31 October 2007

Wendi Murdoch

From China Digital Times:

On Tibet: "I don't think anyone got killed there! I haven't been there recently, but today, everybody in Tibet have mobile phones and the ability to send a message." - Wendi Murdoch, wife of Rupert Murdoch

Business of Death

Primaries v. Caucuses

With voter turnout as low as it is, you'd think states would be willing to change in order to make it easier to vote. One of the reasons they could do this would be to change from caucuses to primaries in the presidential election. According to Living Democracy, a college-level American government textbook, "Turnout in primaries is generally about 15 percent of eligible voters, and attendance at caucuses rarely gets beyond 5 percent." Why in the world would a party still want to use caucuses? Well, part of the reason is that certain people can choose their nomination without the masses having a say in it.

I personally think that certain parts of the election process need to be reformed. When the framers of the Constitution created the Electoral College, their plan was to stop the "common man" from voting; they were scared that the lower classes would outnumber the wealthy and, essentially, take away their money. Between the electoral college and caucuses, the average citizen does not feel as if their vote counts.

30 October 2007

"Hitler was a vegetarian" arguments

One of the terrible things about being vegan are the arguments that your omnivorous peers always want to start. The most useless (and wrong) point they usually bring up is the "Hitler was a vegetarian" argument. First of all, Hitler was not a vegetarian, and I'm not sure why that rumor started. Second, and more importantly, what does it matter? Who would care if Hitler was a vegetarian?

It isn't just vegetarianism that the Hitler comparison is used for. How many times has George Bush been compared to Hitler? I'm not saying there's no comparison, but what I do want to get across is that using Hitler for comparison is just a form of fear-mongering. And it degrades every discussion it's used in. When I'm debating with someone and they say something like, "Well, that's what Hitler did", I completely dismiss their entire argument from that point on.

If you're argument is so weak that you have to use Hitler, just stop arguing. It's time to do some research.

29 October 2007

Tibetan monks punished for celebrating Dalai Lama's award

Chinese authorities in Tibet have detained three monks and are questioning more than a dozen others after the monks tried to put up prayer flags celebrating the award of a U.S. congressional gold medal to the Dalai Lama, local sources say.

Westerners being tracked in China

I'm fascinated by China's culture, although I'm not too happy with current political leadership and the human rights infringements. As of right now, I'm pretty much planning on studying abroad in Hong Kong, and I could see myself working in China some day. Obviously, for a Westerner moving to China, there's going to be a lot of differences, primarily in censorship and freedoms (say, for example, using Google). But the level of tracking in this article is scary.

Burmese Prisoners

"Around 1 or 2 a.m. they would start interrogating. They said, ‘Tell me your father’s name. Tell me your mother’s name.’” ‘I heard, ‘Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. Kill, kill, kill, kill! Kill them dead. Kill them dead!’ They shot. They really shot at people. They really beat people. We saw all of these things. I can’t forget these sounds. The things I saw will not disappear from my mind for the rest of my life.”

This is a striking account of the Burmese official's harsh treatment of their prisoners.

Detainees Describe Burmese Abuses

28 October 2007

Images are powerful

This is a fantastic collection of unforgettable images from around the world. Must-See: Unforgettable Photos

China, the US, and Climate Change

On climate, Hu's leading whom? (Great article)

26 October 2007

If vice president is a step down, why not president?

Recently, Barack Obama told an audience about Al Gore, "I can promise you that as president I will have him involved in our administration in a very senior capacity in his role... having won the Nobel peace prize and an Oscar that being Vice President again would be probably a step down for him."

For Gore, being someone else's vice president again might be a "step down", but being the president wouldn't. If Al Gore decided to run for the 2008 Presidential election, he would win, hands down. Clinton, Obama, and the other candidates wouldn't have a chance. People love Al Gore.

Despite the obvious advantage he has with the general public, Al Gore is (as of right now) not in the running. However, as far as I know, he hasn't definitely said no. It wouldn't surprise me if he announced one day soon that he'll run for president; it also wouldn't surprise me if he won.

