No, I'm not talking about folks who have it in for my all time favorite hardware from DEC, but folks who insist on spreading FUD about the dangers of vaccination for diseases we once thought banished through medical science. This is really a heart breaking story, but please take the time to check it out. I don't have an issue with homeopathy or alternative medicine per se, but this is the sort of stuff of which broad opinions that equate homeopathy with nut jobs are made.
While reading this article on CNN about the current food crisis in North Korea, two thoughts went through my mind in rapid succession:
- Why bother sending aid workers to North Korea, when this is obviously a product of the totalitarian regime, and left alone might result in a regime change when people decide that they have nothing left to lose and rise up against their oppressor.
- It is times like these that provide an opportunity to cultivate compassion for others - to relate to their pain and their suffering, and to perhaps awaken to a less "me-centric" view of the world. To perhaps open oneself up to the suffering of others enough that one cannot help but get involved in activities that will benefit others rather than engaging in activities that help us "numb out" or ignore the suffering of others.
The first thought is part of my "old" pattern of thinking, while the second thought is part of my "new" way of thinking. I'm curious how others might view this situation - please comment, discuss, rant and otherwise share your thoughts.
So, where is the line between someone voicing an educated opinion and a political attack? If you are a publicly acknowledged supporter of a candidate such as General Clark, are you not allowed to have a public opinion about an opposing candidate that casts doubt upon that person's qualifications? And why didn't McCain speak up for himself, instead sending his own retired military officer minion after Clark?
I really, truly despise politics.
I used to be a supporter of the death penalty, a rather vocal one in fact. Over the past year or so my views have changed on the subject... I am... conflicted, I guess. There is a part of me that rails against paying for the incarceration of someone for decades who has in some way... forfeited their right to live, by taking the life of another. But there is a part of me that now asks if then in effect I believe that two wrongs make a right? Does taking the life of someone because they themselves have taken the life of another human being really "fix" anything, or does it ultimately only serve to propagate more hatred, more aggression, more dissatisfaction because the execution of a killer does not bring the closure one had hoped to obtain in the process?
I have never lost someone close to me through an act of murder, so I cannot profess to fully understand what thoughts and emotions torment those who have gone through such an experience. The loss of someone close due to old age, sickness or pure accident is traumatic enough - the loss of someone close through an intentional act of violence is beyond my ability to conceive. Yet I wonder if the trauma of such a loss is ever truly salved by the taking of the life of the murderer through execution, revenge or vigilante justice?
Am I advocating that murders simply be set free? No, of course not. Do I believe that everyone who has committed a crime of violence (i.e., murder, rape, abuse) can be rehabilitated and returned to normal society? No, not really. But right now I don't believe that the "solution" (if there is such a thing) is to take a life as punishment for taking a life. I don't have much in the way of alternatives at the moment, but violence in answer to violence only seems to perpetuate negative karma, and deep down inside I want to believe that there is a better answer.
New rule restricts lithium batteries on planes. It's official: adults cannot be trusted. No film at 11.
At least we now can confirm what the DEA has been doing with confiscated crack - not only have they been passing it on to the Facist Communication Conspiracy, they've been passing it along to the Facist Aviation Apes.
I am now awaiting for the inevitable calls for the head of King Abdullah by the radical Muslims. Can't have women be given a break, can we? Asshats...
This totally bums me out: Alex, the African Grey parrot who achieved a certain amount of fame as an example of avian intelligence through the studies of Dr. Irene Pepperberg, has died at age 31. 31 is only very middle age for an African Grey, and I am reasonably certain that due to the close relationship she had with Alex, Dr. Pepperberg is probably devastated at his sudden passing.
Requiescat in pace, Alex. May you fly even higher and further in your next life.
I'm not sure why, but I had even more trouble getting to sleep tonight than last night, and that is saying something. I couldn't seem to get comfortable for some reason, and it just didn't feel like my CPAP mask was on quite right. So about 2:15 I said "f*ck it", and got up. I'd been idling about, hoping that maybe I'd start to feel sleepy, but no dice. I guess my stress level with all the things left undone has reached the "and you're not getting any sleep either" stage. *sigh*
Anywhoot, since I am up, I might as well close out some tabs and post some links for y'all. No sense in me being the only one wasting time, now is there?
- From Boing Boing, small USB speakers that don't suck. Very interesting. Anyone come across these before?
- From the local Seattle newspaper (well, it's local if you're in Seattle, so bite me), that butter aroma might be toxic, too. No really, they found yet another thing that's bad for you. Like breathing the air and drinking the water aren't bad enough.
- On a more serious note, another link from Boing Boing is probably worth a read regarding the militarization of our police and raids gone wrong. Aggression only begets more aggression, and our ill-founded "War on Drugs" continues to entrench itself in daily American life deeper than any of the anti-terrorism crap. Hey Sparky, you can't keep drugs out of this country, what makes you think you can keep out terrorists and the nasties they want to spring on the good old U S of A? Here's a novel idea - decriminalize drugs, treat it like a health problem, and spend the savings on protecting our borders. Like that'll do any good either.
- From Jared Axelrod over on Twitter, comes a link to Shapeshifter, which is a very interesting little bit of animation tool-kit-ery. Web-based, using a limited number of base shapes, folks have come up with some really neat stuff.
