The thoughts that were thunk and the goings on of my life.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Real Daredevil

Check this out. And prepare to be amazed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Why You Need a Separation of Church and State

"…the bill goes against...the constitution of Pakistan, which state respectively that "Islam will be the state religion" and "No laws will be passed which are repugnant to the Koran and sunnah."

-BBC News Report, Kirachi

Sometimes the things we do in America scare me. Up until the last year or so I saw the whole US headed towards becoming just the Christian version of all those messed up countries in the Middle East. Time after time there were outrages that America were abandoning God, forcing people to forget their religious roots, and that we needed a return to Jesus. While on a personal level I’m all for that, a lot of people failed to realize that there are distinct separations between church and state for a very good reason. Because it keeps you from deciding that I need to die.

Religions themselves tend to be rather peaceful, religious viewpoints on the other hand are usually formulated around taking abstract portions of text and applying them against those that you like the least. Take for examples gays. The Bible clearly states in many places that gay sex is an abomination of God. Because of that statement gays are hated in the US, chastised, told that they cannot live their life in the manner they choose, have lies made up about them, and even keep Ellen Degeneres from becoming a late-night replacement for Jay Leno (that’s my theory at least). However, these same people clearly ignore all of the other abominations surrounding those same verses with which they so blithely use to instantly condemn those they don’t like.

Such forgotten abominations as:
Fortunately though we have at least one "kitty-litter rathold of a country"* that gives us shining examples of why we should never, never, NEVER let a religion run a country.

Under the controversial Hudood Ordinance, brought in under Gen Zia-ul-Haq from 1979, a rape victim had every chance of being convicted of adultery unless she could produce four male eyewitnesses to the crime.
The punishment for adultery is lashings and stoning according to traditional Islamic law.

The big hoorah over there is that instead of just killing women who get raped because the women are adulterers, they now might need to (omg /oma, close your eyes, this might be a bit astonishing) investigate the allegations! Such heathens! Such infidels! Such obvious extortion by the secular conspiracists!

Sad thing is, those exactly the cries that are being heard.

*as said by Andrew

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tally the Votes

First off I'd like to show you a little map of just how corrupt our districting was. I heard the Dems whining a few years ago, and now I finally see why.

It's ridiculous that parts of Austin are included in the same districts as suburbia Houston. Or the fact that all of the Dem strongholds on the border of Mexico are broken into thin slivers that end up being majority Repub. The needs of the residents from one part to the other are incredibly different; how can you effectively represent the people if they really have nothing in common because the district has no commonality? Why can't we just make simple districts by area?

The root problem is that lawmakers set up their own districts, and I think that needs to come to a halt if we're ever going to make this country a better place. Setting your own district is like me setting my own boss...of course I'm going to pick the guy that likes me, but that means I'll work all that much less because I know I can always get a good review. Or having a popularity contest, but only your best friends can vote...oh and make sure it's different groups of friends so that even if you're not the most popular in any one group you'll still get the most votes from all of the different groups.

But on to the point of this topic: Who am I going to vote for in this election?

This is actually much tougher than you might think. For the past 2 weekends I've bought the paper in hopes that there would be a nice and simple spread of all the candidates, what they support, achievements, and failures are. Then let me choose based off of the issues. Unfortunately there is nothing in the paper. And when you want to find any information you get something horrible like this which simply shows that they like candidate X, but no reasons no rationale. If you do some digging you can find why they support candidate X...however, they only pump up the positives and don't even mention what their opponents might do. That's TERRIBLE journalism. Give me the facts, show me the different viewpoints and I'll decide the best person. Your JOB your primary job as a paper is to inform the people. I am frankly appalled at the poor job that our local paper does in this category and after their recent ad campaign focused solely on sexual innuendo (Are you getting it?), I don't know if I can ever buy an Austin American Statesman again. My job as a citizen is to think and choose, don't just pretend that I can do neither...cause I sure thought about not buying your paper...and now I've chosen.

Fortunately I found one decent source where I least expected it. News8Austin. Turns out most of the information in here is really good. They simply ask a few questions of each candidate that's at least seriously in the running and then give you links to their websites. Much better. Simply a statement of the facts and that's it.

