Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Favorites of 2006

In no particular order, they are:

Albums:

Gov't Mule: High and Mighty
Bob Dylan: Modern Times
The Wood Brothers: Ways Not to Lose
Ryan Montbleau Band: One Fine Color
Christina Aguilera: Back to Basics (smart, fresh)

(Only 5 albums! Please recommend others!)

Movies*:

The Departed
Casino Royale
Borat (come on, it's poignant and funny)
Thank You For Smoking
The Libertine
V for Vendetta
A Scanner Darkly
The Prestige

(*I still haven't seen Children of Men, Letters from Iwo Jima, Volver, Babel)

TV:

24 (my true favorite in this category)
Heroes (I'm hooked!)
Entourage ('nuff said)
Scrubs (the season that ended in Spring 2006 was pure greatness)
Lost (this may be the last season I watch it, though...)
Battlestar Galactica (not afraid to admit it)

(I started watching Season 1 of The Wire. I love it, so I'm guessing Season 4 would be on my list if I was caught-up.)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Things That Make You Go: Mmmm

There were three events that occurred in sequence on my way to lunch today that made me smile and remember that life is O.K. Two of the stories are very cliché Christmas-esc type events and one is just something that made me laugh so I thought, it being the Holidays and all, that I would share them with you. I am typically very pessimistic, and I tend to like stories that are in chronological order, so I will begin with the first event even though it is by far the least inspiring.

Honk. Hooonnnnnnkkkkkkk. An electrical company's mini van filled with three or four people merged lanes cutting off a construction worker and forcing him and his passenger to stay in the left lane, as well as giving them the urge to lay onto the horn so that all within hearing distance would know of the minivan's driver's mistake. The horn alone must not have sufficiently belabored the minivan and the construction workers must have felt as if they had been personally insulted so the passenger rolled down the window of the truck and started shouting obscenities. Of course the driver of the minivan could not hear what was being said so he rolled down his window.
"What?" He asked.
"You're ugly," was the response he got, although the traffic in the background made it difficult to hear.
"What?" The driver of the minivan asked again, either in complete disbelief that a grown man was yelling at him to tell him he was ugly or because he honestly didn't hear.
"You're UGLY!"


That was all I heard but it made me feel nice and warm on the inside. Seriously! I love seeing that kind of stuff. Things like that really make you understand how truly ridiculous the world is and all the little problems that people get angry about. And speaking of little tings:

Two midgets, little people, or dwarfs, (I don't really know the difference or what is PC these days) were walking hand in hand down the street having a good time and laughing with one-another.


Yes, this was a brief and passing moment but it was enough to make me feel good. These are people that are out of the norm. They were undoubtedly made fun of more than most while growing up and must have, I would think, felt somewhat aggrieved at their situation in life. Putting that aside the two of them found happiness in a world that makes finding happiness in typical life difficult and yet they managed with atypical statures, and hence lives. Props.

As I already mentioned, I am typically a pessimist, which is why when I observe something to be optimistic about it makes me very happy. Young children have this effect on me. They are so young that the entire world is one large ball of optimism and innocence to them. Seeing this makes me happy, and just after the dour traffic incident I was privileged enough to see a good-spirited moment with a very little girl.

A little girl in a pink jacket was holding her mom's hand while crossing Stuart street. On the other side of the street was a man selling news papers that were taken from a free newspaper bin. The man was asking for money from people walking by and the little girl's mom told her daughter to go give the man a five dollar bill. The girl waddled up to the man and gave him the money then turned around and ran back to her mom with a big smile on her face. Handing a needy man some money turned out to make this cute little girl incredibly happy. She did not, obviously, take the news paper because she was probably not old enough to even know the alphabet.


It is this sort of scene that gives me hope for humanity. Not much hope mind you, because I have seen, read about, and heard stories of the horrible capabilities of man, and I'm naturally inclined to pessimism, but some hope it did give.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Brain Drain

I'm going to pose a simple question without detailing possible scenarios. I'd like to hear what you all think about this.

Assuming that birth rates are dropping within industrialized countries and that the majority of innovation occurs within these countries, is it safe to say that there will be a drastic decrease in innovation in the coming future?

Let's try to predict where intellectual innovation will come from over the next 200 years or so.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Wacked Out War on Drugs

For many years I have been fighting to persuade people to agree with my perspective on the government’s “war on drugs”. Basically, I believe that all drugs should be legalized, with some restrictions. This belief arises not just from an urge to experience different states of mind myself but also economic and safety reasons as well.

In the US, marijuana is the largest cash crop, meaning it makes more money (~$25 billion per year) than any other plant grown and sold, including wheat (~$19 billion), tobacco, cotton, and corn. Why don’t we tax this huge pot of money, control its distribution, and save a whole hell of a lot of money spent on prisons, law enforcement (coast guard, boarder patrol, and police)?

Doctors have been using the dissociative drug Ketamine for a long time now to anesthetize patients. It has also been used as party drug because at slightly lower doses Ketamine can produce hallucinations and out of body experiences. Recently researchers have also found that at lower doses than those used at parties, Ketamine actually works incredibly well as an anti-depressant.

If other psychoactive drugs, such as LSD, Mescaline, or MDMA can also have such positive results should the government reschedule them as Schedule II drugs so that physicians and researchers can more easily purchase them for use in medical research? LSD and Mescaline have both been shown to help treat schizophrenia, alcoholism, and several other diseases and they are not addictive or cause any physical toxic effects.

What about the drugs that do cause addiction in some people and can be very damaging to their health and life? Well one thing that legalizing the drugs would do is put the drugs in the hands of people who know what they are doing with them. Pharmacists, if they were going to sell the drug, could be legally forced to maintain an online list of people who have purchased the drug and the date that it was purchased on, that way they would know not to sell to anyone who had purchased a dose of Heroine within the last week, or whatever arbitrary time is needed for the brain to recuperate from a dose of Heroine, from any pharmacist connected to the network. Pharmacists would also have to give sterile needles. The addictive nature of Heroine does not manifest itself until after multiple successive uses of it that cause a tolerance to build in the person using the drug. The tolerance is an indicator that the brain chemistry has been altered and there is now a dependence on the drug to maintain a normal state of mind and sensation, this is called addiction. If enough time is separated between each use then a tolerance never builds and the damaging effects on the brain are greatly reduced, if not altogether eliminated.

So in conclusion, the US could make billions of dollars by taxing drug sales, reducing the number of people in prisons, and by no longer wasting money trying to prevent the import of the drugs. Control on who used the drugs would be far greater, and therefore usage would be far safer, and new therapies for difficult to treat diseases and disorders could be researched. The is no good reason to make drugs illegal as far as I can see. Making drugs legal would make them easier to get but would also make them less dangerous and better information surrounding their use could be disseminated (D.A.R.E. would have to stop lying about the negative effects of use of marijuana, and other drugs).

Monday, November 27, 2006

Civil Unions

I think this is one of the most divisive issues facing the people of this country today. Gay marriage has been outlawed in 32 states, including Hawaii, where the denial of a marriage license to gay couples was ruled as unconstitutional in 1993. That state passed gay marriage legislation in 1998. Massachusetts is currently the only state to allow gay marriages, and their Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that this would only apply to residents. Vermont is the only state that allows Civil Unions, and Arizona recently rejected a same sex marriage measure. The only states that have not addressed the issue with any sort of statute or amendment to their constitutions are: Arizona, New York, New Mexico, New Jersey, Massachussetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The Federal government enacted the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 (signed into law by President Clinton), which bars any same sex couple from the receipt of federal benefits. With an issue as volatile as same sex marriage, it is understandable that few solutions have been proposed.

It is with this wave of legislation, and in discussion with conservatives, that I believe I have an understanding of the real issue. The question I have been asking is whether or not the issue is purely religious, or is it out of a genuine desire to deny same sex couples equal benefits. The resounding answer has been that the only problem conservatives really have with gay marriage, is a religous one. Being an atheist, this is obviously hard for me to understand. What I have been trying to do, rather than stay the course (couldn't help myslef), is to find real solutions for the problems we are facing today. I think that if more people tried to do that, then we might actually start seeing change, and people could start to have faith in something more than their god, they could start having faith in their government.

With the same ferocity that religious groups fight the idea of gay marriage, homosexuals understandably reject the idea of civil unions. The thought that any American is denied a right is repugnant, but marriage isn't a civil right. If it were me, anything less than what another is offered, is unacceptable and discriminatory. This is what makes it so hard to understand how so many people in this country approve of bans on same sex marriage. How could anyone deny something as personal as marriage to another, after all, isn't what happens in the bedroom off limits to legislation? But what I've come to understand is that the right doesn't see marriage as something that CAN be offered to homosexuals. Their faith doesn't allow it, and so they can't understand the idea either.