- From the Washington Post, D.C. Asks Supreme Court to Back Gun Ban. This could bring the two schools of thought on how to interpret the Second Amendment - personal right vs. civil/community right. Thanks for the ambiguity, almighty founders of this country. I personally believe in the individual's right to own firearms - yes, I know what I said about aggression. I think the authors of the U.S. Constitution were thinking (and I seem to remember some kind of quote attributable to one of them that bespeaks armed insurrection) that the only way to keep a tyrannical government in check is for the citizenry to be armed. It's the only language some chuckleheads understand, including you-know-who in the big white house.
Also from the Washington Post, Yossi Melman says cut out the hyprocrisy on terrorism. Amen brother, I couldn't have said it better myself. In many ways the various sovereign nations have created the
quagmiresituation we're in with these terrorist elements. If we'd kept our noses out of other people's business and focused on our own domestic programs, I suspect that the number of people who hate the U.S> would be significantly less.
- To end on a serious but humorous note by way of Evo Terra on Twitter, here's an "attention grabbing" approach to promoting breast cancer awareness - Save 2nd Base! Yes, it's cheesy, but you won't soon forget it, which is rather the point isn't it???
Half an hour is enough on this. Note that I am still not sleepy. S-T-R-E-S-S.
I can only shake my head ruefully after reading this article from the Navy Times about how a picture of a nuclear sub in dry dock including a view of its classified design props showed up on Micro$loth's Virtual Earth. First of all, what dip-wad seaman left the prop exposed to aerial view? Sure there are "no fly zones", but we're not the only ones with birds in the sky. Secondly, who's watching the fort at Micro$loth that would allow imagery of U.S. military installations to be displayed on a globally accessible public web site? My money says the U.S. Guv'mint is gonna have a talk with Uncle Billy, and that will be the end of that little loophole... in fact, I'm pretty certain Uncle Sam will swing by the Googleplex in California for a few words with them regarding similar imagery showing up on Google Earth.
I didn't get a chance to post this last night, so I'm sending it out of my queue while I get ready to start work in earnest on the house. Here are some links that particularly captured me interest this week, with a snippet of my thoughts on the issue each of them are addressing. No particular order, except maybe which tab was open...
- China to Regulate Re-incarnation: We invade Iraq, we send troops to Darfur, we chastise the Israelies and Palestinians for not playing nice. Anyone heard anything from the U.S. about how China has been systematically dismantling the civil rights of a sovereign nation that China invaded for no other reason than to gain access to its natural resources, and how China has infiltrated the Buddhist monasteries with so-called monks who owe their allegiances to the Chinese Communist Party? No? Neither have I... because we'll f*ck with countries that are smaller than us, but we won't f*ck with a country that seriously put a hurt on us.
- The Teamsters have sworn to fight allowing Mexican truckers unfettered access to U.S. highways: Despite their sabre rattling, there is more to this than the very salient points being made about environmental controls and lack of familiarity with U.S. traffic laws. We're afraid of internationalization, because of the perception that it will lower our standard of living, because we will be forced to compete. No simple answer here, really.
- Terrorism Policy Splits Democratic Party: This truly underscores one of the biggest problems with our current political system - policy being made based on fear of not being re-elected, rather than based on what is the right thing to do for this country. I have two words for you that might just help fix this mess: term limits.
- Immigration Fight Moves to Colleges: Ok, once again we have demagougery (sp?) and blatant pandering to conservative voters piled onto an issue that is already a hot button for many. ( Let me make myself perfectly clear on where I stand on this issue folks )
- Senator Craig Announces Resignation: I can't even take pleasure in this sort of thing anymore. The sheep in this country continue to be homophobic, because people are afraid of who they are... self-denial is a horrible thing.
- DNC Op-Ed on Flawed Primary Calendar: Sing it, sister! Just another reminder of how totally screwed up our political system has become. Admit it Florida - it isn't about choosing the best candidate, it is about focusing attention on your state for financial gain. Assholes.
- Patent trolls go after big names for automated e-mail patent infringement: I have said it before, and I will say it again. The U.S. patent system needs to be overhauled, and the first thing that needs to be tossed are software and business process patents. The next thing that needs to happen is a "if you don't implement it in X years, your patent goes away" clause, so these bottom feeders can get stuffed.
- SFWA Abuses the DMCA: Thanks to hughcasey for this link. Just another example of folks overstepping their bounds, and of how an organization one would THINK should be forward thinking (Science Fiction Writers) can display a decided lack of tech savvy.
- And from today's CNN, two sides of the coin: North Korea agrees to dismantle nuke program, whileIran announces that it has reached its goal of 3000 centrifuges for enriching uranium. Wow. What package did we offer North Korea, and why aren't we offering it to Iran? I mean, they're two components of the Axis of Evil, right? Sheesh...
This article on CNN illustrates quite clearly how our government has, and not just in recent times, screwed innocent people in the prosecution of a "domestic war" - be it on crime, drugs or terrorism. Even with the Constitution, Bill of Rights, many laws paased and executive orders issued to sharply define what is acceptable conduct for our national law enforcement and intelligence agencies, we continue to see abuses like this along with the executive branch's continued attitude that it is somehow excluded from the very provisions in the laws passed to prevent these types of abuses.
Be wary of any attempt on the part of your government to circumscribe your civil rights. Do not just blindly accept the vague assurances or angry rhetoric that your government is acting in your best interests while it acts in a manner that is patently counter to domestic and international laws, nevermind basic human dignity. Do not be afraid to question the decisions or the rationale behind the decisions made by your elected officials and their appointees. Most importantly do not believe for one second that it is un-patriotic to disagree with the actions of your government, or to be vocal in those disagreements. Patriotism is defined by a love for one's country, not by one's loyalty to those who are currently in power or blind support of their wrong-headed actions.
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety - Benjamin Franklin