Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Finally US & North Korea Get Together

To kick some Somolian pirate ass!

Boy with matches started fire

Hate to be this kid. Or this kid's dad. When I was about 6 my sister was playing with matches and lit a matress on fire. I still remember them dragging the soaked and scorched matress down the stairs and outside, 37 years later.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

China's growth problem

What is going to hold China back from the "next step" is not going to be money, cheap labor, or even innovation. It'll be infrastructure, and the vast costs associated with building and maintaining it. We're seeing the costs now, as birth defects are soaring amid increased pollution. Quite simply, the country is a dirty mess, and cleaning it up (and keeping it clean) is a huge problem.

When your birth defects rise 40% in 6 years, you've got a problem, particularly when they already have a one-child policy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Most terrifying inspirational 80's songs

I was not only a child of the 80's, but I was a DJ during the period as well (club, remote, radio). This list had me laughing out loud.

That's the (wrong) Ticket

Fearing Fear (Krugman)

I dunno who reads what I write, but I like to write and hope someone's reading. I also like to read and I like what Paul Krugman writes. He writes better than he talks though, cos I saw him on Real Time with Bill Maher a few weeks back and the much less informed and more hyperbolic (and annoying) Tucker Carlson talked circles around the flabbergasted brilliance of Mr. Krugman. He just doesn't talk fast enough.

Lest I digress.

What he writes here is what is real though, and I could not agree more. I hate how our Repulican administration and next crop of Presidential candidates continues to try to scare us into giving them (more and more) power. George needs more power to protect us, Rudy wants power and we'd be safest with him; Mitt wants the power and by god, he'll give it to us. Even on the Democrat side, I see Hillary broaching the fear of Iran issue to make her more electable to the general electorate. Ugh.

Of course we don't want Iran to be nuclear, but of course they are not going to create nuclear weapons and use them or sell them; it's suicide and they are not run by suicide bombers. But, that is what we are being led to believe. Might as well be in control of our fates rather than waiting for our fate to be controlled by the "Islamofascists." I think Podhoretz is more of a a fascist than our alleged "enemies."

I talk to my friends about who they are going to vote for. Some say Rudy because he is fiscally responsible and would not actually bomb anyone. Some say Rudy cos they are comfy with him as being the last semi-successful mayor of NYC. Some say Rudy cos they could never vote for Hillary, even though they cannot articulate why not. Some say Rudy cos he's a better candidate than Mitt or McCain or Huckabee.

I fear...I fear Rudy (and the other Repubs...).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

IPhones

Apple limits iPhone sales by requiring debit or credit cards

I'm no lawyer (as many of you know), but it seems to me that this move is against the law. The Legal Tender Act requires that US currency be acceptable for all debts (public & private). I don't believe that Apple can actually do this.

Another man of peace gunned down...

Well, i guess this is one helluva a somber subject to make my posting debut...

Just over a week ago, as I began a week's long vacation, Reggae superstar Lucky Dube was gunned down in an apparent car-jacking in his home country of South Africa. I didn't learn about it until a few days later as I was purposely avoiding the newspaper and the internet during the first few days i was on the West Coast.

And since returning home a couple of days ago, this is the first time i've had a moment to put pen to paper, so to speak, and express my thoughts.

Dube was one of those good guys. In a lot of ways, his death reminds of the death of Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay, who's murder ironically came just about 5 years prior to that of Dube's. When JMJ was killed, writer Mark Anthony Neal (link above) wrote the following: "Within the context of hip-hop music and culture the killing of Jam Master Jay is comparable to someone walking up to Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin and shooting them in the head. It is cultural treason."

And i'm not sure it's any different with Dube.

Like Jay, Dube was a man of peace. Run-DMC never preached violence and was, despite a harder edge, rap with a conscience. Lucky Dube went the same route. While his music was often angry as he expressed his protests to Apartheid in that system of oppression's final decade, his music was about freedom - both physical and spiritual.

His first record - "Rastas Never Die" - was banned by the South African government, so, unbeknownst to his label, he went right back into the studio and recorded the follow up - "Think About the Children" - which became a monster hit and led to probably his best known record "Slave", which sold over a half-million copies. The names of subsequent records indicated just how deeply Dube felt about the conditions in South Africa - "Captured Live", "Prisoner", "House of Exile", and "Victims" were all released prior to the end of Apartheid. It wasn't until Apartheid was finally ended did Dube's albums take on an optimistic tone - "Together as One", "Trinity", and "Serious Reggae" all followed.

Much like his own musical hero, the late Peter Tosh, Dube's violent death was shocking and flew in the face of everything he preached for and sang about. In another ironic twist, Dube was murdered on the day before what would have been Tosh's 53rd birthday.

