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August 12, 2006

stephen colbert, g.w. bush & 2006 white house correspondents dinner

why is stephen colbert so funny? it's impressive that he can call out the president when he's sitting right next to you. the video of his speech is broken into 3 parts on youtube.

part 1

part 2

part 3

September 11, 2006

Soapbox

These anniversaries of 9/11/2001 make me angry. It's not simply that I despise the terrorists that scarred my hometown and murdered my neighbors. It's not simply that I recall what it was like on that fateful day, or the moody weeks that followed. What infuriates me is the way that Bush exploits the tragedy every chance he gets. I remember the goodwill that was directed at my city and its inhabitants, and by extension the United States. And so, here we are five years later, with no development at all on ground zero. The Iraq war only gets worse with each passing month, despite strenuous propaganda efforts to the contrary by the powerful and perpetually power-hungry Bush/Cheney administration and its neoconservative echo-machine lapdogs. Precious few of the 9/11 commission's recommendations having been implemented. Meanwhile, our civil liberties have been stripped so gradually and casually that one has to make a concerted effort to realize just how far we've fallen from the freedoms whose protection our elected leaders purport to be of such paramount importance to them. I haven't even scratched the surface.

Tomorrow is the primary election in New York State, and in less than two months we'll have a general election that will likely result in a Congress of rather different balance and constitution. Or one can only hope. Our republic has developed far too monolithic a government to be good for our democracy. With more than two years left of this presidency, we're in dire need of a legitimate opposition in the legislative branch. I fear that the Democrats have strayed so far from their core principles, and are so wishy-washy in their attempts to reclaim them, that they may not find their way back in time. And yet the GOP, far from having strayed, has been stretched so far from its basis as to be unrecognizable and perhaps even unsalvagable for what it once was and stood for. So I hold out some hope, however marginal, that the Democratic Party may just recover its soul, and help edge us back toward an America to be revered.

Let's take a brief look at what kind of war the Bush gang have unleashed upon us. This reminds me of a couple of strips from This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow: why we're going to war and a patriot's guide to debating the war on terror. But I'd like to draw your attention, if you have the time, to a speech that MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann closed his program with tonight, moments before Bush took the airwaves for his presidential address. I'd be interested in your comments.

The pain of 9/11/2001 hits me at odd times, in a way that is utterly oblivious of political agendas, media cycles, and time periods that have been predetermined to have some numerological significance. I probably felt it most strongly, since the event itself, in Summer 2004. At that time, I found myself working downtown in an area that was familiar to me during my college years, when the Twin Towers served to anchor my sense of direction. Now that I was back, I felt this dark shroud of sorrow hanging over me in the empty sky, the overbearing sun of the New York City summer serving as a searing reminder of how unexpected, raw, and awful that morning was. Springsteen and Mahler streamed into my ears, and my mind was occupied by thoughts of how lucky I was. The people I love were spared physical trauma, but none of us could help but be affected in other ways.

We endure varying degrees of psychological trauma to this day, and overcome it to the extent that we can in our day-to-day lives, but we will always carry it with us as long as we live. It's important to point out that we New Yorkers, and the honorary New Yorkers who lived through this wretched catastrophe with us, have a strong sense of perspective on the threats that we clearly face from terrorism. Our heads are screwed on straight and we approach the situation with a calm, clear mind, for the most part. Our police department is doing remarkable things, not least of all with intelligence gathering, picking up where the federal government is too incompetent to contribute to its obligation. And yet in my travels through these United States, from cities to midwestern farm towns, I've noticed that the more remote the threat, the more palpable the fear of terrorism. And why is this? Because we have leaders who stand to gain too much from stoking this fear than to actually lead us from the fear and toward the positive spirit of America that has served as a beacon of hope to waves of immigrants for as long as our country has existed. However, as we are not going to get this from the current administration, we best summon that hope within each of us, and do our best to spread it, one person at a time, until there's enough momentum to swing the pendulum back toward the light.

September 27, 2006

Google Video links

Hi everybody. So the funny thing that Jason's talking about is this. (Though not as funny, you can also look at this. One of the actors in this scene is actually providing his own voice - can you guess which one?) Finally, to cap off this theme of links, check this out.

