Saturday, July 14, 2007

Moving to WordPress

I'm moving my site over to WordPress. I'm going to leave this one up so that your links will be broken, but from now on I will be posting at WordPress. The new blog's name is Constant Scholars. PLEASE CHANGE YOUR BLOGROLL LINKS AND LEAVE COMMENTS ON THE NEW SITE!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Say, "Please".

I mentioned Jeff Key's documentary, Semper Fi, a few days ago. Jeff said that he saw a Marine talking to an Iraqi child, who was very hungry. The Marine had a Starburst in his hand and the child was begging for it. The Marine, rather than handing it over with a smile, since he not only had food, but CANDY, forced the child to say, "please".

Please? Are you kidding me? This is what we're teaching our soldiers in Values Training (not one Marine stepped in to stop it, and many laughed at the story when it was later retold)? We're getting rid of soldiers who have incredible loyalty to our country and amazing compassion for the people they were told attacked us for no other reason than their sexual preference, and yet we choose to allow these barbarians who are capable of unwarranted hatred towards the innocent to serve in our Armed Forces and represent our country.

We are not the cause of Islamofascism, but we are most certainly not the cure, not when Marines are requiring the contrition of hungry children before offering them a small piece of candy. It is stories like this (and there are a thousand of them) that reduce my pride in being an American, and even more, my pride in those who serve my country.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Catholicism: What I Like

I read a post on Saur's Blog about the Pope. Apparently he believes that if you're not Catholic, you're going to hell. This is the general consensus among the Christian religions, and I'm really glad the Pope is now in the same category as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. But that's not what this post is about.

Despite my general aversion to religion, I did learn a few things from the Catholic Church. One of the things I liked was the emphasis on good works. Though the motivation for being a Good Samaritan is an easier pathway to heaven, the principal is a good one. The notion that one should help those who cannot help themselves (otherwise known as gathering good karma) and atone for the wrongs they have done (rather than simply asking for forgiveness) is something I've kept with me.

The idea that one should refrain from committing sin rather than simply asking forgiveness (once you've done whatever it is you shouldn't be doing) is also a decent idea. It definitely leads to a more repressive society, but constantly having to think before you act about whether you're doing the right thing probably prevents a lot of disasters in a lot of lives. The sheer number of things that are considered sins makes it impossible to ever live without a constant feeling of guilt, (but hey, guilt is what keeps you doing the good works, right?). Though I'm not perfect, I do try to make an effort to think about what I'm doing before I take action.

The high importance placed on education is something ingrained in my soul. Unfortunately, the need students feel for getting that education is based more on fear (of being subjected to a variety of horrible punishments) by the nuns, priests, or your parents, making some students extremely happy to graduate and be rid of the burden. Although my love for education is based mostly on my need to find out the truth about things, the discipline to get that education probably comes from the Catholic Church.

3,608 US Soldiers killed in Iraq
26,558 US Soldiers wounded in Iraq

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Because They're Crooks

CNN is finally asking the question: Why do gas prices follow oil up but not down? They're trying to say that it's basic economics, but I think we all know that's bullshit. The commission last year that determined that price gauging was not happening outright LIED. Driving around town will make that pretty clear. Yesterday I drove no more than a mile down one road from the poor part of town into an extremely wealthy area. The price of gas (again, after driving no more than a mile) raised 30 cents when I crossed the township line. Is the government really trying to tell me that driving half a mile down the road justifies that kind of a hike, especially when we live close to refineries and there's absolutely no reason for that kind of difference? If we're going to let the oil and gas companies fuck us in the ass, let's not pretend that they're bending over as well.

And again, if we would all use less oil, buy fewer plastics, and DRIVE LESS, our troops could come home, the assholes in power would have less money, and we would be doing a lot more to help the environment.

Philadelphia Folk Festival

Last year I wrote about attending my first Philadelphia Folk Festival in years. Last year I was incredibly huge and couldn't volunteer, but we'll be pulling our weight this year. It's 3 days (this year, August 17th to the 19th) of music and harmony (in every sense of the word) and I would say that it can be an almost religious experience. For 3 days a year on a farm in Schwenksville, everyone gets together (some camp, some don't) to enjoy amazing music (this year's theme is Through the Looking Glass!!!) by mostly independent artists. There are plenty of things for families to do together, and there are even children's music performers!

Last year a lot of people wrote me and said, 'Why didn't you tell us a month beforehand so that we could plan to go?" So, here's your warning. If you'd like to go and you don't want to camp, we're about a mile from the site. Bring your bike and you can ride up there (warning: there are hills in PA).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Yeah... I Don't Think So

To look at the conflict in Iraq as anything other than a problem created by our arrogant government for their own profit is more than a little naive. President Bush and his friends created this war from a pack of lies, and and THAT is the basis for the anti-war movement, (well, that and the fact that we're stuck in an endless war that is being incredibly mismanaged) NOT that "we have brought the wrath of Islamofascism upon ourselves", though invading a sovereign nation in the middle of territory controlled by Islamofascists probably didn't help us any.

