actually be built around Mount Vernon, AL, a town which strangely has no mountain but only got the name because it had a small hill that was a bit higher than everything else. According to ThyssenKrupp, this plant is expected to employ 2,700 people and add at least 38,000 other related jobs to the area. Considering this plant alone is expected to cost US$3.7 billion, I find that estimate reasonable, if a bit conservative. With EADS also operating in Mobile County, I think things could become a bit interesting.

I was watching news coverage, and I heard one guy from the Mount Vernon/North Mobile County area say that the announcement was "like watching your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your new Cadillac. You don't know whether to celebrate or to cry." I've been up to the Mount Vernon area, Grove Hill, Toxey, etc. They're absolutely beautiful, if dying, communities. This will add life to this region and much-needed revenue to the local economy. However, a small part of me asks at what cost? Will those small towns become something unrecognizable? Will they lose that which made them so special? And then, there's also the environmental concerns as well. Overall, I'm both happy and sad about this recent development.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

HPV Vaccine: Should it be mandatory?

I'm a single man, have no kids, and by extension, I have no daughters. However, if I had a daughter, I would not even think once, let alone twice, before getting her vaccinated against several strains of the human papillomavirus. I think this has the potential to become one of the most beneficial vaccines of the last 50 years, not so much based on the number of lives it will save, but rather, on the quality of those lives that will be so dramatically improved and the decreased medical costs for each victim of cervical cancer.

All that said, I am strongly against mandatory vaccination, as I feel this is a case where the state needs to cede authority to the parents. In fact, should any state make this vaccine mandatory, this would be one of the clearest examples of the state overstepping their authority. This is a decision that is best left to every woman and every parent, not to the government. As a libertarian, the very concept of this vaccine becoming mandatory is deeply offensive and disturbing. However, should each state decide that it wants to spend their taxpayers' money in that manner, and should the people approve of it, then it would be acceptable for the local public health organizations to administer this vaccine at reduced or no cost to the economically disadvantaged. Just a thought.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Freedom from old hurts:

I haven't exactly been shy about the fact that I parted from my last church several years ago. Since it was on such poor terms (at least, on my part), and since recent events have given me pause to reconsider prior stances on my behavior several years ago, I finally worked up the courage to return. You have to remember that this is a church I went to when I was experiencing some spectacularly fucked up times in my life in addition to the usual teen angst bullshit. I won't lie. It was one of the hardest things I've done in a long time, or would be any year but this one, but I managed to make it through the entire service, chat with people I didn't even realize I had been missing for years, and successfully ignore those I've been avoiding for years. While none of the last group will exactly be getting Christmas cards from me, I long ago realized it was all about bullshit, and it's long past time to let it go. So, while it was a very painful experience, it was also a very happy experience and something I will be forever grateful that I did, because in a sense, it felt like I was finally coming home after having run away as an angry, stupid child. I may have left as a child, but I returned as a man, and what was once broken in me feels like it's becoming whole. The old hurts have faded into irrelevance, the old shame is dying, and I finally feel free.

Oh, and I'm reconsidering my longstanding agnosticism/apatheism. For me, Sunday wasn't about the religion, or at least, not all of it was although it had a role. It was about the community, and I'm only sorry that it took me this long. Thirteen years of anger was far too long over something that petty, but no one has ever accused me of being overly forgiving or of not being excessively stubborn. I know it's not my normal fare for this blog, but I just had to share this with someone. Not to sound too preachy, but I think I understand the parable about the prodigal son a lot better now. Oh, but don't worry. I'll be cursing up a storm and raising hell before you know it. :)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Musings on discontent and unreasonableness:

I was having a chat with a coworker about the current political system being geared more towards affability than ability and the failings of the two-party system, and he, being but a few years older, said something like, "That's just the way things are, and they're not likely to change. You'll just have to live with it." Since he's typically an intelligent guy, and I can even see where he's coming from, that actually gave me a moment's pause. Then I looked at the whole of human history, seen how any positive things have come from people not being happy with the status quo, and instead of just figuring that it wasn't worth the energy, decided to change things themselves instead of being reasonable. You take a look at all things, great and small, invented by humanity, and it's all been done because someone or several someones didn't like how a task was accomplished and decided to do it better. Look at the better parts of the evolution of our governmental system, and they were all created by people who didn't like the way things were going and decided to change it. So if this is what discontent and unreasonableness accomplish, well, I'm proud to be grumpy.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Okay, one more video, but I have an excuse.

I think this artist has a much better voice and lyrics than her fellow jazz singer and countrywoman Joss Stone. I have to thank Evie's blog for introducing me to this artist. And now, the brilliant Amy Winehouse with "You Know I'm No Good":

Before I start posting real commentary again...

I was feeling a bit nostalgic earlier today. I was thinking of my teen years, when I discovered new and innovative ways to be irritating, annoying, angry, and weird. To put it into perspective, my personality was very similar to a composite of several early '90s Christian Slater characters. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I loved "Bull in the Heather" by Sonic Youth. Enjoy, and I promise I'll be posting something on both of my blogs this weekend.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

An apology to Reade, Seligmann, and Finnerty:

While I have devoted a couple of posts to the three falsely accused lacrosse players at Duke, I haven't devoted my blog to this and fighting other injustices. Instead, I have taken the path of hanging out on a supporters' website, mostly staying anonymous while saying what I've really felt, and basically being a coward. In fact, when I searched for Duke on this blog, I found only two posts: Post 1 and Post 2. While my language has been coarse on my blog and on the Liestoppers website, I've hardly been standing up against this injustice like I should have, and for that, I'm sorry. What I find even more shameful is that I'm a libertarian with a strong emphasis on civil liberties, yet I didn't speak loudly enough when it mattered. Thankfully, these three young men were not subjected to imprisonment for acts they never committed, and just as importantly, acts that never occurred, but that's no excuse.

In light of the alleged threatening mail some members of the Gang of 88 claim to have received, I posted something else as D-503 on the Liestoppers website: "I don't wish the Gang of 88 any physical harm at all. For one, I tend to be more of a pacifist, but for another, I recognize that sometimes the cruelest thing you can do to somebody is just let them live. So I want them to live long, healthy lives. I want them to live long enough to see the careers they built on petty demagoguery crash around them. I want them to live long enough to see their tenure evaporate like a light fog shortly after dawn on a dry summer morning. I want to see each and every one of them sued into the stone age. And I want to see each and every one of them so disgraced that they won't even be able to find a job teaching at a community college at the ass-end of nowhere. May they all live at least 10,000 more days, and may each of those days bring a new agony, not of the body, but of what passes for their soul." This is not a call for vengeance against the Gang of 88. This is a call for justice, and justice demands that they be held liable for their words and actions and their contribution to this miscarriage of justice. Furthermore, I call for justice for all those who have been wrongfully convicted and accused, because while the Duke Three's legal woes are over, others are still suffering because of human error, and in some cases, because of pieces of solid (if flabby and uglier than sin) human waste like Mike Nifong.