Posts Tagged ‘National’

Honorable mentionings

Tuesday, December 21st, 2004

Conversational and informational fodder for you all to ponder and pontificate over. Dig in and fire up your comments, cause it’s big word Tuesday baby!

  • More reports of prisoner abuse in Iraq and Guantanamo, this time courtesy of the F.B.I. Seems as though the torturers are using the F.B.I.’s name to shield the blame from getting passed onto the Department of Defense. Sick, just sick. Does anyone else find it frightening that we’ve now lost the majority of our moral high ground when it comes to this kind of thing? For every “enemy combatant” left to defecate on themselves or pull their hair out, we give rise to two or three terrorists to replace them. Not the way to promote the splendors of democracy or ensure the safety of our nation if you ask me.
  • The long rumored MTA fare hike is now official. Monthly unlimited cards are to jump up from $70 to $76 a month, among other hikes. Great, there’s another $72 a year that I have to give over to someone else. This wouldn’t irk me so much if the MTA’s books were open. As it stands now, lots of nasty corruption rumors have been circulating.
  • The FCC has given the go-ahead to the use of in-flight broadband. Cell phone use in planes is also to be decided upon soon. Probably of interest to those who fly a lot, but considering my terrestrial nature this is just one of those curious policy things I like to make note of.
  • Just the mental image this one-line post creates had me laughing out loud at work.
  • The process is now officially underway for Turkey to be evaluate for entry into the European Union. There are many steps along the way. The process could take up to 15 years and there is no guarantee that they’ll be admitted.
  • Gizmodo has a picture of the Varioptic liquid lens that will add optical zoom and autofocus to future camera phones.
  • A write-up on how to build traffic to your blog. Not like having this personal indulgence of mine widely known has ever been a big issue with me, but maybe I can use some of this on another blog I get involved with.
  • Some Australian game has bought a virtual island for $26,500 in cash, and not virtual cash either. The slice of digitized land is in the online role-playing game Project Entropia.
  • First it was XM releasing their MyFi portable satellite radio. Now it looks like Sirius is gonna follow suit and raise the stakes at the same time: they are rumored to be talking with Apple about integrating a Sirius satellite radio into the iPod. It’s times like this that I wish O&A were on Sirius and not XM. That and their NFL coverage package.
  • Title how to get a budget out of a client. Hopefully I’ll get to use this tip some day on one of my freelance gigs.
  • Looks like we’ll be waiting until spring for the new season of Chappelle’s Show to begin. My funny bone is heart broken at the news.

And finally…

Hot and cold running topics

Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

From the serious to the sublime….

  • Remember that grand missile defense shield that the Bush administration was so high on creating? Well, it still doesn’t work. It was supposed to be up and running by the end of this year. In my opinion, the money used to build this boondoggle would have been better spent on border protection, airport security and inspecting our ports — especially post 9/11.
  • Consolidation in the cell phone market continues. Yesterday Verizon made a secret bid for Sprint, which just anounced a merger with Nextel. At this rate we could be down to just 2 major cellphone companies by this time next year.
  • A great write up on five mistakes band and label web sites make. While a lot of this should be common sense, I’ve seen far too many sites that have all five of these issues. The net is primarily a tool to get or publish information, and that should be kept at the core of any design desicions. Eye candy comes later.
  • Mr. Barrett describes his run in with a subway Jesus freak. I’ve never had to deal with such an aggressive pontificator before, and sure hope I won’t have to in the future.
  • This editorial in USA Today asks if we should rethink our nation’s overreliance on standardized exams.
  • Did you ever wonder where those little orange XML icons came from? I’m sure some of you out there are wondering what they’re for in the first place. It’s all part of the joy that is web syndication — you should look into it.
  • Hollywood once again is going after the file sharers in the courts. This time it’s the MPAA going after BitTorrent. Good luck shutting down that one — BitTorrent right now accounts for around half of all internet traffic.

