New Blog

I am no longer posting on this blog. I have a new political blog called The Burning Itch, which is updated regularly.

August 8, 2007

Separating Church and State Keeps Us Free

What many on the religious right do not understand is the importance of separating our church from our state. In a free nation that allows them to practice their religion, it also allows others to practice what they want as well. I know it probably seems obvious, but our theocratic president challenges that notion.

read more | digg story

August 1, 2007

Importance of Research

It is important to read articles before you post them on sites like Digg, otherwise you get an amusing occurrences such as this. One links goes to a blog, the other to the actual website.

From what I can ascertain from reading both articles, Discovery Communications is actually buying, although it's more like a merger. The title on Treehugger's article is misleading, which proves my point further. You must actually read what you're submitting and the world will be a better place.

Rove refuses to testify on role in prosecutor firings

White House senior adviser Karl Rove has rebuked a Senate Judiciary Committee subpoena and will not appear Thursday to testify about his role in the firing of nine US Attorneys, Sen. Patrick Leahy said late Wednesday. Anyone surprised?

read more | digg story

July 31, 2007

Why are we so scared of offending Muslims?

Should not the "moderate" imams of On Faith have been asked in direct terms whether they are, or are not, negotiating with a gun on the table?

read more | digg story

Creating Peace in the Middle East

The Middle East is a hellhole. I'm not saying America's much better these days, but I stand by my statement. To create peace in the Middle East and absolve ourselves of wrong doing, we must simply follow a few steps.

1) The Israel-Palestine-TheRestOfTheWorld Conflict has been going on for far too long and there's a simple solution. You simply irradiate the entire region. Sure, this will cause a refugee crisis, but there's a simple solution to that too. The Jews can have Florida and the Palestinians can have Oregon. Neither state has much use to us, so it works out well for everyone, especially those in Oregon and Florida who didn't realize they were living in such crappy states.

2) Next the problems in Iraq must be solved. First, the land must be partitioned into thirds. One third to Saudi Arabia, one third to Iran, and then the third with oil to the US. We then pay off the Saudis and Iranians with our oil money to keep the peace and allow the spice, I mean the oil, to flow freely. The Baghdad embassy could be Bush's palace as he oversees Arrakis, I mean Iraq, after his presidency.

3) Stop pestering Iran about their nuclear program, since they have now become now business partners in Iraq. Just keep a few Ohio class subs around Iran in case things get out of hand. Also as a secondary option, drill underneath Iran and take their oil. Without that, they'll go broke and won't have the money to continue their nuclear program. They'll then become desperate and accept our Iraq oil money gratefully and we will become the best of friends with them.

Now the Middle East should be quite safe and peaceful. If any other conflicts arise we will just have to irradiate the conflicting parties or drill under them and take their oil. Once that's all done, the Middle East should look something like the following artist rendered picture.

July 27, 2007

No, Fat Is Not Contagious

I awoke Thursday morning ready to read The Seattle Times. I'm sure many people read their local paper in the morning as well. It is an activity that seems retrospectively moot most of the time, since the paper mostly glosses over the news I already saw on the Internet the day before. But I digress.

I've become accustomed to sensationalism in the media, including in my newspaper. They have to make the lead story and the rest of the front page interesting to grab the attention of potential readers. I expect this, but I also expect that behind that relatively mundane sensationalist attired there to be some actual information. Unfortunately, Thursday morning my trusted newspaper let me down.

The lead story was about Boeing's 787 and its first flight coming up. It's at least a competent story, seeing as Seattle was once called the Jet City. But the story that took up the majority of page was actually one about a new study that had been released, titled "Is fat contagious?"

The piece was written by The Washington Post and was quite disappointing. First off, the title asserts that fat can be "caught" from one person to another. According to the "study", being around people greatly increases your risk of being fat. I presume these assessment techniques would also find that bread causes people to commit crimes, since many criminals had carbohydrates in their system during criminal acts.

The article even states:
"[T]he researchers are not saying that obesity is literally caused by a virus or some other pathogen, or that factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise or genetics are unimportant.

Rather, the findings suggest that once a person becomes obese, for whatever reason, it may make it more socially acceptable for people close to him or her to gain weight, and that new social norms can proliferate quickly."

In other words, humans are affected by their environment. Bravo researchers, bravo. You've stumbled across a textbook from psych 101, applied some simple statistics, and magically you have what the Times calls a "trailblazing study." I just hope the next time they decide to ignore a fairly large story, such as the fact that US Attorney General may have lied under oath to Congress, that they actually obtain material that can even be considered news.

Top 10 Alberto Gonzalez Quotes

Alberto Gonzalez has been taking his lashings in Congress and on national news due to his ability, or inability as it may be, to testify honestly. To honor Mr. Gonzalez's terrific service to his country, here are ten of his best quotes.

10) "We're talking about the lawyers for the United States of America. And I think it's very, very important that the lawyers be comfortable being very candid and open about their views on very sensitive issues affecting the United States."

9) "I want to be clear. No company is too big to be prosecuted, ... We have zero tolerance for corporate fraud, but we also recognize the importance of avoiding collateral consequences whenever possible."

8) "We're...looking very closely at the issue of fraudulent charities. We're looking at price gouging. I've asked the lawyers in the Department to be as aggressive and to be as creative within the bounds of the law to ensure that people do not take advantage of the situation in this tragic circumstance."

7) "Some in this country mistakenly believed it could not happen here, ... Today we have chilling evidence that it is possible."

6) "Justice must serve offenders and victims as well as the economy and the general public,"

5) "To preserve the integrity of our free market economy, individuals who defraud American businesses and consumers by participating in international price-fixing conspiracies will be prosecuted and sent to prison no matter where they live or where they commit the crime."

