Wednesday, January 31, 2007

X Games!!!!

Look at 21 minutes for some siiiiick riding.

Politically Realistic: On matters of Political Realism

A week or so ago, I took part in a history class that annoyed me incredibly. Speaking about the Cold War and Vietnam, we received an article on the Irak War and its similarities to our past, and lost, war. This is far from what annoyed me, as I am extremely set on the obvious similarities between the two wars. In both, the reigning government completely disregarded or at least underestimated the importance of reaching to hearts of the civilians, the obvious denial of the fighting nature of the combatants, and the utter disillusion that superior force can defeat a guerrilla that blends into the population. The same mistakes, 30 years later. Unbelievable.

But this does not deal with that discussion. No, this deals with a more worrying state of ignorance about the way this world works.

The article mentioned that 30% of Europeans interviewed for this particular poll estimated that the USA represented the biggest threat to world stability, far ahead of Iran and North Korea.
This figure is utterly appalling, and I will explain why.

Since 9/11, the USA has tried to become more isolated form the world. The problem about this state of affairs is that the USA CANNOT, in the world today, do this. Due to our way of life and the current state of the world, the USA cannot be isolationist.
It is the world's police (not even by choice, by necessity), as the world's only (until China gets there) superpower. The USA must intervene in the world as the largest and richest nation. It is a moral, practical and economical obligation. However, because the US is trying to remain somewhat isolated, it is not intervening in the world on anyone else's terms than their own.
This attitude makes the USA look like an Evil Empire, a selfish, brutish nation. Because they are acting out of their own interests, and because of their size these interests involve the rest of the world, it looks like an immoral expansionist regime has been set upon the world.

But this is simply an illusion.

Our history class has been focusing on war of late. The World Wars, the Cold War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, to name the main ones. As I have gone over these wars, it is all too apparent that, though the means of warfare may change, their reasons never have, and never will, change.

A war will always be wrapped up in ideology, in justification for the effort and sacrifice needed. But if you really understand war and its consequences, you will realize that the reason for any war lies in personal gain, be it that of a nation, or that of a single ruler.

Wars are fought for personal interest first, ideology second.

This is why the idea of an evil expansionist empire is an illusion. It is merely more obvious to people that the war was fought out of personal interest. What? Fighting war for the interest of a country? What a completely unheard of concept!

The ideology behind this present war, this whole "fight against terrorism", didn't fly well with the Irak situation because, since the change in the world on 9/11 and how the USA chose to go about protecting itself, everyone realized that the USA was fighting for its own interests. For some reason, everyone decided that this was inherently wrong, that this was not justified, that this was bad. Regardless of motivation, regardless of experience, regardless of knowledge about war.

The fact that people were shocked when they discovered that the USA was fighting a war for oil worries me. It shows that they have absolutely no conception about what war is about.

That people are shocked about the war in and of itself, I FULLY understand. It is simply those who are shocked about the premise behind it that I aim at.

The French, in the weeks leading up to the war, prided themselves on their completely anti-war stance. They called the war unjustified and wrong.

The latter, it most certainly is. The former, it hardly is. Saddam was in a situation to harm US interest in oil, and also in a position to cause harm to other nations in the region if push came to shove. In this sense, the war is absolutely justified. If the interests of a country are at stake, it is only normal to fight for them. All wars have followed this same exact premise. The fact that the government lied made the war immoral, but no less justified.

What is most ironic about the French involvement in the conflict, is that it was later discovered that the French and GINORMOUS amounts of interests in Irak, from oil infrastructure to weapons. The French opposed US intervention in Irak because it would harm THEIR interests.

This only goes to show: nobility, morality and honor in terms of political agenda are very often little more than a sad utopian disillusion.

The French, and the vast majority of Euros I have met, feel that the USA is not justified in its policing of the war. This is rather hypocritical, given their extreme criticism of the USA when they do not live up to their expectations.

"Hey, that is so wrong for you to invade Irak! What do you think you're doing? Oh hey, we have a situation in Darfur, why aren't you doing anything?"

Tell me, really, how is it that the USA is the biggest threat to world stability and security? Wait, don't answer that until you realize this simple, yet important fact: world stability DEPENDS on the stability of the USA. If the USA is unstable, if the USA is not ensured its needed resources, world stability is compromised.

Oh, but then you're right: the USA IS a threat to world security, because if it falls, then we all do. But that wasn't really what you were thinking, was it?

The USA acted out of self interest in Irak, and you all act shocked. That is how war works, that is hwo the world works. The USA, in going to war in Irak, was aiming to control and secure the resources it needs to stay stable, so that, in effect, the world may remain stable.

