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Category: Politics
Thursday, July 27th, 2006 @ 03:02 pm
Posted By Brent

So, incase any of you have been living under a rock recently, World War III is well on its way to starting so I figured I'd throw my hat in the ring and offer up my two cents. And then I'd execute another cliche to round it off at three.

For starters, I've always been quite conflicted with the entire Israel debacle, seeming as I can't say that the Jews actually have any right being there. Sure, it was their land at one point, but hell, America was the Indian's land at some point, but I don't see anyone telling Americans and Canadians to pack it up and get the fuck. You can't just kick people out of their homes because you used to own it. Land belongs to the winners, not to people who really want it bad.

Of course, on the flip side of that coin, the Jews kind of are the winners now, as witnessed by them kicking the mother loving crap out of everyone who "fronted on their shit" during the Six Day War. But then again, they wouldn't have even been in a situation to win anything if it wasn't for the rest of the world helping them recreate their state.

Of course I'm going to come off sounding like an anti-semite to people who are so inclined to toss that accusation around at anyone who criticizes Israel, but hold your horses there, I said I was conflicted, not pro-Palestinian.

The one fact that makes this a cut and dry pro-Israel decision for the majority of the free world is the same reason I'm conflicted: Israel is a democracy and the Palestinian states and militias against it are horrible theocracies run by despots with archaic views of the world. They have no place in the global community and they exist solely to piss in everyone's cheerios. That, and one more thing: I hate Islam. Hate.

I hate Islam like people on the far left hate Christianity. I hate burkas, theocracies, riots over cartoons, the stoning of married women who were raped, suicide bombings at shopping malls, fatwas, etc, etc. I hate them all. Israel on the other hand, seems to have a pretty good handle on their religion. I don't even associate Israel with Judaism, I associate Israel with a kick ass military that doesn't take guff from anyone. What else can you expect from the people that made the freaking Uzi.

As far as Hezbollah is concerned, that's where I see World War III coming into play. Israel is having an open conflict with a militia that is openly backed by Iran who has also openly stated that it would like to see the destruction of Israel. Iran, who has ties to Venezuela and North Korea. North Korea who has ties to China. Israel on the other hand has ties to pretty much every industrialized nation on the planet. Starting to sound familiar? All this thing needs is the spark of having an actual country outside of Israel getting involved and from there it's downhill.

I've actually been made to realize recently that the possibly of China getting involved in any global conflict is a lot smaller that I had imagined, but that's beyond the scope of this little brain dump.


Category: Rant
Thursday, July 20th, 2006 @ 06:56 pm
Posted By Brent

First off, there is no ban on stem cell, embryonic stem cell, adult stem cell, cord blood stem cell, or any kind of of stem cell research. At all. There is no ban on harvesting them from embryos (no matter the source, in vitro clinics, etc), adults, or crack heads off the street. You can do research on any aspect of stem cells harvested from whatever you want. Then entire debate (and the recent bill) is over whether or not the federal government should fund stem cell research.

Secondly, there is no ban, much to my chagrin, on federal funded research into stem cells. The Bush administration decided that there was a cut off date in 2001 and that any research done on lines of stem cells harvested before that point were fully usable for federally funded projects. If you wonder why you can't receive federal funding for research using stem cells harvested after that point, well, Bush's target demographic are right wing Christians, and any debate about this eventually leads to the slippery slope of abortion. Not an argument I want to delve into here. Just suffice to say that you can get (grr) federal funding for stem cell research. Not only is there not a ban, you can get the government to foot the friggin' bill.

With all that said, I think stem cell research is possibly one of the most promising things to come out of medicine ever. So why do I sound vehemently opposed to any federal funding of stem cell research? I quote Samuel Broder, former researcher at the National Institutes of Health and former director at the National Cancer Institute:

"If it were up to the NIH to cure Polio through a centrally directed program you'd have the best iron lung in the world but not a polio vaccine."
That is to say the government should have no say in medical research. None. They're horrible at it. The government doesn't hire the best in the field, just look at the fucking patent office if you need any proof. Any medical research funded by the government is mainly a coosh job where nothing is expected and you ride it out until your grant is over. Have a private entity fund you and see if you can skate by with shit for results.

