Saturday, July 19, 2008

Oscar the Grouch.

Oscar Pistorius didn't qualify. He set a personal best but didn't make it.

I was going to post about him when his possible disqualification from the Olympics came because of the, erroneous, belief that his carbon fiber legs provided him an unfair advantage. Yep. Look at that advantage as he doesn't make it.

It also made me think about the limits being placed on people who can compete. Since competition in sports requires a level playing field, one would think, we have to define what "level" is.

Why do we disqualify people who use steroids? Why not vitamins, or those who train at high altitudes? How do we say that one person is cheating while another is not by simple attempts at augmentation of their own body?

I don't think we can. I don't just not care about steroids, I fully SUPPORT them. I think you're an idiot for taking them, but if you want to drink the juice in an attempt to push your limits higher, more power to you. Cheating, I think, requires a secret manipulation of the playing field. For example, paying off a judge, tripping your competitor, or secretly using equipment that others don't have.

Strangely enough, that third part IS generally legal. If you want to wear some wacky shoes for running, you can. Sharksuit, good to go! But pushing your body hard, that's right out.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blow Me.

I mentioned in an earlier post my newfound love for oilman T. Boone Pickens.

Well, he's posted an entire website and begun a television campaign.

It looks like 35 years of lip-service by useless politicians will finally be set aside by someone from the very industry they loved to vilify.

Visit. Watch. Get involved. Remember, the technology to reduce your own energy usage is available now. You can buy solar and wind for your own house.

Sabre Rattling

With the US and Israel not ruling out a military strike on Iran, it got me thinking about Iran.

Iran has oil and nothing else. All of the middle eastern countries are the same way. Even those such as Dubai, who are attempting to become something else than a giant sandbox covering dead dinosaurs, rely exclusively on oil money to support negative cash flow with their experiments.

So that means that Iran's only bargaining chip is oil. What happens if we just totally fuck Iran... somehow. We do something that necessitates a response. Could Iran just cut off oil?

They've already proven that a disruption in Iranian oil would bring the global economy to a screeching halt, and if they were to do so on purpose, would we, rabid for oil, invade?

In that situation, a world willing to kill anyone to get its precious drink, nuclear weapons would be the only true deterrent. That was one of my reasons for thinking the US knew that Iraq had no WMDs. Because if they had possessed them, we would have never invaded so willy-nilly.

It's Iran's right to withhold the oil it owns. But isn't it also our right to protect the interests of our people, even if that means taking what others have? Do we have as much a right to invade and take the oil as Iran does to keep it, with no real way of utilizing it, because we need it to maintain security of our economy? Would humanitarians stop crying foul when gas hits $15 a gallon?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Continuing on Freedom.

There is some really boring woman on C-SPAN, right now, discussing the death toll of the Civil War (Which has been officially classified as 'A Fuck-Load'), and it immediately made me think about it in relation to freedom.

For example, wasn't the Civil War the very definition of a drive for independence? What made its drive different from the original colonies' drive from Britain? I really can't think of a reason why it was any different. Many people will say it was about slavery, but that is amazingly inaccurate and it's puzzling as to why that aspect of the conflict became the default, pop-reason for the war.

There were major cultural, economic, and social differences between the North and the South. The conflict had been brewing for decades. And, really, who was the North to dictate to the South how they should run their states? The North had all the population, all the votes, and all the power. The South was a second-class citizen in a two-person world. I think they had a right to secede.

Remember, they didn't attack. They didn't invade border towns above the Mason Dixon Line. They simply announced their separation and then we invaded them and started killing people. When you put it in that terms, it makes the North sound like assholes. And I think it really was because we were. We had no right to invade.

And, in retrospect, I REALLY wish we hadn't. Can you imagine how great this country would be without Texas, Louisiana, and Kentucky?

Frankly, I doubt the South could have even made it as a country. They probably would have ended up coming back. And I'm glad we put some smack down, er, put down some smack, because slavery is beyond disgusting and I think it important that we eliminated it from our continent when we did.

Still, the entire country has a weird amnesia when it comes to grotesque infringement on freedom that we perpetrated against our own kind. They copied what we had done four score and seven before, and we invaded them for it. If only they had won.