The USA is the single greatest reason for world stability. Get used to it.

So tell me, really, how is the USA more of a threat to world security than Iran? Their whole POINT in their nuclear aspirations is to obliterate Israel. If that isn't a threat to world security... What about North Korea? The UN has done such a bang up job in economic sanctions that everyone is dying, and Kim is unaffected. In fact, he could sell some nukes to people for the right price... That isn't a threat to world security...

Really, the only way that the statement that the USA is the leading threat to world security is that, so far, it has been a threat to itself, and hence the world.

Sorry, the fact that the USA is such an important part of the world makes it so that if there is a threat tot he USA, there is a threat to the world... Not exactly what you wanted to hear....

When people realized that the USA was acting out of self interest, they all seemed shocked.

How, I still wonder...

More thoughts here.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Loop of Henlé

Monday, January 22, 2007

Demetri Martin. Person.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

New Skier

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

On Matters of Truth...

I was recently asked how i felt about politicians using Christianity as a basis for their decisions. Here is the answer:


Well, this deals with the concept of truth.

By logical necessity, there must exist a moral standard, an absolute truth that dictates what is and isn't ethical, and what is right and what is wrong. This necessity is found because two opposing truths cannot be true at the same time. If someone were to say that a rock is immovable, and someone else advances that this wind is irresistible, then there would be a direct contradiction in terms, and thus a logical conundrum, because these two concepts could not feasibly exist at the same time. Hence, someone is right, and someone is wrong. Thus, concluding that there must be an absolute truth, and not many varying, relative truths, everyone, politician or not, must follow this set of truth to be ethical, regardless of any outside opinion and motive. If two opposing concepts of what is ethical arise, then someone is right, and someone is wrong.

When it comes to the Bible, it claims to be THE Truth concerning the nature of the world, God, and ethics, and thus truth. The Bible does not have a way to be relativized, so it claims to be the absolute moral authority for mankind.

Thus, if someone opposes the supposed Truth stated in the Bible, then they are either right, or they are wrong. Remember that a person must follow the truth to be ethical in their decision making. Thus, if the Bible is in fact the truth, to follow it is to be ethical and moral. Reversely, if the Bible is wrong, it would be unethical to follow it.

If, then, a politician is convinced that the Bible is the truth, then to act following the Bible is not unethical, but quite the opposite, and if he were to act against the Bible and it is right, then that would be unethical and immoral.

Then, of course, it is up to establish what is the Truth, and if the Bible is right. THAT, is a debate both of us have no time for.

The problem arises when people think of separation of church and state as the separation of religious values and all things state, which is the false way to look at it. If morality and ethics are accurately stated and truth according tot he Bible, then one would hope that politicians follow this Truth. Separation of Church and State means no state church, and that the state does not intervene in the matters of the church, not that there are no religious values instilled in politics.

I suppose the aversion that many have for such a way of thinking is that it then seems that the Church is making the rules, But if you turn it around, and think about matters of Truth, then it makes sense that someone who is convinced of a certain truth acts accordingly.

the fact that the values are seemingly religious, though a matter of stigma, does not in any way make the statement on gay marriage, abortion etc any less true. Valid argument and deduction does, not the simple fact that it is instilled from a Christian view point.

If the Christians are right, then it is ethical and moral to act as the Bible says. If they are wrong, then it is the opposite. Just because you are Christian does not mean you cannot use Christian values in politics, because the validity of the truth is independent from the affiliation.

Thus, this becomes a matter of right versus wrong, truth versus non-truth, not a matter of secular thought versus Christian thought.

I believe that actions according to truth and logic are justified. If they happen to be Christian as well, then it's party time.

Then, the problem is establishing truth. So, you can criticize someone because you think they are wrong from a logical perspective, but you cannot criticize their opinion because it is religious, since the validity doesn't depend on the religion or person, but on logical necessity..."

Friday, January 12, 2007

Pondering "An Inconvenient Truth"...

This film is probably one of the most important films of the past few years. It is definitely a must see, and it will definitely freak you out, like the above movie poster would imply.

This here, is some chilling stuff (ooooh, reversed play of words on global warming ! HUH!). But seriously, it really does give you plenty of justified cause for alarm.

The film is mainly aimed at the large proportion of American people who either do not believe that global warming is a threat, or who actually believe that there is no such thing as human interaction with the environment. The basic premise of the movie is that yes, humans are having an impact on the environment, and that this impact is huge and dangerous if left unadulterated like it is.

