30 November 2007

Joseph McCarthy

For today, a little history lesson. This was actually an assignment for my Turning Points in American History class.



Joe McCarthy was the Republican Senator from Wisconsin for ten years starting in 1947. He started out as a lawyer, but he wasn’t very successful. Originally a Democrat and a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, he switched to the Republican Party in order to run in an election to become a Circuit Court Judge. He won due to his extremely dirty campaigning, including making accusations that his opponent, Edgar Werner, was senile and had been guilty of financial corruption.

During WWII, McCarthy joined the Marines and used this as a tool in his run for Senate upon his return. He claimed that he had been in thirty-two missions for the Marines, which was a lie. His habits hadn’t changed much since his campaign for circuit court judge. This campaign was just as dirty, but resulted in something much worse. Robert La Follette was accused of war profiteering, and even though it wasn’t true, McCarthy won the election and La Follette ended up committing suicide.

Right from the start McCarthy started to show his ruthlessness. He called for the drafting of striking miners, and said that if they did not agree to go they should be court-martialed and shot. At first McCarthy wasn’t having too much success; people had started to realize he had been lying to them. He consulted a Catholic priest named Edmund Walsh about strategies to help him keep his seat in the Senate, and Walsh suggested going after “communist subversives working in the Democratic administration.”

By setting up a system of information trading with reporter Jack Anderson, McCarthy obtained a list of 205 people he claimed were communists, including some he accused of trading secrets with the Russians. He argued in the Senate that these people were “loyalty risks.”

People were terrified of being accused of communist ties by Joseph McCarthy. People stopped accusing him of lying because he had shown that he could end their careers. The American people were being swept up in his tales of communist spies within the American government. Most people were scared of a communist invasion of the United States because of the Cold War. These accusations and anti-communism became known as “McCarthyism.”

He started to almost make a career out of ruining people’s lives. After accusing Harry Truman of being soft on communism, it was easier for Dwight Eisenhower to win the presidency. When McCarthy accused Johns Hopkins University professor Owen Lattimore of being a Russian spy (which was never proved), Lattimore moved to Europe.

The best example of how harsh McCarthy could be was his treatment of reporter Drew Pearson. Pearson has long been opposed to McCarthy, and wrote an article accusing McCarthy and Louis Budenz (who had been a witness to Lattimore’s suspected communism) of lying. McCarthy decided to retaliate, and said that Pearson was “the voice of international Communism.” Pearson’s radio sponsor pulled out and twelve newspapers cancelled contracts with him, which practically ended his career.

It was inevitable that McCarthy would go too far. After accusing the Secretary of the Army, President Eisenhower became angry. The Army passed revealing information to anti-McCarthy journalists, and the public learned of his true identity. All the power he had accumulated melted away, and in 1957 he died due to an illness related to excessive alcohol consumption.

Help the environment: don't eat meat

Kathy Freston has an article on AlterNet about switching to a vegetarian diet to help fight global warming. This isn't the first article AlterNet's had on the subject, and I'm happy that people are starting to realize that eating meat is detrimental to the environment. And even though I'll always promote a vegan diet (not just for the earth either - but for the animals!), you don't have to stop eating meat altogether to help the environment. You can just eat less meat.

Eating Vegetarian is Taking Global Warming Personally

29 November 2007

Thousands of injuries not counted by Pentagon

At least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries...

The data... show that about five times as many troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the Pentagon through Sept. 30. These cases also are not reflected in the Pentagon's official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327.

20,000 troops not being listed as injuries from the war in Iraq is
huge. The number of injuries and deaths is already too high, but this just shows that US leadership doesn't want us to know what the real number is. Their thinking is that if everything is going fine, we'll want to stay there; it's not working, but that's what they think.

From USAToday

Books not laptops

One Laptop per Child is a campaign to "provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves" by distributing $100 laptops to kids in developing countries. The plan is to get people to buy laptops to send to places where education is lacking. When I first heard about this project, I thought it was interesting, but then I started thinking. Why go through all the trouble to give these kids laptops? After all, all of us know about computer problems. But what happens if the laptops break? They won't last forever.

Although there are advantages such as learning to use a computer in an increasingly digital world, it seems to me that books would be a better gift. They last longer, they're portable, probably more durable, and still offer education to kids that badly need it.

