More Insight

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


"Rock star physicist" Brian Cox talks about his work on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Discussing the biggest of big science in an engaging, accessible way, Cox brings us along on a tour of the massive complex and describes his part in it -- and the vital role it's going to play in understanding our universe.

From TED Talks

A Brief History of the Universe in a Nutshell

Legendary Stephen Hawking addressed the 50th Anniverary of NASA last week


Why We Should Go Into Space

His daughter, Lucy Hawking
"Science affects all of us and it matters to all of us and it will do even more so in the future. The children of today are the adults of tomorrow and they need to have a basic understanding of science if they're going to make the kind of decisions that will affect us all. And we're going to need scientists as well, not just to work on space travel, but to work on issues that face us all like climate change or fuel sources or food production."

"It is not clear that intelligence confers a long-term survival advantage. Bacteria and insects will survive quite happily even if our so-called intelligence lead us to destroy ourselves."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Don't Wright Him Off Just Yet

Last night, Reverend Wright spoke at the NAACP meeting in Detroit following his appearance on Bill Moyers Journal Friday evening. It's a shame Obama has reacted so negatively towards Wright's recent media attention, disowning (the words, not the person) and backing away from what the media have taken out context instead of defending or even embracing the actual message of his spiritual leader.
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Blah blah blah my hands are clean blah blah


Liberation theologian Dwight Hopkins responded in March and again recently to the media frenzy surrounding Wright

Sunday, April 27, 2008


The world should be focusing on renewable resources such as wind and solar power. But large energy producers are opposed to these types of energy, Etcheverry says, because renewable energy is diffuse, can be owned and operated by anyone anywhere, and therefore makes it impossible for the large energy companies to continue to dominate the energy market.

"The big challenge for the 21st century is how can we tap into those enormous flows of energy coming from the sun on a daily basis in a manner that can allow us to have the energy services that we are expecting out of our current civilization. To solve the climate crisis, to solve the energy security crisis, to solve the poverty crisis; all these things are inter-related. And the old solutions that we've relied upon have failed us...

"This is not just about environmental protection, this is about prosperity, of creating new jobs that are sustainable for ecosystems, but also very good for society."

Scientific American recently high-lighted some of the exciting developments in solar film technology, acknowledging that
"The sun blasts Earth with enough energy in one hour—4.3 x 10^20 joules—to provide all of humanity's energy needs for a year (4.1 x 10^20 joules)"

And we're getting better at capturing that energy. Spain, Japan, and Australia are leading the way in adopting this technology as part of their energy plans. Will the US follow or will we be caught up in ethanol and biofuels and "clean" coal and nuclear energy before we realize that just better than oil does not mean the best.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

International Year of Astronomy

"The vision of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 is to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the Universe through the day- and night time sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery. All humans should realize the impact of astronomy and basic sciences on our daily lives, and understand better how scientific knowledge can contribute to a more equitable and peaceful society."

Atheist Statistics

Statistics in regards to Europe came from religious organization called Tearfund.

Statistics in regards to America came from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Atheism growing came from..

Societal Health statistics come from numerous sources, such as The journal of Religion and Society
but the specific quotation comes from "The Cambridge Companion to Atheism" by Zuckerman. More information can be found in this video

National Academy of Sciences statistics come from a study in the Journal Nature, by Larson & Whitham in 1998.

Intelligence and Education statistics come from the Tearfund organization as linked previously as well as DOZENS of studies that can be summed up by Paul Bell in an article in Mensa magazine.
Bell, Paul. "Would you believe it?" Mensa Magazine, Feb. 2002, pp. 12--13

Prison Statistics can be found here..

Divorce Statistics can be found here..

Less Food for Thought

Democrats and War

Matt Gonzales is Ralph Nader's running mate. This week he spoke at UC Berkeley

"It's imperative that we take a playbook out of the successful Christian right's revolution - do you remember that? They would say, if you're a republican, and you don't support them on these issues, you don't get their vote, we don't care that you're a republican. If you're not going to support us on these issues, forget about it.

