30 December 2006

Political Mapping

We don't vote in this country.

But what we have is a lack of good options. So I propose that we force the Crats and Cans to break up their parties into something actually meaningful. When there isn't a clear ideology then it is not a party. And there is no clear picture to say, ok he's a Democrat, that means he'll vote a particular way. Mostly the only clear picture is that in general the two parties will vote against each other on everything for no particular reason except pay raises; which they seem to do quite well on agreement there. So what I'd propose to do is defeat the three major problems by creating a series of coalition parties out of the core issues that actually matter. Sorry flag burning, gay marriage and even abortion are irrelevant; tax policy and social security are a bit higher on the burner for GOVERNMENT.

There are three issues involved. One is the perception that lobbies are bad. They are right now, but we can get around this by having a number of strong parties with solid core values, rather than a FOR SALE sign on the party platform. At that point lobbies would have to instead influence policy through advertising and grassroots campaigns (as they are intended) rather than campaign donations in exchange for access and scandal. It would be pretty clear for example that a Green isn't going to take money from oil companies or vote to support them. The second problem is lack of interest. We aren't interested because there are no good choices. We cannot choose and so feel disinclined to exercise our ability to choose. This is solved when there are parties that speak directly to our values and will actually try to represent them. And lastly, we are concerned with the issue of fair and clear elections. Not because they have been rigged or stolen, but because the elections are basically a joke involving two people who aren't that different. It should instead be a range of choices with often radically different outlooks. Right now because of the way elections and the money involved are set up, very few minor parties have even a sniff of winning, much less creating meaningful and influential change of policy. Meanwhile the two major parties have a range of outlooks so confused as to make it difficult to say what "democrat" or "republican" means. So when I get around to it, I'm going to go down and find out what the top lobby groups are, outline what the core issues of governance are, and what some core ideologies would be and craft around a dozen major parties to compete for our votes in an ideal world.

Religion will have a place at the table. It seems to be trying to get in the back door (considering creationism is still being taught). I'll just set it aside as its own interest and let people vote for it if its that big of an issue (faith-based stuff is almost totally illogical and often irrelevant to the real issues of the day). I'm fairly confident that won't be a constitutional issue, for one, there are a number of minor parties based on some religious context. For another, I don't think enough people in this country will vote purely on some faith-based ideology for it to matter. Politics and God don't meet often enough for that to be a good basis for our votes on the broad range of issues we must deal with.

22 December 2006

Why exactly do these things live still?

I'm not surprised. Chain letters and the variants that it has spawned to in some way inspire a series of unoriginal emails/chat sessions have blown up on the internet. We can't even filter them out as spam, because people we know are now sending them to us. And every once in a while, that someone we know sends us something newsworthy, important or relevant which we would otherwise miss by simply deleting everything.

It has a few differences, but the main source I'm noting that endures and sustains popularity (meaning re-forwarding power) is the quiz show variety. A series of disjointed, even irrelevant, questions, designed in someway to elicit information on someone and their secretive nature or habit. These were ok, when they first began circulating..like say. .8 or 10 years ago. They were amusing for the random sequences of objective data that they could collect. But now they come all the time. And they ask a number of questions which imply certain things, but do not clarify (and thus lack any objectivity or purpose). They are not without value, if one was engaged in either marketing/polling/mass speed dating. But otherwise, I'm not sure that gathering such data on people we don't talk to IRL has much value. If we really suspected from the various bits and pieces of someone's messages and insights that they were a decent human being, perhaps we could be asking direct and insightful questions of our own to determine the value and potential of this rare fellow to be a kindred spirit, unique for their attributes in our personal galaxy of friendships.

Are they amusing? Perhaps. If someone took the time to write one out that was generating embarassing private information or a funny story here or there. Are they pointless? You bet. Do we fill them out and send them on? In droves. We've grown smart enough to realize that those ridiculous 'counter' emails do nothing (well.. some of us) and we've grown smart enough to realize that chain letters are fake. But the concept of the forwarded quiz is a new breed. And it is time this mutant took a fall back to reality.

Iverson trade

'll just empty out my twenty five cents today. But here's my take on this deal.