Personally, I would love to see Gore run, even though I'm an strong supporter of Kucinich. It would be great to have a leader who understands the problems faced by the environment and knows what to do about it. Global warming really is the most important question posed to the candidates; after all, if things continue the way they are right now (which most scientists agree they will), within a decade or two we'll start to see the beginnings of the chaos that climate change is going to bring, like starvation, refugees, violence over resources, and more.

23 October 2007


This is almost a week old, but I'm just now seeing for the first time.

In sort, a woman was gang-raped by four men at gunpoint, but since she's a prostitute, the judge (Teresa Carr Deni) decided to drop the all sex and assault charges. Instead, they were held on "theft of services."

That article left me speechless. And I think it speaks for itself.

Link to Alas, a blog, with a link to the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board

20 October 2007

Don't Some Students Deserve a Second Chance?

"...teachers can also be alerted if a student is likely to misbehave."

It seems to me that this alone would make micro-chips in school uniforms a violation of the students' rights. It would mean that those students who are labeled as bad students will never have a chance to prove themselves. They'd always be a Bart Simpson to their teachers.

Microchip gives staff the lowdown on pupils


Leave It To Dennis

19 October 2007


Four researchers who culled through 50 years of research literature about the psychology of conservatism report that at the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, and that some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism include:

  • Fear and aggression
  • Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
  • Uncertainty avoidance
  • Need for cognitive closure
  • Terror management
Researchers help define what makes a political conservative

Monks are happy because of meditation

LiveScience (one of my favorite websites) has an article up explaining why monks are so darn happy. According to them, and research that has been done in recent years, monks are happy because they spend their days meditation and learning to have compassion for all people.

Meditation really does make you happier, along with making you more relaxed and focused. I try to meditate every day (although I've been neglectful the past week), and I think I'm a much better person overall then I was before I took up meditation.

Why Monks Are So Darn Happy
Beginner's Guide to Meditation

18 October 2007

Iraq's Government Stands Up to US

Recently, Iraq's government has said that they want no permanent US bases on Iraqi soil. I guess this is one foolproof, albeit lengthy, way to see if the US really is more concerned with Iraqi freedom than the inky black liquid they're standing on.