If it truly is a religious issue, then I believe I can offer a solution. Marriage is a religious instituion. It was founded within organized religion, and is mired with its rituals and rules. At some point along the way, the institution became one recognized as a secular one. It offers us tax incentives, and has an entire court devoted to it. The concept of family itself is only granted by someone holding a license, who is married someone else with a license. I can certainly understand why incentives are offered to families. The median household income in the United States hovers around $50,000. The keyword being household. If families are to ever make it, and if children are going to get the opportunities they deserve in order to become useful, productive members of our society, then we owe it to them to help in any way we can. However, the presence of children is not what defines a family, just as Marriage doesn't. So I offer this. Remove government from marriage altogether. If it is a religious institution, then let it be. No more licenses, no more state sanctioned marriage. Let the church marry who they believe can be, or should be, and everyone else can obtain a civil union, whether it is a man and a woman, a man and a man, etc. If benefits are not an issue, then extend them to everyone, whether that is a product of a marriage or a civil union. If the Church chooses not to marry homosexuals, then maybe that should be a clue as to what they should believe, but they would be on equal ground with everyone else who obtains a civil union. No person should feel like they are less than another in this country, and it's unfortunate that their are institutions like organized religion that preach this everyday. I'm hopeful that one day I will live in a country where no person is discriminated against by this government.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Why rush legislation?

So the Democrats took Congress. As expected, the lame duck, Republican-controlled 109th Congress is scrambling to get in last-minute judge appointments and legislation. Pelosi has the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress planned out. The rush is on to dazzle voters with fresh ideas and fast action. So, what is it we want to see moving forward? Do we want an end to corruption, as many voters indicated in exit polls? Do we want to see a lot of legislation passed as quickly as possible, catering to every whim on the national radar? I think what we can all agree on is that we need compromise. I’d rather see Congressional leadership take the time to develop majority legislation – something that can bring people together. Sadly, politics has turned to picking battles to fight versus finding solutions and reaching compromise. The Bush administration will most likely sign legislation increasing the minimum wage. Will the same be said for stem cell research. Is that the battle that will be fought? We must put an end to steamrolling legislation through Congress simply because we have a slim majority and begin to develop relationships with those on the other side of the aisle. Voters want to see progress. Voters want to see improvement.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Welcom Ian

Ian is the newest admin to help work on This Life and Time so pay close attention to see how his posts are sure to add another level interest and open the doors to relevant discussion. We now have three intelligent and intriguing editors for this blog and I am extremely excited to see where this will lead and how new discussions will develop.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Electoral College is neither Educated or Elected

I have been intrigued by the Electoral College, mostly because of the result of the 2000 election, one of four instances whereby a President was elected in the United States, without receiving a majority of the popular vote. Even as I sat in disbelief, watching the elections unfold, I could not bring myself to understand this system. As I’ve researched it, I’ve found out the underlying reason why I would have hesitated to spend the time and effort figuring this baffling system out. It doesn’t make any sense, and that’s why nobody knows how it works!

The idea that we are a nation who elects their leader is engrained in every American’s psyche. It is something we present to the world as a system to live by, and countless have died for it. It is an idea so entangled within our social fabric, that it is a complete mystery as to how 300 million Americans could all not know that it is a complete illusion. Even more astounding, is the incorrect assumption that each person’s vote is equal. Consider this, if only one person in California voted in the 2008 election, then whomever that person voted for, would receive 55 of the 270 electoral votes necessary for a majority. That means one person’s vote could in theory count for 20% of that majority. Granted this is an extreme case, but it reveals the potential flaws in the system. A more practical approach is to look at the more populous States vs. the great void that is the interior of this country. Consider this; Alaska, Deleware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia, carry the same number of Electoral Votes as Florida, but only have 1/3 of the population combined. Therefore, a resident of Florida counts for only 1/3 of that of one of these States.

Below is some more information about the Electoral College. I was interested to know that when you vote for President, your vote actually is going towards an Elector, who is chosen by the parties. 85 times in our Country’s history, an elector has refused to vote as was determined by the populace. These “Faithless Electors” further show just how ridiculous this system is. The idea of Democracy is something I myself hold dear, and I’m disappointed to find out it is nothing more than just that, an idea, that has yet to be practiced in the United States. Any system that has 3 Amendments defining it, and still can’t accomplish the goal, needs to be eliminated.

How many electoral votes does each state have?
AL: 9AK: 3AZ: 8AR: 6CA: 54CO: 8CT: 8DE: 3DC: 3FL: 25
GA: 13HI: 4ID: 4IL: 22IN: 12IA: 7KS: 6KY: 8LA: 9ME: 4
MD: 10MA: 12MI: 18MN: 10MS: 7MO: 11MT: 3NE: 5NV: 4NH: 4
NJ: 15NM: 5NY: 33NC: 14ND: 3OH: 21OK: 8OR: 7PA: 23RI: 4
SC: 8SD: 3TN: 11TX: 32UT: 5VT: 3VA: 13WA: 11WV: 5WI: 11
WY: 3

TOTAL: 538

The Electoral College Today
* Each state is allocated a number of Electors equal to the number of its U.S. Representatives plus its two senators (in CA the total electoral votes is 54).
* The political parties of each state submit a list of individuals pledged to their candidates for president that is equal in number to the number of electoral votes for the state to the State’s chief election official (in CA it is the Secretary of State). Each party determines its own way of choosing its electors.
* Members of the Congress or employees of the Federal government are prohibited from serving as Electors.
* After the parties hold their caucuses and the states hold their primaries, the major parties nominate their candidate for the Office of President. The names are then submitted to the state’s chief election official (in CA, the Secretary of State) as they will appear on the general election ballot.
* On the Tuesday following the first Monday of the month of November, registered voters in each state cast their ballots for the Office of President and Vice President.
* Whichever presidential candidate gets the most popular votes in a State wins all of the Electors for that state except for the states of Maine and Nebraska which award electoral votes proportionately.
* On the Monday following the second Wednesday of December, each state’s electors meet in their respective state and cast their electoral votes (one for President and one for Vice President).
* Each Elector must cast at least one of their two votes (see above) for a person outside of their state in order to prevent the election of a president and vice president from the same state (however, the presidential and vice presidential candidates choose each other as running-mates and are on the same ticket in the popular vote).
* The electoral votes are sealed and sent to the President of the U.S. Senate and are read aloud to both Houses of Congress on January 6.
* The candidate with the most electoral votes, provided there is an absolute majority (over one half of the total vote) is declared president.
* If no one candidate receives an absolute majority of electoral votes the U.S. House of Representatives selects the President from the top three vote-getters.
* On January 20, at noon, the elected president and vice president are sworn into office.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Million Dollar Ideas

I'm tired of getting up at 8am to go to work. I want to be able to do whatever I want whenever I want, but in order to do that I need a lot of money and in order to get a lot of money I have to work. So I've been trying to come up with some ideas on how to limit the amount of work and maximize the amount of money I make. Here is a short list of some, potential, million dollar ideas I have:

1. Sell t-shirts with 3D stereograms printed on them, like Magic Eye posters, where if you cross your eyes and stare at it long enough a 3D image of breasts pops out. Each shirt: $15. Only need to sell 66,666 of them to make a million bucks, and I'm sure there would be a demand much larger than that for such a sweet shirt. Okay, this one might not make me a millionaire but I would love to see that shirt on a girl some day.

2. Culturing autologous keratinocyte stem cells isolated from plucked hairs of the temporal region to be injected back into the scalp to regrow hair for alopecia and burn victims. The cells can also be used for skin grafts. This is a person by person procedure, similar to plastic surgery only non-invasive and no surgical procedures would need to be done only plucking hairs and small intradermal injections of cells. Price per person: $5000. So 200 people would need to be treated before $1,000,000 was made. To cover the cost of setting up a lab to culture the cells and an office to perform the injections about 220 people would need to be treated. Seems easy enough. That would be 1 person per day so in less than one year I could have $1,000,000. There are roughly 6 billion people in the world, 3 billion are men, 2.25 billion men go bald by age 80, 1.5 billion by age 40, 750 million by age 30. A large fraction of women begin to lose hair later in life also. So lets say I was able to treat two people per day working 200 days per year I could have $10 million in 5 years. Not bad. The down side: I would have to hire an MD and the the FDA would have to okay the procedure which takes years and plenty of clinical trials, and requires money. I could, however, do this from my garage easily, black market style, and charge $7000 instead.

3. Create a comedy cartoon where the characters are derived from images of funny graffiti and drawings found while walking the streets of the greater Boston area. There is already Snowman and Freddy and I'm sure in the days to come I will find a lot more.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Welcome Jeremy

I just recently added Jeremy (aka Jerems) as another admin for This Life And Time. Hopefully with his addition and the soon to be addition of Ian we will have more consistent posts, and a larger readership (anything more than one person per month will be an improvement). As always I hope anyone that reads this site will comment on their posts so that we can get good discussions going...plus it makes a writer feel to good to know that they have readers.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween Pictures


From top left to bottom right:
1. Ben, Jeremy, me, and Ari; Gangster, Carl (from Aqua Teen Hunger Force), Che Guevara, Hermione (Harry Potter).
2. Ari, Paula, Heather, Jeremy, Ian, Lisa, Ben; Paula was a witch, Ian was a Vietnam vet, and Lisa was Snow White.
3. Andrew Rossa, Beatrice aka Bea. I don't remember what they were.
4. Ben, Paula.
5. Ian.
6. Heather.
7. Jeremy.
8. Hui fai, Jeremy, Danny; Hui Fai was Princess Toadstool and Danny was Mario.

