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Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Kansas brings America to new low

Posted in Politics on November 9th, 2005

From MSNBC.com

TOPEKA, Kan. – Risking the kind of nationwide ridicule it faced six years ago, the Kansas Board of Education approved new public-school science standards Tuesday that cast doubt on the theory of evolution.

The 6-4 vote was a victory for “intelligent design” advocates who helped draft the standards. Intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.

John Calvert, a retired attorney who helped found the Intelligent Design Network, said “These changes are not targeted at changing the hearts and minds of the Darwin fundamentalists.”

It takes a fundamentalist to spot another, I suppose.

All of this supposes that the higher power in question, however, was this much of a stickler for details. Think about it – what do most people want the most of in their lives? Simplicity. Not some hugely involved millions-of-layers-deep master plan, they strive to remove the complications from their lives. Now, if said higher power created Man in His / Her image, why aren’t we looking for more complex solutions rather than slimming down?

Seems to me that any being with that much power wouldn’t want to spend several BILLION years in the largest QA session ever. There wouldn’t be thousands of species of insects to carry out the job of plant pollenation, there would be one. There wouldn’t be thousands of breeds of animals constructed for the purpose of keeping those insect populations in check; the insects would simply only breed as necessary.

And what about all the nuisance insects and animals? You want to tell me the mosquito has a divine purpose? The flea? That God really sat down one day and said, “You know, what we really need now are some blood-sucking, disease-mongering petilences. It should be damned annoying when they bite, too.”

Is this the kind of God you want?

Other creatures are fairly easy to explain under ID: the Creator got stoned. Look at the sloth, for instance. A creature that is so sedentary moss grows on it. Then there’s the platypus – obviously, God had some spare parts lying around and just kind of jumbled them up. “Hey, let’s really screw with their minds! I’ll make it a mammal, but it lays eggs! *snorffle* Hey, don’t bogart the bong, man!”

Was God high, or was it Evolution? My bet is for Darwin. You don’t agree, that’s fine – just keep your arguments out of my children’s schools and in the Church where it belongs. When you can come up with an idea that actually satisfies the definition of theory, then you can talk to me.

News

Posted in Politics on November 7th, 2005

So, what’s new in the world?

French youths are rioting on a racial discrimination platform, to the tune of more than 2000 cars being torched in the past two days all over the country. The French government at this point appears powerless to stop it. From what I can gather, the police have no idea how to handle a situation like this. They are making arrests (more than 600 so far) but it does not appear to be stemming the tide.

At the Vatican, officials have lately stated that Darwin was not a complete idiot or a heretic, and further that the Fundamentalist Christians really need to go back and have another read through Genesis. They agree that Evolution is a proven theory, and that the Intelligent Design pundits have taken things too literally.

Boiling it down, the Vatican is saying “God created the Universe, but after that, Evolution took over. God did not sit down and design every little thing one by one.” So, God may have written the original software, but left it up to the adaptive code to see what would happen later. Sit back, pour yourself a mimosa and watch the fun, eh?

Now if we could only get the Vatican to put the stomp down on the fundies.

Oregon RIAA Victim Fights Back; Sues RIAA

Posted in Geekery, Politics on October 2nd, 2005

I will link this here because every little bit of publicity helps, and I am always willing to help a fellow Oregonian:Recording Industry vs The People

This is the case peer-to-peer file sharers have been waiting for. Tanya Andersen, a 41 year old disabled single mother living in Oregon, has countersued the RIAA for Oregon RICO violations, fraud, invasion of privacy, abuse of process, electronic trespass, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, negligent misrepresentation, the tort of “outrage”, and deceptive business practices.

Ms. Andersen’s counterclaims demand a trial by jury.

Give ’em Hell, sister!

Boycott Pfizer

Posted in Politics on August 16th, 2005

Graumagus at Frizzen Sparks brought to my attention that the town of New London, who petitioned to use the Eminent Domain laws to oust a large number of people from their homes so that Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, could build a conference center and hotel, has not only won their case in SCOTUS, they have decided to charge the ousted for back rent for the time they continued to live in their homes while the case was being decided.

Read the full article here.

I am at a loss for words, so I will just quote Grau and ask all of my fellows to permanently boycott the Pfizer company and all of their products. See the entire list in the extended entry.

