Archive for January, 2005

2005.01.31

The Thing About Being Sick

The thing about being sick isn’t that I feel like complete waste. But it happens so rarely that when it does it feels much worse. I thought it would pass in a day or so, but instead I’m wondering when my head is going to explode, or at least my lungs. So if I’m not posting often or coherently, that might be the drugs.

2 Comments | Catergorized: grrr  life

2005.01.29

Devising Four Pillars for the Future

Conservatives have outlined what I’ve heard is called their four pillars: low taxes, small government, strong defense, and traditional values. These are simple, concrete sounding yet open to interpretation, and can be used like salt and pepper in any speaking engagement of any kind. I am learning that liberals do not have such a nice, neat system of pillars in place. There have been many befuddling attempts, and it’s my intent to contribute to this confusion.

Read the rest of this entry…

3 Comments | Catergorized: political  thoughts

2005.01.28

Our Democratic Faith, circa 1940

It is America’s destiny, in these days of rampant despotism, to be the guardian of the world heritage of liberty and to hold aloft and aflame the torch of Western civilization.I found this gem (excerpt below) while doing research for a future article many days delayed in posting; it is getting ungainly. Anyways, I found a great site called The American Presidency Project, whose goal is to present free of charge many of the great speeches, writings, and platforms of modern Presidents.

This is from the Democratic Party Platform of 1940. Reading the whole thing shocked me because it indicates that many of the issues we face today were faced then; Social Security, poverty, national security, energy independence, and economy. I am quoting this bit, however, because it is truly inspirational and I love how it says democracy is faith in ourselves and our future.

Democracy is more than a political system for the government of a people. It is the expression of a people’s faith in themselves as human beings. If this faith is permitted to die, human progress will die with it. We believe that a mechanized existence, lacking the spiritual quality of democracy, is intolerable to the free people of this country.

We therefore pledge ourselves to fight, as our fathers fought, for the right of every American to enjoy freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, petition, and security in his home.

It is America’s destiny, in these days of rampant despotism, to be the guardian of the world heritage of liberty and to hold aloft and aflame the torch of Western civilization.

The Democratic Party rededicates itself to this faith in democracy, to the defense of the American system of government, the only system under which men are masters of their own souls, the only system under which the American people, composed of many races and creeds, can live and work, play and worship in peace, security and freedom.

The message still rings true for, I believe, all true Americans.

Comments Off on Our Democratic Faith, circa 1940 | Catergorized: political

2005.01.26

Population Density Needed

I recently had the privilege of accompanying my lovely girlfriend to a Berkeley Design Review Committee meeting where Solomon ETC was presenting its plans for the new David Brower Center. During the public statements a gentleman named Jan Lundberg from Culture Change, a sustainable energy research institute, got up and spoke. Here is an article he wrote (which includes the speech he made to the DRC). Please read it if you want the rest of this to make sense, but in essence he is saying cars in downtown Berkeley are bad and presents a case for this view.

Some comments were made to me about the article and I agree (I’m not going to publish them here unless given permission) that unless population density is allowed to grow, then getting rid of cars make no real sense. The following is an email I sent regarding those comments.

I agree with you… I think he does miss the point of population density. The reason some (not all) European cities can scale back on vehicles is two fold. First, they have a population density that allows for constant usage of public transportation (except during rush hour you rarely see that in America except, perhaps NYC). Second, the costs of oil/gas/automobiles is such that it is often more affordable in time and real cost to use public transportation; this is partly a simple supply and demand issue.

His “good intentions” fail to address these issues. Until population density reaches a critical point public transportation is not very economically feasible. Until that point is reached demand for automobiles, and all that entails, will continue unabated. You can gripe and groan about it but aside from small changes like adding room for a bike lane or adding a bus route it will not change.

In the meantime his ideas will stunt growth into Berkeley because, hell, who wants to move or shop in Berkeley if I can’t get there in the first place? Yeah, I could take BART but I still need a car to get to work, I still need a car to get anywhere that isn’t on a bus or BART line. I could adjust my living but at this time I don’t see the point. It is short term thinking on my part, but this is the world we live in and beating people over the head with how they probably should live will only cause them to react negatively.

Of course the reality of this argument shows he can only think in the short term himself. The difference is you and I have an idea of how to achieve the goal he is advocating in a manner that is realistic and likely to produce results and he does not.

