Friday, August 29, 2008
Let's see how risky a pick this really was for McCain:
"A significant part of Palin's base of support lies among social and Christian conservatives. Her positions on social issues emerged slowly during the campaign: on abortion (should be banned for anything other than saving the life of the mother), stem cell research (opposed), physician-assisted suicide (opposed), creationism (should be discussed in schools), state health benefits for same-sex partners (opposed, and supports a constitutional amendment to bar them)."
So this woman wants to deny reality (teach creationism), as well as not support a method by which we can cure very curable diseases (opposing stem cell research).
John McCain has chosen Female George Bush as his running mate.
This woman has the same canned religious ideology as any of the Republican/Conservative candidates. So our election sees one candidate with no track record of anything, acting as a projector screen for people who want to believe he'll "change" things, and the other is towing the line of his party but using a woman VP pick to shock the liberals and convince the Bible Belt to continue voting Republican.
Sounds just like 2004. And 2000. And 1996.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
The checklist includes dozens of conservation measures, ranging from paper and plastic recycling to use of water-saving plumbing features to installation of automatic lighting features and rooftop landscaping. Equity Office said it expects to spend about $4.7 million on a pilot program that includes upgrades to four buildings. The effort will ultimately result in all its buildings being upgraded over the next several years.
It's sad that gestures like this gain widespread news coverage, when the real problem is being ignored. Sure, let's make all of our over sized office buildings, which use far too much energy and water, "green", by making them use slightly less energy and water. That'll really help the environment!
The process of digging up a huge swath of land for the foundation of a large building is an environmental disaster. If these companies really wanted to go "green", they would tear down their buildings and grow organic food for people instead.
The "green" movement, for the most part, is a trend; a fad used by politicians and rich people who want to be seen in a better light. It's terrible that people actually buy into this LEED certification crap, that they actually believe rate of consumption matters with the overall level of energy, water, and food consumption required for office buildings (and 6.5billion people on the planet).
I understand the usefulness in responsible consumption - sure, using less water and energy in a decades-old building is a technological marvel, as is paper recycling, which should be a service used by every household in all of our towns. But once again, people use these trendy ideas as surrogate solutions, and ignore the real problem: there are too many people, consuming far too much food, energy, and water. This problem will not go away no matter how much you try to squeeze more and more out of every watt of power.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
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One of the highlights of the lecture was the professor quoting Asimov, all the way back in 1969, when none of our leaders or policymakers would hear any talk of overpopulation or overconsumption of the Earth's resources:
(From: Bill Moyers: "A World of Ideas", Doubleday, New York City, 1969, P. 276)
Moyers: What happens to the idea of the dignity of the human species if this population growth continues at its present rate?
Asimov: It will be completely destroyed. I like to use what I call my bathroom metaphor. If two people live in an apartment, and there are two bathrooms, then both have freedom of the bathroom. You can go to the bathroom any time you want to, and stay as long as you want to, for whatever you need. And everyone believes in freedom of the bathroom; it should be right there in the Constitution.
But, if you have twenty people in the same apartment and two bathrooms, no matter how much every person believes in freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up times for each person, you have to bang at the door; "Aren't you through yet?", and so on.
In the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive overpopulation. Convenience and decency cannot survive overpopulation. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn't matter if someone dies, the more people there are, the less one individual matters.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The right-hander has a fastball that tops out at about 40 miles per hour.
He throws so hard that the Youth Baseball League of New Haven told his coach that the boy could not pitch anymore.
When Jericho took the mound anyway last week, the opposing team forfeited the game, packed its gear, and left, his coach said.
Officials for the 3-year-old league, which has eight teams and about 100 players, said they will disband Jericho's team, redistributing its players among other squads, and have offered to refund $50 sign-up fees on request. They said Jericho's coach, Wilfred Vidro, has resigned.
But Vidro says he did not quit and the team is refusing to disband. Players and parents held a protest at the league's field Saturday, urging the league to let Jericho pitch.
When someone becomes too good for the comfort of the sheep around him, and is obviously a much better talent than most in the crowd can handle, the crowd attempts to shuffle that talent away instead of allowing it to develop. The modern logic is this: "He'll strike everyone out and hurt my kid's precious ego. He'll be the biggest and brightest star in the league, and there will be no room for anyone else to be king for a day while they're in this league. I can't have that, even if it's an important lesson for my kid - I'd rather he face similar talent and never know that there are better players out there, so he has hope until he's about 18 and realizes he's not all that special after all."
Maybe that's not what these mothers and fathers tell themselves before going to sleep each night, but if they looked into their subconscious, this is exactly the type of bitter jealousy they would find, buried deep down.
This isn't about one kid who's better than the rest, and it's not as if he can skip a grade like a superior intellectual talent in public school. You can't just take this kid and promote him to a better league - there is no better league until he grows big and tall enough to play against a different age group. This is it, his only chance to shine right now, and he's being told that it's better he handicaps himself at second base and not do what he does best, for the benefit of the morons around him who aren't as good. The lesson he's learning right now is that it's better to hide your talent away until you can get paid millions of dollars to show it off. Otherwise, it's shameful to strut yourself out on that mound and strike everyone out.
What happens if another kid comes along next year with a 40-mph fastball? Do the parents forfeit those games, too? What if there are two or three within a few years, and the talent level is obviously increasing among some kids in a certain age group, but not others? Does the entire league disband?
This is a great mirror for modern logic as it pertains to evolution. We don't want to admit, for example, that certain recessive traits are desirable, so we shuffle away anyone who tries to show us why they're desirable, and change the rules accordingly so that people can continue believing that we're enlightened and fully evolved, even though nothing could be further from the truth. This type of passive-aggressive behavior, forfeiting games and playing the victim just because your team isn't talented enough to hit a ball (hint: coach them to hit a faster ball instead of keeping a kid down because he's really good!), is typical of society's attitude: Me first, and if anyone shows they are better than me, I'm going to take them down, because the word humility isn't in my vocabulary.