4) "I don't think you should be disqualified from being considered for an important position simply because you have a relationship with the person making the decision on who to nominate. You have to look first at a person's qualifications."

3) "I'm primarily worried about what does the president think,"

2) "There is no express grant of habeas corpus in the Constitution"

1) "I do not recall."

July 25, 2007

Is Congress Paid Too Much?

In a capitalist society, money is an important part of almost every aspect of our lives. In America, we don't do too bad, despite the increasing gap between rich and poor.

The median income for Americans over the age of 25 is about $32,000. Of course, those numbers increase with higher levels of education. The median income for full-time employees with a Bachelor's degree or higher is $56,000. This is more than enough money for a single to live off of, but still congress gets paid much more.

In 1815, Congress began getting paid an annual salary of $1,500. Before that they were paid $6 per session. To complicate things Congress went back to the per session pay in 1817, but this time it was $8 per session. In 1855, Congress went back to getting paid an annual salary, this time at $3,000 (about $65,000 in today's money). Since then they have been getting paid more than then average educated US citizen is paid currently, each year. The question I put forth is, do they really deserve to be paid as much as they are?

This year (2007), each normal Congress member will be paid $168,000. The median income for persons over the age of 25 is about $32,000. People over the age of 25 that work full-time and have at least a Bachelor's degree earn a median income of $56,000. Even the highest paid group of full-time workers, those with professional degrees, only earn a median income of $100,000. So does it still seem fair that they earn as much as they do?

There are 251 business days in a normal year (accounting for federal holidays). Assuming Congress members worked each of those days, which they don't due to their lucrative vacation package, they are making $669 a day in salary alone. At the same time, educated Americans are earning $223 a day. Should educated Americans make only 33% of what Congress does?

I am not saying being a member of Congress is easy. I probably wouldn't be very good representative myself. It takes quite a bit of hard work to get to that level of politics. But being a member of Congress should never be about the money, it should be about serving one's country. They should be willing to work for a comfortable pay, but not an excessive one. The ultimate question is should Congress get paid as though they are representing us, or as though they are representing an elite pay grade of society.

Sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

July 16, 2007

No Man is Above the Law

"No man is above the law and no man is below it: nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it."
-Theodore Roosevelt
Do we adhere to this simple doctrine in our society? No. President Bush is a perfect example of this. For some reason our politicians and many Americans seem to think it is okay that a president be above the law.

"The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."
-Article II, Section 4; United States Constitution
President Bush has clearly ignored or incompetently misinterpreted many laws throughout his presidency. You can find books and material all over the Internet that lay out the case for impeachment on Mr. Bush, so I won't bother repeating them here. My main point is that nobody, including the president, should be above the law.

I understand the idea that impeaching our president may hurt the country. Gerald Ford thought this, and pardoned Nixon so we could just move on (or at least that was part of his reason). But we need to understand that holding our public officals under the fire of the law makes our country stronger. Thomas Jefferson once said that if the government fears the people, there will be liberty.

If government officals know that we are willing to impeach them for their breaches in the law, perhaps they will think twice before unlawfully destroying haebus corpus, or spying on law-abiding Americans. For once I would like to see some integrity in the people we elect into congress to do their job.

In the end, it is our duty to make sure our elected officals are following the Constitution and the law. If you believe your president is breaking the law, insist our lawmakers in congress to begin impeachment proceedings (I already know there is a bill gaining cosonpors in the house as I type this). If your congressperson is not willing to impeach those who break the highest laws of our country, than look into their record. Find out if your congressperson has been breaking the law and perhaps impeach them as well.

No person should ever be above the law, including those who make the laws and enforce them.

July 15, 2007

10 Signs You Use StumbleUpon Too Much

In no particular order, here are the ten signs that you use StumbleUpon too much.

  1. You miss a meeting because you went online to check your e-mail real quick and wound up spending an hour stumbling

  2. The first thing you do when you wake up is turn on your computer and start stumbling.

  3. You never use the word stumble to refer to walking.

  4. You wish there was a thumbs up and down button on your TV remote.

  5. You actually think of StumbeUpon as a social network.

  6. You get frustrated because you've see a page twice while stumbling.

  7. You watch more of the StumbleUpon video channel than actual TV.

  8. You accidentally press the "mod down" button while reading a stupid e-mail from a coworker.

  9. You've stumbled more pages today than words have come out of your mouth.

  10. You begin measuring time on the basis of stumbles (e.g., "How long was that meeting? Oh, about 40 stumbles.")

July 14, 2007

Baqubah in Video

On June 18th, the US forces in Iraq launched Operation Arrowhead Ripper. It is a large scale effort, mainly in the Baqubah region, with a strength of approximately 10,000 soldiers. One US soldier has been confirmed to be killed so far in the operation, with 12 being wounded. Seven other ally soldiers having been killed, with 10 being wounded. Over 113 enemy combatants have been killed, and over 100 detained.

The following videos are not all specifically from Operation Arrowhead Ripper, but are also from similar, operations in the region.

U.S. Army Soldiers from 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division battle Insurgents in Baqubah, Iraq.

American and Iraqi Soldiers take and return fire while clearing houses in Baqubah, Iraq, March 28, 2007. One American and one Iraqi Soldier were injured during the exchange.

U.S. and Iraqi Soldiers search for insurgents and interact with the local populace.

A Stryker battalion engaging insurgents immediately upon arriving to the area. Heavy house to house fighting with tanks and small arms fire.

