Friday, December 30, 2011

40,000 laws under the books

DO YOU LIVE IN A FREE COUNTRY? 40,000 new laws were passed in 2011. Another gift from your benevolent government "protecting" you.

"The more laws that are written, the more criminals are produced," -Lao Tzu

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Armed Chinese Troops in Texas!

TURN THE TABLES, WORK FOR PEACE AND PROSPERITY. What if America was occupied by a foreign military power? What should you do about it? And what should the people of the occupying country do...? A valuable thought exercise.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Jesus was way cool

"Jesus Was Way Cool" by King Missile

Jesus was way cool
Everybody liked Jesus
Everybody wanted to hang out with him
Anything he wanted to do, he did
He turned water into wine
And if he wanted to
He could have turned wheat into marijuana
Or sugar into cocaine
Or vitamin pills into amphetamines

He walked on the water
And swam on the land
He would tell these stories
And people would listen
He was really cool

If you were blind or lame
You just went to Jesus
And he would put his hands on you
And you would be healed
That's so cool

He could've played guitar better than Hendrix
He could've told the future
He could've baked the most delicious cake in the world
He could've scored more goals than Wayne Gretzky
He could've danced better than Baryshnikov
Jesus could have been funnier than any comedian you can think of
Jesus was way cool

He told people to eat his body and drink his blood
That's so cool
Jesus was so cool
But then some people got jealous of how cool he was
So they killed him
But then he rose from the dead
He rose from the dead, danced around
Then went up to heaven
I mean, that's so cool
Jesus was way cool

No wonder there are so many Christians

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bradley Manning: Almost Gone

A companion video for "Almost Gone" - a new song by legendary singer-songwriter Graham Nash and musician James Raymond (son of David Crosby) - is being released today in support of accused U.S. Army whistleblower Bradley Manning.  The release is timed to Manning's first judicial hearing scheduled for December 16th, following more than 17-months in custody, including a year in solitary confinement that Amnesty International has characterized as "harsh and punitive."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bad Lip-Reading: "Ron Paul"

First of all, I LOVE the Bad Lip-Reading video series... this one is especially endearing.  Based on his tremendous insight here, I like this Ron Paul almost as much as the real one. Unfortunately, most politicians sound this crazy WITHOUT being lip-read badly.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rape a Virgin, Get a Wife

Deuteronomy 22:28-29: "If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels* of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives."

 *about 20 ounces of silver or about $300

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Parents Against LEGOs

Good parenting requires vigilance.  A good parent is mindful of the harm that could come to their child and make sure to set a good moral example for them.  Aside from the very real dangers in the everyday world - like food poisoning, reckless drivers, or gay people in positions of responsibility - children are especially vulnerable while at play.  The toys your children use might undermine the very values you're trying to instill in them.  They may leave children exposed to hidden dangers and corrupting influences.  That is why I have formed P.A.L. - Parents Against LEGOs.

The most corrupting influences are
always the most innocent in appearance.

I know what you're thinking.  With all the murder-simulating violent videogames out there, as well as music that encourages children to worship Satan or the movies that glorify sex acts which haven't been sanctified by church and state, well... why would something as innocuous, as banal, as traditional as LEGO building blocks be dangerous?  Like the raised bumps on the interlocking bricks themselves, the reasons against giving LEGOs to your unsuspecting children are numerous!

  1. LEGO promotes unrealistic body image

    Impressionable children model their appearances after those they look up to.  If children grow up with LEGO figurines, they look at their own bodies and feel inadequate.  With so much pressure from the media on appearance over substance, children learn at a young age that what matters most is having a cheerful, antiseptic smile at all times, broad, defined shoulders, perfectly rounded arms and perfectly square legs, a constantly rigid, upright posture, perfectly flat abs, and full 360 degree neck rotation.

    Folks, almost no one looks like this.  Yet the hype surrounding LEGOs suggest to children that they are somehow undesirable or unimportant if they don't conform to the (quite literally) rigid standards of LEGO figurines.  And sadly, the hollow interiors of LEGO characters only reinforce the notion that what matters most is on the outside of us: bright colors and the ability to posture ourselves to please others even at our own discomfort.

  2. LEGO encourages conformity and punishes individuality

    The basic assumption of LEGO bricks is that they are universally compatible.  LEGO figurines have minimal aesthetic differences - all of which are pre-determined and cannot be chosen by the characters themselves.  They are assigned to specific functions and are valued only for their collective assimilation, not their individual identities.  They must always interlock, they must never contain shapes or angles that would enable them to express themselves in a unique way.  Regardless of personal beliefs, they must "snap" together and bend to the whims of a central plan - of which they are merely a small part.

    The implications here are immeasurably damaging to a young person.  At just the age at which children emerge as autonomous beings, LEGOs are indoctrinating them to a worldview of the collective over the self, the societal goals over the individual's rights.  In the ideology of LEGO bricks, the end justifies the means; if one LEGO figure's head is needed on another's body or if arms must be interchanged, so be it.  Self-ownership and personal sovereignty are unheard of in the world of LEGO.  Is it any surprise, then, that these bricks originated from the socialist think-tank of Europe?

  3. LEGO desensitizes children to architecture

    Youngsters don't know the difference between bridges and roads or towers and tunnels.  These are values that must be taught.  Yet when playing with LEGOs, children mistakenly believe that such structures can be assembled on a whim - with no accountability or consequences for shoddy design.  If the tower collapses or the tunnel caves in, the virtually indestructible LEGO characters endure no pain or suffering.  And, as previously mentioned, individual LEGO figures are interchangeable, anyway.

    Imagine the long term effects of playing with LEGOs for many hours a day over the course of several years!  Children begin to assume that all structures - from cars and planes to houses and offices - are arranged effortlessly, without care for inhabitants or careful consideration to building materials.  We are raising a generation of children to believe that there are no consequences for hastily-constructed buildings... and carelessly-built lives.

