12. February 2004 · Comments Off on Creationsists · Categories: Religion, Social/Culture · Tags:

What amuses me about creationists is the effort spent discrediting evolution by scientifically prooving it’s imposibility, thereby sweeping aside the “impossible theory” and making room for what they basically explain to be a miracle…

…which is to say, true despite being impossible.

04. February 2004 · Comments Off on 50 Million Deaths · Categories: Social/Culture · Tags:

This is one of the charts I’m working on. Ultimately, I’m looking for a way to put the threat of terrorism in perspective along with other causes death affected by the current administration. I created this version as a quick overall reference to causes of death world-wide.

04. February 2004 · Comments Off on Presidential Matchups · Categories: Politics · Tags:

The race for the democrat ticket is getting interesting now. I kinda get the feeling that this is the closest we will ever get to having a choice. The elections in November will be stuck in that bi-polar lockup. That conversation I told you about in my last post was started by one of the conservatives having emailed a link to an AOL survey for testing your political alignment. You answer about three pages of questions, and then get a result; a list of presidential candidates. Each candidate is presented, showing a percentage of matches between their answers and yours.

I think it’s an easy tool for anyone to sort out which of the choices makes the most sense according to your own positions on issues…



I know, I can’t believe I said that either, but for as much as I can gauge from campaign issues, the test *did* present me with a new perspective on the race. The test then allows you to compare the candidates, showing all their answers.

… I printed out the web pages and marked them all up with a red pen while watching the primaries on TV.

Just for fun, I took the test again and left all the default answers (no opinion) and guess who matched my answers by 100% according to the survey..?

Actually, in all fairness to Slugger, I have to say all the rest of the democrats also matched 100% with my “default”, “no opinion” answers… Bush was the only one who didn’t agree with having no opinions… Either that or there’s some kind of defect in the system – I hope the survey isn’t using the new voting booth technology.

03. February 2004 · Comments Off on A discussion with some conservative clients · Categories: Uncategorized

I just had a political discussion (not argument) with a client! 😮 … Actually, it was in good nature and very polite, even though both people I was conversing with are Republicans, but one of my current favorites came up, the issue of wealth-distribution and the taxing of income vs the taxing of wealth. I tried to point out how if Bob makes $10 an hour and Jeff makes $5 an hour and if taxes are so unfair that Bob’s take home is only $5 while Jeff gets $3, then I can see how Bob may get frustrated with his $5 advantage being reduced to a $2 advantage.
Maybe Bob feels that the $5 advantage represents how much harder he worked than Jeff (which may or may not be the case). Anyway, I pointed out that if you bring in two more exhibits, Bob’s can of spare cash amounting to say, $500 and Jeffs total spare change of 35 cents. You can see how much less of Bob’s total security is being tractored compared to Jeff who can’t even save $500 if all he gets after taxes and bills is 35 cents…

The client came back with a very assertive response… “But you can’t make savings punitive.”

Well, I wish I used that word more often because it stumped me, just enough for the conversation to roll on, without my response. Even though I know what she was saying, for some reason, that word… See, this is why I can’t debate in public.

Anyway, I did get a chance to catch the roll-back on the conversation, to a point where I could reword my response and tack it on. I mentioned that you can apply the same rule to income – “is it okay then to make income punitive?”

Ah-ha!

I get soft and quiet sometimes during these discussions because I’m still trying to figure out the true picture and I’m sure there are plenty of people that know more about the details than I do. But I am getting closer, closer to being able to consider all the tacks.

There is one thing that these folks did bring up, the argument that the tax cuts on dividends help kick start the economy. I listened to what they said and it DID make sense. The tax-cut made moving the money around easier (shall I say less punitive…?) So the investors were more likely to move their money around. I guess I’ll buy that. There we go, my bitter conservative pill for the day.

03. February 2004 · Comments Off on Declining middle-class? Sell cheap in bulk · Categories: Social/Culture · Tags: , ,

Apple and Pepsi got a deal going where Pepsi drinkers may find codes in their Pepsi bottles for a free song download from the iTunes Music Store. Apple and Pepsi will be giving away 100 million songs during this promo zap, obviously aimed at the lucrative teenage music collectors. Pepsi kicked off it’s multimillion dollar ad campaign last super-bowl Sunday.

You may have noticed, there’s also a big deal going on in L.A. where lawyers from the entertainment industry are getting ready to rumble with the attorneys for Grokster and StreamCast in front of a three judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Interesting. The super-bowl Pepsi ad actually featured 20 teens who were sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for downloading music. I understand that these kids can pass around a lot of burn, but they spend their money too. I’m sure there are more kids buying CD’s than ever before and I bet most of them are downloading and burning too. I just can’t see how an entertainment industry, fat enough to spend millions on all these second rate artists, can slap 14 year old kids with $3,000 lawsuits. It’s kinda like the big school yard bully pushing around a little girl.