via Think Progress

Auguries of Innocence

William Blake's Auguries of Innocence is one of my favorite poems. It's a bit long, but worth the effort.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dove house fill'd with doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thro' all its regions.
A dog starv'd at his Master's Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus'd upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fibre from the Brain does tear.
A Skylark wounded in the wing,
A Cherubim does cease to sing.
The Game Cock clipp'd and arm'd for fight
Does the Rising Sun affright.
Every Wolf's & Lion's howl
Raises from Hell a Human Soul.
The wild deer, wand'ring here & there,
Keeps the Human Soul from Care.
The Lamb misus'd breeds public strife
And yet forgives the Butcher's Knife.
The Bat that flits at close of Eve
Has left the Brain that won't believe.
The Owl that calls upon the Night
Speaks the Unbeliever's fright.
He who shall hurt the little Wren
Shall never be belov'd by Men.
He who the Ox to wrath has mov'd
Shall never be by Woman lov'd.
The wanton Boy that kills the Fly
Shall feel the Spider's enmity.
He who torments the Chafer's sprite
Weaves a Bower in endless Night.
The Catterpillar on the Leaf
Repeats to thee thy Mother's grief.
Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly,
For the Last Judgement draweth nigh.
He who shall train the Horse to War
Shall never pass the Polar Bar.
The Beggar's Dog & Widow's Cat,
Feed them & thou wilt grow fat.
The Gnat that sings his Summer's song
Poison gets from Slander's tongue.
The poison of the Snake & Newt
Is the sweat of Envy's Foot.
The poison of the Honey Bee
Is the Artist's Jealousy.
The Prince's Robes & Beggars' Rags
Are Toadstools on the Miser's Bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so;
Man was made for Joy & Woe;
And when this we rightly know
Thro' the World we safely go.
Joy & Woe are woven fine,
A Clothing for the Soul divine;
Under every grief & pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
The Babe is more than swadling Bands;
Throughout all these Human Lands
Tools were made, & born were hands,
Every Farmer Understands.
Every Tear from Every Eye
Becomes a Babe in Eternity.
This is caught by Females bright
And return'd to its own delight.
The Bleat, the Bark, Bellow & Roar
Are Waves that Beat on Heaven's Shore.
The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath
Writes Revenge in realms of death.
The Beggar's Rags, fluttering in Air,
Does to Rags the Heavens tear.
The Soldier arm'd with Sword & Gun,
Palsied strikes the Summer's Sun.
The poor Man's Farthing is worth more
Than all the Gold on Afric's Shore.
One Mite wrung from the Labrer's hands
Shall buy & sell the Miser's lands:
Or, if protected from on high,
Does that whole Nation sell & buy.
He who mocks the Infant's Faith
Shall be mock'd in Age & Death.
He who shall teach the Child to Doubt
The rotting Grave shall ne'er get out.
He who respects the Infant's faith
Triumph's over Hell & Death.
The Child's Toys & the Old Man's Reasons
Are the Fruits of the Two seasons.
The Questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to Reply.
He who replies to words of Doubt
Doth put the Light of Knowledge out.
The Strongest Poison ever known
Came from Caesar's Laurel Crown.
Nought can deform the Human Race
Like the Armour's iron brace.
When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow
To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow.
A Riddle or the Cricket's Cry
Is to Doubt a fit Reply.
The Emmet's Inch & Eagle's Mile
Make Lame Philosophy to smile.
He who Doubts from what he sees
Will ne'er believe, do what you Please.
If the Sun & Moon should doubt
They'd immediately Go out.
To be in a Passion you Good may do,
But no Good if a Passion is in you.
The Whore & Gambler, by the State
Licenc'd, build that Nation's Fate.
The Harlot's cry from Street to Street
Shall weave Old England's winding Sheet.
The Winner's Shout, the Loser's Curse,
Dance before dead England's Hearse.
Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born.
Every Morn & every Night
Some are Born to sweet Delight.
Some ar Born to sweet Delight,
Some are born to Endless Night.
We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro' the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to Perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light.
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in the Night,
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day.

Indra's Net

From Ken Jones' The New Social Face of Buddhism
In the heavenly abode of the great god Indra is a wondrous net that has a light-reflecting jewel at each of the infinite intersections of its threads. Each jewel exists only as a reflection of all the others, and hence has no self-nature. Yet its existence as a separate entity sustains all the other jewels. Each and all exist in mutuality, and since none casts its light by itself, it cannot cast any shadow that would deny the light of the others. Each has no existence separate from the whole, the one - which exists only through the many, yet the many create a whole that has its own significance and value. The energy that sustains the net is not generated outside the net or in any one part of the net but is, again, mutually generated through the interbeing of the entire net. Not only is the net infinite, but in each jewel is reflected another infinite net, and so on ad infinitum. The net is thus a metaphor for a paradoxical interbeing - a mutuality in which entities do and do not have an independent existence, are empty and yet exists.

Asshole of the Day

Big thanks to Neatorama for posting this.

Click on the link above for the full article, but here are a few of James Watson's (part of the duo that discovered DNA's double helix) quotes:

"people who have to deal with black employees find this not true".

"People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty
[via genetic engineering]. I think it would be great."

17 October 2007

China's pissed; who cares?

China made their anger known when President Bush met with the Dalai Lama. Liu Jianchao (China's Foreign Ministry spokesman) said that it was "a gross interference in China's internal affairs" and that it was offensive to the Chinese people.

Thankfully, Bush went ahead with the meeting and yesterday H.H. the Dalai Lama was presented with the US Congressional Gold Medal. But my question is: Why hasn't anyone done anything about China. Their human rights violations are obvious, and yet there's no talk of doing anything about it.

