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9.29.2007

When we have something to gain...

This really ticks me off. We have people begging and protesting for democracy, more than the Iraqis ever did, and we just ignore them. If we want democracy as much as we say we do, why don't we invade Myanmar and install a government of, for, and by the people (that is, the Myanmar people)? Why don't we aid the protesters?

Let me point you to a quote: "The top U.N. envoy on Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, arrived in the country but many protesters said they were nonetheless seeing a repeat of the global reaction to a 1988 pro-democracy uprising, when the world stood by as protesters were gunned down in the streets."

This has happened before. But who the heck cares about Myanmar? We certainly don't. Why, then, are we so rabid about installing democracy in the Middle East? Here is my hypothesis: we don't care about the Iraqi people, either. Let me rephrase that: the government of the U.S. doesn't care about the people of Iraq. The people of the U.S. might care, but the government does not. The reason we are over there is this: we are pragmatic in our application of democracy. If we have something to gain by it's application, we apply it by force. If we don't have anything to gain by democracy's application we don't apply it, through any means. If we have something to lose by democracy's application, then we use force or covert action to prevent it from being applied. That is why we don't give a flip about Myanmar. Who the heck cares? It won't affect us, some monks being gunned down.

I wish we would be consistent. Either we defend democracy every time, or we don't defend it at all. Either of those options are fine with me, and in most cases I would choose the latter, however: this meandering along the fence is driving me nuts!

9.28.2007

Clint Bushton

This is scary. America the oligarchy?

Let's not vote for Hillary, just because 28 years of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton is way too much. What if Jeb runs is 2016? Oh my goodness, then we could have Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton-Bush, and 36 years of two families controlling the U.S. Then Chelsea will run! Then the Bush twins! We could have 60 years of Bush and Clinton!

9.24.2007

An Exhaustive History of Halo

In case you've lived in a cave for the past year, Halo 3 is coming out. Wait, is it Halo 8? Oh, just watch the video.

Take Him Out


Why is this man in our country? Why are we allowing him to speak at our universities? This man, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, is a horrible dictator. That fact, I think, had been pretty well established by his words and actions in the past. He wants Israel annihilated, he denies that the Holocaust occurred, and he is (despite whatever he says) developing nuclear weapons. He is a clear threat to peace in the Middle-east (who isn't?) and most certainly will cause an international incident if not stopped soon. So why is allowed in America? There is only one place in America I want him to go: jail.

It seems he has come to America just because we're stupid enough to let him. Today at Columbia University, he spewed propaganda and peace-talk. “I ask Almighty God to assist all of us to work hand in hand for a future filled with peace, justice and brotherhood," he said. Whatever. You know this guy believes none of this stuff. It's the old adage folks: ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. If anyone buys this talk, I pity the fool.

If we were a smarter country and less concerned about what the rest of the world thought about us, we might have allowed him to come here for the express purposed of taking him out. I realize that might very well do more harm than good in the long run, but it sure would be nice to hear. It might even postpone a conflict with Iran.

9.18.2007

The most gratuitous use of the word Belgium...

...on eBay. This is the absolute awesomest eBay listing ever. Or, was, until eBay pulled it down. Apparently they're having some geo-political issues over there that no one has heard about because no one cares about Belgium except for the Flemish (those are people that live in Belgium).

Any fans of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams will find this particularly amusing.

Format Wars: Episode II: Revenge of the Red Laser

As if we needed another high-def disc to enter the format - ta-da! - here's the HD VMD. Catchy name, huh? Actually I am quite intrigued by this new format. Know what has my attention? Price.

HD VMD (which stands for Versatile Multilayer Disc) uses traditional red lasers instead of the blue lasers employed by HD-DVD and Blu-ray which is apparently the one piece of technology that makes them so expensive to produce. As such, a top-of-the-line HD VMD player is expected to retail for only $199. As implied by the name, VMDs are multilayer and are capable of holding 5GB per layer and up to six layers a disc.

