This is a test...
Friday, November 06, 2009
Monday, March 17, 2008
This was shot by a coworker of mine at her second job (Domino's) during the recent Valley Tornado.
The video gets a bit shaky due to the wind, but you can see the massive funnel pass over U.S. HWY 1 at about the last 3rd of the video. The storm was passing by about a mile to the west of her.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Suppose we could all put aside the religion, the politics, and personal needs, on the subject of abortion. Instead, we looked on it from a logical and sane perspective. What would the argument look like?
If the life of a mother is threatened by the fetus, the mother has the right to self-defense. She therefore has the right to choose whether to defend her own life by ending the pregnancy early, or continuing the pregnancy. No person, institution, or agency can in anyway impeded the mother's choice in the matter of self-defense when the mother's life is threatened.
Ending the pregnancy early does not automatically mean aborting the fetus. It means simply that, ending the pregnancy early. If the pregnancy can be ended early without aborting the fetus then this is required by law, as all life is protected. If the mother chooses in this case to keep the child, then she may do so. If however, she chose not to keep the child, all parental rights and responsibilities would be removed from the mother and the child would be managed by the state until such time as it might be placed with a qualified family.
Further, a pregnancy can threaten the life of the mother by definition by more than physical means. For instance, in the case of rape, assuming rape can be legally determining, pregnancy may threaten the life of a mother by physiological means.
Determination of threat to life would be made by the mother's personal physician, and two additional medical doctors. The decision would be based solely on a set of predetermined criteria. If threat is determined, the choice of self-defense becomes the right solely of the mother.
Other than in those cases in which the fetus presents a determined threat to the life of the mother, abortion would be illegal.
Illegality of abortion under all but cases of self-defense is based on the premise that law should protect all life.
Mothers not having the right to abort a fetus except in cases of threat, would inevitably lead to mothers giving birth to unwanted children. Mothers in such situations would also be afforded clear unalienable rights to permanently free themselves of any obligations and rights to the unwanted child. Under such circumstances the child would be managed by the state until such time as it might be placed with a qualified family. Qualified families, it can easily be shown, are in abundant supply. In such situations, the mother would have given up all rights to even the knowledge of the child and would have no legal recourse to resend that decision. In essence, the mother would have traded the right to abort a fetus at will, with that of aborting parental rights at will. The results to the mother being largely similar, except in the matter of convenience.
To support this argument, again taking away all religious, political and personal needs, view abortion in a strictly logical light. Abortion becomes a simple matter of one person choosing to end the life of another person. This is illegal in all other areas of law. A person may not take the life of another simply because they choose to do so. The only exception being that of clear self-defense.
Abortion is no different. In all cases, except those of self-defense, a mother choosing to abort a fetus comes down to a simple choice...a choice of convenience. No matter how it is framed, or phrased, or stated, abortion is choice. Choosing to end the life of another is illegal. Therefore, choosing to abort is illegal.
The argument that an unborn fetus is not life cannot be accepted logically unless it can be proven. Sane society would accept that a fetus removed from the mother, which is viable, and survives into childhood would have proven itself to have been life as a fetus. Therefore, a fetus, which has been carried to a point where it might be considered viable medically, is to be considered life. Due to ever advancing capabilities in sustaining the life of premature birth situations, the determination in our argument as to the viability of, and therefore the life status of, a fetus would necessarily require regular review.
So given a legal structure where:
- no mother can be denied the right to self-defense against a threatening fetus
- a fetus determined medically viable is also determined to be a life
- life is protected by law
- a mother giving birth to an unwanted child has the unalienable rights to abort their parental rights
How can a sane citizen argue for, or against, abortion outside of the legal structure? Would not a sane person see the logical and clear moral necessity to uphold and support such a legal structure?
UPDATE: This was reposted in the JustAThought group over on MySpace and it's been getting many comments. Check them out.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
If the United States (US) hopes to maintain stability of the world’s energy producers, it must quickly and decisively use its influence as the leading energy consumer to reign in Russia’s imperialistic energy policies. Over the past decade the US has turned a blind eye on Russia’s growing use of energy as a geopolitical tool. As a result, Russia has gone unchecked when using its hold on vital energy supplies to influence the internal politics of the Baltics and former Soviet States; a political use of energy which it is also poised to use against the US and European Union (EU). In an effort to strengthen influence over its neighbors, Russia has raced to position itself as an “Energy Superpower”; a position many believe is unsustainable. With the former Soviet and Baltic States already dependent on it for energy and the EU not far behind, collapse of the Russian energy infrastructure could lead to instability in other energy producing nations and eventual collapse of the world economy.
