Our Dumb Society

What the hell, America?

Why do we as a society feel so extremely entitled to the world, as if it was our little toy. I watch enormous SUVs drive around the highways with one lone person inside. Suburbans, Escalades, Tahoes, Hummers, Expeditions, et cetera. We fight global climate crisis bills and laws tooth and nail because they threaten to take away the things that we feel we should be allowed to have, the damage we should be allowed to cause. Just to make sure you are aware, we will run out of oil. It may not be any time soon, or in my lifetime or my prospective children’s, but it will happen. That’s what happens with nonrenewable resources. The aren’t renewable.

But do we care? It doesn’t seem so, the way things look. People are so vehemently opposed to implementation of minimum MPG ratings on vehicles, just as an example, that its unlikely they’ll ever take root in the majority of the United States, apart from progressive states like California, Oregon, Vermont, Minnesota (glad that includes me), and others. But why is it such a big deal? Many people firmly doubt the concept of Global Warming, or Climate Change. For example. They seem to be violently angry with the people who believe in the possibility. In fact, the majority of individuals who believe Global Warming is reality are not absolutely certain of its validity, but feel that it might be worth it to try to fix things. Then if it turns out we were right we did our duty, and if we were wrong we made the world a bit better. And if we dont act and something is wrong? Then the world warms, the ice caps melt, the continents flood and we lose a good portion of the land we call home. The weather shifts to violently sudden changes: hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, snow, rain, tsunami. The air fails us and we will wind up walking around with masks on just to be able to breathe.

These gas guzzlers only seem to remain on the road, even as gas prices go up and up, and the economy slips and so does employment. If we fall into recession, if it isn’t already here (it is), and then into depression, will we still see these hulking beasts of steel and plastic cruising down the road, draughting heartily from the gas pumps in the fading light? Will it change our sentimentality? People just seem content to ignore the things that are happening right in front of them. My real question is: won’t you feel bad when the world is in trouble and it’s your fault?

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The Next Generation?

Okay, I came across this hunting the random videos on the internet and I’m completely baffled. Warning: it is a bit violent. Its a video of a group of teen girls beating up another girl that they invited over just to do such. They decided to do all of this just to gain popularity on Youtube, but now I suppose their popularity will be entirely in prison (Note: it is hard to look stylish in prison gray, just to let you know).

Anyway, the video: 8 Girls Beating a 16 Year Old Cheerleader

What I have to say is that I am astounded by the current demographic of teenagers. From school shootings to videos of beatings, especially teen girls, the world seems like its going crazy. I just wonder where this sort of lack of conscience comes from. I tend to be one to believe that so called acts of “evil,” to use an antiquated word, are based almost entirely on nurture and not nature. I don’t think people can be inherently bad or good, they need a push in the right direction. My question is what are the parents like and where do they stand in the entirety of this.

I have very few words. I’m just blown away.

Edit April 13, 2008, 0905 hours: So apparently Dr. Phil’s people have helped to bail out the so called ring leader in this situation from jail. It sounds like the higher-ups were not too pleased with the extent of intervention, but I find the whole thing rather interesting, and perhaps a bit bothersome.

Here’s the article from the Associated Press.

Once Upon Atime

Long long ago, when idiosyncrasy was a new concept fresh out of the scary minds of Cutter and Matt an idea was forged to live with this concept. I don’t remember who came up with it but in homage to the late great Douglas Adams idiosyncrasy was to have an award for “first against the wall when the revolution comes”. I would like to resurrect that award. Here are the rules I propose, the person being nominated for the award must preform an act of demonstrable stupid. So no nominating just because of general dimness, if that where the case Bush would win all the time and that would be no fun. Second the person’s stupid must effect the world at large or at least many people, so no Darwin Awards. To be elected the person must get a majority of votes from the idiosyncrasy members who vote, the nomination will count as one vote.

