Rush should be a bigger concern than terrorism for Americans

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Why are conservatives in the media so angry all the time? In this case I think it’s because they’re realizing the general population disagrees with them so they’re trying to just get people angry in the hopes it blinds them to the truth.

This is really interesting, and instructive. Here’s a quote of Rush Limbaugh on the recent anti-war protests (found here Are “Kooks” the Majority of the Country?):
“It was a hate fest. It was just – look it – let me tell – it was a hate feast. I, I’ve told people earlier who these people are. Don’t – they’re no different than the multi-culturalists of this country. These are, these are, these are life’s losers. These are life’s failures. These are the people that have failed to amount to anything in, in our country, in our society, in, ah, in this land of opportunity. They’re, they’re, they’re oddballs, freaks, kooks, weirdoes.”

His thought process is what scares me so much, not his actual words. This feeling seems pretty prevalent in mainstream conservative media circles and I’m curious how much it’s in the general conservative population. Why does he think it’s bad to protest something you’re unhappy with? He utilizes the freedoms of his country when they suit his interests (ie: trying to nail Clinton for adultery) but he calls people who uses those same freedoms against something he’s in favour of.

Is he just grandstanding on his show or does he actually think this? In either case it’s disgusting and harmful to his country. I know intelligent conservatives realize Rush is a hack and a hypocrite but it’s the dumb people that worry me. I can’t believe people actually tune in to this guy for any kind of view of reality.

All I know is that trying to brand people that try to speak out against anything, in a free democracy, is absolutely more destructive than any external terrorist organization ever could be. It’s so funny – Rush is doing the exact things he claims are grounds to murder people in the Middle East – destroying his way of life. To go back to the Clinton example, to say Republicans hated America because they tried to impeach him over adultery would be incorrect. Now, to say those same people were powerhungry and political grandstanders is another story.

ACL 2005

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Just finished the last day of the Austin City Limits music festival for 2005. Here were my highlights:

Tortoise completely blew me away. I had seen them about 4 years ago, and remember really liking it, but this was incredible. I knew I would like the show, but assumed it wouldn’t be the best of the festival. By the second song I knew I had been wrong. I watched Johnny Herndon (one of the drummers) a lot and I’ve never seen a more incredible show by a drummer. Wow. They played mostly their up-beat songs, and did them very intensely, which worked well on the diverse crowd.

Arcade Fire suprised me. I had heard they put on an excellent live show, but this went beyond my expectations.

Death Cab for Cutie put on an excellent show. They were my favourite band at the festival but I’ve seen them many times before so I can’t say I was suprised by anything. I don’t mean to downplay it, it was an amazing show.

Thievery Corporation suprised me as well. Went to see them on a friends recommendation and I will have to pick up some of their albums now.

Bloc Party is a new band to me that put on a great show. I will have to pick up their albums too.

Dalai Lama: Thoughts on War

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In the talk by the Dalai Lama here in Austin the other day his answer to a question about the Iraq war took me by suprise.

He was asked a question about the Iraq war. I assumed, given he’s a pacifist, that he’d immediately talk about the people being killed, how this is bad, etc. But, his answer basically boiled down to it being too early to tell if any good would come of the situation. He even cited how some good even came of the Korean war since South Korea is a nice place today.

The really interesting part was his observation that violence, while it can on occaision produce “good” results, is extremely unpredictable. Even with good intentions, using violence can never be expected to give good results. His (simplified) example was to contrast the Korean and Vietnam wars. He said the Korean war had some good results but Vietnam didn’t, although the US had basically the same intentions.

His acceptance that war, and killing people, can potentially produce “good” results was very suprising to me at first, but I think I’m understanding why. Buddhism seems very aligned towards self-improvement as a means to improve the rest of the world. To this end you have to accept that other people will do bad things (ie: killing people), trust that the proper Karma will be distributed, and then move on. This gives the freedom to accept the results on the actions as they are, not just in the light of what caused them.

Now, I’m certain the Dalai Lama is overall very anti-war. The point here is just more about accepting the past.

Dalai Lama in Austin

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The Dalai Lama gave a talk today in Austin. I listened in and it was great. I’ll post more thoughts as I internalize it and listen again, but I wanted to post links to the audio.

KUT (the local NPR affiliate) has a stream up on the web at their Web Events page.

I also saved the MP3 stream and have put it up here: Dalai-Lama-20050920-Austin-Texas.mp3

Hurricanes and global warming

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In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, and in the face of another one on the way, a question on lots of peoples minds is: is this related to global warming? A really interesting article, and discussion, on this topic can be found at:

Hurricanes and Global Warming – Is There a Connection?

The summary is that yes there is a connection but it’s hard to tell how much for one particular event. Statistics over time is a much better metric than “would this one hurricane have happened if not for global warming?” For example, there may be stronger data to show correlations between hurricane strength rather than frequency of hurricanes.

Why does Evolution have to conflict with Christianity?

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I’ve been thoroughly enjoying “Evolution Schmevolution” this week on the Daily Show. I love seeing fun poked at both sides.