And finally…

  • With the owners and the players association further apart than ever, it looks as if this NHL season is lost. Sadly, I’m not even sure there will be a season next year at the rate negotiations are going.

Debate, deep space, ash and art

Wednesday, October 6th, 2004

Lately it’s been all about pushing the boundaries of the unknown. The untapped. The untried. Clarity and the like can come from such bold moves, but so can calamity. Reaching for the stars, skirting disaster. Beds of roses and brimstone, baby! Guess I had better start making some sense instead of talking in overly idealistic tones, huh?

The political landscape is changing. We’re now in the think of debate season and after one presidential and one vice-presidential round I’ve got renewed hope that we might just dodge the bullet of four more years of Bush. Kerry’s performance made George look like a deer in headlights and killed the post-Republican convention bounce, making this race a dead heat once again. If only G.W. could have taken some of Cheney’s talent for that affair, even though he took some stiff shots from Edwards on things like Halliburton and Bremer’s quote earlier in the day that “we never had enough troops on the ground” in Iraq.

The natural landscape is changing, as Mount St. Helens continues to rumbling and belch out steam and ash. Something is coming, but what exactly we’re not sure of. Unless the whole mountain goes boom I highly doubt it will be as spectacular as the blast from 1980, but it should be spectacular to see never the less.

The boundaries of space are changing. What used to be a realm for superpower governments has now ben kissed by the private sector, as SpaceShipOne has claimed the Ansari X Prize. While we’re not all living on cities floating in space with our rocket cars and our time shares on the moon, this is the first step that will make all that come to pass. The space tourists are already lining up to spend hand over fist for the opportunity to experience the thrill.

Even on a personal level, change abounds. I’m into week three of classes at the School of Visual Arts in their continuing education course, and enjoying the stimulation. The two disciplines: Flash and Illustration Basics.

So far, Flash has been all I expected of it: boring and repetitive for the first two weeks as we review the application and the tools, but interesting once we got into actual methods of animation, linking, actions and the like. While I probably could have learned this all from a book or two with some solo practice time, the structure and lecture parts are why I’m paying to learn. The assignment structure won’t hurt this scatterbrain, either.

As for Illustration Basics, everything about the class has exceeded my expectations to this point, and I don’t see that going downhill anytime soon. While I was under the assumption that this would involve sketching with pencil and paper, instead I’m now investing time in doing collages, working with acrylics and being heavily engrossed in our class discussions. My teacher has had works grace the cover of Time and Newsweek, so he knows what he’s talking about and I sit like the eager sponge to sop up all this insight and information.

The group of people in the class itself are the portrait of diversity: in race, in ethnicity, in backgrounds we are as dissimilar as you can possibly get. Yet, there is the common bond of our artistic interests and I’ve got the feeling that there is more in common with us that what separates us on the surface.

Times of change can be good times.

A true page-turner

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

The complete 9-11 Commission Report — all 585 pages of it — is available for download in PDF format.

Oh what a state the Union is in!

Friday, January 23rd, 2004

So Tuesday night was the State of the Union. I didn’t get to pay too much attention to the speech as it was being given since I was over at my dad’s house helping him install some computer hardware, but when bits and pieces I overheard certainly didn’t inspire me. The recaps I caught on the news and courtesy of The Daily Show and Tough Crowd reaffirmed that as well. Now with a transcript in hand, it’s time to pull this bit o’ political fluff limb from limb:

War is my business, and business is good
Bush led off with his recap of all the fighting being done in the name of Old Glory and he praised the armed forces up and down, left and right. Then he went on a scare tangent:

Twenty-eight months have passed since September 11th, 2001 ó over two years without an attack on American soil. And it is tempting to believe that the danger is behind us. That hope is understandable, comforting ó and false.

A nice lead in to ask people to re-up the “Patriot” Act, don’t you think?