I think this could really be a big thing if NME plays their cards right. It isn't so late in the game that a real winner or even a clear leader has emerged in the high-def wars. I think this is mainly due to the fact that HD TVs have not been adapted by the masses just yet partly because of price, partly because they don't see a reason. That's going to change in the next few years and will be helped by the switch from analog to digital television signals. People are going to see that as the perfect time to get a new TV and a new HD player to go with it.

HD VMD needs to take advantage of the fact that it is cheaper and easier to produce. If they can do that and get some major studios on board, this format war will have a new major contender.

9.17.2007

Soap might kill me

As if men needed more of a bad reputation, apparently we don't wash our hands. 33% of the time, at least. I wash my hands every time after I use the bathroom, and frankly, I find it disgusting that people wouldn't.

I'd really like to know how the heck they come up with these numbers, though. Did they poll men? Did they install cameras in bathrooms 'cross America? Did they use NSA footage?

Hopefully I'll start posting meaningful thoughts tomorrow.

Not Disappointed By Candy

Unlike Josh, I haven't been feeling uber-indie lately. I just bought several tracks from iTunes that definitely weren't indie. However, I recently ran across a new band called Disappointed by Candy whose music I was impressed with.
I am known among my friends as being picky about the music I like. I like to contend that I wouldn't be so picky if so many bands didn't sound alike. I simply like original, fresh music. I also like bands that aren't afraid to mix up different styles of music. Disappointed by Candy does both.
They're generally alt rock with some electronic influences. Very good stuff. Reminds me MuteMath (also a good band) though Disappointed puts more emphasis on the guitar and covers a broader range of musical textures. And that's all within 5 tracks!
It just so happens that Disappointed By Candy's self-titled first album comes out tomorrow (though, because of it's length, it's really more of an EP). You can listen to it right here. Check it out if you're in the mood for trying some new music. I plan on buying the album tomorrow provided it's on iTunes (I've got some gift card money left).

Brand It!

It's official, I love Marc Ecko. In one of those flashes of brilliance that I wish I showed more often, Ecko (who was the buyer of Barry Bond's 756th home run ball) has come up with an idea that I love: let the public decide the ball's fate. I think he bought the ball just so he could do this.

I voted "brand it," but that may be a little too minor. I wish there was an option "cut the baseball into an asterisk shaped object, then send it to Cooperstown."

So, go and vote. Even if you don't care! This is a noble cause, if ever there was one.

Google to the Mooooooooon!

Everybody remember the X Prize? Well there's a new X Prize competition sponsored by Google, believe it or not. It's called the Google Lunar X Prize and as it's name implies the mission is to land on the moon. So what's Google's interest in the Moon? Uh... donno. Perhaps to build a better Google Moon?

9.14.2007

Oh, my gosh.

The world has officially gone crazy. What happened to the "scientific method"? You know, testing ideas to make sure that nothing goes horribly wrong? Like, not just trying it in the real world first? We're doomed.

9.13.2007

Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb


Russia tested a new "vacuum bomb" yesterday. It's being hailed as the "Dad of All Bombs" whatever that means.

To summarize the articles: the Russian military says this bomb has no equal in the world. After the bomb explodes with a very large blast radius, it sends out a shock wave causing further damage. They are playing-up the fact that it is non-nuclear and complies with treaties and that sort of thing. This bomb is supposedly twice as powerful as the largest U.S. conventional bomb.

My favorite part of the Yahoo article is this: "...a Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber [dropped] the bomb over a testing ground. A large explosion followed." Brilliant writing. That's one for the Yahoo Hall of Fame, eh Josh?

Anyway, a year ago this would have had me frightened. Now it just concerns me. This is only "the latest in a series of new Russian weapons". Good grief, why are they developing new weapons? Anybody got a guess?