It wasn't a good deal for either side. Start with Philly

The team that deals off the star player is usually hosed. This is almost always true in basketball. Basketball a star player has a much greater effect than other sports. In baseball a star hitter can be walked, or may not even come up to bat in a key situation. In football a star on a crummy team can't do much and if they don't play QB or RB they must rely on others even more so. In basketball, the star player gets and indeed, demands the ball especially in critical moments. So as a result, trading premier players in basketball is a rare and difficult thing, because the team doing it can't get value on the dollar without another superstar being traded to them.. which doesn't happen. So what did Philly get instead?

A journeyman point guard who can at least run an East team, a washed up #1 pick who is backing up another washed up pick, and two picks. And draft picks.. well, very few teams have a good track record on picks, particularly in late round picks. Basketball drafts aren't quite as bad as football with the drooling over physical skills, but they are still pretty bad. The real value they got was that their pick is probably more valuable. Essentially they are saying; screw it lets blow the savings on lottery tickets and see what happens.

But what about Denver? Surely getting a premier player in his early 30s is a valuable commodity toward building a championship caliber team, isn't it? Well perhaps not. I'm not convinced AI will coexist, not because of his attitude, but because of Melo's. They did do at least something right by dishing the only other person who needs the ball on the team (Miller). But having two alpha dogs, with nobody to ride shotgun isn't a proven strategy for victory. We think it worked last year because of Shaq-Wade, but Shaq is old and battered. He only needs to dominate for brief periods. I'm not convinced that the same thing can work here.

But I'm still going to go catch Denver the next time they're nearby (March I think). Just to see how the experiment pans out.

(It panned out poorly, both were out extended periods and they still had no defense besides Camby)

Americans Disenfranchisement

Reading through something like an editorial, an indictment really, on America's youth today. What the breadth of the letter says is that the current generation (that I am sometimes saddened to be a part of) is disinclined to politics. Duh. And oh yeah, that this is a bad thing.

But why? On both counts really. We as a nation do not vote in the massive numbers that say France or other Europeans do. Its fact. We barely turn out 40% for Congressional elections which determine the fate of national policy on all manner of issues for at least the next two years. These policies and the debates that spark up around them are capable of and often do affect millions (billions?) of lives here in America and around the world. But we instead cast votes for American Idol. Why? Because we feel like those votes matter. They meant something and determined something. And they produced results, tangible or otherwise that we could live by.

Its not that politics don't matter. In fact they are infinitely more important than some doofus from Alabama singing so he can get a record deal. No, its really coming down to two things:

1) We don't care because we don't feel we have real options, no choice = no vote. This is a stupid argument, but it bears some real weight on a national level (not for local matters though).

2) We don't care because we haven't been educated enough to understand politics and the premise of the great debate that they invite us to. Our country seems to depend on the obsequious masses instead of the inquistive ones. And our press does a good job of not being terribly inquisitive enough when it matters and too inquisitive on matters that entertain us. Everyone is trying to break the next Watergate or the next Katrina. It doesn't happen everyday. Sorry CNN, ask real questions until you get real answers instead of soundbytes. And show the debate. We might care if our media wasn't a recording.

The solution. Well its not too terribly difficult for intelligent people to simply start looking around and find parties with real positions on a few key issues. This is the nature of European politics (and perhaps the reason there is more involvement in voting over there). Most meaningful parties crystallize around a few central core matters and have vague stances on others. In a highly diverse country such as this, I believe its better ruled by the unruly mob struggling for coalitions than a mandate supplied by 50.1% of the population, or less in some cases. The problem will be kick-starting generations of people who have been educated that politics is a dirty, nasty business with dirty, distrustful people in it. Some of them are. Maybe most. Who's fault is that? Wait.. we the people. Oh yeah. That's in one of those dusty old parchments in DC somewhere. We didn't care enough to punish corruption through our votes. (we should do so by execution, its really a treasonable offence, but that's another matter). We didn't care enough to learn and read the reasoned debates and seek real facts to support them. We instead seek to be spoonfed, as we were as children in school, and to feel victorious by picking the "right answer", the one that wins, instead of voting reasonably and with good conscience. We have only ourselves to blame. I seek to correct this problem. People must become involved, or at least aware. And I will try harder to be more annoying until they do.

19 December 2006

fighting and spitting

We're easily horrified it seems. Too often we forget that people are human, and all the while its staring us right in the face. Bubbling under the surface is a seething mass of messy human emotion that just needs a little fire to boil over. Lately it seems, its not very pretty when it does.