Of course, even if the government doesn't find it necessary to help the people living under the oppressive People's Republic of China, there are things you can do.
Race for Tibet
Boycott Made in China

Chema Madoz

Chema Madoz is Spanish photographer. His work is beautiful.
Creative photos by Chema Madoz.

16 October 2007

Dennis Kucinich on The Colbert Report

Mark Shepard's "Understanding Nonviolence"

UNDERSTANDING NONVIOLENCE: From Tactical Nonviolence to Satyagraha
Mark Shepard

Updated from a 1978 version prepared by the author for the Nonviolence Training Collective of People Against Nuclear Power, San Francisco, California.

No copyright is claimed - please reproduce!

What exactly do we mean when we say we're committed to nonviolence? Unfortunately, different people mean different things and are often not even aware of the differences.
The purposes of this piece are to give an idea of the range of meanings possible, to improve our ability to identify the types of commitment we encounter, and to stimulate our thinking on what we mean by nonviolence.
The characteristics of a nonviolent commitment can be classified in two general areas: the definition of nonviolence itself, and the type of commitment given.

Definition of Nonviolence

1. Scope of the definition. Does the prohibited violence include physical violence only? Or does it also include psychological violence (such as name-calling or isolation)?
2. Attitude toward the opponent. Is there an attitude of antagonism, in which the opponent is seen as an enemy? Or is there active caring for the opponent, with their welfare considered?
3. Intent of action. Is it to force the opponent to make changes against their will (coercion)? Or to change the opponent's mind and win them over to the other side (conversion)? Or something in between those two?

Nature of the Commitment

1. Extent of the commitment. Does it apply only to certain situations and occasions? Or is nonviolence seen as preferable to violence generally? Or is violence unconditionally renounced in all circumstances?
2. Motivation. Is the commitment to nonviolence based on expediency - superior force of the opponent, lack of weapons, and so on? Or on practical/humanitarian grounds - saying that relative human costs and results of nonviolent action make it a basically superior method? Or is the commitment based on a moral/ethical/religious principle?

Types of Nonviolent Commitment

Using the parameters above, we can identify two fundamental types of nonviolent commitment, which can be seen as the ends of a spectrum.
At one end is what has been called tactical nonviolence. People committed in this way generally prohibit only physical violence, may hold antagonism toward the opponent, and seek to win their goals by coercion. Their commitment is generally limited to individual actions or campaigns and stems from expediency. A good example is a labor strike.
At the other end is Satyagraha (SOT-yah-GRAH-hah), or Gandhian nonviolence. This is characterized by prohibition of both physical and psychological violence, active caring toward the opponent, and the intention to convert. Commitment to nonviolence is unconditional and is based both on principle and on practical/humanitarian considerations.
As a whole, the nonviolence movement in the United States has stood somewhere between these poles, being a hodge-podge of individuals with varying beliefs, often not fully conscious. This has often led to confusion and dissension when devising and carrying out strategy and tactics. By knowing where everyone stands, such differences can be dealt with and possibly resolved.

What About You?

What does nonviolence mean to you? What is your commitment like?
Make sure you read some of the essays on this page.

10 October 2007

08 October 2007

Just a quick note

I won't be posting very much from now until Tuesday. I'm finally getting to go home (my campus is 11 hours away), and I'm not spending my week online.

I'm leaving this as an open thread; feel free to talk about anything interesting going on in the comments.

06 October 2007

Candidate: Steve Adams

Every presidential race is full of names we’ve never heard of. Even though these people realize that it’s a difficult position to win, they still feel as though they’ll be the one to beat the odds. Stephen Adams, a Kentucky software designer, is one of those people.

Adams is running as an Independent candidate, under the motto “Common Sense for Uncommon Times”. So far he has 502 supporters, according to his campaign site. The information I’ve gathered below have come from his official campaign site, his YouTube posts, and email correspondence.