  4. LEGO encourages dependence on government programs

    While the many other features of the LEGO character which damage a child's development have been identified, the most insidious is also the least obvious: the universal feature of the LEGO figurine's hands.  Aside from its disregard for individual fingers, the real scourge is the constant open palm.  All LEGO characters are looking for a hand out - and so will your son or daughter after a childhood of playing with them.

    Rather then being productive individuals, the LEGO figures rely on the collective welfare state of pre-fabricated objects that are made to fit the demands of their molded grip.  Children learn from LEGO  that the world revolves around their demands and must be met simply because they exist - not because they are willing to work hard and earn their own wealth.  LEGO "kits" always contain precisely what children expect of them and are given a detailed diagram that gives step-by-step instructions.  It is little wonder, then, that most kids today aren't willing to think for themselves or put in a hard day's work.  Why should they?  Have you ever seen a LEGO house built by the LEGO characters that live in it?  You can't spell "LEGO" without "ego."

  5. Oh, and they're also a choking hazard

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Paul in 90 Seconds

The Ron Paul Media Blackout continues.  Last night's GOP presidential debate lasted 3,600 seconds (60 minutes) and Ron Paul was only allowed 90 seconds. Of the eight candidates on the stage, the "average" candidate should have 450 seconds - of course Romney, Cain, and Perry had far more, reiterating the same Bush/Obama talking points of occupation and neo-colonialism. Ron Paul only got 20% of his fair air time!

Nonetheless, in 90 seconds Ron Paul was able to stand for:
-peaceful foreign policy through trade and diplomacy, not military aggression 
-ending torture for moral, legal, and practical reasons 
-ending the Obama Administration's program of unilaterally assassinating American citizens without due process of law 
-oppose nation-building, policing, and occupying countries across the globe
Some of my liberal friends seems puzzled or even outraged when I state my support for Ron Paul as president in 2012. But it's really not complicated.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Herman Cain - We Are the 1 Percent

Since Herman Cain has such conspiratorial vitriol for the We Are The 99 Percent movement that is now occupying Wall Street and many cities nationwide (source), it only seems fitting that his campaign should release this as their new slogan:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I'm a Secular Progressive - Ron Paul doesn't Scare Me

It's always disappointing to me how predictably insular and myopic opposition to Ron Paul is from the left.  Progressives largely support his foreign policy position of non-aggression and diplomacy and he remains among the only Republicans who want to end military occupation and bring the troops home (something like 800 military bases in over 100 countries is frequently cited).  These are positions that institutional Democrats pretend to be interested in on the campaign trail but clearly have no intention to uphold in office.  Paul is also an outspoken critic of government collusion with the financial industry as well as the corrupting influence money has on the political process - the hallmark issues emerging from the Occupy Wall Street movement.

So what criticism is leveraged at Paul?  In debates I've had on this subject over the past year, it is always divisive wedge issues like abortion, government policy regarding race relations, or personal religious beliefs  (source).  And instead of producing convincing video clips or analysis that succinctly illustrate the objection that liberals have to Ron Paul, the rebuttal always comes in the form of obscure, cherry-picked quotes from an Internet echo chamber with limited and outdated source material.  Clearly, this is the rebuttal of last resort because more substantive objections do not exist.

I have watched dozens if not hundreds of interviews and debates Ron Paul has done over the years.  I remain in agreement with him on over 90% of his positions - far higher than Barack Obama and certainly higher than the rest of the GOP Freakshow.  And I'm a pro-choice atheist.  The matters that continue to be raised in the "scary Ron Paul quotes" genre remain marginal and trivial in light of the very real issues our country is facing - none of which include the subject matter raised in these spurious red herring arguments.

Meanwhile, the people of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and other countries continue to suffer under the oppression of the military industrial complex by way of  predator drone strikes, bombing campaigns, collateral damage from kill/capture raids, and similar injustices. Further, the people of the United States watch their civil liberties erode on all fronts while the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar continues to decline from Keynesian economic policy.  It is as though the pitcher of Obama Kool-Aid must be protected at all costs, even as President Obama continues defying the core electoral mandates of his base (ending war, restoring personal liberty, addressing reckless corporatism, etc.).

So should an atheist like myself be scared by obscure Ron Paul quotes?  To the contrary, secular progressives should be much more concerned with Barack Obama:
  • As with virtually every other politician including Ron Paul, Obama is also a Christian (despite xenophobic assertions by the Birthers).  Yet Obama's views on same sex marriage remain "evolving" (source) while Paul flatly stated in a 2007 debate that he believes all associations - including same sex marriage - remain voluntary and should be religious functions rather than state functions (source and source).

  • Paul also supports gays and lesbians serving openly in the military - much to the distress of Christian conservatives (source).

  • Conversely, Obama also continues to support the death penalty (source) while Ron Paul has come to believe it should no longer be applied (source).

  • Paul wants to end the disastrous "war on drugs" (source) while Obama continues to escalate it (source).

  • Obama has now set historical precedent by assassinating American citizens without due process of law under secret government panels (source) while Paul vehemently opposes this practice and insists doing so is an impeachable offense (source).

  • With deep opposition from his base, Obama uncritically renewed the PATRIOT Act (source) - a vile hallmark of the Bush Administration that liberals almost universally decried.  Ron Paul has been consistently opposed to it (source).

  • And obviously, Obama has continued and in some cases expanded Bush-era military policies  (source) while Paul remains steadfastly opposed to them and has emerged as a true champion of peace (source).