Spitting in someone's face is in fact quite hideous, a repugnant act that proclaims the victim of this atrocity to be worthy only of our most vile fluids. But I am reminded of the late 'list' of the top 100 movie heroes. Numero Uno wasn't an action hero, wasn't a brawler, gunner and didn't even save anyone from a fire. It was Atticus Finch. When he gets spat on, he steps toward the offending 'man', who is perhaps a full head shorter than he and doubtless expects a savage beating. And then he proceeds to towel off the vile substance with his kerchief without a word, without a punch and with the greatest restraint. We have somehow forgotten this to be a sign not of weakness, but of dignity. Control and temperance over our sometimes feeble emotions is a sign of character beyond measure. It is precisely this dignity that would not lower and demean ourselves to have spat on someone in the first place, to say nothing of pummeling the person who does so to us. I fail to see why this sort of response is somehow impossible or at least why it might be heralded as a sign of weakness or poor resolve. Too bad.

Because we saw also this weekend in sports what happens when there is no restraint. Such weakness is in fact more disrespectful to ourselves and others than to act within restraint and reason. There are times where perhaps a violent or forceful response may be appropriate. Where time and logic must be abandoned to come to the aid and defense of others or ourselves. The fight in MSG was not one of these. Having played basketball, and having had moments of aggression and weakness, I can say that such aggression is best used to do this: play harder. Use the intensity to focus with a masterful confidence that you will do what you set out to do and nothing will stop you. That's what it's good for. What it is not good for is horse-tackling an opposing player for being successful and "showing you up". If someone is that much better skilled or talented, hey, that's the way it fell. It's also not good for tackling those players with a hit likely to impress an NFL scout into the first row of seats. The same goes for sucker-punching one, even if he may have deserved a fistacuff. Yes there is a use for all that excess of physical energy and courage that is assembled out of frustration and anger. But it was not that. Play better defense, chase out loose balls, etc. Basketball is not boxing or football where a good hit is a laudable achievement. It is a physical game where elbows and hip checks can be painful and seemingly omnipresent. Restraint is necessary because those minor blows can add up in a hurry if you're not used to taking them. Perhaps we're not sophisicated enough to remember the power of restraint. But I hope this can change. Otherwise we should expect lots of ugly scenes in our sports for years to come.

05 December 2006

response to Qo'ran swearing in debate

Please note that I'm an atheist before we continue. I don't care one way or the other and therefore am a detached observer of this firestorm over Keith Ellison. I'm not all that happy he was elected, not because of his Islamic faith, but because his past suggests the delightful arrogance of an Islamic order incompatible with a Western-secular democracy (read: Nation of Islam). But as he was elected, I'll instead deal with the 'problems' people see with him ceremonially swearing in on the Qor'an instead. This is to be taken as a response to a worldnetdaily column (dennis prager, who appears to be an idiot posing as an advocate for Judeo-Christians) and its remarks on this issue by which I was much put off what with its lack of coherent logic.

"And that Creator and those inalienable rights emanate from the Bible"

I would challenge you to prove this statement before presenting it as factual. The mythology behind the Bible and other canonical texts (like the Qor'an) are generally shared, and in fact show a similar idealized figure of God in all forms. Therefore, presenting the Bible ahead of that 'shared' God is ridiculous. God is recognized by peoples of many different faiths in different manners, and the Bible happens to be the manner in which many here in this country have chosen to see and share in. But to presume that without the Bible we would not have these "unalienable rights " or even a "creator" is patently absurd. If we believe in God, then the presentation of that God is merely that which we practice and refer to as religious dogma and canon; not somehow a vital and required documentation of our belief. Neither should it be brandished as a replacement for actual faithful attendance to our moral conduct. As unsavory as it sounds, what Mr Ellison has attempted to do is demonstrate his moral commitment and I salute this at least. The firestorm it has caused is natural and his intentions were perhaps mixed with a more volatile substance in order to foment this disturbing debate. Or it could simply be a pretense of religious observance, which should and will go unchallenged. His personal past is of course, something of a question mark, but a seperate issue.

