Life at the center.

Because now and then everyone gets it right.

The Evil Empire, and how to fix it.

The Evil Empire.  To some, this phase can conjure images of Hitler Youth turning their backs on their own families in the pursuit of the “Ideal Society”.  For others, it is what they call the government that they think President Barack Obama is trying to usher in by expanding social programs.  For some it is the American Empire that radical Republicans are trying to create with their heavy-handed military strategies.  For others it is synonymous with the New World Order, the one world government of the elite that seeks to control every aspect of our life.

NWO and other grand conspiracies are fed by man’s fervent need to feel that there is a grand plan, that someone is controlling things and pulling all of the strings – even if it is not them.  For me, The Evil Empire (TEE) is nothing so grandiose.  I rely on man’s greed and desire for power to be so great that any hopes of a NWO are destroyed by the fact that for NWO order to work, someone has to be in charge, they can’t all be.  I consider TEE to be individual companies, politicians, the media and other bozos, each with their own needs, wants and motivations.  These organizations really have not much to do with each other, although in such a connected world they inevitably have contact.  I’ll touch on each of the three categories of members of TEE.

Governments:  Every single one.  All of them.  Ours too.  And not Barack Obama’s government.  Not George Bush’s government.  All of our government.  Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives.  They all want what they think is best for them, or (the few good ones) what is best for us.  In doing so they make decisions that guide our lives on a daily basis.  Taxes, business law, criminal law, family law, environmental law, everything.  This part of TEE has nobody to answer to but us, and we are too busy bickering over who is part of The Evil Empire to realize that they all are, and we keep them there.

Companies:  The idea of Corporations is not a bad thing.  Corporations bring us the devices that you are reading this with, the food in our refrigerator, the wheels on our cars, everything.  Someone has to make things, someone has to distribute things, and someone has to sell things.  Hippies think about a world where we just barter with each other.  There would be a guy who grew things, and a guy who healed us, a guy who built homes, a guy who bakes bread, and we all could just trade with each other for what we needed.  Well guess what hippie.  We do have that, they are called Farmers, Doctors, Carpenters and Bakers.  The companies make sure they get paid and can distribute goods, and we “barter” with money.  The money that the company we work for uses to barter with us for our services.   The problem is, that companies get big, and soon the guys who run these companies are making mountains of money, and are surrounded by people who are afraid to tell them how crazy they are getting at the top.  These companies end up taking shortcuts to save money, deciding what is wrong or right, when we should do things, what we should say (or be allowed to hear), or even what we should be allowed to do with our own property, intellectual and otherwise.

Media:  The media.  Well, I should say the Media.  Capital M.  They are the ones who consider themselves the REAL media.  When I was a kid, the news went this way:  First would be all the breaking news and the important world and national events.  Next would be the fluff filler and the weather.  Last, there might or might not be something called an Editorial.  An editorial is a piece of journalism that reflects the opinions of the person who wrote it or company that publishing it.  The problem is that now, 90% of what you see on the “news” is fluff or editorial, and many people consider anything a celebrity says to be truth.  It is so difficult for Americans to form their own opinions when your most popular news sources are spouting 100% editorial.  Rush Limbaugh, Bill Maher, Glen Beck, Janine Garafalo and Rob Reiner will all say whatever it takes to convince you that whatever they believe is not only right, but a fact.

Other Bozos:  Part 1:  Well lawyers for one.  Lawyers are a good idea in principle, but in practice have become leaches on our society.  They usurp the role of the Judge, by interpreting the law for themselves and finding a judge who will agree with them to make a new right and wrong.  Let me tell you a story.  A few years ago I was shaving with a new razor.  One of the blades was apparently loose, and it came off while I was shaving, giving me a nasty cut.  It healed.  I lived.  I sent a letter to the company to let them know what happened.  They sent me back a letter, with a free package of razors in it.  They promised to check the batch for any potential issues, and promised to do their best to make sure that this remains an extremely rare occurence.  You know what?  I believe them.  Whether they make good on their promise because it is the right thing to do, or because it makes financial sense not to slice up your customers, I know they followed up on that.  Three months ago, someone in New York State was cut by a razor of a different brand.  The cut was less than one inch long and only on the surface, like mine.  He sued the company and won over three million dollars, because he was too traumatized by the cut to ever shave himself again.  He supposedly had to take sedatives, and then hire someone to shave him each evening before he went to bed.  Now I don’t know about you, but I think that either this man was lying, or he needed more than just sedatives long before he cut himself.  Do you think that this man thought to himself, “Self, this cut is worth three million dollars.”  No, I don’t think so either, but I’m sure that the lawyer he spoke to said “Lawyer-Self, 40% of three million dollars would really go a long way towards that new Gulfstream V I’ve been wanting.”  Lawyers cost us millions of dollars every day, and more importantly, they rob us of our integrity and our ability to work out our problems for ourselves.

