Your Thoughts Exactly: June 2005

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Time 4 Sum Aksion

After a hiatus that involved surfing in Australia, a whole lot of drinking, some other recreational drugs, a sail trip, about 8 final projects, a trans-world flight, whirlwind trips to Chicago and D.C., and a whole lot of bumming around, I am proud to say that I am ready to reaffirm my commitment to the blog. This creative renaissance coincides with another life transition where I have to build my life from nothing. My instinctive reaction is to sit around the house, purchase some sort of multiplayer online game, and catch up on my rap videos. Of course there will be some of this, but the motto for this summer is stolen straight from Redman, and coincidently, the title of this blog entry.

For those of you hinging your hopes for the salvation of Democracy on the Marshall ’06 campaign, do not fear…the campaign is alive and well. I even have t-shirts, thanks to campaign graphic designer Anna Dole. Next I need some buttons and bumper stickers. And some voters. The blog will contain regular updates on policy developments, as well as the ups and downs of one kid trying to change the system. Ok so they will be mostly downs, but I don’t give up easily. A year and a half is plenty of time to get my name recognized by the majority of Massachusetts residents. Of course, I will appreciate any ideas on this front from blog readers. The odds are heavily stacked against me, with something like 93 percent of incumbents getting reelected. My nemesis right now is Michael Capuano, our current Democratic representative. I emailed him, informing him that I am coming for him and challenging him to a debate, but he doesn’t view me as a big enough threat to respond. That will soon change.

Aksion is what’s needed these days. The Democrats are once again letting the Republicans define them as “non-progressive,” by not letting Bush’s nominees through and not passing legislation. The answer to this of course, is that just doing stuff, (passing legislation, starting wars, etc.) isn’t how you are supposed to govern. Aksion ideally should help a majority of the constituents you serve, or provide aid to groups disaffected by the economic and social realities of our system (the poor!), and espouse the agreed upon principles on which our country is supposed to run: tolerance, equality, and freedom.

The best political solution for the Democrats is the most tried and true maneuver in the political game: outright thievery. Remember the Contract with America? Of course you do. Do you remember what was in it? Of course you don’t. But man did it have a nice name. The Democrats should come up with ten points/policies that thematically outline their agenda, if they were given control of Congress in 2006. They could follow my past suggestion and focus on a Security Agenda. Or they could call it the “Montract with America,” and just throw in random points like, “we think every American should have a pie on their table and a puppy in their yard.” Who doesn’t like puppies?

Whatever. I shouldn’t be giving the Democrats advice because, even though I plan on running as a candidate representing their party, I am only doing so because people in this country are too closed minded to vote for someone who is not labeled. After I destroy the Republican leadership, the Dems shouldn’t plan on taking over, because I don’t like them. Unless Howard Dean wants to run the country: that I’d allow. I respect Dean because he understands that this is War. Socially this war exists between progressives such as ourselves, and those blinded by the opiate that is evangelism, or fears of those who are different. Actually opiate is the wrong drug; as I can tell you opium just makes you sit there contently. Evangelism appears to encourage irrational whining, shaking fits, and conversing with the lord, so maybe I should compare it to PCP. As with all wars of course, the transnational corporate class will profit. Yippee.

Anyways, I’ll be blogging much more frequently, and I promise they won’t all be so hostile. I’ll even throw in some Red Sox, movie reviews, and random crap for all our fans. We have fans right? Someone reads this? TJ? How was work TJ?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


The ends of humanity... and the means

The question that I want to pose today: Is humanity making progress? Technologically, the answer is clearly yes. Intellectually, it would be hard to say anything but yes either. Philosophically, the answer is a little murkier. While humanity on a whole is very different than it was 5,000 years ago, individually, humans have not changed as much as we would (or at least I would) have hoped. Intellectually, our understanding of the world is more complete than ever; but this is basically a tautology- you could probably say that any time in the history of the world. Just from sheer population growth, the amount of humans that understand things like physics, math, history, and science has exploded. From that perspective- the perspective of humanity as a giant hive mind, we are indeed making progress. But is any single human more rational because of his/her education? Not really. At an individual level, humans still make decisions in basically the same way that they did hundreds of years ago- if they're hungry, they eat- if they're poor, they try to get money. On an individual I would say that humans today act just as rationally (or irrationally) as almost all humans in the course of history.

