Thursday, October 16, 2008

Looking at the source...

It's been interesting to hear McCain and Palin go after Obama for his 'association' with Bill Ayers. There seems to be a constant back and forth about how much Obama associated with  "terrorist" Ayers.

The answer seems to be that he had very little to do with Ayers. Not that this fact will stop the more excitable members of the conservative base from frothing about the 'sekrit muzlim and his terrist buddies'.

But who is Bill Ayers? It's off to wikipedia! Go there now and learn.

While the accuracy and neutrality of wikipedia  is sometimes called into question I learned a lot about this fascinating man that I didn't previously know (and that isn't even mentioned in the media).

What  strikes me is that Ayers has always had, and still has a strong drive to provide quality education. He is a teacher. In the 60's he was motivated by his conscience to  do something about the Vietnam War. Part of that action was planting bombs.  His girlfriend was killed in a bomb making accident.  He considered himself a "little c communist" but insisted that he wasn't a terrorist: 

. "The reason we weren't terrorists is because we did not commit random acts of terror against people. Terrorism was what was being practiced in the countryside of Vietnam by the United States."

I'm not sure I would give him a total pass on the terrorism charge. Bombs cause fear, even when they don't specifically target people directly. The IRA would plant bombs and then call the police so they could clear and area, but they are generally agreed to be a terrorist group.  What Ayers did was take his struggle to stop an illegal, unjust and brutal war too far. He did some stupid shit.  Pundits and spinmiesters today are 'quoting' Ayers saying "wishes he could have bombed more" though it seems pretty clear that what he actually said was that 'we' (meaning all Americans) could have done more to try and stop the Vietnam War. 

Like many people in the world Ayers has contrasting elements. He is not a caricature. I urge you to do a little reading on the matter. As always there are layers. Things are not quite black and white. 

What seems pretty clear is that Obama is no protege' of Ayers. They aren't pals. They share no political agenda. But if we're going to start judging people by the company they keep, I would look at the people a certain 72 year old politician pals around with; starting with a guy who lied to get the war he wanted, allowed prisoners to be tortured in secret prisons, engaged in warrantless wiretaps, attempted to suspend habeus corpus,  presided over the biggest increase in government and the worst financial disaster on the past 70 years. 

THAT'S the kind of guy you should be distancing yourself from. Too bad he was your president.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A bit of fun...

My mum just emailed this to me. Enjoy.

A cowboy named Bud was overseeing his herd in a remote, mountainous pasture in Montana when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a cloud of dust towards him.
The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, RayBan sunglasses and a YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the cowboy, 'If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?'

Bud looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, 'Sure, why not?'

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his Singular RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location, which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.

The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany.

Within seconds, he receives an e-mail on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses an MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with e-mail on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.
Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP Laser Jet printer and finally turns to the cowboy and says, 'You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves.'
'That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves,' says Bud.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amusedly as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

Then Bud says to the young man, 'Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?'

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, 'Okay, why not?'

'You're a Congressman for the U.S. Government,' says Bud.

'Wow! That's correct,' says the yuppie, 'but how did you guess that?'

'No guessing required,' answered the cowboy. 'You showed up here, even though nobody called you. You want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. Then you tried to show me how much smarter you are than me. And you don't know a darn thing about cows...this is a herd of sheep.

'Now give me back my dog.'

They eat their own...

If you've never heard of the late William F. Buckley you should poke around the internets or youtube to see examples of the mans writing and style. He was a noted conservative and if there's one thing you can say about the man it's that he was intelligent, very well spoken and had a great style. He had a rapier wit. I am not a devotee of his, nor do I think I would agree with him on many points but you have to admit its sometimes fun to see him work. Listen to him and you realize that todays talking heads and GOP surrogates are like a pack of howler monkeys.

His son Christopher, who also has a great deal of style, hell the man wears a fedora, has written a column for the National Review (a conservative magazine founded by his father) for some time but when he stated on his personal blog that he was going to vote for Obama his 'friends' turned on him like school of pihranna. Apparently his views were much sought after, until he made a choice that went against conservative dogma. He offered his resignation, which was quickly accepted. Quoting Ronal Reagan he said "I didn't leave the Republican party, it left me."

The last few weeks have seen lots of Republicans trying to distance themselves from McCain ( or rather George Bush). I don't blame them. Their party is being shot in the foot over and over by McCain. The biggest wound being the choice of Sarah Palin. Many undecided and a number of moderate Republicans are going over to Obama.

This is leaving an increasingly vocal and slightly unhinged group of die hards. The people who still insist the GWB is doing a heckava job. These people just cannot admin that their party and their president could be wrong. EVER.

Me? I've learned that it's wise to know when you are wrong. To be able to admint a mistake and to learn from it. These people? Not so much.

How do you say Trekker in German?

Found this neat video on youtube of a german Sci-Fi convention. I am impressed. Awesome costumes, lots of energy and lots of Jaggermeister. 

I don;t know if this is a typical con over there, but it looks like a lot of fun.