Meanwhile the U.S is acting like the Middle East is the region of the world that is most threating to us. Oh my goodness! Iran is developing nukes. We're worried about one nuke. Granted, they're likely to do something stupid with it. But after they do, they're finished. Who has the firepower to really harm us? That's what we've got to ask and we aren't ask it.

Putin scares me. He really does. He's the one behind this new weapon development and go figure. Guess where he used to work? With the KGB. Guess what political party he joined? The Communist Party. Since he was elected he has been centralizing power. He is currently President and Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Hitler both Chancellor and President of Germany? We all know what happened there.


***EDIT***

According the this article, Putin is to step down next spring. We'll see.

Quote of the Month: September '07

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it."

-Mark Twain

Enough said. Mark Twain is the master of American wit.

9.12.2007

Intelligence

After Strategic Intelligence Camp at Patrick Henry College this year, I turned into something of an intelligence junkie. I get the Power and Interests News Report (PINR), the StratFor briefings, and reports from Foreign Affairs. I also check The Economist semi-regularly, but that costs money, and I keep putting off getting a subscription, though I would make good use of it. I recommend checking out all of these, as they have information that you generally don't see on the news or in the newspaper. Plus the analysis is always very interesting.

Anyway, I don't figure you care all that much about what is flooding my in-box, and that's not the main point of this post. I got a very interesting briefing from StratFor yesterday about 9/11.

The 9/11 attack, as well as earlier attacks, was designed to do two things. First, by striking targets that were well-known among the Muslim masses, the attack was meant to demonstrate that the United States could be attacked and badly hurt. Second, it was designed to get a U.S. reaction -- and this is what bin Laden saw as the beauty of his plan: If Washington reacted by doing nothing effective, then he could argue that the United States was profoundly weak and indecisive. If, on the other hand, the United States staged a series of campaigns in the Islamic world, he would be able to say that this demonstrated that the United States was the true Crusader state and the enemy of Muslims everywhere...either one would have done.

Al Qaeda was a global -- but sparse -- network. That meant that it could be anywhere and everywhere, and that searching for it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. But there was something else that disoriented the United States even more. Whether due to disruption by U.S. efforts or a lack of follow-on plans, al Qaeda never attacked the United States again after 9/11.... Regardless of whether he was a one-trick pony or he did intend, but failed, to stage follow-on attacks, the lack of strikes since 9/11 has turned out to be less damaging to bin Laden than to the Bush administration.

And on it goes. They make the point that the very lack of a terrorist attack has probably been more damaging to the American psyche than even more terrorist attacks would be. Bin Laden is either very weak, or very, very shrewd.

Regardless of the difficulties, however, President Bush has managed to delay Bin Laden's goal of creating a Muslim caliphate. The very goal of the 9/11 attacks to was to, in one way or another, forge together Muslim nations into one super-power. That has not happened. In fact, the opposite has happened. Iraq now has a democracy (although this fellow makes a very good argument that it is not truly a Western style one), Hamas is involved politically in the Palestinian conflict now, and Pakistan gets more secular by the day as their dictator laps up power.

Osama bin Laden's only success seems to be creating divisiveness among the American people. Whilst we were all Americans on this date in 2001, we are more argumentative now than ever before.

Anyway, I thought that was interesting. If you want the whole report, here it is.

9.11.2007

Sep. 11th, 2007

I was 11 on September 11th, 2001. I woke up late enough for my mom to have locked down the TV, so I didn't actually see any footage until several days later. A part of me died that day. Before then, I was safe. After I saw American Airlines Flight 11 slam into the Tower, as the world watched, I think I felt hatred for the very first time. How could anyone hate us? How could they want to hurt us? Why?

Those questions have answers now, however vague. We're in two wars, and a third over-arching one, that we were not in 6 years ago today. Or maybe we were already in them and we just didn't notice. Sometimes the biggest problem is our failure to care about the world around us.

6 years after September 11th, 2001, we have lost the feeling of unity that we had for several months after the attacks. We fight, we fuss, we fume.