Thanks Jeremy for the first and last picture.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Enraged By Spin

Vice President Dick Cheney was interviewed on Fox news today saying, basically, that the brutal insurgent attacks in Iraq lately are happening because the insurgents want to sway the elections in favor of the Democrats. Not because they want an end to western lifestyle, not because they are fundamentalist Muslim extremists that want to end the freedom to worship under any religion other than Islam, not because of their hatred of US dominance over most of the world and its meddling with other governments, but because the insurgents want the democrats to win in the elections on the 7th of November! Of course! Now it all makes sense. I am constantly being overwhelmed by a mixed feeling of fear, anger, and amazement that Americans elected power hungry idiots to run our country.
CAVUTO: Do you suspect that these insurgent attacks are timed to influence our midterm elections?
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: That's my belief. I think they are, very, very cognizant of our schedule, if you will. They also -- you've got to remember what the strategy is of the terrorists. They specifically can't beat us in a stand-up fight. They never have. But whether it's al Qaeda or the other elements that are active in Iraq, they are betting on the proposition they can break the will of the American people. They think we won't have the stomach for the fight long-term.
...
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: [The insurgents] know that the way they win is if they can, in fact, force America to withdraw on the basis that we aren't going to stay and finish the job, their basic proposition that they can break the will of the American people. Story

Well I might be inclined to believe him if the will of the American people was in favor of staying in Iraq indefinitely but unfortunately for him the will of the American people is a plurality of 37% for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq (poll data). Now there are, of course, Americans that want us to "stay the course" in Iraq so I guess what Cheney meant was the insurgents are trying to break the will of the people that have been brainwashed by Fox News and the Republican party into believing that the Iraq war is somehow doing good for the people of Iraq, that staying there is helping them form a stable democracy, that by being in Iraq we are somehow making the US safer from terrorist attacks. Well, I just hope the American people are smarter than that and go to vote on Nov. 7th for a democrat or even an independent (as long the independent candidate is against the war and for pulling our troops out as soon as humanly possible) but not for a Republican.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Strange Rantings of An Angry Mad Man

I opened Word this morning and the program asked me if I wanted to recover some automatically saved data. I clicked Yes and I'm I glad I did because I found this little amount of text that I had written while drunk a few nights ago. It is the beginning to a novel that I wanted to call The Strange Rantings of An Angry Mad Man. This is all that was recovered but I like how it sounds:
Circling beyond the esoteric bounds of the event horizon I collapsed into my own hole. I was bored. The hole was my mind.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hilarious Street Paper

I found a page of torn out spiral bound notebook paper lying on the ground on the way home from work today and when I looked down I thought it looked like a strange encrypted message but it turned out to be far more awesome than that: It is partly a rhyme, I think, and partly a little kids story for class. It is in the style of handwriting from a 2nd grader or 4th, or 5th I have no idea how young the kid's handwriting looks but it looks and sounds very juvenile. I will scan a copy of it tomorrow so you know I am not making this up but for your immediate viewing pleasure I have copied the writing down as best as I could understand it:

I Want to Be Older

"I want to Be Older, O ya how old Do you want to Be
Some Balls my self shoting 21 I see
can see it in my eyes Rad when I was
a little kid my mom said I had
to get some"

-----

Said Stink, knock-ing on her door.
"Cant" said Judy. "Too much rain."
"What?"
"Never mind. Just go to school without me."
"Mom, Judy's sipping school!" Stink yelled.
Mom came into Judy's room. "Judy honey what's wrong?"
"I'm sick of rain," she whispered to mouse.
"Sick whats wrong what hurts," asked mom.
"My head, for one thing. From all that noisy rain."
"You have a headache yes. And a sore throat. And a fever. And a stiff neck. That's from sleeping with the diction-ary under your pillow," said test Stink.
To ace your spelling
Yes hi
Stuck out her cherry Ames-cough-drop tongue at Stink. Mom felt Judy's head.
"You don't seem to have a fever. Faker," said Stink.
"Come back in five minutes said Judy. "I'll have a fever by then."
"Faker, faker, faker," said Stink. If only she had...

That is the end of the story unfortunately so we will never get to know what happens but I'll postulate that Judy was actually faking being sick.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Update 3: Bridge Over Charles River Painting

Below is the latest work I have accomplished on my Bridge Over Charles River painting. The photo is a little blurry but you can still see the most obvious changes. Or can you? I don't know if what I have changed is obvious at all, but it did take me a long time to do.

Previous edits:


I'll try and get a better picture of the most recent update tonight.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

An E-mail To FOX News

I read an article on FOXNews.com dealing with Bill Clinton's interview with Chris Wallace on Fox. I was slightly appaled by the article so I decided I would write a letter to the author, John Gibson, to tell him what I thought. I really hope he replies, but my guess is he will not, or if he does it will be a short and sweet answer like: "Welcome to the GOP!". Here is the article and below is the e-mail I sent:
Dear John Gibson,

You are of course right about this political war between the parties, it is already a bare-knuckles brawl. I think this political fighting will lead to a lot of misinformation from both parties as people get riled up due to subtle, or not-so-subtle, attacks on their dignity, morals, previous accomplishments or lack there of, by reporters. And I think you are doing just that with your article "Clinton Camp Comes Out Swinging", but you have turned on Hillary Clinton instead of discrediting Bill Clinton's interview. Here is the same quote by Hillary Clinton from your article:

"I'm certain, if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report entitled, 'Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside the United States' he would have taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team."

"Well, he was shown that," was your response.

There is no contradiction here. Essentially what Hillary Clinton said was that if Bill Clinton was shown a report (which apparently he was) about Bin Laden's intentions to attack the US then history will show that he did take the threat seriously and more so than President Bush did in the short eight months after his election. That is it. There is no need for her to "correct the record and apologize for misstating the facts", she just gave her opinion on what she thinks history will say in the future. Your article shows your allegiance to FOX news and for loyalty you deserve some credit, however you appear, in this article, to have "just come out slugging" exactly the type of tactic, that you seemingly despise, of the Clinton campaigns. Talk about "blame, scapegoat and divert": you diverted from Bill Clinton's interview to Hillary Clinton's speech defending her husband, then blamed her for incorrectly stating the facts (of which she did not state any), then used Barbra Boxer, Jane Skinner, and Lanny Davis as scapegoats for the misinformation presented by FOX news. It is this type of reporting that got Bill Clinton so mad in the first place. Do you not see the hypocrisy in your own statements, or is this your own cleaver way of trying excite the republican party?

Andrew


And that's my word, biyotch...Werd. (That's my attempt at humor, you have to see John Gibson's signiture sign-off to understand it, but I'm guessing even then it will not make you laugh).

Friday, September 01, 2006

Heroism

In the past there were war heroes; Men that could ride their horse valiantly through battle, hack off the head's of their enemies, and return back to their adoring family and community. Now a day there are no war heroes, apart from the caring eye's of a veteran's children. There are heroes, though, and here is a list of my personal heroes right now and a description of why, or a link to why, I think they should be everyone's heroes.

Jon Stewart – The Daily Show has provided the most intelligent criticism of government, media, and society, and has covered it hilariously. He blends entertainment and news in an intellectual and comedic way and has opened people’s eyes to the hypocrisy of the Bush administration. Jon Stewart also went on Crossfire and destroyed the idea that Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala (but mostly Tucker Carlson) were a legitimate news source they try to present themselves as such. Video Link.

Steven Colbert – Very similar reason to Jon Stewart but went one step further and used his faux-conservative personality from the show The Colbert Report to lambaste the president to his face at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Video Link.

Keith Olbermann - He is my most recent hero because of an on air commentary/rant against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's speech to the American Legion. Rumsfeld's speech was partly about dissent against the Bush administration's actions in Iraq. Rumsfeld told the audience that critics of the Iraq War "have still not learned history's lessons." The lessons in history he is referring to are those dealing with Nazi Fascism. Keith Olberman's commentary rebuking Rumsfeld's speech was very poignant and should be seen by as many people as possible. Here is the Link to the video.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Started Painting Again

It has been a while since I last worked on my painting of the bridge over the Charles River. Well I had about an hour and a half to work on it tonight finally and here is the result. The photo was a bit dark because my room doesn't have very good lighting so see if you can see the difference between this version the first photo. Click on the images below to enlarge them.


