biboergosum

Hello and welcome to my blog. I have finally set it up, something that I was thinking of for ever. You will find thoughts, comments, droppings of wisdom as against pearls, words of drunkenness and more. I do not care for being politically correct. You might find things you always wanted to say but did not or find things that you find so awful that you might want to punch me.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Abortion Again!

This is a fascinating debate on abortion, its impact on women, moral issues and related public policy between William Saletan of Slate and Katha Pollitt of The Nation. It is a must read and I would urge each one of you to read it. Articulation and moderation is rare in such an issue. The article helps my thinking to be a lot more clear on the issue.

Silly Indiana Bills.

You must read the posting of Inpolitico on all the silly bills that were introduced in the Indiana Legislative Session this year. Her comments are hilarious and absolutely accurate. You can read her comments and list of bills here and here. She has done a very good job of identifying good and silly and listing them. I used to think that politicans are meant to serve the interests of people who elect them and deliberate on public policy. Not anymore!

Rap

I have never liked rap except some old stuff when rebels used to be actual rebels. Now they are marketed rebels who are marketed to attract a certain section of the youth. The image is more media and record industry created than anything else. The funniest part is people still fall for it. I don't think the record and music industry is at fault. If there are people dumb enough to fall for it, why not? The record and music industry executives are laughing their way to the bank. This article gives an excellent understanding of the issue. Money quote: "The problem is, it ain't the truth. It's just a scam for kids too stupid to recognize they're being played — again. Want to be a real rebel? Read a book." I have always wondered why rap has such a huge following among well to do, suburban white kids. Seems almost oxymoronic (pun intended)!

Personal Responsibility

It often strikes me how people shirk their personal responsibility and choice. After that, whenever they realize that some personal habits might be harmful , they rush to the courts to seek compensation which they often receive. I don't that is fair to the system or to themselves but hey easy money is easy money especially if you have greedy trial lawyers running around persuading prospective clients. Yes, I am talking about tobacco as well as fast food and soft drinks. I smoke and I know that it is harmful to me. It would be wrong to sue cigarette manufacturers for selling them. Everyone knows fast food and soda (too much of it) is fattening and causes obesity in the long run. So why sue fast food and soda makers for selling them? They are not forcing me to buy their products. I am sure the same reason applies i.e. easy money. If I choose to eat fast food and drink soda, it is no one else's fault but mine. It is my personal choice and I am responsible for its consequences. Apparantly, after tobacco, the next target will be fast food and soda manufacturers. This is shameful since each one who consumes fast food and soda knows it is harmful but still chooses to do so. I hope courts throw all these lawsuits out. Incidentally, this is an excellent op-ed article on the same issue.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Mission

The previous post reminded me about a film I had seen a few months back. It is called 'The Mission' and stars Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson. The film is set a few hundred years back in Latin America and is about two missionaries fighting for the rights of South American Indians against Spanish colonial landowners. It is one of the most thought provoking and engrossing films I have seen. 'The Mission' was recommended to me by a friend of mine who is a philosophy professor. He wanted me to see that sometimes missionaries give up dogma, ideology and politics (and go against the church as well) to be by the side of justice, freedom and what they deem as right. They sometimes give up their life in the process as well. I would highly recommend the film which is incidentally historically true. The reason I brought up this topic is because I also realize that the fanatic side of evangelists is mostly what we see and hear about. There are many missionaries in the remotest parts of the world doing some extremely good work. These are areas where you and I would definitely not venture. Doing that work in God's name does not take away any of the merit of that good work. Many of these missionaries are the most devoted and kind people you will come across. But that is something that one rarely hears, sees or reads about.

Christian Fundamentalists are at it again.

The damn Christian fundamentalists are at it again but thankfully it does not affect us. This time it is about a gay actor and activist, Chad Allen (Couldn't they at least come up with something new? It is becoming boring now.) who plays the lead role in "End of the Spear". The film is about the true story of five American missionaries who were killed in 1956 by an indigenous tribe in Ecuador. The families of the missionaries ultimately converted the tribe to Christianity (what else could they do) and forgave and befriended the killers. Chad Allen plays the movie's lead role as one of the slain missionaries, and later, his grown son. The funnies thing is that the film is made by Every Tribe Entertainment, an evangelical film company. Christian ministers and evangelists are mad about the fact that Chad Allen is gay. You can read the story here.

Us Libertarians!

