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>30 April 2004
He's more of a hero than you'll ever be, buddy...
>29 April 2004
Money talks, principles walk
I was thinking yesterday about how sharp the ideological divide is between the donkey/elephant camps. I came down to the fact that most of what is being fought over is funding and funding levels for this program or for that taxcut.. etc. etc. etc.
That's when it hit me. It's a lesson was taught so long ago to everyone, but as I see it is easily forgotten.
Here we go, say it with me: Money does NOT equal Love
Okay, there. I've done it.
Now how does this apply? People are spewing massive levels of venomous invective between both parties, accusing each other of treason, fascism and all other wildly overblown accusations.
When in reality, the only thing that makes each party different is where they want the money to go.
If I choose not to give someone my money does that mean that I don't love them? No.
If the government chooses not to give money to fund *fill in the social group here*, is that an indictment of not caring for/about that group? No.
Conversely - If a big hotshot donates 100,000 to the red cross, does that mean that he loves the homeless and hurting any more than you or I? No.
If the government throws money at public school/jails/unwed mothers/etc. etc. does that mean that they actually give a shit about any of those groups? not in the least.
So once again.. money does not equal love. And giving money to some does not equal love. Not giving money to some cause does not equal hatred or apathy.
We need to all get over it. Because trying to equate the money alone with real and tangible change is a load of shit.
>28 April 2004
Even if you're Anti-Bush, at least be pro-American
I'm sure that everyone knows about the Pat Tillman story by now.. Gave up a multi million dollar NFL contract to go serve in the Army Rangers. Sadly, he was killed in Afghanistan this week.
Upon mentioning this to one of my friends, he said - "Man, I feel bad for him, but The Bushes are just going to use this to justify the war".
And it took me a few days to formulate this, but seriously... He was in Afghanistan trying to disrupt and shut down Al Qaeda. Those are the guys that killed 3,000 Americans and had plans for thousands more, remember?
If we have to chase those guys to the last ends of the earth for a thousand years, I believe that is a task worth doing. If we have to trudge through sand and dirt and crap and sludge and risk real sacrifice, I think that it is worth doing.
People seem to confuse that we are fighting two wildly different battles now. One against Iraq - which is very contentious and perhaps even wrong. I don't mind in the least bit some healthy debate on the relative merits of us being there.
Then, we have the Afghanistan battle. That's where Mr. Tillman was. We are there directly resulting from what happened on Sept 11. There is no reason to wonder why we are there. If you are anti-war on this front - you are an unreasonable fool.
There is only one way to stop Mr. BL, and therapy or hand holding isn't it.
Almost home free
I don't think i've gone without blogging for this long in a while. I'm currently finishing up school and clearing out my brain - at which time I will be able to start anew.
>19 April 2004
With graduation coming to a quick head and a bunch of loose ends to tie up, there may not be quite as much out of me for the next week or two. Also, it is really really beautiful outside. Wintertime in NYC in miserable, but springtime is a decent little exchange, at the very least.
I saw Joe's new band this weekend. It was good. it greased my wheels about getting on the horse with the writing. I have one song completely done and sounding good. I gotta get on the rest, though..
>15 April 2004
First friendster.. now breedster?
I've been on breedster for a few days. Its this game where you are a larve, then a pupae and then a bug. And the only things that you can do is move, eat, poop and 'do it'. If for some random reason you read this and want to play (you have to be invited), I have an 'egg' or two to donate.
Will the last commie to leave please shut the lights on the way out?
[thanks to Virginia Postrel for her writeup]
Um.. I'm not quite sure what to make of this other than the fact that I really honestly didn't think that anyone could be so.. what is the word i'm looking for.. blind? naive?
This is Oliver Stone talking about Cuba and Castro on Slate:
"It does have that [communist] aura, absolutely. But I do maintain that if it were a Stalinist state … they certainly do a great job of concealing it."
"He was a huge part of the state, and now, as he points out, he has less power. … There is a functioning congress. "
"We didn't talk about it[elections], especially in view of the fact that our own 2000 elections were a little bit discredited."
"You know, dictator or tyrant, those words are used very easily. In the Greek political system, democracy didn't work out that well. There were what they called benevolent dictators back in those days."
"Well, nobody's perfect."
Yes Oliver, that's right. Nobody is perfect.
I was reading this book last time I was home about the universe. This really grand and mentally awkward point was made that made me think:
If the universe really truly is infinite and never ever ends, then somewhere out there is a planet with me on it, and i'm living exactly the same life but wearing a blue instead of a white shirt. And there's another where I ate a roll this morning instead of a bagel.. and on and on ad infinitum with all the different possible different choices.
