Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Please go read this. Click Here

It’s about time someone in the government asked why the Bush twins aren’t in Iraq. They could also take all of the chicken hawk young Republicans with them.

That’ll be all.
It’s funny how life works sometimes. Not laughter funny more odd funny. Anyway while I was at the Peace Rally in Columbus a guy asked to take a picture of my sign. I obliged. He then brought up Alex Jones and I said I had never heard of him. He was still nice enough to give two DVDs with two different editions of the movie Loose Change on them. I’ll be honest I had never heard of this movie beforehand. Also, just so you know, Alex Jones has nothing to with Loose Change. He runs the Website Prison Planet. If you’re cynical about conspiracy theories feel free to take a pass. I would say the same for the movie, most of which feels like hyperbole and speculation. I’ll try and post a review soon. If you really want to view it you can go to Google Video and watch it there, just type in “loose change” into the search box. I recommend watching both editions so you can see all the evidence the movie has.

Usually I’m not a big fan of conspiracy theories. Why? Because most of the evil takes place out in the open, it’s just that most people don’t pay enough attention or the media totally drops the ball in covering it. So most of these elaborate conspiracies are flights of fancy. But if I were a wee bit more paranoid I’d say there is a conspiracy. I’d say our government was trying to destroy our schools.

I know this isn’t a conspiracy. I wish it were. It would make for a far cooler story. Our schools are in trouble. They’re sinking a little deeper everyday to.

Here’s just the latest example. The State of Florida wants high school students to declare majors, because they think that students will like school better if they only study what they like. I say this reeks of maybe the worst idea since the My Mother the Car. You see high school is there to provide a foundation of learning. It is there to leave you well prepared to for the rest of your life, whatever that may be. To allow these young students to close themselves off from the broad spectrum of education is downright dumb.

It’s bad enough that because of all these awful proficiency tests those schools are teaching less science and art and history to focus on the subjects, math and reading, which they are so harshly judged on. If a school doesn’t go well on these tests then they may lose funding. So schools are forced to teach kids just to do well on these examinations. The schools should be broadening the students’ minds not training them to take a test.

It’s bad enough that in Ohio the funding for schools is based mostly on property taxes, which means the wealthier neighborhoods get better schools than the poorer ones. Silly me, I thought segregation was over. It’s not. It’s now wealthy and poor instead of black and white.

It’s bad enough that schools start at ungodly early hours, which makes it harder on everyone involved to do their best. The high school and middle school around here start at 7:35. That’s too early for the chickens let alone teenagers. Schools have no business starting earlier then 8:30. There’s lots of research that shows later start times reduce discipline issues, raise attendance and improve overall academic performance. But for some reason administrators want schools to start earlier and earlier.

I got so upset about the failure of public schools because as they fail the country fails. A democracy cannot function without an educated population. If a population grows ignorant the snake oil salesmen and charlatans would seize control. That benefits no one but the charlatans and the snake oil salesmen.

“We must not believe the many, who say only the free ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free.”



Friday, March 24, 2006

Remember when I said I was going to take it easy on George Bush? I was in error. Sorry about that.

Our fearless leader has shown his true colors yet again. When he resigned the Patriot Act he added an addendum in which he stated that he does not feel obliged to inform Congress of how the FBI is using it’s expanded police powers. You read all about it here. Link to the article

OK, this might be nothing. But I doubt it. This administration has already done everything in its power to operate under a cloak of secrecy. I sincerely doubt that W would add this addendum unless he had some motive to do so. That’s what scares me.

According to ole W, freedom is on the march or it’s spreading or words to that effect. Anyway in Afghanistan right now a man by the name of Abdul Rahman is facing death for a crime. What grievous criminal act did he commit? He converted to Christianity. It’s nice to freedom’s march was so vigorous it went right by Afghanistan.

You see when people are far more devoted to their faith than their country; equality for everyone is kind of rough sledding.

Want another reason to dislike the Bush family? Good, because I got one. Barbara Bush, the President’s mom not his daughter, made a donation to the charity that her husband and Bill Clinton set up to aid Katrina victims. This would be a good thing except she earmarked a portion of it go to purchase educational software manufactured by her son Neil. Nepotism is so ugly. Does this woman even have a soul?

I know I goofed. I promised to leave George Bush alone for a while. But it’s just so damn hard! He keeps making mistake on top of mistake. How people haven’t stormed the White House with torches is totally beyond me. This president makes Richard Nixon look like Abraham Lincoln.

I’d say more but I might come off like a stark raving lunatic. Not that I have never sounded like that before I’m sure. It’s just that this administration does so much wrong that I tend to get a little frustrated.