Apparantly, 20% of the people in the US are libertarians, distinct from conservatives and liberals. Since as we all know there is no option for us, this group splits up and votes Republican or Democrat depending on other issues. There was a time when the Republicans used to come closest to being libertarian; not anymore. The current Republicans are worse than the Democrats; there is nothing they don't want to regulate, right from our bedrooms to how and when we die. They spend our money as if there is no tomorrow. We, libertarians have become orphans as this WSJ article tells us. Money quote: "According to those polls, 17 million voted for John Kerry but did not think the government should do more to solve the country's problems. And 28 million Bush voters support either gay marriage or civil unions. That's 45 million who don't fit the polarized model. They seem to have broadly libertarian attitudes. In fact, it's no secret that libertarian voters make up a chunk of America. But you'd never know it from watching TV -- or listening to our elected politicians." I hope some day there will be at least a few politicans in the libertarian mold.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Beer

I am a beer lover though I tend to lean towards non-American ones and micro-brews exceptions apart. I have often tried to figure out how often beer stays on shelves. Do they get replaced after their expiry date is over like other products? But the thing is they (at least most of them) have no expiry dates mentioned on their labels. There have been times I have opened a bottle of beer, taken a sip and realized that it did not taste anything like it was supposed to. Finally, The Wall Street Journal has cracked the code. The article tells us that the expiry date on beer bottles is a closely guarded secret with codes and what not. It also gives us an idea on how to crack the codes. I have decided that the next time I buy beer, I am going to try and decipher the code. Finally, I can utilize my economics graduate school degree for something useful and noble. Non-expired beer, here I come!

Alan Greenspan

Here is a nice editorial on Alan Greenspan. While there are some who judge him harshly depending on their economic and political perspectives, I think history will judge him most favorably. Presiding over two of the longest economic expansions in U.S. history is a feat by itself apart from inflation being at low levels. The recessions have been short as well. However, it is not that well documented that his policies partly allowed India and China to progress to their current economic strentgh. His influence was so powerful that Wall Street used to watch the briefcase he used to carry to FOMC meetings in order to get a clue on whether interest rates will rise or fall.

Patriotism IV

Here is an excellent kind of the patriotism I was earlier talking about. As we all know, Bush has displayed thorough indifference to the law as we know it. It is almost as if he has chosen to do whatever he wants including using presidential power to the extreme right from torture to domestic spying. Rules might be for other presidents, definitely not for him. I am sure some of you will be aware of the Justice Department memos and articles which literally showed him the way. But it seems there were a bunch of senior lawyers who actually declined to give him those powers and tried reining in his powers as well. They were not Democrats; they were all conservatives and had been appointed by Bush himself. They believed in their conscience and refused to give in when they were pushed. This is definitely true patriotism. Of course, all of them lost their jobs or quit eventually. You can read their story here. It is extremely reassuring to know that even in times like these, there are people who choose to do the right thing, ideology and politics not withstanding. People like these make me want to believe again.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Davos

This is an excellent article by David Ignatius of The Washington Post on the World Economic Forum held at Davos every year. He talks about how business is now the biggest driver of social change. It is one of the processes that works the best. He wishes that other systems worked as well. According to me, the business sector does a fine job of identifying incentives and getting them. They are probably more efficient than other sectors which is why they have become such a driving force. At some point, we will see business stepping in to provide what the government does not (though it is supposed to). Mind you, business will not do it for pure charity but for incentives. It will be like health insurance provided to employees. Technology will make it viable and that much faster. The unfortunate part is that all of us will not benefit immediately. The small section of people who ride the crest of globalization because of their education, exposure and culture will be the first. It will eventually become mass based but that will be over a period of time. Yes, my capitalist views are intact. I still firmly believe in a free market meritocracy and incentive based system.

Quote of the day II

"A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals." Spiro T Agnew

Quote of the day I

"An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows." Dwight D. Eisenhower

Indiana and External Influences.