Secondly, as you skirted around, the official swearing in does not require any religious testimonial or the use of a Bible (or other texts) for the official occupation of the seat in Congress. It requires instead a faithful execution of the duties and standards of the US Constitution, a secular document. "Constitution. It derives its values from the Bible." While there are indeed religious overtones, to refer to this document as religious in nature and value is likewise an unfounded statement. It is philosophical in nature, an inspiring and powerful document of the rights and powers of a republican government. But as now, the Christians who inhabit this broad land could not agree on the varieties and vagaries of their practices anymore than Muslims and Christians can today. As such, any claim that presupposes the Constitution to represent solely the values of a Christian society is likewise ridiculous (as those values would be considerably confused). Was there some holy exposure that crafted its wordings and just accommodations for law and order? Or was it a gathering of influential men; men who doubtless had a shared moral-religious background, but men nonetheless?

"cannot name any Western European country that does not have a document similar to the American Constitution and something akin to our Bill of Rights."
In fact this is false. Most European nations do have customary rights and laws, but England for example has no written Constitution. There is no one document to point to with anything resembling our Bill of Rights (go read the Magna Carta). There is rather a complex weaving of case law and customary practices of the Parliamentary authority. British authorities do not have search and seizure warrant requirements for example. The current French constitution was not written until post WW2, perhaps indicating it was based on something less divine, and on this goes. What we are seeing is not a Christian code of laws, but the spread of our republican ideals in a more secular logic.

"let everyone choose their own text at swearings-in" - This 'slippery slope' logic is also patently absurd. As it is a ceremonial gesture and not officially required, who cares? It is their right to take an oath to whatever document they believe with most fervently. If they were to take "Dianetics" seriously, I seriously doubt they would get elected anyway (anyone planning on voting for that lunatic jumping on a couch?). I see no reason to standardize the ceremonial oath. Is there for example a standard required for the ceremony of marriage? Do we recognize marriages as legal regardless of how and where the ceremony occurs so long as legal rights are attended to? I believe we do. The ceremony is a personally important moment, but actually irrevelant in legal terms. Does this premise in fact give us any civic religion or even legitimize any one religion over others? Or does that religion flow from a secular nature that allows us the freedom to explore our deepest personal beliefs on these matters? I believe it is the second question that has an answer. We have a secular society that is permeated with religious interference, sometimes a good and healthy thing. In your case I fear, it is unhealthy.

Please invest in an iota of logic and a modicum of history before making future ridiculous claims.

30 November 2006

ranting for dummies

I've decided now to turn to things of importance and create a listing of rantings.

House fires are terrible, now get them off breaking news. It can wait until later. I'm watching a game show. (well I'm not, but somewhere out there someone doesn't know the answer and never will)

Ditto car chases. I'm glad I'm not in LA.. Somehow I'm amazed they can have a car chase there. You'd think the traffic would prevent it.

Most everyone is a 'liberal' until they start paying taxes. Then everyone hates government. I don't think this means we should vote one way or the other. I just think it means there is something we can agree on: We hate taxes. While we're at it, enough with the name calling. Almost nobody is straight when it comes to politics.

Why is there so much coverage of disasters and bombings? You'd think the world was about to end every day by the news. I think every newscast should start with "and the sun will come up tomorrow", then it can proceed downhill. We'd feel a whole lot better knowing at least the sun will come up tomorrow.

Why do I care about two people I don't know getting married? Is this worthy of network news? Was it a slow day? I suspect in a world full of misery, carnage, and despair, they could have had a good story in there. No we have to see footage of tom-kat. I get enough of that waiting to check out when the self-checkout line is down for service thank you.

Why can't Ohio get with the program and realize that they are creating '007's in droves when they license old people to drive with little more than an eye test and a checkbox for the organ donor program. I've had to avoid 5 accidents in the past year and not one of them looked a day younger than King Tut (who's going on what, 4000?). The campaign against the elderly has officially been opened. I'm tired of this. Old people feel entitled and get to push us young rascals around because they actually vote. Well, your days are numbered old man.

In case you weren't paying attention, I tire of posting lengthy opininated essays that receive no attention. Apparently we are suffering from a dearth of intellectuals in this fading republic. So I will instead assemble a series of rambling insults in a deliberate attempt to incite rebellion in the minds of lesser mortals.

27 November 2006

trouble with science

Every so often history reaches a point where people believe that science has reached its end and no new things are around the corner. Then we are foolishly shown that hey, we never looked around the corner. Look at all that stuff around the bloody corner! Well that's all fine and good, but science has some problems that need to be addressed.