Other Bozos:  Part 2:  You.  Me.  Everyone.  Why are we a part of the evil empire?  Well here’s why you are evil, and so am I.  Everything I have spoken about above this line.  Every Politician, every Corporation, Every Lawyer can get away with EVERYTHING they are doing for one simple reason.  Because we let them.  Because we have transformed ourselves into a nation of passengers, not drivers.

We have become a nation of greedy pacifists, even those of us who want to revolt, to stand up and shout, “This is not the way it’s supposed to be” will not do so.  We are supposed to work together for the good of humanity, not at the expense of it.  The problem is that the only people who ever stand up for what is right are so few in number and so polarized that they are easily dismissed as right or left-wing nut jobs, as radicals on either side of the center.  By standing together we each become stronger.   By finding the center we can speak with one voice.  If everyone starts being willing to find the center and we slowly start shouting with one voice people will listen, and they will begin to raise their own voices in unison.  Will you raise your voice?  Will you stand with the man next door to you who voted for a different way?  What if he takes a step towards you, will you take one towards him?  If this was 1776, would you risk your land, your livelihood and your life to stand up for what is right, and to fight, and to put everything on the line so that your children could live in a better world?  Would you really?  Well what if all you risked were some sidelong glances?  That’s all you have to risk now for your voice to be heard.  But twenty years from now that might not be so.

I have news for you ladies and gentlemen.  It’s 1776 right now.  Who will stand up for what is right?  Who will raise their voice with me?  Will you?


Apple 2010 Evil Empire Conference

For more on why I think Apple is a part of The Evil Empire, see my next article in “The Evil Empire” category of this blog.

So let’s discuss Apple’s upcoming Developers Conference on June 7 – June 11, and what to expect.

First, there is the iPhone 4G.  Suprise suprise.  We know it will have a front facing camera, we know the screen will be higher resolution, we know it will have 4G capabilities.  Rumor has it that the back panel might be touch sensitive as well, though i’m not sure to what end.

AT&T has hinted of tethering support, but I bet you it will cost you dearly.  I’m guessing it will probably be a $15/mo cost, with something around a $5/day or $10/wk option for those who only want to use it briefly.  Despite these outrageous charges, it will still be a success if it is implemented properly, and if it can run in the background while the handset it used for phone calls.

Speaking of background, the iPhone OS 4.0 will get long-awaited multitasking and folders (which have been available for Jailbroken iPhones for over a year).  This update should come in a week or so after the Conference, but the iPad software update won’t come until closer to the fall, which is a letdown to the fledgling iPad community (myself included).

MAC OSX is probably remaining untouched, and I don’t see any new MacBooks or MacBook Pros coming out.  I know a number of people are hoping for a newer MacBook Air though.  Even though I think ultrathin is ultraout when it comes to laptops, there are still people who go for looks over function, and even those bozos deserve a better battery life than the current Air has to offer.

I think the Verizon iPhone will not be seen or heard from this summer.  I must say though, Verizon, being a part of The Evil Empire, would make a great fit for the iPhone.  I think that people moving to a Verizon iPhone from an AT&T iPhone will be a bit dissapointed about what Verizon will and will not allow on their network.  Goodbye any hope of Netflix for you my friend.  That being said, I would not want to own the stock of any other smartphone manufacturer when the iPhone does eventually make it’s debut on Verizon’s network.

I think Apple TV’s time may be coming as well.  I don’t know if there will be an announcement at the conference, but I do not think that Apple can go it alone and expect a success any time soon.  I don’t think it would happen, but imagine a whole new platform for AT&T’s U-Verse network, based on a hybrid Apple TV/iTunes store type interface.