And like hell, ‘they’re loosing money’. What they’re loosing is ‘potential money’. Let’s at least get that straight.

So the recording industry needs to turn the peer-to-peer networks into an advantage. So lawsuits, lobbies and deals. Now we have 99 cent downloads for individual songs. Everyone wins, which is a good thing considering the inevitability of it all. This is the future of marketing. Sell lots and lots of cheap things. This is the way producers will continue to harvest money even after the middle-class has sunken to the lower rungs of jobless despair. When many of these teenagers get older and hungry it will be impossible to get $20 out of them, but you just may be able to suck out 99 cents, not a bad deal for an industry already switching out it’s tackle for smaller fish in much, larger quantities.

Apple-Pepsi Deal

Wired News on the P2P Case

30. January 2004 · Comments Off on A collapse of some kind · Categories: Social/Culture · Tags: , , ,

Here’s an interesting analysis. I took this right out of the Wired Magazine article that I mentioned in my “Jobs are not Us” post.

“Agriculture jobs provided decent livelihoods for at least 80 years before the rules changed and working in the factory became the norm. Those industrial jobs endured for 40 some years before the twin pressures of cheap competition overseas and labor-saving automation at home rewrote the rules again. IT jobs – the kind of high-skill knowledge work that was supposed to be our future – are facing the same sort of realignment after only 20 years or so. The upheaval is occuring not across generations, but within individual careers.”

– Daniel H. Pink / Wired Magazine Feb-2004

I’ve been noticing this, but what I think is more alarming is the cheap mobility of intellectual property and the huge, cheap labor forces available to produce it. There is no shipping cost to moving production overseas when all that being produced is information. And that goes for anything that can be transmitted electronically, including any kind of accounting, financial analysis, designs such as schematics, blue-prints, artist-concepts, finite element models… the list goes on. It’s not just IT, it doesn’t look like any of the white colar world is safe anymore.

I suppose it’s inevitable, and in a global sense, it probably represents an equalization of income that you may even go so far as to call a universal justice, but if the government is watching out for the American people then I think it would be a good idea to slow the process down a little so the American people can get half a chance to adjust. It’s fine for the technicians in India to make $11,000/year if that buys them a decent life in India, but $11,000/year ain’t gonna buy shit in America. American workers could really use some protection right now.

Of course the decrease in wages will eventually bring lower prices on goods and services, but not without an overlap that will have a squeezing effect on American consumers that will shed enough debt to feed an investment frenzy. But on the other end, will Americans still have to pay 5 times more for pharmacueticals than people in other countries? Only as long as we have collateral…

If nothing else, it would be nice if there was some kind of managed approach to handling the inevitable downsizing of American consumerism where the human and social interests of American people are not up for sale.

28. January 2004 · Comments Off on Guantanamo Bay · Categories: Politics, Social/Culture · Tags: , ,

I’m trying to understand this one. The detainees in Guantanamo Bay. Rumsfeld called them “the most dangerous, best-trained vicious killers on the face of the earth.”

.

Dick Cheney said these detainees are “devoted to killing millions of Americans.” I agree that people like that should be contained… (or executed actually, which is where I differ from AI). But I don’t understand the advantage of moving the entire process from the judicial branch to the executive branch.
Anyway, despite all this, several detainees have been released without charge. Apparently, Rumsfeld and Cheney were wrong about some of them. (whoops.)

Well this is where I start asking questions. Think about the man who has the misfortune to be mistaken. Seems more likely to happen inside the tension of war and excluded from the cost of judicial process. How long was he detained? – Two years? – What were the conditions? – Brutal?
That just doesn’t seem right to me.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, some of them have been brutalized in these cages for two years without charge, trial or legal council.
Now the president, since he owns Camp Delta, is telling the Red Cross to fuck themselves. (I bet those exact words were heared in the halls of the west wing, commming from someone.) So anyway, I assume the value of whatever is being achieved is greater than the value of the lives of perhaps several innocent people. Maybe it’s a message to all the “terrorists” of the world and of course if the real message is addressed to the “enemies of the executive office”, then the executive owned military commission makes all the sense in the world.

I just can’t get myself to believe that any such message could ever affect the most dangerous, best-trained vicious killers on the face of the earth. I don’t know why Camp Delta exists. Maybe it’s a stress crack from the strains of a distorted government.

Regardless of politics and motives, the obvious thing is that the US government is a human rights violator. Bush himself said these guys are killers “that don’t share the same value system we share”. I guess that means that they aren’t human enough to be eligible for things like human rights. I gotta believe he is serious about this because many of the human rights laws are based on legal status, such as POW, and the whitehouse is refusing to establish legal status.

I really think that these detainees should get legal status, even if it means inventing a new status for terrorists. At least shake out the POWs and let the world know they can treat American POWs humanely. I mean isn’t that an important message to send out too?