In trying to make everyone equal and yet a unique little snowflake simultaneously, we deny reality, and in this case, the victim is Jericho Scott: a rising young talent who will always remember this experience, and as such, make millions while laughing at the crowd he's paid to entertain. One wonders how many professional athletes are jerks because they were always told they were hot shit, and how many had experiences like this and end up jerks because of the people around them when they were just trying to get ahead.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
What do I mean, exactly? One never really knows. While I feel I've become more of an even-keel type of guy over the past couple of years, partly influenced by a move to a much better town, and partly influenced by a better outlook on life (thanks to a few sources; my wife, ANUS.com, Corrupt.org, etc.), there are still times I observe a few things in the same day that fill me with rage. It's not the typical neurotic, tailgating, get-out-of-my-way type of rage; more of a lashing out at modern society, as well as a comparison of how easy certain folks seem to have it while living like pigs, while living a more simplistic lifestyle should be rewarded. Viewing people living like morons and being completely oblivious to most things around them makes most enlightened people pretty angry at times, especially when you have to share space and air with these morons. Why do you think I advocate smaller communities with shared values? Because it would work, that's why.
I hate hearing about the personal melodrama of others, and I try to post more about society's shortcomings and the solutions that give people like us hope every day. But occasionally, it's nice to vent. Venting is only constructive when it includes a solution to said problem, so I will try to offer up some solutions to even things out a bit.
Without further ado, here are some things that have been pissing me off lately.
- New Hampshire and Massachusetts drivers: I live in a town that makes for a convenient entryway for people from NH to commute into MA to work. As such, a lot of license plates I see on the way to and from work are NH plates. And what do I see? People in pickup trucks with NH plates driving to office buildings (you're not a contractor, don't drive a pickup, moron); NH drivers tailgating people going 85MPH on the highway, people from NH and MA driving like complete morons with absolutely no sense of what's going on, on the roads; frequent cutoffs; reckless driving; I could go on. I generally follow traffic rules unless I'm pissed off, and then it's okay for me to drive that way because...well...it's me, come on. Solution: Tolls for all NH drivers only, on roads leading from NH to MA. They're so proud of no state income tax yet they all want to work here? Screw 'em, make 'em pay.
- People with babies that use them as status symbols: It's difficult for a lot of folks to even conceive, but it seems the most moronic people have no problem with that at all and end up having cute little accidents later in life. To that, I say: go live in Africa with the rest of the people who refuse to use birth control. Per George Carlin's last HBO special, I'm sick of these mommies that think there's nothing on Earth greater than having a baby, and thinking that their child is special. They're not. No one likes your children, that's why they're YOUR children. Don't treat them like an emperor, treat them with respect, don't shield them from the bullshit in life, and stop expecting everyone to worship them like you do. And beyond that, some of the mothers of young children out there are so goddamn selfish that I want to clothesline them over a cliff. These prissy little things that show their kids off, but use quaint little "parenting techniques" as a surrogate for real parenting. Makes me ill. Solution: IQ tests and mandatory education classes for all would-be parents - including illegal immigrants. If you're in this country, your kid shouldn't be rewarded just for being alive. Being alive is blind luck; staying alive, living a meaningful life, and achieving true success that benefits society is what should be rewarded.
- Certain property managers: I can't delve too deeply into this one as it would give away my identity, but those who know me in what we jokingly call "real life" will understand exactly what I'm talking about. This applies to older men who sit on their asses all day, being paid by certain people (like me), and then treating those people like absolute garbage - as well as extorting money from said people. 'Nuff said on this one. Anyone who is reading this should avoid condos and apartment complexes managed by property managers, or at least do their research on the property manager beforehand. Reviews exist on local-type websites if you're looking to live in a certain area. Solution: Change the laws so that tenants can more easily take condo associations and property managers to court - quickly - if there's something that is clearly not right (like extortion).
- Use of the words "douche" or "douchebag": Just when did this word make it back into the vernacular? These wanna-be toughguys who live near public transportation, don't shave (shut up, everyone - don't even say it), always have their headphones plugged in, and wear funky-colored shoes or even bowling shoes around town because they want to be "indie" or "emo" or just plain ol' "fashionable", have started using the words "douche" and "douchebag" again, like this is the goddamn 1980's. End it. The words were gone for a while and never should have returned. It's probably the worst and weakest insult ever. Solution: Ban these words from the vernacular.
- Laundry hogs: My last town was a lot worse than this town. My last town was heavy on the Brazilian and hispanic population, and it seemed like the women who took laundry baskets filled to the brim with clothes would use all four of the machines we had at once, with piles more laundry to go, instead of showing some respect and only using two at a time. I've been living in my new town for a year and with only two washing machines for 24 units, it's still much easier to get a machine. I have to believe some of the women were doing clothes for people who didn't live in the building (at my last place). Despite some recent trouble getting a machine in my new building, the overall trend is nice: people simply don't have piles and piles of clothes, hogging the machines for the entire evening. Solution: Use cameras in the laundry room and identify laundry hogs. Ban them from using the laundry room if they are deemed laundry hogs.