Stryker Soldiers of B Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Division take up blocking positions on the western outskirts of Baqubah, Iraq in support of Operation Arrowhead-Ripper, a major military offensive to clear insurgents from the city. They make sure no one gets in or out of Baqubah, ensuring insurgents do no escape the city. Soldiers are equipped with the new Land Warrior System.

B-roll of U.S. Soldiers and Iraqi forces distributing food to local citizens in Baqouba, Iraq. Scenes include Iraqi women carrying a bag of rice, a large group of women waiting to receive flour and rice and U.S. Soldiers and Iraqi forces addressing the waiting crowd.

Finally, I show you a video montage of the faces of 3,480 of the soldiers that have given their lives in Iraq. No matter, whether you're for the war or not, these brave men and women must be honored and remembered for their ultimate sacrifice.

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube

July 13, 2007

If the United States Were A Free Country...

If the United States were a free country, its citizens’ mail, phone calls and electronic communications never would be subject to warrantless government snooping . . .

Read more here.

July 12, 2007


A Letter to Diggers

Dear Diggers,

Ron Paul will not be the next president. The iPhone is an over-hyped piece of crap. Possession of marijuana should have a minimum sentence of 20 years. Bush is one of the best presidents ever. The Wii is a wannabe gaming machine that looks like a toaster. Windows is better than Mac OS and Linux combined. The PS3 will trample the 360 and Wii in due time. Atheism is stupid. The new comment system is awesome. Fox News is actually fair and balanced. Kevin Rose is an ass. Global Warming isn't real. A picture section isn't needed. Ubuntu is a terrible operating system. Top 10 lists are idiotic. Steve Jobs is a douchebag. Osama planned and organized 9/11. Homeland Security is a necessary agency. The Iraq War was necessary.

Ted "King of the Internet" Stevens

July 11, 2007

We're Already Paying for Universal Health Care

According to the World Health Organization, France is ranked number one in health care. At the same time the United States is all the way down at 37. So should we change our system to mirror the French system since it seems to outshine us so well? Well, that would drown us in horrible new taxes wouldn't it? Nope. In fact, you may be already paying for universal health care, but not receiving it.

To figure this all out, we're going to have to know how much the French actually pay for their health care system. According to BBC, France spends about 9% of their GDP on their system. The French GDP is estimated to be $1.9 trillion in 2006. 9% of 1.9 trillion is about 170 billion. France's population is about 64 million. That means that the per capita cost of health care in France is about $2,700. Multiply that by America's estimated population of 301 million, and you get a cost of about $813 billion. That is definitely a lot of money, but we may be already spending it on socialized health care in America. It is estimated that Americans spent about $2 trillion on health care in 2005.

Medicare and Medicaid are government run health care programs. The House Ways and Means Committee stated that in 2002, Medicare expenditures for the government were about $257 billion. At the same time, premiums paid by Medicare subscribers were about $231 billion. Medicaid on the other hand had a budget of $295 billion in 2004. So, the total costs of Medicare and Medicaid in America is about $783 billion, just $30 billion short of equaling the relative cost of the French system.

Government spending on health care does not even stop at Medicare and Medicaid. According the the Journal of the American Medical Association, the government subsidizes about 45% of US medical care costs, covering Medicare, Medicaid, workers' compensation, the Department of Veterans Affairs, public hospitals, and government public health activities. It is estimated that in 2005, Americans spent about $2 trillion on health care. If the government is paying 45% of this, they are actually spending about $900 billion on our health care system, more than enough to pay for a French health care system in America.

So, now we have to ask ourselves if we're up to the task of matching the French health care system in America. I say we can do even better. No system is perfect, including in France, but for $2 trillion we should be blowing the competition out of the water.

UPDATE: The two Wikipedia links were fixed.

July 10, 2007

The Better of Two Evils

Often, when I ask people why they voted one way or another, they tell me it was the better of the two evils. Most of the time it is said jokingly, but there's always at least some hint of truth in their words. And it's true, we are often forced between two choices we do not like. This seems especially true when it comes to presidential candidates. But why can't we have the lesser of two goods to choose from?

The problem with the system is not necessarily the evils within it. There will always be people and candidates you probably won't like. The problem primarily lies with the fact that we have narrowed ourselves down to a two party system. There is nothing in the Constitution that states we must limit our votes to certain parties, or even a party at all.

There are lots of reasons why we have a two party system, such as the fact that the debates are controlled by an organization that is owned by the Democratic and Republican parties. But that's just part of the whole mentality that not voting for one of the two major parties is throwing your vote away, which has been shoved down are throats for longer than we can remember.

I hear people say, "Well I like this candidate, but they doesn't have a chance to win so I'm not voting for them. The proper way to look at it is, "This person supports most of my views better than anyone else. I'm going to vote for them and trying to support them as best I can." If everyone took more of an optimistic view towards elections, then maybe that candidate that you like could actually become president of these fine United States.

So go out and change the system so that you are voting for the better of many goods, rather than just limiting yourself to two evils.

June 24, 2007

Parents and Computers

This morning I came across a page on Microsoft's website about interpreting computer slang for parents. It amused me so much I actually laughed out loud. The very image of a person sitting there trying to interpret "leetspeak"is absurdly hilarious.

The idea that someone is trying to learn this, so called, slang is ridiculous. You either know it or you don't. Why would you ever want to learn it? Most people who know it just from playing computer games, such as Counter-Strike, with immature or "special" people who either think it's cool or are using it in an ironic manner.

More to the point, I see parents trying to spy on their kids or control what they do on the Internet and I think it's quite silly. Of course, I'm not talking about really young kids, I mean teenagers mostly. Unless you monitor a teen all the time, you're never going to be able to control all the content they are exposed to anywhere, let alone on the Internet.