In addition, me being a fiscally conservative fellow, despises the idea of tax money going to fund research. Oh, you think without that money we'll never get anywhere? Oh wait, human Embryonic Stem Cells were isolated and cultured for the first time in 1998 using privately funded research, after Clinton(!!!) signed off on the Dickey Amendment, banning federal funding for any research that involves either creating an embryo, or destroying an embryo in the course of the research. Damn, how'd they pull that off?

After all of that, I still have one more reason why funding this stuff with tax money is a bad idea: if the federal government funded your stem cell research, it would be under their guidelines on how it was carried out, to what end it would be for, what spin could be put on it, and to what purpose it would serve. For example, do you think a republican administration would care if any effort went into AIDS treatment? While I'm not sure of exactaly what control they have over projects that get funded, it would be ludicrous to imagine they would hold no sway at all.

There, I'm done. Maybe I didn't change your mind, but at least you heard a semi-lucid explanation from the other side that doesn't involve when life actually begins or who gets to play God.


Category: Personal
Friday, July 14th, 2006 @ 12:20 pm
Posted By Brent

I'm not really sure of what the catalyst was, but we have been making a shit ton of tacos as of late. Well, not "homemade" tacos per se, but ones of the "taco kit" variety. If I had to go out on a limb and give reasons I'd have to say

  • They are easy to make
  • They take relatively zero time to prepare
  • They are God's gifts to my tastebuds
  • As if life wasn't perfect enough, some genius came along and had to revolutionize tacos, thus altering the course of human kind forever: tacos that you can stand up. That's right. You can stand them up.

    I don't know about you, but for me this is mo-fucking-mentous. This means there was a man somewhere that, against all odds, knew that the taco was still not at its pinnacle yet - that there was work yet to be done in the field of taco-ology, and he had the chutzpa to see it through.

    Will his name ever be known? Will he receive any awards? Will the world ever recognize him for his actions? Will they ever, at the very least, make one of those "Real Men of Genius" radio commercials about him? Doubtful, so I will make this page a tribute to him.

    Dear Mr Stand n' Stuff Taco Creator, you are truly and inspiration to us all. You saw the trials and tribulations that Joe Six-Pack had to go through to stuff his taco. Holding it in one hand, possibly having hot grease run down your arm while filling it. Then, the trip from the counter to the table was fraught with the perils of tacos falling over, spilling their precious payloads. In addition, the taco shells of antiquity, with their prehistoric design, were not structurally sound enough to withstand the first bite, they would shatter in two, leaving the diner to have to scrounge the taco remainder with his fingers. Your shells have a perpendicular flat bottom that absorbs this shock and stays strong. Most of the time at least, which is better than none in my book.

    I could go on and on, but honestly I'm starting to get choked up a bit. I'll just have to end it here.


    Category: Politics
    Wednesday, July 5th, 2006 @ 02:23 pm
    Posted By Brent

    If you haven't been paying attention to the Internets in the media as of late, some vague and autonomous Senate committee, that cares about as much for your rights as I care about pocket lint, failed to squeeze in a net neutrality amendment into a telecommunications bill.

    For the uninitiated, Net Neutrality is pretty much a blanket name for the idea that the internet should be a place where people's ability to get to your site, and your ability to get to other sites, shouldn't be hindered by sweetheart deals between ISPs and individual sites. For example, AT&T receives money from yahoo.com, and in return AT&T restricts all Internet traffic going over their lines to allow yahoo.com to be the only search engine people can access (For a better description, the ninja from AskANinja.com does a much better job than I: linky-poo).

    Now, I've been on the fence about net neutrality for a while now. Sure, it's government mixing with business, which always causes problems, but such is the case with all utilities (and if you don't agree that the Internet has become a utility then you're not using it right). Will the government fuck things up? Of course, that's what they do best, but it's the lesser of two evils as far as I can tell.

    Anyway, this d-bag of a Senator who voted against the amendment went on to explain how the Internet works and why this amendment would be bad:

    "I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

    Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially."
    Um, yeah. Read the entire brilliant diatribe here.

    Anyway, I took one of his more eloquent comparisons and made that image you see up there. Maybe one day it will grace T-Shirts and the like but for now it's just a funny picture on the Internets. You can see a larger version here and the original vector based SVG here.

    But you should seriously read his little spiel, it's priceless. You should also seriously watch every episode of Ask A Ninja for I believe it to be the next evolutionary step in funny.