28 November 2007

The media's roll in the presidency

All Things Democrat has a great post on how the media is essentially choosing the president for us. It's a little long but it's a great read.

Are the Media Choosing the Next President?

They're right on the point. They are choosing our next president. A lot of Americans trust the media to give them the truth, and they don't think that maybe they should get a second opinion.

What else would you expect?

UnHolyWars has a post about how "Afghanistan is fast slipping back into the hands of the Taliban."
Senior British and U.S. military commanders privately admit that the situation in the country is becoming from bad to worse.

That's what happens when you start a second war in the middle of the first one. Afghanistan has been left behind in the dust of Iraqi oil shipments.

Executed for international calls

A North Korean factory boss accused of making international phone calls was executed by a firing squad in front of 150,000 people, it emerged today...

Its citizens are banned from communicating with the outside world, part of the regime's authoritarian policies seeking to prevent any challenge to the iron-fisted rule of Kim Jong II...

The communist country insists it does not violate human rights...
Yikes! This is insane. It's so hard for me, as an American, to imagine living in a country like this, where you have no freedom at all. Even though I think the threat of a North Korean nuclear attack on the West or South Korea is slim since it would enter them into a war they could not win, something major needs to be done for their human rights violations. Sanctions were placed on North Korea because of their nuclear weapons programs; I think it's time they're sanctioned for their harsh treatment of citizens.

Source: Daily Mail

27 November 2007

Brilliant Bird


http://view.break.com/403364 - Watch more free videos

Why is China in the UN?

Here is the a piece of the Charter of the United Nations:
WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED
  • to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
  • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
  • to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom
Tibet?

26 November 2007

A lesson from Slovenia's hermit president

After Slovenia's president, Janez Drnovsel was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he became a hermit, moving to a mountain retreat and becoming a totally different person. Since this change, the Slovenian people see him as a great man. Here are a few bits from the Times Online article:
Drnovsek says that his conversion from conventional politician into "Slovenia's Gandhi" - as one commentator has dubbed him - was gradual, and he adopted a low profile as he fought his illness. He abandoned conventional medicine because his doctors told him that they could not cure him. He dabbled with Indian and Chinese healers. He gave up meat, dairy products and alcohol in favour of organic vegetables and home-baked bread. he fasted for days at a time. He also sought to nourish his soul, leaving Ljubljana for a remote home set in beautiful beech forests south of the Slovenian capital. He lives there alone, reading and writing, without so much as a television for company since his dog died. He says modern man has lost contact with nature, but it is "very beneficial for health, for body but also for soul...Somehow we can purify ourselves of all negativities that are concentrated in towns and urban centres where there is all this activity and stress."
And a quote that we should all be able to learn something from:
"When you are confronted with the perception of the end of your life, it's an opportunity to look at things from a different point of view, to change priorities and establish a distance to this daily existence and all these material developments that you are taught are so important."

Quickies

Giant Sea Scorpion Discovered; Was Bigger Than a Man
"The size of a large crocodile, the 390-million-year-old sea scorpion was the top predator of its day, slicing up fish and cannibalizing its own kind in coastal swamp waters, fossil experts say."

First biological weapons: 3300 years ago

Trophy Hunting May Push Polar Bears to "Tipping Point"
Polar bear populations are already sinking due to global warming, but now they're facing a new threat.

Climate change has quadrupled natural disasters in just 20 years! Study

Fox vs. Fred Thompson

I usually don't praise Republicans, mainly because there's usually few positive qualities about them (I know that's trivializing an entire group of people, but I'm pretty much just talking about those Republicans high up in American politics), but I'm happy to hear Republican Presidential hopeful Fred Thompson bringing up FOX's bias. Here's the YouTube video:

Boycotting "Made in China"

All the many, many recalls of Chinese made products has led some people to boycott the "Made in China" label because the fear for their own safety and that of their children. But as this article from The China Game points out, Mattel's sales actually went up! Before I get into why people aren't boycotting companies like Mattel, here's a bit of what The China Game's Paul Midler had to say:
"Where is the incentive to avoid product failures if no one suffers? Executives are actually being patted on the back for their handling of the crisis."

That's a really good point. As long as everything's going well for the company, they aren't going to change. Money is the most influential entity in the world, and boycotting a product is sometimes the best and loudest way to make a change.