I like the good ole USA, really I do. I just wish her people were a bit more active and proactive with regards to their government. It’s your country. Take charge! In this light I shall leave you with the wit and insight of Mark Twain, I feel this really applies.

” Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”

“The citizen who sees his society's democratic clothes being worn out and does not cry out is not a patriot but a traitor.”

” In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination.”

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.”

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I got some good news for those of you who are unsettled by my Bush bashing. I’ve largely given up on this president so there may actually be a decrease in my tirades against this president. I’m not saying they will stop but you might see a lot less of them.

Why the change of heart? Well since Bush has acknowledged that the war in Iraq will be up to other presidents and future Iraqi governments to decide, I’ve decided to back off. I figure if he’s quitting why should I bother? I mean this has been Bush’s legacy in everything he has done. He gets a position, which he royally screws up at, and then walks away. He makes a profit off of some “golden parachute” and he ceases caring.

Now for those of you who find my little rants cute and lovable, fear not constant reader, I will most likely have to slap good ole W around at some point. Can he possibly not screw in the last three years of this term? For the sake of this nation I hope he can. But I doubt it.

In far better news, I’m very happy that the three remaining member of the Christian Peacemaking Team were rescued today. Tom Fox, the one who didn’t make it out alive, will be missed. The world needs more people like Tom Fox. People devoted to making the world a better place are far too rare.

I continue to hope and pray for Jill Carroll and the rest of the hostages in this most unholy war.

Just so you know, I really want Russ Feingold to be my next president. He’s the last man of principle left in the Senate. He’s stood against the Patriot Act and wanted President Bush held accountable for violating the Constitution. Hooray for Feingold! I mean sure it’s been about 25 years since we’ve seen any one of any real character in the White House, but I can dream.

Monday, March 20, 2006

It’s required reading time! Oh stop your whining! Anyway, please go here and read this story about James Hansen. Link Or if you’re lazy you can here and watch the story. Link


Am I the only one who finds this totally disturbing? The government is rewriting science to meet its political ends? James Hansen can’t speak in public without a government handler present? We have, according to Hansen, ten years until we reach a tipping point and the Bush administration does not care?

Please understand this is not merely about polar bears and penguins. This is about the planet. If this planet fails so do we. We cannot afford to be indifferent here. We must act to slow this process of global warming. If the ice caps melt and the oceans rise and weather turns for the worse and species start becoming extinct at an accelerated rate, then we will suffer as well. We have only one place in the whole universe we can call home. We must take care of it or it will not take care of us.
Bush was in Cleveland today. He’s out and about trying to sell the American people on why we should stay in Iraq. All the cable news channels covered his speech. I didn’t watch it in its entirety. I had a few other things to do and I can only watch Bush speak for so long before I get the shakes. It’s not entirely his message either. It’s all those pauses he takes and that stupid little smirk he gets. It makes me lose my religion.

What I did catch however left me questioning two things he said. Yeah I know what you’re thinking, “Only two?” Like I said I didn’t see the whole speech so I got little to complain about.

Someone asked Bush about our policy of pre-emptive strikes. Bush said we must strike before a threat fully materializes. But I wonder this, if a threat hasn’t fully materialized is it really a threat? Aren’t there many other ways to deal with a possible threat? Aren’t there ways far less violent than pre-emptive military action? Also if we allow for pre-emptive action against a potential threat how sweeping will this definition of potential threat be? How much does this policy of pre-emptive strikes allow us to attack whomever we can drum up some paranoia against?

This strikes me as doctrine based on fear. Fear is a scheme used by someone who wants control. Fear is a tactic that can circumvent reason. Fear is the tool of the fascist not the democrat.

Later Bush was speaking about his plan to permit certain Mexicans in to do labor, mostly agricultural. His line is, and he’s used this before, that the Mexicans will be doing jobs Americans don’t want to do. Do you think Bush has asked himself why Americans don’t want these jobs? Could is possibly be because they involve beak breaking labor at appallingly low wages in hazardous working conditions? What Bush isn’t saying is the truth. That what Bush wants is for his buddies that own these corporate farms to be able to maximize their profits. Never mind that they are already bleeding the system dry with federal subsidies. They also want people to work for them for as little as possible. Do you think Bush realizes that if these same jobs only the Mexicans will do paid decent wages and had safer working conditions people would do them. Americans do all sorts of hard and dangerous labor. They just won’t do it on the cheap.
On March 18th I ventured with a bunch of likeminded folks down to Columbus to commemorate then 3rd anniversary of the war in Iraq. Mission accomplished indeed. The crowd was smallish there was 800 people there according to the papers. I would have guessed a hair bit higher, but that’s not too important.