What I propose is that the progressives put together that litmus test: you vote for the Patriot Act, you can't get my vote ever again; you support the death penalty, can't get my vote ever again; if you support increased military spending, forget it, I'm not interested in how you're 'better' than the other candidate, you can't get my vote."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why I'm Bitter: Cruelty of Starvation

Over 2.2 million people have already signed the petition condemning the recent work of artist Guillermo Habacuc Vargas. The backlash is due to the nature of an exhibit "Eres lo que lees" - you are what you read spelled out in dog food - that subsisted solely of a dog, chained to the wall, starving to death as people watched. Vargas explains:
"The purpose of the work was not to cause any type of infliction on the poor, innocent creature, but rather to illustrate a point. In my home city of San Jose, Costa Rica, tens of thousands of stray dogs starve and die of illness each year in the streets and no one pays them a second thought.

Now, if you publicly display one of these starving creatures, such as the case with Nativity, it creates a backlash that brings out a bit of hypocrisy in all of us. Nativity was a very sick creature and would have died in the streets anyway."
As cruel and inhumane his exhibit is, how sickening it is to showcase inflicted starvation right in front of us and call it "art," he has a point. What has he accomplished?

One could argue he sacrificed one poor animal in order to bring the issue of the cruelty of starvation into the forefront. That poor Natividad's life was slowly, torturously, stolen right under a purposefully placed sentence of food serves as a shocking reminder how painful, heart-wrenching, cruel and shameful it is for a living creature to starve to death in the midst of readily edible food.

It is easy to cry foul-play and lament this poor dog's death as meaningless.

I, however, find a vitally important lesson to learn from this cruelty. Stray dogs like Natividad suffer similar fates everyday, not just in the slums of Costa Rica, but worldwide. He dangled unnecessary suffering right in front of us and people are outraged as they should be.

But if it were not for Natividad's visible, tangible sacrifice, how many would still be outraged? Are we upset because this one dog starved to death in the presence of food, or because he forced us to acknowledge that living beings starve to death in the midst of plenty every second of everyday? That stray dogs like Natividad have only a future of hunger, pain, and death and are, by and large, completely ignored?

What if instead of a dog, Vargas had tied up a 2 year old child underneath a sign made out of rice, or corn, or Frankenberries, or deluxe Belgium Mousse? Would we be more outraged that an artist displayed a child literally starving to death under the shadow of a meal on a showroom floor, or that it took an artist to make us wake up to reality?

According to UNICEF and related organizations:
  • Every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger
  • It is estimated that some 800 million people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition, about 100 times as many as those who actually die from it each year.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world is well-fed, one-third is under-fed, one-third is starving
  • Malnutrition is implicated in more than half of all child deaths worldwide - a proportion unmatched by any infectious disease since the Black Death
  • Half of all children under five years of age in South Asia and one third of those in sub-Saharan Africa are malnourished.
  • Throughout the 1990's more than 100 million children will die from illness and starvation. Those 100 million deaths could be prevented for the price of ten Stealth bombers, or what the world spends on its military in two days!
  • One in twelve people worldwide is malnourished, including 160 million children under the age of 5.
  • In the U.S. hunger and race are related - in 1991 46% of African-American children were chronically hungry, and 40% of Latino children were chronically hungry compared to 16% of white children
  • One out of every eight children under the age of twelve in the U.S. goes to bed hungry every night.
  • To satisfy the world's sanitation and food requirements would cost only US$13 billion- what the people of the United States and the European Union spend on perfume each year.

Now I know I am a little late on the Vargas issue, but how is it that 2.2 million people care enough about one dog's starvation death, and yet the starvation deaths of 17 million human children every year don't spark nearly as much outrage? Is it because 17 million is too big a number to swallow, to understand?

Then what about just one child dying from starvation - just try to picture one single little infant, her face sunken, her ribs protruding through her thin skin, her cries so faint and weak you barely notice them, her tears so much more precious because of dehydration, her hunger so powerful and her mother so unable to meet such a simple need, her death so devastating, so earth shattering for her family.

Now realize she is only one of 328,600 children under the age of 5 estimated to die this year - in the industrialized nations! In the least developed nations, 14.2% of all children under 5 each year will die, many completely and easily preventable from cruel causes like starvation. That's over 17 million deaths! Where's the outrage?!! Why does one dog matter more than 17 million human children?!!!

