Monday, August 21, 2006

Current Events?

I miss my students. Especially since I'm going through all the drudge work of going back for another semester, and I have to fit everything into stuff I can bring on a plane. Oh well...

So, does anyone have any current events to post in the comments for discussion?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Netflix came to Portland today

They just opened a hub in the same time they opened a hub in alaska. And their founder at least found a decent job he could do, despite the disadvantages he had from where he went to school (he went to Bowdoin.).

"We [I] don't particularly care for terrorists."

Frank J. makes a great point through humorous means - again.

In other news, the sun is planing on rising tomorrow.

Cool Picture/Missle Defense

Cease Fire

So, I'm glad that no one is getting killed today (or yesterday). In fact, I think the casualty levels have been pretty low overall, and that's a good thing.

However, I'm not sure they waited long enough to declare this cease-fire. Israel didn't have nearly enough time to finish the job, and it'll just come back to bite them in the butt next time.

Proof of this - both Hezbollah and Israel are declaring victory.

And, I don't have confidence in the "independent" UN troops coming in to keep the peace. Everything I'm hearing is that no one is willing to take on Hezbollah. Lebanon says they won't fight Hezbollah, despite the fact that they're going to implement a 'buffer' zone. (any buffer zone won't work if you don't enforce it, which will probably mean a fight at some point - and any buffer zone will probably just get jumped by longer range missles from Iran anyway). We seem to be looking at France to take the lead role in providing troops for the UN force, but they seem to be jumping up and down with their finger's on their noses saying "I said not me first! You can't put us in there! We don't want to fight Hezbollah."

Let me give you a moment to think about that - France is our best bet for a lead role in the UN peacekeeping force. No one else is volunteering, and we won't let Israel do it themselves.

At least our bleached fabric industry will get some extra customers. (actually probably not, given the protectionism that France engages in.)

Why did we stop what seems like the only people in the world who are willing and able to deal with a threat like Hezbollah which is reinforce by Iran?

Any ideas?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Notice to my Redsox

The only reason I'm not lying in bed crying today is that we had such a great arrest in the GWOT yesterday. This is not likely to happen the next time you guys decide to flop and die against a team that sucks, so you are warned; Do NOt attempt to try this again. Ever.

You should never be losing to a team that has 70 losses when you have close to 70 wins. You should never be losing to a team from Kansas at all. Ever. So, what do you do? Go get sweeped by them, so that the Yankees can get a three game lead over us. I'm not even going to think about who was pitching. Ok, I lied. It was Lester (forgivable), Beckett (NOT!!!!), and Shilling (NOOOOTTTTT!!!!!!!!).

There are not a lot of things that could have gotten me out of bed today, so you're lucky that we had such a completely unrelated success yesterday (before you floped and died). Do not ever waste a chance like that again.

Please? I love you guys still but you can't just let KC win ever again. Go redeem yourselves in Baltimore.

Score One for Us!!!

Yesterday, we won a big round in the fight against terror. We arrested a big group of people trying to pull off a huge terror strike in the near future. Even better, we've been watching them for a while, so there was never really a big danger from this group, it'll be easy to put them away, and we got to see their links to other groups.

- First, this should only make people feel more comfortable flying. We put these guys they won't be able to blow stuff up. We knew what we were looking for, found it, and now we have some more knowledge that will let us get better at tracking groups like this down in the future. I don't see why people should cancel their travel plans now, because this incident proved that we can be succesful taking down at least one plot. We've always know that they will try to strike the airplanes, so this situation shouldn't be "waking" people up to that fact - it just shows that we're better at preventing this kind of stuff than we used to be.

- Seccond, I don't see why we're now banning all electronics and such only on planes coming from Britain. Britain is our friend, and they stopped this group after all. If cell phones and electronics are a big problem for us (and we know how easily they could be used to set off a bomb, and we have for a while) then we should be banning them on every flight that's a problem. By putting only the flights from Brittain on the highest alert, we're saying that Brittain is the most likely place for the terrorists to strike from. Does anyone actually think this? If the precaution is warrented for Brittain, wouldn't it be warrented for several other places as well? Then why aren't we taking precautions for those places? I think that we're putting the planes from Brittain on high alert right now because the public will support it for the moment...but how long will the restrictions last? They seem pretty stiff, and maybe not all that necessary, so they will probably go away soon and we'll just have inconvienced our friends for almost no reason. I can see the point in taking precautions, but this one seems like we're doing a bit too much. At least that's better than not enough.

- Likewise, the ban on all liquids is somewhat suspect. I can see the reasoning for doing it now, but we've know about liquid bombs for a while, and if they're a problem now (after we just stopped an attack using this strategy proving that we do know how to spot these kinds of attacks), surely they were as much of a problem three months ago - why weren't we checking water bottles then? Again, I appreciate the effort, and it's a much better situation than not taking enough precautions, but if they're such a problem now, why didn't we do this before? And if it's not that big of a deal, why are we putting people through this kind of stuff unneccesarily?