The prayer service beforehand was very sincere. Sincere is good I just wished it had been a tad less somber. Here I am looking to get my seditionist groove working and I’m sitting in a somber prayer service. Oops.

The rally itself was good fun. The speakers were a good bunch. Nikki Robinson, a senior at Kent State, was especially good. Youthful enthusiasm is always so contagious. My “Axis of Idiots” sign was quite popular with the crazy kids at the rally. I got videotaped and photographed more in that one afternoon than I had been in the past year. So either I was beloved by my fellow protestors or the NSA was spying on me. I’m not totally sure anymore.

Speaking of not being totally sure I must admit something. I know I write here often about things I find troubling. I write about things that ought to change. I often write about things that I feel would make the world a better place for us all. Some days I feel like quitting though. I would never give up on my beliefs and go to the right on the political spectrum. God forbid. Some days I wonder if the human race is worth all the effort.

My inner cynic is a noisy little twerp. I read that some of my significant betters, like Albert Einstein, Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut, have given up on the human race. I wonder if I should abandon it as well.

I mean it’s not like I have a lot of fuel to keep that flickering flame of hope burning. All the wars and oppression and abuse and greed make my hopes sink. I see people willing to sacrifice freedom for the cold comfort of protection and I fear that maybe people don’t really want freedom.

But then it happens. Something inspires me. Something comes along that lifts me out of the doldrums and gives me a reason to believe in the human race again. Whether its people sacrificing careers to help total strangers rebuild after some disaster or people suffering the brutality of oppression and poverty dancing as if they don’t have a care in the world. Then I pick my sorry self-pitying carcass up and keep on keeping on.

I remain cautiously optimistic for the fate of humanity. Maybe, just maybe, if enough people toss aside their bullets and bombs and pick up books. Maybe, just maybe, if enough people realize that there is no love in fear. Maybe, just maybe, if learn that every person has an inalienable right to housing, food, water, health care and education. Maybe, just maybe, if learn that differences between people ought to be understood rather than feared. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll all work out. I hope so anyway.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I love good news. Well this isn’t precisely good news. More like news that should cause cautious optimism. But given the current state of affairs our planet is in I’ll take what I can get.

This has nothing to do with the Dubai ports deal. Something still stinks there I just haven’t figured out what yet.

It also has nothing to do with George Bush signing an extension for the Patriot Act. Don’t you just love the smell of our constitution burning? I’m kidding.

Rather it is far more hopeful news. I love hopeful news. One of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, has geysers that shoot water miles into space. The geysers are similar to Old Faithful at Yellowstone Park. Go read about it here.

Why is this so cool? Because this is the first time that we have been able to confirm that liquid water exists anywhere but here on ole Mother Earth. Where there is water there is the possibility of life. Also they have detected methane and CO2, both of which give scientists hope that there are organic materials on Enceladus. It could be microbes or bacteria or jellyfish. It could be fish. There may be nothing at all. We do not know. Which is precisely why we must look.

Imagine if we discovered life on another world in our own solar system. Imagine if we could prove that we are not alone in the infinite void of space. Our whole perception of the universe may have to change. It would be a magnificent change to live through.

Ok, I’ll grant you some religious leader would wet his pants. But I wouldn’t care. If we could discover alien life it would make the discovery of the New World look like finding a nickel in your pocket.

I know have made some rather extraordinary claims and as Carl Sagan used to say, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” We lack that extraordinary evidence. But that should not hinder us from looking.

I know it may seem a bit odd that I’m so jazzed about this. But it’s things like this. It’s the things that make my imagination take off even for a few fleeting moments, that help make this life truly bearable. I’m able to forget about the mess in Iraq and the troubles here in the USA and the rest of old Mother Earth. I’m able to put my personal concerns aside and dream big dreams.

Isn’t that what makes life better?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I’m sitting at home eating lunch when the phone rings. Since it’s a given that an afternoon phone call is a telemarketer, I don’t answer. So the machine picks up and this recorded message drones on for about three minutes about how gay marriage would ruin the fine institution of marriage.

I’ve said it before I’ll say it again, the only time anyone should worry about gay marriage is if they are planning one.

Also gays won’t ruin marriage because the straight people have already ruined it. A country with a fifty percent divorce rate and reality television dedicated to getting people married already has no respect for marriage.

But, the whole gay marriage issue isn’t what caught my short attention span. It was a little phrase in the middle of the message. The person reading the message stated that this was a fight between “average Americans and the liberal intellectual elite”. Good God Almighty do I have issues with that.

Not to burst the bubble of the conservatives out there, but this country was founded by the liberal intellectual elite. We seemed to turn out ok. Oh you want proof that they were liberal intellectual elite? Fine by me.

