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A place for thought, progress, and dissent.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Its like that West Wing episode!

Remember the episode where the Republican congressman baselessly asserts that 1 in 3 white house staffers use drugs? Read on and tell me this isn't the same thing.

A little background for the non-political among you: George Soros is a billionare who has given millions to help the poor and needy around the world, and recently a large amount to MoveOn.org to defeat George W. Bush. Dennis Hastert is a moderately annoying Bush crony and current Speaker of the House.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE DENNIS HASTERT: You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money. I don't know where — if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from. And I...

CHRIS WALLACE OF FOX: Excuse me?

HASTERT: Well, that's what he's been for a number years — George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he's got a lot of ancillary interests out there.

WALLACE: You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?

HASTERT: I'm saying I don't know where groups — could be people who support this type of thing. I'm saying we don't know. The fact is we don't know where this money comes from.


Sound familiar? Go watch that West Wing episode again. Thanks to Bart Acocella at the Gadflyer for pointing this out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Funny and Worthwhile

Funny animation with a worthwhile petition. I think I need a subscription to this magazine - why have I forgotten about it?

Or do you disagree? Tell me.

Religion & Politics

Amy Sullivan summarizes a new survey on Religion and Politics by a new Pew survey.

I'd give you the main points, but she does a great job of it already. The rest of the survey looks interesting too. Check it out.

Good quotes make me feel better.

"But don't let it ever be said that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney haven't put their lives in danger. After all, they have both been arrested for being piss drunk behind the wheel of an automobile."
Cliff Schecter at The Gadflyer

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

In the coffee shop

I'm sitting in JPs, my favorite spot to "be", with my Howard Dean book sitting on the table next to my empty coffee mug, and reading the political news of the day on my powerbook.

I guess I was asking for trouble, which is fine because I have faith in my beliefs (both political and spiritual) and knowledge and strength to back them up. But what this woman just said to me has left me shaking.

I'm not sure why. I don't feel angry, hurt, or slighted. Not even frustrated or confused.

She saw my book and wondered what a nice young guy was reading. She asked "you're not a Democrat are you?" and her dismay was more than evident when I replied "absolutely." We argued very politely for about 5 minutes on the finer points of the Iraq war, and a spiritual President who believes that God sent him to into Iraq. I stressed that I believe Jesus is on the side of the poor and downtrodden, not the rich who give tax breaks to their friends, and who send our poor kids to die in a war when they are unwilling to make the same sacrifice.

In the end, and at multiple times throughout our debate, I was told that if I ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me, I will see why I'm wrong. She quoted Paul's writings (a bleeding-heart liberal if there ever was one) and tried to use it against me. The connection was clear as mud. Then I was told to listen to Pat Robertson, and that "it all depends on who you listen to". True. I listen to educated, worldly, and responsible people of faith.

As a Christian, I don't know how to respond. Maybe that's why I'm shaking. Maybe I should listen to the Holy Spirit and I'll become an ignorant, self-indulgant neo-conservative, who spits on the poor, middle class, and hard working free people everywhere. Maybe.

How long?

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter."
Martin Luther King Jr.


Words that are extraordinarily relevant today.

How long will we let our President increase old growth logging in national parks and forests?

How long will we let him increase the tax burden on the working class?

How long will we spurn the world so we can flex our muscles?

How long will we be the only post-industrialized nation with no universal health care?

How long will we sit at home on election day, saying that politicians don't listen to us?

Lets go people. I was going to post links for each one of these issues, but I decided that this shouldn't be necessary. How long before this country looks more like Iran and less like a democracy? Wake up!

Monday, August 23, 2004

These Damn Conservatives Never Listen to Me

So maybe the reason I run into so many conservatives (moreover, people who think they're conservatives) that are stuck in their ways is that their brains are different.

A study by U.C.L.A researchers finds differences in the brain patters of Democrats and Republicans.

It shows, for example, that liberals are more likely to respond to human suffering and have a hard time rationalizing capital punishment or military force.

What I take from the article is that maybe the reason I find so many hard-headed conservatives, is that their brains simply don't respond the the social woes I care about.

I should note that the brain is shaped as more by experiences than genetics, so don't think that it is the divine plan that some folks are crazy neo-conservatives. Rather, it shows we need to educate our youth better. ;-)

Yes, I'm trying to get people riled up. You're welcome.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Treatise on becoming an underliner.