My first bit of critique on the movie lies within the fact that, for everyone who already IS convinced by this fact, which is the huge majority of people, the main point is already accepted. I personally have absolutely no doubt in my mind that we are much to blame for global warming, that we have an impact on nature, and that this impact is largely negative. The extent of how screwed we are is the part that I am not entirely convinced of yet, based on some scientific and personal unwillingness to think that the world is about to end with fire and gnashing of teeth. I'm in luck, because the movie then serves as a device to show examples of just how much we are affecting the climate.

With my self firmly convinced of the basic premise, I can proceed with the movie within the mind frame that Al would want. As the movie progressed, I had a few things that bugged me, either about presentation of fact, cinematic objectivity, or science. I will mention these later. When the movie ended however, I definitely knew that this was a good one... The science, though complicated, is presented clearly, matter of factly, and very interestingly. The movie is gripping, and the tempo and realization of the film is superb. At the end, you know that you don't want to keep polluting, and the credits give you instructions on what to do next.

Basically, the movie is great, you have to see it, it will either change your mind, or remind you of the urgency at hand about global warming. While I do not buy (though i want to believe) many of the inferences made, the movie is tidy not to stray too far from the fact and dwell on supposition and worst case scenarios.

Now, as I said I had a few bones to pick with the movie, here they are, in no particular order:

_ His original premise well established in my mind, I couldn't help but notice the political slant that Al has in the movie. It is obvious that to some extent, he is in it for the political message. There is nothing wrong with that, but we fall into a state where you can't help but wonder if what you're hearing is spun. Sort of like Michael Moore, only far more credible.

_ The theatrics, which are meant to shock you, work, but sometimes giving you a wrong impression.

Though he never does say it, you could gather from the film that Hurricane Katrina was directly caused by global warming, inferring that the current government is at fault. He is cautious in not directly stating this, the message being that Katrina is of the magnitude of storms that we will come to expect as the ocean temperatures go up, which is true. However, you cannot directly correlate a massive disaster with global warming. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 caused far more damage than Katrina. Katrina is far more effective for the film though, because it was such a disaster on a human scale. However, this disaster had to do with the fact of Katrina being as strong as it was, coupled with he fact that it hit New Orleans dead on. It was cumulative circumstances that caused the disaster, not the storm in and of itself. Gore does not say this, but you could gather that from the movie... Fact is that you cannot say that a freak thing happening is directly correlated with global warming. Proof of that is that this year, we had no large scale disasters like Katrina, and the hurricanes were relatively mild...

The other bit of cinema that I thought could be misleading was when he shows what would happen to the world with 20 extra feet to the water level. He shows the rapid disintegration of all of our coast. Most notably, he shows Holland being completely swallowed up. Besides the fact that the animations are misleading, because they happen quickly, when the level of the oceans would take 1000 years or so to rise to that level, it's kind of ridiculous to show Holland being obliterated due to water. Last I checked, Holland would be swallowed up by water if their sea barriers failed, with or without global warming. The Dutchies wouldn't just sit around for 1000 years, no, they'd build higher levies...

The point is clear, but the freak factor turned me off a bit...

_ My main beef with the film lies with Gore and the Ice Age. In the film, he shows that when the North American continent melted, it added immense amounts of fresh water to the North Atlantic Ocean. This region is home to the feature I have affectionately named The Big Huge Ocean Pump of Doom. This pump takes the warm water that has been circulated across the globe, and then makes it colder. the Colder, denser water sinks to the bottom, along with a lot of salt. When the North American ice cap melted, it diluted this water, causing the pump to effectively stop, which in turn caused Europe to experience another ice age. This is the exact same concept as "The Day After Tomorrow". Gore even says that from the moment the pump stopped to the European ice age could have been a period of barely 10 years. I believe him, after seeing what a huge iceberg did to the pump in early November, when we all got a freak snowstorm... He ends this segment dramatically when he says "Well, is there another place covered in ice that could melt? *Looks up at Greenland* Oh, yeah... We'll get back to that one".

And get back to that one he does, only not in the way I had hoped. See, the only thing he then says is that Greenland is melting extremely quickly, and that if it does melt, the ocean levels will go up 20 feet. But, no mention of any potential ice age... This bothers me, because this was part of his argument previously, but now, this fact does not even come into consideration. If Greenland DOES melt, then it would send a crap load of fresh water RIGHT at that pump, and that would stop it as well I would presume. But no mention of any ice age...
I got stuck on this point, because it seems that an ice age is the logical conclusion to all of this, according to his own data. We are accelerating the rise in C02 in the atmosphere as the cycle is making it rise, and this in a very rapid time. I want to think that this is simply accelerating the point to where the balance turns.