Now, as for why people aren't boycotting Chinese made products after all the serious problems connected to them, it really comes down to people having to change habits and do something that isn't quite as easy as they'd like it to be. Most people don't want to be bothered into doing something that takes time and effort. Checking out companies and products to find out where they're made is troublesome sometimes. This is the same reason we see people not changing their energy-consuming habits, it's even an argument I've heard time and again about why someone's not a vegetarian even though they'd like to be. "It's just too hard". Americans are lazy. Until we're inspired enough to take a stand and refuse to by that toy with lead paint nothing is going to change.

If you want to boycott China, head over to Boycott Made in China. Granted, it's based on Tibetan Freedom, but it's useful nonetheless.

TeleFlip

This sounds like a cool tool even if it's not one I would personally use. TeleFlip lets you receive your emails as text messages for free (unless you don't have unlimited text messages from whatever company you have - be careful with that). This would be a great tool for someone that travels a lot without a computer.

Personally, I've never been big on phones with web access. Part of it's that I'm a penny-pincher and I hate paying for things I don't need, but mostly it's that I don't want to turn it to one of those people. You know, bluetooth headset, obsessively checking email, running around frantically. I like having a normal life and online life that are separate from one another.

Back from break

I hope everyone had a good holiday and ate lots of tofurky.

I can finally get back to blogging and going through my thousands of posts in my feed reader (literally, when I got to school this morning and checked I had almost exactly 2000 posts to read - although I don't actually read most of them).

There's going to be some good posts coming up. Remember when I said I'd profile every presidential candidate? Well, I haven't forgotten. Look for installment 2 in a couple of days. I've also decided to write about Hiroshima/Nagasaki and a few other things. I'm also adding a new feature to this blog called "Monday Spotlight". I had an old blog called LiberalPanda that I did this on and really liked it. I'll be writing about great blogs, websites, resources, and people. So subscribe!

namaste

19 November 2007

Happy Early Tofurky Day!

I'm going home tomorrow and I won't be back until Sunday night, so don't expect anything between now and then. I might post a thing to two tomorrow, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, here's two of my favorite Monty Python sketches. Fun fact: John Cleese wrote The Upper Class Twit of the Year Awards after his neighbors woke him up a couple of times.



18 November 2007

The Babbit and the Bromide

Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly

Climate change

An article from the BBC says that "climate change will reverse decades of social and economic progress across Asia". I highly recommend the article.

Reading it brought something else to my mind, something I've thought often enough about, but that I try to push away. I fear that global warming is already out of hand. We've seen so many reports and scientists saying that if we don't act now, it'll be too late. They've been saying that for a couple of years now. So what are we doing? Little to nothing. I'll admit that there have been some changes, but nothing drastic. I understand that businesses and governments alike put economics before anything else, including the state of the world at large, but it's time to realize that in this case we can't wait for renewable energy to be profitable. If something isn't done now, it's going to be even less profitable.

I'm worried that in 10 years it really will be too late. The only progress really being made at the grassroots level, and I'm not optimistic enough to say that'll solve all our problems, because in reality, it won't. The governments of this world's nations need to set the ball rolling on renewable energy and doing some good for the future generations. We have a tendency, especially in America, to tune out those things we don't want to hear, and we're also extremely lazy in that we want climate change to fix itself so we don't have to make an effort.

If things stay the way they are, things aren't going to get better.

Where is our recycled e-waste really going?

From the Associated Press:
"While there are no precise figures, activists estimate that 50 to 80 percent of the 300,000 to 400,000 tons of electronics collected for recycling in the U.S. each year ends up overseas. Workers in countries such as China, India and Nigeria then use hammers, gas burners and their bare hands to extract metals, glass and other recyclables, exposing themselves and the environment to a cocktail of toxic chemicals.

'It's being recycled, but it's being recycled in the most horrific way you can imagine,' said Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network, the Seattle-based environmental group that tipped off Hong Kong authorities. 'We're preserving our own environment, but contaminating the rest of the world.'"
When I was growing up someone in my family told me that you shouldn't bother recycling because they usually just threw it away anyway. Obviously I don't believe that anymore, but the thought that the materials I'm recycling aren't betting the status of our environment frightens me. E-waste presents a plethora of problems, and in this consumer age we're in it's just going to get worse. There's many more gadgets on the market than ever before, and when something new comes out, say the iPhone for example, everyone's old stuff gets tossed aside. One major problem it that it's impossible to convince people not to buy that new toy.