On September 12th, a French newspaper said "Today, we are all Americans." 6 years later, it seems, none of us are.

Let's change that.

Six Years Ago

“I can’t believe the news today...” "I can't close my eyes and make it go away."


Six years ago I woke up late. I was on my way to the kitchen to pour myself a bowl of cereal, but I stopped in living room. My mom had the TV on which was unusual.

It must have been sometime around 8 o’clock (CST) because the North Tower had already been hit. At first I thought it was just some building downtown. I remember thinking that there had been a recent fire at some industrial complex and that was no big deal. Then I read the headline. New York City. World Trade Center. Plane crash.

It was so big and so far away that I didn’t know what to think at first. But right away people started blaming terrorism and that was frightening indeed. Planes just don’t crash into buildings, after all.

At 8:02 (local time) the second tower was hit. That settled it. This was on purposed. I was as shocked as everybody else watching, including the commentators.

I remember that day. My mom, myself, and my sister watched for most of the day. We watched to see what would happen next. We didn’t know what else to do. How could we pry ourselves away from those images and go on with our normal business as if nothing had happened. The events were too horrible, too unexpected, and too significant.

I remember. I remember the President being told about the attacks at a grade school. I remember the confusion of the newscasters. I remember how they played the footage of the plane striking the South Tower over and over because that was all they had to play. I remember panic that ensued after the Pentagon was hit. I remember the horrifying shock when the towers collapsed killing so many. I remember the anger I felt toward the people responsible.

Of all the days of remembrance—Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Pearl Harbor Day—September 11 is the only one I can really connect with since it happened in my lifetime.

Many things changed that day. On September 10, 2001 I was 12 years old. On the following day, I was still 12 years old, but I had lost something. The naïve sense of security I always had was gone. That was the day I realized that the relatively happy world of my youth was not sealed away from the rest of the world.

Do you remember? Where were you when you hear the news, when you saw? Do you remember the spirit of those days: the spirit of uncertainty? Do you remember the feeling of unity that suddenly descended on the country—that “let’s roll” spirit? I do. Where has it gone?

9.08.2007

New Music

I've been going uber-indie lately. I find the music refreshing. Listening to a lot of St. Vincent and Iron & Wine. I recommend "Now, Now" by St. Vincent and "Boy with a Coin" by Iron & Wine.

'08: The Candidates (R)

Senator Sam Brownback: I'm turned completely off of this guy by the blogs Blogs4Brownback and Baptists for Brownback. These people are insane. Plus, he and Mike Huckabee have been at it over silly meaningless things for the past couple months.

Rudy Giuliani:
He didn't handle 9/11 very well. It happened on his watch, he had his safety headquarters in the WTC despite being advised against this, and he has lied constantly about it. He is anti-gun, pro-abortion. He's running for the wrong party. And you know why? It doesn't matter what your views are, it just matters that you support the establishment. (Here's an interesting video.)

Mike Huckabee:
Meh. He and Sen. Brownback are doing their very best to see who can fling the most mud.

Rep. Duncan Hunter:
Strong on illegal immigration, and I like him, but the fact remains: Representatives have an almost zero chance of winning.

Sen. John McCain:
A Vietnam "hero" running again. Frankly, I like him less and less every time I see him. Another person who is running for the wrong party.

Rep. Ron Paul:
I like him a lot, but he's very old, and I'm afraid that he wouldn't be a very good communicator. His views on the 9/11 attacks and the War in Iraq are unpopular among Conservatives and he is lacking in the "name recognition" department. I like him.

Mitt Romney:
Flip-flop. His hair should run for office. And I think he looks too much like a wimp.

Rep. Tom Tancredo:
Strong on Illegal Immigration. He isn't getting much airtime. I like him, though.

Fred Thompson:
I think this guy is a fraud.

Who are these people, and what have they done to my country?

There is a Reason

... and without further ado: a filler post! No, not really. It's a good song, seriously.