We did not have to invade a country that had NOTHING to do with us being attacked in order to protect ourselves as much as possible from Islamofascists. Screening Visa applicants a little more vigilantly, making sure our boarders are secure, slowly withdrawing our unconditional support for Israel, reducing our dependence on oil, and staying the hell out of their territory would have been a good start. And a better way to Support the Troops.

And one more reason for the Anti-War Movement:
3,607 US Soldiers have been killed in Iraq
26,588 US Soldiers have been wounded in Iraq

What is the reason we are expending the lives of those who have offered to give them so freely for their nation?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Anger and Politics

People who are merely agitated are more productive than people who are ANGRY (thanks Dr. Deb!), which might be one of the reasons there's an extreme lack of grassroots political movements in this country. The people who are inclined to enact political change are on average much too angry to be productive. I saw Blog Wars on the Sundance channel yesterday and watched what can happen in political campaigns with people power, and it made me wonder why we're not all involved in this. We should all be picking our favorite (or least favorite) candidate and posting as much information (positive AND negative) about them on our sites as possible. Even if it doesn't sway people to vote for our guy and finally, OUR GIRL (not a plug for the candidate, but the gender), it can start some interesting debate and keep us informed about the people we're supposed to be voting for (find out which candidate fits you best by visiting this site).

Here's what I'm proposing:
We start a new blog in which we post as often as possible about our political candidate and discuss what's happening in the campaigns. Information and analysis is what we're focusing on, but if people want to go to an appearance, ask the candidate questions, and post it on the blog, more power to them! I would really like to have Republican candidates represented as well. Maybe we should all choose an issue that's really important to us and analyze each candidate's position on it. What do you think? And what should we name it? Can we really afford NOT to do this?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

By The President's Logic

I have a neighbor who had his croonies on the township board change the zoning laws to allow his bankrupt business to operate from his home, causing a HUGE industrial eyesore on the neighborhood. It wouldn't be that bad if he ever cleaned up his yard, got the rusting metal off the ground, or, at the very least, put up a fence, but he won't do any of that. We have a lot of kids in our neighborhood, and because it's adjacent to the property, I'm constantly telling the kids to stay away from there or they'll get hurt.

Our President went to war with an entire nation because he thought they might hurt us. Why can't we sue the neighbor because we think the kids might get hurt on his property? If they do, we can sue him for it being an attractive nuisance anyway, so why do we have to wait until someone gets hurt? Shouldn't we be able to force him to clean up his property (which will severely hurt the environment) and put a fence up (so that the kids can't get over there) just like the President was able to invade Iraq so that Saddam wouldn't be able to destroy his own country with nuclear weapons and hurt his own people?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Pills Instead of Pot

Because pills are easier to get in most American and Canadian communities than pot, our teenage population has turned to them as the drug of choice. Due to the government's misinformation campaign, many kids believe that prescription drugs are safer than marijuana. I wouldn't necessarily call pills "the new marijuana", especially since pills are addictive, they're easier to overdose on, they can cause serious and irreversible liver and kidney damage, and have a litany of side effects depending on the drug.

I think the more important question is this: why are our kids feeling the need to heavily medicate themselves? Why are we so heavily medicated as a society? If kids are abusing these drugs in record numbers, doesn't it stand to reason that adults are doing so as well (which probably contributes quite a bit to our health care crisis)? Is it possible that one of the reasons Americans aren't getting angry about what's happening to them is that they're taking Xanex, Valium, pain killers, and anti-depressants? It's hard to feel anything when you're that doped up.

Is there a pill for this?
3,593 US Soldiers killed in Iraq
26,558 US Soldiers wounded in Iraq

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Semper Fi

Since one of the only benefits to being gay is not having to go to war, Jeff Key’s friends were stunned when he announced that he had joined the Marine Corps. But he was raised in a town where love of country came directly after love of God (since loyalty to country is demanded in the Bible), and he knew in his heart that his homosexuality had negated neither. Unfortunately, not everyone was of the same opinion. Jeff’s father and preacher truly believed that God no longer loved him. They prayed to their all-merciful God, not that HE would accept Jeff, but that Jeff would change and learn to love women, the same prayer that Jeff himself had sent up tot the Lord so many times.

But God wouldn't change poor Jeff. Maybe God didn't feel that Jeff was worth changing. Or maybe HE felt that Jeff didn't need to be changed, for Jeff had a higher purpose - to bring the hypocrisy of the church and the United States Armed Forces to the forefront and change things. Maybe God didn't believe that Jeff should have to worry about his rack mates finding out about his sexual preference and bashing his head in during the night.

Maybe God wants us to know that you don’t have to be Republican to love your country and you don’t have to be Baptist to love God. Maybe, just maybe, God Blesses Everyone. No Exceptions. And the people who believe THAT will be the ones who inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

Bullets and shrapnel don't care if these people are gay:
3,587 US Soldiers have died in Iraq
26,350 US Soldiers have been wounded in Iraq