Progressives can wring their hands and make excuses about these and other Obama betrayals, but the unhappy fact remains that their champion has been bought and paid for by Wall Street (source) - which goes a long way in explaining why Obama has shrugged off the notion of prosecuting anyone from the 2008 financial melt-down - the largest theft of capital in modern history.

Once upon a recent time, progressives cared about these issues.  And I thought they cared about the issues more than party politics.  I certainly do.  And that is why, on these and many other issues, Barack Obama has been the Left's Big Letdown - yet so many remain opposed to Ron Paul for little more than fear-mongering claims of theocracy.  But personality politics are irrelevant.  What matter are governing philosophies and legislative actions - of which progressives share far more with Ron Paul than many Democrats (including Obama).

So I will take my chances with Ron Paul's personal beliefs on Creationism - particularly since he has never said anything approaching the state-mandated teaching of it in the classroom.  While Ricks Santorum and Perry regularly bring their religious views to the forefront of their campaigns, Ron Paul's religious convictions rarely if ever enter his campaign platform and that's the way I like it.  The scattered and obscure objections that are frequently presented against Ron Paul by the left don't scare me - and of course the protestations from neo-conservatives are why I will further support him in the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary.

If you haven't yet, you should, too:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Song A Day #1003: They Booed A Gay Soldier

Jonathan Mann has been writing and performing a song a day for nearly three years now.  This is his 1,003rd song - about Tea Party crowds at GOP debates and the booing of Stephen Hill, a US soldier serving in Iraq (source).  I especially appreciate the discourse between the solo vocals and the chorus.  Check it out:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Killing al-Awlaki has made America less Safe

The assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki has tragic consequences on the rule of law and giving due process to all individuals accused of a crime.  Not that al-Awlaki was every charged, much less given a trial, before a Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) operation killed him and six others in Yemen this week (source).

While the Bush Administration was fond of kidnapping people, detaining them in military prisons indefinitely without charges, and torturing them (source), the Obama Administration seems to prefer outright assassination operations followed by hopes of higher approval ratings (source).  While most of the mainstream media and political pundits across the spectrum seem to approve of President Obama's "shoot first, justify killings later" approach, there are dissenting voices.  Notre Dame law professor Mary Ellen O'Connell summarizes her concerns of the legal slippery slope the Executive Branch is sliding down (source):
And what about within the U.S.? If the president can target suspects in Yemen, why not here?  And why just the president?  Why can’t governors order missile strikes on suspected terrorists and other criminals?  We are told with respect to targeted killing - as we were with torture - that post-9/11 circumstances require extraordinary measures.  Some of our leading ethicists countered that the absolute ban on torture must be respected as a moral imperative, regardless of the consequences.  We could say the same about targeted killing, but, as in the case of torture, it turns out that doing the moral thing is also the effective thing.
The intrepid reporting of The Nation's Jeremy Scahill is also a welcome voice of reason:

Glenn Greenwald further identifies the double standard that the political left in America seems to have with regard to presidential transgression of authority (source):
Remember that there was great controversy that George Bush asserted the power simply to detain American citizens without due process or simply to eavesdrop on their conversations without warrants. Here you have something much more severe. Not eavesdropping on American citizens, not detaining them without due process, but killing them without due process, and yet many Democrats and progressives, because it’s President Obama doing it, have no problem with it and are even in favor of it. To say that the President has the right to kill citizens without due process is really to take the constitution and to tear it up into as many little pieces as you can and then burn it and step on it.
As I have mentioned previously after the assassination of (an unarmed) Osama Bin Laden (source), this kind of extra-judicial killing is not just an international travesty but one whose domestic implications will be longstanding.  Following the assassination of al-Awlaki, the U.S. State Department has announced that Americans are in elevated danger when traveling abroad (source) - as was the case after the killing of Bin Laden.  While popular opinion seems to be "the world is a better place, and Americans are safer, after the removal of al-Awlaki," reliable intelligence sources indicate that the opposite is true.

Rather than training in the operation of stealth helicopters and assault weapons, I believe JSOC needs to be trained by any zookeeper in the use of a tranquilizer gun.  If the case for al-Awlaki's criminal actions was so strong, it should have been presented before a jury as he stood trial - not used as posthumous rationale for killing him in a missile strike as he sat eating breakfast in the Yemeni desert.

Not coincidentally, I wrote about the dangerous dehumanization of warfare waged by predator drones the day before these very same tactics were used against al-Awlaki (source).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The American Terminator

Tom Engelhardt has written a sobering yet terrifying article on the development and demand for UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicle) by the U.S. Defense Department.  Often called "Predator Drones" or "Reapers," these mammon machines are becoming all the rage for waging war from above.  Remotely controlled and increasingly networked with information-sharing technology to create a single "hive mind," these aptly-named drones will likely become the killing force of the future (source).  Engelhardt writes of their growing appeal: 
They are relatively cheap. When they “hunt,” no one dies (at least on our side).  They are capable of roaming the world.  Someday, they will land on the decks of aircraft carriers or, tiny as hummingbirds, drop onto a windowsill, maybe even yours, or in their hundreds, the size of bees, swarm to targets and, if all goes well, coordinate their actions using the artificial intelligence version of “hive minds.”
A "Hunter-Killer Drone" from the Terminator film series (L) and a U.S. military "Predator Drone" (R).