As someone who does not believe in Creationism or “Intelligent Design”, one thing is really confusing to me. Why does Evolution need to be in conflict with the presense of a supreme being? All that Evolution is trying to do is explain the effects of what we’ve seen over the last millions of years. The most confusing part to me is that some people try to refute the effects. If you seperate those 2 things the argument becomes much more defined and less divisive.

The first issue is that apparently 42% of Americans believe that humans were created as they exist today. To these people there’s not too much I can say. If someone already has a mindset to ignore huge scientific evidence then it’s probably not possible to convince them that Evolution isn’t in conflict with core religious beliefs.

I think the second issue is that Evolution and Intelligent Design don’t seem to be exclusive. I think ID is just Creationism wrapped in a more modern skin, so I don’t like it for that reason, plus it’s arguments don’t make much logical sense. But, Evolution seems to fit within it’s logical framework to some extent.

Personally I don’t believe in the “tinkering” of a supreme being in the development of our planet but since I can’t explain how the universe began I can’t discount that one exists. I don’t understand why a view like this isn’t more prevalent among religious circles but it probably has to do with the longing to feel special/important.

I like when politicians take responsibility

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I think it’s worthwhile to give credit where it’s due. Yes, I’m sure it was a calculated political move (everything is) but I appreciate the fact that Bush “took reponsibility” for the Katrina failures.

Bush: ‘I take responsibility’ for federal failures after Katrina

It’s a refreshing change from a policy of “we make no mistakes, we’re always correct.” That policy is very frustrating, arrogant and scary. Plus the fact that I really believe it’s unnecessary. I really think there’s been an error in judgement in politics that people are unwilling to accept problems. People don’t expect politicians to be perfect but how you handle yourself when you’re not is very important.

I have a theory on the whole Iraq/WMD thing. I honestly believe that Bush could probably have gotten 60-65% of the vote in the 2004 election had the story gone like:

“We did not find any WMDs in Iraq. All information from many nations intelligence organizations said they were there. Everyone agreed on this. They also pointed to new information showing he was getting ready to use them. Saddam has been violating 10 UN resolutions for the last 12 years and was continuing to kill and oppress his own people. The time had come to end this. Yes, we were incorrect about the WMDs but Iraq will now be a better place, …. yadda yadda.”

Instead it went like:

“WMDs? No we have not found WMDs yet. Are you saying you wanted to see Saddam keep killing his people? We said from the beginning that this was about freeing the Iraqi people. Don’t you want to free them? Why do you keep asking about WMDs? We never mentioned that.”

The second one (reality) was insanely frustrating. Without admitting anything they tried to reframe the argument towards “freeing the Iraqi people.” Everyone knew what was going on behind the scenes but the politicians simply refused to admit it. These lies were what really got the “left” fired up. I really think had it gone like the first scenario that he wouldn’t have angered part of the moderate “left” near as much.

I still wouldn’t have agreed with him but you have to respect when someone accepts their failures, which means they’ll learn from it. When it’s not accepted the only conclusion you can reach is that they don’t see a problem therefore they’d make the same mistake again.

US approving less restrictions on use of nuclear weapons

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In this day and age where the world is actively trying to get nations to hold off development of nuclear weapons this seems a little strange (read: hypocritical). The US Pentagon is preparing an updated nuclear doctrine that allows the President to authorize preemtive nuclear strikes against other countries and loosening the “reasons” for nuclear strikes.

Pentagon Revises Nuclear Strike Plan

Hmmm. If you were North Korea or Iran, already afraid of the threat of the US military, and I saw the US was loosening its own restrictions on the use of nulcear weapons, what would you do? You better believe they’ll hurry things up. When faced with nuclear weapons the only defense (at least in global political thinking) is nuclear weaponry.

Isn’t hypocracy so exceptionally destructive?

Inside story of Katrina bureaucratic wrangling

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Here’s an interesting recount of what happened during Katrina within the various government circles:

How Bush Blew It

Obviously the author makes his conclusion known in the title, but there is a lot of great information in it. It’s astounding that they couldn’t even decide what level of government should really be in charge. It’s also astounding to me that no one thought to really prepare anything before the hurricane struck. It seems obvious that you’d want to have supplies and personel ready.

Rule by Roshambo? Or Religion?

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Apparently Ontario is considering allowing rule by Sharia Law: Sharia move in Canada draws anger

Personally I thought Canada was continuing it’s enlightened move towards further separation of church and state, but apparently not. The article also mentions that Catholic and Jewish arbitration tribunals are currently allowed in the province. I’m suprised by this and would like more information if anyone has some, but I think we should get rid of all of them. I don’t see there being a place for religious doctrine in the decision of court cases.

I guess the one “other” side to this I could possibly understand is if both parties agreed on the terms of their court case. To some extent I wouldn’t care how people decide to settle something like a divorce as long as it’s not a situation like “You’re both Muslim therefore you need to have your issues settled in this tribunal.” I highly doubt that’s the case but is it a slipperly slope? I don’t know but it just seems safer to keep religion out of the argument. Hey, if people want to settle things in court with an elaborate game of Roshambo that’s OK with me.

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