Wednesday, April 30, 2008
A senior French banking official told me, "If a banker promoted these subprime mortgages here, he would go to jail."
In a recent interview, Germany's Gunter Verheugen, vice president of the European Commission, told me, "We need a strong and competitive industrial base in order to have a strong service economy. Don't try to be cheaper. Try to be better. Don't try to compete on low social standards."
Monday, April 28, 2008
The trip to Nova Scotia promises a strong Gaelic cultural identity, one of the most well-crafted whiskies on these shores, hiking paths, beaches, and scenic drives. By contrast, once outside the resort areas of Aruba, one clutched one's wallet and simply wanted to get back to the beach as quickly as possible. One relatively short road trip aside, there wasn't much reason to leave the shelter of the resorts. The occasional nice house abounded inland, likely from wealthy Americans who can afford to keep a house with beach rights year-round.
Yesterday, I helped my father move some dirt. It seems a pretty simple thing, with no significance, right? Some contractors came and dumped some mulch and some dirt in his driveway so he could spread fresh mulch around for his plants, and spread the dirt around to certain areas of dead grass close to the foundation of his house. I was at the house, so he told me to grab a shovel and help out, and I did. Any time a child can work with a parent toward any sort of common goal is always a good bonding experience, but beyond that, it confirmed a sense of falsehood in working inside all day, under fluorescent lights. I realized that I'd much rather be outside - shoveling dirt - than inside typing on a computer during the work day. Not only do these activities reaffirm a connection with nature, they cleanse one's spirit.
Our society began to decay once we chose to prefer paper-pushing over working with and through the only true source of livelihood we have.
Friday, April 25, 2008
The main reason for rising prices, of course, is the surge in demand from China and India. Hundreds of millions of people are joining the middle class each year, and that means they want to eat more and better food.
A secondary reason has been the growing demand for ethanol as a fuel additive. That's soaking up some of the corn supply.
The WSJ, of all publications, is acknowledging (however indirectly) that there are simply too many of us on this planet. There were for a long time, but now, most of us want first-world lifestyles, something the Earth simply can't provide. Consider:
- Farmers are already having a tough time rotating crops and re-using soil too early
- Oil demand is sky-high, as are prices since the US sold out its currency for a false real-estate boom...growing economies such as China and India will put further strain on oil resources by increasing their own oil purchases in coming months/years
- Companies like Mercedes-Benz and BMW are working hard on viable renewable fuel alternatives, while the US descends into third-world status by frantically attempting to use our own crops, much of which we export, for fuel
- It's politically incorrect to mention that there are too many people on the planet, because everyone should have a right to consume (so goes the logic)
All these factors lead to increased consumption with the same amount of land available to people for cities and crops. That land was already strained; now we have to deal with hundreds of millions more consumers every year, while the number of food riots increase (Haiti & Mexico, anyone?). I agree with the writer - time to stockpile food, guns, and bottled water. Eventually, we'll be living in a future Tyler Durden could appreciate - gun in hand, looking out every window of your house for looters & rapists, boiling the bacteria & pollutants out of your water, etc. At least the McDonald's down the street will still be open.[Full article text]
Thursday, April 24, 2008
"I said, 'Who are you, immigration?" the man, a construction worker who spoke on a condition of anonymity because he fears deportation, said he asked the bartender. "It was a shock."
Daniel F. Pokaski - chairman of Boston's Licensing Board, which issues alcohol licenses - said he had never heard of local bartenders checking for a customs stamp before serving a customer.
"I wouldn't recommend it if, in fact, it does have the side effect of denying illegal immigrants the right to have a cocktail," he said. "I just think you're really taking a class of people, and based on the lack of a customs stamp you're denying them service. I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with that."
The law does not mention a customs stamp, which shows the date of admission to the United States. But state and city officials say the company can legally increase its requirements, as long as it does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, or other protected classes.
So, these people should be given operator's licenses for automobiles, then be able to go drink with their under-the-table cash...?
Even if these people work hard, doesn't the very definition of illegal immigrant mean this person should probably not be out in public, drinking it up and having a good time, while INS is (not) looking for him/her? Look at the last sentence in bold above. What are we supposed to do - include illegal immigrants in Title IX?
Uh-oh - scratch that - I think a bureaucrat in California just had a bright idea.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
People can't even handle the reality of someone dying anymore as they're too wrapped up in their busy lives to think about death or other natural events...so they take drugs and go on benders when something bad happens to shut out the pain. Very likely, by the end of her trial, this "woman" will be considered a victim and all the morons who sympathize with her "plight" will rain down pity on her so they can also feel better about themselves. What a wonderful culture we have.