That's why I'm bitter

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More Naomi Klein

Klein's The Shock Doctrine highly recommended

Watch her movie, The Take below

Walled-Streets Journal

"The best estimates that we have seem to suggest that a vast majority of the Shia, perhaps as much as 80 or 85 percent of the Shia, are now followers of Muqtada al-Sadr. So in the name of controlling Muqtada's militia, they are building a structure in which they in fact need to control the whole of the population in Sadr City, very much on the model of the Israeli tactics and strategy around Gaza."

"The people of Sadr city are outraged that their communication with the rest of Baghdad is being cut off, civilians are being killed and the giant slum's turned into a Gulag."

"One thing we know - the future of the American occupation of Iraq is in his [Muqtada al Sadr's] hands"

Muqtada himself explains:
"The second thing is that the American influence on the Iraqis is even more negative than that of the former Ba'th Party...Therefore, this was occupation, not liberation. I call it occupation. I have said in recent years: Gone is the 'little Satan,' and in came the 'Great Satan'...
Resistance automatically appears wherever there is occupation. Allah willing, the US will be vaquished, just like it was in Vietnam...
They [Sunni and Shia together] are even capable of gradually liberating Iraq, Allah willing, along with some other resistance forces...
Obviously I am close to the Shiites ideologically, but politically, I am close to the Sunnis and the decisions they make...
There are plans to divide Iraq - to divide what has already been divided, if I may say so. The Al Sadr movement must oppose this."

"It's practically certain that the Sadrists will win the October provision elections"

[via the Real News Network]

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Why I'm Bitter: Incarceration Nation

"We spent $9 billion on prisons and jails nationwide in 1982. Twenty years later, the figure was $60 billion. It costs about as much to house a prisoner for a year as it does to send a young man to an elite private university--and all prison is likely to teach him is how to commit crime again. Several states spend more on prisons than they do on higher education. Without re-entry, prison will become a revolving door."
The Nation's David Cole looks at the recently passed Second Chance Act aimed to ease the transition of our prison population back into society at large - almost 700,000 this year alone.
"From 1979 to 2005, the US incarceration rate tripled, and drug offenses went from accounting for 6 percent of the nation's prisoners to 25 percent. Today, the United States has 2.3 million people in prison or jail, and boasts the highest incarceration rate in the world--five times higher than the next highest Western country, the United Kingdom."
Something has to be done, and at only $2 a person over a four year period, it's worth it.
"Three hundred and thirty million dollars may seem like a lot of money at first blush--until you realize that we spend more than twice that much every day on the war in Iraq."
How much of that money goes to "rehab" the Iraqi prisoners Saddam released just before we started bombing?

Why I'm Bitter: Haiti

The US and its thugs at the IMF and World Bank have a long history of doing Haiti justice:

Hooked on the Real News Network

Black- and Woman-Water

Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater, discusses the candidates positions regarding private military contractors in Iraq in this Real News Network piece

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Why I'm Bitter: New Rules

"The truth is that religion, and guns, and hating gays and immigrants, are crutches that people lean on. So are fast food, crystal meth and child beauty pageants...But we don't have time to tackle all of America's addictions in one night.

So let's focus on the big thing: that the people who claim to be the non-elitists are the ones who constantly shift tax burdens from the people who fire you, to you.

John McCain voted to repeal the estate tax; voted against raising the minimum wage; has no healthcare plan; and is fine with keeping the working class in Iraq for 100 years. But he's a real man of the people.

And the president went to Harvard and Yale and inherited your country from his dad. But he's not an elitist because he can neither read nor write.

What does it take to label some one elitist these days, anyway? They wear shoes?! They don't buy their groceries at the gas station?! Their dog has a name and their truck doesn't?!

You know who's bitter in America? I AM!! Because shit-kickers voted twice for a retarded guy they wanted to have a beer with and everybody else had to suffer the consequences."