But that's not to say we haven't made progress anyway- More and more individuals respect things like human rights, animal rights, the environment, and in general, their roles as pieces of humanity. These things have mainly been learned as a sort of societal pressure. I grew up thinking that slavery and racism were wrong, that eating meat and wasting water and energy were OK. In the future, society will probably change its views and future generations will have made progress in that regard. On the other hand, in the last 100 years, humanity has witnessed some of the worst that humanity can possibly offer. How can we reconcile the fact that we are ostensibly making progress with our recent history?

This may be a tangent of sorts, but I believe that the problem is one of ends and means. From the start of the United States, they said that it was a country dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But throughout its history, they've contradicted that dedication by sending many of its citizens to die in wars that they've deemed are for the greater good- basically, that the goal of greater security and safety for the rest of its citizens was worth sending thousands of people to their deaths, taking away life, forcibly serving many more to work as soldiers (taking away liberty) and affecting many more non-soldiers, such as families of fallen soldiers- or just people with jobs who lost them, or more simply businesses that had to close, which at the very least, put on hold their pursuit of happiness. And those in charge of our country thought it these drafts were necessary in the WW1, WW2, Korea, and Vietnam, to fight fascism and communism.

I'm not saying that the draft wasn't necessary in World War II, although I certainly believe it wasn't necessary in Vietnam. All I am trying to point out is that there is a contradiction here- that those in power believe that to ensure the spread of freedom, they have to take it away from a good many people. And those in power have always believed that since they know what is best, their goals are what matter, not how they get there.

I won't attempt to resolve this contradiction. I do believe that we had to fight fascism because its goals were incompatible with ours- but at the same time, what good are those goals if you simply throw them away anytime they are threatened? Because the chain of humans is unbroken, how can you define what is the end goal and what is the path towards it? When peoples live end en route to the goal, they end on the path. And when history looks back and sees that the path ran through injustice, tyranny, and deception, can you really say that it's ok, because it ended well? Not for that person, right?

There's the school of thought that humanity is simply a reactionary mass, trying to resolve the mistakes of the previous generation. If that's true, then perhaps the mistake we will correct is this one. If it's not, then society will proceed like it always has, taking two steps forward and one step back. At least it's still some sort of progress.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


This is How We Do It



The Mariners are now 1-13 againt Pedro Martinez.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Human Evolution

When I was a kid, just learning about evolution, I used to think 'survival of the fittest' was basically the mantra of evolution. I also believed that because of the way we treated disease so efficiently, fixed broken bones, and generally lead healthy lives (at least in America... and not counting obesity as the "epidemic" that the fearmongers are trying to spread), that humans had removed themselves from natural selection.
I think I have a much better understanding of evolution than I did then, and it's led me to realize evolutionary forces for what they are- undeniable. It is impossible for humans to be immune to natural selection. In fact I would go so far as to say humans cannot do anything 'unnatural', because we are an inexorable part of nature. I've sort of hinted at this position in previous posts- many people believe that humans are killing the planet, that with our invasive species (a topic all on its own), our clearcutting of rainforests, our manufacturer of pollution, disease, hybrid species and genetically modified organisms, that we are doing harm to nature.
But these views disrespect evolution. I don't mean this to say that the aforementioned things are Good Things, but that nature will survive long past the human race, and that in the cosmic sense of nature, there are no good things or bad things, except perhaps total destruction of all life on earth. Was it a good thing when the asteroid struck and killed all the dinosaurs? Maybe the dinosaurs would have evolved into super-intelligent an wise creatures. or maybe they would have just kept bigger and stupider until there were only 4 dinosaurs left, and they were named Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, and God. But the point is- we're still exposed to a million environmental pressures- maybe we will indeed destroy all the rainforests and die off. But then nature will have successfully killed off a species that was too shortsighted to realize it was causing its own demise, just like it should.