I think that the biggest effect the new restrictions will have is in encouraging people to be nervous about flying. As I've already said, that shouldn't be the case. I'm wary of a policy that would encourage people to be unecesarily afraid. However, I realize I don't have all the information and others are in a better place that I to judge, but I'd still like some more explanation of their reasoning for the timing of the new regulations (not about their merit, more about why they didn't do this stuff sooner).

Other than those stipulations, I think we've done an excellent job handling this situation, and we should definitely be celebrating one of the biggest wins that's happened in the war against terror.

Protecting the Sanctity of Marraige

Yesterday I saw someone walking around wearing a "Protect Marraige - Vote Yes on 1" t-shirt. It's refering to a measure we had on our ballot LAST election. The Yes'ers lost. As you have probably guessed, it was a vote on gay rights. Our legislature passed a bill that added sexual preference to the anti-descrimination legislation we already had (i.e. race, gender, religion and whatnot). It didn't specify which sexual preference would be protected (unlike the last bill they passed which the voters rejected) just that sexual preference couldn't be used as a determining characteristic in many transactions (banks, housing, whatnot). I see this as going two ways, with one direction getting protected more often (because unfortunately there are all too many acts of discrimination going that direction).
I'm pretty conservative, and I like laws at least as little as the next guy, but I voted not to repeal the law. Usually laws like this create lots of problems...but this wasn't a new kind of law, it just expanded an existing one. So I had some hope that it wouldn't be too dificult to implement. I don't see it as being extremely effective, but the anti-discrimination laws did have at least some effect on the other types of discrimination, so I'm willing to give this try a chance. I have certain personal and religious thoughts about the actions in question, but my own ideas about what other people should do in a given situation are usually ignored anyway, and I try not to give everyone too much grief about the 'stupid' (in my opinion) stuff that they do. I don't see why this issue should be any different. I don't want people to be treated badly, regardless of how I view their actions.

So, thats where I stood on the issue. I was dissappointed by the Yes crowd for a couple reasons last year. One was that I had trouble finding someone who dissagreed with me who was also willing to 'debate' the issue instead of fight about it. The other is that they framed the debate as one about the sanctity of marraige. That isn't what the bill was about - descrimination is bad, and treating people badly is never a good idea, and trying to stop that (however ineffectively) is a good thing. They may be right that this bill will make it easier to legalize gay marraiges later, but that wasn't the debate on this bill. So, most of the people opposing this bill were actually opposing the next bill. I don't think that's the right way to fight a political battle.

Anyway, now that you have some backgroud (hehe, I know I'm long winded, but please bear with me), what seeing that t-shirt made me think about was this. Since I'm conservative and I don't really like government intervention, and most people who oppose gay marraige because they want to protect marraige, what do those people want to do about protecting marraige? What if the government decided to 'protect' gay marraige by deciding who could get married in heterosexual marraiges? Because, obviously, the institution is in danger. Divorces are on the rise, and most people don't seem to take their marraige vows seriously anymore. 'Protecting' the institution would try to stop that practice as well, wouldn't it? So, do we really want the government to tell us who can and can't get married? I certainly don't; I see way too many ways the government would just get in the way of legitimate relationships even if it was trying to be good, and way too many opportunities to play favorites with a big beurocracy that was supposed to determine good couples to allow for marraige.

I think that someone should pay attention to the value of a marraige vow, and do their best to not marry people who won't respect it - but that's a job for the Church, not the government. I would rather see the government not discriminate between it's citizens and allow anyone two people to combine for tax purposes, hospital visitation, and inheritance rights (basically the extent of a legal marraige) than to allow the government a hand in controlling marraige - a vital part of my religion. Allowing the government to control one aspect of my religion allows and all too dangerous precedent for controling other parts of my (and other religions). I don't need to go into the specifics of why it's important for government to remain separate from religion, you all already understand that stuff.

I'm also of the opinion that ideas are strongest when they get tested, and, (unfortunately, like Mills) I think that new ideas shouldn't be repressed so that they can be validly tested by the population. If my ideas (religion) are right and work the best, then people will eventually come around to the truth. If they're not, then it would be wrong to force them on everyone. And I'm pretty arrogant, so I do think you'll all come around to agreeing with me eventually (it just might take longer for some people).

So, the government should stay out of the way and not try to "protect" marraige on anything else that should really be protected by our churches. And people should stop trying to get the government to do the Church's job. (that goes for other things (not just the issue of gay marraige) as well, things like teaching creationism in school and whatnot.) It's a bad idea to get the government to try and fix anything (cause the usually just screw it up), so we should leave the important things to the important and generally good institutions. (which is why the UN should never be trusted with anything.)

