seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

NFL: I Missed you

Hooray that the NFL is back. Colts lost to the Pats last night in an exciting game. I was rooting for the Colts but wasn't too disappointed since I like Brady anyway. Eagles V Giants on Sunday - starting it off with a rivalry. Here's to a better start than last year.

This morning I thought I would check out the campaign web sites of Kerry and Bush. Kerry was easy to find at johnkerry.com although I did look first at kerry.com which is a supporter site.

On the other hand, Bush's official page is harder to track down. I first checked gwbush.com, then gwbush04.com, then some other site before I finally googled Bush. Fittingly, Bush, a parody of a leader, has many parody sites parked in well named domains.

Bush's site encourages people to vote early if possible ... I wonder if they are afraid people might change their minds if given too much time? It is a funny thought, but to be honest, I think the majority of Bush supporters would support him if Jesus himself campaigned against Bush.

Ultimately the same can be said about Kerry supporters who would likely come up with insulting (though funny!) slogans against the Dalai Lama if he ran as a Republican.

We live in what we call "an information age." What we really have at this point, is an overabundance of information. We need to train kids (and adults!) in library sciences and such because there is more information than we have time to sort through it. I think people tend to grasp at whatever they first hear, first read, or first see on Teevee, as the ultimate truth for the simple fact that they heard it first.

This is the "first bias." If you hear two conflicting things from two sources of equal credibility, you will have more faith in the truthfulness of the first one merely because you heard it first. In a sense, it has become a part, albeit minor part, of you and you don't want to go against what you already believe.

Changing you mind is difficult ... reconciling opposing viewpoints is rarely easy. But as the bumper sticker goes, "If you haven't changed your mind recently, how can you be sure you still have it?"

Coming Around

Macalester Women defeated the Augsburg women in a soccer match today, 4-1. Go MAC! Mac heavily dominated from the start, but fell early from a break-away goal. They came back, peppering the keeper and finally put a enough away to decisively win.

I learned at an early age (from the Karate Kid) that what goes around, comes around. So I was more or less waiting for Bush's lies regarding his National Guard stint to be exposed. Let's see - if you don't know already, Bush was AWOL when he was supposed to be serving in the Air National Guard. People have been trying to prove this definitively for years. Some people went so far as to offer a reward to anyone who can verify Bush served. No one has cashed in yet.

Today, the Boston Globe explained why. "Bush fell well short of meeting his military obligation." So I assume we will soon be seeing a copy of the Swift Boat ads - only in reverse. Bush and his pals have some serious arrogance issues (and intelligence issues as well) if they honestly thought it was a good move to attack Kerry's record during 'Nam.

At this point it is clear that Bush did not face his already reduced responsibilities during the Vietnam War and that those who oversaw him chose to push him through rather than buck the system.

So these items today cheered me up a bit after being bedridden yesterday. I watched a fair amount of Fox News yesterday since I was already filling ill. Saw that Fox had 3 economists on who claimed that the stock market was afraid of a Kerry presidency. Supposedly, the market takes a dive whenever Kerry gains ground in polls. Fox News seems to be the only "news" agency which has noticed this trend.

Similarly, Fox is started to write off Kerry's chances of being elected because he is down in the polls. Being "Fair and Balanced," I'm sure they are not reporting this in order to effect the race in any way.

I realize that many of my posts lately have been anti-Bush. Of course, I am anti-Bush. The man represents the worst wing of the Republican party - giving everything away to corporate interests while giving Ashcroft free reign to rewrite the Constitution. My dislike of Bush comes mostly from my confusion at why so many Americans, especially those who are worse off now than during Clinton, so strongly support him.

I think a lot of his base support comes from people who are religiously motivated and evangelical in nature. These are people who have no respect for the separation of Church and State. But there are so many others who support Bush too. They think they are getting more money back on their taxes, but I have to wonder if they really are. It isn't like I can ask them to see their returns for my own little study.