Russia has been racing to position itself as an “Energy Superpower” since Vladimir Putin took office on December 31, 1999. As early as the summer of 2005, J. Robinson West was warning of Putin’s alarming vision for the Russian energy sector in his National Interest article, “The Future of Russian Energy”:
Vladimir Putin has grand designs for the Russian oil and gas industry. In the post-Cold War era, the design should be based on the huge hydrocarbon reserves that could return Russia to its past glory. Russia’s energy sector could be a source of power and prestige, to replace its once great military, now a shadow of its former glory.
Under Putin, the Kremlin has already purchased majority stake in many private energy companies, effectively nationalizing the Russian energy industry. The Kremlin has also begun pushing out international corporate concerns via a combination of contract renegotiations and environmental sanctions (Rodriguez, 2007a). According to Vladis Lumans, professor of history and politics at the University of South Carolina Aiken, energy is Russia’s only real strength:
Energy is probably the most important card Russia has in its international and domestic power deck; internally it determines who will run Russia. It is Russia’s main economic asset. ... In foreign policies Russia is using energy resources to establish its importance in Western Europe and in former Soviet republics (Lumans, personal interview, 2007).
In a move reminiscent of the Soviet Era, the Kremlin has promoted the state run energy giant Gazprom to the position of “National Energy Champion,” in an apparent effort to consolidate and centralize national power in the Russian energy sector. Gazprom has the lead in most international energy deals and is the primary developer, refiner, transporter and exporter of Russian energy supplies.
Recently having taken control of a portion of the Arctic the size of Western Europe, the Russians have gone on to lay out plans for establishing a permanent military presence in the Mediterranean; something not seen since the end of the Cold War (Winik, 2007). Both actions appear to be obvious moves designed to wrest control of additional energy resources and protect vital energy shipping lanes. Scientific teams directed by the Kremlin are taking the lead in gaining formal control of the additional 10 billion tons of oil and natural gas found in this new Arctic territory. Addition of these huge reserves would ensure Russia’s place in the world as second only to Saudi Arabia in energy production and first in overall energy reserves. Highlighting a lack of US efforts in Russian containment, this huge addition in Russian energy reserves is largely made possible by the United States’ refusal to ratify the UN’s Law of the Sea Treaty. This treaty, which the US alone has refused to sign for the past 13 years, defines the rights of nation states to previously unclaimed stretches of undersea real estate. By refusing to sign, the US will be unable to sit in on negotiations aimed at internationalizing these newly accessible reserves, allowing the recent Russian annexation of Arctic territory to go unchallenged by the US (Rodriguez, 2007b).
Since the fall of the former Soviet Union, the United States and its Western allies have largely discounted Russian global and regional influence. By doing so, they have allowed Russia to pursue imperialistic geopolitical policies which are both a detriment and danger to its regional neighbors and the world at large. In her 2007 article, “Containing Russia,” former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, makes the argument that the West has lost its chance for leverage with an enfeebled Russia desperate for help from abroad. Due to the current rise in oil and energy markets, Russia has found itself newly imbibed with cash and no longer in need of outside assistance. In fact, the opposite is true. Russia has under taken policies to extend its own influence on Western interests by exerting political influence over the Baltics and former Soviet States, and increasingly, Western Europe (Tymoshenko, 2007).
Chief among these policies is Russia’s use of energy supplies to influence its neighbors. What might be called petro-politics have hit the Ukraine particularly hard. In the past two years, it has seen its economy battered, Westernization efforts stifled, and its government toppled; according to many observers, all as a direct result of Russian influence. In fact, repercussions from the gas deal which ended a Russian-Ukrainian energy stand-off, resulting from Gazprom’s temporary cutoff of vital gas supplies during the cold of New Year’s 2006, are still being felt. Mychailo Wynnyckyi, professor of sociology at the University of Kiev-Mohyla, directly relates former Prime Minister Yushchenko’s defeat in the 2006 Ukrainian elections to the gas deal (Myers & Kramer, 2006).
Other Baltic states have also felt the sting of Russian energy politics. Poland has seen energy supply transit fees dry up; this coming suspiciously close on the heels of Poland’s support for Ukraine’s Westernization efforts and its own movements for membership in the EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Russian construction of a pipeline under the Baltic Sea to replace that now running to Germany via Poland, has effectively cut Poland out of the Russian-European energy market, severely hampering an already struggling Polish economy.
Aside from Ukraine and Poland, most of the former Soviet republics embracing pro-Western ideals, have seen similar spikes in cost and cuts in supply. Former Soviet states pursuing more pro-Russian policies have seen continuation of their favorable Soviet Era energy pricing and supply deals.