P.S. - Isn't it great how I worked international politics into this? Unfortunately, the UN is busy proving me correct as I type - they're still nowhere near a settlement between Hezbollah and Israel, and they probably won't do a good job at it. Fortunately, the Israeli's aren't done destroying Hezbollah's infrastructure, so we have time to wait for a cease-fire anyway.

Some Quick Stuff

First, lets CELEBRATE!!! We just won a big round in the GWOT yesterday, and I'm feeling good. So, pat the brits on the back, and slap our congress on the back until the choke up the necessary tools for our cops to use. (to be fair, some of them are trying.) And then keep going, cause the process will never end.

-A big point about this stuff is the length of time that the Brits were following these guys around. They found this group before it even had a specific plan in mind - (i.e. they were not casing places for angles and such, they were just talking about doing bad stuff to us.) then, the Brits watched them for a year. This allowed them to find a ton of connections, build up a bunch of evidence, and see how this terrorist group went about picking it's target and organizing it's attack. Since they probably had some help from Al-Queda, this will help us recognize similar patterns in the future. Also, the fact that they picked them up so soon lets us all relax a bit - there was never really any danger from this group. (more on this later)

-I heard a good point from a Brittish politician yesterday, even though some people have taken issue with it. He said that we need to remember that the people we are fighting against are criminals - sociopaths, even - and that we aren't out to fight against any specific community (except for the community of murdering sociopaths). Broken down, this means that we shouldn't view the fight against terror as a fight against Muslims. Even if all terrorists were Muslim, our fight is with the criminal terrorist murderers, not with the Muslim community at large. At least part of the case against this group of terrorists was build from a tip from within that Muslim community. If we view our fight against terrorists as a fight against Muslims in general, we lose allies from that community, and we also lose sight of the enemies from outside of that community (i.e. - the non muslim terrorists) If anyone knows the quote or who said it, I'd love you to tell me so that I can link to it...

-Pandora's Box internet radio is really cool. You tell it one song or artist, and it plays you a radio station of similar music. It's free (with un-intrusive advertising) and you can register to keep your stations's great. I'm sold. It's bookmarked. Chaaaa-Chiiing!

-I don't like political machinations and people who can only talk in political double speak. I like speaking like that myself (sometimes) but I don't like hearing it exclusively. And I struggle to asses a person's mental abilities if they only give me political spin (I should say, I struggle to asses them positively) Sean Hanity is particularly guilty, but so are many other people.

- on my way to 'work' today, I put on a radio station I don't normally listen to. The first song they played was "Follow Me" and then they played "Come to my window" (or whatever the song's titles really are). SCORE!!! Unfortunately, the next song sucked...but it was good luck to get to rock out for two songs before going back to my normal stations!!!
I'm writing some other posts at the moment, so I'll get back to them and let you start with this.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I've been gone for a while

and the best way to get back into the swing of things is to read the smart people from the Blogosphere and see what they've been saying. Here are a couple of articles that caught my eye. Maybe I'll have a serious post after I finish reading the news.

Althouse is expanding her topic base by providing us the dirt on vegetables (specifically Iceberg Lettuce and Tomatos) from Amazon.

Here is the best begining to the photoshopped reuters photographs. (from Althouse) Have you heard anything about this from the MSM? I haven't, and my sister insists on watching CNN a bunch, so I might have seen it this weekend if they were going to talk about it. The bomb dropping photo is probably the worst change, but it's not cool to mislead us about the smoke either. Will Reuters get censured from other media? Probably not. And, can you immagine what would happen if the administration had done anything similar to this? Will anything happen to reuters? No. So, be aware of the pictures you see. It's super easy to fake them, and these were only discovered because they're particularly badly done.

Asymmetrical Information has a good article about vouchers and the people who will benefit most from them.

Vodkapundit raises some questions about our tactics and strategy in this war against terrorism.

Mike Lowell continues to impress me, even off the field now that he's injured. The talk of trading him was probably the thing that scared me most during my sox blackout in July.

When are we going to get the message?

Squirrels are evil! I've talked about this before, but the rest of the world has yet to wake up.

And now the squirrels have left behind attacking dogs and has moved right on to attacking mothers. They're going after our MOMS! When are people going to start listening to me? The scarriest part is that this shows the squirrels are engaged in a global strategy which coordinates their attacks. First they started with watermelons in America, then they moved on the dogs in Russia, and now they're out after people (not just any people, our beloved mothers) in Britain! When will it end? Well, the squirrels want it to end with global domination, but hopefully we'll be able to buy them off with a few acorns this winter. Start the hoarding folks!!!

I'm Back

The undisclosed location will remain undisclosed, but I'm no longer there. I had a great time, saw some of the great interns in the ASP 2006 Class, and found some closure. Now I'm hanging out, trying to get ready for my internship this semester (Here), filling out paperwork for the OA, and pulling together all the loose ends. If you're going to be up at Colby this week, send me a note, I'm working in the library, we'll try to hang out.

Otherwise, I should have some quality blogging time, so stay tuned, and be ready to give me some good comments.