This is all wonderful news, of course, if you are a deeply indebted, crumbing empire with 1 in 4 children living in poverty (source).  Rather than conscripting or back-door drafting soldiers to face down gunfire and improvised explosive devices to take out insurgents in up to 80 countries (source), the Bush and Obama Administrations have increasingly outsourced their military force to machines.   No more military funerals, no more burning draft cards, no more public outcry over the human cost of war.  Well, at least not on the side of the "good guys."  But geopolitics and nationalism aside, Engelhardt understands the woeful ghost in the machine of mechanized warfare:
Just think about the last time you went to a Terminator film: Who did you identify with?  John and Sarah Connor, or the implacable Terminators chasing them?  And you don’t need artificial intelligence to grasp why in a nanosecond.
With their growing economy, particularly in the tech sector, it might be worth asking how U.S. citizens would react to China flying UAVs over the United States.  Or any country, for that matter.  While the doomsday scenario of Technological Singularity - in which machines gain self-awareness and promptly decide humans must be eradicated (source)- is still a few decades away, the grim realities of dehumanized warfare are already upon us.

Beneath the slick action sequences and Hollywood plot line, the Terminator film series is a cautionary tale of how much military might to entrust in machines; the main antagonist in the series is the faceless, calculated computer brain of Skynet - which controls a vast network of sophisticated, weaponized robots that patrol the ground, sea, and air.  Developed by Cyberdyne Systems for the U.S. Armed Forces, Skynet was hailed as the first "Global Digital Defense Network" (source).  This is not dissimilar from the terminology and tactics currently underway by the CIA.  Engelhardt reports:
As journalist Ron Suskind reported in his book The One Percent Doctrine, in a “Presidential Finding” on September 17, 2011, only six days after the World Trade Center towers went down, Bush granted the CIA an unprecedented license to wage war globally. By then, the CIA had presented him with a plan whose name was worthy of a sci-fi film: the “Worldwide Attack Matrix.”
On the moral spectrum of behavior, humans killing one another is bad enough.  But humans programming machines to remotely kill other humans seems to me far worse in terms of ethical approaches to problem-solving.  Simply, sending machines to kill on one's behalf is not something "the good guys" do.  Imagine any action or science fiction film in which the hero sits at a computer terminal and annihilates his enemies halfway around the world as they flee from a hovering drone's machine gun fire.  There is no nobility in warfare without sacrifice, without even a pretense of putting the courage of one's convictions on the line.  And yet, despite the obvious physical safety of piloting robots 7,000 miles away, the psychological cost of operating a Predator Drone may be far greater than conventional aerial warfare.  Written on the news website in 2008 (source):
In a fighter jet, "when you come in at 500-600 mph, drop a 500-pound bomb and then fly away, you don't see what happens," said Col. Albert K. Aimar, who is commander of the 163rd Reconnaissance Wing here and has a bachelor's degree in psychology.  But when a Predator fires a missile, "you watch it all the way to impact, and I mean it's very vivid, it's right there and personal. So it does stay in people's minds for a long time."  He said the stresses are "causing some family issues, some relationship issues."  He and other Predator officers would not elaborate. 
Often, the military also directs Predators to linger over a target after an attack so that the damage can be assessed.  "You do stick around and see the aftermath of what you did, and that does personalize the fight," said Col. Chris Chambliss, commander of the active-duty 432nd Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev.  "You have a pretty good optical picture of the individuals on the ground.  The images can be pretty graphic, pretty vivid, and those are the things we try to offset.  We know that some folks have, in some cases, problems."
The ethical dimensions of mechanized warfare are vast.  Can a machine be held legally responsible for the death of a civilian?  Who is put on trial - in military or civilian courts - when a UAV mistakenly identifies a  fruit stand in a bustling village as a terrorist munitions bunker and kills a dozen innocents?  The manufacturer of the weapon?  The programmer?  The drone operator?  The commanding officer who ordered the strike?  More importantly, would any machine hesitate - even for a second - to shoot down a mother clutching her baby if programmed to do so?  Can empathy and humanity be programmed into a machine?  If it is designed to kill, would that even be a useful design goal?

The American Terminator - coming to a battlefield near you.

Indeed, we must now add "remote mechanized warfare" to the list of reasons as to "Why They Hate Us."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Obama Nation

"drones over Pakistan, Yemen and Libya
is Obama the bomber getting ready for Syria?
first black president, the masses were hungry
but the same president just bombed an African country"

A stunning, raging, sagacious hip-hop video about the betrayed ideals placed in Barack Obama:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh, Church Shootings!

Church massacres are always an interesting genre of rampage killing.  There are obvious political overtones to shooting up people in the house of the Lord.  In that wacky summer that brought us the Holocaust Museum shooting (source) and the Tea Party protests of "death panels" resulting from Heath Care Reform (source), Dr. George Tiller - a prominent abortion provider - was shot and killed in his Kansas church by a far right zealot who opposed a woman's right to choose pregnancy termination (source).  The National Guard was called in to protect abortion clinics and the usual cast of anti-abortion zealots had to walk back their rhetoric and pretend their constant harangue had nothing to do with Dr. Tiller's death.

Well, today we have a new church shooting and, of course, the details of the case are just a few days away.  After a previous act of homicide, 57 year old Jeremiah Fogel opened fire in a Lakeland, Florida church but was held down until police arrived to arrest him (source).  No doubt this tragic mayhem increased the faith factor among churchgoers - despite the fact that God clearly allowed Fogel to enter the church with a loaded weapon and did nothing to intervene.  The real faith should be placed in the responsive citizens who ended the gunman's rampage - not the apathetic-as-usual God of the Bible.

Oh, and as if a non-sequitur, the AP article ends with:
"The suspect owned a limousine service that provided transportation to the airport and often worked outside with his wife, mowing the lawn and pulling weeds, neighbors said."
There you have it, folks: too much yard work leads to mass murder.  So don't force your old man to mow the lawn and pull weeds too often or your local church will be the next to eat hot lead!  Thanks to Jack Thompson for this bit of insight (source).