Now onto politics. Jason showed me this video clip of Bill Clinton telling it like it is to Chris Wallace on FoxNews. (Here is part 2 of the same interview.) And a reaction to it by Keith Olbermann, who is becoming one of my favorite news anchors for his Murrow-like approach to television journalism.

I know that's a lot of video to check out, but the first couple are short and funny, and the Clinton one is pretty important. The difference in body language--hell, just in language--is so stark between our current president and our last great president. If we had the opportunity, as voters, to write in a candidate for president in the next election, there's a good chance Bill would win... even if that choice wouldn't be ratified for constitutional reasons.

November 4, 2006

november 7th

the all important election day where the dems have a real possibility of taking back control over the house and senate.

a canvasser stopped by today with materials supporting davis and the rest of the dem ticket. i've thought about this race a lot more over the last couple of weeks. i do have issues with the davis campaign, his views on certain issues, but the canvasser mentioned that davis was willing to pull back from the iraq war... however davis has stated he does not think all troops should be pulled out, and no timetable should be setup. here's an article about the differences between davis and his incumbent opponent reynolds. as you can see, there's not much difference. i would definitely feel guilty going for reynolds, because there are some issues that i feel really strong about that reynolds does not support, namely abortions and same-sex rights/marriage. while these issues affect some people... the big issue that affects everyone no matter if they are gay, straight, pregnant or not is the economy, and i don't support davis' plans to put up trade barriers and tariffs. it will not only raise prices of goods that we buy, but perpetuate an inefficient, bloated sector in the US known as manufacturing. why shouldn't we off-shore jobs that require little to no skill to do if they can be done for cheaper? these jobs help developing countries build up their own industries, and down the line increase demand for trade for other goods. instead of sustaining these low skilled jobs, government should provide funds to educate and train these americans in other sectors. putting up barriers also may harbor more ill will internationally on the political side... but also we will pass up opportunities to capitalize in other markets and lose out against other countries. if we will not support free trade, another country will, and will definitely pick up the slack. another point of view is to look at the issue through technology. technology is an increasing part of people's lives. driving new technology adoption comes from a decrease in the price of whatever it is we are looking to use. one of the ways to control price is have a competitively manufactured product. if the product is priced prohibitively high, why would you adopt it? if technology serves as a competitive business advantage, a company will adopt it no matter what. however, if the product costs more to purchase in the US because of tariffs, versus a company based in germany, canada, uk, etc... the advantage goes to a company based elsewhere. so if you are a small/mid-size company, how do you compete in a global market? you need to find ways to cut your costs elsewhere, or increase your revenues and profits to offset those costs just to remain at a comparable level with your foreign competitors. in the end putting up these barriers would hurt consumers, businesses, and probably cause some developing economies who are dependent on exporting out goods to the US some financial and maybe political turmoil.

ok... even if the economy is a minus, balances out the plusses (same-sex issues, abortion) in the davis campaign... back to the canvasser... she definitely did come out and say that with a davis win, the dems have an even better chance of taking over the house. while that is true... i am not so sure how the democratic philosophy would be furthered with davis in house considering davis' point of view, and the fact that he doesn't see eye to eye with most of the local officials within the democratic party. what it boils down to now for me, is... which candidate would be better for buffalo and the wny region. reynolds is a high ranking representative in the house, it has been shown he can work effectively across party lines and people who he doesn't agree with to get things down when needed... and so he can funnel more money to us. davis... he's a political novice who does not have the warmest of relationships with either the dems in his locale or republicans. how is he going to either funnel money or projects to the area? how is he going to promote change for this area? is he going to do it by re-establishing the manufacturing industry here in buffalo? we seriously have to let that go... we have to promote other industries... for pete's sake we have a bunch of area colleges in the area. we have to keep our college grads in the area instead of having them move away (we have 5 suny colleges/university within an hour drive, among the other suny community colleges and private colleges). so what... we're gonna have our kids go through higher education to work on an assembly line? good thinking there.

these are just some things i've been thinking about recently... and why as much as i hate to say it... i will be casting my ballot reynolds.

