Friday, July 28, 2006

For God's Sake

Sometimes, I really hate people... Babytalk magazine had a cover which was a picture of a baby breast feeding. Insanely NOT sexual, and the breast was in profile and no nipple visable making it comprable exposure to what one sees at a beach or swimming pool. It got a reaction...

"One mother who didn't like the cover explains she was concerned about her 13-year-old son seeing it. 'I shredded it,' said Gayle Ash, of Belton, Texas, in a telephone interview. 'A breast is a breast -- it's a sexual thing. He didn't need to see that.' "

If she really believes that breast feeding is a sexual thing then she should probably have her children removed either for neglect or sexual abuse.

" 'Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob,' wrote Lauren, a mother of a 4-month-old. "

So you don't look in the mirror when you are holding your child? Oh, you mean "boob" as in "breast"...does that mean that you don't nurse or that you use your sense of touch to determine whether or not Jr. has latched on properly? Because vomiting on your nursing child seems like a bad thing.

" 'I just think it's one of those moments that should stay between a mother and her child.' "

Much like beatings and teaching racial epithets... What the hell is wrong with people and why can't the news people/groups indicate that those who complained are bat-shit crazy wingnut idealogues? It is breast feeding. Anyone who is excited by or offended by it has got some real problems, likely the result of a troubled childhood where there parents scared the piss out of them instilling in them the notions that looking at or exposing a breast would send them straight to hell or some such. If you don't like it, don't stare. I find women who wear too much make-up pretty gross, but, hey, if someone wants to walk around like that, she should never have to put up with my opinion or others like it, (irony warning) except from her father, who should tell her that she "looks like a whore."

On a related note CBS is appealing the FCC ruling from the Janet Jackson exposed issue. I hope they win, though not so we can have more breasts on television (there are plenty on the internet, for those who are so inclined), but so that I don't have to have my entertainment filtered by the draconian notions of morality as posited by the FCC and the wack jobs that agree with them.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Encyclopedia Dramatica

A Wiki-styled encyclopedia that is rather amusing. Probably don't want to browse it at work/school/church, but I would recommend going to public libraries and leaving an open browser set to the main page. Oh, yea, the link.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

War Creates Terrorists

This just in... While our gloriously inept leader has been telling us about fighting terrorists abroad so that we don't have to fight them here, and that Iraq was about eliminating terrorism, what many have suspected for some time has been documented: the Iraq was is creating terrorists, making it both costly to both nations and counter productive in terms of its stated goals.

That Crazy Zizu

Zidane is one hellofa soccer (football) player, but I didn't particularly like him even before the '06 World Cup. I thought the head butting incident was jackassery at its finest, even if his mother was called a terrorist whore (the popular theory among the French fans and Zizu apologists). Turns out there are more opinions than I had thought. Some of them quite amusing.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

multi-generation workforce

There has always been a generation gap in the workforce and differences of opinion and outlook between the older and younger generations, but it seems that the gap is wider than ever thanks to two different occurrences. The first is that people are working longer than before, which, combinded with the number of boomers means that the older generations are much larger than they have been before. The second is the way that technology has affected the workplace, which younger workers have taken to more quickly. As technology has improved the efficiency of the workplace, there has been a steady increase in the amount of free time that could be had. While, due to its absense, the older generations seem to see this as time for even more work to get done, the younger generations see this as time to spend with family and go on vacation. The older generations perceive the younger as lazy while the younger perceive the older as lifeless (anti-family, no fun hobbies, too little vacation).

I also believe that there is a third aspect at play here, and that is job/company loyalty. While people that were hired 20-50 years ago would likely spend their entire career with that same employer, people today tend to change jobs and move around quite a bit. This is something that is also, likely, technology driven, though in this case it is the increase in speed and volume of information that has shown many more opportunity than in the past. This short term notion of working has led to employees that are not as interested in what is best for the company because the results of a better company are long-term employee benefits and they may not be around to see them.

The fact is that notions of working smarter not harder rather than keeping a nose to the grindstone are far more apt today. Hard work still has benefits (especially among blue collar work, and certain, select professional jobs) but understanding the technology and better applying it can yield more productivity in less time leaving more time for relaxation and a happier employee. Time off is not bad. It allows one to refocus and calm down. It keeps disgruntled workers from begrudging every moment at work. I feel that getting work done, rather than spending time at work should be the measure of productivity. If one can accomplish in 30 hours what someone else requires 40 to do, then that one should not feel compelled to remain at work for those 10 extra hours. (Keeping in mind that what I do is more difficult to quantify, there really is no way around working full least not right now.)

The purpose of work is to enjoy life, for those that enjoy work (and everyone should) all the better, but there is life beyond that. There are roughly 112 hours of waking time in a week, when things like showering, eating, (commuting), are taken into account that leaves around 84 hours (12/day). To spend half of that time doing something, it seems that something should be the most important thing...should it be work?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Socialism is not Entirely Bad

I mentioned in my previous posts various ways the government can spend money better than citizens. Among those was welfare. Welfare is among the more popular government social programs for raging [republicans] to bash. The common outlet is to intone that people who live off welfare are lazy useless lumps who pump out babies and suck in your tax dollars (like these people are living high on the hog somehow). Well, what if I told you that welfare reduces crime? That makes it a national security issue. Oh, do you want the terrorists to win? No? Well, we had better do what we can to not raise them domestically then, hadn't we? Welfare is a good program. It does not reward the lazy, it simply grants them some measure of dignity (not much, though). Bashing the program sends a message of hatred of the less fortunate and is, frankly, very un-Christian.