Should you wish to write a letter to Pfizer yourself, here is their contact information:

Pfizer Inc
235 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017
USA
1-212-733-2323

Read the rest of this entry »

Addendum

Posted in Politics on August 14th, 2005

Maybe the folks from the last post should be reading this…

Unshelved

ALA | Florida Librarian Suspended over Porn Incident

Posted in Politics on August 13th, 2005

Read the full story here.

Florida Librarian Suspended over Porn Incident
The director of the Valparaiso (Fla.) Community Library was suspended without pay in early August after city officials found that a registered sex offender had used library computers to access pornographic websites.

This pisses me off on so many levels I can’t believe it. Aauugghh!!

1.) It is unbelievable that a county library system would be asked to censor patron’s use of the facilities. Maybe Oregon libraries are just liberal about these things, but the libraries here do not censor anything, whether it be print, audio or video. They even carry a selection of erotic magazines, such as Playboy. You have to prove you’re over 18 to check one out, but they are there. Oregonian kids can at least go to the library to learn about sex when their parents won’t talk to them. A library should be a repository for all data, not just what some jerk in office deems appropriate. It is the parent’s job to monitor what their children see and hear, not the government’s. Get your head out of your ass and stop trying to nanny the nation.

2.) It pisses me off that an elected official is so amazingly ignorant about the realities of the Internet that they belive it is possible to completely filter out pornography from the terminals in the library. This is IMPOSSIBLE. Period. Sure, you can filter out the lion’s share of it, but we’re talking about a world-wide system with very little supervision. I simply cannot tolerate that kind of ignorance in an elected official of any stripe – whoever was involved in passing that particular policy needs to be whipped.

3.) The article mentions that the patron was a registered sex offender. I don’t recall being asked about my criminal history when I signed up for a library card, so just how the fuck were the librarians supposed to know? Do you want them to memorize the names and faces of all sex offenders so they can keep them away form the porn? And why the hell is he a registered sex offender and not a lifer in the first place – who let this asshat out of jail?

Just too pissed to write more.

Boltan Gets Appointed to U.N. Ambassador Post

Posted in Politics on August 1st, 2005

To answer the Republican response to the Democratic outrage resulting from this appointment (or why many of us feel Dubya screwed that poor pooch again.)

There are damn good reasons why the Democrats fought this particular appointment as long as they did, and feel pretty pissed that Bush snuck him in during recess. Here’s two, quoted from CNN.com:

Bolton spent Bush’s first term serving as undersecretary of state for arms control and disarmament. In confirmation hearings for his new job, witnesses accused him of trying to get intelligence analysts who disagreed with him transferred or fired.

Now, if I remember correctly, the proper thing to do in a situation like this is gather enough evidence to refute the opposition’s standpoint, not remove them from the discussion. Oh, wait – he’s following executive precedent here, considering how we waged the early stages of the war.

Carl Ford, the former chief of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, called Bolton “a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy” and a “serial abuser” of subordinates.

“Serial abuser” is a pretty serious allegation, and the American public (and the world too, for that matter) deserve to get to the bottom of that before anyone gets to be a poloitical appointee of any stature. This man will be working closely with the other members of the U.N. in regards to, among other things, the treatment of prisoners. Do we want an abusive personality in that position? Especially after these allegations have been made public – the other ambassadors won’t look favorably upon these allegations.

What it boils down to to me, though, is that the world at large hates the U.S. right now for the way we went to war and the results thereof. This means that anyone Bush appoints without Congress’s backing is going to be looked upon as scum, and will not be co-operated with, no matter how good his ideas are.

Add to all of that just how completely we are all fed up with Dubya’s rampant cronyism, and the total is not pretty. The Republicans have the majority, and have done nothing but fuck up at every turn, and the world has been watching. They will expect more of the same from Bolton.

The REAL result of glasnost

Posted in Politics on July 5th, 2005

If you are like me and thought that the silliest court case you ever heard was the one about the woman who sued McDonald’s for spilling coffee, you were sadly wrong.

Yahoo! News reports that a Russian woman is currently suing NASA over the Tempel1 comet mission.

Marina Bai has sued the U.S. space agency, claiming the Deep Impact probe that punched a crater into the comet Tempel 1 late Sunday “ruins the natural balance of forces in the universe,” the newspaper Izvestia reported Tuesday.

Ok, the woman IS an astrologer who makes her living providing horoscopes to the public, but I somehow doubt she can resonably claim the $300 million she’s seeking as potential lost wages.