Weeding out the suspects - the investigation continues.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Quantum Physics Never Sounded So Good

I've been a longtime fan of the Symphony of Science series.  This episode is among the most visually stunning and aurally entrancing.  With science like this, what need is there for the archaic mythologies of God?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Obama 2012: The Least Worst

"There will always be a 'least worst' between the Democrats and Republicans, every four years, every two years. And 'least worst' means that you exert no pull on the least worst, and, therefore, your own influence and your own impact is self-limited."  —Ralph Nader, November 3rd, 2004

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11: A Conspiracy Theory

AN OUTRAGEOUS CONSPIRACY THEORY! If you still believe the government's official story of September 11th, 2001 after spending five minutes watching this, there's nothing more I can say to convince you.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tea Partiers and the Death Penalty

"I'm amazed to see so many "conservatives" who are skeptical of government become so faithful when it comes to the ultimate act of government; namely the death penalty."
-Judge Andrew Napolitano, 9/8/2011

The cheers in the audience are completely vile and disgusting.  The hypocrisy among Tea Partiers on the death penalty issue is astounding. They get furious over the made-up controversy of "death panels" and are skeptical of government oversight of education, business, or industry... yet they have NO PROBLEM with government bureaucracy ending human life.

Ricky Perry still doesn't get it.

(click for full version)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pedestrian Speed Limits: A Modest Proposal

If government regulations are designed to protect us all and make us safer, why don't we have pedestrian speed limits?  We should.  And this blog entry is devoted to why.

Clearly, motor vehicle regulation is very important.  I drive a small truck and, if it weren't for helpful signs and police enforcement of speed limits, I would very likely be dead by now.  See, there is nothing I enjoy more than driving in excess of 65 miles per hour in residential zones or on busy roads.  Rather than assessing the driving conditions around me based on pedestrian traffic, vehicular traffic, weather conditions, and road conditions, I operate my vehicle solely based on the arbitrary number posted on a sign that applies to all times of day or night regardless of the actual conditions on the road.  And this is just one of the many ways in which the government keeps me safe.

Speed limit enforced for your safety!
So why stop there?  It's a known fact that we live in a dangerous country for pedestrians!  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 4,092 pedestrian deaths and 59,000 pedestrian injuries in 2009 alone (source).  And yet there are minimal regulations on the treacherous sidewalks of America.  While the enforcement of jaywalking ordinances have been helpful in preventing me from brazenly walking across the street whenever I might want to, what is to stop me from operating my shoes at unsafe speeds - likely causing collisions with other pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles, and stationary objects?  Presently, nothing except my own senses and rational self-interest.  But by living on this particular land mass of the North American continent, I unknowingly signed a social contract which obligates me to surrender reasonable freedom of movement in order to assure the collective safety of society.

Therefore, I hereby put forward the modest proposal of capping all pedestrian traffic to 5 miles per hour (adjusted for inflation) - which includes everything up to and including a brisk walk.  Running would not be covered and would require a fee-based permit, approved in advance, to ensure that multiple pedestrians are not running on the same block at the same time.  This would not only ensure public safety but this licensing process would raise valuable revenue for the state.  Such funds could go toward a "walk, don't run" program in public schools, which of course students would be heavily tested over to ensure no child is left running ahead.

If this program is successful, perhaps a minimum speed of 3 miles per hour could also be enforced to further protect citizens from pedestrian accidents.  But that might be too stringent, I'm just not sure.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Full Denial Mode

As I predicted months ago and in true form to their identical 2008 marginalization tactics, the mainstream media outlets are in Full Denial Mode after Ron Paul polls a close second in the Iowa Straw Poll.  Jon Stewart is on the case:

It is clear that whatever Paul's positions are, they are outside the realm of acceptable political debate and corporate media will continue working tirelessly to pretend Ron Paul doesn't exist.  Meanwhile, grassroots support for his campaign continues to grow.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A riot is the language of the unheard

As civil unrest is on the rise around the globe:
"When you cut facilities, slash jobs, abuse power, discriminate, drive people into deeper poverty and shoot people dead whilst refusing to provide answers or justice, the people will rise up and express their anger and frustration if you refuse to hear their cries. A riot is the language of the unheard." - Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

U.S. Military Action Makes Americans Less Safe?

I came across a rather unsurprising headline today:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration says Osama bin Laden's death has raised the risk of anti-American violence worldwide.  The State Department said in a global travel warning Tuesday that Americans should take precaution and maintain vigilance about terrorist threats, demonstrations and the possibility of violence against U.S. citizens.  (source)
Of course, "death" is a sanitized term.  Bin Laden did not die.  He was assassinated, while unarmed.  But I digress.

This State Department memo confirms a suspicion I have long held: far from "keeping Americans safe," U.S. military aggression around the globe has actually made being an American more dangerous.  While one can argue about the legal justification of the Osama Bin Laden kill/capture mission, the "blow back" from this and many other U.S. military actions will be fierce and longstanding.  It only stands to reason that American journalists, tourists, and other travelers have and will continue to be targeted and subjected to undue dangers due to their nationality.  This implicit support for the world's largest military superpower - one that has regularly chosen force over diplomacy for over sixty years - has led many American journalists to pose as Australians, Brits, Canadians... anyone except for Team America, World Police.  One begins to wonder if, on balance, Americans would be safer at home and abroad (as well as more fiscally sound) if the military literally did nothing other than lay off 80% of its personnel and patrol the border.

"FUCK YEAH!" - it's no accident that
Team America consists of puppets.
Realize, of course, that any act of retaliation from Islamic terrorist cells from the Bill Laden assassination will merely serve as further justification by U.S. officials for prolonged militarism in the Middle East (as promised in the Project for the New American Century - source), perpetuating an ongoing cycle of violence which assuredly started long before September 11th, 2001.  I do not claim to be an expert on U.S. foreign policy or the political history of Northern Africa or Central Asia, but it seems clear to me that the assassination of Osama Bin Laden (as well as the bizarre and barbaric act of throwing his body into the ocean), predator drone strikes in Pakistan, kill/capture missions in Afghanistan, the continued occupation of Iraq, and the new military misadventures in Yemen and Libya are draining the resources of Americans at home and making them less safe abroad.  So long as the last act of aggression serves as justification for the next, peace and prosperity will remain distant notions playing in the background while the military industrial complex continues to aggress pre-emptively against any who would seek oppose it.