Starting from that point, any government program that provides for need is generally good and is generally a "socialist" program. Extending beyond welfare to programs we do not but should have, socializing medical care is a good thing. It is cost effective because, unlike insurance companies, which are for profit (and must therefore spend money on things like advertising), the government does not have to turn a profit, so every tax dollar dedicated to medical coverage gets spent on--get this--medical bills! (Yea, yea, there are workers that need to be paid, but much of the infrastructure is already there, so there would be little additional expense.) Free market economies and capitalism are excellent for innovation and improving standards of living, but certain, specific institutions are inherently morally suspect, e.g. insurance and banking. These for profit endeavours provide almost nothing in the way of service to their customers, are virtual necessities to get by in this modern world, and are always among the top five (and usually top two or three) industries in the country in terms of profit margins. The government can do these things better. Though paying extra taxes, people (and companies) could actually save money if these were socialized. They won't be, but remember anytime you hear someone bitch about socialism (w.r.t. these things), they are either indoctrinated or they have ties to an industry that would be your benefit.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Stupid People Should Run our Country

Or at least that is the idea I get from any one of many unbelievably idiotic statements made by (primarily) Republicans. These often come out in question form: "Can't you spend a dollar better than the government?" or "Can the government decide what is best for your kids better than you can?" (The answers are: no and yes.) The other, often times less overt, way that these statements come about is in relation to intellectual elites, and this is expressed when you see articles talking about how college professors are all liberals, or that liberals (or dems) are condescending when dealing with people who disagree with them, and think that opposed opinions are stupid or wrong.

Let's deal with the overt questions first: No, you can not spend a dollar better than the government can and taxes are a good thing. Don't believe me? Well your wrong, but I'll even tell you why: Military. Police. Food. Infrastructure. Social Security. Welfare (later post). Medicare. Education. Research... There is more, but this should give you a fair idea. All of these things are good. They require money, and you can NOT spend your dollar to get them better than the government. Yes, the government can decide what is best for your children better than you. I am not talking about specific congressmen and women, but the whole of government, relying on the advice of experts, which produces things like: education standards, movie/tv ratings, child safety warnings/standards for things like car seats and playground. Do I think they are entirely right? No, but I think that they do a fair lot better than an average citizen would. (Incedentally, I also think that choice is inviolable, and government needs, generally, to stay the hell out of the lives of most people, the question, however, was not "should" but "could.")

Generally speaking the government has better access (to professional opinions, specialists, international community, etc...) and is not in the business of profiting (no need for many expenses and cuts that drive corporate America) and is therefore much better able to deal with the needs of citizens than those citizens are individually. Even when corruption does invade, I don't think there will ever be the government equivalent of a $700 car with $2000 spinners driven by someone living on less than $17k/year who wears $80 jeans.

The latter sentiment is more troubling. If you were to ask groups of people at every level of education to answer a question, which group would you expect to, on average, answer the question correctly? Probably the most educated. If that is true for asking "a question" then it will also hold true for asking about politics.

I should say first that this is not about individual intellect or knowledge, as high school drop outs can count geniuses among their numbers and PhD's can be pretty stupid. It is about numbers and averages. Brighter people are more likely to pursue education further. That pursuit will often result in more formal education (more and higher degrees). That is to say that a PhD/MS/MD/JD/... does not make a person smarter, but smarter people will be more likely to earn those degrees. Even within higher degrees you will find general differences (e.g. MD's and JD's rely more heavily on memorization). In practice: brighter (more intelligent, whatever) individuals take more into consideration when making a decision, therefore that decision is more broadly applicable, and better informed; people with greater amounts of education are more likely to be brighter on average so the opinions and beliefs held by highly educated people are more likely to be well informed and, therefore, sounder.

Is that arrogant? Maybe. Is it true? Yes. Now, I don't think that government by intellectuals is a good thing, but to deride an opinion as being "intellectual" is one step away from saying "I am not capable of arguing because they are right, but I want you to dislike them and their opinion," and that is, hmm...well, stupid.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Gonzales on the Supreme Court

The United States' Attorney General has just commented on the Supreme Court's decision against Bush administration's dealing with the Gitmo prisoners or "enemy combatants." Now, I'm paraphrasing here but what he pretty much said is:

"Damn those constitution loving, US and world law enabling pussies for not understanding that everything that Holy George does is right. He is the president and should have the power to do whatever he wants too. That is what the Constitution should say, and I'm sure that if the founding fathers were here they would agree with me, of course if not then we would have to designate them 'enemy zombies' as there is no way they would be alive, and they would probably have to be shipped to, I mean some other foreign prison that people know only vaguely about where their reanimated limbs would be removed and used as bludgeons for crushing their genetailia, but I'm going off on a bit of a tangent here. The real issue is that George Almighty has declared these people as enemy combatants and who does the Supreme Court of the United States of the Bush family think it is to disagree? What do they think that they are? The constitutionally created body whose job is to act as defender of the supreme law of the land as written in the Constitution? These are activist judges. They must go. Of course it's not like we plan 0n abiding by what they have said. I mean I did say, 'That path is still available to us. The president of the United States can continue to hold enemy combatants at Guantanamo.'"

So basically: he disagrees, says that it hampers their ability to deal with terrorism, then says that they are still going to do it? I love how this administration sees itself as being completely impervious to the law, US or world. It's like a dictator, but without the militant rebellion brewing. Actually, while people seem to love comparing them with Nazi's, I think that the Empire from the Star Wars movies is much more accurate: Came into power with fair support, gained a bunch in a protracted war, then pissed it all away while abusing/rewriting the law as they see it. I think Edwards would make a fair Luke, but Kerry was no Han Solo. Liberman is probably Darth: he was a good guy, but twisted by the war and now his goodness is buried beneath his Bush smooching visage... Hmm...