So here is my nomination. Governor Tim Pawlenty, his act of stupid is the resent line item veto of bonding for the central corridor light rail line. The reason I pick this one act above the other vetoes he made in that bill, all of them dumb. Is because I live near Downtown St. Paul and my wife works in Downtown Minneapolis driving that stretch of I-94 at rush hour is inconvenient and slow at best death defying on many other days many cars could be taken off the road by building park and ride stations on the eastern side of downtown St. Paul. Also the Federal government has agreed to put most of the cost of the line, the cool things that can happen when the chairman of the house transportation committee is from your state. But the fed will not pay of all of it, Minnesota has to put some skin in the game or the 400million dollars or so will go somewhere else, some other city will build a 21st century transportation system with it while we in Minneapolis/St. Paul will still be mucking around on a freeway system designed and mostly built in the 1950s. And last but certainly not least, the fact that the inherent efficiency of an electric train will keep tons of carbon out of the atmosphere every year an issue that Governor Pawlenty pretends to be concerned about. So I put it to you oh wise sages of idiosyncrasy contributers.

Beardedbeard

For more information on this Greg Landen over at Science blogs has a great write up http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2008/04/minnesota_governor_pawlenty_sm.php

Proof a Republican Can Be Pro-Choice, on Some Issues…

Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann is suggesting a bill in opposition to the phase-out plan intended for incandescent light bulbs in favor of compact fluorescent light bulbs(CFLs). Her bill essentially states that people should be free to choose what kind of bulbs they want. Not that I’m against choice. My question is the argument of such a bill.

First, and I’m positive I’ll get some backlash for these sort of comments, let me say that I do find an interesting relationship here between this bill, its opinions, and the idea of abortion. The arguments among certain members of the public that I’ve been reading from blog to blog state that the government shouldn’t get involved in all aspects of people’s lives, leading to this phase-out process. Well, I’ll be. Sounds like something pro-choicers have been saying for years, or maybe I’m reading to much into this. Or am I?

The major reason for Bachmann’s proposition of this bill is environmental in nature. She put it this way, as quoted in the Star Tribune, “This is an issue of science over fads and fashions.” She called any of the global warming information and concern “voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax.” Imagine her crazy eyes when she spouts that sort of information. Oddly enough, light bulb companies are siding with environmentalists in this situation. They’ve said that Bachmann’s position on mercury content in CFLs, the big issue when discussing these bulbs, is far too overblown. Albeit, there is an issue with disposal, and energy companies as well as light bulb producers discuss the proper methods. The standing that a broken bulb is something that needs to be handled by toxin abatement specialists and men in space suits is pure fiction.

The truth behind the matter is that these bulbs save energy and money. They last much longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and cause the power companies to produce less energy due to decreased demand. In all accounts, this difference in energy production decreases the amount of mercury emission overall since the plants are emitting more than the bulbs ever could.

When it comes down to it in the end, I can’t say that I care whether Bachmann’s bill goes into effect or not. People should have the option to choose and I would hope they make the best decision, picking the bulb that will kill their planet less slowly. Do I think this is just making a big stink over nothing at all? Sure I do. As far as I’m concerned, Bachmann is simply trying to make herself better known to hold onto her seat in the 2010 elections. What will happen to the incandescent light bulb?  Well, only Edison knows, or maybe Buddha. In all likelyhood, they will probably go the way of the antiquated VHS, Betamax, 8 Track, or Cassette Tape.

The Persistence of Weaponry(Memory) – Poll, please assist

So, after listening today to an interview and debate on Midmorning on MPR, I came to an interesting point. The interview was with a man whose business sold, through online means, the guns involved in both the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University shootings. He has started a forum at Gundebate.com asking people to write in with their suggestions as to how to deal with the current situation at hand. My question, then, became “Who believes what when it comes to guns, shootings, and the second amendment.”

Now I want to do this as objectively as I can. I personally believe in heavy gun control, and tend to recite the second amendment as “the right to arm bears.” But aside from that, and maybe including it, I want to know about demographics and their opinions on weapons sales. Here’s what I’m asking. If I can get people to come to this site and post in the comments section about their opinions I can then compile the data and see what it says. I plan to split demographics(age groups) thusly – Under 18, 18-25, 26-35, 36-45, and 45+. The reason I’ve stuck the last group of ages into such a large group is due to the steadily decreasing numbers of people who use the internet based on age.