Which leads me to think that there must be some kind of end to to the universe, that it couldn't be 'flat', as they say.
Anyways, back to work..
>14 April 2004
A real defense for terrorism
There is a great article that Glenn Reynolds put up on TechCentralStation recently. The main point is that while the 911 commission is arguing over who is at fault, the CIA and FBI are at each others necks for who is really to blame, the Department of Homeland Security and its massive budget and stable of employees are working to try to protect us, we are missing something that is completely obvious and to the point.
We already defeated the terrorists in the one flight where we fought back and forced the plane down in a Pennsylvania field. Our advantage? Us.
We as sentient beings that can adapt and change to new situations. We as people who don't and can't wait around for some bureaucrat, policeman, armed guard or anyone else to tell us what to do - we just react and do.
This is the real defense to offense. The real solution to problems. If we wait around for someone to tell us waht to do, we will always be at a disadvantage.
Quotes from the article:
"But no sooner did the first plane strike the World Trade Center than the hijackers had to confront someone with a swifter learning curve. As Brad Todd noted in a terrific column written just a few days later, American civilians, using items of civilian technology like cellphones and 24-hour news channels, changed tactics and defeated the hijackers aboard United Airlines' Flight 93, overcoming years of patient planning in less than two hours. No one has successfully hijacked a civilian airliner since - and, as "shoebomber" Richard Reid illustrates, those terrorists who threaten civilian airliners now tend to emerge rather the worse for wear. Against bureaucracies, terrorists had the learning-curve advantage. Against civilians, they did not.
This should come as no surprise. American civilians, perhaps more even than their counterparts in Europe, Japan, and the rest of the industrialized world, are used to making rapid changes based on new information. Accustomed to a steep learning curve in business and in life, we should be able to out-adapt those who, after all, are ultimately committed to returning the world to a simulacrum of the 12th century.
... Bureaucrats like centralization and control. But even fundamentalist terrorists can outthink bureaucrats. "
Just 'falling' in line
I have always thought that when something is just to good to be true, it isn't. When something seems just way too easy, there's always a price to pay for it down the road.
Being up in New York and especially in New York in a university setting has really exposed me to a lot of different people with a lot of different worldviews than my own, for which I am appreciative.
However, I had always found that the whole standard 'liberal' line of many people that I meet to be a little too easy. Mix in a little hatred of Bush, sprinkle in general republican bashing, maybe a conspiracy theory or two and presto - you're in the club!
Well I never really accepted that all because, well, it just seems way too easy. Underneath the surface, I see a lot of these so called progressive liberals exhibiting as much hatred towards conservatives as they suppose that conservatives exhibit upon poor/black/brown/urban/fillintheblank folks.
How is it okay for a liberal pundit to call Colin Powell an 'Uncle Tom' and somehow not be racist, but having a conservative suggest cutting program spending on redistributive programs, is?
Is it okay to hate when you're a liberal because you only hate conservatives? I don't think so. I think that a lot of people need to look in the mirror and ask themselves what it is that they really believe in, and why..
I, for one, don't believe that just because you support a government program (or programs) to 'fix' a problem and in spending someone else's money on those problems, that you can consider yourself part of the solution.
I am for empowering people to find their own best way through life, and giving them the freedom to succeed and fail and try again. For me, that is the solution.
Random Blurbs for the Afternoon
If its real to you, its real.
Sometimes, there really is nobody to blame.
Control of everything leads to control over nothing.
The best defense is a large tumbler of whiskey.
I always thought that I wanted grad school to challenge me. I found out that I don't really want a huge challenge, but somehting both challenging and 'handleable'.
I am about to get my life back after tomorrow. I've spent more time working on a paper about the new lead paint law in NYC over the last semester than i have ever spent on any one thing ever. It has kicked my ass. tremendously.
But anyways, more to come later.
>13 April 2004
More Funnica than Hannukah
Well, maybe not more.. but close?
(It's a link to customize your very own lego person)
>11 April 2004
>10 April 2004
Wonderful day, why am I blogging?
There is a GREAT interview with Clay Shirky on Gothamist about Blogging and New York and a bunch of other stuff.
My favorite quote:
"Go to any party -- architects, fashion designers, mathematicians -- and you'll hear the same thing, and usually so subtle, so sophisticated: "Well, I enjoyed the piece, but I thought it was a little derivative", "The building is interesting on its own terms, but it isn't very well integrated with the neighborhood." Tiny sprinklings of corrosive doubt, offer by people gnawed by envy, and seized on by those made sick by over-exposure to quality.