If the detainee is really a terrorist, then I personally do not sympathize with him, but I am still concerned about the violations based on principal. I think humans are capable of containing and/or executing terrorists, we don’t need to become monsters to do the job.

As I got more cynical about the world, I always found it a comfort to note in the human rights reports, that the list of human rights violations in the US, was always limited to capital punishment for criminals, which under some circumstances, I support. It’s a drag to see my country in there now for the violation of so many conventions, including Geneva and the even our own U.S. Constitution.

USA-Action

28. January 2004 · Comments Off on Mercury Emissions and the EPA · Categories: Environment, Politics · Tags: ,

Just read about this on the NRDC site…

NRDC and other environmental groups leaked a draft Environmental Protection Agency proposal that would weaken and delay efforts to clean up mercury emissions from America’s coal-fired power plants. The article goes on to explain that those 1,100 facilities are the largest unregulated industrial sources of mercury contamination in the country, spewing 50 tons of the poison — roughly 40 percent of U.S. industrial mercury emissions — into the air each year.

EPA administrator Mike Leavitt defended the draft proposal as an emissions cap-and-trade program similar to the one that has reduced acid rain…

I don’t know much about the reduction of acid rain, but I can see the bullshit factor in the cap-and-trade program. I’ve read that when such programs were first installed some of the big polluters actually created small green energy companies that don’t make a lot of money but are real good for saving pollution credits that the parent companies can buy. I’m assuming the pollution credits are cheaper than the cost of actually cleaning up.

Apparently, the proposal is to downgrade mercury from being regulated as a “hazardous” pollutant to one that requires less stringent pollution controls. By doing so, the EPA’s “cap” would allow nearly seven times more annual mercury emissions over a period five times longer than current law.

NRDC points out that an emissions trading program would allow “hot spots” of mercury contamination in the lakes and rivers neighboring plants that buy pollution credits instead of reducing their mercury emissions. See what I mean?

I mean why is this not a big deal for conservatives? Check this out…

* According to the EPA, toxic mercury emissions from power plants put 300,000 newborns each year at risk for neurological impairment.
* Nearly 5 million American women of childbearing age have mercury in their blood above EPA’s “safe” level.
* Mercury pollution has contaminated 12 million acres of lakes, estuaries and wetlands — 30 percent of the national total — and 473,000 miles of streams, rivers and coastlines.
* Last year, 44 states and territories issued warnings about eating mercury-contaminated fish, a 63 percent jump from 1993.

* Seventeen states have mercury warnings for every inland water body, while 11 states issue warnings for mercury in their coastal waters.

I just don’t understand why people are so much more worried about terrorists when on average terrorists never manage to kill more than a handful of Americans a year. (The 3,000 on 9/11 was by far the largest killing ever by terrorists in 300 years of history, but even if 3,000 were killed every year, it still wouldn’t add up to millions, and pollution is a confirmed killer of millions every year.

Then I read things like this…

According to the Center for Responsive Politics ), the energy industry gave more than $48 million to the Republican Party in the 2000 election cycle; $3 million of that went to the Bush-Cheney campaign.

  • American Electric Power, Southern Co. ($1.6 million to GOP in 2000 cycle)
  • Reliant Energy (nearly $445,000 to GOP)
  • Dominion Resources ($560,000 to GOP)

    Along with the government-owned Tennessee Valley Authority, these corporations were responsible for one-third of all U.S. electric utility mercury emissions that year and American Electric Power alone released 10 percent of all power-plant mercury emissions. The above four companies also were among the beneficiaries of the recent EPA ruling that essentially repealed the Clean Air Act provision requiring power plants to install modern-day pollution controls if they increased emissions when upgrading their plants.

    I guess it’s all about money.

  • 28. January 2004 · Comments Off on Jobs are not Us · Categories: Economics, Social/Culture · Tags: ,

    One of my freinds just e-mailed me to say that she’d been laid off. Another one of my freinds called me on the phone asking for some contact numbers… He’s been out of work for about eight months.

    Needless to say, these freinds are in the same industry that I am and it’s getting pretty ugly. While Bush yacks about the “Wall Street” recovery, thousands of people in my industry are loosing their jobs.

    There’s a real good article in this month’s issue of Wired magazine that presents the job migration to India from the perspectives of the Indian programmers and the “pissed-off” programmers in America.

    27. January 2004 · Comments Off on CBS refuses to air advertisment · Categories: Politics, Social/Culture · Tags: ,

    “Child’s Play” is the name of the latest ad that CBS is refusing to air. The ad suggests that today’s children will be the ones paying for Bush’s trillion dollar deficit. I think the ad is brief, straight to the point without being abrasive. It doesn’t seem to be as much a “bash Bush” ad as much as a simple “we need to ask questions” ad. I don’t understand why CBS refuses to air it – CBS doesn’t seem to have problems with beer and tobacco and ads from the white house…

    Anyway check out the ad…

    http://www.moveon.org/cbs/ad/