Liberty of Conscience

US Constitution
Article VI, Section 3

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States"

Martha Nussbaum
discusses her new book, Liberty of Conscience, and the unconstitutional religious test our media is proctoring on this week's Bill Moyer's Journal.

no religious test shall ever be required
no religious test shall ever be required
no religious test shall ever be required

Friday, April 18, 2008

How I Can Sleep at Night

As easy as it is to get upset, discouraged, bitter - sometimes a grander perspective is needed. Like this image of Earth taken in 1990 by the Voyager, 6.4 billion kilometers away. From such a distance, our planet is a pale blue dot, only 0.12 pixels.

"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

-- Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why I'm Bitter: Miami (Part 2)

A February 25, 2007 piece, "Extreme Poverty on the Rise in the State," in the Miami Herald is worth quoting at length:

"The canned peaches have dwindled and candied yams have all but disappeared, replaced by empty crates piled high inside the Stop Hunger Inc. warehouse nestled at Northeast 120th Street and 14th Avenue in North Miami. On some mornings, the line extends out to the parking lot, so 77-year-old Shirley Williams arrives early, about 8 a.m., and pushes her wheelchair out of the sweltering heat. 'At my age, you can't afford to get lost in the crowd,' Williams joked on a recent Tuesday. Farther north, hundreds pack the tiny two-story building at Broward County's Cooperative Feeding Program, where staff members have had to add a second meal to daily feedings. The crowds - and the increasing demand for food - reflect a growing number of people across the state pushed into severe poverty, with income levels at or below half of the federal poverty line...In the meantime, volunteers at South Florida food banks see more and more new faces while their supply diminishes. 'We don't know half the people who come in here now. And our food shelves are constantly empty,' said Marti Forman, head of the Cooperative Feeding Program in Broward. The pantry has increased meals 24 per cent from 2004 to 2005, Forman said. At Stop Hunger, meal distributions have doubled to half a million meals a month in the last five years. The center also distributes food to 82 neighboring churches. 'We see more and more people...but our supplies have been cut considerably," said Malcolm Gabriel, Stop Hunger's executive director for programs. 'There's just a growing sense of desperation.' At the warehouse, Santiago Torres waited until most people left before picking up his own supplies. 'I'm embarrassed,' the 33-year old custodian said with a sigh. 'I've never done this before...but I can't let my kids starve." [emphasis added]

In stark contrast to Fisher Island, Miami is also home to the poorest zip code in America - Overtown.
"The 12,000 residents who live in Overtown's 1.8 square miles have a median household income of just $14,000 and a poverty rate of over 50%. Fear runs rampant - for security reasons Domino's Pizza refuses to deliver to Overtown. Miami has two sides; they are literally right next to each other, and literally worlds apart...While the United States is the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world, it also boasts some of the highest poverty levels of all the industrialized nations. Miami, in reality, is a microcosm for the United States as a whole." [from "Poverty in the Midst of Plenty"]

Miami clearly has its problems with the high rates of reported poverty. In reality, the picture is quite worse if all the immigrants are included. Most of the figures presented are from as far back as the 2000 census, and the economic situation is only declining. With the recent mortgage crisis, the credit card bubble about to burst, and the price of food skyrocketing over the last couple months, I have no doubt that Stop Hunger and the Cooperative Feeding Program will become much busier, and more and more unable to meet the increased demand as South Floridians are pushed further and further into poverty.

More to come because I'm still bitter.

Borrowed heavily from and with much gratitude to "Poverty in the Midst of Plenty" in Ivan Petrella's Beyond Liberation Theology: A Polemic. SCM Press, 2008.

Why I'm Bitter: Miami (Part 1)

I'm not from some small town in rural Pennsylvania. In fact, I currently reside in Miami, FL, home of the richest zip code in the country - Fisher Island. While the glitz and glam of South Beach may be the face of Miami to the rest of the country, residents know a different story.

Miami is often ranked the poorest city in America, or at least in the running.