For starters, it lacks discipline. Knowledge that science attains can be collectively stored, studied and repeated without the original questions and designs that that information may have had. Einstein's special theory of relativity for example showed that atomic energy was powerful, but it made no mention of atomic bombs. Science is often so preoccupied with the next great discovery that it doesn't pause to understand the problems that come with it. The Internet gives us communication and accessibility to porn, but it also gives us communication (never get me a crackberry), accessibility to porn, and piracy. Atomic energy gives us tremendous energy supply, but also toxic waste and mushroom clouds. Genetic tailoring is the next wave of said problems, with issues with cloning, disease modification, cheating in athletics (completely undetectably, and already happening). The point is this, science can give us power through knowledge. Power without discipline is worthless. It is a kid in a candy store. A man who learns karate does not kill at will, despite the fact that his training allows him to do so. But science allows anyone with a chemistry and physics background to kill in minutes, as though it was a hideous late-night infomercial for $19.99.

This is only the beginning of my problem with science. The ancient Greeks viewed science as the study of things, the understanding of the nature of the world around us and in so doing, understanding our place in it. We use science as a means to pretend we are above nature and distinct from it. We shelter ourselves from it, presuming our technology and medicines will preserve us, all the while ignoring the fact that nature still dominates. We all still die; we are all still powerless in the face of disasters and viral epidemics.

The major issue I believe I have with science is that it focuses too much on the trees. The forest, the big picture often shows that a lot of little things are interacting, changing and affecting each other. We can't study each little thing unless we understand this. That's why computer models of weather have so many variables and permutations, and are quite often wrong. Weather, like human interactions, has so many variables, so many things going on at any given moment that it can't be studied scientifically in the old way. Each variable cannot be isolated with any certainty in the real world. It has to interact before it can be studied. It is a living system. Science is terrible with these. Psychology is a perfect example. Scientific study often looks for simple and quick formulas for explanation. But what I saw in psychology was that these simple formulas did not work in total and conflicted often totally. It was the general formulas which took in the varying parts interacting that seemed to have more success at explaining our behavior and outlook, but may have failed to explain very specific circumstances. A living system relies on these interactions fueling change and innovation to defeat the natural tendency to breakdown. What science seeks however is uniformity. It seeks replicants and verifiability. It won't find any. It can create them where there are none, thus why efficiency reigns in corporate industry and everyone is thus the same from any usable standpoint. Public education at work, crafting molds of uniform standards.. ...

I'm not saying its useless, but it shouldn't be a reliance on generating more scientists or mathematicians in our society. We need more thinkers. Generalists to keep the scientists in line, focused on the science instead of the credit.

17 November 2006

Religions' Sin.

In the spirit of annoying people of all creeds and manner of backgrounds, I'll say something now about religion. Those of you who have read my profile have no doubt observed that I'm listed as an atheist. This is in fact correct, technically speaking, from the manner that I'm not all that interested in whether or not god(s) exists. I'm not even agnostic, because I don't care to even make up my mind on that particular subject. It's not worth consideration, contemplation or any other mental exertions.

But while this is a good source for what I am not, what I am is observant. I've noticed a peculiar stain upon the practices of religion, and a disturbing lack noticed of obvious parallels. What I am about to say should not be taken as that your religion is stupid, it may very well be anyway, but rather that it is misguided in its practice.

Back in elementary school, those of us with a moderately decent education covered some mythology, often Greek or Roman, maybe a dash of Norse or Egyptian. In any case, there are alot of stories, family trees, etc. What apparently nobody grasps is that any mythology is basically alot of made up stories. While we may have taken a good deal of interest studying this mythology, drawing up reports on the Titans or Thor, no question is raised about the sound validity of our own mythos. I say this because there are still large tracts of our country that teach intelligent design right along side Darwin, because there are still lots of people who take things very literally, as though it really happened just that way, and because the consequential religions often seem far too focused on the ritualistic aspects, rather than the actual practice of religion, the philosophy behind it.