More RealID

Posted in Politics on May 12th, 2005

In my previous post, JustADog posted a comment and brought his own blog to my attention, where he has his own opinion on the RealID bill:

There are the obvious opponents, like the ACLU and Kennedy et. al. that are against a national identification standard – but I really don’t recall any dissent about passports, and that is a very federal ID – photo, magnetic strip with ID information, record of travel, etc.

The point here is that a passport is not required to travel inside the United States, and this RealID may end up that way. The Federal Gov’t already has in place all the personal identifying data it needs: I have a Social Security Number, which is tied to my birth records, and they have the IRS, which is tied to Social Security. They already know who I am, where I live, what I make and have paperwork to back that up. The Fed already recognizes my State-issued driver’s license as a means of personal identification.

Quite frankly, the machine-readable clause scares me. I am a technician and know how easy it is to fool (or forge) machine-readable code. I WANT a human to inspect my papers when travelling overseas. I’ll wait the extra few minutes.

Hopefully the next step would be to require any employer to only employ those with proper ID (in otherwords, NO MORE employment for illegal aliens!).

I have to ask, “where’s your brain”? There have been laws in existence for decades specifying this very thing! Those who employ illegals are breaking the law and can face serious fines and jail time for their actions. They choose to hire illegals, however, to cut down on their bottom line. We don’t need new laws or proceures here, we just need better enforcement for the laws we already have. The problem is that the INS and Border Patrol are underfunded.

Speaking of which, where is the money for this new form of ID supposed to come from? That part is noticably left out of the bill, which will leave it to the States to fund this on their own. In states like Oregon, where the budget is already in the shitter, this is going to be another added burden that will go straight to the taxpayer – and you can bet that the tax allotment request is going to be padded as much as possible to help make up for the general mishandling they have already done. I don’t want to be paying any new taxes until the state can fucking well figure out how to spend the ones I’m already paying.

Preparedness or Paranoia?

Posted in Politics on May 10th, 2005

Those of you who have read the same books I have are probably looking around you today and seeing things in a slightly more sinister light. A bill passed today with a small, un-discussed rider attached: the Real ID bill. This bill is essentially a National ID Card disguised as a driver’s license.

Opposition in the ‘sphere and even popular media has been quite open, including at least one ‘write your rep’ webpage. The bill was hidden into a ‘must pass’ funds allocation to support our troops, so it wasn’t even discussed on the floor, despite the fact that it failed rather quickly the first time it was submitted on it’s own. Near as anyone can figure, the Real ID clause was added to repay a favor to one particular politician.

The most vocal of the bill’s opponents in the ‘sphere makes one point that I disagree with, but the rest of his reasoning is sound. The bill, as written, sucks major ass and will make things worse for every citizen in the USA. I wholeheartedly believe this.

(The point we disagree on is the part that says illegal immigrants will not be able to get this new driver’s license; the author believes this means the illegals will be driving without licenses which somehow makes them more dangerous. A driver’s license is used as legal ID for just about everything, so illegals get them as a ‘gateway document’ which makes it easier to osmos into the system. I don’t think you should be able to get a license without a valid green card or visa.)

Back to the reading. Many future-fiction writers have written of post- or near-appocalyptic America where citizens are required to have their ‘papers’ with them at all times or face punishment by a corrupt and tyrannical government of some sort. The prelude to this government coming to power has always been a steady path: civil liberties are slowly eroded until the citizenry have lost their right (and will) to do anything about the fact that the government has turned them into subjects instead of citizens.

Society is polarized into the rich and the poor, with no middle ground. The poorest citizen with an ID card, however, is still far better off than the ‘unlicensed’ or ‘shadow denizens’ who lurk on the outside of society. They have no access to health care without ID, no access to public assistance, no way to get a job legally. This atmosphere breeds a new level of crime, one where any average person may suddenly and irrevocably find themselves doing anything just to survive. Desperation is rampant.

On top of this, these authors also almost universally discuss how a ‘meltdown in the Middle East’ led to some form of armed (and usually nuclear) conflict has depleted the world’s oil reserves, throwing us into an economic slump not seen since Black Tuesday. Multiple wars break out in the aftermath as the superpowers struggle to lay claim to as many resources as they can to fend off the coming dark age…

So. Here we are today. A terrorist attack makes us paranoid about our security, and our civil liberties are being eroded. We have a war in the Middle East. Gas is almost $2.50 a gallon. You do the math.

Paranoid? Moi? Read on to decide. Read the rest of this entry »