Trust me when I say there's a lot of unfounded fears that parents have about the technology their children are getting into. I once worked for a company that made computer security and monitoring software. A specific portion of my workweek was spent on a quality assurance panel that reviewed customer concerns. They had a software package that allegedly allowed parents to control everything about how children used their computer. The biggest concern parents had was stopping their kids from viewing porn, which is understandable. The second biggest concern was stopping creeps from talking to their kids. It is another understandable fear, but it has been fueled too much by the media and taken out of proportion in most cases.

The best way to protect your children from the sickos out there, is to talk to them about it in a manner that's not condescending. Trying to irrationally restrict a teenager's access to something one of the worst mistakes parents can make. If you make something seem taboo, it will only make them want to find out why it's such a taboo. Plus, there's that whole thing about teenagers being rebellious towards authority figures. And if your kids really want to access something on the Internet, they will one way or another, especially with the wide-spread adoption of computers in the majority of American homes, schools, and libraries.

So, don't makes yourself look like an ass trying to learn slang that your kids use. If you're worried about what they might be doing, talk to them.

And don't even get me started on the stupidity of the V-Chip...

June 23, 2007

Throwing Money Away - Presidential Elections

Officially, candidates for the 2008 Presidential Election have raised over $150 million, although that number is probably closer to $200 - 250 million by now. In 2004, the total contributions ran up around $880 million. The 2000 election drew in about $540 million. So, in less than a decade of presidential elections, about $2 billion dollars (adjusted for inflation) has been spent on bids for the White House. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you factor in all the money spent on elections for congress as well as the presidency, it's nuts. But let's focus on that 2 billion.

So what could you actually spend $2 billion on that wouldn't be a a complete waste? Well,
  • a loaf of bread costs on average $2, so a billion loaves of bread could be bought with all of those greenbacks.
  • About 4 million cheap $500 laptops could be bought for schools.
  • Over 16,000 full-ride scholarships to Harvard could be given out.
  • About 250 water treatment plants could be built in poor nations with bad water supplies.
  • 4,000 $500,000 homes could be given to the less fortunate
  • 0.023% of the nation's debt could be paid off
  • Over 1 million high-quality body armor vests could be purchased for soldiers in our armed forces
  • So much more...
So do you think all this money is going towards a worthy cause?

The iPhone is Amazing

But it really isn't worth it.

The iPhone is an interesting device. It can can play music, movies, view pictures, access the internet, and it's even a phone, with a nifty touch display. Yet, the cons seem to outweigh the pros.

It can only be used with Cingular, or the new AT&T, or whatever the hell they decided to call themselves this week. But the point is their service is one of the worst of the major carriers, which is saying a lot. Then it uses the terrible Edge network instead of G3.

The battery life surprised me quite a bit, I was expecting closer to 4 hours max, so kudos on that. But the battery is not removable, which is nothing more than a horrible design flaw. Whether or not your phone has good battery life you want to be able to swap a battery out, especially if you go on long business trips.

Another gripe of mine is the screen. I do like the innovative idea of having a large touch screen phone, but it will scratch. I guarantee it will scratch. Albeit, the face is glass, but glass scratches too. Trust me on this one, I had a HP TC1100 tablet with a glass screen. I was ever so careful with it and made sure to buy protectors for it, but nevertheless it still got scratched during its thorough usage. Not to mention since you have to touch it, there will be oily fingerprints all over it.

But other than that the iPhone is great. Oh, there's also the PS3 style of insane pricing. So if you're willing to put up with all the cons and have lots of cash burning a hole in your pocket, have fun with the amazing iPhone.

June 21, 2007

June 20, 2007

The News is Shit

We all know the news is shit. If you don't know it's shit, you're full of shit. The media around the world, but especially in America, feeds pile after pile of steaming manure down our throats and we sit there taking it as if it's delicious chocolate.

So who's at fault? These damn network executives and producers. Of course... wait, NO, it's our fault. Guess what, we live in a nation with a capitalist economy in which businesses don't do something just for the sake of doing it. They do it to please their shareholders by earning as much profits as possible. They get these profits through advertisements that are worth more the higher the ratings. Which means, the more you watch, they more they make. The more they make, the more they think what they're putting out is what you want.

The more you watch stories about Paris Hilton or Anna Nicole Smith's baby, the more you perpetuate the sloth and idiocy of the "news". We have Americans and Iraqis dying in Iraq everyday. The Bush Administration is pushing for a new war against Iran. Gross criminal acts are taking place in every branch of the government, why the fuck do we care if a spoiled slutty brat is put up in jail for a few weeks.

I hear people say they hate Fox News and Bill O'Reilly, but watch it just to see how bad it is. Are you fucking kidding me?! You're just making the man more money! Why would you ever do that if you don't like him or his network. Admittedly, I too am part of this problem and have done this on multiple occasions. But unlike me, most don't see a problem with this.

Samuel Clemens once said the problem with newspapers is that people mistake their content for news. Think about that the next time you open a newspaper or turn on CNN and how much you and your fellow man have influence on their content.

May 24, 2007

Chili is All About Improv

What better time than May is there to begin practicing your chili artistry before the next Superbowl. Well, at least that's my mentality. I admittedly love making and eating chili, but because of that people are always asking me how I make such great chili. So, I'll lay down my tips on how to make some insanely good chili (okay, admittedly, it's probably not insanely good, but I had to work something in there to follow the loose theme of this blog).

Basically, I cook my chili in three stages. You can break them down into two, but I usually make two batches, one spicy and one not-so-spicy to cover everyone's tastes.

STAGE 1: Cook Some Meat
Some people go all out on the special types and cuts of meats they use in their chili, but I like to keep it simple. I use high-quality lean ground beef with 7% fat. You can definitely use beef with higher fat content, but you get about the same taste with leaner meat that is healthier.

