Decision 08: Battle of the Veeps



By Eric ~ September 7th, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized.

As some of you may know, I’m pretty outspoken politically. In the past, I’ve refused to vote for Mr. Gore, because I was afraid that his wife may have sufficient influence over Da Prez to make headway in censorship of the Internet.Being who I am, that was wholly unacceptable.

Well, that situation seems to be coming up again. I’m afraid I find it likely that one of the upcoming VP’s is likely to become the next President of the United States before the next election. Consider, if you will, that Mr. McCain would be the oldest inductee EVER for president. Now, he could well be in fantastic health, but those just aren’t good odds.

On the Democratic side of the aisle, you have a strapping young man by the name of Barack Obama. He’s articulate, elegant, and inspiring. Alas, he happens to be one of our darker skinned brothers. He’s not even president yet, and he has already had threats on his life. Valid or not, the comparisons between him and Lincoln, Kennedy, and MLK have been drawn. We all know how those came out.

So, what is it that scares me? Well, Biden seems to be pretty vanilla, as far as I can tell. However, there has been distressing information out there about Palin’s attempts to ban books, and terminate a librarian for refusal to do so. The same article also states that she continued to inject her own religious beliefs into her policy. Though I can respect one’s faith, I, personally, have to draw the line at drafting law consistent with religious beliefs, as the rest of the constituency don’t have those same beliefs.

I don’t like some of Obama’s ideas. At this point, I’m the furthest thing from a protectionist that you can find. I’m also not a fan of his plan for healthcare. I think that we need to go single payor/administered by a current non-profit, such as the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Association. I think that the current plan to provide for those that don’t have their own will expand the cost of the program, and reclaim none of the administrative overhead that comes with the complexity of all of the group contract management.

But, I suppose, when you get right down to it…the fear of having individual’s rights whittled away trumps my dislike of protectionist policies and such. Can we tariff our way out of this global economy mess? I find it unlikely, because I expect that we still export a hefty amount of GDP (software comes to mind).  We’ll feel the repercussions of those actions. But I can’t imagine putting someone in that office that holds some of the views of Ms. Sarah Palin.

No thanks.

When it hurts…



By Eric ~ August 19th, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized.

For those of you that know me, you know we’ve had some issues in my family for many years. One of my family members has had a number of issues for as long as I can remember. From the high school days, they got mixed up with some of the wrong people. Then they had drug issues. Likely as a result of the drug issues, legal problems. Familial trust issues, stemming from basic theft to theft of my wedding gifts, forgery of checks, etc. Now, I am of the belief that they have paid their dues to society as far as the criminal background goes.

Now married with step-children, they’ve had difficulty securing employment. For many years, many members of the family have done what they could to help. Paying rent, buying “meat packs”, assisting with money for doctors visits, etc.

Problem is, times are tougher for everyone. Everybody can’t afford to assist any longer, and found themselves stressed out about the premise. Financial stress is certainly one of the more difficult kinds. Everybody involved in this situation knows that. From the recipient to the donors. As a result, I stepped in as a central point of contact, so that I could relieve the stress of my loved ones.

Well, this has made me rather unpopular with one person. To that one person, if you’re reading, I’d like to make sure that you know a few things (seeing as you’d rather hang up on me than talk to me ;)):

  • I’m sure that you’re completely opposed to the premise of accountability that I push. I understand that you feel that I’m doing it to be unreasonable. It’s my hope that you will come to recognize otherwise.
  • Believe it or not, I’m not doing this to be a prick. I’m doing it out of concern for a number of my loved ones. I fear for the stress levels of multiple parties involved.
  • I fully believe that you will come out of this stronger. It’s my hope that you will come out of this stronger for my efforts. You CAN provide for your family. You have done so before. You were a different person when you WERE providing for your family. It comes with a sense of pride. It was visible in you.