This relates to a recent post by The Indianapolis Star columnist RiShawn Biddle on Expresso. I thought it was extremely interesting and thought provoking and I completely agree with him. What he says is basically it would do Indiana and Hoosiers a whole lot of good if they ventured out of their state for education, work or just cultural experience. The exposure and experience would change them in a positive fashion and maybe, they would look at issues in a different light. He sort of thinks that opposition to the more progressive reforms and policies carried on by the government are from people who have never moved out of the state and are not exposed to different perspectives. I completely agree with him. It is almost as if there is this part of Indiana which is almost living 50 years in the past. Whatever has happened in the last few decades has almost passed them by. They are almost adamant against anything new just because it is new. Ignorant might be a more offensive but apt term. My personal experience has been the same. Some of the people I get along with the best as well as my buddies are people who have traveled and studied outside Indiana, in other parts of the US as well as abroad. These are the people who will ride the crest of globalization and be successful. They experiences and exposure make them open to new things while holding on to the the values they grew up with. Their world view is so different. There is not that much difference between a non-exposed Hoosier or any American for that matter and a farmer in Asia or Africa. The mindset is strikingly similar. This does not mean that people who have never traveled or been exposed cannot be enlightened. They are the exceptions which make the norm. Reading the reaction to RiShawn Biddle's post stunned me. It was almost as if he committed the worst of sacrileges.

Patriotism III

I think patriotism is a great and essential feeling to have while jingoism is not. There is an important distinction between both the feelings. No country in the world is all good or all evil. It is not black and white but mostly gray just like us human beings. Also, people make the country, not its policies nor its politicians. While I don't like people who are jingoists and think theirs is the best country and the best way of life; likewise, I don't like people who dislike their country just because they see only the negative side. I can't help but feel a better idea is to accept one's country with its good and bad points and loving it. In the meantime, one can always try and change what the bad points are. That is one reasons I abhor the extreme left and right. They are so fanatical but they don't realize they are mirror images of each other, almost like two sides of the same coin.

Patriotism II

I will put up some random thoughts of mine on this issue as and when they come to me. I personally think each of us can try in our own small way. One can even join government services, the judiciary and the armed forces to make our own contribution. I like to believe that the vast majority of us are not corrupt or crooked. For some reason, so many of the ones we elect are. It would be great to have a survey done where the constituents of a politician are asked as to why they vote for the same person in spite of him/her being corrupt. I have a feeling that the result would be on the lines of "even if he/she is corrupt, he/she has done a lot for us and the area." So is it a good enough reason to elect him/her again and again? Isn't that bribery in the moral sense? There is no concept of 'the greatest good of the greatest number' in human sentiment. It exists as long as it is not in our own backyard. The moment it involves us, we run and join the bandwagon. It all comes down to our own selfish interests. I care and will philosophize as long as it does not affect me. The moment my own self-interests come into the picture, 'the greatest good of the greatest number' goes for a toss. As an economist, I believe that people can be rational but mostly when it comes to their own self-interest. As a society, I am not so sure. Maybe I am too much of a cynic. I don't like to believe that all this is possible only in a non-existent utopian society. Hopefully, I shall see it in my lifetime.

Patriotism I

This is the beginning of a few posts on patriotism and the like. I saw an Indian film which was rather good. It was not so much about patriotism but more about how we tend to bitch about the current state of affairs but essentially, it is our choice too. We elect our politicans and in some sense, let them do what they want as against holding them responsible for what they have and have not done. One of the things that I liked about the film was its universal relevance. Ultimately, at the end of the day, however much we dislike politicians, their thefts and their crooked ways and means, we have elected them. They come to power only because we the people, have elected them. Politicans stay the way they are because they continue to be elected by us and more importantly, people like us (you and me) stay out of politics. Yes, politics is dirty and sometimes the best of us change. But how can we expect it to change unless we initiative the change? One of the best ways is to try and join the political system. I might agree to some extent that the electorate does not always know best but I refuse to believe that they are so dumb that they do not recognize honesty and integrity. Yes, it might take a few tries but hell, everything takes a few tries. In essence, what I am saying is we have to be part of the system to change the system. It is far harder to change the system bit by bit by being in a position of power inside the system than as a rank outsider and just bitching about it. It also means sacrifice which makes me wonder that not too many people are willing. Arm-chair intellectualism is so much easier. Revolution does not work anymore. But talking about it and hoping for things to change is easier than trying to change the system. We can all do out own part to improve the system.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A few quotes from 'Leviathan'

I was reading some thing about Thomas Hobbes the other day and I came across some quotes from 'Leviathan'. I have reproduced the ones I liked best. "Another doctrine repugnant to civil society, is that whatsoever a man does against his conscience, is sin; and it dependeth on the presumption of making himself judge of good and evil. For a man's conscience and his judgement are the same thing, and as the judgement, so also the conscience may be erroneous." "...in the first place, I put for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death." "Man gives indifferent names to one and the same thing from the difference of their own passions; as they that approve a private opinion call it opinion; but they that mislike it, heresy: and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion."