Our Founding Fathers were indeed liberal because they established a government that was not only a democracy but gave the citizens protections against the government. They prevented active duty military from being President. They founded separation of church and state. They gave the people freedom of speech and the press and protection from illegal searches and cruel punishment. The Founding Fathers were downright raging hippies. Given the times they were in they were unbelievably progressive. Liberals founded us.

Our Founding Fathers were intellectuals the likes of which our country has rarely seen since. They were almost to a man Renaissance men. They had deep interest in the arts and science and philosophy. John Kennedy once quipped to a gathered throng of intellectuals in the White House that never had so much talent resided in that room except when Thomas Jefferson dined there alone. Benjamin Franklin was an inventor and a scientist and writer. Intellectuals founded us.

Our Founding Fathers were quite elite. Benjamin Franklin was so wealthy he never patented the Franklin stove, the bifocals or the lightning rod. Why? Because he was so wealthy from the sale of his printing company that he didn’t feel he needed the money. The rest were mostly wealthy landowners. A rather elite class of gentlemen founded us. So elite was they that they only gave the right to vote to other white landowners. No one’s perfect. The elite founded us.

If I may be so bold I have a question. What wrong with being an intellectual? Did I miss a meeting? Why is it bad to be a thinker or a skeptic or philosopher? Of course the attack on intellectuals has been going on for a while in this country. It seems like a thinly veiled attack on dissent really. Who needs facts and reasoned debate? Who needs people who can substantiate their arguments? Who needs science and skeptical inquiry? Kurt Vonnegut thinks we are living with a lot of guessers running our government. I fear he’s right. There’s no need to follow facts just make it up. Then go out and win the people’s hearts and minds. There’s no need to speak the facts or, Heaven forbid, the truth.

Now the whole phrase, “average Americans and the liberal intellectual elite” is especially annoying. It’s just another scare tactic and damn it gets my blood pressure up. Anytime an organization tries to tell you it you, the poor underappreciated unloved misunderstood American against some evil class that is out to destroy you, please ignore them. It’s all the big false dichotomy of American politics. It’s us against them. They always feel free to ignore the middle. If people saw there were fifteen ways to look at an issue they might actually take time to think about it. Can’t have that. It’s always the polar extremes to. You either pro- or anti- whatever issue they are trying to scare you about. You’re not allowed to see the plurality of opinion that’s out there. You see if people are led to believe there are only two ways to look at an issue. Then they are more likely to not like the other side and never get anything resolved. This is a bad thing.

This scare tactic has been around for quite some time. In fact, Hitler used it on the Jews. It’s just a ruse to get the people to believe that danger is imminent and if the government doesn’t protect them then their precious way of life will be destroyed. It’s all based on fear and not reason. It’s yet another reason we need some more intellectuals around.

Monday, March 06, 2006

I know a lot of people think that aliens visit our planet. I tend to be skeptical. But if they did I think we should have a little plaque on the Moon just to greet them. We got to make sure they know what they’re getting themselves in to. I think it should go a little something like this.

Welcome to Earth!

We’re the third rock from the Sun and one of nine, eight or fourteen planets, depending on whom you believe. We’re wet and warm and getting warmer. Whether or not this warming is natural depends on whom you believe. We’re either the favorite children of our Creator or random cosmic serendipity, depending on whom you believe. One of the nations on this planet is truly head and shoulders above all others. Which nation it is depends on whom you believe. There are nations of nothing but evil people. Which nations these are depends on whom you believe. There is one true path to happiness. Where that path is depends on whom you believe.

As you can see we have a lot of beliefs. We are rather fond of them. We are so fond of them that we have been known to kill people who believe differently. I guess proving them wrong isn’t enough.

We have had some tremendous examples of how to live. People like Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi and Thomas Paine have tried to show us the ways of peace, justice and equality for all people. We didn’t listen really well though. The first three were killed and the last one died ostracized. I guess some people believed someone else.

We are a planet of great diversity. We have warriors and pacifists. We have addicts and the abstinent. We have people with no food and people who eat too much. We have sinners and saints. We have dogs with sweaters and homeless children. We have intellectuals and illiterates. We have people with gold plated toilets and people who have to pee behind a dumpster. Some days you a greeted with a glorious sunrise, other days it rains on your picnic. Sometimes diversity is better than others.

We’ve made a bit of a mess of this planet; you’ll have to excuse us. We’re just smart enough to make things work but not smart enough or brave enough to admit when those things are bad for us. Just don’t breathe the air or drink the water or sit too long in the sunshine or eat the food and you’ll be fine.

I hope you enjoy your stay on Earth, because not all Earthlings get to.