Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Aristotle (384-322BC)

Without the legacy of this man, the dark ages would have lasted longer than they did. It can be a little overwhelming to ponder the impact of this one man on history.

Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them.

All virtue is summed up in dealing justly.

We make war that we may live in peace.

"To the query, "What is a friend?" his reply was "A single soul dwelling in two bodies.""

Wit is cultured insolence.

Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody's power - that is not easy.

It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.

Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses or avoids.

The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances.

"All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion, desire."

"In the arena of human life the honours and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action."

"The quality of life is determined by its activities."

"It is easy to fly into a passion - anybody can do that - but to be angry with the right person to the right extent and at the right time and with the right object and in the right way - that is not easy, and it is not everyone who can do it."

"He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander."

"It concerns us to know the purposes we seek in life, for then, like archers aiming at a definite mark, we shall be more likely to attain what we want."

"I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self."

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.

Wicked men obey from fear; good men, from love.

Change in all things is sweet.

Education is the best provision for old age.

Man is by nature a political animal.

There was never a genius without a tincture of madness.

Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.

Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit.

We become just by doing just acts,
temperate by doing temperate acts,
brave by doing brave acts.


It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness.

All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.

He who hath many friends hath none.

It is better for a city to be governed by a good man than by good laws.

No one loves the man whom he fears.

The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.

Those who educate children well are more to be honored than parents, for these only gave life, those the art of living well.

Check Out:

Aristotle - WikiQuote for more quotes from the person whom medieval scholars referred to simply as "The Philosopher".

Friday, August 27, 2004

Back in the Day 6...

Okay its that time of the month again (well not THAT time). Its time for the month in review post. Actually I'm a couple days late for the actually anniversary but here it is anyway. Somewhere over the Rainbough has now been in existence for 6 months.

This month we posted quotes from William Shakespeare, Confucius, and a collection of Chinese Proverbs.

BilLee started the month off complaining about the how the U.S. steel industry has found success by using government force to tax international competition. He followed this with a rant about living outside the mainstream political debate.

Next I presented my reasoning for why I think the Democrats should lose the upcoming presidential election. I followed this with a rant about my blogroll, and news about BilLee's new niece Madeline.

BilLee put up a post about how the associated press's attempts to deal with the issue of genocide in a politically correct manner led them to describing the situation in Sudan as an attempt to purge Darfur of citizens of "african origin." Next I posted a rant about breast feeding and how annoying it is when people think their own squeamishness on a subject should be able to substitute for actual reasoning.

BilLee followed this with some short posts on the perseid meteor shower, and bad arguments against libertarianism. Then I expressed my extreme dismay at discovering an extreme lack of Waffle Houses in Austin, I discussed the possibility of boycotting advertisers who utilize spam and spyware, and I ranted about the insane and incomprehensible scoring of gymnastics in the Olympics in Athens.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Olympic Mayhem

Yahoo Sports - Olympics - Hamm manages silver in surreal gymnastics circus

I have been watching the Olympics nearly every day this past week. For me its kind of a fantasy about what could have been had my grandparents decided to continue paying for gymnastics lessons when I was a child. Mostly though I like seeing what sort of grace and flexibility is possible for the human form.

As the article mentions, tonight and this whole past week have been surreal. Because the scores in gymnastics are determined by judges there is almost always a score or two in any given year that seems too high or too low. There are always perceived biases in the scoring.

This year that effect was amplified. Nearly half of the routines seemed like they were poorly scored, and instead of showing a bias towards certain countries this year, the judges seemed to show biases towards certain individuals. Part of the problem was that the format of the competition had changed over previous years particularly in the all-around team competitions. The scoring method had also changed.

I'm not familiar with precisely how the scores were determined in the past, but now each routine has a determined point value that is determined in advance based upon difficulty. Then certain mistakes earn specific automatic deductions in point value.

Presumably this scoring method is supposed to make judging more objective. It seemed, however to have the opposite effect. Night after night there have been scores that are completely inexplicable. Last night for example was the men's steel rings competition. A competitor from greece went first. He was good but his hand stands weren't very straight and he shuffled a little on his landing. Then one after one 5 or 6 more competitors got up. Each one had routines that were at least as difficult as the first one, and each of them managed to stick their landings.

It seemed as if each performance was slightly better than the last, and all of them were better than the competitor from greece was. Who get's the gold? The guy from Greece. It was as if the scoring were entirely arbitrary. Tonight we saw lots and lots of ties between routines that were clearly of differing merit. It was bewildering to both the audience and the commentators, and that is why the crowd reacted the way that it did.