Now let's get to the real votes:
  • Governor:
    • Rick Perry: No way. The man makes a good yell leader, but I've yet to see any solid leadership from him ever. Most people that I know in the gov't organizations that work around him consider him to be a jerk, and he has a full-time makeup artist at his side all the time. There are so many things that he could have done and failed to show vote for governor is against Perry.
    • Chris Bell: Pure politician. His ideas are generally bad and center on taxing more and spending more.
    • Carol Keeton-Strayhorn: Her platform is that she had sex and birthed children who later begat children. Um...I need a bit more than that. Digging into the issues you see the only thing she really has a clear idea on is education. Unfortunately within 2 seconds you can tell she is a pawn in the Teacher's Union's hands (simply throwing more money at teachers won't make them better). All of her ideas are just bad. Education is a business. It's time that we started treating it as it is.
    • Kinky Friedman: As an individual he's probably the worst candidate out there. The problem is, he's the only one trying to think outside of the box. I absolutely love some of his ideas (and he has the best website of any politician I've ever seen).
      1. The idea of centering the State of Texas as the primary source of renewable energy is genius. It would guarantee our prominence in the world for the next generation.
      2. Private funding of High School sports. We have plenty of money to educate kids. The problem is too many funds are diverted to sports programs.
      3. CHIP. As much as I don't like welfare programs I don't think you should take it out on the kids, they didn't make the choice to have crappy parents. Let's keep it well funded, the payoff will be worth it by having healthier adults.
      4. National Guard on the border. That's where they should be. If the Fed Gov't can't help us, we need to help ourselves until they get their heads out of their butts.
      5. Same day voter registration. As a college student it was hard to know where to vote, but I knew I needed to. Most people don't think about elections really until a few days beforehand.
        1. I would also like it to just be a system where you swipe your drivers license/state ID. It's all computerized anyways, just compare the number to one in the database...eliminates voter fraud and maximizes democracy.
      6. Legalize Gambling. I think this is a horrible idea. But it's the only one I disagree with him on. Fortunately this would never pass, so I'm not too worried about it.
    • Vote goes to - Kinky. He is the only one actually trying to think of some unique ideas that I think would do well to be implemented. While not perfect I think he's the only one that can actually see Texas for what it is.
  • U.S. Senate
    • Kay Bailey Hutchison: From about 4 Republican friends working for organizations in Washington D.C. I found out that she is known for being the biggest b!tch in Washington and has an extremely high turnover as a result. More importantly if you look at her campaign platforms and reasons people support her is because she brings money to Texas. I'm sorry, but that's what is wrong with Washington. She should show how much money she saved the whole US, not just how much in funds she was able to secure for pet projects. I really don't want to vote for this candidate.
    • Barbara Radnofsky: I like most of her ideas and she seems fairly conservative, right up until she talks about how to pay for it all, educate people, and pulling out of Iraq quickly.
    • Vote goes to - neither. I don't think either of them deserve a real vote, so I'll probably pick a Libertarian candidate to up the party's recognition.
  • U.S. Representative
    • Michael McCaul: Very standard Republican fare. Seems to think that security is being helped by Iraq. No real ideas. Your trophy wife and blonde children have nothing to do with my vote. Get them off of your front page. You're too vanilla anyways. Next.
    • Ted Ankrum: His main platform appears to be that he's not a Republican. Well, I hate to break it to you, but the Democrats aren't the only, we need more parties. He does have a few good ideas. If he was the only candidate I would vote for him...but he's not.
    • Michael Badnarik: Seems to be the one libertarian with a chance. Also wins points for his references to V is for Vendetta (one of the best messages in a movie this year - ad). Has a very well thought out concise website (huge plus!), and I really like his ideas. It's really nice to have someone think instead of just talk.
    • Vote goes to - Badnarik he thinks, understands more about our district than most, has some great positions, and we could use a fresh candidate that's not your standard vanilla or chocolate. (Also a little thanks to Allen for commenting within minutes of my blogging even though we've never met. Really impressed to see people actively using the internet instead of commercials to promote their candidates!)
  • State Representative
    • Mark Strama: Wants to redistrict (see above maps), against toll roads, restore funding to CHIP, wants to prevent 'open space' development...I like parks and natural areas...don't let Austin become like Round Rock or worse, Houston.
    • Jeff Fleece: Is for school choice, wants communities to be able to de-annex themselves if the city fails in their civic services, wants to stop tolls once roads are paid for (I think there should be a counter that shows the balance going down with each toll).
    • Vote goes to - Unsure. Neither seems all that great. May be another case of voting for the Libertarian to bolster a third party.
I think the bottom line for voting is that you should NEVER vote for the lesser of two evils. The fact is that you shouldn't vote for anybody that you think is evil. America is so obsessed with our two party system that we think voting for a third party is 'throwing your vote away'. The problem is, probably 1/2 of the people voting for a typical candidate don't like the candidate. So why not vote for somebody you actually think could make a difference. Because there are a lot of changes that need to take place, and voting the same candidates in will not create that change.

Oh, and the Propositions. I don't feel like going into it. Here's a synopsis:
  1. Roads - They're bad, vote yes
  2. Flood control - too expensive for what they're doing, vote no.
  3. Parks - I love Austin's parks. Keep more of a good thing, vote yes.
  4. Art - Funding of racism and art that couldn't make it on its own, vote hell-no.
  5. Housing - Creates unnecessary local-level welfare, vote no.
  6. Central Library - Central Libraries are not the future, vote no.
  7. Police & EMS - Some areas have developed without adequate resources, vote yes.
Finally one bit of fun. Here's the best political ad of the entire election:
See Raj Run - What do Elephants, Mariachi Bands, and the Mexican Border have in common?
Fast forward to 4:14 in for the good stuff.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


It's Backwards I Tell You!

I don't know why it's taken me so long to figure this out because it's really SO simple when you think about it. But our daylight savings time is all wrong. For my whole life I've dreaded the moment that we switch over from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time. It means that your world goes from one that is filled with joy in the evenings and nice jogs just enjoying the weather to a life of leaving work or school after dark with nothing to hope for in the evening besides darkness.

That's when I thought it would be nice if we could simply stay on daylight savings time and never switch back over to normal. Then even in the dead of winter on the 30th Parallel it still wouldn't get dark until about 6:30 pm.

See the problem is that we have it all wrong. We currently employ daylight savings when we have plenty of daylight to spare. You shouldn't be saving when you have a surplus! You should be saving when there is a scarcity of something. And in the case of the sun it's most scarce in the winter; therefore, we should try to save more of it then. So my proposal is that back in the 1940s-1950s when we were doing other stupid things like deciding to drop the speed limit down to 55mph we also made the huge mistake of implementing Daylight Savings Time backwards.

Let's take a simple look at what this would look like if you have the following considerations:

Actually though, after thinking about it and crunching the numbers and even making the graphs, I think the real problem is simply with Standard Time. While the world may have once run in farms and so forth and everybody needed to wake up early the world has changed. Over 80% of the US lives in cities and those cities would benefit greatly from having a switch to Daylight Savings Time for good. No more jumping around just adjust to the sun instead of trying to fight it at least twice a year.