Just post your age and answer this question: “Should handguns, pistols, and all other non-hunting guns be available for purchase to the average citizen?” If I get a good enough response, maybe we’ll see some interesting data. Note that this is very lacking in the scientific area since we are likely not to see an even distribution of demographics. Thanks all.

Edit, 23 March 2008, 1316 hours: Alright, here’s the thing. I’m not going to get the number of responses I need for data, so I’m throwing this to the back burner. The information I sort of got tells me that there really is no age basis on the gun debate, and I truly did not expect one. In response to a couple of the posts I received: I made no allusion to the second amendment having any relationship to hunting. The second amendment’s purpose was to allow citizens of the newly forming United States to own guns for use in local militia for defense of the country. I maintain that this is the intended design of this amendment and that it in no way allows people to keep weapons for anything other than military service or hunting purposes. So if by chance you’d like to keep your guns, sign up for the army and take them to Iraq. I make no apologies for my viewpoints and will gladly wax philosophic on the essence of the Bill of Rights.

Also, I realize that I made my own views available from the beginning of this poll. I know that poll taking is intended to be objective but I was only taking an informal poll. Believe me that in my science background I am more than aware of what is involved in the accruing of data. I’ve done my fair share of experimenting.

Minnesota Passes Gas Tax Increase, Tax Payers Flip Out?

Seen written in the dirt and grime on the back of a large white van traveling down interstate 94 in Minneapolis: Thanks for the gas tax increase libs…idiots!

What surprises me is that very few people seem to see the good in all this. Now, I don’t want this to become some long treatise on taxes, but in all truth taxes are useful. They help us pay for important things, things that are not receiving money directly from the federal or state government. And Minnesota’s gas increase will pay for roads, transit(a highly heated debate, mind you), and bridges(and this is the major of major issues, seeing as how our recent track record shows a lack of ability to keep said bridges up). And here’s the big thing: it’s five to six cents per gallon at the most over the next couple years. Most states have a gas tax around twenty-eight cents per gallon, and Minnesota’s sits at a mild twenty cents per gallon. Now, folks, ever driven into Wisconsin and seen the gas prices go from $2.99 to $3.12 per gallon? I have, recently on a delivery to Baldwin, crossing the St. Croix. That price difference is the difference in tax, as well as a few other things, I’m sure. So ours will go up to $3.05, so what? They pay significantly more in Europe. We could be paying that, you know, but we’re not.

Mr. Pawlenty(because I refuse to acknowledge him as governor) claims that he foresees what he calls a tax revolt in the near future. But this is that republican mindset that all taxes are inherently evil. How does the Grand Old Party intend to solve our wonderful bridge collapsing problem? Borrowing more money. Even more money going toward the state’s debt. Because that’s the best option now. And the republicans are so apt to blame the DFL for the bill and the override of the veto, but the movement was bipartisan. This was a matter of what was right, not what followed party lines.

I think that if people were to look at the good in this bill and think about the whole situation objectively, not just being pissed off that the damn liberals are at it again, they’ll find it to be the best possible option.

And Thus a Message, of Hope…

Okay, so I found this, or in fact was linked thusly to it through my email. Its a video involving Barack Obama’s Yes We Can speech, by supporters of his cause.

Check it out. The one thing I like to note is how Obama’s message revolves around hope. His ideas are the complete opposite of those that the GOP has been following, governing through fear and hatred. Hope is something that all people should have. If you are denied hope because of circumstance, your country is not doing what it should for you. My two cents, anyway. Also, remember that today is Super Tuesday in many states countrywide. If your caucus is tonight, stand up and be heard. I know I’m going.

EDIT (8:14pm Central) – Applause are in order, Minnesota. Through my own experiences, and while listening to MPR, I know how well we’ve done in voter turnout at the caucus tonight. Perhaps this is testament to the changing winds in the government and country. It makes me seriously excited for the voting year to come. Thank you.