The problem the audience had was not the precise score of the Russian athlete but his score relative to the previous two contenders. You see something that looks better and you think it should be scored better. But the athletes are not actually scored relative to each other. The judges presumably do not say to themselves "Okay we gave the last guy a 9.75 and this guy is clearly much better so we'll give him a 9.85."

Some of the deductions seemed to come out of thin air. A perfect routine with a 9.7 difficulty would earn a 9.3 for no apparent reason. A 10.0 routine that was done without mistakes would get a 9.7 or a 9.672. Now I don't know all of the ins and outs of gymnastics but I would think that they would make the judging fairly clear and precise for such an important and well known event.

Even the athletes themselves were often confused by the scores. We were told by the commentators that deductions were made for stuff like stepping out of bounds, falling off the apparatus, putting weight on your hands, knees, or bottom when you landed, "holding," wobbling, stepping or hopping on the landing, and a lack of smoothness in execution. So you watch a 9.9 valued routine and you see none of these aforementioned mistakes and you think okay 9.9. Wrong! 9.612. And suddenly you begin to wonder if they have really managed to squeeze out the biases after all.

After Svetlana Khorkina made a big mistake on the uneven bars and still scored a 9.66, even the commentators speculated that the score was based upon her reputation and not upon her performance. Which means that at the heart of it there are still judges going "Oh that looks like a 9.5 to me." They have only added a little something like "Oh yeah she stepped out of bounds better make it a 9.4."

Friday, August 20, 2004

Spammers and Virus Writers Unite

Internet News Article Reuters.com

I have gotten quite a few emails as of late in my catallarchy.net email account. Typically they contain an attachment that contains a virus. Right now the favorite trick is to send messages using the email accounts of other contributors at catallarchy. Though occasionally I have also gotten messages from nonexistent accounts like hotchick(at)catallarchy.net or management(at)catallarchy.net etc.

What bugs me though is that I often get bounce back emails from someone (or something) that was listing my account as the send address to try and send viruses. I get messages that tell me that some person or other could not receive the email I sent because it contained a virus, that they could not receive it because the email address didn't exist, or even that they could not receive my email because their account was full. The problem is of course that I never sent the email to begin with.

Meanwhile spyware has become much more virulent. According to webroot.com spyware programs can now piggyback on downloaded images from popular websites. That means that when you visit your favorite newsite you might be downloading spyware with the images on the page, and the host site wouldn't even know it. We now have to remove spyware two or three times a week at minimum sometimes its several times a day and that is with a program running that is designed to block such programs.

Which brings me to my next point. Many of the pop up ads that come up from this spyware, not to mention many of the companies listed when my error page gets hijacked are perfectly legitimate companies. E-Loan for example gets listed often, and I have gotten spam from companies like Kaplan. So along with all the nigerian bank schemes, bad pornography, and outright fraud that gets thrown at us through spam and spyware there are strong well known, well respected companies that apparently have no qualms about invading our computers and email accounts.

Of course why should they, many of them telemarket as well. My point is this, if we all hate these sort of business practices so much shouldn't we attempt to boycott the companies that do it. Sure a boycott won't stop the nigerian bank schemes, the annoying chainletters, and the get-rich-quick schemes. But if we really dislike having our homepages and error pages hijacked, and having pop up ads thrown in our face when we visit pop-up free sites, then I think we should make it clear to those companies that that sort of business practice is unacceptable.

In other words if I see an ad for your company pop up on my screen from a spyware program that installed itself on my computer without my knowledge or consent I not only won't patronize your company but I will discourage others from doing business with you also.

Thats how I feel about companies that would invade my computer and copy personal information from my computer without permission. If they were sneaking into my house and posting advertisements on my wall, or ruffling through my personal information I would feel the same way.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Reality Crashes to a Halt...

I have recently made a terrifying discovery: There are no Waffle Houses in Austin.

My whole life there has always been a Waffle House within a few miles. Whether we were travelling to a neighboring state, going to the beach, going to college, visiting friends, no matter where I was and what I was doing, no matter what time of day or night if I got hungry I could say "hey lets go find a Waffle House," and be certain that one would be nearby. Now I am in Austin and if I find myself up a little late, starving, with nothing but ramen noodles to eat I can choose between IHOP and Denny's. Both of which sport chicken sandwhiches at about $7 dollars a plate, that do not compare even remotely to Waffle House's grilled chicken sandwhiches ($4.00 a plate), which happen to be made with the best grilled chicken on the planet. Their cheeseburgers are equally expensive at about $6.50 a plate -compare to Waffle House's $2.50 for the sandwhich about $3.50 for the plate and about $4.50 for a combo that includes both hasbrowns and a drink. You want a drink at Denny's or Ihop you'll have to pay another $1.50 which will bring the price of your meal to $8.50 not including the tip.