Look. We’ve never had much of a relationship. I don’t know that this is going to be the road to one, but I swear to you, I’m doing for you what I think is best for you, as well as best for everybody else involved.

Maybe…just maybe, we can have one someday.

I may not always like you much, but I love you nonetheless.

Eric

Fact or Fiction: Opposite sex platonic friendship



By Eric ~ August 16th, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized.

I was discussing a friend’s situation on a message board, and found the conversation coming back to that age old classic: Men and women can’t just be friends. Especially in the case of an ex, apparently, it would just be too hard to  be friends with (or allow your spouse to be friends with) someone with intimate knowledge of you or your spouse.

Now, I’m not entirely sure that I understand that. I can see the fact that obviously you can’t use the standard dismissal that there’s nothing there, because at least at one time, there was. But the fact of the matter is that you’re ostensibly happily married. If the marriage isn’t a happy one, that’s a whole ‘nother can o’ worms.

So, if you’re happily married, would YOU have difficulty managing to keep a relationship with your ex in its current context? As a general rule, there’s a reason they’re your “ex”, right? I struggle to accept the premise that one would be willing to change the context of the current relationship (both with your spouse and your ex), to increase the emotional investment in someone from the past.

But, yet, most people would have no problem with a same sex friend of 20 years ago knocking on the door and opening up a door to that relationship again. So, is it REALLY the fact that some people just don’t believe that men and women can be friends? Does sexuality REALLY dominate the definition of our interpersonal relationships?

Simply fear? Irrational fear? If you use it to try to terminate the contact between your spouse and their ex, does it become UNREASONABLE fear?

US Border Agency Says It Can Seize Laptops - Yahoo! News



By Eric ~ August 10th, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/149303

Not that this is news, but it IS scary stuff, nonetheless. I can appreciate the need for border patrols and customs to perform basic searches, with regard to how our general safety. That would hold true particularly for mass transit options. Airports, etc. But really, how is it reasonable that someone driving over the border from Canada to the US could have their laptop confiscated and the data analyzed? Really? How, exactly, does that pass the litmus test of “Improper search and seizure”? I’ve heard it argued that they could find architectural drawings and/or child pornography. My response to that is…

So?

I still want to know how it is that someone at a border patrol could really trip enough sensors to provide “probable cause”. And, probable cause for what? We thought he looked greasy, so we had to check him? “He even LOOKS like a pedophile?”

I’ve discussed this matter over the past bit with some people, and I find that we have an incredible disparity as far as our assessment of our rights, specifically our protections against improper search and seizure. I’ve seen it argued that “I always interpreted that as when you were minding your own business”, to “I’m doing nothing wrong and have nothing to hide”, to “We give them that right”.

Unreal. So, today, in  2008 America, we have people that are completely ignorant to the fact that your unwillingness to stand up for your rights can very easily result in their forfeiture. We have people that indicate that you should never challenge law enforcement, and doing so makes you an “asshole”. And we have people that have asserted that law enforcement can pick and choose when you have those rights.

I even had someone tell me that the Constitution was fallible, because of some of the things that they couldn’t have foreseen. Now, I have no issue with the fact that the Constitution wasn’t infallible. But, to indicate that the founding fathers would’ve been OK with the premise of relinquishing our rights for pseudo-security is not only scary, it’s insulting. For those who lived by the cry of Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” or General John Stark’s “Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils”, I’m sure that this new credo of convenience is troubling at best.

At it’s core, though, this truly makes me sad. I mourn that the masses of the ignorant are playing Russian roulette with our rights, in endorsing foolish legislation like the Patriot Act. I mourn that those same people that are willing to relinquish our rights in the first place are of the belief that “big brother knows best”, so they are quite interested in the government passing laws to require that which is just generally in our best interest. Why are people so willing to relinquish our autonomy? Have we really gotten to the point where we need the government to protect us from ourselves? What does that say about us? Learned helplessness has set in? We’re just toddlers at heart, and we want to have as few choices as possible?

