Monday, April 30, 2007

The Luck of the Draw


Are they all liars?

Maybe not, but the majority of the successful ones are.

But that's our fault. We only vote for liars.

Well, not our fault exactly, it's in our programming. I watched this documentary on TLC years ago where they proved that the best leaders are the best liars. They took a class of five-year-olds and gave them something terrible tasting to drink. Then they sent the kids one by one into a room with a couple of interviewers and instructed the kids to tell the interviewers that the drink tasted good.

The kids who could, after nearly choking on that terrible drink, look the interviewers in the eye and say it was great were the outgoing leaders of the classroom.

One girl broke down and couldn't lie at all. When they showed a video of free play in the Kindergarten classroom, she was the one hiding under a table.

But the fact that liars are outgoing people who tend to be leaders still doesn't completely explain why we vote for them.

George Bush I was constantly ridiculed for saying "Read my lips, no new taxes," during his campaign, then raising taxes once he was elected, but how would we react if someone said, "Look, I want to be the President of the United States, not the Wizard of Oz; if you folks want the government to do stuff, you're going to have to cough up some dough!"?

So our natural inclination to elect the people who are the best at telling us what we want to hear (while openly doing the exact opposite) has gotten us into quite a pickle. We're stuck with a president we don't want, in a war we don't want, and we've been stripped of basic rights that have been in place since the Magna Carta.

Well I have a solution, and you're not going to like it, but hear me out.

We need a president with no strings attached (you know, lobbyists, donors, etc.) right? Under our current system, that is absolutely impossible. So I propose that we draw the next president randomly out of a hat!

(Not an actual hat, of course, but you get my point.)

We take every American citizen who meets the requirements for age, health, IQ, and education, and we put their names in a giant swirling drum. Then we have a random, blind-folded six-year-old pull out the names of our next President and VP!
Problem solved.

At the end of their four-year term, we could vote to keep them for another four years or draw from the hat again.

The next thing we'd have to do is put term limits on high-level bureaucratic positions. These people can have their jobs for decades and no one even gets to vote on them.

For my next post, I have a great idea that even fewer people will like.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Walls -part II

It's only fitting that my post on walls, inspired first by the wall we're building in Baghdad and second by the Iraq memorial wall being built in North Carolina, be followed by a post on the world's premier graffiti artist, Banksy.

Everyone has their own idea of what art is, and few mainstream art connoisseurs would consider graffiti art, but Banksy's art has been featured in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, and American Museum of Natural History... until museum staff discovered his work hanging on their walls.

Banksy's art speaks for itself; his brilliant use of irony, his cutting social and political satire, and most of all, his unwavering commitment to nonconformity (which is being seriously threatened by his growing status as a beloved British icon).

But I'm thinking about walls and what he does with them.

He forces us to notice the walls we ignore.

He forces us to face issues we ignore.

Most interesting, was his trip to Palestine. 416 miles of wall, 26 feet tall.

Cutting Palestinians off from their jobs, schools, and family members.

His work there was met with some opposition.

Banksy's spokeswoman Jo Brooks said: "The Israeli security forces did shoot in the air threateningly and there were quite a few guns pointed at him."

He also received criticism from a few Palestinians who thought it was wrong to make something beautiful out of such a terrible and oppressive wall.I wonder if Banksy will make his way to Baghdad.

Long live the bleeding-hearts and artists!See more of Banksy's work on his website.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Why do we build walls?

Are they a symbol of power, or of powerlessness?

Do they solve our problems, or create new ones?

Why do we continue to build walls?

And if walls are good, why do we celebrate when we tear them down?

Walls are barriers, containers of human beings.

Walls are symbols; they send a message to the people being contained.

But sometimes, just sometimes, they stand between us and the desire to move on and forget.

They stretch out into the distance as a physical measure of the magnitude of an event.

Why do we continue to build walls?

Go to

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Quick Note on Imus

I never liked Imus, so I never listened to his show.

Sure, what Imus said was vile and racist, but no more than usual, and no more shocking than the vocal feces that spews from the lips of Coulter or Limbaugh.

But that's what is so great about America.

Any damn fool can say any damn fool thing they want.

This is why I have a blog.

Actually, I think Coulter is to blame for the firestorm around Imus. Call it a delayed reaction. Like when a group of rowdy kids is getting out of hand, and one kid says something way over the top, but the adults are slow to react. You know those moments; when even the kids know they better shut the hell up. Then the next kid who says ANYTHING gets the wrath of God brought down on him.

But what's funny is how the other conservative pundits have attacked Imus.

I think the conservatives have taken to cannibalizing themselves to stay alive. The weaker rats have already jumped ship and now the languishing rats are resorting to desperate measures. Frankly, I think Rush Limbaugh would have been a more substantial choice, and I mean that on so many different levels. Imus is just a jerk who says things for shock value; Rush is a vile human being with enough real dirt to keep the 24-hour news networks busy for a week without repeating themselves.

But then, if they were interested in tackling issues of substance, they wouldn't be conservatives, right?

Sorry, Imus, looks like you got the short straw.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Comfort You Seek in Permanence is an Illusion

"Everything that is living will one day die."

I think I was about five when my grandma hit me with this particular philosophical ton of bricks. I don't remember if it was before or after my dad tried to explain the concept of eternity. I was a relentlessly inquisitive child, and my elders were not trying to instill deep metaphysical contemplation in my young mind, but a reverent and obedient awe of God.