Per an article on the current welfare state in the UK, the moral hazard of throwing money at people so they can spend it on junk food and entertainment is exactly this: they will never, ever want to get off their lazy asses and work. Welfare should be provided for subsistence only during times of healthy government and economy. Our government and economy is based on mindless consumer spending; giving money out to people so they can apply for credit cards and rack up huge amounts of debt by purchasing cars, flat-screen TVs, and Domino's pizza is a way for the government to spur economic activity - which has nothing to do with helping those in need. Welfare, in this application, is NOT a cure for anything; it is, in fact a symptom of larger problems at work in society.
Not that it makes much difference in the end, but Obama handing out entitlements to all will further bankrupt our economy, and force the Fed to print out more of those not-so-valuable-anymore dollar bills. Welcome to Obama's Third World. Unfortunately, our only other options include someone who really believes universal health care can ever work in this country, and a veteran who wants to increase our troop presence in Iraq and piss off the world even more.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Get ready for carbon emissions to drift through the atmosphere instead of being soaked up by the forests that don't exist anymore - meaning a heated atmosphere, meaning mass extinction. Aw, we created our very own greenhouse effect, how proud we must be!
[use food for food, idiots]
Friday, April 18, 2008
Why would anyone want to use harmful chemicals in the form of plastic on their newborn/toddler/child? Why were these materials ever allowed in the first place? Oh, right, because they're convenient and people make a lot of money off of them.
Crowd-logic runs Wikipedia; is it any surprise that overly zealous "editors" with a political agenda maintain their roles as puppets to ensure no controversial theories are viewed by the masses?
Sure...episodic programming centered around products...what a great idea! Now when I'm watching Charlie Sheen or the latest idiot to star in a sitcom attempting to emulate Jerry Seinfeld, I will also be brainwashed by shameless product placement and outright advertising during the show.
Think they will stop showing commercials now since TV shows will become one big commercial anyway? Or will that be the next wave - maybe the sitcom of the future will include a new device: the show's main character, every ten minutes, decides to sit in front of a TV watching commercials, and we can just watch along with him/her? That'll work.
This is the result of your multicultural society - "things are better when you put them together", especially if it's disgusting food (Domino's Pizza with a huge oreo-cookie cake for dessert - nasty), product placement during a TV show (which is sponsored by yet more corporations so you can watch their commercials every ten minutes), or entertainment products (DVD players in cars). Have fun zoning out while overpopulation slowly kills us all.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Israel is the only recipient of foreign aid by the US to not have to account for how the money is spent. Billions per year, about $500 per Israeli, goes to Israel in the form of cash, military weaponry, and military intelligence. Why? Because of how powerful the domestic lobbies are which have no purpose other than to further the goals of Israel.
Still wondering why we got attacked on 9/11/2001? You shouldn't be.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
The Patriots are run by a man who feels he has no responsibility to be courteous to the media, so the media fills in the blanks with how he's "cocky", "mean", "arrogant"; any kind of adjective that, in today's society, are used to describe a hard-working individual who has the courage of his convictions behind him and little else. This is a man who has been working for forty-plus years of his fifty-five years at a certain sport, and has excelled to the top of his game (no pun intended). One can imagine what this individual - Bill Belichick - could have accomplished had he set his sights on politics, much like the creative forces behind Google. In any case, each game is a battle, and so he's fine with admitting that the final responsibility for wins and losses rests on his shoulders - but of course, the media spins this, too, into something entirely different, for the entertainment of the idiot masses. He is a hard but fair man, and loves his organization more than his own bank account or reputation.
Many Patriots fans are unable to get past Super Bowl 42 even two months later, but I, for one, have made my peace with it. Firstly, we're talking about a business; football is pure entertainment. However, once in a lifetime, a very special combination of an extremely intelligent player and the best coach in the league will come together and accomplish amazing things that transcend the business nature of the sport. Tom Brady himself took much less money than he could have received to stay with the Patriots; we saw Mike Lowell do the same thing this off season to stay with the Red Sox. In a parity-driven league designed so that owners cannot exceed certain spending limits, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick rise above and work harder than anyone else. Since these two individuals can't do everything alone, they will not win every game, every year - but they have come pretty damn close during most seasons.