Unfortunately, drastic reduction to U.S. military operations may prove to be too little, too late; vendettas have been claimed on all sides and asymmetric violence will remain appealing to military strategists for the foreseeable future.  When the only tool one has is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.  To U.S. military power, the hearts and minds of Afghans have been lost.  As Molly Ivins once observed, "it's hard to convince people that you're killing them for their own good."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Marcus Bachmann is Super!

A loving musical number for the "gay-curing" Christian doctor who is so far in the closet that he's having adventures in Narnia with Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Range of Debate

With all the partisan bickering going on this week in Washington with regard to raising the limit on the US National Debt, it's worth revisting an observation by America's greatest living intellectual dissident:

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate." -Noam Chomsky

Friday, June 24, 2011

Obama's "Evolving" views on Same-Sex Marriage

PRESIDENTIAL POSTURING LIKE THIS INFURIATES ME (source). Obama is in full fundraising mode so it's clear that he is courting the "gay vote" across the country, yet he continues to hamstring himself to placate social conservatives ("Blue Dog" Democrats?) by claiming his views on same sex marriage are "evolving." Really? What if a candidate has "evolving" views on interracial marriage, women's suffrage, or slavery?

A disingenuous form of evolution: political posturing over ideological substance.

GLBT rights advocates are boxed into voting for Obama because it's entirely obvious that the GOP will not produce a gay rights affirming candidate. Yet the notion that someone as intelligent and educated as Barack Obama has "evolving" views on something as simple as marriage equality is patently insulting. It's clear to everyone that he is merely pandering to both sides of the debate, hoping to rake in the most votes, while avoiding taking a strong position for what he believes is right.

I respect anti-gay pastor Fred Phelps. I respect gay rights advocate Dan Savage. These are men of action whose views on the subject are transparent and frankly-stated. But I have no patience for Obama and his ilk who attempt to compromise their values so heavily that what remains is a poll-tested, enfeebled shill who will follow campaign cash over substantive moral courage.

UPDATE: I'm not entirely sure if NY state passing same sex marriage legislation (source) will be the tipping point or not, but eventually there will be a "critical mass" after which most other state and federal officials will have no choice but to honor marriage equality.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bob Gets "Bob Gets Krang"

A post-structural exercise in home video meta-cinema: the whole story about Bob, Krang, and a 21 year gap.  This is notable mostly for its combination of home video footage, Fair Use in Copyright, and the generally esoteric nature of my sense of humor.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


... And explains why the government is protecting you from dangerous combinations of toys and candy.  For more information on how the Department of Homeland Security is keeping you safe from Kinder Eggs, visit this link.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Myth of the Middle Class

Welcome to Washington, DC - the US capital.  In this tale of two cities (Northwest and Southeast DC), the median income disparities could hardly be greater ($29k vs. $140k).  Yet residents in both Georgetown and Anacostia regard themselves as "middle class."  Why?

This fine RT report rightly points out that real wages are stagnant or declining in all income sectors except the very top - yet does not address the underlying mythology behind the "middle class" in America.  In some sense, the notion that the growing levels of wealth depreciation and poverty have not disrupted the "average American" is a necessary illusion; the masses will be kept subservient and docile so long as they believe that they are, relatively speaking, doing just fine.  Only a few "fringe" politicians and economists are wiling to admit that the center is falling out of America, creating an inverted bell curve of the have and have-nots.  So long as most Americans believe they are "middle class," they will concede ever greater wealth and power to a small group of elites who continue to widen the disparities in income (at the expense of everyone else).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Let me call this one right now: Ron Paul won't get the GOP nomination and the broad swath of Republicans who support him will be furious with Fox News' desperate 24/7 marginalization of the most popular candidate in the race.  What Fox News does is disgraceful to begin with, but it is even more clear when trying to shape a particular ideology within its own party allegiances.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The rapture claimed victims

There are real faces behind the tragedy of belief without evidence.  The fraudulent claim that the world was coming to an end of May 21st, 2011 is the most recent example. YouTuber Askegg shows us just a few people whose lives have been deeply compromised by uncritical religious beliefs:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

America: One Nation Imprisoned?

QUESTION: is a disproportionate number of American citizens in jail because they are inherently more criminal or because the American government has invented more crimes?

I saw this on the Metro at National Airport in DC.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Evolution: it's not a controversy.

Having interviewed Eugenie Scott (source) earlier this year, I know about Project Steve and think it to be a brilliant rhetorical campaign to demonstrate how foundational evolutionary biology is to modern science.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ron Paul's first 2012 Republican Presidential Primary

Amidst all the silliness of Gingrich, Palin, Bachmann, Santorum, and Trump, Ron Paul will single-handedly make the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary an exciting and engaging process for me... and maybe you, too!

If the GOP is smart - and they usually aren't, they will realize that far more progressives will vote for Ron Paul than anyone else their party could run. Meanwhile, it is highly unlikely that any Republicans will vote for Obama because Paul's positions are too extreme. Then again, many Republicans seem to want to continue wars, keep Guantanamo open, and endorse the Fed's fiscal policies - in which case Obama could earn their vote!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Lego Man to run Britain?

(This is the only thing I'm going to post about the embarrassingly excessive fanfare surrounding the Royal Wedding).

