Sunday, December 30, 2007

Personal Comments on Global Warming

It is my considered opinion that the whole Global Warming/Go Green perspective is, at best, off the mark or, at worst, completely and dangerously wrong.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I do know that the worlds ecology is in trouble. Man has attempted to bend nature to his will and, in the process, has caused unimaginable damage to the planet.

The issue I have is that the Global Warming constituency is missing the real problem. They are trying to bail out the ship with a tablespoon. Climate changes caused by greenhouse gasses is but a symptom of the actual problem. And that problem is ecological destruction due to overall pollution and ecosystem tampering.

The former is not solely due to cars and factories. There are things that pollute far more than those do. For example, running a gas powered chain saw for one hour is the equivalent of running a couple hundred cars for one hour. Similar situations occur with lawnmowers and most other gas powered products. You see, none of them have any emissions standards to conform to.

By concentrating on one small piece of the puzzle (e.g. greenhouse gasses) the greater part is being overlooked. Land and water pollution are just as bad as air pollution but you wouldn't even know they existed by the way the media and "scientific community" report.

Ecosystem tampering is something that has potentially caused more irreversible damage than pollution. Examples can be found in the Africanized honeybees (also known as killer bees), the wholesale slaughtering of rattle snakes in the US mid and south west which has caused the vermin an pest populations to explode to a point where they are destroying the land, the decimation of indigenous life in the San Fransisco bay due to the way shipping ballast is performed. All of these are just as significant, if not more so, than Global Warming.

The reality is that there's plenty of scientific evidence that most of the warming is being caused by natural fluctuations of the sun. We do need to do something to correct the devastation being done to the planet but focusing all the attention on Global Warming is like spitting in the ocean.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Pakistan's Bhutto assassinated

Pakistan's Bhutto assassinated By Zafar M. Sheikh and Paul Wiseman, USA TODAY RAWALPINDI, Pakistan — Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed Thursday in a suicide attack after a campaign rally here, dashing hopes for a smooth transition to democracy and creating chaos across the country.

This is disheartening, though not completely surprising. My previous post on this was a bit more optimistic about the potential of new elections. I should have known better.

People in the US get all hyper about politics and start blaming the opposition for all the evils of the world. But comparing what happens in the US to governments anywhere else on the globe can only show how good the US has it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How to fix the US Presidential Elections

By "fix" I mean correct/repair/make better. There's already more than enough ways to make the other kind of "fix."

1) Curtail the campaigning season
2) Drastically shorten the primary's
3) Get rid of the Electoral College
4) Withhold results until all polls are closed

First, no one should be permitted to begin their campaign for the Presidency until February 1st of the election year. The way things are now you have people starting to stump in the summer, some 17 or 18 months before the elections. This leads to an overdose of debates and speeches and hype months before the actual election. Candidates use this time to trash their opponents rather than expound on the issues and positions of same. Limiting the campaign season to less than 10 months will force them to focus more on their platforms rather than discrediting their competition.

Second, there should be no caucuses or primary's before June 1st of the election year. What good is it to have pseudo-voting almost a year before the election? All it does is give certain States perceived yet worthless power. The results of Iowa and New Hampshire this early are truly meaningless. It's only the media and those who run the whole election dog & pony show that benefit from these ultra early pretend votes. Having only a few months will make the results more meaningful because no one State will be able to have an unfair advantage.

Third, there is absolutely no rational nor irrational reason to have the Electoral College. It was a necessity in the 18th and 19th centuries. But with the advent of ubiquitous instant information dissemination (telephone, radio, TV, the 'Net) the popular vote is perfectly able to make the decision. As it stands now, any individual vote has a 50% chance of being ignored. For example...

* Two candidates are running, A and B
* You vote for candidate B
* The final tally for your State is 48% for candidate A and 41% for candidate B
* Your entire State votes for candidate A

This renders your individual vote effectively uncounted. It is imperative for everyone to vote. But it would be nice if your vote went directly to your candidate. This will give the election results a much clearer picture of how the country really feels for the candidates and issues.

And finally, wait until the polls are closed before spewing out numbers. This will make it much more crucial that everyone turn out to vote. With the way things are now it is not uncommon to have many voters in western States not vote because they perceive the eastern States have already decided the election. Holding off the results until the elections are finished will, again, give an indisputably more accurate picture of what the voters are concerned about. It also helps give all the States an even playing field.

There you have it. If these changes were implemented the whole election process would become much closer to something "of the people, by the people and for the people."