Let me put it this way both restaurants are two or three times more expensive than waffle house, their food is not nearly as good, and they are not nearly as fast. We went to Waffle House in Athens probably an average of once every 2 weeks though sometimes it was more often. With the price of Denny's (and IHOP) we could not afford to visit them more than once a month (probably less). The price for 1 cheese burger with fries, 1 coke, 1 chicken sandwhich with hashbrowns (with nothing on them) and 1 sprite at Denny's is about 18 dollars with out the tip. We could have had the same thing only better at Waffle House for under 10 dollars.

The Universe doesn't make sense anymore.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Our common hope.

Alphecca: NJ Gov. Comes Out...: "I hope we reach the day, finally, where people can simply be what they are, or at least love who they love, without having to hide and feel shame and feel that if they don't pretend, they'll never get anywhere in life or will lose the love of their family and friends. Of course, that means that the rest of us have to do our part to stop worrying about who they love and instead focus on how they live."

I share this hope as does the entire BiPoly community.

We love the night sky.

The Perseid Meteor Shower was quite impressive over the past couple nights, here in central Texas. Rainbough and I enjoyed it. We were reminded of it when Rainbough saw a shooting star while getting the mail in the middle of the night. Eventually, we intend to join a local astronomy club. That way, we'll be reminded of these things ahead of time and possibly have a little party at the same time. ;-) (I love people.)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

I'm now logically stupid.

FunctionalAmbivalent: Slow News Day, Might As Well Pick a Fight:

"And all Libertarians are stupid."

I'm a Libertarian.

Logically, I'm stupid.

I used to have my doubts, but thanks to a fellow blogger that is apparently functionally ambivalent on everything but this I now know for certain.

Via LJ.

Confucius (551?-479? BCE)

Lest y'all think my studies have been limited to the fruits of Western civilization. Here are some quotes from one of the great philosophers of the East that I studied in my youth, Confucius.

Only the wisest and the stupidest of men never change.

"Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practices it will have neighbors."

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.

It is not possible for one to teach others who cannot teach his own family.

The superior man is modest in his speech but exceeds in his actions.

He who merely knows right principles is not equal to him who loves them.

To be able under all circumstances to practice five things constitutes perfect virtue; these five things are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.

We don't know yet about life, how can we know about death?

Tsze-Kung asked, saying, 'Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one's life?" The Master said, "Is not Reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others."

Mankind differs from the animals only by a little, and most people throw that away.

If you enjoy what you do, you'll never work another day in your life.

If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant;
if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone;
if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate;
if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion.
Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.

The Master said,
To learn and at due times to repeat what one has learnt, is that not after all a pleasure?
That friends should come to one from afar, is this not after all delightful?
To remain unsoured even though one's merits are unrecognized by others, is that not after all what is expected of a gentleman?
The Analects, (I, 1)

The Master said, 'Clever talk and a pretentious manner' are seldom found in the Good.
The Analects, (I, 3)

The Master said, (the good man) does not grieve that other people do not recognize his merits. His only anxiety is lest he should fail to recognize theirs.
The Analects, (I, 16)

Check Out:

Confucius - WikiQuote for more quotes from this philosopher from the Ancient Far East.

This is a great line.

I found a great line over at ENFP - The Visionary which is a page describing my personality type. :
"'When I'm not near the ones I love, I love the ones I'm near.'"

I felt like sharing that with the rest of you. It's the first time I came across it and I'm a sucker for a nice turn of phrase.

FYI: Rainbough is an INTJ.

Our day will come.

Hector Sanchez made a good point about file-sharing over at Pharaoh Speaks. Go check it out.

We are the ones who grew up on the internet with the hacker motto "Information wants to be free." As soon as we conceptualize a way to explain this to the rest of our citizenry, the liberation will commence. I don't mean to sound trite, but we need "to free their minds, man."

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Breastfeeding and Social Squeamishness

Breastfeeding Moms hold Nurse-in at Starbucks

You know if women were allowed to go topless in public this wouldn't be an issue at all. Honestly, what makes the nipples so different on a female that seeing them in public is offensive, while seeing a male's is not? Sure they are larger and more pronounced, but its our bodies. I think the real issue is that breasts have a stronger association with sex than pecks do. There are more people that might find themselves aroused (or perhaps turned off) by a random set of exposed breasts than by exposed pecks.