More alarming than reestablishment of its influence over the former Eastern Bloc is Russia’s movement toward similar control in the West European and American markets. Europe already imports as much as 50 percent of its gas supply from Russia. This is set to increase dramatically with the completion of the Baltic Sea pipeline directly into Germany. In addition to gas supplies, Europe also imports 30 percent of its oil from Russia (Cohen, 2007). Even the United States, previously a stalwart of Russia containment, has inked preliminary deals to begin importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from a Gazprom controlled project in the Barents Sea by 2010 (Weir, 2005).
However, all is not well in Putin’s Kremlin push to become an energy age superpower. Some believe any energy superpower status attained by Russia to be unsustainable. One such critic, Vladimir Milov, of the independent Russian Federation Institute of Energy Policy, exposes glaring faults in the Kremlin’s policies throughout a March 2007 article in the journal Social Sciences. Milov states that recent findings by the Institute directly contradict assertions by Putin and the Kremlin that hydrocarbon exports alone can act as the foundation for large scale infrastructure modernization and social projects. His research clearly finds that, “... in order to achieve this goal, it would be necessary to export no less than 40-50 tons of oil-equivalent per capita annum.” Russia currently exports only 3 tons per capita annum. Even a full doubling of oil and gas production would result in only 10 tons per capita annum, far less than the 40-50 required to sustain current efforts (Milov, 2007).
Further aggravating Kremlin efforts are the stifling inefficiency and management issues plaguing its “National Energy Champion”. Having forcibly ended foreign investment and development in the energy sector, the Kremlin has caused vital international resource exploration and infrastructure assistance to vanish, leaving Gazprom to its own Soviet era vices.
The inefficiencies and environmental unsustainability of the lingering Soviet past have left infrastructure expansion and repair projects running far behind schedule. To make matters even worse, Gazprom has been actively investing throughout the economy, yet ignoring investment in its own core sector, energy. The company has recently invested in entertainment, media and other non-industry areas, while at the same time putting little, if any, new investment in infrastructure or exploration. The ongoing failures by Gazprom have left the Russian energy infrastructure in poor repair.
Despite glaring problems with Kremlin polices, energy accounted for 25 percent of Russian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as early as 2005 due to the ever increasing prices of the energy trade markets (Beehner, 2005). Oil and gas revenues and taxes accounted for as much as 50 percent of total federal Russian revenue during this same period (West, 2005). All indications are these figures have continually increased since, funding vital increases in state supported programs. These programs are responsible for much of the economic and social growth Russian citizens have come to depend on since the fall of the Soviet state. Sustainability of the modern Russian Federation state, its people, economy, society and military are, for better or worse, inextricably linked to stability in the global energy economy. Any major drop in energy prices would starve Russian society of vital capital sending it into a tailspin from which it may have no means of recovery.
Russia, it seems, may be pushing itself further and further into a corner. Continued modernization efforts require increasing energy export levels, which in turn mandate continued increases in infrastructure capacity and modernization. When one realizes that the modern Russian economy, military, government and society at large, all depend solely on revenue from energy exports, the fragility of the Russian Federation becomes apparent. A major drop, for any reason, in world energy prices would mean nearly immediate failure of modern Russia as a viable state. How would Putin and the Kremlin oligarchy react in such a situation? As funds from energy exports began drying up, would the Kremlin continue pumping ever scarcer resources into maintaining the infrastructure required for supplying its customers with energy? Would it restrict exports in an attempt to stop a deadly hemorrhage of resources and force price concessions? With their own economies at stake and their people freezing in the cold of winter, how would the world’s nations react as the life blood of vital energy supplies were forcibly withheld by an increasingly isolated and belligerent Russia?
Alarmingly, other anti-Western energy producing nations, an informal “Axis of Oil”, have begun patterning themselves after Russia; funding necessary state programs and development with funds derived solely from state sale of energy reserves (Leverett & Noel, 2006). Any failure of the energy markets would affect them just as acutely. Such failures could cause an internal collapse in key regional powers and energy producers around the world; with Venezuela and Iran, swaths of Africa, and others, suddenly experiencing social upheaval and economic collapse. With China, India, the EU and US, all largely dependent on these anti-Western nations for vital energy supplies, disruptions could cause further economic and political instability, leading to general worldwide economic collapse.
Russia’s infiltration of global energy markets and control of vast untapped reserves make it vital to world stability. Any shift in internal politics or collapse of infrastructure would lead to an immediate and acute energy crisis for the world. As long as the US continues to allow Russia to expand its influence ever deeper into Europe, Asia and the US itself, the threat of any problems with Russian energy delivery grows more critical. Washington must use its influence to moderate Moscow’s policies and to demand more transparency and access to Russian markets for international companies. Only through the stability of international cooperative exploration of Russia’s vast energy reserves, can the world hope to safely depend on her into the coming century.
