Category Archives: Politics

The Educational Monopoly

The Crack Team network is so vast and embedded that no one man can know the identities of all agents. However, I feel pretty confident that John Stossel is one of them. He’s written a fascinating article on the failures of the union supported government monopoly that we call our public school system. It’s geared toward comparing us with the international community, with which we are increasingly competing due to offshoring.
     I am a product of the New Jersey public school system, and I’ve done ok, but I’ve been out of the loop there. In California, at my day job at a large aerospace company, all but one of my coworkers send their kids to private school. The one who didn’t picked up and moved to an area with an acclaimed school system. It’s nice they can afford to do that, but it would be nicer if the government allowed more parents to (as Agent Renegade woud say) “vote with their feet”.

Your Right to Hang Chads

All California voters have the option to use the paper ballots over the electronic voting machines. However, some counties are telling poll workers to not inform the voters. This includes Orange County! If you – like me – don’t trust the machines, you have to specifically ask for the paper ballot. You can read more in this EFF press release.

Poison Penn Letter

Sean Penn, who was thoroughly skewered in Team America (along with a lot of other actors), wrote an angry letter to Matt and Trey. However, it wasn’t about his portrayal in the movie.
     Apparently, he takes issue with Matt and Trey taking issue with “Sean” Piddy Comb’s “Vote or Die” campaign. They think if you’re not informed, there’s no shame in not voting.

What’s wrong with that?

Hell, in my younger, more arrogant days (Yes, even more arrogant than now. Perhaps way more.), I was all for a meritocratic democracy. In other words, a sign at the voting booth would say “You must be this intelligent to vote.” It’d weed out those too dumb to make a smart choice.
     So I’ve backed off on that a bit. Frankly, there’s more than enough info to make an informed decision, even if you’re an idiot. Just think of what’s important to you, and go to one of the 3 bajillion web sites that talk about how the candidates feel about it. For me, it’s pretty easy. I care about my career. My career is currently in the Aerospace and Defense industries. Is it not obvious to even the most casual of observers who will spend more money in that area? It isn’t? Oh. Well, Kerry wants to shut down missile defense, and Bush wants to put a man on the moon. (And if that doesn’t explain it, please pay heed to the sign.) My other hope is to quit work and start a small business, and Bush looks to be the right guy for that, too. Everyone seems to be asking Kerry what he’ll do for small businesses, while leaving Bush alone on that one (his plan is to cut welfare and social security to give small businesses a 3% tax break – hurray!). I’ll take that as a sign.
     If you’re gay, and you want to get married (which I think you should have every right to do), you don’t want the guy who wants to amend the Constitution (?!?) to stop you. Heck, I don’t really want him either, but my choices are limited.

Diamonds Are Foridiots

So, if you didn’t already know, The DeBeers Company pretty much controls both supply and demand of diamonds to artificially inflate prices. And, they have nothing to do with beer. An article from The Straight Dope clears things up. Also, the next big threat is artificial diamonds, which are pretty much indistinguishable from the real thing, except they’re a little too perfect. Wired has a big article about that.
     So, if you’re trying to get out of spending a fortune for a diamond ring, you have a lot of evidence that supporting the diamond industry is akin to supporting African poverty and blood feuds. And if that fails, you should soon be able to by a cheap, flawless diamond. Spend the rest on something the whole family can use, like gambling.

Calling Dr. Cosby

Bill Cosby made a speech for the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. The Board of Education (Brown won). It was focused on the 50% dropout rate for inner city black males. Somehow, the media got a hold of it and tried to portray it as classist, which is just ridiculous. The speech itself is inspirational, funny in parts, and makes a ton of sense. There’s a lot about personal responsibility. You can find a transcript of it here.

Which Executive’s Decision?

On the 3rd anniversary of September 11th, HBO just happens to show Executive Decision. If you can’t recall what it’s about, I’ll remind you. Kurt Russell and a special forces team sneak onto a Boeing passenger jet to stop Islamic terrorist hijackers from taking it to Washington to blow it up and release nerve gas into the city. The executive decision is whether the president should allow fighters jets to shoot it down. How appropriate! How sensitive!

“Happy 9/11 from all of us at HBO!”