If only.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th.

It's the fourth of July, a big day in the United States. I thought it only fitting to ruminate on what I think it means to be free, and whether our government gets the job done, or if we should have another revolution and start the whole thing over.

Freedom is basically defined as the ability to act without coercion or restriction. Obviously, if you delve very deeply into this you can dig up some absolutely ridiculous philosophical fluff. For example, how do we know we are free to act as we see fit? How do we know that our actions are not being guided by an omnipotent, invisible hand.

This hand needn't be God. We could live in the Matrix. We could be subtly manipulated by the Illuminati, or whatever secret society you choose. We could be the product of our upbringing, powerless to escape the course chosen for us by our parents, and our parent's parents. We could be at the mercy of Human nature, only capable of acting as our ancient evolution dictates. And if you really want to fuck with your own head, how can we be free from defined events if the universe is causal and predictable, as science is predicated, and all events are determined by preceding events. We have no choice but to be part of the grand, galactic machine that birthed us, defines us, and is us.

But that's all academic. What about practical freedom? By this I mean the general meaning of freedom as freedom from oppression, from fear, from dictators, and from Oprah.

I consider freedom to be the governments perview, and only freedom. Government should be concerned with freedom, and what effect its actions will have on freedom. Perhaps we should celebrate our freedom with both explosions and drunken revelry and a nationwide discussion of freedom and how critical it is to our lives. I think discussions of freedom are especially relevant since the abject obsession with it by our forefathers, and their subsequent actions, is one of the things that truly separates the United States from other countries, and one of the few things that makes me a reluctant patriot when I say the USA is the greatest country on Earth.

We so quickly take for granted the freedom that is subtly, tightly, and intricately woven into every aspect of our government that we seem all to happy to fritter it away to whatever fear-mongering ideologue is filling the television screen. We did nothing to stop the Patriot Act, without doubt one of the greatest infringements on our freedom in decades. Has it made us any safer? That is debatable, with my own opinion being ABSOLUTELY NOT, but it has certainly made us less free.

We take for granted that in this country, we can say and do whatever we please. Books, movies, and video games frequently get banned in other, supposedly advanced cultures like Australia, Germany, and Japan. They have censorship and restrictions that would make Thomas Jefferson wince. Yet, there are loud, vociferous groups who ceaselessly push to have certain books banned from schools, or television shows cancelled, or video games restricted. Not for scientific reasons. Not for practical reasons. For fearful, stupid reasons.

I emphasized stupid because I want everyone to know that I find these people stupid. STUPID. STUPID. If you in any way advocate censorship, you are stupid. You are a dumb, motherfucker whom I would as soon spit on as say hello. The country was designed from the very beginning to prevent you from ever making a difference, and I thank the framers of our constitution, I thank the courts who continually smack you down, and I thank Xenu, that you thrash and scream to no end. And perhaps most damning and insulting, I find you un-American.

I think government should think about its actions vis a vis freedom in all cases. Even seemingly benign cases. Eliminating paperwork to give people freedom from time wasted, for example. One of the greatest examples I can think of is freedom from reasonable fear. I say reasonable because people are unreasonably afraid all the time. It is not reasonable to be afraid of asteroids from space (unless you're Bruce Willis), the race wars, Satan, and gay people, who are apparently in cahoots with Satan. It is reasonable to be afraid of bodily harm by other people, robbery, wild boars, and Sean Young. Thus, we do not have laws against gays, at least laws that are enforced, we do not have an orbital laser cannon defense system, no matter how much the Pentagon wants one, we do not have a governmental holy army, and we do not have crack teams of Aryan warriors.

But freedom from and fredom to are different concepts, and in many ways freedom from and to are at loggerheads. I do not have freedom from taxes, but those taxes give me freedom to call the police if I need help. I liked the national highway system, because the freedom to get from point A to point B in a short time exceeded the freedom lost from the new, higher taxes. I support national health care because the freedom from worry about hospital bills exceeds the freedom to spend my possible taxes as I please. In other words, it would cost far more to achieve the same freedom from worry than the taxes I would pay.

So yeah, I'll be updating this as I think.