April 17, 2007

Save Pandora & Internet Radio

Pandora is a really cool internet radio site that grew out of the Music Genome Project, which painstakingly analyzes as much rock music as it can. So what Pandora is able to do is create a play list of music for you based on songs that you tell it that you like. They're now in trouble. I'll let Pandora's founder explain the details:

Hi, it's Tim from Pandora,

I'm writing today to ask for your help. The survival of Pandora and all of Internet radio is in jeopardy because of a recent decision by the Copyright Royalty Board in Washington, DC to almost triple the licensing fees for Internet radio sites like Pandora. The new royalty rates are irrationally high, more than four times what satellite radio pays and broadcast radio doesn't pay these at all. Left unchanged, these new royalties will kill every Internet radio site, including Pandora.

In response to these new and unfair fees, we have formed the SaveNetRadio Coalition, a group that includes listeners, artists, labels and webcasters. I hope that you will consider joining us.

Please sign our petition urging your Congressional representative to act to save Internet radio: http://capwiz.com/saveinternetradio/issues/alert/?alertid=9631541

Please feel free to forward this link/email to your friends - the more petitioners we can get, the better.

Understand that we are fully supportive of paying royalties to the artists whose music we play, and have done so since our inception. As a former touring musician myself, I'm no stranger to the challenges facing working musicians. The issue we have with the recent ruling is that it puts the cost of streaming far out of the range of ANY webcaster's business potential.

I hope you'll take just a few minutes to sign our petition - it WILL make a difference. As a young industry, we do not have the lobbying power of the RIAA. You, our listeners, are by far our biggest and most influential allies.

As always, and now more than ever, thank you for your support.

-Tim Westergren
(Pandora founder)

I signed it, and if you agree with the petition I urge you to join it as well. Cheers for now.

January 25, 2010

filthy scumbags

so the rnc has sent out a congressional district census mailing soliciting donations for the party. they conveniently timed it so that it might coincide with the national census that happens every 10 years. i don't necessarily oppose the party soliciting donations, as fundraising is obviously important for political campaigns in these times (though i would prefer money not play such an important role in political influence). what really gets me is HOW the republican party goes about doing it. sure, they might be technically allowed to do something like this... but that doesn't make it the right thing to do. now i'm not saying that the democrats have never or would never do something like this, but sometimes i wish that the whole political system wasn't so dirty. with the "survey" that's included, they're basically baiting the respondents to answer the way they want.

The letter asks political questions, including, "Do you think the record trillion dollar federal deficit the Democrats are creating with their out-of-control spending is going to have disastrous consequences for our nation?" and, "Do you worry that the Obama administration is committed to greatly expanding the government's role in your life?"

i wonder how many people would actually take the time to ask themselves, "are the questions i'm reading biased in any way?" for some reason, i don't think most people would even stop to question them.

i've been thinking a little bit lately about how i really should just stop reading the news and stop caring about politics and just let everything play out, and be ignorant. it would make my life more serene, i wouldn't be all mr. furious (100 bonus points if you get the movie reference) all the time. then i start to think maybe this is how the gop is going to end up winning... by outlasting all the liberals in the country... since they oppose healthcare reform which would expand coverage to many middle and lower income voting individuals. this block of voters have historically had a higher proportion of democrat leaning individuals, the expansion of preventive health services would hurt them, by causing their blood pressure to increase after listening to all the bs the republicans spew 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. the end result of this would be an increased risk of heart disease and associated cardiovascular illness. without preventive healthcare and the increases of these diseases, life expectancy would be limited. so if these individuals are not around, they can't vote. meanwhile rich conservatives will always be able to afford their private insurance premiums. though i really don't think that's the real agenda, it does make me wonder how a group can be so against reform that covers everyone? on top of that, the whole election of a republican to replace kennedy in ma. really has me down. the democrats totally screwed the pooch on that one as they didn't put enough resources into that election. that's also been playing into my feelings of going anti-news and being ignorant. life would be so much simpler if i didn't care about any of this going on. at the end of the day though, the gop always draws me back as they'll always find a way to somehow make it into my life everyday to irritate me.