I wonder if they just want to believe so badly in Bush's rhetoric that they ignore his distortions. Dunno - but this article reviews a book that I really enjoyed and strongly recommend. I also recommend reading this review although I haven't read the report yet, I am waiting for it to come into my store so I can buy it.

Mike Moore Hates America Documentary

Hey folks, some of you have already heard about this, but it is official I guess. The Michael Moore Hates America Documentary is apparently finished. It will be coming to Minneapolis Oct 14-21 at the SMMASH Fest. I, for one, plan on seeing this - mainly because I hope to ask the director questions afterward.

Another thing ... the US Post Office now offers customized stamps. This guy has some great ideas

Post Labour Day Blues

I wasn't feeling so well yesterday, so I didn't elaborate on my new feels about Labour Day. Yeah - I like spelling labour with a 'u.' Sue me.

After working Labour day at my bookstore, I no longer support this as a holiday. Either it should be a holiday that everyone respects and virtually no one works, or we should ignore it. That way, I wouldn't be so annoyed at the grumpy people that come in to harass those of us that don't get it off because our employers think it better to make money on Labour day than closing down. In fairness, we do get a paid holiday we can use during the month for Labour Day which is nice - but I think actually closing the store would show more respect for our efforts.

Thoughts on recent events follow. Shout out to Toby who reads this now I hear from Kirsten. Roxxor!

Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House of Reps, suggested recently (on Fox News of course) that George Soros, a famous philanthropist, gets money from drugs. Soros, a billionaire who made his money speculating on currency, has spent millions of his own money to attack Bush in ads. Off topic: he has also spent millions (probably tens of millions) trying to make Eastern European nations into open societies.

So Dennis Hastert suggested that Soros gets money from drug groups. The reason the right wing is using this tactic to smear Soros is that Soros is a supporter of drug legalization. So Hastert suggested that Soros gets money from drug groups - which is absurd. The drug war keeps prices of illegal drugs higher than they otherwise would be - an economic solution to discourage drug use. So drug groups would be the least likely people to support legalizing drugs because it would drive down prices. I point this out just to show how the charge, aside from being totally baseless, is also logically inconsistent.

I've been thinking a bit about what Senator John McCain said recently regarding how Republicans should view Dems as opponents, not enemies. He obviously implied the reverse as well. I think this is an important distinction for several reasons.

People on both the left and right have been lacking perspective. The world is much larger than humans. Yah, nuclear blah blah, destruction, blah blah. I think Bush has been destructive. More destructive than any Dem would have been. But he is not the end. His potential reelection does not represent the end of the human race. Life will continue. We survived 4 years of him, and will survive 4 more. If Bush wins the next election, then Americans deserve to have a poorer economy, worse environment, and live in a police state which will give them peace of mind rather than peace of body.

In my mind, that is just the way it is. American "democracy" is a failed form of governance. I think the advent of mass communication / media calls for a philosopher brainstorm to evolve better forms of governance.

The other day, I was talking at work with some people about the oft-repeated phrase that Reagan brought down Communism by outspending them. This justifies their view of Reagan as one of the best Presidents even though he created enormous deficits while claiming to abhor the debt.

Yet, these people also claim communism is a failed ideology always destined for failure. If communism was such a lousy system (and it certainly was under the Soviets!) then, why is it such a big deal that Reagan happened to be in office when it came to its natural conclusion? I would think it is a big deal that we wasted so many of our resources to bring about a supposedly inevitable conclusion.

Happy Birthday

So today I turned 26. Yesterday we had a really fun party here at my parents' house where I will continue to house-sit for just a few more days.

Unfortunately, today was not as good as yesterday. Too little sleep last night and I'm not sure what else but work was miserable to today. I worked on my birthday to save a paid holiday for my trip to visit Margot and climb in New Hampshire at the end of the month.

At any rate, my 26th year started out rough. I'm exhausted, my lower back hurts, my stomach has been aching all day. I'm hoping to start feeling better tomorrow morning. In the meantime, I have nothing fun to write although I came up with a number of ideas today.