Well I am female and I do not like seeing other females breastfeed in public, nor do I like to see pecks or breasts of less than healthy people. However I attribute all that to my own squeamishness on the subject. I haven't gotten over this weird negative association with bodily fluids that I developed as a child. I expect that by the time I have kids of my own and am one of those breastfeeding moms I will be long over it. At least I certainly hope so.

In any case I cannot stand people that sit back and spout stuff like "I don't want to see some nursing woman waving her breast in my face" or "I don't want to see my grandma walking around with her breasts hanging out," and then expect that their own squeamishness on a subject should pass as a political opinion and be reason enough to outlaw the practice.

There are plenty of things in this world that do not fit my personal aesthetic, and a handful of things that I still feel a little squeamishness about. But I would be the last person to advocate forcing others to make their own behavior and actions fit nicely into my personal comfort zone.

Not only would such an attempt fail, but we would end up much further from a "comfortable" society than we were before.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

A short Collection of Chinese Proverbs

Here is some selected chinese proverbs that I found interesting:

You cannot propel yourself forward by patting yourself on the back.

You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.

Who rides a tiger cannot dismount.

With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.

When you want to test the depths of a stream, don't use both feet.

When you fall into a pit, you either die or get out.

What you cannot avoid, welcome.

We are not so much concerned if you are slow as when you come to a halt.

Who is not satisfied with himself will grow; who is not sure of his own correctness will learn many things.

You can hardly make a friend in a year, but you can easily offend one in an hour.

You must have crossed the river before you may tell the crocodile he has bad breath.

You won't help shoots grow by pulling them up higher.

The rich man plans for tomorrow, the poor man for today.

The sheep has no choice when in the jaws of the wolf.

Those who hear not the music think the dancers mad.

To attract good fortune, spend a new coin on an old friend, share an old pleasure with a new friend, and lift up the heart of a true friend by writing his name on the wings of a dragon.

To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.

To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping.

Read more at World of Quotes.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

This makes my brain hurt.

Kansas City Star | 08/05/2004 | Sudan fears it will be a low priority: "The United Nations and international aid organizations accuse the pro-government Arab militia, known as Janjaweed, of waging a brutal campaign to drive Sudanese citizens of African origin out of Darfur, which borders Chad."

Did you catch what made my brain hurt? Here, let me narrow it down for you in case you missed it.

They "accuse the pro-government Arab militia...of waging a brutal campaign to drive Sudanese citizens of African origin out of [a region of Sudan], which borders Chad."

Here's a hint. The whole country of Sudan is in African, hence all Sudanese are African. This includes the Arab-dominated government of Sudan.

It appears that these linguistic and geographic contortions arise from an inability of this Associated Press reporter to say that some Arab people in the Darfur region had taken it upon themselves to attempt to kill off all the black people there. Genocide.

When the genocide is aimed at a people simply because of the color of their skin, obscuring that fact aids and abets the activities of those who have taken part in this atrocity.

You know perhaps I am being too hard on The Associated Press. It is possible that they just never fact-checked their story against a basic world map.

Yes, that makes me feel better. In the absence of better data, I'm going to choose to believe that.

I would hate to have to believe that we have reached the point as a society that we would believe that attempting to direct people's attention to obvious genocide might unnecessarily offend someone.

BilLee's an Uncle.

As of around 2 Am yesterday (august 4th), BilLee became the uncle of a newborn niece. Madeline Grace Miller was born yesterday suprising us all by arriving in the middle of the night. Congratulations to Jimmy and Delena on their new daughter, and of course to BilLee at his newfound word to add to his already long list of adjectives that describe himself. Madeline is healthy with a full head of hair and we are all very happy to welcome her to this planet. Happy birthday Madeline.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

A note about the blogroll

I have had a couple people mention how "unwieldy" our blogroll is here at SotR. One blogger mentioned that I linked to everyone on the planet, which I found amusing. The trouble I have is that occassionally people who make a point to reciprocal link people who link to them or who have previously linked to me, suddenly decide to remove their link because they feel that my blogroll is too long.

The premise is basically that the more links you have the less valuable each individual link is. I mean a link from a site that limits their blogroll to 40 is seen as far more valuable than one that links to 300 plus and rising (of course the number of visits you get is also relevant in the valuation of your link). Here's the thing, to all those other blog owners out there: My links are not about you!