Hostel

I saw 'Hostel' last night and I am not sure if I have recovered fully from it. The film is presented by Quentin Tarantino (whatever that means) and directed by Eli Roth. It has a lot of blood and gore and sometimes you wonder what is going on. I am a fan of Quentin Tarantino and have liked almost all his movies. Did I hate the film? No. Did I love it? No. I am somewhere in-between. It is not a film to be seen twice. But I think the best part of film is how the entire torture chamber/blood zone is due to people wanting thrills. So there is this torture chamber where you an torture a human being in any fashion or do whatever you want to them. It is a thrill zone (for the lack of a better term) for those people in society who get their thrills from torturing people or burning someone's eye with a flame thrower. So if you want to slice off someone's ankle to see how they would walk or drill a few holes in the chest, you go to the thrill zone. Why do they do it? Just for kicks! As an economist, I had to agree with the idea that such a thrill zone has to exist. Where there is demand, there has to be supply.

Brokeback Mountain II

I am so glad 'Brokeback Mountain' is doing so well. It really is a great movie. It has gorgeous scenery and a very subtle but beautiful love story. It is doing extremely well even in the red states and the heartland. More power to 'Brokeback Mountain'. It is a wonder those dam idiots from the Christian right wing has not made an issue out of it. You can read here how well it is doing and how the marketing was done differently to avoid the culture war. I guess some times there are greater things like love which can actually unite people in culture wars however hard power hungry clergy and politicans try. I am reminded of Bush being asked recently about the film and how ill at ease he looked while answering. Of course, he gave a half answer about not having watched it yet and then fumbled on. His discomfor was so evident. You can watch the video of his Q & A session here.

Mitch Daniels

A lot of people I know who hated the idea of a Republican running the state of Indiana are changing their views. Some of them are Democrats who are quite favorable to Governor Mitch Daniels and his policies. 'My Man Mitch' is trying very hard to go for Indiana. It is a different reasons Democrats and members of his own Republican Party are opposing him for pure political reasons. What I find worse is these people criticize and vote down his plans without even offering an alternative. Mitch Daniels actually proposed consecutive tax hikes in consecutive years. Yes, he is a Republican. I think it helps that he is not an Indiana Republican in a lot of ways, having spent a lot of time in DC. It is heartening to see a politician displaying some sort of libertarian streaks. Maybe old fashioned Republicanism still exists somewhere. Inpolitico (who is a registered Democrat) has listed 5 reasons why he is not that bad. I completely agree. Some of his proposed policy initiatives and measures can only make Indiana better. If only the House and the Senate let him follow some of his initiatives to completion. Indiana desperately needed someone like 'My Man Mitch'. Twenty years of Democrat rule had left Indiana's fiscal position in shambles.

Charles Krauthammer and his brother.

I always read Charles Krauthammer's columns in The Washington Post or otherwise. He leans to the right quite a bit but he is an outstanding writer. There are times when I disagree with him more often than not but he is definitely one of the more principled conservatives. His recent column in The Washington Post was about his brother and his passing away. It is one of the most emotional pieces I have read. It is so understated and subtle yet makes you teary by the end of it. I have a brother amongst other siblings and I can completely understand where he comes from. The column touched a cord somewhere and it is a great piece of writing. I would highly recommend the piece. My favorite line is: "Whenever I look at that picture, I know what we were thinking at the moment it was taken: It will forever be thus. Ever brothers. Ever young. Ever summer." I became a bit emotional after reading it and had to go out for a smoke after that. You can read the column here.

I am back!

Yes, I know it has been a while again since I have blogged. Life has not been the best lately. Work has been keeping me extremely busy (thankfully!!) and I have been coming home pretty late as well. Work has also helped me keep out of trouble and not indulge in self-destructive tendencies as I am prone to during my lows. I did manage to drink my ass off over the last few weeks. I guess when things don't go exactly the way I think they would, my first instinct is to hit the bottle. I am good at being an escapist. At least, I am much less of an escapist as I used to be before. The bottle still does feel good though.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Outstanding Writing on the Current State of Conservatism.