Find yourself a good sized pan, chop up an onion (any type of onion will usually do), and mix in a few pounds of ground beef. You can cook the meat and onions with some oil, but I just keep it simple.

STAGE 2: Meat, Sauce, and Stuff
Once the meat is cooked, you'll want to put it in a big pot with your tomato sauces. The amount of tomato sauce you use is dependent on how much meat and beans you plan to add. For a couple pounds of meat I use about 30oz. of regular Hunt's tomato sauce and 28oz. of chunky tomato sauce. Some people prefer stewed tomatoes over the chunky sauce, but not me. Next you'll want to add some beans. S&W has some good chili beans, which I believe are just kidney beans with some extra flavoring. In reality, just about any type of canned bean will do. I usually use about 30oz. of beans with the previous stated amounts of sauce and meat.

At this point you'll want to cook your chili for about 30 minutes. During this time is when I add some basic seasonings and spices that don't really add too much heat to it. Some seasoning ideas are oregano, ground cumin, mustard powder and/or just plain mustard, Jack Daniel's BBQ sauce, beef botulin, and a nice bottle of Sam Adams Summer Ale. I don't have any specific guidelines on how much seasoning to put in, but the idea in any good cooking is to keep mixing stuff up and tasting it to how everything blends. Also for an interesting twist trying adding a couple stalks of chopped celery to the mix.

STAGE 3: Make it Hot
This is the point where you'll want to separate the chili into the two batches if you want one to be less spicy. Just keep cooking the non-spicy chili for about another 1/2 hour and then let it simmer for a couple hours, while stirring every once in a while.

Now, the main ingredient to making chili hot is of course chili powder. I would suggest using just regular chili powder. You can use habanero chili powder, but I would only use a pinch at most if you want a sharper spice, because that stuff can kill your tastebuds and stomach if used too liberally. Another alternative/additive to chili powder is cheyane pepper, which is usually hotter than standard chili powder, but not as bad as the habenaro.

Once you have the basic spicy flavor I would suggest adding some chopped jalapeƱos, red pepper (the kind you get at a good pizza place), and some chipotle Tabasco sauce. As always, be careful in how much you add, some of these spices can be very volatile, especially to people with sensitive taste buds. A good way to lessen the bite of the spices is to add some sour cream.

Cook the chili for about 30 more minutes and then let it simmer for a couple hours. Technically it can be served at any point while it is simmering, but the longer chili is left out or kept in the fridge, the longer the flavors are able to develop.

Good luck, and have fun making a nice batch of chili.

May 23, 2007

Anti-Drug Commercials Miss the Mark

The War on Drugs was lost before it started, yet it continues on and on wasting taxpayers' money. Part of that waste is directed towards "informing" people why they should do drugs, whether it be tobacco or meth. Millions of dollars go into adverts every year to convince people that they should do drugs, when in fact all they do is annoy both users and nonusers.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be drug education programs. Those can be useful if they are honest, but many are not. The only way to deal with the drug problem is to openly discuss it. Kids and teens need to be treated as equals on the matter. By making drugs seems like a forbidden fruit, it only makes them want it more. Teens are rebellious (at least I was) and if their parents drink, but tell them not to, guess what they're going to do. The same thing goes with drugs.

If you want to prevent your kids from smoking pot or doing even worse things, be honest with them. Tell them about the times you did those sort of things (if you did) or about experiences you've witnessed and what you learned. Let them know that they probably won't die or ruin their life from doing one joint or taking a hit from a bong, but that doing it too much will ruin any possible good experiences. Moderation is the key to teach your kids about anything, why not be honest and tell them the same thing when it comes to mild drugs like pot.

These commercials on TV are really not helping anyone. They either insult the intelligence of the target audience or gross out the person who's just trying to watch a rerun of The Simpsons while they eat their diner. Hell, I almost lit up a cigarette just to rebel against the stupidity of one of the commercials before I realized I just should act my age. If that's my reaction, how do you think teenagers with the same sort of mentality are going to react?

May 21, 2007

Ron Paul, Not Just Another Canidate

Ron Paul has been an Internet sensation since the first GOP presidential debate, but recently he has garnered more attention from his statements in the second debate. Although most of the attention Paul had been getting was from the Internet underground, but recently that has spilled over into the main stream media. But is Ron Paul really a serious candidate for president of the United States of America?

The simple answer is yes. This is the guy people should be looking towards if they are conservative. Paul is really the only candidate with the spine to show true conservatism instead of the stale taste of neo-Republicanism. It's hard to respect most Republicans in politics today because they do not follow the simple beliefs of conservatism that the party originally held.

Dr. Paul takes a position and stays on the position while talking straight to people about it. While I do not agree with all of his beliefs, he is the only Republican candidate who has shown any sign of integrity. Is what he said at the second debate, about America's foreign policy, inflammatory? No. You'd have to be a completely arrogant lying politican who wants a neo-fascist police state in America to not see that our previous Middle Eastern foreign policies have attributed to what happened on 9/11. Was Paul giving Osama bin Laden and other terrorists refuge because we are partly to blame for why they want to attack us? No, of course not. He was stating something that seems to be a taboo in politics these day, dissenting against the current government.

According to the latest FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll, Guilliani's numbers have dropped significantly in the last month. At the same time the other candidates have not really gained any more support, which moves a lot of people into the unsure category. In fact, people are equally supportive of Guilliani as they are unsure, both coming topping out at 24%. This is a good sign that people disagreed with Guilliani's message during the second debate, and candidates such as Ron Paul have a chance at gaining a chunk of that unsure category. With his ability to differentiate himself from the crowd with actual conservative views, the next month of watching the presidential race should be a bit more interesting.