- Drivers who look at other drivers on the road: Don't look at me. I don't know you, I don't want to know you, and I don't want to make eye contact with you - man or woman. I just want to drive and be left alone, unless I hear you playing an abstract Oasis B-side or something, or driving an Alfa Romeo or brand new Benz that I like; then you might get a thumbs-up from me, and you best show your appreciation. If you're pissed at me for some reason, it's probably because I wasn't going fast enough for you. That's why roads have more than one lane, idiot; stop tailgating. Example: Last night, I'm driving the speed limit on a two-lane road and just about to come up to a left turn. Some idiot in a Subaru wagon apparently wants to go 36 instead of 35MPH, so he switches to the right lane and speeds up, but barely. I just smile as he stares at me from his car as he catches up. Then the guy can't even cut me off correctly - he ends up waiting too long to make his cut-off move and isn't going fast enough, but he wants to make the same turn as me. He ends up having to pound on his brakes and get right back behind me so he can make his left turn, the same one I'm making. What a moron. Solution: IQ tests for driver's licenses; frequent re-examination; more cops that pull over people just for driving like idiots versus just pulling people over for speeding or obviously reckless driving.
- Drivers who look at runners/cyclists/anything with legs on the road: It's just tasteless. If you're going to stare at a woman just because she's wearing some little sports bra and spandex outfit while running, as if you've never seen that before, do it with some class and don't whip your head around. Get a glimpse and move on. What do you think is going to happen? She's going to see you looking at her and say "oooh, you're cute, I'm gonna hop in the car with you and let you take me back home - my husband's there but life is just one big porno movie, so he won't mind!". Yeah, right. Get over yourself. It particularly pisses me off when men in pickup trucks or illegal immigrants do this. These women want nothing to do with you while you're filthy from dirt and construction equipment all day. I can't even talk about idiots that beep at women on the road, like we're in Europe or Mexico or something. Solution: Tear the eyes out of anyone caught staring.
- People who stare at women (or men) with lustful eyes in front of other people, in professional or social environments: This is even worse than the point above. Men who see some hot young thing in an office, walking down a long hallway, and they just stare at her the entire time. Disgusting, what do you think that's going to accomplish? Especially for a married guy. You know why those sexual harassment trainings don't work? Because you can't change idiocy via quaint little training sessions, that's why. I would actually like to see women report on this and get people fired who do this. When I walk down the hallway, I don't care who's coming my way, I don't look at anyone in the eyes. Screw 'em. Unless I know them, then I say hello, and I expect a hello back (if you don't say hello back when someone says hi to you, you need to be shot or you need your hearing checked; preferably the former). Solution: Try to get people fired for sexual harassment if they're caught doing this, or trip them in the hallway when you see them doing it. They won't notice - their focus is on how they'd like to get laid, not your foot casually reaching over to trip them.
- Women who want your attention just because they think they're hot shit: Most women that are usually the best looking ones in the room are used to getting what they want. Guys will flock to them and talk to them and offer them drinks if they're in a bar. But sometimes you catch one of these insecure nitwits when no one is showering attention on her. Once, I'm out with a buddy, and this chick - who's with another guy - is drunk and waiting for yet another drink so she can be taken advantage of later in the night - nice life you lead, moron. We're both waiting for drinks at a busy part of the bar and I refuse to look over at her; in fact, I'm talking to the guy next to me who eventually bought me a shot - a good kid, that kid - because he knew that I rule. Anyway, she says something to me but I pretend not to hear her. I look over and say, "excuse me?", and she says, "how long do I have to stare at you before you notice me?" So I just look at her blankly and say, "another five minutes oughta do it." That was the end of that. I don't like people staring at me. Go away. I'm married and want nothing to do with you, and you're with your boyfriend anyway; you make me sick. Solution: Just do what I do and don't give them the time of day. If they're hitting on a guy like you, or especially a guy like me who probably looks like one of the least approachable people on the planet even in the best of social situations, they're just looking for an ego boost and/or free drinks.
- Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: THEY'RE THE SAME PERSON (but I'd still like to kill them both). Brilliant idea, Disney: make double the money off half the people. Kinda like their sweatshops in Asia (ba-dum, cha!). Solution: Tell Billy Ray to stop whoring out his daughter - twice over.
- People with loud, annoying voices in cubicles: Not only is this behavior reserved for those oblivious to what's happening around them, it's just unnecessary and makes a day in a cubicle that much worse. There's one woman by me that just doesn't know well enough to keep her mouth shut. It's really strange and grating because she has a child's voice - literally the voice of a five year-old - and she's probably in her late 20s. She sounds like a kid when she speaks and she can't keep the volume down. I may have to throw a muzzle on her next time I see her. Solution: Shut the f**k up and go away.
- TMZ: I still watch TV, but really only Family Guy and Seinfeld these days, along with other shows I illegally download. Occasionally, I'll be flipping through all 19 channels we have (yes, I'm proud of this), and I see on Fox that the new episode of TMZ is on. It's a show about a bunch of low-life journalism dropouts who follow celebrities around and think they're rebels for challenging people like Robert Downey, Jr., to talk about his drug days or poking fun at Mel Gibson for spouting off about Jews during his drunk driving arrest. While I'm all for taking annoying, egomaniacal Hollywood stars down a peg or two, the method here is faulty. The show panders to losers who do nothing but watch TV all day, because between shots of celebrities who eventually blow up or just ignore the TMZ staff member, they show the whole staff in the TMZ office gathered around and talking about the things they see in the tabloids, adding their own cute little input to a particularly unflattering photo or the like. That's it; that's the whole show: A bunch of low-lifes from LA following people around and then talking about what's in the tabloids (Britney's big stomach; some celebrity who has a pet) and criticizing them with the same shallow insults that the American public loves to hear from Simon on American Idol. All this does is make the viewer feel better about his or her sorry existence. TMZ is the embodiment of all that is wrong with television and society. Solution: Rupert, please stop showing this on your network, along with about half the crap you currently show. In fact, just make the network a full 24 hours of Seinfeld, Family Guy, and The Simpsons. If anything, your ratings will increase.
- Search engines that suggest searches for you as you type: This is becoming increasingly common; Google, YouTube, and MiniNova all employ this technique now. I understand they're only trying to be helpful, but can't you even trust the idiot on the other end of the computer who's actually typing in a search to do their own searching? Do we really need you suggesting searches for us on top of prioritizing the results by who's giving you the most advertising dollars? Solution: Just stop it.