Alas, it will never happen. There is to much money and power at stake for there to be any common sense changes to the political system. Of any kind. And even if everyone was of a mind to change things the media would not let it happen. They have become the news makers (as opposed to news reporters) and would never relinquish their grip on the power that entails.

So, do you have any ideas on how to make things better? What kind of changes would you put into place if you were "king for a day?"

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy $HOLIDAY

#! /bin/sh

HOLIDAY="<insert your favorite holiday>"

echo "Happy $HOLIDAY"

exit

Friday, December 14, 2007

Comparing Iraq to Veitnam

I've been thinking about this for a while, now. Is the "war" in Iraq similar to what happened in Vietnam? Most people are taught that the US lost the "war" in Vietnam. While this is technically true, it was not the military that caused the downfall. It all began with the Tet offensive.

The cliff notes version is that on January 30, 1968 the VC and NVA initiated an attack on major cities and military/civilian targets in South Vietnam. In the initial attack the US forces were taken off guard and did suffer casualties. But once the armed forces regrouped the Tet offensive was severely crushed. The Communists forces were pushed all the way back practically to China. The one and ONLY reason that the US was forced to pull out was the initial media reports of the offensive showed American Soldiers being killed. They rarely showed how the VC/NVA tortured and killed the south Vietnamese people.

This was the only face of the war and it turned the population against our involvement in it. This led to our pulling out of the country. If the media and celebrities hadn't ignored and distorted what was really happening there we might now have a unified, democratic Vietnam country.

So how is this related to what's happening today in Iraq? The situation in country is not that which is portrayed in the media or by celebrities. How many reports have you heard about the large portions of Iraq where life is returning to normal? Iraqi people running the local government, police forces, the reconstruction and overall activities of their lives. The vast majority of Citizens are thankful to the Military and are on very good terms with them. But that's not what you hear. All that's reported is how many US Military were killed and the bombings. The funny thing is that the bombings and attacks are primarily targeting the Iraqi people. The vast majority of people there want the US military there.

The underlying meaning of this is that perception is greater than reality. There used to be an old saying, "Don't believe everything you read in the papers." It seems that the opposite is true now.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Retired Generals: End Ban on Gays

Retired Generals: End Ban on Gays International Herald Tribune | December 03, 2007 - Marking the 14th anniversary of legislation that allowed gay people to serve in the U.S. military, but only if they kept their orientation secret, 28 retired generals and admirals planned to release a letter Dec. 7 urging Congress to repeal the law.

"We respectfully urge Congress to repeal the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy," the letter says. "Those of us signing this letter have dedicated our lives to defending the rights of our citizens to believe whatever they wish."


I'll start with a quick background on myself to help you know where I'm coming from. I was born in Bremerhaven Germany in '62, shortly after the wall came up. While not technically a Military Brat, I spent 16 of my first 25 years living in Europe in, on and around the US Army and Air Force. My sister is married to a retired military and, even over these last two decades living here in the States, my whole family has worked for DoD at one time or other. Basically, I have some familiarity with the Military. And I know why they are afraid of gays.

It's the same reason it took over 300 years for them to let Women and Blacks in. And believe it or not, the same reasoning they used for excluding them are now being used on gays.

The military is, by it's very nature, hyper-masculine. Fighting and killing are traits ingrained in all males but only the toughest of the tough would want to put themselves in the path of potential war. Call it hyper-macho-masculine (HMM for short). Women, Blacks and Gays are seen as an affront to this HMM'ness that is ingrained onto them by genetics and social/cultural reasons. Let's break down a few of them...
  • Women/Blacks/Gays are weak and to emotional to handle battle
  • Women and Gays will abuse their sexuality to "get over" on men by using their sexuality to get "real men" in trouble so they don't have to work
  • Blacks/Women/Gays are cowards and will run away when the shooting starts
  • Blacks/Gays/Women are lazy and won't hold up there end, even in peace time
Then there's the famous "I ain't gonna be in no foxhole with no fag. They'll try and hit-on or rape or seduce me or somethin'." Anyone with a modicum of common sense knows that virtually every Gay doesn't want to be with a Straight. They want someone who's gay, like themselves.

My position on Gays in the Military has always been, "Who frelling cares!" When you are really in that foxhole with bullets flying around the only thing anyone is thinking about is how do I perform my mission get back home. Kill the bad guys and don't get killed yourself. That's really all there is to it.

The Military has long been far behind the curve when it comes to social and cultural issues. Race, gender and sexual preference, while not being expunged from the world, are far less important in the US than they were decades or centuries ago. It will take a lot more time for the Military to catch up, though. It is, good or bad, the nature of the beast.