George Will is one of the best conservative commentators/intellectuals. He never minces words and says it for what it is even if it means criticizing the current crop of pseudo-conservatives. There are very few of them anymore, another one being David Brooks. There are times I do not agree with them but their erudition and the breadth of their knowledge, especially George Will leaves you stunned. Most of the other conservative commentators have all sold out. Bush, his cohorts and the current crop of Republicans were never conservatives in the true sense. All they needed was a whiff of power and money to sell out. Money quote from George Will's column in The Washington Post today: "Until the Bush administration, with its incontinent spending, unleashed an especially conscienceless Republican control of both political branches, conservatives pretended to believe in limited government. The past five years, during which the number of registered lobbyists more than doubled, have proved that, for some Republicans, conservative virtue was merely the absence of opportunity for vice." You can read the rest of his column here.

Protests and Soldiers

This is some what related to my earlier post. Some thing I have never understood: Why do peaceniks, protesters and liberals protest against soldiers/members of the armed forces? Are they that ignorant that they don't realize that soldiers follow orders? If a soldier disobeys orders to go to war, he/she is normally court martialled. I think there is a legitimate right to protest but protest against the politicians, Congress and the Executive. They are the ones who authorize war and order armed forces to go to war. The soldier is not at fault for going to war; he/she is just following orders. He/She probably joined the armed forces to pay for tuition and make some money. The US armed forces are anyway disproportionately comprised of people from lesser economic backgrounds. The soldier is doing his duty and following orders. We should be proud of him/her for willing to make a sacrifice which most of us are not willing to make. Every soldier is not guilty of war crimes. The war criminals are the exceptions and should be punished along with their superiors who gave such orders. The average soldier is an honorable man who is just doing his duty. There are numerous examples of the bravery and nation building that American soldiers have undertaken in Iraq.

Anti-gay protesters picketing a soldier's funeral.

I wasn't sure whether to cry or laugh at the absolute ignorance and disrespect of the anti-gay protesters who plan to picket the funeral of a soldier who died in Iraq because they think American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God for protecting a country that harbors gays. A minor distraction but many of these gays are serving in the armed forces and giving their life for this country. Many of them serve society as much as any of us, more than these bigots for sure. He gave his life for the country. What more do these religious bigots want? A quote from the article: "Church founder the Rev. Fred Phelps contends American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God for protecting a country that harbors gays. Church members have protested at scores of military funerals, and the church informed Evansville police Saturday it would protest at Pfender's services at The Centre." Apparantly, the police are urging restraint. I tell you, these bigots need a good whopping to learn a lesson. You can read the story here.

Brokeback Mountain

I finally saw 'Brokeback Mountain' last weekend and it was absolutely brilliant. I loved it. It is a tad slow but that does not take anything away from the film's virtues. The Wyoming scenery is mind blowing. I wasn't sure how much I would like the film since I had read such good things about it. So my expectations were sky high which often make you appreciate a film less. But 'Brokeback Mountain' was even better than what the critics said. I would recommened it to each and everyone. Here is one film which deserves the Oscars it gets (here's hoping). It is more about love and companionship than homosexuality. I can't help but compare it to some of the other outstanding love stories that I have liked such as 'The English Patient', 'The Bridges of Madison County' and 'Out of Africa'. Once in a while Hollywood comes out with films such as these and redeems itself from the usual trash (exceptions apart) it churns out every year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Wolves and Backward America.

I happen to think that wolves are some of the most handsome creatures that Mother Nature ever created after the cat family. Earlier on, Americans did a excellent job of making them extinct. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released 66 radio-collared wolves into central Idaho and Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996 inspite of huge protests. Now, many of the wolves roam across Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. But ranchers and other vested interests in these states are pushing hard to making them extinct again. They have made a policy of poisoning wolves and shooting them at sight a matter of public policy inspite of federal law forbidding it. Money quote from 'The Los Angeles Times' story on the same: "In Wyoming, for example, Gov. Dave Freudenthial last April decreed that the Endangered Species Act is no longer in force and that the state "now considers the wolf as a federal dog," unworthy of protection." A fine example! It helps their case that wolves are a much maligned species and all urban legends against them are believed. If this is the great American libertarian and frontier spirit, so be it. May all these people live in ignorance forever. Some times I wonder how the ignorant and the aware co-exist in the US. I guess they just don't come into each others' sphere of influence. If this kind of thinking makes me a liberal elite, so be it. I don't really give a damn. (Wolf picture courtesy: National Park Service; Bumper sticker picture courtesy: Julie Cart of 'The Los Angeles Times'). My reaction to the nice bumper sticker which says it all is 'UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH'!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

American Corporate Bribery Abroad.