Adams believes America should have a “strong, but limited” military. Our top priority will be protecting America, although when it’s needed, wars should be fought with “overwhelming force, multiple options, [and a] clear exit strategy”. Secrecy needs to be increased, meaning journalism/photographs would have to be limited. When asked about a draft, Adams responded that there is no need for one right now. I also asked him whether or not women would be included (since for one reason or another people think this a controversial issue), and they would drafted alongside the men.

As for the war we’re in now, and one that we might be thrown into before 2008, Adams feels that we need to leave Iraq now, handing control to the Iraqis. “Take away that protection and the Iraqi people must step up and deal with threats to their nations instead of fighting amongst themselves.” With Iran, if they really are trying to obtain nuclear weapons, we have the right to invade, although he favors “air strikes and covert operations” to an all-out military strike. Iran and North Korea should never be able to develop WMDs, as they’re a threat to us and other nations.

Our veterans deserve our "highest respect and support", and adequate funding needs to come from a balanced budget to provide our troops with everything they need, from military protection to care for wounded soldiers.

Adams supports a FairTax system in place of income tax, a plan that uses sale tax for government funding. He plans to reduce government spending across the board.

He supports line item vetoes, as he feels that most bills include riders that can change the outcome of the bill’s passage. Line item vetoes are the only way to stop riders.

Gerrymandering isn’t a word you usually hear thrown around in big election campaigns, but Adams plans to eliminate it.

Separation of church and state should remain in place, as it’s part of the US Constitution.

The Electoral College needs to be eliminated as it’s outdated and was created as a “safeguard against the common man”.

Illegal aliens should never be tolerated, and no amnesty should ever be made. Borders need to be as secure as possible. He’ll employ fences, better technology, and increased manpower to achieve this. Also, by using a FairTax system, illegal immigrants will be taxed.

I asked Adams about two laws that are important to me personally, AETA (the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act) and the US PATRIOT Act. He feels that most of AETA is redundant as most aspects of it are already in place, and that the judicial branch will take care of the parts of the PATRIOT Act that are unconstitutional.

Marriage should be between a man and a woman. He feels that morality should not play a part in the argument surrounding same-sex marriage. His main reason against same-sex marriage is confusion; some states endorse it, some don’t, creating legal problems. It’s also trouble for companies, as some give benefits to same-sex spouses and some do not. When I asked him whether or not he thought nationwide legalization would be an acceptable option, he said that he was personally against it but would consider it “for the good of the country”.

Healthcare should not be in the government’s hand due to their poor handling of everything else. A free market medical institution will naturally improve healthcare. Medicare and Medicaid should remain in place.

Adams is very strongly pro-life. The only time abortion should be an option is in life threatening emergencies. He believes that the “right to someone’s life is greater than that of someone’s choice”, even in cases of incest or rape.

Children are being taught to take tests, not to learn. He says that he doesn’t have all the answers at the moment, but implies that something needs to be changed in the US education system.

He supports capital punishment, as he feels that some people will never be able to be rehabilitated and as long as they’re alive they are a threat to others.

We need to end America’s dependence on foreign oil, and instead support alternative energy, decreasing international threats from the Middle East and increasing sustainability. He favors the use of electric cars over those run by ethanol.

Favors “reasonable gun control”, such as background checks and waiting periods.

Adams feels that the person most fit for a job should be the one to receive it. He does not support Affirmative Action, but wants any employment discrimination needs to be ended immediately. He says that affirmative action isn’t always effective in ending work-place discrimination, as it can still be a huge factor in determining who gets the job.


Electability (on a scale of 0-5): 0. Many people may agree with his policies, but seeing as Adams will have to rely mostly on write-in votes, his chances for the US presidency are slim.

My Analysis I feel as though he’s given everything a lot of thought, but he doesn’t always have a clear solution to problems. He's also lacking political experience. No matter how informed a candidate is, many people feel more comfortable with an experienced politician.