From the Brookings Institution:

  • Compared to other cities, Miami's adults possess low education levels, are often absent from the labor force, and must provide for relatively large households. City residents further confront a rapidly decentralizing regional economy, in which the gap between inner-city workers and jobs is widening. As the economic strength of the urban core dissipates, too many Miami families make do with low incomes, and struggle to pay for housing and the necessities of life.
  • Miami's black residents, in particular, may be especially disconnected from the growing suburban job market, as more than 40 percent do not have access to an automobile.
  • Only half of working-age adults in Miami were employed or looking for work in 2000—the lowest percentage among the 100 largest cities in the U.S. As a result, more than one in four Miami children lives in a family with no workers. These low levels of work may reflect not only a growing distance between inner-city Miami residents and suburban job opportunities, but also the low education levels of Miami's population. Though this improved in the 1990s, the share of Miami's adults with at least a four-year college degree remains just 16 percent. Only about half of Miamians hold a high-school degree or more—the lowest such share among the 23 Living Cities.
  • Low- and high-income households increased in number in Miami during the 1990s, but the number of middle-income households declined slightly in the 1990s. As a result, the city's median household income rose only slightly over the decade, and ranked last among the 100 largest cities in the U.S. in 2000. In several neighborhoods, more than 40 percent of all residents live in poverty. Half of Miami's families with children have incomes below or near the poverty line.
  • Nearly 50 percent of renter households pay more than 30 percent of their incomes for housing—the highest share among the 23 Living Cities

From the Federal Census:

  • Median household income: $23,483 (US median income: $46,326)
  • Per capita money income: $15,128
  • Persons below poverty: 28.5% (defined as less than $9,570 per individual)
  • Very low-income owner households: 20.1%
  • Very low-income renter households: 49.9%

According to The Miami New Times (part 2):

"The city's entire middle class -- Anglo, Hispanic, African American -- began to cut and run. With them went hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs. By official city estimates, during the Eighties alone a staggering 40,000 jobs were lost, more than eleven percent of Miami's entire employment base."

"Poverty spread at an alarming rate through Model City, Overtown, Allapattah, East Little Havana, and west Coconut Grove...extreme poverty threatens to destabilize the city. The mayor must rally the public for intense and prolonged engagement with the city's most disadvantaged. But given the isolation of Miami's impoverished neighborhoods, that'll be difficult."

"Miami's affluent bayfront communities are self-contained bubbles whose residents have no cause to visit areas west of I-95. Compounding that problem, a history of fractionalized relations has left the city's poor knowing little about themselves. By and large, African Americans don't mix with Cubans, who don't mix with Haitians, who don't mix with either. Everyone is the poorer for it, as isolation breeds ignorance, and ignorance fosters indifference."

Much more to come...

Elitist Marxist Part 2

The Nation's Nicholas Von Hoffman reminds us why we should be bitter

Taking a page from NYT's Stephen Greenhouse's new book, The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker,
  • Since 1979, hourly earnings for 80% of Americans rose only 1% after inflation
  • Hourly wages for male workers has actually declined 5% since 1979 after inflation
  • In 2005, the top 1% of Americans earned 21.2% of ALL income (a new high)
  • The bottom 50% (read: HALF OF AMERICA) earned a paltry 12.8% of all income, down from 2000
  • The typical American works 1,804 hours/year (vs. 1,669 hours for Brits, 1,564 hours for the French, and 1,434 hours for the Germans - 9 full time weeks less than Americans)

So, Americans work more than anyone else in the industrialized world with stagnant wages, healthcare costs that rose 78% in 5 years, a mortgage crisis, credit crisis, a food crisis - all while 1% of the population earns almost double what half the country combined earns.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Will Drink From Your Skull and Piss Your Mind

Now featuring (old) music!

The Josh Lennon Project


United Nations of Funk

Funkasauris - How ya Doin

Sapling (Tree cover band)


All of Us


The Allston Pants (had a brief stint, now featuring my brother, Handy's Choice)

Obsolete (self-fulfilling prophecy)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Executive Privilege?

Defend the Constitution and Restore the Rule of Law

From Rocky Anderson:

As patriotic Americans, we believe in knowing the truth about our government. Regardless of political affiliation, we believe in our constitutional democracy. We believe in the rule of law – that no person, regardless of position, is above the law.

We believe in respecting basic human rights – and have been proud to distinguish our nation from those countries where people are kidnapped, disappeared, and tortured.