Big bucks, no whammies and…STOP!
Bush continued on, giving us the Iraqi State of the Union, tooting his horn over the tax cut program and the general state of the economy itself and how it’s on the rebound. Then he delivers this gem:

In two weeks, I will send you a budget that funds the war, protects the homeland, and meets important domestic needs, while limiting the growth in discretionary spending to less than 4 percent. (Applause.) This will require that Congress focus on priorities, cut wasteful spending, and be wise with the people’s money. By doing so, we can cut the deficit in half over the next five years. (Applause.)

Cut it in half? You do realize that if you had never issued that tax cut and handed out $300 checks as a bribe for winning the presidency we might never have had a deficit in the first place? The 9/11 attacks and all their associated costs included.

The immigration two-step
In a move that seems to smell of election year pandering to the latino community, George proposed reforming out immigration laws to make many of the illegal aliens in the country somewhat more legal in their visit.

One wonders wether the current administration hasn’t considered just annexing mexico as a solution to the immigration problem? Maybe such things should not be spoken as someone at the White House might just think it’s a good idea.

Um, excuse me, but your faith is showing
One thing G.W. seems to have no issue with is flaunting his ideology about for all the world to see. The noise level from the president over his faith-based charities funding has stayed constant throughout his term, I will give him that. Of course, something about that sits uneasy with me. It’s not the programs or the religions themselves, as I know they’re providing a useful service to the community at large. It’s the fact that church is being sanctioned by state, a big no-no as far as the principals this country was founded on if I remember my history lessons correctly. In my opinion, religious groups should get federal funding only if they assure that there will me no ministering on the government’s dime.

But that’s not even the point I’m trying to make. Catch this paragraph from the later part of the speech (I’ve added the emphasis myself):

My fellow citizens, we now move forward, with confidence and faith. Our nation is strong and steadfast. The cause we serve is right, because it is the cause of all mankind. The momentum of freedom in our world is unmistakable ó and it is not carried forward by our power alone. We can trust in that greater power who guides the unfolding of the years. And in all that is to come, we can know that His purposes are just and true.

Sounds like he’s pimping the Judea/Christian ideology to me, and from anyone but a government official that’s fine and dandy. Once you take up public office however, you should be as blind to religion as you are to color. Bush can’t seem to separate the two and that has always given me somewhat of an uneasy feeling because that just one step away from government imparting moral legislation on the people. Oh wait…we’re already there.

Mariage is as marriage does
Yup, Bush had to give time in the state of the union to the protection of the institution of marriage. What the fuck is it in danger from? Why the fuck is the federal government spending precious time and money trying to legislate this part of our lives? I say if two people love each other and wish to make a life long and legally binding commitment to show that, then they should be allowed to do so regardless of sex. Call it marriage, give then rights equal to those of heterosexual couples and stop wasting my bandwidth over it. Why can’t he see it that way? Well, maybe religion has something to do with it:

The same moral tradition that defines marriage also teaches that each individual has dignity and value in God’s sight. (Applause.)

I’ve always loved having morality legislated to me.

An entirely different kind of school test
Now as for the war on drugs:

Drug testing in our schools has proven to be an effective part of this effort. So tonight I proposed an additional $23 million for schools that want to use drug testing as a tool to save children’s lives. The aim here is not to punish children, but to send them this message: We love you, and we don’t want to lose you. (Applause.)

I can see the logic in this, but for entirely different reasons. I have nothing against those who use, and I have been known to experiment from time to time, but I think education is key to helping kids make the right choices later in life. Test if you must, but I would say education works a lot better. Get the kids through high school as best you can with a good head on their shoulders about and facts about drugs (facts mind you, not moral browbeating disguised as facts). From then on they should be much better suited to make responsible choices.

Hell, they may even become President some day, right George?

Beyond that nothing really grabbed my attention in the speech. He talked about medicare and how steroids have to be cleaned from pro sports among other things, and for the most part it all seemed very dull, flat and matter-of-fact. No wild promises, no sweeping visions for the future. To me it felt more like sweeping up his presidency so he can be ready to leave come next January. Oh how I hope I’m right about that last part.