- People: They all bother me. Just go away. Solution: Let me go live on a farm with about ten guns, but without worrying about money. There are like five people that could go with me, the rest of you can screw.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
But excluding whites of Hispanic origin from the overall white population makes no more sense than excluding whites of Slavic or Scandinavian origin. "Hispanic" is not a race. It is an ethnic category. As the Census Bureau repeatedly points out, Hispanics can be of any race.
With a little luck, common sense, and goodwill, it will seem as odd in 2050 to focus on "non-Hispanic whites" as it would today to insist that only "non-German whites" are really white.
Better still, perhaps by then we will have really progressed, and abandoned the pernicious notion of racial categories altogether.
That's a great idea, Mr. Jacoby: let's get rid of all ethnic and racial classifications and blend into one grey race! Interesting how he doesn't define race at all in his op-ed.
Mr. Jacoby doesn't realize that regardless of how you classify hispanics, including them in some bullshit statistic doesn't solve any of the problems that are made evident by the media "panic" ensuing over the obvious demographic challenges this country faces in the years ahead. It's easy to sit there and say "well, if we move hispanics over to the classification as white, we're all set - no reason to complain!"
I'd love to see him tell people in Europe, Africa, South America, or Asia that we can now abandon the idea of race altogether; that the Chinese and Japanese should just get along and move freely within borders; that the Russians and Ukraines should shake hands and eat at the same table daily; that Arab Muslims invading and overtaking Europe are really all part of the same race so why bother worrying about where the population growth is coming from.
Race = culture. You can't scientifically define race, not really (besides a few genetic markers here or there which manifest themselves more as a result of geographic location in a population over long periods of time which has seen little immigration - see Iceland), and that's why race is such a moving target in the Census, not because of how people categorize this or that population. Mr. Jacoby is attempting to head off those who would claim that hispanics are not whites by stating it's just a label on a piece of paper and nothing more. Culture shouldn't be defined in such shallow terms; our multicultural society is afraid of obvious differences and is now attempting to rope everyone together via the lowest common denominator: "we all have DNA, so we're all part of the human race, no other distinctions exist". Great state of mind if you can trick yourself into believing it, as George Carlin once said.
How many hispanics would call themselves white? Ever hear the term "gringo"? Even hispanics - a cross-breed of native Central and South American populations and Spanish settlers - would admit that most whites in the United States, mostly of strictly European decent, are an entirely different race from hispanics. It's absurd to say otherwise, not because people who defend that viewpoint are "racist" and "intolerant", but because of clear cultural differences. Ignoring reality by shuffling around categories on a piece of paper misses the larger point - that our nation is undergoing demographic shifts that has resulted in a grey race of half-breeds who can't agree on anything except money, arguing about Democrat vs. Republican, Coke vs.Pepsi, which Batman actor was best, etc. When you have no culture, no history, and no values left, it's easy to say "we're all the same", because we are - no distinction between populations is a bad thing, as history shows the strongest cultures were those that were the least cosmopolitan, but since it's politically incorrect to say so, everyone just hides their heads in the sand and waits for the next TV program to air. Wonderful culture we have here in the US, isn't it?
For more, see current discussion on Reverse Colonialism at Corrupt.org here.
The U.S. already has reached an agreement with the government in Prague to place the second component of the missile defense shield — a radar tracking system — in the Czech Republic, Poland's southwestern neighbor and another formerly communist country.
Former Soviet satellite countries, still stinging only 18 years after the demise of the USSR, are now free to choose their allies - just as Americans are free to choose McDonalds or Burger King, Republican or Democrat, Coke or Pepsi. Since liberal democracy is still continuing its relentless march across the globe, countries like Poland and the Czech Republic figure, "why not?", as Russia attempts to rope in as many former satellites as possible for what will surely be yet another interesting Cold War, watched on TV by millions.
The US is spreading its military resources too thin across the globe. Because wars will eventually be fought by machines, troops aren't as much of an issue as funding, and since half our tax dollars go to military purposes, it's no surprise that our government feels confident in its ability to "defend itself" against the "threats" imposed by countries such as North Korea, Russia, Iraq, Iran, and maybe even China someday. Our consumer culture - working more, paying more income taxes, funding insane wars - feeds the war machine; it's no wonder the government couldn't care less about the health of its own citizens in favor of tax dollars.
Cold War II is upon us, and if you're foolish enough to believe that a puppet like Barack Obama can "change" that, you haven't been paying attention.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
"Gun shows are the equivalent of Al Qaeda terrorists walking directly onto the airplane while you and I wait in the TSA line," John Rosenthal, founder and chairman of Stop Handgun Violence, said in a recent interview. "They don't want us to go on airplanes but they let Al Qaeda buy guns unprotected."
Since our society is one never-ending commercial, cute billboard advertisements catch our eye and provide fodder for debate, instead of the actual problems behind the motivation for those billboards. I went to school in the area where these billboards have been posted for over a decade now, and never once did I feel an impact by "controversial" advertising. I'm sure plenty of the future Obama supporters at the time felt a great sense of pride that thousands of people would be forced into reading a controversial advertisement on their way to work...a job well done!
There are two viewpoints stoked by these billboards: It's either "I want guns for all" or "I want guns for none". Never mind for a second that our insane society of applying the same screening processes for all individuals doesn't work.
The fact is, people should absolutely be allowed to have guns to protect themselves, but if society wants their citizenry to own that right, they also have to ensure people know how to handle guns before buying them. Private gun shows where untraceable transactions can occur should be illegal; there are about 270 million firearms out there, why exacerbate the problem of criminals and sociopaths being able to obtain a gun whenever they want? A better government would regulate guns and not allow people to resell them to others, but allow people to buy them. No state should have a no-ID or no-background check policy on guns these days; that just doesn't make sense.