Beehner, L. (2005, October 28). Is Russia’s economy running out of energy? Council on Foreign Relations Backgrounder. Retrieved December 7, 2007, from http://www.cfr.org/publication/9119/is_russias_economy_running_out_of_energy.html
Cohen, A. (2007, November 5). Europe’s strategic dependence on Russian energy. Backgrounder, 2083. Retrieved November 27, 2007, from http://www.heritage.org/Research/Europe/upload/bg_2083.pdf
Leverett, F., & Noel, P. (2006). The new axis of oil. National Interest, 84, 62-70. Retrieved November 6, 2007, from http://sks.sirs.com/cgi-bin/hst-article-display?id=SMYDISCUS-0-5779&artno=0000249940&type=ART&shfilter=U&key=&res=Y&ren=N&gov=N&lnk=N&ic=N
Milov, V. (2007). Can Russia Become an Energy Superpower? Social Sciences, 38(1), 23-32. Retrieved November 6, 2007, from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=24532821&site=ehost-live
Myers, L., & Kramer, A. (2006, March 30). Gas deal roils Ukraine and may have cut leader's vote. New York Times, A.3. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1012042331&Fmt=7&clientId=67495&RQT=309&VName=PQD
Rodriguez, A. (2007, January 13). Russia pursues policy to control its own energy resources. Chicago Tribune, n.p. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from http://sks.sirs.com/cgi-bin/hst-article-display?id=SMYDISCUS-0-5779&artno=0000258124&type=ART&shfilter=U&key=&res=Y&ren=N&gov=N&lnk=N&ic=N
Rodriguez, A. (2007, June 9). Russia aggressively pursues claim to vast, unowned Arctic deposits. Chicago Tribune, n.p. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from http://sks.sirs.com/cgi-bin/hst-article-display?id=SMYDISCUS-0-5779&artno=0000262373&type=ART&shfilter=U&key=&res=Y&ren=N&gov=N&lnk=N&ic=N
Tymoshenko, Y. (2007). Containing Russia. Foreign Affairs, 86(3), 69-82. Retrieved November 6, 2007, from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=24764722&site=ehost-live
Weir, F. (2005, Dec 28). Kremlin reasserts control of oil, gas; Russia, the world's second-largest oil producer, sees energy as a key foreign policy tool. The Christian Science Monitor, 01. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=948566931&Fmt=7&clientId=67495&RQT=309&VName=PQD
West, J. (2005). The future of Russian energy. National Interest, Summer 2005(80), 125-127. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from http://sks.sirs.com/cgi-bin/hst-article-display?id=SMYDISCUS-0-5779&artno=0000217845&type=ART&shfilter=U&key=&res=Y&ren=N&gov=N&lnk=N&ic=N
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I've been a member of Move-On.org for a year or so now. I generally support groups who are working to increase dialog on important issues. While I don't always support the entire platform of such groups, I can overlook a few items if the general trust is positive. With that said…
I cancelled my Move-On.org membership yesterday.
The full-page ad taken out by Move-On in the Monday morning papers accusing General Petraeus of being disloyal and actually questioning his patriotism and commitment to America was completely unacceptable.
While I support the right of Free Speech, that right…just like all rights…comes with a bit of responsibility for the wielder. For Move-On to accuse a man who has spent his entire adult life protecting this country of being unpatriotic and disloyal?
Well…what else needs to be said…the liberal-nazi's live!
…and I can say that if I feel like it, because it's my right…General Petraeus has seen to that.
Other views on the General's tesimony and treatment:
| Toastie || |
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Why bestow a valuable and precious commodity like Citizenship upon someone simply for passing a test, or worse, simply because they were born in the right place at the right time?
Who deserves Citizenship more? The person born into a family that can trace its American entrepreneurial roots back 10 generations, or the immigrant who puts his life on the line serving in the military of his newly adopted country?
Who deserves the right of Citizenship more? The woman who scrambles across the border just in time to give birth to her fifth child? Or the lady who follows the law, patiently obtaining a visa before entering the country legally?
Who deserves the benefits of Citizenship more? The 30-year-old man who dropped out of high school for an illustrious career in pizza delivery and now depends on welfare to support himself, his equally successful wife and their four children? Or the immigrant who saved every penny earned for a decade to make the trip to the U.S. and who now owns a business which supports his extended family and puts all three of his children through college?