Johann Hari: Frenzy around Britain’s Royal Wedding "Should Embarrass Us All" (source)

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the movement against royalty in Britain.
JOHANN HARI: Well, we have to deal with some really weird arguments... So, for example, the monarchists always say, "Oh, it’s really good for tourism." Actually, of the top 20 tourist attractions in Britain, only one of them, number 17, is related to the royal family: Windsor Castle. Ten points ahead of it is Windsor Legoland. So using that logic, we should have a Lego man as our head of state instead of these people.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ben's Funny Money

Despite higher commodity prices over the past 18 months (source), Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke continues to maintain that the current monetary policy is not causing excessive inflation and that the $600 billion in additional "Quantitative Easing" (printing additional Federal Reserve Notes and using them to buy Treasury Bonds), has been effective in stabilizing the U.S. economy (source).  Most Americans are unlikely to take Bernanke's word over their own grocery bills and stagnant job searches.

As one financial blog reports:
Since last August when it became clear that the Fed would initiate QE2, we have witnessed the following results: Home prices have continued to decline, the 30 year mortgage rate has increased from 4.2% to 4.8%, new housing starts declined to all time lows, the 10 year treasury note rate has increased from 2.6% to 3.4%.  (source)
With one in six Americans on some form of government assistance (source), the purchasing power of the dollar on the decline since the creation of the Fed in 1913 (source), and the U.S. Government's debt soaring (source), it's time to call this horror show by its true name:

Meanwhile, gold and silver prices continue to rise at record rates - not because they are becoming more valuable but because they retain value while the dollar loses purchasing power as more of them are printed.  Between the creation of the Fed in 1913 and the removal of the dollar from the gold standard in 1971, the dollar has continued to plummet in value and inflation continues to rise while employment stagnates - failures on both of the Federal Reserve's government mandates.

"Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value: zero." -Voltaire

Also, the new Keynes vs. Hayek rap battle by EconStories is fantastic:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cloud Computing: A Pie in the Sky?

I am either a Luddite geek or a geeky Luddite, but I'm not sure which.  While I recognize the tremendous value and potential technology has in our lives, I am wary of ceding too much power to a growing network of machines beyond our ability to control.  Further, that the "service disruption" of such technologies would render humans, individually or collectively, incapable of remedying the situation without dire consequences.

When the file hits your WiFi like a big data pie, that's Cloud Computing.

This past week has given us one small example of this: the Amazon web service outage (source).  With a variety of services far beyond the web shopping giant itself (including Reddit, Quora, and Foursquare), the self-proclaimed "networking event" to Amazon's Northern Virginia servers has wreaked havoc on a variety of services that web companies who rent Amazon's server space have come to rely on.  Beyond the usual problems this incident - along with the (unrelated) disruption to Sony's PlayStation Network - have caused, a larger debate is being held  (source) over the future of the "Cloud Computing" model that Google, Microsoft, and others have been pushing since 2007 (source).

Essentially, Cloud Computing deploys data from a centralized source (the "cloud") to all of the individual computers networked to it.  This model is as old as the Internet itself with one critical exception: the "cloud" is the source of the data, not merely an intermediary between two machines.  In practical terms, this means that an individual computer, say a laptop communicating via WiFi, doesn't store the data at all - rather the user's music, documents, pictures, etc. are all stored in a centralized online database.  This has obvious advantages, of course, including multiple devices (computers, smart phones, tablets, even a refrigerator) being able to communicate with the server to retrieve and download information relevant to the user's needs and preferences.  No more carrying around discs, drives, updating versions of files on multiple machines, or sending them across a network back and forth.  It's easy!  It's all up in the cloud, and Google's new Chrome OS has been especially optimistic about the weather forecast for this data distribution model (source): "no matter what happens to your Chrome Notebook, your data will be safe and sound" ... with Google.

But a storm is brewing in the future for Cloud Computing.  Data centralization has all sorts of inherent problems - including the obvious requirement that a total of three devices work in tandem to accomplish any given task: the server, the network connection, and the end user's computer.  If the network goes down or if the server crashes, well, your laptop is baking in the sun without a cloud in the sky, waiting for the rain of data to pour down.

And to me, this makes Cloud Computing a Pie in the Sky idea.  Relying on companies with server farms far, far away to store your data seems inherently risky for the reasons listed above, but the potential ramifications are far more nefarious.  Ongoing alarmism about the centralized tracking and storage of smart phone GPS coordinates is warranted (source), so is the threat to Fourth Amendment protections as government agencies demand user information from Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and other warehouses of private data - often without a warrant (source).  As the Wikileaks controversy of 2010 showed us (source), companies like Amazon have very little interest in upholding civil liberties in the face of government intimidation and public controversy.  And if users are willing to store not only contact information on private server space, but more of their documents, pictures, videos, and other content, who will hold such companies accountable for protecting the secrecy of this data?  Is it ever really deleted?  Who internally has access to it?

"Access denied.  The Cloud tells us what to do now, human."

To me, "Cloud Computing" sounds uncomfortably similar to the fictional Cyberdyne Systems' brainchild program, "Skynet."  It's as though the advocates of such a model are unaware that the "Terminator" films are cautionary tales of dystopia rather than ideals toward which to strive.  Not that Technological Singularity (source) is happening in the next six weeks or in six months, but isn't the Cloud Computing model exactly what would be necessary for such a phenomenon to  occur?  And once The Cloud is self-aware, with access to all the information and wired electronic devices on the planet, would machines cease to be our servants and instead become our slaveholders?  Would all devices operating on The Cloud - including the unmanned Predator Drones (another ominously-named machine) flying over much of Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan - no longer respond to human input once a singular machine consciousness arises?  These are uncomfortable questions, only made moreso by the elusive stamp of human error buried within the lines of code in every machine.  Imagine what "networking event" would alter the software that once-benevolent machines were programmed with.