I don't know how, but it's obvious that someone needs to come up with a plan for better management of our electronic waste.

16 November 2007

Do Pledges Work?

Livescience has a great article about whether or not pledges work. They use violence and abstinence pledges as examples. Their conclusion is that they don't work. Big surprise there.

One thing I found interesting was that "one study found that almost 90 percent of them broke their vow [of abstinence]". There is so much evidence out there about how abstinence doesn't work. I think it's time to move on and start offering campaigns on protection and smart choices.

Violence and Virginity Pledges: Do They Work?

Man tasered and killed in Canada

From Zhongnanhai:
"The brief synopsis is this: On October 14, a 40-year old construction worker arrived to start a new life in Canada. Robert Dziekanski was making his first trip outside of his native Poland, and was coming to join his mother. Mr. Dziekanski arrived at Vancouver Airport and began going through the immigration procedures. He was held up for more than 10 hours when he began to get angry. Unable to communicate in English, and very "confused", as some have described him, he began to become unruly. He pushed a computer off a desk and was shouting for help.

That's when the Vancouver Police arrived and used a taser to subdue the man. Four officers descended on him as he was screaming in pain on the ground, and tasered him at least one more time. He died shortly thereafter."
There were also two YouTube videos posted:


It was after seeing the second video that I became outraged. At least in my opinion, he didn't look like someone who needed to be tasered. In fact, he looked helpless and terrified. Why didn't Canadian officials try to find out where he was from using a map, and then try to find someone who spoke Polish?

If you want to complain here are some contacts:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
pm@pm.gc.ca
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa
K1A 0A2
Fax: 613-941-6900

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
webadmin@justice.gc.ca
The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8

Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
info@irb-cisr.gc.ca

Canadian Judicial Council
info@cjc-ccm.gc.ca

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sometimes it's good to be reminded of what everyone on this planet is entitled to. This is only some of the articles of the declaration; for the whole thing, visit the UN's site.

Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8. Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10. Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Article 21. (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 25. (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Article 26. (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

15 November 2007

Thousands of animals brutally killed in Puerto Rico

I've seen almost every PETA video, I've watched videos of vivisection in action, and I'm almost to the point where I'm desensitized to it. That doesn't mean I don't care, it's just that cruelty to animals doesn't surprise me anymore. But this is terrible:

Puerto Rico's animal control workers have been slaughtering the animals they were supposed to be helping.
"Possibly thousands of unwanted animals have been tossed off bridges, buried alive, and otherwise inhumanely disposed of by taxpayer-financed animal control programs."
And that's not all that's being done to Puerto Rico's animals:
"Cockfighting is legal, with matches shown on television. One of the island's beaches is known as Dead Dog Beach - a place where teenagers drive over live puppies sealed in bags or cruelly kill them with machetes and arrows, according to animal welfare groups that photographed the atrocities."
This really puts in perspective the state of animals in this world. Although many animal rights activists (myself included) put most of their effort into American cruelty-prevention, places outside of America are usually much worse. However, I do think there is a plus side to focusing on America. Good or bad, when America puts something into place (aside from an unjustified war for oil), other nations want to get in on it too.

I tried to find contact information, and, since I don't know Spanish, I haven't been too successful. So here's the information for Luis Fortuno, who represents Puerto Rico in Congress:
Washington D.C. Office
126 Cannon House
Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: 202-225-2615
Fax: 202-225-2154

District Office
250 Calle Fortaleza
Old San Juan, PR 00901
Phone: 787-723-6333
Fax: 787-729-7738

If anyone has any better contact information, please let me know in the comments.

And here's the link to the original National Geographic article.

13 November 2007

Spotlight: All Things Democrat

I'm using this post to bring your attention to one of my favorite blogs, All Things Democrat.

This is a partisan site created for Democrats, liberals, progressives, and others who generally support Democratic candidates and ideals.

Our group blog features analysis and commentary by experienced progressive and liberal bloggers. We support small lefty blogs and will gladly add them to our blogroll when asked.

A primary goal of this site is to provide a resource for Democrats to locate the information they need to support and elect more Democrats.
Be sure to take a look. It's great stuff.