Given the expected quality of competition on the below schedule, the Patriots may have a chance to attain perfection again this season. Sixteen-and-oh regular season or not, they certainly look like the favorite to win it all yet again. We can only hope they capture that Lombardi trophy again this season to take the sting out of the disappointing Super Bowl loss last season.
Here's the 2008 schedule:
Week 1: Kansas City Chiefs (1PM) - Sept 7th
Week 2: at New York Jets (4:15PM) - Sept 14th
Week 3: Miami Dolphins (1PM) - Sept 21st
Week 4: Bye week
Week 5: at San Francisco (4:15PM) - Oct 5th
Week 6: at San Diego Chargers (8:15PM) - Oct 12th
Week 7: Denver Broncos (8:30PM, Monday Night Football - Oct 20th
Week 8: St. Louis Rams (1PM) - Oct 26th
Week 9: at Indianapolis Colts (8:15PM) - Nov 2nd
Week 10: Buffalo Bills (1PM) - Nov 9th
Week 11: New York Jets (8:15PM) - Thursday - Nov 13th
Week 12: at Miami Dolphins (1PM) - Nov 23rd
Week 13: Pittsburgh Steelers (4:15PM) - Nov 30th
Week 14: at Seattle Seahawks (8:15PM) - Dec 7th
Week 15: at Oakland Raiders (4:15PM) - Dec 14th
Week 16: Arizona Cardinals (1PM) - Dec 21st
Week 17: at Buffalo Bills (1PM) - Dec 28th
Obviously, the "Godfather" on the show is John Locke. This is confirmed in the first episode when we see Locke smile at Kate with an orange peel in his mouth, much like the similar occurrence in the Godfather, when Vito did the same to his grandson.
The most rewarding part of Lost for me, is that the show has made the island itself a character. This is the producer's way of inviting nature into the show. Boone, a character from Season 1, needed to die as it was "a sacrifice the island demanded". Some viewed this Season 1 quote from Locke as insane, but others who view nature as a cycle and a process we are merely a part of and not above, don't fear death in the same way. Boone's death was a device. This is confirmed when Locke & Jack have the conversation about Boone, during which Locke says, "Boone was a sacrifice that the island demanded. What happened to him at that plane was a part of a chain of events that led us here -- that led us down a path -- that led you and me to this day, to right now." Whether or not one believes in destiny or actual sacrifices, the point is the same: Boone's death was necessary for the eventual strengthening of the survivors (or, through the video game lens, was a necessary step to advance to the next "level".)
The most obvious application of nature on the show also occurred during Season 1, when Charlie, very weak and drug-sick, has his drugs taken from him by Locke so he can go "cold-turkey" off of heroin. Locke allows Charlie three attempts to get his drugs back from Locke, and on the third time, Locke says he will give the drugs to Charlie. In the end, the result is the same; Charlie will die of an OD, or will be forced to rehab eventually (assuming the survivors have to stay on the island a long time). Charlie, in his addictive state, doesn't realize this of course. So Locke shows him a moth cocoon to depict how Charlie should embrace his struggle rather than reject it.
Locke: [Talking to Charlie about a moth cocoon] You see this little hole? This moth's just about to emerge. It's in there right now, struggling. It's digging it's way through the thick hide of the cocoon. Now, I could help it - take my knife, gently widen the opening, and the moth would be free - but it would be too weak to survive. Struggle is nature's way of strengthening it.
Since the island is a character and also happens to be the place the survivors have to live, it is very different from modern society, where one can get drugs, gasoline, television, and foods enriched with sweeteners and preservatives, many times all on the same street corner (or "strip mall", as we now call it). The island represents nature in all its terrifying glory; it shows the characters certain things, it decides who lives and who dies, and it is represented by black smoke that cannot be captured or tricked. Unfortunately, some people will make the obvious parallel here to a Christian or Jewish "God", a singular consciousness in the sky deciding the fate of people with a snap of the fingers. I choose not to take this approach (both in life and on the show), but again, since the producers have to produce both ratings and a well-executed show, some temptations are hard to resist when trying to apply Island life to the viewers' everyday lives.
Monday, April 14, 2008
My overall points here are as follows:
Per below, the "right to repair" bill seems to only want to take information now exclusively held by dealers and put it in the hands of independent mechanics, so that the independent mechanics are not given the "unfair burden" of not having that information with which to fix cars. It has nothing to do with car warranties, which obviously means no out of pocket expense for a car owner until a certain time down the road. No $$ out of pocket, no reason to join this organization, so of course they'll ignore that.