March 22, 2010

hooray for the house dems

thank you congress-people for passing some form of health reform and allowing it to go to president obama for signature. this has been 40 some years in the making... and while it probably would have been easier to get it done decades ago before health care got so complicated, it's progress. i know it won't technically go into effect fully for a couple more years (and even then, i suppose it'll be appealable), it's a hurdle that has finally been cleared. the bill's imperfect, but i'll keep telling myself baby steps. eventually, i think a public program will be the best option to go. we have an increasingly global society... and to get ahead of new diseases and control their spread (both infectious and chronic), we need to be able to find data to back up our decisions. with a government run health system... we'll have the capability of having standardized care, and use of best practices. i don't see private insurance disappearing completely though. some people may want to subscribe to coverage over and above what the public option may provide. i don't see anything wrong with that... as long as everyone is guaranteed a minimum (i don't like the word when it pertains to health care... so let's use standard) level of health coverage. with a federal option it will also level the playing field between states too. while medicare is fully funded at the federal level for the elderly, currently medicaid is funded through the federal government, with the state and local governments pitching in. some states provide a number of services while others don't provide much. this affects the level of care for those who may be affected in lower socio-economic levels in some states... and really hit tax payers hard in other states.

the other thing i wanted to comment on is the whole "baby killer" statement from randy neugebauer made in congress. i was doing some research a couple days ago and could find trustworthy verifiable data from 2006 on both legal reported abortions, and numbers of individuals without health insurance. in the US in 2006 there were 835,134 legal abortions reported by the centers for disease control. obviously one should keep in mind that illegal abortions are also performed, so the total number of abortions will be higher. through survey and sampling techniques, the cdc reported 43.6 million people were uninsured in 2006. using surveys may not give the most accurate data, and the figures may differ to a higher degree than if individuals were mandated to report their status to the local, state, or federal government... but i would think that their calculations would take into account an alpha level, error, and sample size which make the results more or less valid. there were 43.6 million people were without insurance in 2006. people without insurance generally have worse health outcomes, and so we would expect a greater number of those without insurance to have higher mortality rates, and higher cost of care as well since they will seek care when they are most desperate, usually leading to a higher burden on the health care system. so my question to those who are opposed to the abortion language in the bill, do we stop abortions and hurt those who ARE living by not passing health reform? looking at this from a fiscal/economic standpoint (and the republican party is generally a party of both fiscal and social conservatives)... abortions actually save money! those who choose abortion may very well do it because they know they cannot support a child. children in lower SES brackets generally have worse health outcomes. due to their SES status, they are often enrolled in medicaid, so their health coverage is covered by tax payers anyways. since they need more care over their lifespan, it actually will cost tax payers more versus being aborted where they may cost the tax payers only the cost of the service. if the parent(s) don't choose abortion and they don't make enough or work at a place to afford insurace, and make too much to be covered by medicaid, they join the ranks of those that are uninsured... whom tax payers will still have to pay for if they seek emergency care and can't afford to pay the bill. now i can't say that i'm pro-abortion... but i think the choice is not up to me, and i do think there are cases that can be made for it. it isn't my body though... and i can't imagine women (and their partners that are involved) who choose that route to look forward to going through with the process.

this leads me to the last thing... sex-ed. why social conservatives are against teaching about this... and condom/contraceptive distribution is beyond me. i would think this is the easiest way to prevent abortions from happening. people (children) should know what may happen if certain events transpire. they should know how to manage and best prevent things that they don't want to happen. teaching abstinence is great and all, and is the only way to prevent pregnacies, tranmission of std's etc... but is it really practical in today's world? if there's a problem... it needs to be addressed, you can't just hide and pretend it's not there. give people options and tools to prevent the occurance! from a fiscal viewpoint the cost of condoms < the cost of an abortion < the cost of healthcare for an individual. for social conservatives... would you be willing to help raise the child who you so want to come into the world? or are you just fighting for a fetuses right to be born, but then ignore the fact that there may be a future individual who may be suffering because they live in a broken home and/or have worse health outcomes?

oh... and i'd also like to thank t.c... whom i started this blog with for helping me figure out what was going on with my php/mysql blob code today. thank you despite the fact that you never post anything anymore.