Unfortunately, when you have a neurotic society, you end up with pointless gun violence. If people actually cared about something more than their own petty drama, owning a gun would be an afterthought for most people, and it would cut down on home invasions and other violence because one would have no idea whether or not the potential victim would be waiting with a .32 tucked into their back pocket. Texas has had this idea for a while now (minus the registration requirements) and they frequently rank below average, nationally, in terms of gun violence statistics. It's not because they're hicks and happen to love guns, it's because they have a national identity within the state and people have a semblance of shared values, which includes the right to protect oneself against would-be enemies and predators. If only those values had spread to the other 49 states, this country would be a model for a place like Europe to adopt similar gun control policies, instead of disallowing their citizens from ever owning guns.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Teenagers, some of whom abuse the privilege, are no different. We've all been driving down a country road at night and seen a teenager in a bucket of bolts flying by in the other direction, far too quickly. And you might even think to yourself, "wow, I hope he gets into an accident and learns his lesson."
Austin Smith did get into an accident, but instead of learning his lesson and moving on with a better view on how to drive properly, his parents felt compelled to ask other busybody morons on the road to babysit their child for them.
Instead of dealing with society's problems in a natural and realistic way, we've decided that a constantly surveilled society is best. Call someone up when you see something go wrong; install a camera on your street corner; forget the real source of the issue. I can understand the need for it in one sense, but most of it stinks of a lack of responsibility on the part of the party asking for surveillance in the first place - especially when it comes to parents & their kids. Parents have stopped taking responsibility for their children and trusting them to act in a responsible way when they are out of the house - and you can't blame them when you look around at what most other kids & their parents are doing (or not doing). But it's definitely a bit too far when you essentially tell your kid that he or she has to wear a "kick me" sign with a phone number on the back, so that any jerk with a vendetta can call a number and report them to a false authority figure.
Isn't this a bit like layering a false police force on top of the real one? The police can only do so much and aren't everywhere at once, so these parents feel that their child should have a sign on their car asking for people to report them if they cut someone off or run a yellow light turning into a red. I've got news for these parents: most of the idiot drivers out there are right in their own mirrors. Because these parents feel a sense of false authority over their kids, they feel the need to chain them down with token gestures like these instead of focusing on their own failures at parenting. And how do you think these kids will react once they are free of useless tactics like these bumper stickers? As long as, by that time, this society isn't under martial law, they will end up resenting all authority for the fact that they were never trusted to behave well and be recognized for it, even though they could have done so on their own.
If I had a bumper sticker on my kids' car, I'd put the number 911 on it, then in bold print underneath: "call the cops if he's breaking the law; otherwise, stop tailgating."
Thursday, August 14, 2008
In a hearing in a lawsuit brought by the MBTA, Jennifer Granick, an attorney for the students, told US District Judge George O'Toole that the students had already provided the court with the "entire universe of information" the students had developed about the system.
The students filed a 30-page sealed document with the court Wednesday detailing what they know. But the MBTA is seeking emails the students wrote to organizers of a hackers' conference last weekend in Las Vegas, as well as a copy of a paper they prepared for an MIT professor.
US District Judge Douglas Woodlock granted the transit authority a temporary restraining order on Saturday blocking the trio from publicly discussing their findings on the possible security flaws at a presentation at last weekend's DEFCON convention.
Most singular-minded thinkers will protest about how this violates free speech and the first amendment, but it goes deeper than that. How clueless does any government organization - and, subsequently, our own justice system - have to be, to make decisions like this?
Hackers & trolls exist for a variety of reasons, but some of the most important include:
- to challenge morons on message boards arguing their one-dimensional arguments or supporting each other's viewpoints on trivial matters, making a usenet group or forum into some kind of circle jerk (trolls)
- to challenge internet/technological security by finding ways around systems accepted by the masses (hackers)
Normally hacking ends up being a security lesson for folks at the corporation or government agency that was hacked, and many internet and technological security personnel are people who used to be - and in some cases still are - hackers of some sort.
Now that we have a society of "tolerance" - where everything is tolerated except the lack of tolerance of society - these organizations, and the people who provide these services to society (admittedly having a lot of fun while they're doing it) will be forced into a criminal element in the future. When some students (who were going to present their findings at a convention within days and make recommendations on how the MBTA could make their system safer) decide to show some flaws in systems used by our subtly totalitarian regime, that regime now decides the book will be thrown at anyone who dares show flaws in its systems. Effectively, free speech was limited here as the court barred the students from presenting findings and instead decided to accept the information in sealed court records.
Sound familiar? This is something that easily could have happened in modern-day China or Cold War Russia: no, we don't tolerate your games, hackers; we're going to force you underground by undermining the service you provide to society and treating you like common thugs.
Rather than criminalize this type of activity, it should be monitored and accepted by government agencies, taxpayer dollars shouldn't be wasted on court systems for these types of infractions, and hackers should simply be required to present their findings and make recommendations on how to make systems better. Prosecution (or the threat thereof) should be limited to the minority element which uses the information for profit and never discloses the flaw, but instead uses it for his or her own gain (credit card/identity thieves, etc.). Even then, government agencies should look at what happened with a self-critical eye. It's no wonder that our government is woefully incompetent to deliver information services to its constituency with precedents like this being set.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Russia begins pre-invasion of Georgia
What does a lame-duck President do in this case? He's running out of time and he's leaving an absolute shit-storm for the next President to deal with (not to mention the people who continue to give more of their taxpayer dollars to a defense budget that should have been decreased significantly over the past 8 years). No wonder both candidates are talking about how they will "change" things (how, it's not entirely clear). Who in their right mind wouldn't run on a campaign of "change" with our forces stretched thin in North Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and pretty soon Russia/Georgia, with China right there ready to pick up the pieces when a hole in the armor appears?
