Monday, January 31, 2011


Simple thought:

Egypt is backed by the United States through weapons sales, foreign aid and training programs. To the tune of 2 Billion a year, this is an army forged by the hammer and anvil of this Union.

How will it feel if/when they open fire on a rebellious population seeking to toss the shackles of an incorrigible regime that sits upon it?

It will be unpleasant for those paying attention, nothing to see for the rest of this nation. The reality of how amoral our foriegn policy has been can rear its ugly head, and we are unlikely to see a change. 

Internet Kill Switches

H/t Hit and Run Blog.

Now that we have internet kill switches being put into the hands of power in this country (The Age), this is a good test case to observe in Eygpt.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Review: The Expendables

The Expendables portrays itself as the penultimate action movie, bringing the best of the action movie stars into one taco of cinematic glory. With the initial trailer snagging my interest, and the summer coming to a close, (Not to mention what is the-absolute-no-doubt-about-unparralled-best fan trailer ever catching eyeballs...NSFW, and yes, Eat Pray Love Lost), I was excited to see this film.

All the hype... Stallone directing... Statham co-starring... can this work?
Yes. Yes it can.

Quite spectacularly actually, this movie was a blast to watch both times I've seen it now. Fights, gunfire, explosions, with only echoes of a story to get in the way. The CIA being the nefarious evil, as an internal turf war costs a tropical island its freedoms leads way to the mercenary band blowing all kinds of stuff up, with a girl being rescued from CIA interrogation, one being defended by the best pickup basketball scene I can think of, and even a thoughtful monologue from a tattoo artist.

Within this genre, the acting is good. The effects feel right, and the fights are fun, if filmed much closer then I like. Really pops on a blue ray, for the record. 

I'm sure I will watch this film at least a time or two more. Reccomend for men and boys 14+, women probably won't enjoy it. 
The reaction from my mom and girl friend on this movie = :|  6/10. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fowl Propaganda

"Taxes will keep Democracy on the March!" h/t

My favorite comment on this:
"Please tell me this was done as satire of war propaganda."

Please note, once again, the misuse of the word 'Democracy' when referring to The United States of America (and to the Republic...)

Also, please note that the indication is that only money is lost, not lives, in the pursuit of foreign wars. Disgustingly false.

I can only assume this is propaganda directed at the children of the citizens of this nation, who for the first time in history were to be liable for Income Tax, under the auspices of 'The Victory Tax of 1942' While minor by today's standards, this 5% of gross income was, and still is, little more then nationalized slavery. "Prior to World War II, no one outside the government paid income tax; the people were, and understood themselves to be, immune from that tax. During WWII, Congress passed the Victory Tax (56 Stat. 884) to impose an income tax on every individual in The United States of America, something which had not been done by any previous income tax act. Excepted from that tax were those already paying income taxes per I.R.C. 211(a) - nonresident alien individuals with no United States business or office but living in a "contiguous country" and having income from United States sources."

The legacy of evil caused by wars is seared not only into the lands and homes and people on the front lines of conflicts. Enduring evil lingers on the beaches of foreign lands, within the families destroyed, but also in the malignant tyranny that becomes accepted and commonplace in a free Republic that allows a state of war to give it meaning and purpose.

KFC, Pizza Hut Successful in China

Because they bring the customer what the customer wants:

Bloomberg: "“KFC is certainly doing better than McDonald’s at becoming more Chinese,” says Su Yi, 28, a lawyer, as he pauses between spoonfuls of mushroom, bacon and rice one recent lunchtime in a packed KFC opposite Beijing’s Jishuitan subway station. “I have lunch at KFC twice a week because there’s always one close by. And when I’m out on a date and want to impress a girl, I take her to Pizza Hut.”"

From earlier in the article:
"While McDonald’s restaurants in China mostly sell the same U.S.-style burgers, KFC’s menu features dishes that would be un- recognizable to its patrons in the U.S. Alongside the Colonel’s ”secret recipe” fried chicken, Chinese KFCs also offer options such as the Dragon Twister, a chicken wrap in a Peking duck-type sauce, and spicy tofu chicken rice based on the cuisine of Sichuan province, home of China’s hottest dishes.

Pizza Huts in China bear even less resemblance to their Western counterparts. While a KFC in the People’s Republic still looks like a Western-style fast-food restaurant, Chinese Pizza Huts are marketed as sophisticated venues for the legion of increasingly affluent and status-conscious Chinese. Seated in comfortably cushioned booths, customers can choose from a 106- item menu that includes wine and Chinese-influenced dishes such as scallop croquettes with crushed seaweed and even French- inspired escargot."

What really struck me, in the midst of all this China Envy on display by my president on Tuesday, was the fact that YUM!'s restaurants in China (3,700) accounted for a larger portion of its profits then did all of its US establishments (19,000+).

In case Hans Rosling hasn't convinced you the world has changed, this should.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Words Matter

Definition of REPUBLIC

(1) : a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president (2) :a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government(1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law (2) : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government

Definition of DEMOCRACY

a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority
b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

The difference is the path of power. Democracy is legalized mob rule, easily becoming the tyranny of the majority over all others. If 2 sheep and 3 wolves are in a room, and the wolves vote that it is dinner time, the sheep are doomed by their democracy.