Quick aside here: I happen to love my car and take care of any expensive items I own rather well, so I've become very familiar with my vehicle via a few methods:
- Simple self-education: Become familiar with your car; read the manual; learn the service intervals; know where everything is; open up the hood and get comfortable under there.
- Common Sense: At each fillup, check the engine oil level, all fluid levels; check the tire pressure, and listen for any strange sounds. If you are familiar with how your car sounds when idling and healthy, you'll be more attuned to "bad" sounds.
- Resourcefulness: Try to find someone you know who owns the same car/engine as you. Tell them you'd like to retain lines of communication for whenever something happens to a car or any tips you might hear about how to maintain your car a certain way. Also: find a good online forum specifically relating to your make & model; know your local dealer service desk employee/manager well (they are normally more than happy to answer simple questions over the phone); find a good online parts warehouse or two and order parts when needed online, which are normally cheaper than the same part from the dealership.
These are all things from which most car owners can benefit, and they are not difficult methods to employ in order to ensure time and money savings. I happen to enjoy German cars, and so does a close friend, so we both have a lot to talk about and ideas to share if one of us is having a problem with our respective cars. A good example of even an honest shop charging for a service one can easily do oneself is the "mass air flow sensor" of a car. All cars have them, and they tend to fail around 100K miles. It can sometimes be a $200 part online, but most mechanics charge $300 or more...we're talking about a sensor screwed in using two screws into the air intake pipe- right on the top of the engine with no special tools needed for access. Takes about 2 minutes to replace, or 2 minutes to clean if you want to try cleaning it first before replacing (with a $2.00 can of electronic part cleaner spray). People seem amazed when I tell them this, as if I'm a car guru. It makes me laugh, of course...moving on.
Here are some basic rules of logic to follow for every car owner:
- At each gas fillup, check your tire pressure and your oil (i.e.: open the hood); ensure they are at appropriate levels. Bad tire pressure can lead to easily popped/damaged tires or other safety hazards; low oil can indicate a quart is needed or could be indicative of a larger problem. Keeping on top of the oil and noticing how often the level declines gives one a better overall picture of the health of the vehicle.
- Become familiar & comfortable with the different sounds when your engine is on, and the fluid levels in the reservoir tanks when the engine is off. Changes in these sounds or dips in fluid levels will be noticed more easily if you're aware of where they SHOULD be.
- Make it a point, since a lot of new cars come with huge plastic covers over the engine these days, to remove that plastic cover when the hood is open and, again, become familiar with what's under there.
- Learn where the spark plugs are - you don't have to change them yourself, you just have to know where they are for your own reference - and follow the combustion chamber as far as you can; get familiar with air intake and fuel intake. It's not terribly complicated to check and replace spark plugs oneself, as long as one has the proper tools (including a torque wrench; spark plugs must be torqued to a precise level). This is normally a 100K maintenance item and thus can be done at a more comprehensive repair/maintenance appointment far into your car's life.
- Learn what type of light bulbs your car takes for every single light in the car (license plate illuminator, high beam, low beam, parking beam, side indicators, turn signals, interior dome lights) - this can be done by contacting Daniel Stern at danielsternlighting.com, or just by going to Autozone and asking an employee to tell you which bulb each socket in the car takes. There's NEVER a need to take a car to a mechanic for a damn bulb (though, in fairness, some low and high beam bulbs nowadays, with crowded engine compartments, take quite long to access and change than in years past).
- Learn how to jack a car up in the event a tire is damaged, and learn how to put that donut on the car, how long it will last, and know a reputable shop from which to order tires. Every car has "jacking points" under the rocker panels toward the middle of the car.
The long and short of it is, people need to feel "empowered" with their "freedom" of information flowing seamlessly from dealer to independent mechanic, for no other reason than they don't get screwed when they take their car in for a repair. In other words, this seems to be another case of an organization trying to protect consumers from themselves, not from an evil corporation like Volkswagen, USA, unfairly hoarding their "secret plans" on how to fix a Jetta. In fact, the official technician's repair manual for ANY car can usually be purchased right at the dealership for around $150. Most independent mechanics will have these manuals, among others, and likely model-specific diagnostic equipment as well. Why this equipment and this information should simply be given away to any shop that has a license to operate is beyond me; if a mechanic can fix my car, he can fix it with is talent; if not, he can't and I shouldn't be giving him my business.