Further Information:

Official campaign site

Official Blog

YouTube profile

Overview of upcoming candidate analysis

At the end of September I posted that I was going to profile every presidential candidate in this blog. I've just finished with the first candidate, Steve Adams, but before I post I want to explain my techniques a little bit. I plan on getting most of the information from the candidates themselves, whether it's through research or direct email correspondence. I realize that there are some things that can be considered pertinent that will not be included on their campaign sites, such as negative controversy, and in those cases I might include brief accounts of those facts. However, this project is not meant to criticize candidates, it's meant to expose them and their ideas to the public.

At the end of every post, I have three short sections: Electability, My Analysis, and Further Information. Electability is rated on a scale from 0-5, and I'm going to be strict. My Analysis is just one or two sentences about how I feel about that particular candidate and his policies. Further Information is pretty straightforward, I'm adding links to their sites.

I hope everyone enjoys the posts. I'm not posting in a regular fashion, just whenever I finish with a candidate.

04 October 2007

Free Burma!

Free Burma!

One more post for Burma

Free Burma! Petition Widget

Name: (required)




Still Animal Cruelty

Japanese researches have produced a frog that is transparent, thus making dissection unnecessary. However, it's still exploitative and cruel.

Even though most schools and institutions still insist on using animal dissection for research purposes, there are actually kind alternatives such as computer models. Students can learn everything they need to without having to cut open an animal. (PETA2 has compiled a longer list of alternatives here)

Genetically modifying frogs to be transparent is exploitative in that we're using them for our own selfish wants. Do we need see-through amphibians? No. Like I said above, there are alternatives that wouldn't require a living creature at all.

02 October 2007

Damn migrants & their bottles!

"Illegal migrants really degrade the environment. I've seen pictures of human waste, garbage, discarded bottles and other human artifact in pristine areas. And believe me, that is the worst thing you can do to the environment." - Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in reference to immigration.

Yeah, it's almost as bad as high emissions, toxic dumping grounds, offshore drilling, drilling in protected areas, and everything else the Bush administration seems to support.

Call to action

What happened? A black female student had her arm broken by her high school's security guard for dropping a piece of cake and not properly cleaning it up. She along with her mother and two witnesses were arrested. Many people are viewing this as a racially charged attack.

What can be done? Send your thoughts to the people in charge. Find more information on the two sites listed below:

Oh No a WoC PhD

Developing countries and global warming

Most developed countries are trying to curb their contribution to global warming, but I feel like some developing nations are being left out. The problem is that developing countries usually want to increase their production quickly and cheaply, which leads them to pollution-causing facilities - such as coal plants. However, wouldn't it be a better idea to start off with clean energy rather than just converting to it later. It might cost more up-front, but quality of life and long term financial benefits would make up for it.

Most people would argue that it would be nearly impossible to convince poor countries to put up so much money, but what if the UN or some other institution stepped in to loan those nations the money and supplies to install clean energy? What do you think?

Nuclear Power

Greenpeace's Nuclear Campaigner, Jan Beranek, posted a blog about Russia, Sweden, and Spain not taking proper care of their nuclear waste. At the end was this:
How many more accidents and safety failures do we need, before we acknowledge that it is just impossible to safely run nuclear energy in our complicated world?
My comment to the post was this:
It's going to take a lot more than accidents and safety failures to convince governments that nuclear energy is never a good idea. Take Chernobyl as an example. Even though the initial death toll was small, the number of people dying as a result of the radiation are climbing astronomically. It's a clear example of the disaster that can occur at a nuclear power plant. And yet what do we do? We keep building plants. We convince ourselves that the Chernobyl reactor was built flawed, and with the new technology we have, it could never happen to us. It's going to take a major CATASTROPHE to convince people that nuclear power is bad.

I really do think that safety failures and accidents alone will result in a ban on nuclear energy. I'm very much against nuclear anything, mainly because of waste and the destruction and suffering it can cause if something goes wrong. Even though I think that the problems we're seeing today is major, most people probably just ignore it. It's going to take something bigger than Chernobyl happening in America to get people angry.

Making Waves: Nuclear amnesia