BilLee and myself link to sites that we think are good, and that we think would be worth visiting for someone perusing our site. We try to link to those sites that link to us regardless of how many outgoing links they have but that is not our main criteria. We link to blogs we enjoy, blogs we find interesting, blogs of people we know personally, blogs with similar positions to our own, blogs with directly opposing positions to our own, blogs of subjects we find interesting but do not regularly blog on or do not know enough about to blog on personally etc. The idea is to link to regularly updated quality blogs that have a diverse array of subjects focusing on our interests but not exclusive to our viewpoint and opinions. When I find a really good leftist blog I link to it, when I find a really good conservative blog I link to it. When I find a blog randomly interesting I link to it.

It has nothing to do with trying to be generous or hospitable or doing a favor to the blog owners. Its my way of saying: "this blog is a good place to visit" or perhaps "for a different or opposing viewpoint go here" etc.

So if you do not like my blog, you do not think it is something you want to link to, or you simply do not like how I write or what I say and so do not want to link to me I understand. By all means keep your links to yourself. For those of you who think that my links are not valuable enough to reciprocate regardless of how you feel about the site, I honestly think you miss the point of having a blog. You've certainly missed the point of having a blogroll.

So use whatever strategy you want for choosing who to link to, but keep in mind I am never going to limit my blogroll to make you feel special. There are too many good blogs out there and too many great ideas and thoughts I would have to cut out, just so you could be like "wow I got a link to someone who only links to ten other people."

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Why I Want the Democrats to Lose.

Before I start I want to point out that I do not care for the Republican Party, and am no fan of George W. Bush. I do not believe he is the lesser of two evils nor would I ever vote on such a premise. That being said here is why I want the Democrats to lose the presidential election this November:

Reason 1. You should succeed because of who you are not because of who you are not.
Reason 2. The Democrats have been in power for too long.
Reason 3. The Democrats are dying.

I'll start with the first one. The Democrats are running on one specific rallying cry "anybody but bush." Now I have no doubt that the Kerry campaign is trying to look like they are promoting some positive message; some real positive value that is more than "we're not this guy." But regardless of the campaign and the official party line, most Democrats do not like John Kerry. Most of them are going to vote for him, and are supporting him now on one solitary premise: anybody (or rather any democrat) is better than George W. Bush.

Well forgive me for being pessimistic but there are plenty of other candidates that meet the "not Bush" credentials, and I honestly think we could do a hell of a lot worse than G.W. Bush. The sentiment rests on the premise that Bush is the epitome of evil, and that any democrat would make a better president. However I simply do not believe that there is something about the Democratic Party that causes it to imbue its members with some special quality of goodness.

It would be much easier to believe that John Kerry represented a meaningful political position and had an actual political message if he were not constantly changing his position on crucial issues (the war on terror, and the patriot act come to mind). That's the problem Kerry's position on everything from abortion to gay marriage to the patriot act changes according to who he's talking at. Surely this should bother the Democrats themselves. It doesn't because it's not about who he is, it's about who he is not. Which brings me to my next point.

Reason 2. The Democrats have been in power too long.

No the Democrats are not in power now, but previous to 1994 they were in control of congress consistently for something like 30 years. When push comes to shove the Democrats are accustomed to being in power and the republicans are accustomed to not being in power. As a result both parties are treating the current situation (republican control of both the executive and legislative branch) as a fluke. The republicans are attempting to push through congress as many amendments, laws, and judges that are consistent with their agenda as they can, while they can. Meanwhile the Democrats think that if they get the right guy in the right place with the right amount of money they can take back the Whitehouse and his momentum will help them to restore themselves back to their accustomed spot of majority in the house and senate.

This is a perfectly feasible strategy, more or less, but the problem is their ultimate goal is to get back to functioning as they were 10 years ago. They want to get back to functioning as the entrenched legislative machine that they once were.

Reason 3: the Democrats are dying.

No they are not physically dying, but whatever spirit the party might have once had has now decayed into so much mush. The party has become a coalition of entrenched bureaucrats, career politicians, social engineers, ignorant celebrities, and thousands upon thousands of local level activists. It's the local activists I am concerned with. There are thousands of people whose main reason for being active in politics is because they feel threatened (and rightfully so) by the fact that there are republicans being active in politics. Long before the presidential election in 2000, "not republican" was a rallying point for Democrats, and others that considered themselves to be on the left side of the political spectrum.

