Friday, September 17, 2004

In Search of the Perfect Friday Comment

So I was driving home from classes this morning and a really great blog topic just came to me. It was the most lucid, insightful, downright thought-provoking bit of mental flotsam I'd ever experienced. Almost religious in nature.

And I immediately forgot it.

For someone who never did drugs in his entire life (my mom might be reading this), I have the memory of a thing that is very short on memory.

I know what you guys are thinking, ahh, we all have moments like that. But I'm telling you, what you experience from time to time is nothing compared to my pure lack of short term memory. Unless you've bent down to pick something up and forgot why you were bent over.

Remember when SNL was REALLY bad (as opposed to just plain bad)? They had a character that was Mr. No Short Term Memory? Compared to me, he's got photographic memory.

I forgot where I was going with this.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Send Lawyers, Guns and Money.

Recently, the President allowed the assault weapons ban to lapse. Now rednecks all over the country can buy an AK-47. yay.

Gun control is an issue where I diverge from my liberal brethren. Banning guns does nothing to prevent the real cause of gun violence in this country. But . . . but . . . but crime rates went down while the ban was in place. I don't think the ban had as much to do with a decrease in crime as many gun control advocates like to believe. It looks to me like two unrelated events that happened to occur at the same time.

No, you don't need an assault rifle to hunt deer. But the truth is that 99.999% of all of the automatic assault rifles that are going to be purchased in the next few months will only be pointed at empty beer bottles on tree stumps in the back woods of some ignorant liberterians farm while his sister-wife gets him another 12 pack. The kind of people who buy assault rifles are the exact kind of people who need to bolster their self-worth (to put it politely). They'll never have the balls to point that gun at another human, much less lead the "revolt" that they all seem to fantasize about. I say as long as they are playing with their fake cocks out where most people won't get hurt, more power to them. At least they won't be causing real trouble.

As far as crime, nobody buys a gun LEGALLY with the intention to commit a crime with it. That's just plain fucking stupid. I'd be willing to bet that every last gun that has been used in a violent crime (not counting domestic violence) was obtained illegally. And there is no reason for that to change. You'd have to be a pretty stupid son of a bitch to buy a gun at a gun shop to hold up the local grocery store. An assault weapons ban does nothing to stop the trafficking of guns for crime. It just doesn't, live with it.

What really causes crime to go down is a growing economy (not the fake growing economy that Bush is pushing.), a healthy job market and an effective social safety net. Sure you're always going to have the hardcore criminals who were just born naughty, but no amount of legislation or finger-wagging is going to stop them. The best we can hope for is to get them off the street as quickly as possible. But most criminal behavior is a result of hopelessness and the perception that it's the only option. When an economy is rolling along, people can get work and those who can't at least get nominal shelter and food, then they have no reason to hold up a liquor store for diaper money.

This is the point where many republicans and liberterians get confused. They get all pissed off because they think their tax money is going to support shiftless welfare queens. They refuse to see that every dollar we use to pay for social services (which in the final analysis amounts to less than a penny on the dollar. Talk about some greedy motherfuckers) is about three dollars that we won't have to spend dealing with the results of not having those services at all. Just like Ben Franklin said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Refusing to pay for a problem doesn't make the problem go away. If anything, it only makes it worse.

So let's stop fixating on the symptoms of violence and work on the actual causes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Cleaning Day = No Blog Day

Had to clean the house today, so there isn't going to be a huge post like yesterday.

Just an interesting note about something I read on the can. In the newest Popular Science, they have an article about how battery innovation hasn't nearly kept up pace with computer and electronic innovation. The editor talked about his Palm III that could run for months on two batteries. The newest portable electronics have all these nifty little features, but you can't run them for more than a day until you have to recharge. And for a guy like me who can't keep his old nokia cell phone recharged, that kind of thing just don't cut it.

The only promising technology on the horizon is hydrogen fuel cell. But that has never been a particularly promising portable solution. One of the things that torque me off about the whole fuel cell craze is that everybody wants to get it onto a car, even though it's wholly inadequate for individual transportation. Maybe in another decade and a few billion dollars worth of research, but certainly not now. What they should be concentrating on is stationary uses of hydrogen fuel cells. It makes far more sense to use the technology on a residential level and provide point of use electricity.

Anyway, I'm running off at the mouth again.

Monday, September 13, 2004

A Stain on the Constitution

The Republican war on education in this country is finally starting to bear fruit. They've finally gotten a large pool of people who are so poorly educated on our Constitution that they'll happily tear it up just to enact the prejudices of a small cadre of insane busybodies.