Corporates in the US can't bribe atleast openly and have to maintain proper accounts in the light of the Sarbanes OxleyAct passed after the Enron debacle. But nothing stops them from doing so abroad even though there are US laws which explicitly mention that this is not legal and such actions can be prosecuted under US law. But that did not stop Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, an American company, from paying bribes in cash and kind to the Indonesian politicians as well as the military to continue polluting pristine rain forested areas. The company operates a mine on the island of New Guinea in Indonesia on a site which has the largest reserves of gold. This was the basic story under the headline 'Below a Mountain of Wealth, a River of Waste' in yesterday's New York Times. I am a capitalist and a libertarian and maintain that if corporates/companies don't operate withing the rules of the market place or go against laws, they should be prosecuted. But I personally doubt anything is going to happen in this case. Many American corporates have a history of practices which would not be permitted under the law in the US. But that does not stop them from pursuing the same practices in many Third World countries. That is partly another reason why the masses in some Third World countries are so anti-American.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Animal Rights

I am a firm believer in animal rights. I am not vegetarian but I think that there is a duty to cause animals as less pain and harm as possible even if we are to kill them for food. One has to look at some of the cosmetic and fast food companies to see how much we actually hurt them. So much of it could be reduced by some fairly easy and implementable policies. One of the philosophers who actually agrees with and supports animals rights is Dr. Peter Singer who is De Camp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University's Center for Human Values. You can read some of his essays and writings here. He accords animals the same moral status as humans which in essence takes away the biggest rationale for treating animals the way we do. He approaches ethical issues from utilitarian, specifically a preference utilitarian perspective. One of his more well known quotes: "Humans and animals are equal in the sense that the fact that a being is human does not mean that we should give the interests of that being preference over the similar interests of other beings. That would be speciesism, and wrong for the same reasons that racism and sexism are wrong. Pain is equally bad, if it is felt by a human being or a mouse. We should treat beings as individuals, rather than as members of a species." Amen!

The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

I saw 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose' a few days back and I must say it is definitely an interesting movie and worth watching once. It makes you think on what you really believe. It is based on the true story of Anneliese Michel who was thought to have been possessed and went through an exorcism in the mid-70s in Germany. She died some time later and her parents and her priest were put on trial for negligence leading to homicide. The movie is entirely set in the court room trail while her story is told via flash backs. The movie is a little different from the original story and is based in the US. One of the most interesting parts I found was the change of roles for the prosecutor and the defense attorney over the course of the trial. The prosecutor was a Christian who goes regularly to church and takes part in church related activities while the defense attorney is agnostic. Both their beliefs changed by the time the trial was over. There is hardly any blood or gore but the movie does a good job of scaring you. A good movie!

Christmas

I happen to like Christmas and the carols that come with it. Personally, I don't know what the hell the Christian right wing is talking about when they say 'Christmas is under atack'. I see signs of Christmas everywhere which is not a bad thing. I like the feeling that Christmas brings. If the the Christian right wing really cared, it would have had a problem with the crass comercialism that Christmas has come to stand for. But they are busy making money as well. The right wing just needs an issue which it can use to shout from the roof and get some free publicity. If it can make the issue against liberals, all the better. The only other thing that I don't like about Christmas is having to hear carols everywhere. I went for a drink the other night and even the bar was playing carols. That was certainly a bit odd. My Newcastle could have done without the accompanying carol, some Doors or GunsNRoses might have been preferable. Or Silent Night by Simon and Garfunkel. Oh well! Belated Merry Christmas and have a great New Year.

New Yorkers and the strike.

I can't help but laugh at the MTA workers' strike in New York. What happened to the famous liberalism of New Yorkers? Aren't these the people and the causes that progressive New Yorkers like to spout? But of course, if they get affected, it is not their cause anymore. The MTA workers' strike bought the subway and bus service to a halt and inconvenienced millions. But I thought unions and recognizing their right to strike is one of most passionate causes of New York liberals. Instead of joining them, they started criticizing them. Can we have some more sympathy for these poor workers please? So what if they are holding the city to ransom? I guess liberalism is fine as long as there are no strikes in your own back yard. Even the liberal media went against the workers. Editors and journalists cannot be made to go through hardships. That is when they stop being liberal. I can't help gloat that New Yorkers are finally getting a taste of the causes they espouse. I am of course against unions and strikes. Unions had their context and use but not any more. They are a relic from the past which needs to become extinct. Maybe that way, the US might not lose as many manufacturing jobs also.