I personally met many, many people in college who felt that it was important to be active in politics in order to show solidarity in their not-republican-ness. As a result the term "left-liberal" has decayed into meaning something along the lines of "not on the right." The bold movements from which the current Democrats and left-liberals claim kinship have also decayed. Feminism, once responsible for the sexual revolution has become a conglomeration of bad literature, poor scholarship, and a socialist agenda that has nothing to do with women's rights. Those that once burned bras during the sexual revolution now burn pornography, and see any open sexual expressions in mass media to be a debasement of female sexuality. Equal rights has decayed into legislating special privileges and protections for certain groups. Left-leaning campuses once proud of their principled adherence to free speech and willingness to hear opposing views now regularly have student activists that run their opposition off campus claiming that their opponents politically incorrect opinions are "repressive." Even civil disobedience and protest on the left have turned into petty vandalism and the modern equivalent of pitch-fork-mobs (check out an anti-globalization protest and you'll see what I mean).

Here's where the problem comes in; political parties measure their success by the number of offices they win as well as the level or power of the offices they get. There is nothing like winning a presidential election to make a party feel like it is a big success, likewise there is nothing like success to keep a party from noticing that it is dying (or long dead as the case may be). The Democrats need to lose this election for their own sake. They need to rethink their politics, their agenda, their message, ultimately who they are and what they want to represent. As long as they think they are successful, and as long as the party machinery can get back into their favorite trenches there will be no incentive to do so.

All those grass-roots, and local activists trying to create better communities will get to spend another 4 years or more as not-republicans on the illusion that their guy will make things better. Instead of being a party with an active vision, and a coherent message they will simply be the party in power. Now I do not expect to ever agree completely with the Democrats, and it is no skin off my back if they continue to decay into their soul-less mush. But the fact is I know many good people that are Democrats, and I do not want to watch them spend another 4 years supporting a party they readily admit they are disillusioned and frustrated with. I would like to see more people recognize that solidarity behind a "not-message" is meaningless, and a waste of their efforts.

Now perhaps those good people will not need such an obvious upheaval to start actively changing their path. Perhaps they will have the courage as the Libertarians did to set out on their own and create organizations that represent their own principles, and that honestly work for a better world rather than working to be in power. In any case the Democrats might manage to get into office based on who they are not, but they will only succeed in creating better communities and a better world based on who they are.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Living outside the mainstream political debate.

At the end of a hatchet job of a political candidate I intend to support, which consisted mainly of echoing an echo of somebody else's hatchet job, was this little tidbit.: "I don't know why third party candidates in the United States tend to be embarrassments to themselves and others. However, like most people, I've effected by that reality. As disappointed as I am with the major parties, it is them I take seriously."

First, let me say that just because somebody else is embarrassed by someone that doesn't mean that one has embarrassed oneself. Some people are just easily embarrassed. If I spill my drink on myself, then that might mean I have embarrassed myself. If someone else spills a drink on me, then that embarrassment would be totally different matter indeed.

Major party candidates spend most of their lives grooming themselves and each other to run for political office. Third party candidates, by their nature, generally haven't and wouldn't want to if they would be strait-jacketed that way.

If you want least-common-denominator political candidates who are more concerned with getting elected/re-reelected than with openly and honestly presenting their discomfort with various institutions, then by all means continue to support mealy-mouthed liars and the decline in voter participation that accompanies them.

I support third-parties. Here is my order of support:

Libertarian Party
Green Party (as long as the candidates are truly green and not watermelon)
Reform Party
Any Independent
Constitution Party
The non-incumbent major party candidate
None of the Above (write-in, because I hate uncontested elections).

Based on what the Silver Rights guy wrote, he seems that he will be part of the majority not-voting. This would be fine if it were out of principle like the voluntaryist, but it appears that it is simply out of discomfort with regular people running for office. Few people would look "non-loonie" in a campaign when vetted by any dedicated journalist. As a result, we end with those candidates best capable of hiding/denying their past. Maybe one day, we'll value honesty more. When that happens, prepare for the real cultural revolution that will make the founding of our country look like a slight tweaking of British custom by comparison. That is the day that I'm working for. If you agree that is a day worth working, then support third-party/independent candidates. I'm going to vote for Badnarik. You can support someone else. But as long as we maintain open and honest discourse with each other, we will succeed in learning the limits of what can be achieved withing a constitutionally-limited federal democratic republic. Once we know that, we can decide together if we want to move outside that framework into something new that most of the electorate will not have a chance to consider otherwise.

The future is always open regardless of how the present appears.