Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

As promised, I’m posting all my logic puzzles over at logiduction.wordpress.com, my new blog. I will also periodically report my personal tidings, particularly my reading, over at Ex-Tangent.

Thank you all for reading this blog, and I will be forced to direct your attention over there.

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This won’t be the type of return that all of you, who have so enjoyed my political commentary, might expect. I am not here to save the day and speak out with more bombastic rhetoric and be the sole voice of reason in this mess. I am not going to continue with political commentary as it once existed on this blog: this time, it will be more theoretical and will not stick with the shallow dealings of the now, the now being the day’s events. It will be broader in scope, but it will come across here less frequently than before – my writing will consist of other subjects. Before, my commentary followed a formula of “find news story, give angry opinion on it, find news story…” ad nauseum. That’s over.

But, perhaps, I shall tell you, readers, how this exile came about. Following the week of Thanksgiving, I decided to stop reading the news for a week, and, as such, stop blogging.

The results of that week? I felt absolutely liberated and my mood felt fantastic. My mind wasn’t channeling any of its usual negative energy – energy, it turns out, it picked up from paying too much attention to the media. By unplugging myself from the Matrix, I felt substantially better, simply because my mind was focused on things other than the dealings of the corrupt. I was no longer filled with anger, and I was starting to be more positive in all parts of my life. I just felt, if I haven’t made it clearly enough already, better.

Of course, after a couple weeks, I had a desire to know what the hell was going on in the world, so I started to slowly plug myself back into the Matrix. But here’s the catch: I didn’t have any reaction to the news – I read it and that was that. Well, maybe that’s a lie: I did have a reaction, but it was subdued and what I expected based on my ideology. Now, in reading the news, I have a “default” reaction to the article based on my political opinion: liberty = good, tight restrictions = bad. It’s ironic, since I started this out as a bit of a lefty. Now I’m more in the vein of a libertarian. And I’m sure the latter is my “true” view – as it was only obtained by my own thought and investigation, not via the view espoused and endorsed by the Matrix. But I digress.

At this point, my confidence was rising, and I was reading the news without any repercussions to my mental health, and life was good.

And then the ice storm came. Yes, the one you’ve been hearing about in the news (link here). I live in the worst affected part of Massachusetts, and lost all power for 9 days, losing it for brief periods 3 times afterwards. The temperature in my house dropped to below 40 degrees (that’s Fahrenheit). I was cold, didn’t have school, and read just about all day. More importantly, I learned to value the modern conveniences we take for granted – light and heat, namely. And, I was forced to totally unplug myself from the Matrix (if you’re wondering why I keep making annoying Matrix references, you’ll see in my material later. Promise).

Yeah, I suffered quite a bit during that period, but it finalized the burning of the bridge between me and the rest of the crazed world. How about that. In the aftermath of the storm, I read more, worked out more, was better at everything I committed myself to doing, was fitter, happier, and more productive (anyone who catches that reference is awesome, by the way). I wasn’t negative, but I didn’t transform into the grating optimist I hate so much. I was the same person, yet was… better. Again: fitter, happier, and more productive. Life was good. And yet, I’m here, plugging myself back in. “Why?” you ask, “Why bother coming back here after becoming a happier individual because of your absence from this place?”

And now, men and women of the jury, we get to the heart of the matter. During this period of feeling good, I still felt like there was something missing, and, with increased availability of technology, I was slowly lapsing into my previous, boring life, complete with hours spent looking up trivial information (though, not quite news) on the internet (no, not pr0n you idiots!). Allow me to digress, though I will be getting to the middle of this all.

Before, I found that I was reading articles by anarchists, libertarians, authoritarians, Trotskyites, classic liberals (what I consider myself to be), socialists, Communists, and everything in-between and I managed to agree with all of them, because all they were doing was criticizing the system. I didn’t agree with, however, their remedy to the situation; I only agreed with their diagnosis of the problem. I managed to, for a brief period of time, share in their disdain of the system. Turns out I was well on the path to the Dark Side… Remember, Yoda said:

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

And I didn’t want to suffer. My posts were so filled with negative energy that it dragged me down, and, ultimately, made me an unsuccessful blogger, because I did nothing but offer negativity. To my credit, there’s nothing I could’ve really done to improve the situation, since I called for real change (and no, not the kind that Obama’s offering), and there’s no way that my kind of change would be implemented just by me blogging about injustice in the world.