The only thing that is for sure about this conference is that it will take steps to increase Apple’s iPhone OS based device market share, drag on it’s MAC market for yet another year of subservience, and let down those who want what is best for the tech market as a whole.

About Federal vs State authority, abuse of Federal power, etc.

Under the Constitution, the militia (now called the National Guard) may only be called into duty by the federal government in three specific situations.

According to Article I, Section 8, Clause 15, the Congress is given the power to pass laws for “calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.” The militia was intended by the Founders and Ratifiers to be defense force and nothing more.

Deployments outside the country were not considered, and neither were internal deployments in pursuance of powers that were not delegated to the federal government. Congress has passed numerous laws in the past 100 years giving the federal government additional authority not mentioned in the Constitution. But, without a Constitutional amendment, altering the enumerated powers is, in and of itself, unconstitutional. Campaigns in states around the country are working to reassert the authority of governors over National Guard Troops.

Pursuit of the reasserting rights of States over the Federal government is often misguided. The simple fact is that certain language was written into the Constitution by the founding fathers to appease each other’s fears that any one part would assert control over the whole. It had nothing to do with State over Federal. If the States work together, their power in the Legislature far exceeds the Administrative power of the President. But I digress.

Deployment of the National Guard oversees is not unprecedented. In both World Wars, in Vietnam, in the first Gulf War; there were National Guard Deployments overseas for each of these wars. That being said, deploying the National Guard is in opposition to the reason it was created in the first place. The National Guard is, at its core, 50 legal State militias. The State needs to retain power over these Militias for domestic emergencies. The Federal government cannot lawfully deploy the Federal Armed Forces onto US soil. This has not stopped them; there are various interpretations of the First and Fourth amendments that allow for vastly broad Federal Authority. These are two excerpts from a memo from Vice President Dick Cheney.

“the Fourth Amendment does not apply to domestic military operations designed to deter and prevent further… attacks.”

…which by the way went hand in hand with…

“First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully.”

It’s the nature of governments that powers of this type, once vested, rarely remain confined to their original purpose. They inevitably and invariably expand far beyond that. Powers that are endowed to address a limited and supposedly temporary circumstance almost always endure for years if not decades.

President Obama, by continuing the broad outlines of the various surveillance and detention and counter-terrorism programs created by a Republican administration, is draining them of plausible partisan controversy, and so they are going to become entrenched and consolidated as permanent features of American government going forward.

Many people were concerned by reports that an Army brigade, for the first time, was being permanently deployed to the US soil. Many who expressed concern were accused of indulging bizarre paranoia that the US Army would ever be deployed against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. I wonder how those who made those accusations feel now in light of the revelation that Cheney was advocating for precisely that.

Though it received very little press attention, it is not crazy to observe that this was one of the most significant events in American politics in the last several decades, because it explicitly declared the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights inoperative inside the U.S., as applied to U.S. citizens.

Romans knew the deal. Roman generals and their Legions were kept far away from Rome, engaged in wars and projects all over the “known world”. Roman Legions were usually not encouraged to be on the peninsula. Rome and the Senate were protected by the Roman Praetorian Guard (until things changed, but this is not a history lesson). Romans knew that once a General and his Legion entered Rome, there would be no going back. The General becomes the Emperor.

President Obama, bring our Guard home and send away the Legions. Protect our Republic from itself.

Sarah Palin

OK, I’ll just say it.  Sarah Palin, you are an idiot, and an affront to any rational American.  I would rather have Janine Garofalo (lying liberal douche) or Rush Limbaugh (lying conservative turd) in any political office than you.  The fact that you somehow have endeared part of the American population to you is not only distasteful, but frightening.  All you are is a mouthpiece for whoever’s agenda you can advance in a given day. 

Your own ideas tend to curl my toes in fear, but when you start to spout other people’s beliefs without knowing anything about them (proven by many interviews in which questions about your views are met with a dumbfounded expression at best) you just become a frightening person who is morally vacant and politically self-serving.  You are greedy, power-hungry and unintelligent.

You are responsible for Senator McCain’s resounding defeat in the 2008 elections, and the best thing you can do for your own party and for the American people would be to retire into quiet anonymity.

