March 26, 2010

Some links for you all

I'll be out for awhile, so here's entertaining and sometimes-informative links.

Compare the House, Senate, and Reconciliation Bills
Top Ten Notable Apocalypses That (Obviously) Didn't Happen
Why Do People Swear?
Narcissism Epidemic Spreads Among College Students

Omega Males and the Women Who Hate Them - this one is a list of stereotypes. I can't really comment on this one, not being in any of the categories listed. Any guys want to add some input?

Enjoy your varied Spring/Easter Breaks and Times, everyone!

March 25, 2010

Light Diffraction

This was done by science! Not photo manipulation!

Healthcare Amendment: Abortion

Senate rejects abortion amendment in health care bill

Quotes pulled:
  • "Senate Republicans unanimously oppose the bill"
  • "'Why are women being singled out here? It's so unfair,' said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California."
  • "there is no medical procedure for men that cannot be purchased with private funds."
  • "Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, said the real goal of the amendment is to deny women covered by government-funded health care the right to get an abortion."
  • "Maine's two Republican senators -- Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins -- both joined Democrats in voting to table the amendment."

Is anyone else really sick of Healthcare Reform and increasingly all politics becoming "We are Republicans" and "We are Democrats"? That is not the point of politics. The point of politics and government is to provide protection to it's citizens in various ways, shapes, and forms. Democracy is "rule of the people". The thing here is that "rule of the people" tends to turn into "rule of those who scream loudest".

This can be a good thing. We wouldn't have gotten the Civil Rights movement or the Women's Rights movement without people "screaming". The problem is that the people who scream the loudest can be those who we really don't want anything to do with, or that we disagree with, or who are only out for themselves.

Abortion: If they have to keep federally funded abortion coverage out of the amendment to get it to pass, okay. I don't like that, but I can live with it until someone is able to pass another amendment to make federally funded abortion coverage legal. Civil reform doesn't stick until society is ready (read: the majority is ready) for it. There was a Civil Rights bill in the 1800s that said pretty much the exact same things as the one in the 60s, but it was completely ignored because no one wanted to follow it (at least, no one where it mattered). But it shouldn't prevent people from paying for abortion coverage with their own money.

Also, yay for Maine Senators for not being afraid (yet again) to vote how they feel and not just with the Republicans because they're Republicans.

March 23, 2010

More Healthcare Reform

A Robin Hood Bill that America Needed

Had a talk with someone I knew this morning. They brought up a lot of good points about healthcare.

1. Everyone who drives is required to have driver's/automobile insurance. What's so different about being required to have healthcare isurance?

2. The government has been running federal healthcare for years. The military and all federal employees have got it. It's the plan all those Congresspeople have got.

Also: What's with the states suing the federal government?

(The States that Sued)
  • Virginia
  • Idaho
  • Lousiana
  • Texas
  • South Carolina
  • Nebraska
  • Michigan
  • Utah
  • Pensylvania
  • Alabama
  • Washington
  • Colorado
  • South Dakota

March 22, 2010

Healthcare Reform

I was watching the national news today and was very dissapointed by what I saw and heard. Congresspeople screaming "baby-killer" at people on the floor, protesters chanting so loud outside the Congress building ("Kill the bill, kill the bill, Nancy, Nancy, kill the bill!")that the Senators and Representatives could hear them inside the building during the vote.

That Congresspeople should show such deplorable, undignified behavior while doing their jobs is disgraceful. Everyone should be able to conduct themselves according to their position in a polite, civilized manner. They represent the country and the American people; and with that in mind, I can't say that I like the state of the country today, or the attitude of the people.

Thank you, Olympia Snowe and few others, for having the good sense to stay out of it.

March 15, 2010

Farenheit 451

I haven't read this one in a year or two, and then I remembered why this was one of my favorite books of all time (though to be fair, that designation usually changes with what I'm currently reading).

Some exerts:
  1. "More pictures. The mind drinks less and less. Impatience."
  2. "It didn't come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God!"
  3. "What more easily explained and natural? With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, thinkers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word 'intellectual', of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar. Surely you remember the boy in your own class who was exceptionally 'bright', did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him. And wasn't it this bright boy you selected for beatings and tortures after hours? Of course it was."
  4. "Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non combustible data, chock them so damn full of 'facts' that they feel stuffed, absolutely 'brilliant' with information. They'll feel they're thinking, they'll get a sense of motion without moving. And they'll be happy, because facts of that sort don't change. Don't give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with."
  5. "Books cut shorter. Condensations. Tabloids. Everything boils down to the gag, the snap ending. Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows, then cut again to fit a two-minute book column... Digest-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline! Whirl a man's mind around about so fast under the pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary, time-wasting thought!"