Who deserves the honor of Citizenship more? The erudite content to espouse the wisdom of their thoughts on the ills of national policy from the comfort of a tenured position within a prestigious university? Or the high school graduate tirelessly volunteering at the local soup kitchen content in the knowledge that they helped a neighbor enjoy a hot meal today?
Why should someone with no interest in supporting a nation be supported by that nation?
How is it wrong to ask that someone earn the privilege to be a Citizen? How is it ill conceived to believe that some form of service to one's nation and community be required before bestowing this highest honor and privilege?
Why shouldn't Citizenship be earned?
Monday, February 19, 2007
Prejudice, in its purist form, should be seen as the amazing Human ability that it is.
The capability to form a reasonably accurate opinion of an individual, situation, or what have you, within the split second it takes the Human mind to do so, is an amazing feat.
From just the briefest glimpse of an individual, the mind scans through all of its accumulated knowledge to form an accurate picture…based on past experience and learned knowledge…instantly identifying the individual as belonging to a certain group with all its assigned characteristics.
While Human prejudice isn't always a pretty thing, it is definitely one of the survival traits which helped us climb to the
|Awesome || |
| Ashley || |
| ikeik || |
Let me preface my comments by saying that I am inspired by those who immigrate to our country legally. I welcome them. I call out to them to come in mass, for they are the only hope for the stagnant, apathetic attitude that grips most of our citizenship today.
Without the continued infusion of hard working, creative, hopeful and inspired, freedom seeking peoples, our nation will wither and die.
However, there is a process in place, flawed as it may be, which our laws govern. Therefore, to the question of diversity I say this:
Diversity yes. Lawlessness no.
Diversity is the very backbone of American society. Like an alloy, the synergy of our diverse societal components make us stronger than our individual parts; just as steel far exceeds the strength of iron. However, a society, just as with any complex system, can only be as strong as the bonds that hold it together. While some would suggest Freedom is the singular bond that holds our country in form, this simply isn't so.
Freedom holds our nation above others as a beacon, but it does not bind our society together or keep it from tearing itself apart; that force is law. The rule of law.
Without the rule of law, and in the face of Freedom, you have only anarchy. With anarchy, there is no nation…no country...no society.
To have a significant portion of our nation come about their citizenship by breaking the very rule of law that holds us together, threatens to destroy the very thing that our society is built on.
So to the would-be American, I say immigrate, but do so within the confines of the nation and society which you so long to be a part of.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
I'd like to know something. I'd like to know why it is that certain people get upset when someone says, "You should have to earn the assistance the government gives you."
I mean seriously, how is that asking too much? How is earning something a bad thing? Since when did it become a god given right to sit on your ass while others work theirs off in large part to support yours accumulating lard?
Why is a person villanized the moment they make the suggestion that an able bodied person should have to work? Why do we continue, as a nation, to support The Great American Loser? You know the people I'm talking about.
The Great American Loser can be over educated, or illiterate. They can be any color, race, sex, etc. They can be from any part of the country and originate from any strata of society. What ties them together into a social group is a single mind numbing belief. A belief that if they choose not to get up in the morning, the rest of us should give a damn and then work extra hard so that they can continue to eat, sleep, play video games, and procreate (which of course is also their "god given right").
They believe that just because they choose not to work or perform any productive activity whatsoever, is no reason they should be denied that steak for dinner, that Lexus for cruising, or that $3000 gaming PC for wasting away the afternoon.
The Great American Loser is also the first person to cry foul when asked by their government to perform a duty in support of the society which supports them. If called to jury, they call on their latest Medicaid check-up as the perfect excuse for being excused. If within earshot of the mention of higher taxes which might affect them, they think the speaker should be shot in the ear. If told, "No you can't buy beer or cigarettes on your EBT card.", they think you should be told, "You're fired!"
They are the losers who call into work every time they hear about a coworker who came down with the sniffles and quickly realize that they themselves must surely have contracted a brain tumor.
They are the losers who like to stand around at work shouting the wrongs of the government and the citizens who support it, while at the same time, asking to leave work early for their latest Social Security benefits review.
Yes you know them. You probably even work with one or two of them.
Why do we continue to put up with them? They have no buying power. They have no muscle power. They have little brain power.
In fact, the only power they have is the power of the vote. ...and in the vote lies the problem.
So I ask you, should the leech be given a vote as to which way the fish swims? Or should it just be happy that the fish continues to allow it to hang around, attached to it for the ride, while it sucks the fish dry of blood?
Isn't it time we forced the blood sucking parasites of American society to put-up or shut-up? Isn't it time we required able bodied citizens to contribute, or otherwise, loose that citizenship? Isn't it time we put an end to The Great American Loser?