Not the best written thing, but hopefully the ideas are clear. Hopefully the quip at the end isn’t too much, too, since I’m trying for discourse and not nastiness.

Comments Off on Population Density Needed | Catergorized: thoughts

2005.01.25

Not Why but How

I’m getting sick of various websites still moaning on about why Kerry lost without any reflection on how to use the lessons of losing for winning. Moaning will get you no where. As Mookee would say, “Wah!”

Instead of asking Why the question now is How. The issue is not to dwell on the past except as an analysis but to look to the future. Planning, strategy, action. This should be the mantra for making America better on all fronts.

PS: I mostly see this in the comments on various blogs and political news sites, though it seems a few “pundits” (how I hate that word now) are still in the doldrums. If you are among the few looking to the future I salute you. Everyone else: get over it and do something.

Comments Off on Not Why but How | Catergorized: political  thoughts

2005.01.23

One More Stupid Protest Day

In today’s perusal of the web I learned recently it was Not One More Damn Dime Day. WTF is that about? More digging and I learned the idea is to not spend any money on a particular day (Inauguration Day in this case) to protest the “war” in Iraq. What a stupid idea.

I would write my own laundry list about why this is stupid but this article by Mark Dery has done a much better job than I ever could (and it’s already written!). Essentially this sort of “protest” doesn’t have any effect on the government (what do they care if you don’t spend any money?), does affect the wrong people (like small business owners), and reeks of weakness. “Oh yeah! I’m gonna get you Dubya, I’m not going to spend any money today! Take that, sucker!”

The article does, however, lament something I’ve been thinking about lately and is one great reason to get involved in politics at this time:

Show me a sharp-tongued left-wing critique, built on notions of social justice and economic democracy that resonate with the common man yet, at the same time, embraces the Coneyesque cheap thrills and vulgarian pleasures of junk culture, and I’ll show you a battleplan for handing the right’s self-appointed morals czars their heads.

I love this notion, and I agree; I’ll need Jon Stewart as an aide when I run for President.

You want to know why Gore and Kerry lost? Not because they had the wrong ideas, but because they were insanely boring men. If they had an ounce of humor and charisma they could have wrapped the elections against Bush before they took place. All they had to do was look less like stick men and more like… well, just about anyone -which is to say, everyone- else.

I also love how the article makes fun of a group that I think should be added to my anti- list (which includes things like hippies and religious extremists). That group is the dreaded bobo. Great word, sad reality.

2 Comments | Catergorized: political  thoughts

2005.01.22

Dealing With Writer’s Block

For those of you who sometimes (or always!) suffer writer’s block, here are three links for you to read to procrastinate just a little bit more.

The first is called Hack Your Way Out of Writer’s Block from the imminent Merlin Mann. Next is something Merlin pointed to from 43 Folders called 50 Strategies for Making Yourself Work brought to you by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Finally and article on Kuro5hin with an interesting Pavlovian approach to breaking your bad habits and shocking your system into doing new things.

Someday I’ll even try to put these ideas to good use. Just not today.

1 Comment | Catergorized: writing

2005.01.22

For Those Ten of You

For those very few of you out there who call me on occasion (and you know who you are!) please call my cell phone instead of my land line. My phone at home is completely crapped out. It will take your messages, but the receiver needs a new battery or something because I can’t make calls or pick up. Besides I need to justify the expense of this cellular contraption.

This has the added benefit of not even remotely being able to accidently take a call from an irritating marketer (bloody gits).

2 Comments | Catergorized: life

2005.01.17

Princes and Power

I heard a quote yesterday on the radio attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr by his daughter. It went in effect, “Princes like to think of themselves as wise because they are powerful. What they fail to realize is they are powerful because they have all the money.”

It’s a cheap shot, but I hereby dub George W. Bush as Prince George.

Comments Off on Princes and Power | Catergorized: thoughts

2005.01.16

Lord of the Rings Marathon

I just watched the entire Lord of the Rings extended DVD releases with NHK, Mr. Defiant, and Mookee… All 618 minutes of it. We started a little after 1PM on Saturday afternoon and finished just a bit ago, just before 4AM Sunday. We are all completely burned out at this point despite the many breaks we took.

While not something I will be doing again anytime soon, I probably will… In two or three years. Sheesh, this is almost like watching the entire Shogun series with my parents all those years ago except that this time I’m a wee bit older and have far less endurance.

And now for something completely different. Bed.

2 Comments | Catergorized: friends  life  movies
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