If you couldn't tell the difference: shadows shifted, got covered up and still need to be added, and bricks and some detail was added to the bridge. Not much difference really but more pictures should be posted soon because I have my paints all set up finally after my recent move out to Central Sq.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Wu-Tang Jazzy Remix

BoingBoing.net pointed me to this incredible mash-up of old-time jazz and Wu Tang hip-hop. Incredible. It was created by DJ BC, from here in Boston and after hearing it I am now dedicated to going to a club where he is spinning. Here is the link to his site containing a few mp3s and if you want the entire album (and if you are anything like me you will) then you can get all of the files via torrents.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

DRM and Apple's iTunes

Okay I've heard a lot of complaints about DRM and most of them I agree with; It limits accessability to others, to yourself (you can't load the song on any other player), and it limits competition (again because you can't load it on any other player). But I have to ask myself this question: how has it effected me? The answer is that it hasn't. I do not buy music from iTunes. I steal it, I rip it from CD, or go out and listen to the band play. The last example doesn't work too well for bands that are no longer around but the idea is the same: if you do not like the Apple Store use something else that gives you MP3s and not DRM encoded AAC files or support the band directly. It is really easy and luckily the iPod lets us load non-DRM encoded MP3s.

Apple created a new market for music and I think musicians are relatively happy about it. Any start-up producer, or band, with a buisness license can get a song on iTunes and promote it to a new audience that would not have been there strictly with peer-to-peer file sharing or CD sales. In fact I now use iTunes to listen to 30 seconds of a new artist's song that I wouldn't have heard otherwise, and if it sounds remotely interesting to me I will then go and download it via a P2P network. If I really like the band I will go and buy the CD (never will I buy anything from Apple's iTunes Music Store, or for that matter any other store that sells DRM encoded MP3 files). I am happy, however, for Apple for being so successful with this market and I hope they continue to be so, so long as it doesn't ever impede upon my ability or avidity to get new music.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Future of Humanity

On Yahoo Answers a few days ago professor Stephen Hawking (the physicist that developed the equations for the understanding of blackhole radiation, and well known for his book A Brief History of Time) posed the question: How can the human race survive the next hundred years? Specifically he states, in a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?

I have decided to delve into this question and discuss my personal predictions for the future of humanity.

In the short run the world must be most worried about nuclear war. How would a nuclear war begin? Say North Korea launched one of their Taepodong-2 long-range missiles carrying a 15 kiloton nuclear warhead (I do not know if that is possible but let's speculate that it is) at Anchorage Alaska, the closest major US city that the missile could hit. If the missile detonated the nuclear warhead during the day there would be around 260,000 deaths instantaneously. Nuclear fall-out could contaminate the air and water all the way down to Oregon and possibly as far out as Chicago depending on wind conditions.

The USA might immediately retaliate by detonating several 1-15 megaton nuclear devices (100 times more powerful than North Korea’s) over North Korea, wiping out most if not all of what would now be the former North Korea. Another option that the US could take that would be less destructive, but essentially produce the same political result, would be to release thousands of smaller non-nuclear missiles to destroy all potential nuclear sites and all of Pyongyang. While hundreds of thousands of lives would be lost and at least one nuclear weapon used, this would not be all out nuclear war. Even China and Russia who sympathize with North Korea would not even for one second think of retaliating against the US with more nuclear warfare.

Nuclear war will not happen within the US, Western Europe, Russia, China, or any industrialized democratic nation. Of course China is not governed by democracy so it is possible that a leader of China in the future will pose a threat to the world by provoking another Cold War situation with the US, but I doubt that will happen.

If Iran were to develop nuclear weapons then it is possible a nuclear war between Israel, Iran and other Arab states could happen. I highly doubt that it would though because of UN backing of Israel and the fact that Pakistan and India have already shown that they are fully capable of not initiating nuclear war against one another even in times of war or turmoil (to use India and Pakistan as an example for Middle Eastern and Arab states).

Terrorism is another possible route for nuclear devastation. If a terror organization got a hold of a small nuclear device then that could be catastrophic but, again, it would not end in all out nuclear war. Terrorism is a nuisance and often tragic but the result is not the extermination of the human race.

Political unrest, though I’m not sure I would call it in “chaos”, is existent, especially anti-US sentiment towards our foreign policies dealing with Iraq (which I believe to be very justified) but no other nation has the power and desire to destroy the US or, for that matter, start a nuclear war with any other country (of course excluding Iran and Israel).

Hawking mentions political and social chaos but I’m not sure there is really that much difference between the two so I will skip a discussion about stresses in societies and how that leads to political turmoil.

Environmental issues threaten our (meaning humanity’s) way of life more than any other issue we face today. Global warming will raise sea levels, cause extremely violent storms, form deserts from forest, and inhospitable jungle from dry land. But human life will continue. We may not thrive as we do today but we will not cease to be either. Of course those changes I mention won’t happen within 100 years they will happen within 300-1000 years so in the short run we don’t have too much to worry about. That is not to say we shouldn’t change how we behave now because it is possible to prevent many of the disasters that global warming will cause.

-- Addition to original post:

Of course on second thought 100 years is a long time and the stability of the world, eventhough I see it as getting more and more stable with time, could very easily drastically change. A major change in the stability of a region typically occures when the socio-economic conditions are eroded. Look at Palestine, it's people are poor, live in squalor, and are heavily armed and hence there is constant fighting. Look at Haiti. Look at Darfur in the Sudan. I can not forsee a situation where the US might be plauged with a complete loss of stability, even with a terrorist, or oherwise, bombing of Washington DC and the complete obliteration of the leadership of the US. The military would still be present and it would take control until a new leadership could be put into place. But, again, 100 years is a long time. Who knows.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Progression of Paint

I took up the hobby of acrylic painting a while ago and I painted about three paintings on canvas that were really terrible. Bob Ross made it look so easy! Well, finally, I am actually enjoying a new painting that I am currently working on and I think the end product will turn out nicely. This time I decided to have a little patience and do the painting coat by coat, each time adding a little more detail to the image. It has taken me several days to get to where I am now, which is probably about 30-40% complete. I thought it might be fun to let others see the progression of my painting from here on out so I took a picture of it in it's partially done state and I will continue to take more pictures as it gets closer and closer to being finished so you can see the steps it takes to create an acrylic painting using my style of painting (I assume it is my own style since I was never taught how to paint). This painting is of the Charles River and it is done by memory so it probably isn't recognizable but it really is supposed to be the Charles. So here it is, click on it for a larger image. Charles River Painting

Friday, June 02, 2006

Voting Fraud

If you haven't read this already then read it. Rolling Stone: Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

A lot of the article you've already probably heard about but it goes into a fairly good amount of detail as to how voting fraud, of so many shapes and sizes, was committed. If you were at all like me after the 2004 election you were dismayed at how Bush could have possibly won. I spent hours in front of my computer for weeks after the election reading about fraud charges that were arising due mostly to electric balloting machines and the possibility of politically motivated hacks into them. This article shows that there was so much more done to influence the vote to come out in Bush's favor that it makes me sick to my stomach...all over again. President Bush is such an appallingly vile president, if not the worst in the history of the US, that him and his administration need to be ousted and fast.

With the midterm elections coming this November we need to do whatever it is we can to make sure incidents like this do not continue.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Saddam Hussein vs US: A Quick Statistical Analysis of Civilian Death

1988. 5000 Iraqi civilians killed by chemical warfare.
1987. 50,000-100,000 civilian Kurds were killed. Genocide.
1990. Kuwait, >1000 nationals killed during the beginning of the invasion.
1991. 30,000-60,000 civilians killed for suspected revolt.
Since 1980. >10,000 political opponents in Iraq.

Average = 136,000 + or - 40,000 civilians killed by Saddam Hussein’s regime over the course of 20 years.

US War in Iraq has killed 38,000-42,000 civilians in 5 years. So far the US hasn’t killed as many cilivilians as Saddam Hussein but how many more years will this war continue?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Inspirational Help

I am losing interest in just about everything. I was so excited to get politically active, to discuss philosophical ideas, post pictures, analyze dreams, anything, and yet now I am so unmotivated to write about anything that I am thinking about just tossing the whole blog away. If anyone accidentally wanders upon this blog, or any of my friends that may still check it on occasion please help motivate me, inspire me, by giving me a topic to write about in the comments for this post. One word would be enough. I need inspiration.

THC and Ethanol Flow Through My Brain

Well I woke up this morning and read a bit of nonsense that I wrote when I was stoned and drunk late last night. If you can muster the courage to read it then I suggest you read it with a British accent; it seems all that much more ridiculous.

The world came to a, a… well I don’t think I can remember what, exactly, it is that I was talking about. Do I sound British in your thoughts? Do I come off as, ah well, it doesn’t really matter. Sometimes I have a temper about me but it never pans out too much––if you know what I mean by that then you can join my club. The intricate came as a flood over the walls of the Parthenon. I was worried but the worry subsided and gave way to utter fear after only twelve days. I was of course talking about the silicone atoms floating there next to an oxygen and then, blam! Boob the world.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Couple Bad Dreams and One Bad Day: Analyze This Freud

Dream 1:
Someone was trying to poison me with a highly contagious and deadly microbe. I had received word of the assassination attempt through government sources outside the US. They warned me that they had intelligence that the individual responsible was someone high up in the government so I was in grave danger because they had a lot of resources.
I figured I had a few days to collect my stuff and go into hiding so I went to bed without thought. When I woke up I rolled over in bed to find a dead body with skin peeling off from rot, and hundreds of red welts and ulcers all over the naked decomposing body.