A constitutional ammendment on gay marriage is a gross misuse of the ammendment system. The ammendment system is meant for two things. To extend, clarify and define the rights of citizens and to address technical issues within the Constitution. Not to limit the rights of citizens.

Don't believe me, then read the Ammendments, themselves. Overview of the United States Constitution and Ammendments

Of the 27 ammendments, only two ammendments have anything to do with limiting the rights of citizens. Those would be prohibition and the repeal of prohibition. The rest are ammendments that either extend rights to previously excluded groups (slaves, minorities, women etc.) or to clarify issues within the constitution (election rules, presidential term limits, presidential succession, income tax, etc.) So you can imagine my utter contempt for any group of people who would misuse the Constitution to cater to their particular brand of hatred.

That was the general scolding, now for the specific.

I find that most of the people that are against gay marriage haven't got the slightest clue about what marriage actually is. There are two types of marriage. The religious marriage, where two people form a "spiritual" partnership (for lack of a better term) and the LEGAL marriage, which does nothing more than dictate property rights. It's a legal partnership that is not substantially different from any other form of legal partnership. Anyone can perform a religious marriage, but you have to be licensed by the state to perform legal marriages. Every priest at every wedding you've ever attended has the power to form a legal marriage only because he threw down his schekles and got a license to do so.

So the main question is, why are people against two people forming a legal partnership on a personal level? I can understand a religous objection to holding a gay marriage at the local cathedral or what have you. But what possible difference does it make to you that two people who are as committed to each other as any heterosexual couple retain the right to inherit each other's property? Or to take advantage of benefits that they both paid taxes for and that any hetero couple can attain? What possible difference will it make in your lives?

So help me, if you say "Because the bible says so." or any version thereof, well I won't DO anything because this is a blog. But I would like to retort with the following:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

So let's put on our thinking caps. Would you say making a law that conforms to a religious prohibition (especially the prohibition by any PARTICULAR religion) might just conflict with the first ammendment? It does. A constitutional ammendment that specifically denies rights to a particular group of people is anathema to the spirit of the document and a betrayal of all the people who have died to protect it.

Although I doubt that any fundie has made it this far, but for those diehards that did: No, I'm not gay. I'm a straight white male. But I'm also an American of good conscience. And any American of good conscience would never stay silent and allow the destruction of rights for other Americans. NEVER!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Ahhh, Atheism, the great liberator. I gotta tell ya, it's nice having every Sunday morning free to do as I wish. Hell, it's nice to be free to do as I wish without the specter of the great invisible man in the sky who will send me to the pits of hell for whatever the hell the preachers say the rules are today, but he loves me unconditionally. Must be one of those tough love parents.

All mocking aside, atheism isn't a religion. It's simply the lack of belief in a deity. Nothing more, nothing less. Why don't I believe in a deity? Because I understand biology, physics, astronomy and reason well enough to make the godhead superfluous. Sure, I don't have string theory down just yet, but I certainly have a grasp on practical physics (Newtonian). I may not have cured cancer yet, but I do understand the basics of genetics. I haven't observed the beginning or the end of the universe for myself, but I'm pretty well versed in life cycles of stars and how it affects planet formation. I actually understand natural selection and why it's one of the most codified theories in modern science. (Yes, it is. So don't bother me with the creationist bunk. You're wrong.)

So instead of marvelling at the awesomeness of the aforementioned father figure, I prefer to marvel at the universe and the random occurences that had to come about for me to be here typing this little message to my faithful readers. If you look at the scope of it, it's really quite breathtaking.

So endeth the sermon.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

I Hope Nader Dies

No, I don't. Why would someone actually wish death on another human? Hell, I avoid killing insects whenever I can.

What I do wish is that Nader Supporters would just leave me the hell alone. They've become about as welcome as a Jehovah's witness at 7:00 AM on a Saturday. Yeah, I get it. I know that Saint Ralph has been a consumer advocate for decades. I know that he's big on environmental issues and what not. But, to tell you the truth, he's just not the candidate for me.

My candidate of choice didn't survive the primaries. I would have been happier than a pig in slop if he did, but it didn't happen. So now I'm saddled with a guy who is the favorite of the military fetish wing of the Democratic Party. Yeah, it sucks. But the reality is that one of two people is going to be President at the end of next January. While I don't particularly like the nominee, I recognize that he's a damn sight better than the dude currently sitting in the oval office.

The choice in this Presidential campaign is a fairly simple one. It's the choice between the possibility of things getting better and the certainty that they won't.