How to Make Me Liberal

Apparently, I’m a Republican. I don’t remember signing up, but I am a huge supporter of Schwarzenegger, and I took an online test that pointed me in that direction. I guess I acted on it, because today I received a census form from the RNC.
    The letter explained that it wanted my opinions, and they would count for my entire voting district. Wow! I was excited. I like having my opinions counted, mainly because they’re better than most people’s. Finally, I’d get to tell the RNC what really matters to smart Republicans:

  • Personal investing over Social Security
  • Alternative fuel research
  • School choice
  • Eliminating censorship
  • Flat tax
  • Higher education
  • Space and defense (i.e., my paycheck)
  • Eliminating the deficit
  • Allowing gay marriages, as banning them violates separation of church and state, and is a real dick move to boot.

I really wanted to sound off on these issues. Tell them to be more like Arnold and less like George. Maybe they’d even have a write-in section! I was prepared to fix the party.

Alas, this was not to be the case.

All of the questions had yes/no/undecided answers, and worded so they’d be hard to say “no” to. Examples:

Do you support President Bush’s initiatives to promote the safety and security of all Americans?
Should the Inheritance or “Death Tax” be permanently repealed?
Do you support President Bush’s pro-growth policies to create more jobs and improve the economy?
Should small business be encouraged to grow and hire more workers?

Even controversial issues were worded carefully:

Do you support President Bush’s initiative to allow private religious and charitable groups to do more to help those in need?

Huh. I’m not sure about special breaks for religious groups, even though I’m a Christian. I mean, why didn’t we always do this? Was there a good reason? Was it being taken advantage of, perhaps by unscrupulous people forming religious groups to live off taxpayers. I don’t know. But I’m definitely for helping those in need, so “Yes”.

It went on like this. I could only give a definitive no to one question:

Do you support the President’s efforts to save Social Security and add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare?

See, I know Social Security needs to be fixed, not just band-aided over, and probably won’t exist by the time I retire. And the Medicare bill Congress passed is going to cost us a fortune that we don’t have. So, ok, that’s definitely a bad idea, even though it sounds like I hate old people and want them to die penniless and sick.
    I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that they didn’t care about my opinions at all, and were just looking for a *gasp* donation. I don’t know, I’m probably reading into things. Why don’t you read the final question, and tell me if I’m wrong:

Will you join the Republican National Committee by making a contribution today?
o Yes, I support the RNC and am enclosing my most generous contribution of:
o $500   o $250   o $50   o $25   o Other $_________
o Yes, I support the RNC, but I am unable to participate at this time. However, I have enclosed $11 to cover the cost of tabulating my survey.
o No, I favor electing liberal Democrats over the next ten years.

All questions were copied directly from the survey. At no point did I embellish the questions or answers.

Career-based Voting

So is publishing articles about how having a clearance can give you a big leg up in your tech job search. Searching their own ads, though, I’m not seeing it. At least not for software engineers in Southern California, and I’ve no plans to move or switch jobs. My most recent search yielded just 31 jobs for developers with any of these skills: Java, Perl, JSP, Servlets, J2EE, or ColdFusion. I tried other software technologies, too. Almost nothing. I know, if I search a 50 mile radius of DC, I’ll find a hundreds. But most who live here don’t want to move, well, anywhere.

On several other news sites (bear with me, this is related), I’ve just read about Kerry’s defense plans: expand the troops by 40,000, without increasing the budget. How will he do that? He says he’ll scrap missile defense. Now, I’m not saying this is a bad idea, we could probably use more troops than missile defenders right now. However, all the manpower of this $9 billion project will quickly be on the market, and they, too, will have (pretty darn high) clearances. And I’m guessing they’ve got a ton of software developers, as anyone who’s played Missile Command knows this requires some tricky programming.

These developers will be facing an already crowded market, which is still recovering from the Internet bust, and is now facing the offshoring boom. Their only hope (and ours) is that they live in the DC area, and don’t want to leave.

Or Bush gets re-elected. I’m just saying…

Peak Oil, or We’re All Gonna Die

I’ve recently been made aware of the concept of “peak oil”, which says that since there is a finite amount of oil on earth, we’re eventually going to reach the top of the bell-shaped production curve. After that, prices increase dramatically, and since so much of what we need to exist is tied to oil, we return to pre-oil population levels. In other words, about 4 billion of us die off.
Continue reading Peak Oil, or We’re All Gonna Die