In real life I leaped out of bed throwing the blankets on the floor and yelled. It was only 2:30 in the morning.

Dream 2:
I’m in an old living room with ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend (who my brain invented an image for). She is boring me by studying some English literary book, and her boyfriend is pissing me off by acting like he is really into what she is studying but it is obvious that he isn’t. I mention to my friend Tony, an old friend from high school, that we need to start packing for the hike tomorrow. The hike will be 29 miles through the Cascade Mountains. This peaks the ex’s interest and she starts asking me a lot of questions but I don’t answer many of them because I am pissed that she brought her boyfriend with her to my place and while there at my place all she is doing is reading some extremely boring English book.

The next day Tony and I go hiking. The terrain is unbelievably gorgeous with tall pines and redwood trees all around.

This is where the dream gets strange. At some point on the hike we come to a field. In the center of the field is a pond that seems to be growing bigger and bigger as we look at it. Soon enough we realize that there are aliens around that are using technology that far surpasses ours to direct comets toward earth. As the comets pass by they leave a trail of ice particles that is then pulled down to earth with their technology and focused into this one little area. On the way to earth the ice melts and gets collected into this pond. The aliens pick up Tony and I and explain to us that they are flooding the planet in order to make it habitable for themselves. I get into a lengthy discussion with one of the aliens about how they should let humans live and progress (I don’t remember actually discussing anything but I do remember the alien I was talking with deciding that I was an okay being and that if there were others like me then the planet could survive). But unfortunately for human beings the alien's boss did not agree and they flooded the Earth. I woke up as I was seeing plains and cities being enveloped with water.

As it turns out these dreams were not good omens for the rest of my day because when I left my house for work in the morning I realized that I locked myself out of my house, without my wallet, bus pass, or phone. It was pouring rain. I had to break back into my house to get my stuff, which required breaking the screen off of a window and climbing up onto the garage roof to get into the window. And to top it off the bus that I catch decided not to come for over 45 minutes (it is supposed to come every 15 minutes) so I was extremely later for work. Not a good start to the day. Now some people might say, “well it can only get better” but in my experience whenever you think things couldn’t get any worse they almost always do, so here I am at work just waiting for something horrible to happen.

Monday, May 01, 2006

More Photography: Past and Present

Six new photos from this weekend's BBQ and two old ones from P-Funk concert and Croatia. Click on each image for a larger size. Or go to my Flickr Account to see all of them.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

To-Do List That Made Me Laugh

Even though it was sunny this morning, and the flowers were blooming, and the trees finally have leaves, I was a little depressed. I got on the Red Line to go to work and found a little piece of paper that made me laugh out loud and instantly brightened my day. It was a to-do list and went as follows:

- Let tv/movie ideas about supernatural go.
Eph 6:10-17

Ideas:
- devil NOT invincible
- You can't fight him w/wits, willpower, or human strength

Difference between "power" and "authority"?
- God has power, He gave man authority.
- devil's goals more worldly and "everyday" than you may think.


Okay, so let's analyze this note.
1. The first to-do item states: Let tv/movie ideas about supernatural go. Yet the very next item on the to-do list is an idea about the supernatural and the ways to fight, or how not to fight, the devil.

2. The devil is not invicible but you can not fight him with the mind or with human strength. So can we beat him with nuclear warfare? Maybe human strength can't hurt the devil but if we trained a tiger to attack him would that work? I once saw a movie where the devil was killed by shining strong headlamps from a 4x4 pickup truck on him, maybe that would work. That was an awesome B-movie, if anyone that reads this knows what the name of it was please comment on this post.

3. Eph 6:10-17 reads: 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

So, basically, that section of Ephesians 6 says: This world and heavenly realms are full of evil rulers and authorities and as people we should stand up against these evil powers. The best way to stand up to evil is to first of all protect yourself from it with the armor of virtues: truth (the belt that holds the armor together), righteousness (breastplate, the bulk of armor), salvation (helmet), readiness of peace (shoes). And to fight back we have the word of God(sword). Except for the word of God and the shield of faith none of that really has to do with supernatural phenomenon, so maybe the author of the to-do list was infact giving up on supernatural ideas. Who are we kidding? The author is obsessed with the supernatural, he/she will never give it up.

4. What is the difference between power and authority? Authority: The power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience. Power: The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or course of events. Not much difference there really. So God had the supreme power to give man authority? Authority over what, and with authority comes power, so did God relinquish His power to man? Really makes you wonder huh? What a deep and far reaching to-do list this has turned out to be.

5. The "devil's goals are more 'worldly' than you may think". Worldly meaning not heavenly or hellishly, but "worldly' goals could mean anything from wanting to lose weight by next fall to desiring to conquer the Earth and commit genocide in order to form a pure race of people. Let’s assume when this person wrote “worldly” they meant ideas such as love, happiness, wealth, or power. If we assume those as typical “everyday” “worldly” goals then that still leaves us with such a far range of goals that the devil might pursue that it is basically not worth writing.

Conclusion:
This to-do list, or what started out as a to-do list, was specifically written for the sake of making someone, namely me, on the train laugh. I am glad someone left it there so that I could waste some more time at work writing this blog and it definitely made my day a little more fun.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Theft, Guns, Violence – An Experience

My brother flew up from Oklahoma last Monday night to stay with me for a week and see Boston. Tuesday morning he had a meeting with Noam Chomsky to discuss how modern chemistry and biological molecules may lead to new propaganda techniques that could influence opinions, by altering brain chemistry, far greater than image and sound are capable of alone. He said his meeting went extremely well and that Professor Chomsky had told him to call anytime he wanted to get into any further discussions. This part of the day was the good side of a dichotomy that would later present itself to us.

Later that evening, after a rather interesting discussion about the ideas of democratic socialism, anarco-syndicalism, and capitalism at the People’s Republik bar we took off to get a tour of an old frat-house that had been turned into M.I.T. coop housing with my brother’s friend Dustin. The house was a disaster. There were wires hanging from the stairwell, all of the beds were covered in circuit boards, actually as far as I could tell there were no beds, only hammocks tied between bunks covered in books and computer equipment. Their most prized room in the house was “the closet of porn” which contained mostly gay porn videos and a few Playboys and surprisingly it also contained a lot of physics books. In that closet there was a ladder leading to a hidden “jerk off” room that I decided was not going to be sanitary enough to warrant my intrusion. The nerdy kids living there had obviously never anticipated bringing a girl over for a romantic evening; or at all. Eventually I could no longer stand being around the people and filth so I grabbed my brother and decided to leave.

I was parked on the street behind the coop house, right off of Commonwealth Ave. For a few seconds I fiddled with my keys in order to unlock my car door when all of a sudden a dark form hidden away in my car leaped out the passanger side and almost stopping my heart. My brother yelled. Then at the same moment we noticed this man was running off with my brother’s backpack on, which contained his digital camera (that he had used to take a picture of himself with Noam Chomsky earlier that day) and some other expensive items and some important sentimental books and letters. We both took off running after the man, while screaming obscenities at him. I am a little faster of a runner than my brother and I was closing in on the thief quickly; what I was going to do when I caught him I had no idea. Then, out of pure luck, he accidentally dropped my brother’s backpack but kept running. A rational person would have stopped chasing after him at this point but my car had been broken into, my brother’s stuff stolen, and my adrenaline was running high so the only thought going through my head was, “I need to beat the living hell out of this guy.” With my brother’s help we could have very easily hurt this pudgy, white, drugged-out criminal very badly, and we would have, if he hadn’t stopped and pulled a gun out and aimed it at my chest and screamed, “I’ll fucking kill you!”

I was terrified. My troglodyte-like instincts telling me to injure the offender instantly subsided and the clear rationality induced by an ultimatum of death took over. I quickly stopped running and ducked behind a nearby car, my brother followed suit a little ways back down the alley, and I said the only thing that came to my mind, “Whoa, don’t shoot.” The man then turned again and started running away. I did not follow.

When I got back to my car I found the rear passenger side window smashed out and my car stereo was gone, but other than that everything else seemed to be in working order. As it turns out the thief was a practical man and had put my stereo in my brother’s backpack for concealment or ease of carriage, so at least I got that back.

In the end I was lucky: I did not get shot, my stereo was retrieved, and all of my brother’s belongings were accounted for. There was no need to call the cops.

My brother seemed a little shaken up by the incident but overall he looked okay, and after a phone call to his girlfriend and a Red Hook ESB at my house he was completely fine. This was not the first time I have had a gun pulled on me, although this time I was far more fearful of the situation, so I put the whole thing behind me pretty quick. The worst part is that I have to replace a window now that, after paying off the last huge chunk of credit debt just two days ago, I cannot afford. I hope my insurance covers it, without making me pay the deductible.