So when my turn with the magic wand comes around, I'll use it to turn the snarkiness dial down, way down. Criticize, sure -- if something's bullshit, say so, and if you have an insight about how something might be better, sing it, and sing it loud. It is New York, after all. But when you feel yourself about to criticize something because you just can't stand how good it is (and you know you do this, we all do), at that moment, stop.
Stop, because it will turn you into the kind of small-minded champion of mediocrity we all came here to escape. Every day, you've got a choice -- am I gonna be one of the 45, or am I gonna be one of the 7 million. And being snarky about other people's good work ain't gonna help you with that.
So if I could change anything about New York, that's what I'd change. That, and fixing the F train."
Amen Brother - Amen to fixing that damned F train.
>09 April 2004
I should be working but..
This is a pretty cool timekiller.
It allows you to play around with the federal budget, cutting/eliminating or adding to budgets for almost all of the major budget areas to see what the end results are.
I know, I know. I'm a dork. But a happy and procrastinating dork nonetheless.
I am listening to the new Ben Kweller album that I bought at the show the other night and.. its great! For real. Go buy it - here!
In other news, I think that I had a breakup conversation wednesday night.. not sure though.. and im not sure what it means that i'm not sure. Oh well.
>07 April 2004
Oh just too good..
I've sort of left most of the anti Florida State invective behind as i've gotten a bit older but still.. it's still nice to get a little dig in here and there...
Here's a story in the Tally Democrat about their brilliant Pres-o-dent.
Florida State University President T.K. Wetherell knows how to get attention. But his recent technique for driving home his point may be causing his own faculty members to shake their heads.
"Congradulations (sic) you have just reinstituted the old Board of Regents," wrote Wetherell in a hasty e-mail to Nancy McKee, the state university system's vice chancellor for education policy and research, on Feb. 17. But his misspellings didn't stop there.
"Where are the strong rolls (sic) of the University Boards of Trustees??? Under this arrangement their main roll (sic) would be to be sure that the meeting lunch menu is well planned."
He copied numerous people, including Debra Austin, chancellor for Florida's universities, and his own board of trustees.
Wetherell said he didn't know about the spelling errors, that he just "ripped it off" in an immediate reaction to a proposed Board of Governors' bill e-mailed to him that limits the powers of local university boards of trustees.
But sources close to Wetherell say the president can spell; he just likes to be noticed.
Classic. Great. Thankfully, I went to the other Florida university.. the one where they can spell.. heh.
Put your Money where your federal regulations are
[again, thanks to Reason Hit & Run for the pointer]
A really thought provoking story in Wired mag about how environmental groups are starting to purchasing EPA pollution credits in order to retire them and make sure that noone can 'use them' - in a sense using the market to provide for clean air. Its still in its infancy but imagine how much pollution could be stopped this way, if the resources from the green community were channeled in that directon.
Also, in a sense this is proving the validity of Coase Theory. If resource rights are assigned, and ownership stake is tradeable, then markets will work to ensure the optimal outcome for all.
I saw Ben Kweller/Death Cab for Cutie last night at Irving. Death Cab is too 'whiny emo' for me - It's for that same Dashboard Confessional crowd of which I just don't quite relate.
But.. BK played a great show. The moment of the night for me was when he rocked out Ice Ice Baby on the Acoustic - Bravo. I bought his new CD there, which is pretty decent as well.
Anyways, I wish I had tix for tonight or Thursday but alas my concert ticket budget is damn near exhausted. I am gonna go hit the Kevin Devine show, however, this Friday at Bowery. I miss the old Miracle of 86 stuff, but his solo shows are awesome as well.
Secretly i'd aspire to be either of the two - but those rock star dreams are still in the making.
>06 April 2004
Ever notice how people that complain about Halliburton never associate that only through the force and propriety of government does that company get to amass the mega bucks and oil contracts that are so hated? You think that they get these big ass contracts by themselves on a fair playing field without someone from government using the one of the only true powers of government (unaccountable redistribution) ? I think not.
So go on complaining about 'corporations' and capitalism and one day you'll wake up and see that a lot of the real wrongdoing out there from corporations involves strict government complicity. (Enron? Took advantage of horrible schisms in the policy attempt to 'deregulate' California's energy. Worldcom/Adelphia? Cable and Telecommunications companies have so many rules and regulations that stifle local competition, and those local monopolies are granted by someone.)
Without the redistribution involved with the government, companies get big the only real way to get big - giving people something that they actually want enough to pay for it.
[update: It's not that im an apologist for sins performed directly by corporations, the bad things that they do are horrible as well. Its just that there is a level of accountability that doesn't exist in government. Arthur Andersen lies to bolster profits? Arthur Andersen closes down and other companies step up to fill the void. Federal budget goes up by 25% in four years? What are you going to do, elect someone else? Whichever new ones take their place will only be operating in the EXACT same crappy bureaucratic system as the one before. There is no chance for a system change, only a personnel change.]