Source: Polling Reports

May 20, 2007

The Devil Made Me Do It!

In a tragic, yet sadistically amusing story, a baby was put in a microwave by her father. Luckily, the 2-month old child was not killed, just severely burned. The mother of course doesn't blame the the 19-year-old father.
Eva Marie Mauldin said Satan compelled her 19-year-old husband, Joshua Royce Mauldin, to microwave their daughter [on] May 10 because the devil disapproved of Joshua's efforts to become a preacher.
Satan is a great scapegoat for any problems you're having. Didn't pay the rent on time? The devil of course made you do it! Ate the heart of a small child? It's not your fault, the devil was controlling you.

Praise rationality, for the justice system has yet to fall for this silly ploy and Mr. Mauldin could receive up to 99 years in prison.
Joshua Mauldin faces a charge of injury to a child causing serious bodily harm, which carries a possible prison term of five to 99 years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
Too bad castration isn't allowed in cases such as this. People like Mr. Mauldin and his stupid wife should not be allowed to unleash their horrible seed upon this world any further (no offense to their already born and tramatized daughter). It's bad enough that the man tried to kill his daughter in a microwave, but it's even worse that the mother can't even come to terms with the fact that he is responsible.

By the way, I think it might be important to note that this occurred in Texas.

Source: Associated Press

May 3, 2007

Atheism in America

Religion is a hot topic for many people. In America, this seems especially so, since we are a melting pot of religious freedom in which church and state are supposed to be separated. This can often cause many societal and political debates that involve religion (gay marriage and abortion come to mind). Because of this America seems to be a fairly religious state, but is it?

The majority of the world's population is religious, which isn't surprising in the least bit. But about 1.1 billion people fit into the non-religious category, which includes a wide range of people from secularists to the anti-religious. With about 6.7 billion people on the Earth today, about 16% of them are non-religious. Of this 16%, between 12 and 15 percent are estimated to atheist. Only Islam and Christianity encompass more people, with 21% and 33% percent of the world's population respectively. But even with this large number worldwide, how do non-religious people fare in the United States?

Various findings show that about 9-14% of Americans are nonreligious. That's about 27-36 million people. Only a surprising 0.4% of these people actually claim to be atheists, while 0.5% claim to be agnostic. No matter your religious standing, those numbers should seem low. What's more interesting though, is how high the percentage of atheists and non-religious people is in other first-world nations.

Sweden is routinely considered to be one of the most non-religious states, in which only 23% of the populace believe there is a god. In Europe overall, about 18% are atheist, which is at about 45 times higher than in the US.

So why is the United States so religious? Or are people less open about their non-religious attitudes in a nation where religious freedom in explicit? One comment I often hear is that America was founded as a Christian nation. This is actually not true. Albeit, Christianity was, and still is, the most prominent religion, the majority of the founding fathers were either non-religious, or at least rationalists. So the questions still stands, why is the United States of America so religious, or at least seem that way?

Sources: Wikipedia, World Religion Day, World Population,, CIA,

The Power of User-Created Content

The fury of the Internet was released, especially on the Digg, when the HD-DVD encryption hex key was leaked. I'm not sure how many people actually know what to do with the key, or could even put it to use, but it was an interesting showing of what a revolt on the Internet looks like. Most people who care already know the story behind the whole fiasco. But I found a website that sums up the whole situation pretty well; Anyways, fight the power and so forth, the only way Internet nerds with too much time on their hands can do; with a hexadecimal number.

May 2, 2007

Media Contact Info

A list containing much of the contact information for the majority of major media outlets has been Dugg and revealed to the world. The source of the list is the Palestine Media Watch, whose main purpose is to "promote fair and accurate coverage of the Israeli occupation of Palestine in the US mainstream media."

The list is currently available at their website, and as a Google document. So, get in contact with your favorite/most hated media outlet and let them know how you feel.

March 6, 2007

Libby found guilty

Irve Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jr., an ex-aide of Vice President Dick Cheney, has been convicted on 4 of 5 counts of obstruction of justice. This ends a long chapter in the whole Plame affair with only a conviction on an aide and the person who actually revealed Plame's identity to the media.
"We're all going back to our day jobs," Fitzgerald said outside the courthouse. "If the information comes to light, or new information comes to us that would warrant us taking some action, we will do that."
So many high-level people are implicated in this whole situation that I do no understand why not more people are coming to justice. Patrick Fitzgerald has already stated that Richard Armitage was the first one to leak Valrie Plame's identity, but he supposedly did it by "accident".

All of what's been revealed about the Bush administration's dealings with this situations has be highly suspicious at best. First of all, I don't trust Armitage. He's a dirty guy who had shit up to his ankles in the Iran Contra scandal during the Regan era. Not surprisingly, he's been in the Bush administration almost since the beginning.

Then there's the question of why would Libby lie if there was no connection to Cheney in the investigation. The only person that I know who hasn't been officially implicated into the whole affair is Bush himself.

Everything is highly suspect, and the even the jurors know it.

One juror, Denis Collins, said "there was a tremendous amount of sympathy for Mr. Libby on the jury.

"It was said, 'Where's Rove, where are these other guys?'

"We're not saying that we didn't think Mr. Libby was guilty of the things we found him guilty of. It seemed like he was the fall guy," Collins said.

I call bullshit on the whole situation. I'm glad Libby will be going to jail, barring a successful appeal, but the American people want justice against an administration that seems to play by their own rules, even when it comes to our national security interests.