And my responses:

  1. I hate when the teachers tell you that "We got these new textbooks because they have more pictures and you have to read less!" School is there for education, to make people think, not to make the work somehow 'easier' for the students at the sacrifice of a real mental workout. School is about learning things like math and how to read and good writing techniques and history and how the world works and all that; but it's also about real culture (values and different points of view, not 'pop culture' stuff) and learning how to see other people's point of view and make informed decisions (my Government teachers likes to term it 'learning how to think'. I digress. You can't teach people how to think or make critical decisions if they don't want to or don't have the motivation. Sadly, I also learned that at school.) and applying all that knowledge and the things you've learned to your life (Not in the 'how does this connect to your life' of the Properly Structured Essay, but 'how does this event reverberate through society today and how does that effect myself and others').
  2. Technology and Mass exploitation. This work of Ray Bradbury's outlasts 1984 in cultural relevance. Think about this one. I leave you to come to your own conclusions.
  3. Schools give focus, front-page laudations, and very good scholarships (academic ones notwithstanding) to athletes. Schools cut creative arts, special education, library, advanced course, electives, and even core-course funding to finance sports teams and equipment. Sports teams get more trips than the non-athletic classes get field trips. When money could be spent on getting more books for the library, the money is spent on fake grass for the football field. Isn't 'intellectual' already a vague sort of insult? It implies in today's culture that someone is weird in someway, whether it be a bit out of their minds or just uptight and rigid in views. I know you know at least one story about a kid being bullied for being smart. I won't bore you with another one.
  4. Singing Bee. American Idol. So You Think You Can Dance. America's Got Talent. Even Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, as much as I like those shows, are examples of this.
  5. Twitter. Facebook. Most blogs. The decline of newspapers. Most of the Internet. There are so many sad, sad examples.

Fahrenheit 451: 57 years old and still predicting the decline of society.

Thank you, Mr. Bradbury.

More Lord of the Flies

A quote:

"This has gone quite far enough. My poor, misguided child, do you think you know better than I do?"

Now, Lord of the Flies is all about the breakdown of order and man's basic, animalistic, brutal nature (You may disagree with Mr. Golding as you please. I do). Yet, somehow, order is portrayed as almost evil here. So perhaps Mr. Golding was trying to say that order is a bad thing and anarchy/survival of the fittest is the best (or at least better) way?

I'm pretty sure that's not what he meant. It could be, but I'm pretty sure it's not. Anyone up for philosophical discussion?

(I feel a real need to read Ayn Rand's Anthem or Machiavelli's Prince now. Possibly reread Stranger in a Strange Land.)

March 5, 2010

Lord of The Flies

From a worksheet I had to do:

Okay, here's where you can voice your opinion! Is Goldberg onto something? Are we really that way? Do we really need some sort of rules/order to live by? Do we have an evil side? Do we do negative things to each other without noticing just how bad they are? OR do you think Golding is just way too pessimistic (negative, gloomy) and traumatized by the war? Give me some examples to back up your opinion.

And my reply:

The problem with 'good' and 'evil' is that the terms are entirely subjective based on cultural and personal view. For Americans, eating dogs or blowing people up may be evil, but in Korea eating dogs is perfectly acceptable and for Radical Islamics, killing Christians is almost a religious mandate; it's how you get to heaven.

Golding poses the proposition that humans, when left without rules, degenerate into murderous savages who live by 'survival of the fittest'. Technically speaking, humans do not need rules. You could live completely by yourself with no rules and survive perfectly fine. The problem is that humans are social animals, and society demands at least some sort of rules, even if it only be "Do not kill or harm other members of the community". As soon as you get two or more people in one place, you need rules or guidelines of a sort. Those rules and guidelines increase proportionately to the size of the community. Depending on the resources and conditions, 2-5 people could probably live fairly close to one another with an understanding to not get into each other's business. This gets increasingly harder as you get to the 6-9 range, and once you hit 10 you will probably need some sort of authority figure and cooperation system in place. The more people, the more cooperation needed.

I think Golding makes good points about power struggles and 'entropy in the system'; but simply saying things must happen that way fails to address the free will that each character was in the book. The choir/hunters and the little ones CHOOSE to follow Jack and to not do the work that Ralph and Piggy outlined. The little ones, likewise, choose not to do the work. Ralph and Simon end up doing most of what needs to be done, along with Samneric for awhile and occasionally Piggy (without whom the group would never have been able to stay together as long as it did). Everyone chose to keep following Jack even after Simon was killed and Samneric were tortured and Piggy was murdered. They could have chosen not to, but they did. It is on this that I chose to argue that 'Lord of the Flies' is simply one scenario of a quite a few that could have happened.