Let the people decide how to spend their taxes

As most of you probably know, the Unites States government is having financial problems right now. And to compound the problem, the politicians can't agree on anything to solve these problems. It all comes down to spending and income. No two politicians will agree on how much we should tax the populace, and how we should spend tax revenue. I may have a solution for this.

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Richard Stallman is the Rush Limbaugh of the Tech World

Richard Stallman is a tech celebrity who has been on the tech scene for a long time. He is most widely known for his free software activism. Basically, his stance is that ALL software should be free. By free, I don't mean free of charge. I mean free to use/copy/distribute/modify. Stallman basically believes that nobody should "own" software. Once you create a piece of software and release it to the public, it is now owned by the public.

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Lost a lot of respect for Wikipedia

So I had heard that the Barak Obama wikipedia entry had a lot of "edit warring" going on where people were rapidly adding and removing facts and information. So I went to investigate myself. Sure enough, if you look in the old revisions for the page, you can find this old revision that has a section labeled "Controversy". The only thing in this section is three links to men that have had some sort of controversial relationship with Obama in his past (the section is at the bottom of the article, above the Notes section). The three men mentioned are Bill Ayers, Reverend Wright, and Tony Rezko. However, if you look at The most current version of the article (I linked it's "oldid" revision because the page might change yet again by the time you read this), this "Controversy" section has been completely removed. In addition, the page has been locked for editing because of all the controversy.

Politics aside, I don't think anybody will dispute that these three men knew Obama and had some sort of relationship with him. And it's obvious that these relationships are controversial, by definition. You may have your own opinion about what these men mean to Obama, and what kind of man he is having dealt with them in the past. That is NOT what I am concerned about here. I just think it shows how innacurate Wikipedia can become when simple facts like the above (Obama's relationship with these men has been controversial) cannot stand in the article due to people's political beliefs and their ability to edit Wikipedia to match their political agenda.

Know your facts before you spout off

Ok, I rarely discuss politics on here, and I hope to keep it unbiased. But something has been bothering me for a long time, and I want to get it off my chest.

I REALLY wish people would take the time to learn the facts about an issue before they form an opinion, and especially before they spout off about it in public. I don't care if you are Conservative, Liberal, Socialist, Communist, pick your poison. But please try to be a little educated about an issue before you make a fool of yourself and lose friends in the process.

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Extermination of Israel

Now that the Palestinians will soon have the Gaza strip back, one might think Hamas would relax and live in peace. I saw an interview with Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas Leader. Look at these choice quotes:
"Therefore, we will not take over the Gaza Strip and live there peacefully while the Zionist enemy is detaining thousands of our sons and occupying the West Bank. The resistance must move to the West Bank to expel the occupation."
"...We do not and will not recognize a state called Israel."
"We are against any economic cooperation with Israel."
"Let Israel die."
"We will enter (Gaza) and sully the dignity of Israel with our feet. We will stand on the ruins of the Israeli settlements and tell our people we have prevailed. This is nonnegotiable."
Does anybody else recognize this as anti-semitism? I realize that the Arabs have been against Israel for centuries, but the thing that bothers me is that a lot of liberals in the US and Europe support the anti-Israel movements. I have no idea why, but they do.
I wish Mahmoud Zahar would say more stuff like this quote:
"The land of the evacuated settlements should serve as the lungs for the economy to breathe. Schools, playgrounds, agriculture and industry should be established on this land."

Culture of Death

The Terri Schiavo events have lead to a new term I have heard from a lot of conservative voices. The claim is that because most Liberals believe in abortion rights and euthanasia, they are fostering a "Culture of Death" (example 1, example 2). I was thinking about this claim, and I've decided that this argument doesn't hold water, if you look at three major planks in most Liberal's platforms:


  1. Environmentalism
  • Liberals actively try to save the lives of our planet's vegetation.

  • Animal rights

    • It is also a liberal movement that is proposing we stop animal testing, harvesting for animal furs, and inhumane conditions at farms/food factories.

  • Death penalty

    • It is Liberals, not Conservatives, that want to abolish the death penalty.

    You may think that I am a liberal after reading this, but I am not. I actually lean to the right politically, I just try to think for myself instead of marching to the tune of the latest popular conservative mantra.

Fujitsu should move to the US

Most European countries have been very sympathetic to open software ideas, like Linux. With that in mind, I would think they would turn a blind eye to the piracy concerns that the RIAA and the MPAA have. However, German courts recently handed down a ruling against Fujitsu, stating that the company now has to pay a $16 piracy fee for every computer they sell in Germany. Why, you ask? Because Fujitsu computers can be used to copy and distribute copyrighted music and movies, therefore Fujitsu gets to pay for part of the loss the multi-billion dollar media companies may face.
While US courts haven't completely ruled in file trader's favor, the understanding that a recording machine isn't illegal (stemming from earlier court cases against VCR manufacturers) has usually been applied in the computer world as well. For example, Kazaa won a ruling in the US because their software is not intended to be a piracy vehicle and it has legal uses.
The case was brought by VG Wort, the German equivilant of RIAA/MPAA. VG Wort claims it will now bring suit against other German computer makers. Quick, everybody flee to the US! ;) BTW, there are similar rulings on the books in the UK and other European countries, dealing with blank CD/DVD media and such.
Update: Jim informs me that the US actually has fees attached to blank media as well. He also notes "When RIO introduced the first portable MP3 player the RIAA tried to extort a royalty fee from them as well. That didn't happen though. It is interesting how they distinguish digital copies from analog copies at a legal level."

Japan's deeply ingrained business culture is changing

Japan has had a few traditions in business for decades. One is for a company to favor sister companies when rewarding contracts (known as Keiretsu). That practice is illegal in the US. Another is to emphasize teams and the institution as a whole, not individuals. Japan businesses have also traditionally tied compensation to seniority rather than to merit. According to this report by cnet, all of this is changing as Japan is facing stiff competition from foreign businesses. They are adapting more and more western business practices as time goes on.

Christmas Card from Mr. and Mrs. Bush

This last week we recieved a Christmas card in the mail from President Bush. We thought that was very nice, even though we know they didn't manually sign it and send it to us. This last summer Dyany donated some money to the Bush campaign, so we figure that's why we got the card. But it didn't have any political messages or anything like that. Just a nice card signed by the president and his wife. We also thought it was nice that it had a Psalm in it. View the card here.

Gloria Arroyo projected to win

The elect results won't be in until next month, but incumbent Phillippine president Gloria Arroyo is expected to win, according to an exit poll taken by Social Weather Stations of 4627 voters (1.5% margin of error). The poll results say that she took 41 percent of the vote, while Fernando Poe Jr. took 32 percent. SWS has accurately predicted election results before.

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