I became an underliner today. Not one of these people who underlines important text on websites that aren't actually links. These people do not understand the finer points of emphasis. The do not see that our society has changed the underline to signify a hyperlink instead of emphasis. Look at methods of citation. Last I checked, both APA and MLA style guides have ceased underlining titles and italicized them instead. Underlines on a computer lead the reader to want to click. When the click produces nothing but the sound of a mouse button, confusion insues. I understand this, and this is not the kind of underliner I have become.

I have become the underliner I have teased, ridiculed, and scoffed at for years. Much to my dismay, I began underlining important passages in a book. It should be noted that the book in question was not a textbook, a manuscript I am proofreading, or a critical technical manual. This book is for pleasure.

I underlined for two reasons. The first is simply that I expect I will want to find the particular passage in the future. I cannot bear to deface my book by turing down a page corner, so and underline seemed like the best method. The second reason I underlined is a bit sneaky. I hope to load this book to others, and I would hate for them to miss this important and surely genius passage. The simple underline allows me to annotate the text, and sway future readers to acknowledge the passages I deem important.

Underlining troubled me at first. I cannot bear to alter the pristine state of a book - it is a sacred state that should never be changed. Putting permanent markings is unthinkable and even the light pencil marks I made affect my concept of feng shui. Nevertheless, I am putting my obsessive-compulsive tendencies aside for the good of my brain. I simply cannot recall what points I desire to remember - moreover where they are - without marking them. Let the I-told-you-so influx begin. I have given in.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Something Lighter

Ok, after my last post, I needed something to lighten the mood. Here's a passage from a Wired Magazine article that will make you think. :) :) :)

"IM is my medium," Burton says with a laugh. "If I can get a girl to respond to my chat message, I'm golden." The trick, he confides, is to deploy certain "social hacks" in the instant message. "Like smiley-face optimization," he says. "You can say anything to a girl if you put a smiley face or a wink after it. I've said things like 'You should come over to my house and have sex with me. :) :) :)' and it's fine because they just think I'm joking. And then, more often than not, they'll come over and have sex with me!"

Mangaled Morality

Continuing on my political theme of late...

I sat and read about half of my new book, and after spending 30 minutes looking for a passage, I realized I had been actually thinking of another bit of daily reading. The idea that caught my attention was our concept of "morals" in politics.

The passage: "An article in today's Denver Post also takes on the issue of a "religion gap" and outlines several trends that undercut this useful, but ultimately too simplistic, way of understanding the American electorate. Among these is a growing recognition that "moral issues" reach beyond abortion and gay marriage to topics like war and poverty"

Why have we lost sight of our moral purpose to support the little guy? Why do Haliburton and Enron get rewarded for screwing us over? Maybe it is because of this what I read in Garrison Keillor's book ..."One Republican columnist wrote that Democrats should give up opposing tax breaks for the rich because working people don't vote their self-interest, they vote their aspirations and are happy to give big gifts to rich people because they hope to become rich too." (emphasis added)

Holy cow! Could this actually be true? Have we so deluded ourselves that we have lost sight of what is really important? Family, faith, hard work, helping others... all gone. The same neo-conservative notions that are destroying our environment, wrecking our education system, and making us hated in the world. Wake up, America!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Musings from Home

My mom has a bumper sticker taped to the wall that says "If you're not outraged by now, you haven't been paying attention! Vote Bush/Cheney out!" This has been a dominant theme in my head for a while, but this week especially, I am struck by how deluded (uninformed) so many people are. If the electorate was really paying attention, this election would be a landslide.

The good news is that my book order shipped today, and Outfoxed is coming to theaters!

I know many of my friends are undecided voters (damn, i haven't been doing my job), so tell me why. Maybe the blog isn't the place to get the discussion going, but what are you unsure about? What concerns you?

I'm home for the week, visiting with family, friends, and working and relaxing in between. I find my thoughts are hard to keep in one spot. I can't concentrate like I usually can, even on news and current events. Hopefully I can collect my thoughts and keep looking for meaningful employment... yeah, that sounds fun!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Back from Reality

I'm back from the reality of the Adirondack area and back to Holland. Its amazing how a different beautiful place can make you think about your own place in life. I went from NYC to the middle of nowhere and saw how both are important. It showed me again how small my place in this world is, and how the beauty I find is not limited to the places I know.

Reality makes me think I need a job, a place to live, and a real life. These things are important, and I need to get on the ball with at least the first two. I also know, however, that there is a big world out there to explore and I need not limit myself. I don't want to go move to NYC soon, but where will my place be?