This reminds me of Kramer and Newman playing Risk, and that's pretty much what we have: The East continuing to challenge The West in a high-stakes game. The timing of the East has been impeccable; we're clearly headed for war or another Cold War, and that couldn't be more obvious by what's going on outside the borders of modern-day Rome (the US). The irony of the Olympics in Beijing hangs there like a thin veil, attempting to disguise these conflicts as a bunch of individual problems to deal with, when the leaders in power know that there are only two players: Newman (the US & Europe) and Kramer (the East). It'll only take a couple decades until we have two major political borders left in this world: Eurmerica and EastAsia.
[Edit 12 Aug 2008, 11:09AM: Click here; even the spin-machine media can't ignore the obviousness of what's happening]
Thoughts on the emerging Cold War II from Corrupt.org:
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Click here for a flow chart.
I know I have an addictive personality - trust me, it runs in the family - but I've been trying to read as much of Maddox' site as possible. And then I stumble onto a post about how Websense tried to block his site - and even more incredibly, how there's actually an online petition to shut him down: click here.
This "Mothers Against Maddox" (ha!) site is run by a crotchedy old busy-body by the name of Beth Robbins. Beth likely lives in the Midwest with about eighteen cats (I have two of my own and believe when I tell you I know how it can provide a positive feedback effect toward insanity) and a Bible in every room of the house. She may even be the very same person who tried to get the show Married...With Children (one of the best shows EVER) cancelled back in the early 1990s (will try to post link if I can find one later) - again, a woman with nothing to do, so she decides to champion a cause for the sake of having a cause. Visit Corrupt.org or ANUS.com lady, and find out what a real cause is all about.
This is yet another example of misplaced anger/frustration/resentment in our society. These women actually believe that by trying to block TEXT on the internet by strongarming parental blocking websites into filtering out Maddox' site, they would be making a difference. Forget the porno, the Facebook/MySpace sites with little girls posting semi-nude pictures of themselves online and making out with other girls; the social implications in high school of having that kind of stuff posted..that's not harmful, but a guy with a sense of humor and exercising his free speech on the internet is a big problem - we gotta do something 'bout that! I'm sure her kids are absolutely mortified - that is, if she ever dared to spawn more creatures using her damaged genetic code.
As I've said over and over again in this space, this woman should be free to round up all other old, farting hags like her and form a little community (preferably far away from the United States) where the internet only exists so they have something to do between games of computer solitaire and tupperware parties. In my society, people like this wouldn't be allowed to breed; in fact, they'd be sterilized or kicked out on their arses. This woman would have a heart attack if she ever saw a George Carlin show, and it's a shame we lost a great social satirist like him this year; people who question these dumb battleaxes and their silly worldviews. We'll have to settle for guys like Maddox now.
Visit his site, and contact Beth Robbins here to tell her how laughable it is that after four years of her site being online, no one cares.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Just so that you can get that mental image out of your head, here's a great interview with a very intelligent soul named Weev. You'll get it once you read the little blurb at the top of the page:
is, indeed, the best site in the universe, my apologies. Some great stuff on there, including excellent PC/Mac banter, fashion advice, and some great jokes. It's gold, Jerry; gold!
Thursday, August 07, 2008
"It's kind of like the Wild West on the Internet," said Steve Bailey, a detective with the Boston Police Department's special investigations unit.
This isn't like the Wild West at all. Every time we're surprised by some new fraudulent activity occurring, as if it hadn't been occurring for decades already, we assign special task forces and bury our heads in the sand, pleading for the police or some other government entity to save us. These criminals are a fringe element, right? No way could this happen to me! It's no wonder our democratic society is slowly becoming a totalitarian regime.
To summarize, a bunch of regular guys - not computer nerds by any means - were able to buy credit card info, buy Dunkin' Donuts gift cards with those credit card numbers, and use the stolen money to make truckloads worth of purchases.
We want all of this technology and convenience, widespread so that we can use our credit cards & other electronic devices worldwide. What we fail to grasp is that while corporations pursue this end so that you can consume at all times, the security behind this technology is far from perfect. Since people barely even look at their credit card statements anymore (too busy at the mall), we find out too late that we've been the victim of a hacker.
If there's a lesson, it's that rolling out credit cards & credit card networks to as many individuals and corporations as possible for the sake of consumption isn't a good idea, and much more strict security measures should be in place pre-rollout.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Medellin, who was 18 at the time, was one of five to get the death penalty for the girls' deaths.
One companion, Derrick O'Brien, was executed two years ago. Another, Peter Cantu, described as the ringleader of the group, is awaiting execution but a date has not been set.
"Looking forward every day to that," said Adolfo Pena, Elizabeth's father.
Mexico's Foreign Relations Department said it sent a note of protest to the State Department about Medellin's case.
The statement said officials "were concerned for the precedent that (the execution) may create for the rights of Mexican nationals who may be detained in that country."
For some reason, the Bush administration and the Supreme Court tried to put a stop to this, even though everyone knows that death penalty convictions take years to be completed. There are mandatory appeals and all sorts of ways for criminals to slip out from the reaches of the Death Chair or The Needle (take your pick), but this punk wanna-be gangbanger and four or five of his buddies gangraped and killed two innocent women as part of a gang initiation.
Why not just shoot these morons on site? Why discuss The Vienna Convention or any other decades-old document when basic human rights were violated? The sad part of this whole ordeal is that Mexican Authorities were actually trying to defend these low-lifes. Just another example of why we should cut our ties to Mexico and heavily penalize any corporation found to be using illegal immigrants as cheap labor.