February 16, 2007

The Compton Effect

The Compton Effect is an observation in physics in which energy and momentum is transfered between two electrons when they collide. This is evidence towards the idea that light is made of photon particles. The Compton Effect is also an album being produced by independent hip-hop artist Greydon Square.

In his own words, Greydon Square is "an artist that promotes rationality and freethinking reality through hip-hop." This is a unique form of hip-hop that is not seen in the mainstream music industry. He is an aggressive atheist that strikes against the foundation of theists' beliefs.

I am not a big fan of hip-hop, I'm more of a rock aficionado, but his lyrics are engaging and very intelligent and I can't help but enjoy his music. With a mediocre mainstream music scene at best in America, independent artists, such as Greydon, are a nice change of pace. Not since 2Pac have I seen a hip-hop artist who equates to this level of quality lyrics.

Best of luck to Greydon on finishing his album, which is due out June 6, 2007. You can find more about Greydon Square and The Compton Effect at

Anti-war = Anti-troop?

Almost everyone I know is against the occupation of Iraq, similar to the majority view of America. I, myself, am against the way the occupation is being handled. Basically, we should either be there to win or be pulling out, and we don't have the support at home to win the war, so we should be pulling out. But that is not the point I'm trying to make.

Many conservatives on the floors of Congress, and elsewhere, have said that not supporting the war is the same as being against the troops. I just don't buy this argument. A lot of my friends are against the war because they are sick of our soldiers getting killed and maimed for what they believe is a unnecessary cause.

I personally have a problem with this argument because I have friends and family over in Iraq and I don't want them to be harmed whether that means pulling them out or putting the necessary number of troops in. So am I anti-troop because I want to see the ones I care about come back in one piece? I would say no. Therefore, most of the people against the war for the same reason are not anti-troop, they are simply against a war that was poorly planned and executed.

February 15, 2007

1/2 Hour News Hour?


This is the question I ask whenever I think of Fox News' new "comedy" show 1/2 Hour News Hour. Why would you create something like this? Why would someone watch something like this? Why would someone fund this show?

The show is supposed to be a show that is a conservative parallel to Comedy Central's The Daily Show. Unfortunately, what Fox doesn't realize, is that they are supposed to be a news network. I know, I know, they really are just a extremely conservative facade that just pretends to tell the news (not that CNN or MSNBC are much better at reporting news). But The Daily Show just makes fun of the news and other absurdities in the world. They aren't inheriently liberal, the fact of the matter is Republicans just tend to make bigger asses of themselves than Deomcrats (but not by much). If you actually watch Jon Stewart, you know that he makes fun of Deomcrats a lot, especially back when Clinton was president.

The problem with 1/2 Hour News Hour, other than its pourly contrived name, is that it is just not funny. If the preview (video below) of the show is as bad as it will be when it airs, it will not last long (I would hope).

Basically the preview shows an overly rehearssed faux news script that has either a really annoying audience laughing at every little thing or an overused laugh-track. In either case, they focus on Obama and come up with really stupid jokes about Marion Barry supporting him and Obama's "new" magazine, BO, filled with ariticles who's titles I think were supposed to induce laughter (since the "audience" was laughing so hard), but really just made me cringe. I'm suprised they didn't tell the joke about why the chicken crossed the road so that Obama could fry him up on the other side.

The "jokes" feel so forced and poorly written that I don't know how they even got the funding to make the first few episodes. Then again, they did fund the publishing of O.J. Simpon's If I Did It, so who knows what they're smoking over there. In any case, the show is bad and should be pulled from the air sooner than most of Fox's new shows.

The show is supposed to air Februray 18th, but I could not find any offical announcement to this point or an actual airtime.

Rogan vs Mencia

If you haven't noticed, there's been a feud sweltering between Joe Rogan and Carlos Mencia. Rogan is know to go after comedians that steal material from others. In this case, Rogan went after Mencia at The Comedy Store (video bellow).

Basically, Rogan claims that Mencia has stolen a number of jokes from various comedians. From what I can tell, there are two pieces of allegedly stolen material presented in the video. One, a joke about building a massive wall on the border of Mexico using illegal immigrants, that comedian Ari Shaffir originally performed. The other was a 13 minute segment in one of Mencia's HBO specials, that was supposedly taken directly from George Lopez's HBO special. The rest of the video is mostly just Rogan and Mencia arguing and talking shit.

Some make the argument that Joe is jealous of Carlos, but I don't think that is the case. Joe is just pointing out something that he's observed and he's sticking to revealing what he believes in the truth. He's done the same thing towards Dane Cook, who allegedly has stolen material from Bill Hicks and Louis CK. My problem, is with the way Rogan is presenting his claims.

What Joe Rogan needs to do is create a second video, highlighting Mencia's allegedly stolen material and the performances they were stolen from. In fact, he should make a documentary about how plagiarism is rampant is all of comedy, because that's the truth of the matter.

I like what Rogan is doing, but I'm not entirely convinced that Carlos Mencia is the uncreative bastard that steals other people's material, that Joe has made him out to be. I'd like to see more evidence presented in a less adversarial manner.

Joe Rogan VS Carlos Mencia onstage

In related news, Joe Rogan was banned from The Comedy Store due to his on-stage confrontation with Carlos Mencia.

February 8, 2007

What's Wrong with You?

Have you ever had someone ask you what was wrong with you? I'm sure you have, whether you'll admit it or not. I know it has happened to me a many number of times. For a long time I was not be able to come up with a generally good response to that question, but now I think I've come across the solution.

Make a list. It's actually quite simple. Just make a list of all the things that are "wrong" with you, the more nonsensical the better. You should keep it with you at all times, possibly in your wallet or purse.