The world lost another great music legend when Dube was killed. But, more importantly, the world lost another man of peace, a man who wielded some of the most powerful weapons available - those weapons being the combined forces of music, and the voice of the common man.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Closer to Bombing Iran

Another Step Towards War with Iran?
My sentiments get to a point where I just wish the Dems would start impeachment hearings...someone has to stop this aggressor style of leadership. While I still believe that Cheney and Bush still believe they are doing what they believe is best for the country, I also believe they do not have any idea how stupid their beliefs are when turned into action. Everything they do backfires. I wish they would finally say something like: "You know, everything we do backfires, instead of just saying 'we'll be seen as correct in 20 years,' let's try something different and just do the opposite of what we're thinking." Like a what I do when I am in a rut in making my weekly football pix. I also have this sinking feeling that Hillary aint gonna be too much different, policy-wise, so she's now down to my #3 choice of the big 3 Dem candidates, behind Barack and Edwards. I think she will get the nom though, and I am starting to get dismayed...better than Rudy though, who would seemingly be running ahead of Bush and Cheney to push the nuke button like my kids do when they are racing to push an elevator button. Aaaaaaaaaah!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The long arm of the government

Once again, our Republican Administration acts like the worst nightmare of what they picture Democrats doing if they were in power

The Identity Project seems to be a worthwhile project, trying to protect the rights of citizens to move about the country without the need for government-mandated permission.

Tancredo calls for raid of Democrat's press conference

I'd call this a desperate attempt by a guy deep in the bowels of Republican Presidential hopeful polls, except this guy would probably be doing this anyway. It is rare to find someone on the national stage standing up to both George W. Bush and reason, but Tancredo seems to be that guy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cheney's Law

Frontline's piece Cheney's Law should be required viewing for all patriots, of all political stripes.

Climate change switcheroo

The WSJ, always is the vanguard of scientific progress, but out an editorial today about how global warming won't be all that bad, which RealClimate.com blisters in a rebuttal.

I think David is quite right to wonder about a newspaper which argues very strongly against climage change at all, and then switching to pointing out some benefits of what it says isn't occurring.

Tha call for calm is important, but the call to pooh-pooh the problem isn't.

I actually have a friend who believes that global warming is all a scam, put up by "climatologists" and other "scientists" to make money. Needless to say, with such a position as that I just avoid the topic entirely with him. There's really no middle ground there.

California fires

I've been watching the news when I can on this, but the scope is pretty amazing. This LA Times article has some interesting stuff alongside.

NJ town's Republican leadership switch parties, en masse

Lyndhurst NJ to change from mostly Republican leaders to pretty much all Dems.

On the state & local levels, the party switching has been steadily gaining for the Dems the last couple of years. On the national level, there are few (if any) swaps going the way of the Democrats. Party unity on the federal level has long been a hallmark of the GOP, but at some level there has to be a sense of going down with the ship. After all, many Republicans were openly critical of the timing of Donald Rumsfeld's resignation (which turned out to happened before the election, but which many politicos point to as a contributing factor in the Democratics routing Republicans on all levels).

The problem for Republicans is simple: Stick with a politically-damaged President or not. Unfortunately, (and in taking their cue from the President) admitting a mistake is just not something Republicans do.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bride sues over flowers.

$400 K!

All you need to read is:

Among things that drew the ire of the bride, Elana Glatt, who also happens to be a lawyer...

A pissed off bride/lawyer? It is practically a stock character.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Blackwater stole Iraqi planes and refused to give them back

In a war full of over-the-top, unbelievable-if-you-weren't-there, and stranger-than-fiction-moments, that headline will probably finish in the top ten.

What the hell is wrong with us?

Dumbledore is gay!

As if the fundies don't have enough to yell about with the Potter series, calling it "anti-Christian" and all (it isn't. It just isn't fundamentalist). JK Rowling blurts out what might be an unnecessary statement: Dumbledore is gay. Or, was gay. Or will be gay. Hard to tell with Dumbledore.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Baseball

Being from Cleveland, I'm certainly enjoying the Cleveland Indians knocking off the two biggest payroll teams in baseball. OK, I might regret posting this since the Indians have not won, but a guy can dream, yes?

Meanwhile, MLB players seemed shocked shocked! that George Mitchell, while investigating performance enhancing drugs in MLB, might actually show them the evidence.

Update: Damn.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Clinton: The next torture president?

Ironically, in an interview about how she's not really polarizing, Senator Clinton seems awfully vague about what she would do about torture, essentially saying to elect her first, then she'll see what is going on right now, and then stop what should be stopped (and continue what should continue, apparently).

I think it is hard to say that we should stay in Iraq for a long time, that you don't want to take a stand on torture, and be Hillary Clinton, and say you aren't polarizing.