The real human rights violation has nothing to do with the death penalty and everything to do with the innocent victims. Once you rape & kill another human being to further your reputation in those little clubhouses that ethnic groups like to call "gangs", technicalities lose their meaning, and you lose all your privileges. I'm glad a nationalistic-minded state like Texas still exists to remind us of how important it is to keep our streets clean & our people safe.
Death may or may not provide finality to the families of victims of such heinous crimes, but the death penalty is important in that society can rid itself of people who don't contribute to society and who are too dangerous to even be held in our prison system.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Slowly, science is convincing us that genetics (i.e., nature) is responsible for most of what occurs in our lives. Yes, behavioral sciences still have their uses, and psychology shouldn't be entirely ignored. The problem is that genetics is universal and psychology & other behavioral sciences can be influenced by trendy thinking. Just look back to other politically correct ideas that have fallen flat on their faces - George Carlin would bring up the example of women in the 70s who would play classical music to their unborn fetuses, supposedly to help with IQ down the road.
People don't want to admit that genetics account for most of what occurs in our lives, because that would be a concession to nature, and we can't have that. We need to believe that we can change our lives & our destinies through behavior and other means, that our materialistic lifestyles are okay, and that we don't really need as much exercise as our ancestors because we have four walls and a roof. Genetics is the ultimate reality, and since our modern society has increasingly tried to keep that reality outside the walls of the city, we won't realize this until it's too late. Why do you think we stubbornly cling to the idea that multiculturalism is better than singular-minded, nationalist societies with one culture? Why do people continue to eat food that's bad for them, and even insist on it, instead of shaping up and realizing that our diets & lifestyles are unnatural?
Genetics is a strong force in our lives, but we don't like to talk about it because we're afraid of death. Mr. Downing's actions in the above-referenced article represent the beginning of what we will be using genetics for in the future: How to Cheat Death, the new paradigm.
I am on the fence on this one. Downing had a device implanted into his heart so that he could avoid death if the same fate befalls him as it did his father & brother: sudden heart failure with no chance of making it to a hospital on time before death. To me, that's only step one. If an individual wants to avoid a very scary fate, that's one of the few areas where I would respect the individuals' right to act, because he seems otherwise to be a solid, contributing member of society and we can't lose those. He's not an obese, smoking buffoon who's looking to cheat not only genetics but also his own behavior.
Step two, further into the future, would involve using genetics to slowly breed out certain diseases in our society. But it wouldn't have to be like Gattaca, and I'd certainly not favor killing babies that are born with, say, development issues. No, good cultures & societies take care of all their members, as long as those members (family members of the developmentally disabled, in this case) are good members of society. This doesn't work today because there are so many parasites that our welfare state gets weighed down and - guess what - the dollar begins to devalue and everybody becomes resentful sociopaths. All it would take is a gradual restructuring of society - people would live within certain borders that believe in certain things, with a highly decentralized government and very little in the way of materialistic/greedy desire. Sounds Utopian but I've already mentioned that Michael Arth is on his way to pursuing this and has put his plan into action, and Corrupt.org is obviously a favorite site of mine, which pursues nationalistic goals which would make everyone a lot happier (except parasites that we support in modern times).
Step two would last a long time, because people would be breeding while in their new cultural lands. Genetic science would attempt to weed out certain genetic imperfections either during pregnancy or after birth, so that certain "bad genes" could be shut off and reproduction would involve the birth of a newer, better generation each time.
Obviously, there are complications; who decides which genes are bad and which are good? We're not talking blonde hair and blue eyes, we're talking heart disease and colon cancer. It'd be pretty easy to put together a 100-or-so list of things we would want scientists to eliminate, and of course each Nationalistic group would need to decide, beyond that, which other features they'd like to keep or discard. Sure, things can get scary from there, but it's a brave new world isn't it? And if you've joined up to live with like-minded people, it's likely consensus will be reached more easily, with outlandish ideas immediately dismissed.
Step three would likely involve less genetic intervention and simply keeping the gene pool within your new, Nationalist society free of outside influence - breeding within the group. Nature usually takes care of the rest; just look at Iceland, as well as the Scandinavia of the past, with people reaching new heights by continuing to breed within their own culture for generations?
Step three is simply the most natural way to live, but since our societies have become, for now, irrevocably mixed and multicultural, we would need to rearrange our borders & our governments before we're able to truly get a hold on nature and use genetics toward the proper ends.
Still, he plows ahead by touring regularly with his band-mates in Rush, in full appreciation of what his fans mean to him and what he means to them. A favorite treat for the fans at each performance is a nine or ten-minute drum solo, during which Neil raises from his seat mid-measure, turns around, sits in another seat, and the platform turns 180 degrees so that he's once again facing the crowd as he begins drumming on a second drumset. In other words, he has a 360 degree set with two seats; one is heavy on your basic snare & tom setup, the other is heavy on a variety of percussion instruments like xylophone and others I can't even name. He uses every single instrument; he doesn't just overload the drumset for the sake of appearances, like some 80s arena rock drummers would have done.
As mentioned above, Peart is also a poet and a novelist. He's just a creative human being, the kind of Romantic (not sure if that's entirely accurate, but we'll move on) that few people appreciate today, and of which we see fewer still. He writes about the simple pleasures of nature: Snow-covered cross-country ski trails, mostly deserted, in his native Canada, and the hard but rewarding work of plowing through them (online blog). Bicycling through West Africa ("Masked Rider"). Motorcycling on "the healing road" (in his book, "Ghost Rider", he talks about his loss of family and also the healing process & moving on, where most folks talk only about the drama from losing close relatives and dwelling on the loss). This depth is also reflected in his lyrics (he writes lyrics for all of Rush's songs as well as plays all percussion parts). What are today's lyrics about in pop music? Well, nothing really; the more generic with the less meaning, the better; so goes the modern logic. It has to be "universal", right? Well, when "universal" stupidity is prevalent, what does that make most universal modern rock lyrics? Peart has consistently strived for meaning in his lyrics, taking more of a poet's approach, and has never sunk to the level of what most people listen to, simply to make an album sell.
