The Bush Speech – Energy

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I only heard about half of Bushs speech, as it was already started when I tuned in on NPR during the drive home. I don’t actually remember much from the part I actually listened to but I do like some of what I’ve heard second-hand. Apparently of the 4 actions he mentioned as part of his energy plan 3 were “alternative energy” solutions.

He’s brought this up multiple times. He’s never taken huge action on it yet, but I really wonder about his true thoughts on the matter. I have a hunch that he does see the importance of these alternatives but is somewhat restrained because he needs to deliver for his “oil company friends.” If that weren’t true I wonder how much he would do.

I really don’t understand why he doesn’t push it harder. If he made huge moves towards oil independence he’d probably become one of the most liked presidents of modern times by both the environmentalists and neocons. The neocons want off oil because it makes the US dependent on foreign sources politically as well as economically.

I realize it would put a strain on the economy to go at this full speed, but I’m sure there’s a compromise in the middle where we (the west in general) could be doing a lot more than we are now.

Selling out?

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Interesting article about the music industry called The History of Selling Out. Nice to see someone explore this.

I have my own theories on this. I’m sometimes accused of being “snobby” when it comes to music. I tend to not like much that’s played on the radio, or on video channels. I’ve been told that I stop liking music as soon as it gets played on the radio.

First of all, the argument is factually false because I do listen to music that is “popular.” Granted, it probably takes up less than 5% of my CD collection, but it shows I’m not consciously trying to stay away from it.

But I think that there is some truth to the argument – only by appearances. I really do believe that there is a difference in music that gets (or wants to be) played on a big radio station. This drives certain restrictions on songs. These are:
1. Can’t be too long
2. Try to have a memorable “catchy” part
3. A listener needs to be able to tune in at any point and still enjoy the song.

This is almost the exact opposite qualities of songs I tend to like. I like longer songs that don’t just have a “hook” to pull you in but build up to peaks, slow down, then do it all over again. I also like songs that you don’t enjoy as much without hearing the whole thing. This means the song structure itself is appealing, not just the notes that happen to be played at any one time.

Anyways, I’ll share a link I just found to a cool site containing news and reviews of everything Indie-related: Pitchfork. Is this helping my argument that I don’t just like Indie music? :)

Boo hoo….

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Too bad for the credit card companies… apparently people are doing what no one expected: pay off their credit card debt.

Next people just have to learn to be able to wait to buy something. But the consumer culture has gotten so good at convining people need a whole lot of crap right now it won’t stop for a while.

Americans Pay Off Credit Card Debt!

How rich is too rich?

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Interesting article called How rich is too rich?

I do feel strongly that concentrations of wealth are bad for democracy. I think we’re starting to see the evidence of that now in North America. When individuals who own massive portions of the media try to advance a particular agenda, that’s obviously bad.

What’s the answer? There is no easy one that I can see yet. Obviously a big estate tax would help. Personally I don’t buy the argument that if you had a 25% estate tax it would demotivate people to generate wealth because their offspring would get less.It may even be the opposite. If they know they need to generate 125% to get their descendents 100% they may work harder. Also, make it only apply to estates worth more than $2 million or $5 million, which kills the argument that estate taxes affect people like farmers, whose children have to pay massive taxes.

If these wealthiest people would feel more social responsibility themselves, like it seems Bill Gates does, perhaps we wouldn’t need to force the issue. Really, if you leave your kids $100 million dollars instead of $150 million, is that going to change their lifestyle? If you answer yes, you’ve got a problem. It’s hard to feel bad though because someone who did answer yes obviously doesn’t have a very good life because of how much importance they place on money. Let them sit in their palace, alone, plotting how to make even more money, while the people on the other side of town have happy families and real friends.

Do you like killing foreigners?

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Now’s your chance to really find out if you do. Take the Neocon quiz.

I’m immensely proud that I scored a “liberal” on the quiz. I’m most proud of this because it means I’m not in favour of killing people. Even though I’m not a religious person, if there is a supernatural being I’m sure it would be proud of me for that.

Constitutional Restoration Act

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Holy crap! That’s all I can say about a bill called the “Constitutional Restoration Act” currently being considered by the US Congress.