Song: There is a Reason
Artist: Caedmon's Call
Album: Overdressed (2007)

Late at night I wonder why, sometimes I wonder why
Sometimes I’m so tired I don’t even try
Seems everything around me fails
But I hold on to the promise
That there is a reason

Late at night, the darkness makes it hard to see
The history of the saints who’ve gone in front of me
Through famine, plague and disbelief
His hand was still upon them
'Cause there is a reason
There is a reason

He makes all things good
He makes all things good
There’s a time to live and a time to die
A time for wonder and to wonder why
'Cause there is a reason
There is a reason

I believe in a God who sent His only son
To walk upon this world and give His life for us
With blood and tears on a long, dark night
We know that He believed
That there is a reason
There is a reason

He makes all things good
He makes all things good
There’s a time to live and a time to die
A time for wonder and to wonder why
'Cause there is a reason
There is a reason

For the lonely nights
And broken hearts
The widow's mite
In the rich man's hand
And the continent
Whose blood becomes a traitor

For the child afraid to close their eyes
The prayers that seem unanswered
There is a reason
There is a reason

He makes all things good
He makes all things good
There’s a time to live and a time to die
A time for wonder and to wonder why
'Cause there is a reason
There is a reason

9.06.2007

So maybe I am an anarchist, but I'm not Green!

Anarchism


100%

Green


50%

Communism


42%

Socialist


42%

Republican


42%

Democrat


33%

Fascism


17%

Nazi


0%

"No, no, no, this is all wrong," I thought to myself. "They even have me at 17% Fascist, I mean, what the heck's up with that." Then I remembered that I said I approved of the use of force to attain political power. "But I meant the people, not some political hack that hates the Jews..." Apparently the quiz doesn't care.

So keeping in mind that there is only one page, and some of my answers could be toned down a little (I don't approve of absolute freedom, i.e. killing people). So I took it again.


Anarchism


92%

Green


50%

Republican


42%

Communism


33%

Socialist


33%

Democrat


33%

Fascism


25%

Nazi


0%

Oh, whoopee! I managed to knock down the Anarchist part of me by 8 percentage points. And I actually managed to become more Fascistic...how can an Anarchist be a Fascist? Just wondering. Apparently, since I didn't like nuclear testing, I'm Green. I'm not against blowing people to you know where with a nuclear bomb under the most extreme of circumstances, we just shouldn't test them in the real world. We have computers to blow stuff up in now.

What really kills me, is on both test I scored 42% Republican and 33% Democrat. I'm about -5000% of both of those pieces of trash political parties. The establishment makes me sick, but now all I'm doing is making Matt think I am an anarchist...I'm a Libertarian, people! It's not really the same thing!

9.05.2007

Anarchists Unite!

Lately I've been teasing Josh about being an anarchist, especially because it seems like so many Ron Paul supporters sound like fanatical separatists. Of course people will say anything on the internet. It's anonymous... kind of.

Anyway, I was taking one of those internet quizzes (I have to confess I enjoy answering personal questions) and I got a funny result. This particular quiz was supposed to gauge what political party you aligned yourself with most. I rolled my eyes. I thought I knew what I'd end up with. I was wrong. It wasn't a simple two-party quiz. Here are my results:

Anarchism


83%

Republican


67%

Democrat


42%

Communism


33%

Socialist


33%

Green


25%

Fascism


8%

Nazi


0%

See, according to this, I'm an anarchist! Now Josh, I want you to take the quiz and tell me what you get. It's right here. A standard warning about clicking on links applies here. I obviously have no control over any ads that might appear on the quiz page, etc., etc. Now don't blame me. Besides, I showed you guys how to get rid of ads.

Please note, I am not really an anarchist. This quiz obviously makes you an anarchist if you stray too far from party lines.

One more thing, there is a new poll over on the sidebar now. Go ahead and vote in it. Don't be shy. The internet's anonymous, remember?