Good news though: Hawaiian Vacation photos are online now. Enjoy!

Minnesota Fair

What a day. Up early to walk the dog - then outside to take care of some landscaping type stuff for a few hours before the sun gets too intense. Today it wasn't as bad as I thought it might get.

Then I went the Macalester football opener against Beloit. Mac started strong, marching down the field for 6+1. Beloit came back strong, scoring 51 unanswered points until I left midway though the 3rd quarter. I do enjoy watching Mac play, and I think I got some good photos - which is why I was there, pacing the sidelines. Final score: 58-14.

From there, my sister Kim and I went to vertical endeavors, the local climbing gym for some rock climbing. We are practicing for our upcoming trip to New England to visit our friend Margot and do some rock climbing at Rumney in New Hampshire.

Following that, Kim, Adam, and I went to the MN State Fair. This was the first time for Adam and I. Kim was more experienced, having scoped out the famous pail-o-cookie stand previously. The Fair was everything people had told me...and being there on a Saturday night was a good first time.

The people watching was very interesting, the animals were fun to see, although they seemed fairly miserable most of the time - penned up in small cages with fans blowing on them. The food was fun - I sampled pita products, root beer, fries, cookies, strawberry milkshake, milk, and probably some other things here and there also.

Overall, the fair was a better experience than I expected. It was actually not over commercialized. Although vendors were all around, they have not really taken over every aspect of the fairgrounds. It was a comfortable place for an anti-commercial kinda guy. Minnesota really has some great fairgrounds.

Perhaps the coolest part of the fair are the free park and ride areas around the Twin Cities. You park and Metro Transit gives you a free ride to the fair. The fair subsidizes the rides so they don't lose money. In fact, they made a small profit last year after ferrying 947,000 people to the fair.

Of course, being an election year, there were a lot of political messages: shirts, pins, stickers, and booths. Seeing these, gave me an idea or two for a semi-rant. Warning: political rant type stuff ahead.

The first of two unconnected rants actually came earlier this morning as I listened to Air America. This concerns Bush's recent statement saying he doesn't think the U.S. can win the war on terror. Granted, he has since "clarified" his position on the matter, saying the war on terror is winnable and that we will win by staying on the offensive.

Many liberals, including the Kerry campaign, immediately jumped on this apparent flip-flop. As a side-bar, the Washington Post had a sensible article dealing with it. Liberals used this gaffe - clearly, Bush would have to change his entire philosophy to actually embrace this view - to exclaim that Kerry is clearly more qualified to defend the country because he believes we can win the absurdly-named War on Terror.

When Bush first declared the War on Terror, many on the left rightly decried it. Terror is a tactic - it is something people have used since creating government to influence government. It is not defeatable. What you can do, is lessen its appeal (I have recently written about how to do this). This is actually what Bush (accidentally) suggested: "I don't think you can win it ... But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."

This was a great time for people on the left to stand up and say, "Yes! This is what we have been saying for years!" But, no, they did not. Many of them missed this opportunity because they are so blinded by their hatred of Bush (in exactly the same way the right wing hated Clinton) that they immediately saw something to beat him with rather than something to advance their own agenda.

I had been mulling this over more or less in the back of mind as I wandered around the fairgrounds. It seemed like a lot of people were wearing Bush/Cheney or Kerry/Edwards buttons. I started paying closer attention and figured that there were less than 10% of the people wearing political ads. This reminded me of a quote I had read somewhere by someone who noted that given the sad state of politics in the U.S., the only reassuring trend is that so few people actually bother to vote.

I found myself looking at people who wore Bush/Cheney buttons, trying to see if I could find a pattern. Same with Kerry/Edwards. Interestingly, I did find it hard to distinguish between the two - much like the candidates in so many ways - the buttons are nearly identical when I am not wearing my (quite minor) corrective lenses. I figure their positions on so many issues are so similar: occupy Iraq, ignore poverty, encourage policies that benefit the rich, why shouldn't their buttons be quite similar.