The opening paragraph from the znet.org article below says it all: “Tired of waiting for the Second Coming to enforce Christ’s rule on Earth? Fortunately, so is your Congress and they know how to “bring it on.”"

Basically this law would create an “exception” that courts cannot rule on anything that in any way interferes with the laws of their god. Oh, and also “acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.”

Ok, it doesn’t happen to just be extremely hypocritical that the US speaks (and acts) against other governments based on religion, and is trying to make itself one now. Governments based on religion are a bad thing. People know this, the government has acted on this basis in the past, etc.

The difference is that the new biggest lobby group in the country (Christian Right) sees a chance to seize permenant control over the country. People should be VERY mad about this. Why have we not heard it? Think about it – this bill essentially creates their god as the supreme source of power in the US. Except for one thing: none of these politician jokers actually talk to god, so it’s installing them as the supreme source of power in the country.

People need to wake up before this goes through or else they’re going to wake up in a much different country. Every person in the country will have to memorize the bible to make sure they’re not breaking “the law.”

Details of the bill and some discussion on the same site and on znet.org

No Plastic

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While in India I noticed an interesting trend throughout the country. They had declared “No Plastic Zones” in various places. Almost all tourist-type attraction was one, and then I noticed some beaches in Goa. It seemed a lot of government-owned property was zoned this way.

I’m not really sure of their motivation, whether it’s to keep the area clear of some non-biodegradable items or to try to lessen to use of plastic in general which would mean less oil consumption. Either way I thought it was an interesting idea.

It also looks like Delhi declared all public school plastic free zones

Give this a read: On no, no plastic. You can even try to play the game.

View from the inside of the religious right

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This is an interesting Op-Ed piece from a former Republican Senator, former Ambassador to the UN and he’s also a minister.

In the name of politics

Good to see someone as (genuinely) religious as he must be complaining about how the party has swung too far towards religious control.

I like this quote: “As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around.”

I really hope the Republican party, which is made up of two (usually opposed) factions – Libertarians and Social Conservatives – fractures soon. Unfortunately both sides are united in one aspect: power. Neither side is willing to give it up and they know that seperate neiter one would win. At least 50% of the US seem to respond to poll questions in a way suggesting they are more “liberal-minded” so the social conservatives would lose. Currently no one cares about fiscal conservatism, so they’d lose as well.

Too much talk radio?

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I’m super excited that Austin finally got a local broadcast for Air America Radio. Now I can listen to it without having to sit at my computer :)

While listening to some random show on it the other day (no idea which) this woman (a guest) was going on and on about how Bush going to the funeral of the Pope was wrong. She was saying it was unconstitutional, illegal, etc, etc.

This is the perfect example of the trap that ALL talk radio falls into. They’re trying to make a big issue out of a small issue, probably because they have nothing better to talk about. It’s easier to rail against someone for 3 hours on a topic like this than to go research a really important topic. I guess that’s why they’re not considered “news” broadcasts, but it’s still annoying. Limbaugh perfected this tactic years ago and is probably lying 75% of the time while he does it, but people still listen and believe him.

Since (big) liberal talk radio is so new I hope they go a little bit higher. Sure, I don’t think Bush going to this funeral is a great idea, but I don’t really care. There are literally thousands of other valid issues to hammer away at Bush on. The guy is a documented liar, thief, deserter, murderer and has a corrupt government. How hard should it be to mount an organized effort to bring him down?

The great wall of USA

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Made it back from India! I will post more thoughts on what happened as things distill in my head.

I just wanted to quickly share one of the more vivid “political” scenes I saw while touring India. When we arrived in Delhi we were given a tour of the city and we went through the embassy district. We went by lots of nice-looking embassies: Canada, Japan, China, etc. We were reaching the end of the road and the driver said “… and here is the most powerful embassy.” This, of course, was the US embassy. You couldn’t tell whether it was a nice-looking embassy or not because all you could see were the barricades and legions of armed guards surrounding the place.

I’m not trying to dive into the cause of this or anything more in-depth than the visual and emotional reaction to this image. It sends a powerful message.