Automobile "Green Tax"

The UK wants to put a "green tax" on cars with high emissions. I think that's a great idea. People wouldn't still be able to drive those gas-guzzlers they so love, but they won't get off completely free. Of course, it doesn't do much to help the environment other than making a few people get cheaper cars, but it's a start.

12 November 2007

09 November 2007

Far-Right Group Wants to Execute Gays and Others?

Americans United For Separation of Church and State has posted an account of a new far-right wing group named the "Watchmen on the Walls" who, under a "model government", would call for the execution of various groups of people. This is a scary group.

From Russia, With hate: Intolerant 'Watchmen' Focus On U.S.

Update on Remove Empty Directories

About a week ago I wrote about a freeware program called Remove Empty Directories. I no longer recommend it. After using it a couple of times, I've had to reinstall it twice, and it's just an overall hassle. So if anyone knows of a different program that does something along the same lines, let me know.

08 November 2007

Bush's War on Zombies

It's silly, but at the same time it's almost realistic. God knows he's down some ridiculous things.

Firefox 3

Yay! Firefox 3 is coming out soon. I remember upgrading to Firefox 2 about a year or so ago, and the changes were awesome. It looks like this'll be even better.

Lifehacker's look at Firefox 3

And in case you're crazy, here's where you can download the best browser for free:
Mozilla

People of Indigenous Cultures

Thanks to the wonderful StumbleUpon, I found this beautiful gallery of photographs by Phil Borges.

People of Indigenous Cultures

The Zomes Concept

I adore architecture. Finding unique, beautiful buildings make me sublimely happy.

This is the Zomes Concept. From the site:
For more than thirteen years, we have been studying, creating, and performing experiments with these shapes in many different areas of study. This research brought in contact with many researchers equipped to measure and thus to confirm the reality of these phenomena. Most people experience a feeling of unity and one-ness in presence of these geometrix forms. This sensation being attuned to the spiral, of becoming integrated in the All, as if, the microcosm and the macrocosm reflected the same One-ness, within us and around us... this is the sensation that many people experience in the presence of zomes. A lot of observers and most of the people who use these forms in their daily life are touched by the beauty of these shapes. They also report a feeling of protection and the impression that zomes are doors that open onto other levels of reality.
Zomes Concept

Way to have gender equality in the senate?

I came across this in my American Government textbook:
Representative Bella Abzug of New York was an outspoken advocate of a constitutional amendment that would change the composition of the Senate to fifty women and fifty men (one of each from every state).
This is an interesting idea. However, it's not necessarily a good idea. Even though it would be great to have more gender equality in governmental positions (along with every other aspect of modern life!), I feel that people should be elected based solely on ability, not gender. Some would argue though that the best of both genders would end up in the senate, thereby making it about ability. I also think that this leave out other forms of discrimination, such as race. It would be impossible to represent every minority group in a state in such a way.

What do you think?

05 November 2007

I miss my kitties

Here's a little video I found on YouTube.

And in case you don't have a cat, they really are quite persistent about getting their breakfast on time ;)

03 November 2007

Obama's Challenge

Remove Empty Directories

This freeware program removes empty folders so you don't have to go through all that extra and unnecessary trouble. I've been using it for my music folders, since I delete tracks just as much as I add them. Just keep in mind that sometimes deleting an empty folder can screw up your system if you don't know what you're doing, so stay with folders you're in control of.

Remove Empty Directories

How To Learn Better

This article shows you how to learn better. If you learn correctly from the start, you don't have to study quite as much.

How To Learn More and Study Less

This actually helps. When I was in high school, I only memorized stuff, and I can't recall most of what I learned in classes like history. However, the American history class I'm taking now has made me change my way of thinking, although I didn't really notice it until I read this article. I had to learn to connect the events in our history in order to better explain things on the exams, and its benefits are obvious.

02 November 2007

01 November 2007

InterfaceLIFT

I'm always looking for new ways to customize my computer to suit my tastes, so when I find a site like this is thrills me. InterfaceLIFT is a phenomenal collection of icons, backgrounds, and themes for your computers. I looked through the site for hours and ended up with tons of new stuff.

InterfaceLIFT

More Powerful Images

A couple of days ago I posted about a collection of powerful images. Here's more:

Images that changed the world

The War on the Unexpected

An article about people being "spooked" by everything and overusing police resources. Great work:

Schneier on Security: The War on the Unexpected