On that same note, insanity is defined as (by me, at least) “doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. I kept posting about politics and it didn’t do anything for me or for my readers. I wasn’t offering them anything valuable; my posts were like a sledgehammer of negativity, which crushed all the value that might have been contained in my post. I wasn’t helping anyone do anything – I, again, was just hitting them over the head over and over with the message “THE SYSTEM SUCKS”. And, really, it did nothing. It made me feel worse.

During this whole exile, I came to the conclusion that although the System sucked (not to be confused with the Matrix), there was nothing I could do at all to change it. That’s a scary thought (says my past self), but, I woke up and smelled the sweet smell of coffee in the morning and realized, again, that I truly could not change anything (at least, with the means I was using before). And then, I did what I thought I couldn’t do before: I let go. I let go of all feelings of the System because I knew there was not going to be a single representative to be elected in this country that would be someone I would have no qualms about supporting. And, astonishingly, it was okay with me. I am still an impassioned arguer on the behalf of my political ideology, but only if the argument comes up during a conversation; I will not create a political argument for the sake of doing so. I was just so exhausted from arguing for it before that I chilled out and stopped bringing politics into the mix unless someone else did because it was destroying me from the inside out.

And, back to why I’m here: I need to write. I need to do something fulfilling, something to be proud of, something to keep me sane while I’m not reading or working out. I need to return to the blogosphere and just network with you guys again. Except, this time, I’ll enjoy it, instead of just focusing on getting my blaring, hopeless message out to the world. And you guys will benefit from that the most.

I’ll write commentary from time to time, but only to talk theory. No current events stuff, and I’ll certainly be writing more about what I’ve been reading as well as shifting the concentration things like self-improvement and personal philosophy, with (HOPEFULLY) fiction making regular appearances.

So, dear readers, I’m back and better than ever.

Just in case Bush and his Israeli followers start attacking Iran in the name of preemptively preventing a nuclear war, we should turn them in the direction of this NIE study (that’s National Intelligence Estimate, for the uninitiated). It’s not the full study, but it has all of the important conclusions.

The study says that:

We assess with high confidence that until fall 2003, Iranian military entities were
working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons.

• We judge with high confidence that the halt lasted at least several years. (Because of
intelligence gaps discussed elsewhere in this Estimate, however, DOE and the NIC
assess with only moderate confidence that the halt to those activities represents a halt
to Iran’s entire nuclear weapons program.)

• We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons
program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop
nuclear weapons.

• We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Iran does not currently
have a nuclear weapon.
• Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined
to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005. Our assessment
that the program probably was halted primarily in response to international pressure
suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged
previously…

• We judge with moderate confidence that the earliest possible date Iran would be
technically capable of producing enough HEU for a weapon is late 2009, but that this
is very unlikely.

• We judge with moderate confidence Iran probably would be technically capable of
producing enough HEU for a weapon sometime during the 2010-2015 time frame.
(INR judges Iran is unlikely to achieve this capability before 2013 because of
foreseeable technical and programmatic problems.) All agencies recognize the
possibility that this capability may not be attained until after 2015.

D. Iranian entities are continuing to develop a range of technical capabilities that could
be applied to producing nuclear weapons, if a decision is made to do so. For example,
Iran’s civilian uranium enrichment program is continuing. We also assess with high
confidence that since fall 2003, Iran has been conducting research and development
projects with commercial and conventional military applications—some of which would
also be of limited use for nuclear weapons.

E. We do not have sufficient intelligence to judge confidently whether Tehran is willing
to maintain the halt of its nuclear weapons program indefinitely while it weighs its
options, or whether it will or already has set specific deadlines or criteria that will prompt
it to restart the program.

Now, while this is only an estimate, the assumptions based therein are surely enough for us, the public, to seriously question any assertion (or military action derived from said assertion) that Iran has nuclear weapons, for now. Now we have the power to cry fowl when the government tells us that Iran has the a-bomb, unlike the situation in Iraq.

Iran is certainly an interesting player on the world stage – but it doesn’t have the nuke yet.