Rituals and rites of religions spawn from a time where man feared and did not understand the elements. If farming went well, gods had smiled, feasts were offered to keep it that way, etc. These rites have nothing, or at least not much, to do with being a virtuous person in and of our own volition. They have more to do with keeping the gods happy so they don't meddle in our affairs. The present rites and rituals as I see them are little more. They do not instill any major and valuable lessons as to the nature of man, as to how to conduct one self, or how not to. Its all designed to be a show and tell for the particular church, more like a magic show. Maybe a sermon or the like is designed to impart some wise counsel. But the rites are just mythology. I believe its high time they went out the window. They are not relevant. Teach and preach to the sufferings and improvement of peoples. Don't give me any crap about transubstantiation, resurrections, and original sin. Tell me how I can be a better person, with or without this spooky father figure. I find major flaws in a religion that says I am screwed (in the afterlife, another interesting myth by itself) if I don't participate in these weird rites. I find credence in a religion that tells me how to orient my being and spirit toward others. Not through imitation, but also introspection. Doing as others do is not enough, it must also mean something, spark some passion of life, how else will we know what to do when we encounter the unknown. We must purge ourselves of this mythology, so that we may have more of what we need in life.

Real faith relies not on believing everything we hear or read, but practicing and growing into what we believe we should or can be. I find that with all the advances in technology, we're not any better as people. We're disconnected, afraid, and embittered. We are missing what religions were intended to offer us, not rituals, but processes of orientation toward others. Serve mankind, quit wasting time on serving God with these ridiculous rites, you will accomplish more for whatever your god is by practicing actively.

09 November 2006

Elections over

Back for more after they're finally over I guess.

I cannot say I am surprised at the levels of uneducated responses for voting on our issues here in Ohio. Nor can I say I am displeased by the Democratic control of the Congress. I'm not a Democrat or Republican anyway, what concerns me is really the media's take on the results. The media appears to believe that the election reflects a public referendum on Iraq and the broiling war between various sects going on there (mostly with each other rather than us at this point). Iraq is not the issue; Sheehans to the contrary. Leading up to the election there were a number of polls which inquired as to the level of approval of both the President and Congress. Oddly enough, despite the overwhelming lack of interest in supporting W, Congress was even worse off. And we could say why with a variety of responses, many of which I covered before. Iraq was not one of them. Guess why not.

That's right, nobody has proposed a useful plan. It cannot be an issue if not one person has a clear and purposeful agenda. On either side. The reason is obvious. We did defeat the Iraqi forces, this happened sometime ago. The problem is now an uncoordinated but somewhat effective guerrilla campaign against the government we are installing, and yes we did not have sufficient forces, blah, blah (I am a strategic expert, and we blew a lot but we did go in with enough to defeat Iraq militarily, just not enough to conquer, this is key strategic point I acknowledge). It's not a Vietnam where we were the enemy and problem. We like to think so. But really it is an Iraq where Islam and Western ideas of democracy haven't meshed. The war we are embroiled in now has no central leadership against us, no one country supporting it (although some of the very regimes we back most seem likely candidates for the next 'regime change', ie Saudi & Pakistan), and thus no clear enemy. It is in a sense like fighting the Cold War without the Soviet Union, but instead with organized and separate political and guerrilla movements all over Eastern Europe making it difficult or impossible for us to govern or maintain stability in the region thus imposing their will. There are some focal points, the Ayotollah, bin Laden, the holocaust deniers, Hez'bollah fighters, and the Saudi propaganda wing that makes them look like good guys in all this. But these are minor in comparison to the true nature of our enemies. What we are opposed with is not Iraq, but an ideology, even a sub-ideology, of religious-political revolutionary fervor, cooked up by individuals without the direct subversion of powerful religious clerics. They are coming up with this stuff virtually on their own.

Imagine for a moment that we were given free reign in the West to interpret the Bible. We are of course, but there is a central authority that reigns it in a bit in the Holy See. Get rid of that and there is a whole lot of seemingly conflicting and bizarre scripture that we could refer to as fundamental and core beliefs, picking and choosing those which we preferred and ignoring those somewhat contradictory attitudes at will. How would we fare? Considering the mis-educated lot most of us have been cast, not so well. Now imagine that you do not have a common goal with other Westerners, but instead a similar means of expression, martyrdom. Find some explosives or pick up the automatic weapons and start pushing buttons, and you get the picture. There are some radical clerics with the sort of influence we might need to oppose, but the Islamic tradition does not place importance on a priesthood beyond matters of jurisprudence or interpretation on Q'oranic verse. The passages that are being bandied about are perfectly clear in intent and meaning. They might be a selective reading of the Q'oran, but that's just my opinion (and I couldn't translate classical Arabic yet anyway and so have to rely on others).

