Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Different cultures honor different personal characteristics. If in a particular culture a person were honored because he had  “inflicted more fear, more loss of freedom and more loss of life” than anyone else what would you think of that culture? Rather barbaric, wouldn’t you say?

Those were the exact words used by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates when honoring General Stanley McChrystal during the general’s retirement ceremony. How honorable.

Out of context you say? Oh, that’s right, we’re good, they’re bad…the fundamental delusion of “I” working overtime.

Advertisements

One dimensional thinking

Posted: June 29, 2010 in Politics

I finished reading Michael Moore’s “Dude, Where’s My Country”. It was fun, in the sort of way that it’s fun to watch stupid people suffer. He includes quite a list of references at the back of the book. It is particularly interesting that some of the most damning information about how truly scummy and sleazy the U.S. government is comes directly from…the U.S. government. That’s one of the great things about America – people can still force release of (some) information that the people in power don’t really want released. Lots of truly despicable things that the government has done is on display at easily accessible government websites.

It means little, however, because the stupid masses don’t care. Most are so preoccupied with their meaningless little consumerist lifestyles that even if they did read about the heinous acts of terrorism committed by their own government the only thing that would matter to them is that it “protects their way of life”. I love that one. Crap on the entire world to make sure that the American way of life is protected. “They hate freedom” as Bush famously quoted, and the masses ate it up. Any manner of atrocity is deserved by freedom haters.

But, and I mean BUT, this Michael Moore character is totally full of much of the same crap as everyone else. When he gets into his cheering of things he thinks are important he loses much of the punch from his book. Should have stopped at Chapter 8 Mike. A point by point debate is less than uninteresting.

However, there is another takeaway from his rant that I see time and time again. It’s about one dimensional thinking in American politics. You are either liberal or conservative or somewhere on a line connecting those two points. Geez, life is multifaceted to the extreme. How can people attempt to reduce politics to a single line? They bundle all manner of issues together and call that left or right. I think this kind of thinking might be a significant factor in how screwed up America is. There are only two choices each election, bad and worse. There hasn’t been a candidate or party that was close to representing my views since I have been of voting age. Some variety would be good.

I kind of enjoy the parliamentary system here in Thailand. Lots of parties with a variety of interesting (often silly) platforms. At least people have some choice.

Did Senator Dodd really say that?

Posted: June 27, 2010 in Politics

As I said in my previous post about the book I am reading by Michael Moore, I like seeing scumbags called out, and U.S. bureaucrats are the biggest scumbags on earth (maybe in the universe?). But then there are times when the bureaucrats don’t need calling out, they call themselves out as complete idiots.

I saw it on the Reason.com blog and it was titled “Quote of the Day“. This was Senator Dodd describing how he felt after passage of the new financial overhaul bill. The interesting part was this:

No one will know until this is actually in place how it works. But we believe we’ve done something that has been needed for a long time.

Uh, did he really say that we don’t know how it will work but we went ahead and passed it anyway? So it might make things worse but they felt they needed to do something.

The truth is that the best thing that could possibly happen in America is if all the politicians were voted out and replaced with people who would just do nothing.

One of the things I really miss here in Thailand is English language reading material. There is a dearth of it since few Thais read English very well, or at all for that matter. About the only place that has a good selection of English language books and magazines is Asia Books in Bangkok. As a result, I do almost all of my reading online. But it’s nice to have a book in hand when there is time to kill, a real book not one of the new e-readers that requires you to purchase DRM-infected content.

Today I was having lunch at a nice little coffee shop and restaurant that recently opened in our area. The Khao Yai land boom is stimulating a lot of new development of things that we actually like, such as eating places. This little place called Coffee Memories is pretty good and the added bonus was they have a tiny little book sharing space that had a couple of English language books. So I borrowed Michael Moore’s “Dude, Where’s My Country”.

I wouldn’t say that I’m much of a fan of Michael Moore but his stuff makes for a good read mostly because I enjoy seeing scumbags being called out. And U.S. bureaucrats are undoubtedly the biggest scumbags on the planet. Whether or not you subscribe to Moore’s line of thinking his books do give plenty of references to his sources. Today I particularly enjoyed the section about how cozy the U.S. government was with Saddam Hussein prior to them deciding he was the biggest evil on earth. It was the U.S., after all, who provided him with all the chemical and biological weapons and technology that he had. That was during the Iran-Iraq war – the U.S. wanted Iraq to win. The U.S. government is famous for that kind of thing, arming one group against another to achieve some political goal, and then turning against them later, much to Saddam’s dismay as he found himself dangling by the neck.

But that’s sort of old news and everybody in America who isn’t clueless knows it already, which is to say very few Americans. The part that was new to me and sort of entertaining is that during the Bush story-telling frenzy after the start of the war there was a little video clip shown on the Oprah show of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld hugging Saddam Hussein when they had met years earlier. I guess Oprah popped it as a surprise on the audience and there was an audible gasp when they saw the two being chummy. After all, Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld had painted Saddam as such an evil monster and the ignorant American masses had bought the whole story. Little did they know that Saddam was a key ally just a few years prior.

So like I said, Moore’s books give plenty of references and with the wonderful world of Google it’s usually pretty easy to check other sources to corroborate. I could not, however, find the video of Rumsfeld hugging Saddam. I did find a number of videos of the two of them meeting and shaking hands. Pretty boring stuff with no sound track, but here it is.

 

I remember some of my home improvement projects back in the U.S. Plumbing was always an issue in older homes, what with old galvanized plumbing in many homes, sometimes copper repipe, sometimes an ugly combination of the two. Plumbing jobs were usually messy and sometimes small repairs turned into big jobs as corroded pipe kept breaking off farther and farther into the wall. And copper pipe is expensive and difficult to work with. Plumbers pull down big money.

The entire country of Thailand is plumbed with PVC pipe. It’s strong, reliable, fast, cheap, doesn’t corrode and is easy to install; exceedingly easy to install. Cut it with any type of saw that is handy, slather some PVC glue on it, slap the joints together, and in 10 minutes it is ready. It’s so easy that there are virtually never issues with bad joints, unlike copper with troublesome solder joints. It comes in several thicknesses; the standard one is rated at 13 bars (13 atmospheres of pressure). So it is plenty strong enough for all but extreme high pressure uses.

Why can’t PVC plumbing be used in the U.S.? (rhetorical question) It’s a scam of course. It is so easy and reliable that plumbers are not needed. The labor unions would have none of that. By working the U.S. system of what I call “legalized graft” consumers are forced to pay exorbitant rates for plumbing materials and labor. One of the plethora of legal scams in <b>overdeveloped</b> countries like the U.S. Overdeveloped – as in over legislated, over unionized, and over priced.