We believe that in a democracy likes ours, citizens are entitled to know whether government officials are living up to their oaths to defend and preserve the Constitution, and whether they are abusing the human rights of people here or elsewhere in the world.

This is not a partisan matter. It is a matter of responsible citizenship.

Recently, several conscientious members of the House Judiciary Committee, including the Chair, Congressman John Conyers, have indicated support for public hearings to investigate and disclose the facts concerning claims of illegal conduct and other abuses of power by members of the Executive Branch. If misconduct has occurred, the American people are entitled to know. If misconduct has not occurred, hearings will determine and disclose that as well.

By showing that the American people – without political partisanship – support the disclosure of the truth through public hearings, we can make a difference, together standing up for the truth, the rule of law, and our Constitution.

• We are entitled to know whether members of the Executive Branch misrepresented the facts and withheld crucial information, thereby deceiving our nation and the international community before the invasion of Iraq.

• As American citizens who value the system of checks and balances among the three branches of government, we are entitled to know whether that system has been seriously undermined. We are entitled to know whether the courts and Congress have fulfilled their important constitutional roles in investigating and disclosing the misuse of Executive power.

• Our nation has engaged in the unprecedented, illegal, and immoral kidnapping, disappearance, and torture of human beings around the world (some of whom have been proven to be innocent of any wrongdoing), with no due process, in complete secrecy, and with no accountability. Even US citizens have been held in prisons indefinitely, with no legal counsel, no trial, and no charges filed against them. As Americans, we are entitled to know what has occurred in connection with these human rights abuses. In our democratic system of government, there must be full accountability.

Speaking out together, as concerned, patriotic Americans, we can send a clear message to Congress: In the United States, the rule of law must prevail, our Constitution cannot be disregarded, and the fundamental morality to which our nation has always laid claim will be restored.

Road to Democracy

Not Iraq, we still have some small steps to take at home

State by state legislation, currently sweeping the nation, reforms the current Electoral College system. It guarantees the presidency to the candidate who wins the most votes in all fifty states.

Every vote will be equal
No state will be ignored
The candidate with the most votes wins

National Popular Vote

Thanks to the Electoral College:

"President Bush has engaged in at least five categories of repeated, defiant 'high crimes and misdemeanors', which separately or together would allow Congress to subject the President to impeachment under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution.

In addition to a criminal war of aggression in Iraq, in violation of our constitution, statutes and treaties, there are the arrests of thousands of Americans and their imprisonment without charges, the spying on Americans without juridical warrant, systematic torture, and the unprecedented wholesale, defiant signing statements declaring that the President, in his unbridled discretion, is the law.

The sworn oath of members of Congress is to uphold the Constitution.

Failure of the members of Congress to pursue impeachment of President Bush is an affront to the founding fathers, the Constitution, and the people of the United States."

Hell, I Might Even Rub One Out

"It's like a cross between Harry Potter, Die Hard, and Forrest Gump, only with emails being deleted, and torture."

El Sistema

In the world of classical music, the Simon Bolivar National Youth Orchestra is unique. The musicians, kids mainly, are not graduates of some conservatory or music school: they're alumni of the school of hard knocks in the slums of Venezuela...Many of the kids come from neighborhoods which are so poor, desperate and crime-ridden, that hope is often extinguished in children at an early age. Instead, these kids travel the world, playing to sell-out audiences.

60 Minutes

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sick Around the World

Tuesday, April 15 @ 9pm, PBS Frontline examines what we can learn from other nations in world about how to run a healthcare system on Sick Around the World.

The Washington Post's T.R. Reid focuses on UK, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Tawain.

When officials in Taiwan designed their new comprehensive health care system, they borrowed the best ideas from abroad.

"America is not really a system you can copy, it's a market. So if you let things happen, it will be like the United States"

In Germany, health plan premiums are based on income and everyone has access to medical care—including the unemployed.

"Health Insurance continues with no change if you lose your job. We do know very well that people who become unemployed are at an increased risk of becoming ill. And therefore becoming unemployed is about the worst time to lose health insurance."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Personal Flying Device

Glad to know so much money is being spent on such a practical device. Since the '40s.