And, after all, who are we to decide who gets and who doesn’t get the A-bomb? Isn’t it in Iran’s best interest to acquire the A-bomb for purely defensive purposes? Yes, I know their regime is crazy, but hasn’t it occurred to anyone that the a-bomb is the ultimate deterrent; no one would be crazy enough to attack them once they got a nuke under their control. As paradoxical as it may sound, they’re willing to risk invasion from Israel and the United States in order to acquire a bomb that would prevent these countries from invading them at all, assuming that they’re actually pursuing a nuke in the first place.

What do you think about Iran?


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Magik Quilter, in the comments from yesterday’s post, proposed that I write about the girl from Hereford who won a case in which she decided that she’d avoid getting life saving heart surgery in order to “die with dignity”, reported here by the BBC.

First of all, I think this represents a wonderful step in the right direction: a society where euthanasia will be legalized. If people have debilitating sicknesses where they’re just vegetables or fractions of what they were before their conditions (perhaps they were born that way), I think it’s important that, for the sake of the person and their friends and family, that we allow them to be put to death with their consent. It’s ultimately up to them, though the line gets blurred as we start discussing what to do when people are comatose and other conditions where they are unable to express their consent for euthanasia (I am, however hesitantly, against euthanasia in those situations). We need to get over the label of “murder” and realize that euthanizing someone is a way to put them out of their misery, again, if they have their consent. Why make them go through terrible pain and anguish if they have horrible sicknesses like ebola or the AIDS virus if we can just put them to death with their consent.

I’ll be the first person to say that I love my life and I’m scared of death, but I’d call to be euthanized if I knew death was imminent. After all, I could die on my terms then – potentially, I could die with a loved one if I so chose, rather than dying at a random time, all alone, in my sleep.

The most important part of this, if I hadn’t made it clear already, is that we need the consent of the person who we’re going to euthanize. If we don’t have that, then it is murder, and euthanasia could be a “clean” way of disposing of people in a tyrannical government (look at the cruel experiments conducted on the Jews during the Holocaust).


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A Challenge

I’ll keep this short and sweet: you, the reader, get to pick tomorrow’s editorial. Leave a comment under this post and I’ll pick one submission to write an editorial about tomorrow.

Make the subject an unexpected one!

fivethirtyeight’s final election prediction is that Obama goes on to predict an Obama victory of 349 electoral voted to McCain’s 189. McCain also has, I kid you not, a 1% chance of winning this thing.

I’ll be brief here: it’s still possible, very possible in fact, for McCain to win. Let’s remember that fivethirtyeight uses every poll conceivable in order to predict the potential outcomes of the election. I know that this is a scary thought, but consider the possibility that the polls are wrong. If one protests that fact, one only needs to look at the exit polling during the 2004 election – there has been quite a stir over their inaccuracies on the internet and elsewhere. If those polls are wrong, what prevents these polls from being wrong as well (though, statistically speaking, it’s quite hard for these polls to be unanimously incorrect, but I’ll counter that below)?

What about the silent GOP voting machine that has lay dormant, not responding to polls, and such? Where have they been? Or has it been fairly represented; after all, there’s still a chance that Obama could actually lose the popular vote.

But does anyone care about baseless speculation, like the above? No! After all, speculating is what got us into this mess to begin with.

Today’s good, bad, and insightful:

The Good

The first two aren’t so much great as they are hilarious:

Martin Varsavsky lets us all know, that, as of today, Volkswagen is the wealthiest corporation in the world.

An Israeli child dressed up as a Palestinian gunman and took to the streets hoping to provoke a reaction from the police, the BBC reports. For a school project. Hey, he wanted to get an A!

Raymond Whitaker from The Independent’s blog Open House correctly surmises that, in America, it doesn’t even matter if you’re with us or against us: we’ll attack you no matter whose side you’re on.

The Daily Beast’s Christopher Brownfield explains exactly why the Syrian attack was bad, bad news.

The Bad

Nothing today.

The Insightful

Money quote from a post today in the Edge of the American West:

So, as I understand it, Obama’s plan to tax the really wealthy consists largely (or entirely) of letting the Bush tax cuts expire instead of extending them. * This is derided as a socialism; but aside from the ridiculousness of the difference between Real American Taxes and Evil Islamic Arugula Socialism being 3% and roughly half a billion bucks…. does this mean we were already socialist during the Bush administration before the tax cuts and didn’t know it?