Kwame bites you once…



By Eric ~ August 7th, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized.

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080807/METRO/808070480

During Kwame’s first term as mayor, he was surrounded by scandal. Improper bodyguard expenses, improper terminations, excessive spending (including a Lincoln Navigator for his wife…on the dime of the Detroit taxpayer). Throughout his tenure as mayor, there was a sense of impropriety.

Then he had to run for reelection. The “Hip Hop” mayor, notorious for his large diamond earring and his everpresent bodyguards, was running against a well educated, articulate man in Freman Hendrix. Hendrix was endorsed by both the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press, as well as the alternative weekly newspaper, the Metro Times. But, Kilpatrick had something remarkable behind him. He had an incredible amount of support from his constituency. You could drive around the city of Detroit and see signs on the front lawn for “Our Mayor”. As I recall, there were a small number of endorsements from high powered executives from big businesses in Detroit. GM and DTE Energy come to mind. But, his constituents wouldn’t let him down this year. Though Kilpatrick lost the primary, he ended up winning the election and another term as the mayor of Detroit.

Fast forward to his next term—->

Mr. Mayor comes before a court in a whistle-blower case of improper termination. During this time, he is called to testify about a potential sexual relationship with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty. during which time he perjured himself. This case is settled by the City of Detroit to the tune of $6.5 million.

Now, within the last week or so, we get word that Kilpatrick will be facing charges of assault. And today, Mr. Kilpatrick was sent to Wayne County Jail for violating the terms of his bond, when he left the state and the country to visit Windsor about a business deal without notification. However, the media learned of the trip, resulting in the court getting notified about the trip after the fact.

Now…what I don’t understand about this whole debacle, is why he would’ve been reelected in the first place. On the one hand, it does say something for Kilpatrick that he was able to motivate his supporters to turn out to the polls. But, really. What in the HELL were the voters of the City of Detroit thinking? He spends money like the city has it. And they don’t.

But, hey. Detroit has that image. The city with the Hip-hop mayor.

Next time, maybe the voters will look past the bling to find value in integrity.
      

Man to feast on calzones, lasagna and pizza in exchange for guilty plea in Oregon murder



By Eric ~ August 7th, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized.

http://www.startribune.com/nation/26372029.html?elr=KArksUUUU

Wow. So many questions. I’m not even sure where to begin.

Was he convinced that he was going to be convicted for it anyway?
Did he not understand what he was doing, and maybe needed a better attorney?
Did he just happen to have the munchies?

Really, though. You decide that the most important thing that you can ask for in exchange for accepting a guilty plea bargain is $50 in fast food?

WTF?

Pre-meditated murder. Dude drove from NYC to Oregon to kill someone because he couldn’t get his deposit back for an ice cream truck. On the bright side, he won’t be manning that ice cream truck anytime soon.
            

Good year to be a Chicago sports fan



By Eric ~ August 6th, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized.

What a year.

Not only are the White Sox in first place (though, they’ve had some REALLY iffy games in the recent past) with a little help from the Twins, but the north siders are atop the NL Central. 102 years after it last happened, there is talk of a Chicago Series, with both the north siders and the south siders on top in their division. 100 years ago, the Cubs met the Tigers in the World series, and won their second half of a back to back championship. Though some claim that “Sports’ first dynasty was born”, I think that it’s tough to back that up, considering that they haven’t been back in a full century. I’m on record as not believing that it’s going to happen, but wow. If, by some bizarre turn of events it did?

Both baseball teams in first place. The ‘Hawks scaling the mountain of relevance again. It’s gonna be a good year, Tater.

Fuel For Thought



By Eric ~ August 5th, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized.