Get Yours Today!

Yes Wii Can!

Pragmatic nerd Johnny Lee shows how to do some really cool things with the Wii infrared remote system

A longer demo of the 3-D viewer can be seen here

Monday, April 7, 2008

Poor Blackwater

It sure does suck to be a military contractor in Iraq, especially compared to...the military. That's right folks, because as an article featured in the Blackwater Tactical Weekly newsletter proves
"The popular belief that there is a huge disparity between what U.S. private security contractors and military personnel are paid has been exposed as a myth yet again."

Yes! Even though "[a]n active-duty sergeant (or E-6 in military terminology) has an annual base pay of $33,976" and "a similarly qualified military contractor, whose average base pay is $165,000" may not appear to fair to the underpaid sergeant, it's easy enough to distort this 4.8-fold disparity into a 4.8-fold myth!

I mean, once you start inflating what the sergeant's "paid" with other goodies like
"allowances for housing and subsistence...Adding special duty pay, a re-enlistment bonus aggregated over four years, and other allowances, minus federal taxes, the total net cash compensation comes to $63,340 a year"

But that's not all! Then add "healthcare, installation-based benefits, subsistence in kind, family housing and barracks, education and other benefits," and "retirement pay accrual, compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs, pension, healthcare and related health benefits" to (un)even things out.

Now subtract more than $69k for the "high tax bracket" contractor. Now subtract all the same amounts you added for the sergeant regarding housing, healthcare, retirement and "other benefits."

And what do we get? Well boo-hoo for the lowly contactor, who walks away crying with "a net cash compensation equivalent of a paltry $38,306" Ouch!

And what of our active duty soldier? Well it turns out his compensation "can be up to $126,734."

WOW! If only our servicemen knew that $33,976 was actually $126,734 if you're in the military, but $165,000 is only $38,306 if you're a contractor! Then mercenary firms wouldn't have to recruit from reputable nations like "Chile, Colombia, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador," who have long histories of outstanding militaries.
Unfortunately, these Latin Americans are "willing to work for $2,500 to $5,000 a month, compared with perhaps $10,000 or more for Americans." Someone should tell them their 5k a month is really only like $1.13 a year if you do that math right.

Oscar Gold

Breaking News: Plight Of Missing Hikers Will Make Great Movie

"New Study finds America almost there, just needs a few more blogs"

War on Remembering

With the constant bombardment from television, it's easy to focus on offensive advertising, McCain's "comeback," this recession/not a recession fiasco, and Clinton-Obama back and forths.

But let us not forget Bush's War. The new PBS documentary marks the fifth anniadversary of our presence in Iraq, and his war on terror.

Let us not forget either how the American public was terrorized into going along with it time after time (13 documented here) by this administration

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Scathing Review

The Washington Post reports Tuesday that
"Government auditors issued a scathing review yesterday of dozens of the Pentagon's biggest weapons systems, saying ships, aircraft and satellites are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule...
The Government Accountability Office [GAO] found that 95 major systems have exceeded their original budgets by a total of $295 billion, bringing their total cost to $1.6 trillion."
Our Future puts it in perspective:
"$295 billion wasted. To put in perspective, Bush vetoed more health insurance for kids supposedly because $35 billion -- $7 billion a year over 5 years -- was too much to spend."
While the GAO has succeeded in surfacing several instances of waste, fraud, and abuse - how often do they - or we the American public - hold anyone accountable for it. Talking about accountability is no substitute.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

We're Going to Mars!

Get ready to meet Marvin in person on Mars. Google has teamed up with Richard Branson's Virgin to create Virgle
They certainly have the capital to get this off the ground - and would be the first major private industry space mission.

With only $10-15 start up investments, Virgle anticipates a fully-functioning city of 100,000 by 2108. The team will send unmanned robots establish a base by 2015

Fly 12 people at a time in a modular space ship

The city will have its own economy, exporting
"software systems and services, synthetic protein matrices, micro m-learning processor designs and medical vision implants"

Terraforming is expected to reach 89% completion after a century of human presence.

From the Founding Fathers themselves...

Stay Tuned for more...