Personally, I don't trust my data any further than I can throw it - and unplug it if it gets out of hand.  ...In case you are wondering: I haven't backed up this blog or my Facebook account... but all my video files are triple-backed-up for archival.  For the projects I really want to keep, I even export to good, old-fashioned tape!

Thriller Jesus

Cause this is Jesus, Jesus Christ!
And no one else can save you from the Beast about to strike.
You know he's Jesus, Jesus Christ!
Salvation for your soul after leading a sinful life.
Can a willful act of Photoshop constitute Blasphemy?  Lord knows!

Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm an Atheist

I've seen one too many "I'm a Mormon" banner ads by now.  You know, they're part of this broad propaganda campaign to normalize a particularly bizarre Christian cult (source) - perhaps for the Mitt Romney presidential bid (source).

Because the world could use more skeptical inquiry and critical thought why not make your own?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Abortion and Libertarians

Amidst the budget battle brinkmanship Harry Reid and John Boehner were entrenched in this week, contentious claims about Federal funding for health services provided by Planned Parenthood took on an unduly insular central role in a much larger fiscal debate (source).

Abortion.  It is an ultra-contentious issue in general.  And according to Free State Project spokesman Chris Lawless and correspondent John Stossel, there is no larger wedge issue for libertarians (source @9:35).  I am puzzled by how polarizing this issue is to otherwise liberty-minded people.  I will venture a guess: most libertarians come from the political right - an ideological domain in which being "pro-life" is a litmus test for conservative credentials.  Yet as a "progressive libertarian" who comes to the liberty perspective from the political left, I have a different position to share: being "pro-choice" on a woman's uterus.

Any serious libertarian understands that freedom starts with self-ownership.  That means the freedom to decide what we do with our own bodies, including controversial choices such as drug use, providing commercial sex services, or life-termination decisions (all of which I believe should be legal activities).  On these issues, most libertarians would agree.  Yet abortion poses a problem for many libertarians due to its apparent violation of the "do no harm" principal - that is to say one has the right to do whatever they choose so long as their actions do not harm another individual or their property.  This is a fair contention.

"Don't tread on my uterus!"
Clearly, the termination of a pregnancy is a unique situation for which no perfect analogy exists.  So please permit this admittedly imperfect one: property ownership.

If I am the owner of a property, I decide who is welcome and who is not.  If an unwelcome person persists in remaining on my property (an "intruder"), I have the right to use every means up to and including deadly force to remove this person from my property.  Naturally, I am going to seek out non-violent means to resolve this conflict first, however at some point if the person refuses to leave my property ("like it or not, I am living in your dining room for the next nine months"), I may choose to use physical confrontation to remove this person.  You see where I am going with this; if a woman has self-ownership over her body, then clearly she is the sole decision-maker as to whom is welcome inside her body.

Some would argue that by engaging in sexual activity, the woman is in fact "welcoming" another potential person into her body.  We can disagree about the purely procreative nature of sex, particularly in an era of readily-available contraception, but it seems inescapable that even a person welcomed in the front door can later become unwelcome.  It is probably unwise to allow unwanted people inside your house but just because a couple did not use contraception, does not obligate them to carry a pregnancy to term.  And while having the unwanted person live in someone else's dining room after nine months is one option ("adoption"), in a free society property owners should remain able to elect to use deadly force to enforce property ownership ("abortion").

Indeed, this can be a morally difficult scenario.  Being "pro choice" means having to make difficult choices on a variety of issues.  But let us consider the alternative: a government prohibition on abortion services.

As I have written previously (source), prohibition never works!  Minors have mouse-click access to pornography, escort services exist in every major American city, and there isn't a town between Seattle and Miami with a shortage of marijuana to smoke.   The "pro life" position necessarily forces the continuous demand for these services into an unregulated, overpriced, and frequently unsafe black market.  It is a position that requires government intervention in private medical decisions (like, um, "Obamacare").  It is a position that places the interests of an unborn person above the woman whose body is now the unwilling carrier of this person.  And most importantly, it is a position in which a government closely regulates the activities of a woman's uterus.  This is hardly a libertarian position - yet something like 50% of liberty-minded individuals fail to realize this.

I would venture to guess that religious dogmatism is largely to blame in blinding pro-liberty individuals in this debate - specifically the commonly-held theistic view that, in the arithmetic of souls, life begins at the moment two gametes form a zygote (apparently gametes do not have souls, but zygotes do).  Whatever unproven metaphysical claims one might make about the origin of non-physical beings, there is a reason we celebrate our birthdays and not our conception days.  It is for the same reason that we are named at birth and not at conception.  That reason is: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness begin at birth.

Libertarians should not support a mandatory welfare state inside a woman's body.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Christianity Evolves

I realize I am very critical of religion.  So today I am going to give some "mad props" to Christianity for making some commendable steps toward reason and humanity in the past few centuries.  Even though Jesus Christ extolled the virtues of loving thy neighbor, Christians managed to rationalize murder, torture, and barbarism under religious pretenses for another thousand years.

It's worth mentioning that it was not Christianity itself that rescued humanity from the fiery depths of its theocratic madness but rather a growing scientific enlightenment that has and continues to give way to a reasoned, secular discourse.  This is ironic given the oft-repeated refrain that Christianity is a pillar of absolute morality and a bedrock of civilization.  Ask yourself, "was the problem with the Inquisition that people simply weren't reading their Bibles enough or drawing up their to-do lists from God's orders?"

Apologists for the Inquisition, such as St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine, managed to amalgamate the teachings of Jesus with the practice of flaying, dismembering, burning, stretching and gouging people to death.  Whatever has changed in the past two thousand years, the tomes of religious orthodoxy have not.