UPDATE: Hold the phone?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Stop the Hate Vigil

My parish has, for the last 10 years, held a Stop the Hate Vigil in which members of other religious groups join us in a re-affirmation of the peace mission of our faiths. While sometimes it can seem a little too Unitarian in my mind, there is always good in recommitting ourselves to the idea of peace as its own goal, particularly given the rush to war and the response to terrorism that surrounds us all.

Included in the program was a list of names or hate crimes victims that were read out. #1 on the list? The non-hate crime victim Matthew Shepard. Ugh.

The problem with continuing to evoke Matthew Shepard is that not only was he not a hate crime victim, but actual hate crime victims are getting pushed aside. Now, I'm no fan of hate crime legislation (which tends to punish thought, which I think is just an incredibly stupid thing to criminalize), but those who want to do something about hate crimes in general give their political opponents a big target by using the wrong crime as an example. After all, if we can't even get the right crime as an example, how can we hope to address the actual problem? And what does this say about people who were truly victims of hate crimes based on their assumed or actual sexuality? Their crimes weren't brutal enough, so we'll use this non-hate crime example instead?

The Republican collapse

I'm no friend of John Cole, partly because he's to the far right of me, but also because his writing style is so all over the place he's just difficult to read--I feel like I had to have been reading previous writings to place a current, disjointed post into the proper context. And while I'll do that for some writers, virtually no bloggers get that courtesy--blog entries should be, in almost all cases, self-explanatory or (if they cannot) reference background posts appropriately.

That all said, I think he is dead right in his current rebuttal to David "The Apologist" Brooks piece about why Republicans have declined. Money quote:

It had nothing to do with Burke, and everything to do with what the party had become. A bunch of bedwetting, loudmouth, corrupt, hypocritical, and incompetent boobs with a mean streak a mile long and no sense of fair play or proportion.

I've long lamented the thoughtful Republican (which is what David Brooks will be dressing as for Holloween, since he's been wearing the outfit for some time now). But even now, led by a very weakened President, there doesn't appear to be very many Republicans eager to step up and make things right. They are all still riding the tattered coattails of the Administration, straight to the bottom.

Update: I titled this "The Republican collapse" rather than "The Republican decline" because I think "collapse" is much more descriptive of what is going on. "Decline" implies some long process of loss.

Friday, October 05, 2007

American finally becoming unpinned?

Good news, if so.

I think Jesus warned us clearly enough about those people who do things just to be seen.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Republicans to fuck 2008

No joke, here's the logo for the Republican Convention:

The Full Monty

The Bush Administration as war criminals.

At this point, I no longer care about backlash from people who complain that I cite the NY Times in an Administration-bashing article. The truth hurts, no matter where it is from.

Andrew Sullivan came around on this some time ago (though his note about supporting the wartime president in 2000 has a Michael Moore-type timeline to it), but his quote from hilzoy is great, and bears repeating:

The techniques in question are repugnant. But in many ways, the administration's disregard for the law is worse. When your policies violate treaties you have signed and laws that are on the books, you are not supposed to come up with some clever way of explaining that appearances to the contrary, what you're doing is not illegal at all. You're supposed to stop doing it.

Amazing how this Administration made me a radical. Just for trying to stand up to what American should stand up for.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Obama-man

I've been a fan of Obama's campaign for some time (as Andrew Sullivan appears to be as well). His latest speech kicks some serious ass, directly rebutting the "conventional wisdom" that many are throwing out there.

I'm convinced that Clinton's support is wide but shallow, and a win by Obama in Iowa will start the tide flowing. Clinton is running like Bush ran the first time: He got the support simply by virtue of being the frontrunner. I fear she'll govern much like Bush as well--divide and make sure you've got at least 51%.

I was (and am) a huge fan of President Bill Clinton. But a second President Clinton would be too much what we've had for nearly 4 terms now: Divisive, hateful, and ugly politics. It doesn't have to be that way, people.

BlackWater, Ugh

BlackWater, State Dept Sought to Cover-Up Incidents

This Blackwater thing to me is very fucked up and likely been going on (and off) for some time. I know that "war is hell," but these guys seem particularly unaccountable, and well over-paid. I don't think our occupation can be successful if not only are we undermanned and unwanted, but also have a large security presence that is quick to shoot and not to help. Besides the obvious fact that such 3rd party contrators should not even be in a war zone to the large extent that they are, Blackwater has seemingly been allowed to operate under the radar for quite some time. Their actions have largely been ignored until the very recent incident two weeks ago. Surely they are a security force and nothing more, but their behavior should be conservative, not aggressive, and they should be held to the same standards as our soldiers. They are probably undermining many efforts by the soldiers to work with the people. It's an extreme example of how extremely poor this war and resulting occupation has been managed.