Monday, March 27, 2006

French Protests

In France a new labor law was passed, called the First Employment Contract (CPE), that allows business owners to fire an employee without any reason before two years of employment is over if the employee is under the age of 26 . The new law was passed in a slightly devious manner by avoiding a debate on the statute that is, apparently, standard before any regulation issued by the prime minister (Dominique de Villepin) is placed into law.

Large protests and rioting have been taking place throughout France because of the devious manner in which the statute was passed as well as there is strong resentment towards how the law affects youth employment. The main disagreement with the law is that giving an employer the ability to fire someone 26 and under after two years creates a strong bias against long-term employment for youths. Some argue that because of this bias “an employer will have an incentive to end their employment before the two years are up and hire another employee who is under 26.” (from ohmynews.com) This is especially prominent right now because youth unemployment has reached almost 20%, prompting me to wonder: how could Dominique de Villepin have thought that this statute would help lower the youth unemployment rate? Is the idea to give employers more of an incentive to hire younger people because they can easily fire them later? I would think there is a better approach.

Before the CPE was passed businesses could fire an employee with no reason only before one month of employment. It seems to me that two years is a bit exorbitant, though I also believe that an employer should have longer than one month as a trial period for the new employee. Three to six months, with no age restriction, seems at least reasonable to me and any more than that begins to give the employer incentive to continually find new people. I hope France is able to come up with a good alternative to the CPE that can show the rest of the world that strict labor laws, and strong labor unions, can make life more of a life rather than simply an employment history.

I applaud 35 hour work weeks. I love the idea of at least one month of vacation per year. And I truly doubt stipulations such as those would have any negative effect on business in the US.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

New Songs From the Ancients

Imagine a large group of Blue Whales, the largest animals to have ever roamed the Earth, traversing the deep, dark blue, waters of the Pacific ocean and all the while singing songs to one another filled with booming bass and high pitched chirps to keep from going bored. Amazingly enough the whales spend their year developing and honing their songs to the point of perfection. I only wish that the songs could be translated into english to see what the whales are thinking about, but maybe they just like particular sounds strung together in patterns that will never make sense to us humans. Check out the science article here.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Coup D'Etat

In Harper’s Magazine’s latest issue (Aprill 2006; pg. 44-50) a discussion between four academic military intellects was recorded and documented. The discussion evolved from the initial question: Is a military coup d’etat possible in the United States? All four of the military theorists agreed that at this point in time a military coup d’etat is not possible. Andrew Bacevich states the reasoning for this fairly succinctly by asking, “what are you going to seize that, having seized it, gives you control of the country?” Richard Kohn also contributed to the same line of thought by saying:

Do you think you can control New York City without the cooperation of 40,000 New York police officers? And what about Idaho, with all those militia groups? Do you think you can control Idaho? I’m not even going to talk about Texas.


The point is that a seat in the white house is only capable of governing us because we elected them, and without our support, unanimously across the country, no military coup could gain control of the US.

So it is not possible for the military to overthrow the government but is it possible to change our current regime by forcing the president to resign and holding a new election? I use the word “regime” because I believe that Bush, by purposely using false information to lead us into war and by illegally spying on US citizens, has crossed the line drawn for a US president and stepped into the realm of an authoritarian leadership. Can we get rid of the Bush administration without simply impeaching Bush and giving Dick Cheney the reigns? Even if that most likely will not happen, is it possible?

Polls show support for the Bush administration is at an all time low, down in the mid 30% range, but that is meaningless unless something can be done to remove the administration. He still has the power of preemptive strike and has said many times that he will use that power to prevent Iran from enriching Uranium. While I, like most people I believe, do not wish to see the proliferation of nuclear weapons I do not believe that a military regime change in Iran is necessary, which is exactly what our administration seems to be advocating by stating Iran as the number one threat to the US. This, in my opinion, is not acceptable. Is it constitutionally possible to oust an entire administration and ask for a new election before the four year term is over? I do no know the answer to this but I would really like anyone’s input on that idea.

With a president that has far more executive power than ever before it becomes necessary for us to strengthen the checks and balances that will keep the president from acting outside of the people’s will. Congress is supposed to be this check but all too recently we have seen that the president’s control over the National Security Agency, and pretty much all governmental sources of information, has made congress unable to function properly to prevent such disasters as the Iraq war. After realization that the administration as a whole concealed relevant information for a case against the war, that they have openly admitted to breaking the law set down the FISA of 1978, and therefore admitted to being above the law, and “encouraging and countenancing torture” as Congressman John Conyers Jr. puts it, shouldn’t the people have the ability to decide that they made a mistake in putting this man and his administration into power? We need not just impeachment, though that would be nice, but a complete regime change.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dinosaurs Today

Since I was about six years old I have been fascinated with dinosaurs. Giant scaly beasts that could run threw dense jungle or arid desert on two legs attacking their prey with massive teeth the size of an adult human hand. Some dinosaurs would meander through different environments on four legs content with their safety because they were protected with plates of armor and weapons made of steel-hard bones and scales. Our earth was a fantasy world that we can only imagine now.

Then came the book Jurassic Park that spawned a new hope that it may someday be possible to resurrect dinosaurs by finding their DNA trapped, and preserved, in solidified amber. Of course it unknown to me when the book was released that DNA degrades very slowly but fast enough that dinosaur DNA would be nearly unusable after two and half million years, exactly the amount of time it took for humans to evolve and figure out how to use DNA. My hopes of someday having to fear leaving my house, or waiting at the bus stop, because a Tyrannosaurus might be lurking behind a nearby home ready to come rushing out and tear me apart were dashed.

Then, today, I read an article that sparked back into life all the hopes and dreams of my childhood: scientists have modified chicken DNA that encodes genes called catenins, or specifically in the chicken the talpid2 gene, and caused chickens to grow teeth similar to the type of teeth that alligators grow. The catenins are regulated by another fun gene called Sonic Hedgehog, which the scientists were looking at in relation to tooth growth when they found that it regulated the tepid2 gene in chickens. The teeth that grow in the chickens are fully functional making the chicken capable of tearing flesh and bone. Oooh, how awesome and scary!

What’s next? Well, the next step, in my opinion, is to cause scales to grow on these chickens rather than feathers, increase their bone density, increase their size, and finally, grow limbs with claws instead of wings. That would be my dream come true: a living dinosaur amongst us. Is this ethical? I don’t see anything wrong with it but I’m sure there are religious folks out there that believe we should leave nature to follow its own path, or not to meddle with God’s work. Of course those people should then also not allow themselves the benefit of modern medicine either because that would also be interfering with God’s intentions to give them disease.

Here is an easy to read article about the chicken with teeth: ScienceNow.

One more thing: at present I would totally love to have a gaurd-chicken with teeth to protect my valuables. There will be a "Beware of Chicken" sign on my door.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

It's Funny Because It's True

The whole world has gone hilarious on us. Here are three funny things going on in the world:

1. Millions of Muslims are pissed off over a cartoon depiction of their prophet Muhammad. Until now, I thought the only people upset over cartoons were over-protective mothers in rich white neighborhoods. So in response an Iranian newspaper held a contest to have cartoons drawn to make light of the Holocaust. Are they twelve years old, or just really immature? Now an Israeli newspaper has decided to show some humility and requested cartoons drawn by Jews to make fun of Jews, and I think it is a great idea. I only hope that some really good humor comes from this, as well as I hope the violent riots due to a comic pencil sketch ends.

2. Dick Cheney, a gun enthusiast that has always claimed that the correct training and education about guns makes them safe, accidentally shot his friend in the face with a shotgun. Hahahahaha! Oh my God that is classic irony, and when I heard the story I smiled a very big smile. Of course it is pretty terrible that Whittington got shot in the face, but he is alive still and doing well (excluding a minor heart attack suffered in the hospital because a metal pellet was lodged in his heart), so it’s okay to laugh right? Another hilarious aspect of this is that the press was all worked up in a frenzy about not getting the story sooner. Now if I was a reporter I might be a little upset that I didn’t land this little gem of a story myself but I mean, really, who cares whether we learned about this 24 hours after it happened? Still, I do think this administration is far too secretive about everything it does and probably because most of what it is trying to do would not be supported by the majority of Americans. Oh also, the bird he was hunting was a wingless pheasant that was released from the back of a truck. Comedic gold! I hope Dick Cheney is the next president that would give us at least four more years of hilarity.

3. President Bush has cut spending for Family Planning groups. Hilarious! Now we can all laugh really hard when we see hundreds more pregnant teens on Maury Povich. White trash jokes have always been some of my favorites and now we will have more material to work with since there will be many more dead-broke teens living in trailer homes with their kids under Bush’s plan. Even the UK, ie Tony Blair, that does almost whatever Bush wants, has decided to back Planned parenthood with millions of dollars because of how dumb they think President Bush’s policies toward abortion and female rights are. Here is a quick run down of some the hilarious jokes Bush has graciously volunteered for us: Selling off of National Forrest land to help pay for the unjust war in Iraq; destruction of the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge in order to get a few more barrels of oil; Education cuts – no child left behind, but all children left at the bottom I guess is the idea there; And, as if we had a huge surplus of money already, he’s gone and advocated further tax cuts. Man they should make Bush the next late night talk show host he is so full of good humor.