April 22, 2010

earth day and wth, fishing on tax day!?

happy earth day! despite the recent sad events with the oil rig off the coast of louisiana sinking and missing workers adding to the coal mine tragedy a little while ago in west virginia. it seems like i always come back to thinking about how our consumption habits move technology forward, but how our increased consumption also produces a whole lot more waste and pollution. it's an endless cycle that will keep spinning out of control until we all die (i know, very optimistic of me). was browsing around and this article with 7 little known ecological threats caught my attention. some of the things on it we all know are bad, but there were some others on it that i either didn't really think of, or never thought of. we all know the deal with mobile phones and batteries, and some may have an understanding with biofuels as well. i've never really thought of concrete, pets, and public parks though. however, now that they've been mentioned it does make sense that they can be quite detrimental to the environment in some ways. pets and public parks though i would think most people would give passes to, as the life cycle for both can certainly outlive any electronic gadget. additionally people (can) have an emotional attachment to each, which isn't the case for concrete (well at least i would think most people wouldn't).

i have thought about the environmental impact of the interwebs before, but it's possibly only because i grew up in a region where there's a relative abundance of hydro-power. when i was an intern for two firms in nyc, i had the opportunity to get inside of a couple data centers. one was an investment bank running their own data center down in the financial district, the other was a center which hosted other firm's servers. in both cases a person would be met by racks of computers stacked on top of each other, cables running all over the place, and cold temperatures. who knows what the electric bill was each day to keep the computers and monitors, hubs, switches, routers, modems, printers, lighting, and air conditioning. if i had to guess though, i figured the electric bill wasn't cheap... especially since they were also located on manhattan. seeing as how buffalo-niagara's been trying to reinvent itself for the last few decades as all it's industrial work has moved south, i've always felt that data centers could be a viable sector for the area with the main draw being cheap hydro-power from the falls. another benefit would be that because of the natural geologic formation of the falls in between two great lakes, it may be less detrimental to the ecosystem than if it were built in a place that depended on controlling the flow of a river as the regional source for agriculture and living as in the case of the colorado river.

on top of the benefits that the geologic environment affords western new york and southern ontario, there is also a big fat pipe of fiber-optic lines that connect america and canada running throughout the region. with the colder winters, cooling costs for data centers would also be lower. there have been inroads by some companies that have decided to locate data centers in the area, specifically citibank, hsbc, and yahoo. if new york state can reform its business development, government and get its act together, there could be future growth in this sector.

this next video was from the tea party protesters on tax day. i have no problem paying taxes for services the government provides, but like most people i do my best to find places where my tax burden can be decreased. if i can take a credit or deduction, i am sure going to do it. there are certain instances where taxes can get confusing, but i would think for the majority of people they're pretty straight forward. i wonder how they are in other countries? beside the gst and pst what are taxes like in canada? are your forms easy to fill out or confusing? anyways, this video is just... wow.

i wonder if these tea party people ever watch or listen to themselves speak? they never have any solutions whatsoever, and the only thing that comes out of their mouths are incoherent fox news talking points. the stuff that comes out from the commentators on fox news are a jumbled mess to begin with, but after being processed by the general population, and hearing their interpretation it just gets absolutely ridiculous. do these sheeple check any of their "facts"? it's pointless to debate with these people, how do you debate with morons? how were they even able to complete their taxes without noticing the tax credits? how do they expect to keep the illegal immigrants out without a governmental agency named customs and border protection under the larger agency named homeland security? nevermind the fact that this country was built by immigration and immigrants, there are just holes in everything these people are supposedly mad about. it would be absolutely wonderful if at his next public speech, obama were to just collect a bunch of these videos and play them for the nation. that would hopefully be enough for people to get behind what he is trying to do just based on the fact that the opposition is clearly supported by a bunch of imbeciles.

my favorite part of the whole video... banning fishing in america? really lady? wtf? where did THAT one come from?

the final thing i'd like to add is that the tea party has some really crappy musicians. no wonder they're so pissed off, i'd be pissed too if i had to listen to that, cause what the hell is that thing? it doesn't even sound like anything!

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