This is not to say the buttons should be the same. Afterall, while Kerry agrees that we should determine what kind of government Iraq has, he would not say, use it as an excuse to give no-bid contracts to Halliburton. Similarly, while Bush would encourage policies that despoil the environment for our children, Kerry would encourage policies that despoil it for our great-grand kids. So the buttons have to be a little bit different. Both must of course be emblazed with red, white, and blue because if you don't use these colors, you are clearly not as patriotic as those who do.

In the end, I could find no distinction between those who wore one button over the other.

Back to Buster

I sit at my parents' house, in front of multiple computers - a geek's dream - having listened to Alan Colmes' show on the America Left channel on XM radio. I like the XM, but I don't think I will miss it that much - I still like reading more than listening.

I have been listening to more coverage of the Republican Convention than the actual convention itself, which is always dangerous, but to be honest, from what I saw of the actual convention, I didn't miss much. Fun stuff to talk about around work, but nothing that actually matters. Fluff!

I plan on grabbing a copy of the text of Bush's speech to analyze it a little bit when I get a chance, but it won't be today. I did take a look at Zell Miller's speech.

"And nothing makes this Marine madder than someone calling American troops occupiers rather than liberators."

Now this is interesting - as Bush has referred to the American occupation of Iraq as an occupation multiple times. Critics of Bush's occupation as well as supporters have called it an occupation. The reason is because it is an occupation! You can support the occupation or not, but there is no denying it is an occupation. If you support the occupation, then you should liken it to the occupation of Japan or Germany following WWII.

Liberators Vs Occupiers is a pointless distinction. Liberating a land is something that occurs during an occupation that the locals support. It is still an occupation.

Each election, I start to doubt whether or not I should call myself an anarchist. When I see the meaningless discussions and false notions that people base their votes upon, I reinforce my belief that casting a vote will do nothing to change this society for the better.

Seriously, elections are not about ideas, they are about images. Generally false images carefully crafted from focus groups and pollsters.

I ask myself what it would take to give the populace the ability to cast a well informed vote. Lots of little ideas, but no silver bullet for sure. I want to say that a good start would be a credible figure, such as Cronkite of old, who could disect claims, ads, and speeches relating to elections and deliver some unbiased commentary to the populace.

But I immediately see the problems with that solution. It is a consumer solution. It suggests people can become informed by watching TV or reading a single paper. This is not helpful. People need to become aware by becoming a part of the process. The problem with this electoral system is that people have the idea that they can just sit at home, watch a debate or two every 4 years and vote (and those are the involved ones!).

When this happens, the system tells the people what they want to hear (or more accurately, as my friend Matt once noted, what they respond to: fear). So they get all civic, go out, cast their vote, and go back to sleep while the system hums along as normal. When they awake 4 years later, much like an amnesic coma patient, they don't notice that practically nothing was resolved from the last election, that most of the promises went unkept.

Regarding the few issues that were resolved: you likely agreed with how some were resolved and were angry about others. But life goes on and you managed to deal with the fallout. This is what happens.

I hope to round this up into a more coherent piece regarding why I will not be casting a ballot in this next election. But for now, that is all I got.

RNC and Anarchy ... Separate Thoughts

I've been listening to XM Radio while at my parents' place, house sitting. Good stuff. The best part thus far has been the radio show, Unfiltered on Air America Radio. This show features Liz Winstead (of Daily Show fame) and Chuck D. Great commentary.

So the RNC - filled with people who have, time after time, condemned Hollywood actor types who speak out on political issues. So who spoke on the first night? Ron Silver - a previously liberal Hollywood type. Tonight it was Arnold "violent TV made me rich" Schwarzenegger. Good stuff.

This morning, MPR had some commentary on regarding anarchist protesters outside the RNC in NYC. It was funny, but filled with common misconceptions. So I wrote them a polite note - I include it below.