I thought the socialist barricades would come with a little flag to wave.

Well, dear readers, it seems that I’m taking a few days’ leave to go places (really, family stuff, but you’re not supposed to know that). Since I will be without my trusty computer, that means I won’t be able to post here.

In the meantime, I have a mission for you, should you choose to accept it:

It’s simple: shoot me an email (or comment here, I don’t care!) with suggestions about what I can do to improve my blog; whether it’s topic(s) you’d like me to cover in future posts, the look of my blog, how often I post, the length of my posts, and so on.

Oh, and please, if you’re regular reader, subscribe to my feed. More subscribers = more blogging.

Ciao!

Haven’t you ever wanted to be That One? How about the One? How about both? No worries — follow these 5 steps and you’ll be like the next president of the United States in absolutely no time at all.

1. Have a Funny Sounding Name

Since most of us don’t have the benefit of having a Kenyan father or being born in Honolulu, you’ll have to change your name to something foreign sounding, preferably something of Middle Eastern origin. Best names and surnames include:

Bin Laden
Osama
Talibani
Jong Il
Mohammed
Ali
Jesus
Shiva
Raj

and so on. Make sure that your first, middle, and last names are all from the same region (again, preferably the Middle East) so you’re just like Barack. The whole name is an effort to get your clearly corrupt and failed enemies to accuse you of being foreign, unpatriotic, un-American, and, above all, a terrorist.

2. Talk Obsessively About Change and Hope

You don’t have to specify what exactly the change is — as you act like it’s obvious that the world needs changing! Just repeat “change” like it’s your mantra, it is your mantra, and if anyone actually asks what you mean, tell them to look around — if they’re smart they’ll see exactly what needs changing, which is, you’ll assert, everything. Everything needs changing: the government, the weather, the army, the school system, your kid’s diaper, what we eat, and so on.

At the same time, stress that, like Luke Skywalker, you’re our only hope. Only you are able to enact the change you want to see in the world — and you should carry yourself that way. Say that your opponents are corruptly running the system and they’re what needs changing; if you get power over *whatever*, you’ll make sure that you’ll fix them. Or something. Remember: don’t specify what change means exactly, unless you’re giving a nationally televised speech, since you’ll confuse the 80% of the populace that doesn’t know what the current conditions are.

3. Make Millions Your Adoring Fans

How do you do this? Woo them with your good looks, make friends with everyone you meet, handing them your “business” cards, which include only your name and one of your mantras like “Change”, “Hope”, “The Future”, and “The Man”. Set up a ridiculously well-maintained and professional website, encouraging your followers to donate to your cause of taking over the world, and sell accompanying memorabilia with your face, name, and mantras on it in obnoxiously large letters. Tell them to tell your friends about you. Drive to random cities and talk with the townsfolk, talking to them about your complex platform of Change and Hope, all the while subtly implying that they need to donate to your cause. Give random speeches in the middle of of town, again sticking to your platform of hope and change. They will come to adore you, I promise.

4. Become a Master At Public Speaking

Of course, if you’re really hoping to become cultural, political, and public hero/icon, you’re going to have to be eloquent and, at the same time, easy to understand, just like Barack Obama. Pause so your listeners know that you’re thinking out your answers, then deliver a succinct and easy-to-understand answer, just like Barack does. Bonus points if you look at someone in the crowd during the entire time you’re speaking, and everything is factual. When speaking, you should be totally relaxed and think that you have the crowd won over already, because arrogance confidence is the number one way to win a crowd over. Speak with a deep voice, and use a particularly hyperbolic vocabulary, stressing the bad as very bad, and the good as very good. Again, stick to your talking points of Change and Hope, implying that you’re going to do the exact opposite of what’s been done because you say that our current policies have made earth hell on earth. Don’t elaborate any further than that!

5. Become an Elitist

Go to Columbia, go to Harvard and graduate magna cum laude, and become a lawyer, raking in cash from your clients. Become well known before you start your campaign by writing a best-selling autobiography. Use an iPhone, proving your ultimate Apple snobbery. Buy Starbucks and designer clothing and furniture, and own a $1.5M home in a rich area of a metropolis.

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In light of the current economic troubles the world is going through right now, this seemed all too appropriate:

“Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.” ~Thomas Jefferson