While I realize that many cars contain more and more diagnostic information stored in the car's CCM (computer) with each passing generation, people are also becoming lazier, and this is not just due to the fact that cars have become slightly less high-maintenance over the years. That's an entirely different subject. I just think people need to listen to some common sense rules, find a good mechanic one can trust, and self-educate when it comes to cars. Knowledge is the key here! A good mechanic worth his salt will rarely need the specific manufacturer manuals (which one can actually purchase from the dealership or the manufacturer, per above) to diagnose an issue with a car. Even if it is needed, this information is already available. When a car is brand new, every single vehicle purchase is warrantied fully for at least 36,000 miles, so even if the information takes a year or so to spread to most shops and online forums, it will be out there when one needs to take their car to their local shop.
The site above also fails to mention that many "independent" mechanics hook themselves into large networks so that whenever they get stuck, they can ask fellow mechanics from around the country - much like a BBS for mechanics only. Yes, diagnostic machines for a specific vehicle can be expensive, but should these be given away for free to any mechanic who desires one?
Folks need to start taking responsibility for their purchases and learning how to maintain their cars properly.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
A Saudi blogger has produced an online movie mocking the recent anti-Islamic film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, using the Bible and Christian extremists as the subject matter rather than the Koran and Muslims.
Good luck calling the Dutch Christians or Bible followers when they are majority atheist and well known for their liberal policies on sex education, abortion, euthanasia, prostitution, drugs, and same-sex marriage. Hint: the civilized world doesn’t want any of your insane Middle Eastern religions, whether Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. They are all part of the same mental defect and failed culture that brings harm everywhere it goes. Please stay in your own lands with your crazy religion and pray for your God to bless you as he obviously has for all eternity. Because your God has been so great to you, it does you no benefit to wander from your blessed Holy Land to strange heathen lands where your insane religion and failed culture are not appreciated.
More than 37 million immigrants in the United States, both legal and illegal, cost the federal government more than $346 billion last year, twice as much as the nation’s fiscal deficit, according to a report released yesterday.[more]
Friday, April 11, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
[click for full interview]
I'm going to switch it over and get your take on some stuff, after being a keen observer of human nature and how people operate. I don't know if you're aware of the whole kerfuffle of Jane Fonda on the "Today Show," saying the word "cunt."
That was one of the first things that came to me that I wanted to get your perspective on.
That incident is the shining example of what I was talking about earlier, about the inconsistency. Here's two people talking about something called "The Vagina Monologues." So, there's an implicit agreement that it's okay to talk about, it's okay to use the word "vagina" and refer to the female organ. So that's given, and that's okay, and everybody agrees that yes, we will allow that, we can talk about the female organ - unless we use a different word for it! If we use the word "cunt" we can't do that! "But it's the same piece of the body" "Yeah, yeah I know, but we don't like the sound of that word 'cunt' - some women don't like that." So there we are down the whirlpool into the drain. It's just so much hypocrisy, and insecurity - people don't trust themselves and others to be able to handle things in a mature way and to be able to look at real life as it is. That word 'cunt' didn't come from the devil, it came from people - it's part of the human language - so's 'fuck' and 'cocksucker' and 'motherfucker' and 'shit' - and the fact that they bother some people on a superstitious level is really kind of too bad. It's kind of unfortunate. You know, I understand the reason for taboos, and all that stuff. But I think, it would be really nice if this species would grow up one of these fucking days.
Very in-depth responses to some great questions posed by the Corrupt.org staff. John Feeney is one of the few but growing number of people out there who realize there are simply too many human beings on the planet and the time for radical change is now.
We're either going to lose billions to hunger/thirst/resource wars in about 50 years, with the future of the human race changing for the worse, or we're going to voluntarily employ a program of population reduction for the sake of a better future. There are too many people; anything that reduces our overall numbers is a good thing, and the idea of the individual as the highest good & human rights as the only ideology will lead to nothing but mass extinction in the future.
Here's another link for those interested in population reduction [click].
The problem with population reduction is that only the intelligent among us realize this is a necessary step; in the third world, as always, people are reproducing at insane, unsustainable rates. This contributes to the income gap and provides more labor & consumers for the stereotypical "people in power" to exploit.
But of course, it's politically incorrect to say anything against the "human right" to reproduce, provide more consumers to suck the Earth dry of all its resources, and to have most perish while the few with good enough hiding spots sit back, watch, laugh, and eat fruit. Welcome to the future.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
I guess people would rather drink tap water w/ pharmaceutical waste chemicals in it than drink something that comes from a natural spring.