But I don't want to get all preachy about how humanity is going to kill itself. I've already done that. What I want to get across is that humanity is here, and "nature" has to deal with the reality. Species (humanity included) that can cope with humanity's ongoing mass extinction will make it to the next epoch of natural history, and those that can't, well, they can rest assured that 99% of all species go extinct. Who knows? Maybe the next generation of species will all be descendants of pigeons, squirrels, lawn grass, and mold.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Fun With Athletes

From Wednesday's Yahoo recap of the Reds-Devil Rays game:
"I hung a curve on Pena and he's hot right now,'' said Danys Baez (4-2), who gave up the last of the Reds' six homers ... He's a strong guy and he hits the ball pretty good.'' ... "Pena's very hot,'' Baez said. ``At that time, I'd rather face Griffey than Wily Mo. I was right.''
Keep in mind that this was Wily Mo's second game back after more than a month off due to a quadricep injury. He's hot because you hung that curve, Baez

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Fun With Sportswriters

Ryne Sandberg. Sure, he was a great player. But his columns for Yahoo! Sports are downright insulting to one's intelligence. I wish I had started a collection of his idiocy earlier, but alas, I'll just have to begin today. This is from a mailbag-style article, responding to an email criticizing his column that said Buddy Bell was a "good choice" as the new manager for the Royals.

I like his experience. I don't think he's really been in a managerial spot where he really had the chance to win. As we all know, every manager is only as good as his talent. Hopefully, the Royals' front office will help him out.

Hmmm. A manager is only as good as his talent. So how can a hire be a good or bad choice, when, no matter who the person is, the manager is as good, or bad, as the talent?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


I can only offer my apologies...

about the lack of posting. I have no excuses. Anyway, I just want to go over a quick recap of the many issues I have tried to post but failed to turn into workable material. So a bunch a blurbs will have to suffice.

So the Senate avoided using the nuclear option a week or so ago when a group of senators reached a compromise over the use of judicial filibuster. To quote Calvin and Hobbes, "a good compromise leaves everybody mad"- so this must have been a bad compromise, seeing as the democrats by and large got what they wanted, and most republicans crying foul. Sure, the democrat lose some power, because what good is filibuster if it can simply be banned by a majority vote? But, they still have the option to use it "in extreme circumstances" the next time around, and they got the republicans to remove some of the most offensive candidates (which is what they wanted in the first place)
Several prominent conservative groups were angry about this decision, saying that the republicans betrayed their party and that they should have used the option instead of caving in to the democrats. One such group, Focus on the Family, was particularly outspoken. My question is; shouldn't these groups be about issues, not party lines? Can they honestly look at each other with straight faces and say that banning judicial filibuster is really what helps core conservative values? No, this is simply about taking sides. If the democrats were in the majority, Focus on the Family would be decrying how important judicial filibuster is. And to bow down to simple party lines is to devalue your cause. Can you really envision the ACLU, PETA, or the NAACP (Not that I think any of these groups are right or wrong, just that they do stand for something) blindly taking sides and calling out for the scalps of some random senators?

And, of course, the Bolton nomination debate continues, where blind partisanship rules again. I have no idea about John Bolton's ability to be UN Ambassador- I won't pretend that I've met him and can judge him. But he is clearly a very unpopular choice, and several republicans have said that they are only voting for him because the President picked him. Some republicans have publicly questioned his abilities and don't understand the nomination, and most democrats are up in arms about what an awful choice he is. My point is- if there are so many public doubts, why on earth is this even a consideration? Well, I think it's simply splitting on party lines- and some supporting the choice simply because they think they are supporting the President. I also think that senators are stupid.

Stem cell researchers in South Korea said they were able to create embryonic clones of existing people by using embryos and transferring their nuclei into the egg. Yes, it's been done before, but the Korean team was able to achieve a very high success rate. Hot on the heels of this news was that an American researcher was able to do the same thing without ever creating an embryo (by using an existing stem cell instead of an embryo). The American researcher's claims haven't been verified, and many are skeptical about it, but either way it's good news for medical science.
Also, on the public opinion front, recent polls have shown that 7 out of 8 people support stem cell research on new lines from otherwise-discarded embryos. This is an interesting twist, because public opinion on abortion has always been a bit shaky. It shows that people really do understand that pragmatically 1) the embryos would be thrown away anyway, and 2) that stem cell research is important enough to overcome the ethical concerns that some people do have. Some have suggested that as the baby boomers get older, they're more worried about diseases that can be cured by stem cells within their lifetime, and less worried about philosophical concerns over when human life starts. I think that may certainly be the case. Unfortunately, our president is in the 1/8 minority, and is going to veto the stem cell bill that passed botht the house and senate. It may get enough votes for an override, but it's doubtful.

Fun fact of the day: If Bush does indeed veto the bill, it'll the first bill he vetoes. Out of the hundreds of bills that have come across his desk. Proving that once again, any idiot can do what he's been doing.

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