In perusing this evening, I saw that the price of crude oil had fallen from a high watermark of $147.20/barrel to $119.17/barrel. This is, in my opinion, not a wholly good development. Make no mistake, I don’t like budgeting over $400/month for gasoline either. But, the fact of the matter is that oil is a stopgap solution. With the high price of crude/gasoline, we’re starting to see attention being paid to our consumption. Alternative fuels, even. We’re finally starting to see projects like the Chevrolet Volt, the Venture, the Smart car, and you’re seeing an explosion of motorcycles and scooters, even in cold weather climates.

Our collective memory seems to be just as poor as mine ;). We’ve seen this. We’ve seen gasoline rationing. We’ve seen high prices. We’ve then seen the price fall again, and we ramp up our consumption back up just as quickly. Will we take our eye off the ball? We’ve been watching, and pushing for better fuel economy. Pushing for better vehicles. Pushing for alternative fuel sources. Wind power and solar power are just a couple of the options out there. But, will a relaxation of fuel prices cause us to go back to our normal consumptive ways? Or can we allow the prices to come down, while continuing to push our automotive companies, our government representatives, and our energy companies for alternatives? A number of companies out there recognize the opportunity to harness the energy out there that we’ve always ignored. Florida Power and Light, for instance, has a wind energy program that is making a lot of headway. Wind and solar energy are just two sources available to us that are simply wasted. The wind is going to blow. The sun is going to shine. We might as well harvest that energy.

But, alas, it will all be for naught if we fail to remain steadfast on a path to renewable energy.

    

Political Polarization



By Eric ~ August 5th, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized.

Spending a good amount of time on a message board discussing different issues, I’ve been blown away over the years at the demonization of the other side of the American political spectrum. Ironically, in my opinion, there isn’t that much difference between the two “sides”. It seems to be more that they’ve latched onto a couple of major issues, and like to base their platforms and ads off of a caricature of those talking points. Democrats will bleed your wallet dry in wealth redistribution from the rich to the poor, while the Republicans will bleed the wallets of the poor to fill that of the rich.

All elephants are looking to rob women of their right to control their bodies, while all asses just “pro abortion”.

In the aforementioned debate about economic issues relating to living wage, etc, I found that I was accused of everything from being a manager at WalMart to bashing lower income workers, to simply being quite cold. Honestly, I don’t see any of the three. I’m certainly not a manager at WalMart ;). I understand the plight of lower income workers, and I don’t think that I’m particularly frigid about it. However, there is an sense of futility to keep trying to raise people up the socioeconomic ladder by just raising the bottom. Everybody else rises as well if you raise wages above what the law of supply and demand dictates, driving inflation and hurting the very people that the premise was trying to help.

So, why is it that we can’t accept that people that don’t hold the same political beliefs that we do don’t have horns and a tail? Usually, it’s just a difference in perspective and/or priority. But, the more caricaturization we have between the political parties, the more steadfast each side becomes, ensuring that we will see a whole hell of a lot of 51/49 federal elections, just like 2000, 2004, and even 2008 will probably be close, which is STAGGERING considering the current mess and the fact that four to eight more years could be catastrophic to the balance of the supreme court.

But, for whatever reason, we don’t care about that. We simply want to participate in the dehumanization of the enemy. Behavior that, in my opinion, is reprehensible. How can it really be justified to treat other people that way?

Enquiring minds want to know.   

Responsibility for your well-being.



By Eric ~ August 1st, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized.

Who is culpable for your well being?  Is there some kind of societal construct that says that you should have a basic level of care without consideration of anything else? This seems to be a basic point of contention within our society. I’ve read things along the lines of “nobody working full time should be in poverty”, which on the surface I suppose is not unreasonable, but that requires an acceptance of the fact that employers should be on the hook to ensure that wage, regardless of whether or not economics dictate that the wage is appropriate. That sounds like a prescription for inflation, to me.

I think that it’s reasonable that society provide more for those that CAN NOT provide for themselves. The disabled, for instance. That’s one thing. But the premise that everybody BUT the individual is culpable for their situation? Bullshit. And we wonder why we have so many people that feel this sense of entitlement.

What say you?