Monday, February 13, 2006

History of the Universe

Lesson 1: The Universe to Love

It all began in pure harmony; an infinite number of dimensions with an infinite amount of energy oscillating between them, all contained in an infinitely small amount of space. Then, due to the probabilistic nature of the movement of energy, the oscillations quivered in a slightly different way causing the waveform to cancel out, or destroy, some dimensions. Finite amounts of energy got trapped within the still existing dimensions causing them to expand or to collapse. With finite energy in a finite amount of space the forces of nature as we know them today started to cause interactions between the different pockets of energy. Soon particles were created and the universe continued to expand and cool down to such a degree that some of these particles started to stick to one another forming atoms. All the atoms formed a large hot cloud of gas that slowly reached a critical density collapsing in on itself forming the first stars completely made up of hydrogen and helium. Inside these stars was a reaction equivalent to the reaction in a hydrogen bomb, called fusion, which slams atomic nuclei together forming new atoms and releasing a lot of energy in the form of light and a few massive particles. These stars eventually burned up all of their fuel, and by doing so reduced their mass, and therefore their gravity, and they exploded. The explosion released all of these new atoms that had been created by fusion, which dispersed among the rest of the universe over billions of years and collided into each other forming new molecules. Soon new stars started forming and around them were a cloud of gas that had the new atoms and molecules within. These heavier atoms and molecules began to clump together as smaller less dense clumps of matter than the stars and they eventually coalesced into planets. Among a few of the new elements created were carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, and when combined in various patterns (with several other types of atoms also) these atoms created the molecules that now comprise life as we know it, these molecules are called organic molecules.

Life was quick in the making compared with the time line of the universe. As the earth cooled down water started to collect on the surface as liquid rather than just as a gas in the atmosphere. Many of the organic molecules got stuck to rocks in tide pools, especially molecules called nucleic acids that easily stuck to lime rock. Waves crashed on the shores and brought in more nucleic acids that bound strongly to the others on the rocks forming chains of these different nucleic acids. Eventually a chain formed that was capable of twisting and bending in such a way as to trap other nucleic acids very easily and link them to one another. Long strands of these started forming across the entire planet and then suddenly something miraculous happened: one of the randomly linked together sets of nucleic acids was capable of linking other nucleic acids together in almost the exact same order as itself. In other words, it could reproduce itself. After billions and billions of copies were made, many with slight mutations from the original (which then caused a massive multiplication of this new form), there was something that resembled life: a chain of nucleic acids that could reproduce itself trapped within the confines of a bubble of oil. Not only could it reproduce the chain of nucleic acids it also happened to collect more oil from its surroundings that helped maintain the bubble. As time wore on these became what we now know as bacteria.

As bacteria grew and changed over time, fighting for resources in different areas, new organisms started to develop from these founders. Due to the process of evolution, animals, plants, fungus, protozoans, and different types of bacteria formed and invaded almost all areas of the planet. The dinosaurs came and went. Saber toothed tigers, six ton sloths, and enormous birds, then dominated the planet, but most notably in the history of our planet humans also evolved.

The physical forces between energy in multi-dimensions form particles, those particles form molecules, those molecules link together to form life, but how then can the interaction of molecules of life explain human emotion? The brain is made up many cells called neurons. There are neurons throughout the body also that can take a stimulation and send a signal to the brain as to what that stimulation was. The eye is a good example, it has many specialized neurons in it that are called rods and cones that change form when light with enough energy hits it. When this happens it causes a cascade of events to unfold that end with an electrical signal being passed down the length of the neuron. When the electrical signal gets to the end of the neuron that neuron then emits millions small molecules, called neurotransmitters, that cause other neurons in the vicinity to send another electrical signal, eventually the signals end in different parts of the brain, and sometimes that part of the brain interprets the signal and sends a new one back out to the muscles throughout the rest of the body. Sometimes it takes several stimulations to activate the neuron to produce a signal. The more stimulation that the neuron gets the easier it becomes to then stimulate it again. This is why it takes around eight repetitions in order for the brain to commit something to long-term memory. To explain emotion and thought in general take for example a child at a young age who's brain may have committed the memory of a close relationship with the mother to long-term memory as being a good stimulation. This has allowed the brain to interpret close relationships with people as being a benefit for the person and therefore a good memory, and good memories are to be sought after. Of course there are many different ways in which having people other than the mother or father interact with the child, or even adult, can form lasting memories that the brain interprets as “to be sought after”. Once the object, or person, or sensation, etc. if found or achieved, the brain reinforces itself thus making it easier to signal these “feelings”. This is what is called an emotion, and, being that it is now Valentine’s Day, this is how we can explain the feeling of love.

Love it of hate it, this extremely basic introduction to the workings of life and the universe is what happens... Well, basically. I actually made up a lot of how the universe was created, and I made very poor generalizations of how life developed and especially how the brain works, but the point is clear: we are a miracle of happenstance. A chemical and physical reality that is capable of realizing itself and forming relations, emotions, and complex thought. Incredible.

Here is a little quote I found in a book on my shelf entitled, This Book Will Change Your Life:

There is 1 chance in 140 trillion that the Earth should exist.

There is 1 chance in 795 billion that life should have evolved on Earth.

There is 1 chance in 89 billion that life should have evolved into mankind.

There is 1 chance in 12 billion that mankind should have created the alphabet and thus civilization.

There is 1 chance in 6 billion that your parents should have ever met and got together.

There is 1 chance in 90 million that you should have been the lucky sperm that fertilized your mother’s egg.

Overall you’re pretty lucky to be here. Today remember that and show some cosmic humility.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Boston Up to Now

I have now been in Boston a grand total of three and a half months and I thought it was time to give people an update on my life so far. I do not like to discuss my personal life on this blog because I don’t like the idea of “keeping a journal”, and my personal issues are really not that interesting to anyone but myself and they do not spur discussion as this blog was set up to do so I will avoid those topics of my experience here in Boston.

First of all Boston is a very small city. One can walk across the entire city in about half an hour, in contrast to Seattle where walking across all of Seattle would take several hours. However there is a difference, in Massachusetts city borders are all very small. For instance, the city of Allston (where I live) is about the same distance from Boston as the Ballard area from downtown Seattle, and I believe most people would claim Allston is basically part of Boston. All in all the downtown area of Boston and downtown Seattle are about the same size as far as building size and density of buildings, but Seattle might be slightly larger.

This city is one of the oldest cities in the US and has a lot of history, such as Paul Revere, Boston Tea Party, etc. but I have actually not done much research into the historical value of the city unfortunately. However, because of the age of this city several attributes have made themselves apparent to me since living here: 1. The roads are horrendous. Road conditions are horrible; there are potholes everywhere, and barely any lines separating different lanes and constant construction to fix these things without any success. Those problems stem from the old brick and cobble stone roads that were laid down in the late 1600’s.
In Europe all roads lead to Rome, as the saying goes, but once in Rome it is impossible to find your way to anything. The same holds true for Boston. I-90 goes west to east all the way from Seattle to Boston hitting very little in-between, except Chicago but I refuse to acknowledge anything in Illinois because of their toll system. Once outside of the greater Boston area there is not much but small suburbs all the way up to Canada and all the way down to New York City. In the city itself all streets are one way and going in the wrong direction to be of any use. Most streets are named after Harvard; I have encountered Harvard Ave, Harvard St., Harvard Terrace, N. Harvard, and I'm sure there are plaenty of others. There is no possible way of finding where you want to be by car so I tend to take the T or just walk almost everywhere.

The weather in Boston is very nice, even though I have only been here for the winter months. I have seen a blizzard only once and people tell me that it was not much of a snowstorm, but I thought it was really fun. Mostly the days have just been very cold, temperatures hovering around 0 degrees, or 32 degrees for all you weird American types, since the day I arrived here and it has been clear skies for the most part as well. The clear blue sky is a big deal to me because the cloudy gray skies of Seattle tended to have a strong S.A.D effect on me.

The people in Boston have the stereotype of being assholes, hence the name “masshole”. However, I have found that only the men that grew up in this area fit that stereotype, and only a small fraction of them at that. The girls I have met have been extraordinarily nice to me and helpful for me adjusting to my new life here.
People around here like to drink. I like that. Although I do have to say my liver cannot compete with some of the drinkers I have been hanging out with around here and I am going to have to start takin’ ‘er easy, as the Dude would say.

My job is of top priority to me at the moment and lucky for me I actually really enjoy my work. I have found a way of reducing, and possibly eliminating, a certain type of brain tumor called glioblastoma multiforme. This is accomplished by injecting specific RNA sequences, otherwise known as the messenger for DNA, into the blood where they are then able to get to most cells in the body. I am also working on my own project of isolating autologous stem cells from the skin that are capable of differentiating into many different cell types that could be beneficial for myriad autoimmune diseases, or injuries. The former project may lead to a publication with yours truly as the first author and the latter project may lead to a patent with my name on it for Tufts University. Exciting!

