Archive for April, 2010

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Video game censorship

April 30, 2010

The Express always has a non-scientific user poll about issues of the day and the other day was about a measure to restrict the sales of violent video games to minors.  (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/26/AR2010042601787.html)  I was surprised that 75% of the people were in favor of the restriction (keep in mind though it is a non-scientific poll) and that got me thinking:  If people are willing to impose restrictions on one amendment (in this case, the first) based solely on common sense and anecdotal evidence, then why wouldn’t they be willing to do the same for another (e.g. the second)?  In other words, if you are willing to restrict the first amendment based on the unproven, yet reasonable, idea that violent video games are bad for kids, then why not restrict the second amendment based on the unproven, yet reasonable, idea that the sales of certain weapons such as assault rifles, sub machine guns, and any other weapons that are specifically designed for killing people, pose a threat to the safety of the general populace?  To quote from a 1980’s George Carlin bit, “Now they’re thinking about banning toy guys and they want to keep the fucking real ones!!”

Just for the record, I don’t belive the first amendment applies to video games.  The first amendment is designed to ensure that you can voice your political opinion / practice your respective faith without fear of being sent to jail.  It’s not about entertainment.  The same is true with the second amendment:  It’s about the right of the state to arm its own militia to protect against an overly powerful central government, not the right of the citizen to buy a fully automatic assault rifle for home protection.  Both amendments have been riding their respective slippery slopes for many years to the point where they have been made to apply to a variety of situations for which they were not originally intended.  I’m not a constructionist by any means, but there’s got to be a middle ground between making the text so broad that it applies to everything and making it so rigid that it becomes outdated.

p.s. – I find it amusing that the people who support government regulation of video games are the same people who decry the excessive influence government has over their lives.  In other word, ‘I’m all for government regulation as long as it supports my position, otherwise I’m opposed to it and will threaten to resort to violence to make my displeasure known.’

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New workout routine

April 28, 2010

A special thanks to my brother for developing a new workout routine for me that focuses more on total body rather than targeting typical areas at the expense of others.  That said, I can’t move my arms.  Or legs.  And it hurts to laugh.  Actually, it hurts just to type.  I should probably stop.

Oh, also, thanks to Windows Vista for accepting my old MP3 player’s software and for Amazon’s MP3 download capability.  Suck on that ipod / itunes!  Nothing like a mix of Cinderella, Danger Danger, Skid Row, and Guns N Roses to get the blood pumping. 

OK, I’m really going to stop now, because it’s actually starting to hurt.

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motivational music (sort of)

April 15, 2010

This morning the violin player at the metro stop was playing ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home’ (aka ‘The Ants go Marching One by One’ – I had to look it up too).  On one hand it was cool walking to work with that tune in the background, but on the other it was weird knowing the soundtrack to my day at the Pentagon would be an anti-war song.

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Tea Party

April 15, 2010

Today on my way into work I ran into a bunch of tea party guys.  It was awesome!  The first thing I noticed was their t-shirts which had ‘progressive tax’ (which benefits lower income people because it puts a higher burden on higher wage earners) crossed out and ‘income tax’ (the majority of which goes to defense spending, which tea party members favor) crossed out.  At first I thought I should just keep my mouth shut (after all, what better way to marginalize someone then by ignorning them) but then I figured, screw it, I’ll have some fun.  So I started pumping my fist and telling them to “go get ’em” in an overly sarcastic manner.  I received only half-hearted responses.  Now, if I was a true tea party guy I would think that either way they would get all excited – if they thought I was sincere they would respond with an equally emotional “Yeah!” or something equally inane, and if they thought I was being sarcastic (which I was) they would try and leap down my throat.  I got nothing!  The only thing I got was one guy saying, half-heartedly I might add, “I’ve got my pitchfork.”  (just in case Obama turns out to be Frankenstein).  I then passed the fruit vendor on the street and told him he should have stocked up on rotten fruit just for the day.  (At least he got the joke!)  I’ll tell you though, the truest sign of the validity of any political group is the quality of their jean shorts.  Nothing says, “I’m a lower-middle class American who hates the goverment” more than thigh length, ultra-light wash, denim shorts matched to a brand new pair of sparkling white tube socks.  Using that yard stick, these guys were truly devoted tea party followers, just not before they’ve had their coffee.  (er…tea…I suppose…)

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Hottest shuttle stop by far!

April 8, 2010

Today it’s official:  My shuttle stop definitely has the hottest ladies!  It was touch and go for a while there between my stop and the one after but today with the key trade of the tall, skinny, black-haired Trinity look-alike for the old, slouchy, brunette, there is now no doubt which shuttle stop is the hottest.  My all-star roster includes the young blonde with the $300 haircut and matching jacket, the Trinity look-alike, the sophisticated red head, and the hot blond Air Force LtCol (if you can make those uniforms look good, you know you’ve got something going on!).  Of course, the only thing that could make my roster complete is if my wife rode the shuttle with me…awwww…..:)

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Revisionist History

April 7, 2010

Update:  Ha!  Sometimes it hurts being this good!

WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history; and

  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/07/AR2010040705100.html?hpid=moreheadlines

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Virginia governor Robert McDonnell has officially proclaimed April as “Confederate History Month for the Commonwealth of Virginia.”  Given that Virginia was the heart of the Confederacy (what with its capitol being Richmond and Robert E. Lee being it’s native son) I don’t really have an issue with the idea, but there’s a right way to honor your state’s history and a wrong way.  Guess which one the Governor took?  Just like Lee deciding to get involved in a war of attrition with a far larger enemy, McDonnell has adopted the wrong strategy.  If you read the proclamation (http://www.governor.virginia.gov/OurCommonwealth/Proclamations/2010/ConfederateHistoryMonth.cfm ) you’ll find that there are certain peculiarities with the wording that smack of revisionist history, the goal being to play up the good parts of the confederacy and downplay the negative.  Here are some of the juicier sections:

1.  Virginia has long recognized her Confederate history, the numerous civil war battlefields that mark every  region of the state, the leaders and individuals in the Army, Navy and at home who fought for their homes and communities and Commonwealth in a time very different than ours today

“Long recognized” means ‘we’ve always honored our Confederate past, who said we haven’t?’ Except that the previous two governors didn’t issue proclamations honoring the Confederacy.  The language is trying to create a false impression of Virginia’s take on its history in order to make the present course of action appear acceptable.  It’s the bureaucratic version of saying, ‘it’s alright because we’ve always done it this way.’

2.  …all Virginians can appreciate the fact that when ultimately overwhelmed by the insurmountable numbers and resources of the Union Army…

In other words, ‘you didn’t beat us, we simply ran out of ammo.’  It’s a not-so-subtle reminder that the south still has the ability to rise again should they feel the federal government is assuming too much control over the states (i.e. health care – and don’t think for a second that this proclamation isn’t in part a response to the health care bill and the belief that the federal government has overstepped it’s bounds.  In this case, Governor McDonnell is manipulating the history of the civil war to play up the state’s rights aspect in preparation for the upcoming legal battle over the right of the federal government to impose health care legislation on the states.  See http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/Virginia-attorney-general-to-sue-over-health-care-88860017.html )

3.  …this defining chapter in Virginia’s history should not be forgotten, but instead should be studied, understood and remembered by all Virginians, both in the context of the time in which it took place, but also in the context of the time in which we live,…

First off, ‘defining’ tends to connote a good thing.  Defining is never used in the context of a bad thing.  You never hear the phrase, ‘Slavery was a defining chapter for African Americans.’  While it’s not explicitly stated, the implication is that the Civil War was a good thing for Virginia.  Same with ‘understood and remembered by all,’ which is another way of saying ‘people today don’t really understand what the war was about and we need to educate them.’  Finally, “in the context of the time in which it took place, but also in the context of the time in which we live” specifically implies that some of the issues over which the civil war were fought were legitimate (states rights) and others were not (slavery), which brings up my final point…

4.  In the entire proclamation, not once does the word ‘Slavery’ appear.  How on earth do you talk about the civil war and not even mention slavery except in some vague references to ‘the context of the time?’  The only people who don’t think slavery was a key issue over which the civil war was fought are the people who come from the south.  The argument is that the south seceded because the federal government was growing too strong and the states felt they would become ‘fiefdoms’ of an all-powerful government.  While it is certainly true that state’s rights were an issue, what these revisionists fail to mention is that the reason southern states felt emasculated was because of attempts by the north to limit the expansion of slavery!  Every major point of friction between the North and the South in the decades leading up to the Civil War were over the expansion of slavery into the expanding territories of the U.S.  From the Missouri Compromise to the Nullification Crisis to the Compromise of 1850 to the Kansas/Nebraska Act, every one of them was fundamentally over the issue of slavery expanding into the territories. 

Senator Sumner (MA) was almost beaten to death by Representative Butler (SC) in Congress over a pro-abolition speech Sumner had made. But you're right...I'm sure slavery had nothing to do with the Civil War...

Furthermore, the South had been threatening secession for decades by the time the election of 1860 came around, and it was only because a Republican (remember, Republicans started out as a left wing party that championed the rights of all citizens, in contrast to the right wing Democratic party that supported the expansion of slavery) won the election by stating he opposed the expansion of slavery into the territories (but did not believe the federal government had the power to abolition slavery where it already existed) did the south actually make good on their threats.  In other words, yes, the civil war was over slavery!!  Whether slavery was presented as a moral, political, or economic issue is another matter, but in the end, slavery was the main reason that brought about the civil war and for Governor McDonnell to proclaim April ‘Confederate History Month’ without acknowledging this is just plain revisionist history at its worst.  If you want to honor the history of your state, by all means do so, but you can’t cherry pick the parts you like and ignore the parts you don’t.  That’s the problem with history:   It’s rarely black and white, even when that’s what it’s about.

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New Youtube idea!

April 6, 2010

I think I’m going to set up a video camera focused on my cubicle neighbor’s monitor to try and capture some of his better technological impaired moments.  I just spent 10 minutes watching him try and figure out how to line up the bullets in microsoft word.  I actually had to walk away to keep from laughing.  I can still hear him pecking away!