>05 April 2004
How ACORN, Unions and Government teamed up to stop volunteerism
[thanks to Reason Hit & Run for the pointer]
Here's an article in the SF Gate about this nice little story:
1 - California Watershed protection groups recruit young bright eyed environmentally active teens to volunteer in helping to clean up and mend the sensitive watershed areas around the state. A group of these teens volunteer to work on a Sacramento area Creek.
2 - A member of a local labor union noticed the kids operating "heavy machinery" on that watershed project (a strictly union job duty in CA) - then reports this activity to state officials.
3 - A rule passed in 2001 as part of the expanded labor rules stipulates that "all workers on a public works project be paid the prevailing wages for those jobs in that area if even one person is paid for work on the project."
(Irony foreshadowing Alert- Groups such as ACORN, which garner much of their support from said bright eyed idealist teens are responsible for expansion of labor laws as applied in this story.)
4 - State Department of Industrial Relations tells Watershed groups - "Sorry, you can't use those volunteers, because this is technically a public works project, and the supervisor/coordinator is paid - so if you continue to use the teens as labor, they must be paid prevailing (living) wages. You are violating our new labor laws."
5 - Watershed group realizes that the economics of their mission combined with the meager budgets that they have do not allow for the volunteers to be paid, and this conflict thus ends the usage of volunteer efforts to clean up the watersheds.
Isn't it great how these activist groups just help everyone out and have everyone's best interest in mind?
Just a 'lil Florida Love
Virginia Postrel posts that life ain't so bad down there 'round my home state.
"Consider one staggering contrast: Florida added 131,400 non-agricultural jobs in the 12 months that ended in February, the most recent month for which state numbers are available. During that same period, the United States as a whole generated 209,000, according to revised figures released Friday. "
It's not all backwoods, backwater and retirees, as it so often is portrayed by Northeasterers that I meet. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Florida is more like what 'America' is like than New York, Boston, Philly or any city up around these parts.
>02 April 2004
I remember being younger and reading some great books, hearing wonderful music, seeing striking art and having all of these things move me in their own ways. I remember promising myself that I would devote more time into things that could 'move' myself and others.
Unfortunately, I have let so many years fly on by without spending any major time writing, creating music or trying my hand at art. It is a little too hard to try to live the middle class life that we all strive for, while spending time on pursuits such as those.
I saw the Walkmen last night, and the show was great. And it got me thinking about how they are all rich private school kids, and how the Strokes are as well, and about how that wasn't a bad thing - but rather that those kids have been given the best opportunity possible..
They have the resources available to really pursue things that aren't necessarily going to pay off. They can spend a few years perfecting their music and bringing it to all of us.
So, if I never really get the chance to create anything beautiful, I hopefully will provide a setting for any little Perry's in the future to be able to.
>01 April 2004
I remember a story a few years back about when the life on Mars thing was first becoming a media event. I believe it was Jerry Falwell, but it could have been Robertson or someone else who said something along the lines of - "If there really are Martians that we find there, they would immediately have to refute their beliefs and submit themselves to Jesus, lest they go to hell" (or something along those same lines)
And I remember thinking to myself - How Ludicrous is that? How on earth could you expect a being from another planet to give half of a rats ass about what you think is right or not?
But this is just one of many examples of people looking at their own individual situation, and then assuming that the decisions that they make are equally relevant for all others.
In a roundabout way, I'd like to connect this to the issue of gun control. Many of us Americans thank their (Insert head of whichever belief system here) that most of us have not had the need to own or use guns.
Well hey, it seems like we don't need em here right? Well, a bunch of UN bureaucrats sure thinks so and is proposing to adopt a global 'gun control' law, trying to curb the number of guns worldwide.
Well guess what, Mr Annan? You might not need a gun sitting there in your posh apartment on the Upper East Side and getting driven to the UN building. But you know who just might??
[all photos courtesy of a Seattle Public School online genocide museum project run by a Ms. Kuznetz]
These Guys in Rwanda could have perhaps found a use for small arms..
Or perhaps these guys could have as well..
Because well.. The bad guys? They always seem to be able to find the guns that they need.
Anyways, I just hope that people will someday be able to comprehend that the things that apply for them specifically.. well they do NOT necessarily apply for others.
Minimum wage laws, environmental regulations, gun control laws, GM food laws.. all concepts that try to get passed down from idealists that live in rich countries down to the starving and hungry in poorer contries that just can't afford it. With their money or their lives.