If you have any suggestions for me about how to make my experience here in Boston a great one then please let me hear it. Or if you think I am an idiot/moron/fascist/pig headed jerk, as some of the girls that post comments here have hit upon, then let me know, because I love to discuss just about anything.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Hilarious Jokes told by Albert Einstein

I was going through scienceblogs.com and wandered upon a little jem of blog post about science jokes. At the bottom of the post was a link to Jokes With Einstein. I watched these flash animations and laughed my ass off... probably because I am such a science nerd myself. I highly recomend watching these little animations in order, make sure not to watch number 4 first because it is a surprise ending. The hilarious joke that scienceblogs.com posted was this:
A physicist, a chemist, and a biologist get together for a few drinks, and get to talking about life, the Universe, and everything. Eventually the conversation turns to relationships, and what the ideal way to arrange relationships between the sexes would be.

The biologist says "Well, as a believer in evolution, I feel that every person should sleep with as many other people as possible, in order to provide the greatest range of potential diversity for natural selection to work on."

The chemist says, "No, no, no- that's all wrong. There are some bonds that are just too strong to break, and the marriage bond is one of those. Everyone should be strictly monogamous."

They both turn to the physicst, who says, "Well, I think I'd sort of split the difference between those. I think every man should have one wife, and one mistress, and furthermore, each should be aware of the other."

The other two are absolutely boggled. "Why in the world would you want that?," they ask.

"Well," he says, "That way, if I wasn't with my wife, she would assume I was with my mistress. And if I wasn't with my mistress, she would assume I was with my wife. then I could go in the lab and get some work done."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

ACLU and Other Civil Liberty Groups Step up... and Sue Bush!

Finally! A message is being sent to the Bush administration that domestic spying is not only illegal but also hampers free speech. The ACLU, Center for Constitutional Rights, Green Peace, Council on American-Islamic Relations, and other civil liberties organizations, as well as individuals, are suing Bush and the NSA for illegal wiretaps after September 11th. The lawsuits are taking place in New York and in Detroit. Bush, of course, claims no wrong doing, that he actually had the right to order those wiretaps because of an authorization from congress to use force in the fight against terror.

Can spying on the citizens of the USA be considered a use of force against terror? Well, in my opinion, no. First of all it is simply a way of trying to find terrorists in America and not a use of force against known terror groups. Secondly, it is not a good idea to cause fear about what is said over the phone or by e-mail because that is a way of limiting free speech. So is limiting our free speech, one of our fundamental freedoms as part of the US, the fourth amendment of the Constitution, okay if it will help to find possible terrorists? Nope, there are much better ways of rooting out terrorism than giving the Bush administration totalitarian control. Some sort of check needs to be in place and that check should be a judge’s issuance of a warrant.

Salon.com has a good article to review what is going on:
http://www.salon.com/wire/ap/archive.html?wire=D8F6GFHO9.html

or,
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/17/politics/17spy.html?hp&ex=1137560400&en=998d7190aee080f7&ei=5094&partner=homepage

and,
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/17/politics/17cnd-nsa.html

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A new American Revolution formed from some of the ideas of the Cuban Revolution

I just finished watching the movie Motorcycle Diaries about Che Guevera’s traveling experience with his friend Alberto Grenada and it got me thinking about Che’s later revolutionary life, which obviously led me to thinking about the Cuban Revolution.

When Fidel Castro, with help from Ernesto "Che" Guevara and other revolutionary leaders, overthrew the Batista regime they installed a communist government. Communism is not and, especially in the 60’s, was not highly commended by most people (to say he least) in the US and it became the focal point of malicious media coverage of the Castro regime. One aspect of Castro’s rise to power that is almost completely over looked because of the focus on communism is his atheist standpoint. He nationalized all land owned by churches and exiled all the priests. This atheist government still persists today, although religion, by no means, has been completely driven out of the country. I think this is absolutely great, not the part about exiling people because of their beliefs but the creation of an atheist government. I believe his reasoning for exiling members of the clergy was probably that Castro was worried that they would help organize a counter-revolution against his atheist government.

Atheism seems to go hand in hand with communism for some reason but as far as I know, Atheism is not a prerequisite for socialism, communism, or any left leaning ism I can think of so I’m not exactly sure why the two seem to correlate so closely throughout history. It is also too bad that atheist governments have historically also been very repressive in that atheism (as well as many other requirements that limit freedom) is forced upon the people, such as in North Korea and China. Although I suppose it would be difficult for an atheist government to claim religion is allowed but that if you do believe in a God then you cannot hold any power in government.

According to one poll I found on the web only 3-9% of the US is atheist or agnostic. Those numbers are far too small for an atheist to become president of US at the moment but I would really like to see it happen. To the best of my knowledge there has never been an admittedly atheist or agnostic congressman even; too bad really.

Anyone want to help me organize a group that discusses and disseminates information about atheism, democratic socialism, and the next American Revolution?

Pop Culture

Okay, so by request I will be diving back into the realms of my unknown: pop culture, specifically fashion.

I went down to New York city a few weeks ago to visit my friend Amber and while there I learned that images of skulls on clothing is fashionable now, so I bought a shirt with a creepy looking cat holding a skull and some skeletons dancing around. I really like the shirt because of its fairly original design as well as the pattern of dancing skeletons and Celtic knots made of vines that wrap from the front to the back. So far I have had nothing but complements about my shirt so I have to give Amber laud for picking it out for me.

Fashion is not my forte so maybe others will disagree with me, and by "others" I mean women/girls, but Ugg boots are the most hideous fashion trend for women since not wearing skirts that showed off more than the ankle. And I hear that longer skirts are becoming fashionable also... what the hell is going on!? Are girls starting a new revolution, similar to the feminist movement in the 60's and 70's but this time they are going for all out separation of females from males by making themselves as unattractive as humanly possible, thereby removing the male's urge to reproduce and hence the need for men to talk to women at all? Okay, so don't get me wrong, I like smart women, but I also like attractive women and if we can have both then that is ideal but how am I supposed to know if the girl is attractive if I can't see her legs, or if they are wearing what reminds me of disgusting sausages for shoes? Soon women around here will be claiming that muslims got it right in that women shouldn't show any skin at all when in public.

Oh and has anyone else noticed that celebrities are starting to look less and less attractive these days? Even Angolina Jolie was looking down right ugly in a few shots of her with her new prego belly. What's with the trend for celebrities to get pregnant? I mean it's one thing to say so-and-so is pregnant and make it news but to say that it is a "trend" to get pregnant is ridiculous. I can't stand hollywood sometimes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dreams are Nature's Way of Making the World Interesting

Yesterday was incredibly hectic, because a bunch of mice were ready for cancer injections so I had to get ready to deal with 25 mice. I had to inject them with cancer under the skin and I felt so bad about it because they whined and squirmed, trying to get away... if only they knew it would be a lot less painfull if they just sat still! So yeah, one of my dreams dealt with mice but I really don't remember much of it. One dream I had involved me dropping around 13 hits of acid with my friends Troy, Rachel and Brent, and I thought that if I looked at the shadow of a butterfly that I could float. Eventually I learned to fly as long as the shadow was in front of me. Rachel was taking pictures of the whole event and it turns out I was just running in circles pointing at the floor. While I was high Brent and I tried running across the support wires of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco but it turns out that he was just puking all over the floor at my house and I was hysterically laughing at him. I eventually woke up from that and then immediately started dreaming that time was not a linear forward function but was, in fact, a just another dimesion that can be traversed in any direction. The idea was that time is similar to light and all matter, for that matter, in that it has a wave quality to it, the waves are so huge though that they can not be detected very easily. To prove the wave quality of time I hooked up an old Nintendo to an ocillating timer that would cause the game to fade in and out and slowly everyone around me somehow realized my theory was correct and that we could travel back in time or way forward into time, as well as time went in other directions not just the typical forward or backward but an infinit number of possible pathways throughout history have been continuously played out through time. By messing around with the Nintendo and the timer we could go anywhere at any time. When we got where we were going though we found that we were actually inside a video game. I think at this time in the dream I was trying to convincing my friend to try to fly a 256-pixel jet for an air show, he eventually tried it and crashed causing a lot of trouble. At about this point the dream became too strange to remember but altogether it seemed really incredible and I thought I should write it down.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Sodalicium Cordatus

I came across this on the web and thought it would be cool to be apart of. The site was no longer active so it must have been indexed at some point and was in another language but here are some pieces I was able to put together from it.

Sodalicium Cordatus
Society of the Wise

Removal of religion and spreading knowledge of the natural world is the goal
Power of the order and sodalis is necessary to reach the goal
The goal cannot be attained with violence
There is no leadership, all are equal
Recruit those with money or power
All forms of power are useful


Anyone want to join me and start the US branch of the Society of the Wise?