And this approach worked for many years. The despair at the thought of this temporal existence was tempered by the knowledge that my true eternal existence lay waiting for me on the other side of my physical death.

Though this fantasy is comforting, it is ultimately counterproductive. It's like depending on Santa Clause to pay your rent. Not only is that not going to happen, but if you believe it will, you won't be getting the money together to pay your own rent.

But we have come too far to deny reality now: the key to our own immortality is us.

Only through science will we conquer death, or continue to fend it off by adding decades, and eventually centuries, to our lives.

But to truly embrace the mindset that will allow us to take the reigns of our own destiny, we must relinquish completely that concept to which we so desperately wish to cling: permanence.

Death is all that is permanent. And permanence is death.

Life is change. And change is life.

Chaos. Cycles. Patterns. Adaptation. Evolution.

The struggle to live, and it is a struggle, produces, and is a product of, relentless change. Our survival has always depended upon our willingness and ability to change.

And yet, even in science, we insist upon establishing "norms" and "ideals." We want laws that we can say for certain will never change, even though the very concept of "unchanging truths" exist only in our imaginations and holy folklore.

Do you know why Latin is a dead language? Because the authorities wanted to preserve the "right" "proper" and "true" Latin with rules, and they did. Meanwhile, the language that people actually spoke continued to change until it barely resembled the "real" Latin which had been preserved in books. But which is more real; that which is alive and being spoken in Italy, or that which is dead and preserved for scholars in books?

Death is all that is permanent. And permanence is death.

Life is change. And change is life.

All comfort you seek in permanence is an illusion, so let it go.

And be free.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Now Acceptng Submissions

My friend Larry does this with CityBeat's Living Out Loud Blog, so I'll give it a try.

Damion, a recent commenter here, sent me a submission on WATER and it was pretty funny so I put it up.
So here are a few guidelines:

-Send submissions to

-I'm not editing the content, but I reserve the right to insert pictures at will.

-Try to keep posts under 500 words.

-I'm fine with linking the post to your site or your blog, but make an effort to contribute to the conversation you inspire here.

-I'm more than happy to post something with which I disagree. What I'm looking for is material that is brief, concise, well-written, and something with a clever angle. In other words, it's not so much what you say, but how you say it.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

New Environmental Menace --Is Progress Worth the Cost?

ICI has announced the discovery of a new firefighting agent to add to their existing range. Known as WATER ( Wonderful And Total Extinguishing Resource ), it augments, rather than replaces, existing agents, such as dry powder and BCF (bromine-chlorine-fluorine), which have been in use from time immemorial. It is particularly suitable for dealing with fires in buildings, timber yards, and warehouses.

Though required in large quantities, it is fairly cheap to produce and it is that quantities of about a million gallons should be stored in urban areas and near other installations of high risk ready for immediate use. BCF and dry powder are usually stored under pressure, but WATER will be stored in open ponds or reservoirs and conveyed to the scene of the fire by hoses and portable pumps.

ICI's new proposals are already encountering strong opposition from safety and environmental groups. Professor Connie Barrinner has pointed out that if anyone immersed his head in a bucket of WATER, it would prove fatal in as little as three minutes. Each of ICI's proposed reservoirs will contain enough WATER to fill 500,000 two-gallon buckets. Each bucketful could be used 100 times, so there is enough WATER in one reservoir to kill the entire population of the U.K. Risks of this size, said Professor Barrinner, should not be allowed, whatever the gain. If that WATER were to get out of control, the results of Flixborough or Seveso would pale into insignificance by comparison. What use was a firefighting agent that could kill men as well as fire?

A local authority spokesman said that he would strongly oppose planning permission for construction of a WATER reservoir in this area, unless the most stringent precautions were followed. Open ponds were certainly not acceptable. What would prevent people from falling in them? What would prevent the contents from leaking out? At the very least, the WATER would need to be contained in a steel pressure vesssel surrounded by a leak proof concrete wall.

A spokesman from the fire brigades said he did not see the need for the new agent. Dry powder and BFC could cope with most fires. The new agent would bring with it risks, particularly to firemen, greater than any possible gain. Did we know what would happen to this new medium when it was exposed to intense heat? It had been reported that WATER was a constituent of beer. Did this mean that firemen would be intoxicated by the fumes?

The friends of the World said that they had obtained a sample of WATER and found it caused clothes to shrink. If it did this to cotton , what would it do to men?

In the House of Commons yesterday, the Home Secretary was asked if he would prohibit the manufacture and storage of this lethal new material. The Home Secretary replied that, as it was clearly a major hazard, local authorities would have to take advice from the Health and Safety Executive before giving planning permission. A full investigation was needed and the Major Hazards Group would be asked to report.

Article by Norman Mischler (a dirty industrialist)
Post submitted by Damion

Submit posts for consideration to

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Global Climate History

[Edit Note: This is one of those posts that relied heavily on pictures, but since the internet powers that be removed my pictures... whatever.]

It's been hotter; it's been colder.

Without any help from us.

Man and polar bear has managed to survive; the hard way.

Nothing on this planet remains constant, and who are we to say that it should?

Should we find alternatives to oil? Of course!

Should we care for this planet and all life on it? Of course!

But we should approach all our endeavors with a clear head and a steady hand. Be cool and calm in the face of fear mongers and doomsayers; be ever-skeptical of the all-knowing.