Peart writes about his own personal experiences in his publications, but also applies them to the world around him; to reality. While he stops short of preaching, probably a good idea for a man with so many fans of varying IQ, the intelligent reader can gather his true feelings from the settings he provides and some of the minor criticisms that are clearly setups for larger points he chooses not to make obvious to the reader. He's clever in that regard; you can take his readings at face value, or you can read into them and try to gain a better understanding of what the author is trying to say.
One example of this tenuous yet insightful writing is in his most recent "News/Weather/Sports" blog, a diary he keeps during tours with Rush. He doesn't travel on a bus with the band anymore; he rides a BMW motorcycle cross-country and tries to find the hidden natural treasures of North America between tour stops. In the July entry (here), he not only discusses the politics of riding a motorcycle without a helmet (as any intelligent human being would, he rides with full leather body-armored suit and helmet at all times, in all climates), but also takes backhanded lashes at the fact that most of America is being paved-over with strip malls and chain stores. He mentions how it is increasingly difficult to find an independent hotel chain in this once-great country and how in the Northeast, the seasonal business has scared away the larger chains from sea and beach areas, a refreshing change on his most recent motorcycle journey through the region. Smartly, though, he blames people more than the corporate giants: we allow it to happen, he infers, because what is business but a reflection of what the people want, to a large extent? It's these points where his writing truly shines, providing a criticism of modern life without as much bite as, say, Corrupt.org, but written in an artful way which reflects the most positive views he has on life and perhaps even hinting at how we can make it better.
I grew up with the music of Rush, thanks to one of my best friends, and also grew up in a family of musicians, with many of my academic influences being musical in nature (music teachers in middle school and guitar heroes I idolized in high school). My father played in a band and loves the melodic genius of the Beach Boys; my uncle is a Jazz guitarist and professor at Berklee (Massachusetts), and I grew up playing the drums and wanting to learn the guitar, though I tried to discipline myself into it too early and for the wrong reasons (Guns N' Roses were big then, I'll say no more). As such, I didn't stick to it even though I should have. Still, with all these great influences and admittedly limited direct musical experience, I can tell the difference between a band or musician which is merely performing what the masses desire, and a band or musician which truly believes in what is being played. Rush is a rare band, in that the mass media tends to ignore them since no one can put a label on them & sell them easily, but they still sell out every single large venue, every single time they tour; they remain hugely influential to other musicians even in their late 50s. Neil Peart is definitely at the heart of that influence, with his excellent writing (both musical and lyrical) and wonderfully grueling performances. I recommend his blog, and his books (found here at Amazon.com). For the musicians out there, I also recommend his drum instruction DVDs - expensive, but I'm told they are worth it.
Here is Neil Peart's website; for his blog, follow the links to "News, Weather, and Sports".
Friday, August 01, 2008
In this part of the conversation, early on, Clive's grandpa is asking Clive if he can imagine what summer is like, how he feels about it, etc. as it will be important for him to relate to Grandpa's more recent experiences of summer later in the conversation. Here's how Stephen King narrates summer for Clive at his young age:
Those days. All those days, stretching away across the plains of June and July and over the unimaginable horizon of August. So many days, so many dawns, so many noon lunches of bologna sandwiches with mustard and raw chopped onion and giant glasses of milk while his mom sat silently in the living room with her bottomless glass of wine, watching the soap operas on the TV; so many depthless afternoons when sweat grew in the short hedge of your crewcut and then ran down your cheeks, afternoons when the moment you noticed that your blob of a shadow had grown a boy always came as a surprise, so many endless twilights with the sweat cooling away to nothing but a smell like aftershave on your cheeks and forearms while you played tag or red rover or capture the flag; sounds of bike chains, slots clicking neatly into oiled cogs, smells of honeysuckle and cooling asphalt and green leaves and cut grass, sounds of the slap of baseball cards being laid out on some kid’s front walk, solemn and portentous trades which changed the faces of both leagues, councils that went on in the slow shady axial tilt of a July evening until the call of “Cliiiive! Sup-per!” put an end to that business; and that call was always as expected and yet as shocking as the noon blob that had, by three or so, become a black boy-shape running in the street beside him – and that boy stapled to his heels had actually become a man by five or so, albeit an extraordinarily skinny one; velvet evenings of television, the occasional rattle of pages as his father read one book after another (he never tired of them; words, words, words, his Dad never tired of them, and Clive had meant once to ask him how that could be but lost his nerve), his mother getting up once in a while and going into the kitchen, followed only by his sister’s worried, angry eyes and his own simply curious ones; the soft clink as Mom replenished the glass which was never empty after eleven in the morning or so (and their father never looking up from his book, although Clive had an idea he heard it all and knew it all, although Patty had called him a stupid liar and had given him a Peter-Pinch that hurt all day long the one time he had dared to tell her that); the sound of mosquitoes whining against the screens, always so much louder, it seemed, after the sun had gone down; the decree of bedtime, so unfair and unavoidable, all arguments lost before they were begun; his father’s brusque kiss, smelling of tobacco, his mother’s softer, both sugary and sour with the smell of wine; the sound of his sister telling Mom she ought to go to bed after Dad had gone down to the corner tavern to drink a couple of beers and watch the wrestling matches on the television over the bar; his Mom telling Patty to mind her own p’s and q’s, a conversational pattern that was upsetting in its content but somehow soothing in its predictability; fireflies gleaming in the gloom; a car horn, distant, as he drifted into sleep’s long, dark channel; then the next day, which seemed the same but wasn’t, not quite. Summer. That was summer. And it did not just seem long, it was long.