It takes a lot longer for the CO0 to build up in the atmosphere. This means that there is more C02 longer, melting ice and causing climate change over a longer period of time. Then, at some point, this stops and we have an ice age. Well, if we're speeding this up, then we're bringing about the ice age quicker, and to do this, you need a LOT more C02. Basically, in an analogy, what the Earth does is slow cook, increasing the temperature over time, and we are using a microwave. In the end, the effect is the same, the hot pocket is cooked boiling lava hot to the point that you throw it in the freezer and hope it gets diarrhea and not yourself.

So I guess what I am saying is that we CANNOT know, given our lack of evidence and lack of perspective, what will happen. We suppose that it is bad, and I am sure as heck for preserving the Earth. The fact is that at this point, an ICE AGE looks about as probable as a massive increase and frying of the Earth, and this all base don the same data.

WE cannot make such drastic inferences, which is why I don't buy into the catastrophic theories.

The movie's point is great, but we're all sold on it, at least in Europe.

At this point however, I'm all for a new ice age. I wanna ski man!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Some current affairs...

Well, Bush has just had a little speecheroony about the future course to be taken in Irak. 20 000 more troops (to make the forces present in Irak the same amount as last year at the same time) are being sent in to help quench the civil war and sectarian violence... A few observations on how we got into this mess, and other random thoughts:

_ Why are we surprised? Islam is a religion that is completely incompatible with democracy.

_Why are the leaders of the USA surprised? Their failure to realize the above fact is what has gotten us into this situation, and they seem boggled by it...

_ Have we learned nothing? In Vietnam we thought that by crushing the Viet-Cong with superior fire power and force, we would win the conflict. We did not foresee the battle of sympathies that needed to be waged, and we did not foresee and enemy that would use the population as a cover, and fight sporadically and then vanish into the untouchable civilians. Does this sound familiar? We have made the same mistakes...

_ Why is the USA bing portrayed as the source of absolute evil in this conflict? The USA is obviously the cause of many thousands of civilian deaths, but for what reasons? If we overlook military error, a new picture is drawn. The insurgency hides amongst the people, making their HQ across from schools, hospitals, or heavily crowded areas... When the USA comes to oust them, they cross the street, or provide faulty information, or even blow themselves up, creating massive casualty amongst the civilian population. Their cowardice in differentiating themselves form the people they are meant to be fighting for shows their real commitment: to fight against the USA, and for no one but their leader who, if memory serves, really only wants power... Blowing yourself up in a market place, because of religious indoctrination and perversion, has become the object of pity by much of the population. This act is not one of extreme cruelty and idiocy, it is an act of desperation against an invading and occupying force. Suicide bombers who die as martyrs, have become martyrs for the opposition of the war. Braincheck: these people are evil. There is never any justification for taking yours and tens of others of innocent non-combatants with you. The moral perversion is not limited to the US army, do not forget this...

_ Why is it that Islam is never to be criticized in any sort of public forum for its religious doctrine, but to be accommodated whenever possible, when Christianity is spat and shat upon continually? I'm sorry, double standards anyone? Freedom of religion is now thus: Anyone who might blow their shit up and kill people when criticized is never to be criticized, and a religion that teaches to turn the other cheek and be loving to your enemy is always to be criticized for whatever interference it has in popular society? Did i get that?

_ Why do people say that 3000 deaths in Irak is an exorbitant amount, when the last war of duration we had in Vietnam cost almost 18 times more people? War is war, shit happens...

_ Why is it that in any other area of life, when you mess up, you are forced to deal with consequences, but when you deal with life, it's as easy as a-b-o-r-t-i-o-n to get rid of the problem? You readily acknowledge you aren't in any situation to have a child, which is a side effect of sex from time to time, yet you feel that it is your God (wait, nix that) given right to have sex... I'm sorry, but stuff happens, deal with it, don't whisk it away. By the way, you've never not had an abortion once you get one, have fun living with emotional baggage the rest of your life... Unless you're really morally corrupt, and you don't care, then you're a bad person.

_How can people say that everything we do in life is due to instinct and to perpetuate life and based on hormones and endorphins, yet live completely differently to that concept? If the condom breaks, and your first reaction is "Shit, I have to find the day after pill", then you've thoroughly discredited yourself.

In other news i have just seen "An Inconvenient Truth". Freaky stuff, though I do have some bones to pick with it...

I'll post them at some point...


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tickle Me Emo

Thanks Panda!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Women, know your limits!