In any case, the point I am making is this. The War in Iraq is still there, the war against it is over. It is not Vietnam and it is not a political issue at this point. The War against Islamic revolutionary-fundamentalist attitudes is what continues. Be clear on what it is we are fighting and we can have a plan. This was the case throughout the Cold War: contain the Soviet threat, and later expand democratic ideals. It was clear what we were opposing, Marxism or Stalinism. It should be clear what we are fighting now. The problem herein is that while some in Islam are struggling without through jihad, others have been working for some generations to create gaps in Islam's power politically, reformers really starting in modern times with Sadat, and continuing in quiet and steady paces. It is principally these reformers that are being rebelled against. You don't see bombs going off in Saudi Arabia against Arabs, there they hit us. These chinks are of course, seen as a consequence of Western influence, and thus we as the embodiment of the West are a target. Good times all around. War is inevitable herein, unlike the Cold War where it would be a consequence of policy and failed diplomacy, here it is a consequence of the nature of the conflict. We can't get around it, because there can't be negotiations because there is no clear authority to negotiate with. There can't be surrender either, because we have no entity to surrender to. Can there be victory? Perhaps, but there are many levels that must be worked to proceed.

As far as Iraq goes, there is no reason to believe that either party has a plan to 'win' or to 'get us out of there', because neither party appears to have acknowledged the nature of the conflict. We are stuck in a not-another-Vietnam mode, and we haven't awakened to the fact that we aren't in Vietnam. Dororthy is still in an Oz, and its not the pleasant Emerald City version, but the HBO version. So don't tell me this was an election about Iraq, because if it was, what will change? Nothing of substance, some cosmetic things maybe, like oversight committees.. oooo. What a shift in policy. Give me a break.

05 November 2006

ohio elections

We're due up on the elections finally. Perhaps the annoying and useless commercials will end. But I thought it was time I chime in on the issues of this fair (by that I exaggerate heavily) state.

Issue 2 Min Wage. I don't know very many people working for minimum wage. Statistically there aren't very many adults making it, that's for sure. To be perfectly blunt, people who are working for peanuts in my experience probably should be and probably never will make much more than that. Those types of jobs that do pay minimum wage aren't worth having. Get a better one, ASAP. I don't see the point in risking more jobs by enforcing a wage structure artificially when one exists naturally through supply and demand. Do what you can or are talented enough for, and employers will pay for it, even compete for our time.

Issue 3- Gambling for school money.

Anybody who goes to a casino should take note of the opulent surroundings and be aware of something in the back of their minds. The people coming to it are not the winners. Someone else is winning, not us. A few people win, and yes, poker is fun. But it is like having a retirement plan through lottery tickets. Chances are, you won't win. The lottery is little more than a tax on the mathematically challenged. But go ahead if you want. Governments know that people lose fortunes gambling every year. Turning this loss into money for schools is only intelligent governance. Unfortunately, I'm not at all convinced that public universities are functionally educating people any longer. I would prefer that this money is turned into a school choice program at the high school level, not a school funding system. So I'm not sure this one makes any sense either. Maybe it treats a few gamblers, but that's not a good enough reason for me to support a hard in stone amendment that funds something I do not fully support.

Issue 4-5. The smoking issues. I am convinced that the issue of smoking is simply up to the customers and business owners. Business owners who fear losing business from protests or loss of customers from either smokers or non-smokers should choose how to deal with the smoky situation. For the record I am a non-smoker myself and do not frequent or enjoy the company of smokers. But I don't see the point in enforcing laws to protect against the stupid choices of few who harm mostly or only themselves. There are other ways to reduce smoking rates than removing the places it is permitted to do so. I've already addressed this. Making people do things that could be adverse to their businesses is not a good idea. Punish the smokers not the smoke permitters.

02 November 2006

Nba thoughts

NBA season has started, for those of us that care. I'm still confused to why the Suns and Bulls are such sexy picks. Sure they'll win 50 games, but given they are diametric opposites, neither is going to compete for a title anytime soon. One can't score, the other can't stop. Nobody wins titles if they can't do both. I see one of the 3 Texas teams coming out of the west and winning it all, probably the Spurs, and possibly the Cavs out of the East. Miami's older and a weak empty shell of last year's team, Bulls can't score, Cavs can run the old Jordan Bulls routine with no PG (Hughes and Bron with the ball) and still win in a weak conference. Just have to watch out for the Nets, and nobody on Jay-Z's team plays defense, so that's no biggie.

(Looking back on this, I'm glad I called this before the season. The Webber trade definitely threw me a loop.)