The look on people's faces when you actually pull out a list is priceless, even more so once you proceed to name each item on it. I have attempted this a total of four time on unique people and have received some fairly hilarious responses. Most people have a puzzled look and just are speechless.

P.S. Remember to add the fact that you carry the list around with you as an item on your list.

February 7, 2007

'Homophobic' Snickers

Apparently Snickers insights homophobia. Or at least, that is what The Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD are claiming.

If you are one of the people who did not see the Super Bowl this past weekend, then you pissed a nonsensical and fairly benign advertisement put on by Snickers. The ad showed two garage mechanics working on a car and one of them pulls out a Snickers bar puts it in his mouth and attempts to eat it without hand while continuing his work on the car. The other mechanic looks longingly at the Snickers bar and begins to eat it from the other man's mouth, eventually ending is a "kiss". The two men jump back and one nervously proclaims that they just kissed while the other decides they need to do something manly to counteract the kiss. They then proceed to pull hair off their chest while yelling in pain.

I found the commercial somewhat amusing the first time I saw it, but once was enough. I did not see any harm in the ad, and I am sure most of America did not as well.

What gay rights groups do not seem to understand is that is was meant to be humorous, not a serious bash against gays. Now if one of the mechanics started acting gay and the other one beat the hell out of him, that would obviously be crossing the line, but it was a harmless joke. A harmless, 30 second, fairly lame joke. Get over yourselves and realize that gays are the butt-end (no pun intended) of many jokes in our society. We all need to be able to laugh at ourselves and each other, so the best thing you can do is make a joke right back.

I think Carlos Mencia puts it best, "Gay people, if you can take a penis, you can take a joke."

Walker Lever

It has been nearly 3 years since NBC merged with Universal Studios. Once this happened Conan O'Brien had a running joke on his show in which he would pull a lever and have small clips of Walker, Texas Ranger, which was previously owned by Universal, to be shown.

I had almost completely forgotten about this segment until I came across a couple of clips on YouTube. If you haven't seen it yet, or just want a good laugh for the day, I have posted both bellow. It just shows how awesomely bad the writing and acting was on that show (which lasted for 8 years!). Enjoy!

If you find more clips, please let me know. I would love to be able to post all of them here.

January 12, 2007

Format War with No Winners

Lately I've seen a lot of people in Digg arguing about whether Blu-ray or HD DVD will win the current format war and most of them are either bashing Sony about Blu-ray or bashing the Sony bashers. It's a vicious cycle. The problem with these arguments (other than a lot of personal attacks), is that neither format will win this war.

If you have not heard about the format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD, then you probably are not into technology all that much. But in any case, there is a format war going on for supremacy of the next generation multimedia medium. Blu-ray is technically superior, but costs a bit more to make. Neither format is inexpensive at this point and the main reason to get a standalone player for these formats is if you want to watch video in high definition (both are currently encoded in 1080p, the highest definition in present commercial TVs). Blu-ray can hold quite a bit more data than HD DVD and comes standard on a PlayStation 3. Microsoft released an HD DVD attachment for the Xbox 360 late last year as well.

Both formats are going head to head with each other, but my prediction is that neither will win. Friends of mine often talk about the format war while not understanding what's actually behind it all. The assumption many have is that there has to be a winner in a format war. This is just not true. Many formats that seem superior to others in the past have failed to become adopted (can you say laser disc, MiniDisc, Betamax). The truth of the matter is that there really is not a relatively high demand for either of these formats.

Back when VHS's ruled the world there was this thing that came out called a DVD. It supported a huge technical advantage over VHS and was eventually adopted as the current standard format for video and many other applications. We didn't just change formats for video, we changed the entire medium. There was a relatively large plastic box with magnetic tape in it and then there was a small disc that held much more data, easy tracking, no need to rewind, and enough space to now put movie "extras" in with the movie. Now we have the choice of going from a small to disc to another small disc that basically only increases the resolution of the video and room for more extras. The only real reason to change to this new format is if we want to see movies in HD on our new shiny HDTVs. The only problem is that just about everybody has a regular DVD player and those who don't can get one for very cheap. This along with the price of the DVD being about half of a Blu-ray or HD DVD makes a very bad case for buying one of these new format players.

Consumers don't like format wars. It confuses them and so most will wait until just one remains standing. Of course, Warner Bros. recently developed a disc that will store both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats on it at the same time. Unfortunately, unless this is heavily marketed, the majority of people will still think there is a format war going and will be hesitant to decide on a format. The biggest chance this generation of media has of succeeding is if the PS3 begins selling like hotcakes around the world. This is what happened with the PS2, which helped the DVD get adopted much faster, along with the fact that there were not real competitors to the DVD format.

So with all of these factors, my prediction is that these formats at best will get a lukewarm adoption in the world, as they have so far. Most likely what will happen is the actual medium will change eventually, just as when we went from VHS to DVD. The next step in the media evolution seems to be solid-state memory. Flash drives have been exponential decreasing in price and companies like IBM and SanDisk have found new ways to create high density solid-state drives. By the time Blu-ray or HD DVD has the chance to become well adopted there may be a new format dangling in people's faces.

Of course, I could be wrong about this format war as I have been wrong about things like this is the past. I once predicted that MiniDiscs would take over the CD format, but I was obviously proved wrong and that is what partly leads me to my conclusions this time through. The MiniDisc was technically superior to CDs in many ways, but there was already a high adoption rate for CDs and MiniDiscs and their players were generally more expensive.

So you won't be seeing me watching at Blu-ray or HD DVD any time soon. The lower resolution DVD format still looks fine, even on my beautiful HDTV. Once you're immersed into a movie, your eyes will not really care if the video is in 480p or 1080p, they're busy enjoying everything else about it.