The oil spill

This is a horrible disaster.  We are going to suffer for this for many years to come, even if a drop of oil never hits a beach (too late).  Millions of gallons of crude are becoming a part of the Gulf and soon the Atlantic ecosystem.  Enjoy your fish plate.

I’m not going to comment on who is at fault or who should be responsible for what – yet.  I will note that suddenly all of the screaming voices who wanted more offshore drilling and less regulation over Big Oil are suddenly silent.  Oh Sarah Palin, where are your shouts of “Drill, baby, drill!” now?

I think offshore drilling has a place, while we work to reduce our dependency on coal.  I do not, however, think that place should be in sensitive fisheries, or next to sensitive wildlife areas, or the currents that lead to them.  The simple fact is that it is cheaper to drill in those areas because they are have larger deposits of oil that are easy to get to.

There are massive oil fields off the coast of South Carolina for example, that are well West of the gulf stream flow and not near any sensitive fisheries or reefs.  Why don’t they drill there?  Because it’s deep, and more costly.  How can you keep having record profit years on the backs of the American people if you spend a little extra to pull oil from a little deeper?

 Latest news on the spill from the NY Times:

I’ll end this entry with a comment that is sure to anger many.  Nationalize our energy resources.

That is the only way we can assert the will of the people on these oil companies.  They can still make money, we still need someone to drill, refine and distribute.  Look at what we did to the US logging industry.  We turned a bunch of greedy environmental rapists into stewards of the very resource they profit from.  And they still make money by the truckload.

First Artificial Life Created

OK, so yesterday some scientists announced that they had created the first man-made organic organism that is capable of sustaining itself and reproducing.  Here is the New York Times article.

 Wikipedia defines life as: a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes (biology) from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (death), or else because they lack such functions and are classified as inanimate.

So we have created life.  And it only took $40 million to do it.

There are so many wonderful and awful things that this presents, that I am not sure where to start.
I suppose I can start with, gee that’s really neat.  But wait, it’s a bacteria.  Couldn’t that open the door to new strains that function unpredictably?  Well yes, it could.  However, if they proceed very slowly with this, then we could have all sorts of easy to kill bacteria that can perform very specific functions.  I read a theory about 5 years ago by a doctor, who posed the idea that bacterium that can only survive on a specific fungus, for example, could be injected into a patient’s blood srtream, kill (eat) all the fungus in their body, and then die off from starvation when the fungus is gone.  No medicines needed.

I think the other side of the coin is the pretty obvious moral implications.  Should we be doing this?  A very intelligent and dear friend of mine once said that there is no right and wrong.  In general I do not agree with him, but I will say that if you say something is right or wrong, it is often impossible to quantify WHY it is so.  In this case, I won’t label this as right or wrong.  I think that there is a massive grey area between right and wrong on this topic, and even the grey area has really fuzzy edges to it.  I don’t personally think that we have crossed any moral lines yet, but finding the lines themselves is probably harder than creating life…

Hello world.

So this is my first post, and I have decided it should be a brief explanation of my political views, and why I am publishing this blog to start with.  Thanks for reading.

This blog is, first and foremost, a platform on which I stand in the center.  I am tired of people feeling this irresistable urge to be flung to the left or the right.  It’s as if we’re really on a stick spinning through space, and we’re all being flung to the ends by centrifugal force, even as I think most people really want to be standing in the middle.  The people who are screaming the loudest seem to be on the ends of the stick, and when you turn to look at them, you are dragged a little closer to that end each time.

When you try to speak to someone from the center, they seem to focus only on the most extreme things they have heard about what you are saying – from the left and the right, from the Democrats or the Republicans, from the Liberal Douche or the Conservative Wingnut – and they lose the message that for 99% of the world, the answers lie somewhere in the middle.

I am a registered Democrat.  I admit it.  I was young and weak and… hey come on, every one of us experimented a little in college right?  Seriously though, I will probably register as an Independant, as that’s closest to the Truth, and as that’s the only way to stop anyone from making judgements.  Yeah who am I kidding.  I vote for the candidate who is: A. Not crazy  and B. Not an irrational fool and C. closest to the center. 

I welcome both agreeing and contrary responses, comments and rants from the center, and also from the ends as well.  Just remember that my tone will mirror your own, as long as you maintain a respectful conversation.  The only thing I will not tolerate is racists and people who are intolerant of other people’s opinions.  All others are welcome.