MPR folks,

This morning, Aug 31, around 7:35ish, I heard a report on Morning Edition from the NY Repubs convention dealing with anarchists. It was humorous - dealing with finding a true anarchist in the protests around the event. However, it is frustrating on some levels to hear such intelligent people offering the same misperceptions about a political philosophy as is offered in network media.

I have a couple of thoughts that you might want to include in the future. I am an anarchist. For each anarchist I have met that advocates immediate violent revolution, I have met at least one pacifist anarchist. For each anarchist I met that was a young person that appeared to be simply in love with the punk movement, I have met at least 2 communists who were simply rebelling from their parents.
Stupid anarchists occur at about the same rate as stupid people in the general population.

If you want to find an anarchist to talk to, I suggest looking in a library or book store. We are often found running the place - not in a top-down management style, but through non-hierarchicial means where people are only excluded from decisions due to extreme circumstances.

One last thing: for every anarchist I have ever met that had no idea how an anarchist society should run, I have met 100 people (probably more) who have had no concept whatsoever of the laws of supply and demand - which is what our society's entire economy is based upon. You find these things out working in a bookstore.

Thank you for your attention. And again, I did get some laughs from the piece.

Jesus and Jihad

One of the benefits of staying at my parents place, other than getting to play with the mutts, is (sudddenly Buster bursts into barking, reminding me of the flip side of his coin) the amount of interesting things to read. Andrea found a great column in an older Liberal Opinion Weekly.

Entitled "Jesus and Jihad" by Nicholas D. Kristof, it ran in the New York Times. It basically talks about the Left Behind series of evangelical thrillers and places them in an interesting context. These books have sold over 67 million copies worldwide last time I checked. I have read the first one and listented to 1-3 on books on CD. Adam and I listen to them on road trips because they are so entertaining - in a poorly written, omigod-can-you-imagine-someone-believing-this-load-of-tripe way.

At any rate, if you have ever wondered why Islam produces such hate (and I'm not suggesting it does, mind you ... I'm just asking if you have wondered that given the attitudes of so many Americans) then please, please read this short article.

In other news, I had hoped to have Hawaii photos live, but they aren't. Soon!

But I Love Waffles

And I do - I have 2 waffle makers and use them off and on. I just saw this bumper sticker that said "I voted for John Kerry before I voted against John Kerry." I thought it was funny - as someone who disdains both Kerry and Bush, I'm allowed to I guess.

The thing is that it is all part of this stupid "Kerry is a waffler" thing. I have two major reactions from this theme (one for each waffle maker I think).

I think it is good for people to change their minds. I have changed my mind on many different issues and I like it when politicians change their minds - sometimes it shows they are thinking, although often it is more a case of someone upping the campaign-contribution ante. So the idea that Kerry should be stuck in the same mindset he had when he entered politics is absurd.

My other reaction is: politicians waffle all the time. It is part and parcel to their job. President Bush opposed the Dept of Homeland Security for a long time before he supported it. He opposed the creation of the 9-11 panel for a long time before he supported it. He has "waffled" on issues also. This is what happens when you play the game in Washington. If you don't like it, fine - but let's not pretend only certain people do it. Grow up.

This is a good little thread about Pres Bush and the state of things.

Played a soccer game today - poorly. Well, I suppose mediocrely would be more accurate, but that is not really an adverb, so I cannot use it. Did knock in a PK though (penalty kick) but it was pretty ugly. We lost 4-3. I need to get in better soccer shape. I can bike a long ways, but sprinting kills me too quickly.

I'm off to house sit my parents' place here quite soon. Taking care of the dogs (Buster and Bitzi - retriever and yorkie) and hanging out off and on with my sis as time permits.

I'm hoping to finish the vacation photos today and have them posted in a few days. Fingers crossed. Almost time to start shooting Mac Soccer! Wed is the women's opener and Saturday the Football team plays. The men don't play until next Tuesday night. I got lots of film for all of 'em.

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