Enter the Republic. A representative government, where the powers of the governed are routinely placed in the hands of chosen representatives. The rights of the governed at protected by what is intended to be inviolate law. Rights protected from both the individuals in society, and the massed powers arrayed against those rights from the government, corporations, religious organizations, unions, and all other tawdry forms of human convocation.

In a republic, we have rights.
In a democracy, we must have the mob to have our rights. 

Barrak Obama, 2011:
"And yet, as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn't a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth."

Words matter, can we please call our country what it is?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

State of Texas Education Spending

Just for all my Texas fellows to look at. 

We spend a lot on education. 

If this is Death

I want more of it.

Mark J. Perry:
"In 2009, the United States produced almost 14% more manufacturing output than second place China, and produced almost as much ($2,334 billion) as Japan, Germany, Italy, France and the U.K. combined ($2,762 billion). 
Bottom Line: The many stories about the "death of America's manufacturing sector" have been greatly exaggerated."

Alas, such a mindset will never have a roost amongst the political sphere. Its far to positive. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kinder Eggs Worse than Coke

These guys were supposed to be Mario and Luigi
Kinder eggs. Next to mystery tacos, bacon burgers, and sugar blasted Coca-Cola, the favorite treat of many a short term missionary from my church. 

These are tasty semi-chocolate, semi-cream hollowed out eggs. Milk chocolate shell on the outside, white chocolate shell underneath, and hollow on the inside with a little toy that is never, ever the same as the toy shown on the box. See picture for example of my brother's result.

Clearly, what we have hear is a threat to national security. 

CBC: "Lind Bird was recently stopped at the U.S. border and selected for a random search of her vehicle. She was warned she could have faced a fine after the customs official found — and seized — her $2 Kinder Surprise egg as illegal contraband.
Bird learned U.S. authorities have banned the candy because they come with a plastic toy inside that could, if eaten, choke a small child.
"It's just a chocolate egg," Bird said. "And they were making a big deal. They said 'if you were caught with this across the border you would get charged a $300 fine,'" she said."

If this continues, there is likely to be a thriving black market in these eggs in the coming years. What with the growing Hispanic population yearning for a taste of home, the burgeoning income levels, and increasing government crack down on this threat, there is likely to be a significant nest egg opportunity for enterprising confectionery smugglers in the future. 


Sunday, January 09, 2011

Nihilism Rears its Ugly Head

In the wake of the Safeway shooting in Tuscon yesterday, there is going to be much hustle and bustle and likely legislative action regarding the control of guns, ammunition, and access to political leadership by citizens in this nation. 
There will be much hubris in the talking circuits about the dangers of right wing anti-government radicals (Despite his military commitment) and their counterparts in the media. 
There will be soliloquies on the harsh political climate that brews such a foul action.

What there will not be is acknowledgement of what drove this man, Jared Lee Loughner, into this. His actions were his own, and they are wrong. But much like James Lee, he was acting only on the logical end point of his worldview. 
Watch his farewell video here.

This is a man who believed that there are no absolutes, except that he was wronged. A man who believed that words had no meaning, that his mind was the only constant that could be trusted in this shifting universe, and that there is no God. 
With no constants, with no meaning, and with no God, there is no basis for right and wrong. Nothing is wrong, nothing is right. There is only the mind of the individual, and even that is suspect to the ebb and flow of phsyiological shifts. 
With this philosophy at the core of Loughner's belief structure, there should be no surprise at this action. This structure of belief is not uncommon, and it is a fortunate protection for society that people want to be liked by their peers which leads to less of this. Friends don't like friends killing people, so it is rare that one will go as far as Lougher in action. 

How do we treat the root of this problem? Teach that there are absolutes in this universe, that there is right and wrong, and that there is a God who has created this universe and in whom we have meaning. 
Will this happen in the public sphere? Unlikely. Certainly not in public education nor in higher education. It has to be, as all great social changes are, from individual to individual. Fortuitously for the rest of us, reality exists to be known. 

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


So, the mexico trip was a success, we finished 5 days of work in a shorted 4 day trip. Never any fear for our safety, the Lord provides in everyway. Have I mentioned I like mexican food?

Here's a video I took on site on the second day:

In other news, The Onion is reporting from Boston:
"BOSTON—According to data gathered during the 2010 census, the Honan-Allston branch of the Boston Public Library has a homeless population large enough to justify becoming Massachusetts' 11th congressional district, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Tuesday. "In addition to the destitute citizens who have long sought shelter here, the ongoing recession has forced hundreds of newly homeless Americans to seek refuge among the library's shelves," said bureau spokesman Mark Higgs, adding that a shantytown constructed by a Los Angeles overpass had recently been named its own school district. "The nonfiction section alone is in desperate need of a representative voice in the U.S. Congress." Though the new district has not yet been certified by the state, several leading candidates have already emerged on a more-toilet-paper-in-the-ladies'-room platform." (h/t to Aaron)