Difference between the US and Europe

The biggest reason why what happened in France recently has slim chances of happening in the US can be summed up by this quote by Ronald Reagan: ''Every immigrant makes America more American. You can't become an Englishman by going to live in England, or a Frenchman by going to live in France but anyone can become an American." Europe has never been welcoming to the outsider but the US has given its history of immigration. That is where this essential difference between the US and Europe stems from. Europe is too caught up in its history (or ingrained prejudices as some might call it) to be open to immigration even if they realize how important it is for economic growth. 'We would rather have lower standards of living and high taxation than have educated immigrants. But illiterate immigrants whom we can banish to the ghettos are fine' seems to be their official policy. Here is one of the best articles I have read on this topic. Personally speaking, there is no melting pot like the US which is the greatest thing about the US.

Kudos

I had sent in a comment to 'The Indianapolis Star' which was derived from an earlier posting on this blog. It was a reaction to a columnist's posting in Expresso which is the blog for columnists of 'The Indianapolis Star'. The columnist put up a message asking me to consider sending the posting as a letter to the editor for greater readership. I can't do that of course given the anonymous nature of this blog but I did feel good about it. You can read it here and the posts are towards the bottom of the page. You must read the reactions of some of the readers on the page. It is shocking to see how many Americans have become absolute nuts over this war. Freedom means nothing to them if they don't agree with your views. They justify everything from torture and domestic spying to rendition and whatever comes next in the name of freedom and 'we must support the President' or 'if you criticize, you are supporting the enemy'. It seems straight out of '1984'. May be this is ignorance or patriotism, more likely ignorant jingoism and I am no left leaning tree hugger. Indiana should start being classifed as part of the Bible Belt (no pun intended) if these opinions are anything to go with. I shall leave you with an oft-quoted quote: 'Those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither' - Benjamin Franklin.

Video/Computer Games.

I am not a big fan of video or computer games but a lot of my friends are. They don't seem to suffer from a lack of social skills nor do they have extremely violent tendencies. Finally, research has proved that they are not harmful. In fact, they are educating where kids can learn about history, politics and economics. Now, this may not be the best forum for learning these subjects but atleast they are learning. Hillary Clinton and her efforts to with Bible belt voters apart, if kids want to play these games, they should be allowed to. I find some of these games extremely interesting especially Civilization and Age of Empires. Money quote: "Dmitri Williams of the University of Illinois has tracked the behavior of a group that played a gory monster-slaying fantasy game regularly for one month and compared it with a game-free control group. The fantasy killers were no more likely to lose their tempers in real life." You can read Sebastian Mallaby's column here. I wish I played computer/video games. Maybe I would known more about history, politics and economics and had fun while doing so.

Pay Hike for Indiana State Government Workers.

Indiana State Government workers have received a pay hike of 2% for 2006. After health and life insurance benefits, the pay hikes come to about 3-5% on an average. Pay will be linked to performance from 2007 and pay hikes are not guaranteed. Average inflation for 2005 is 3.39% till November. Looking at the pay hike only, that means state government workers are getting paid less in real terms than last year and are taking a salary cut. The picture is not much better if you look at benefits. Even then, there is no real hike. How can you expect state government workers to be productive if they are not being compensated? I agree there is inefficiency but I am not sure if this is the way to correct it. Performance linked pay hikes from 2007 is dfeinitely a good idea. That is the way to go. But 2006 should have been sweetened a bit more. A pay hike of 5-6% on an average would have been better since it would have beaten inflation at the average level. The fiscal situation is Indiana is still not great but it would have been a better idea to pay state government workers more and cut down on some of the revenue losing bills that we have seen in the last few years. But then it is far easier to take away from state government workers than maintain fiscal restraint among populist politicians.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Maureen Dowd

Maureen Dowd, NYT columnist and a favorite among the liberal types has come out with a new book 'Are Men Necessary?: When Sexes Collide'. While some of her NYT columns are interesting, she comes across as shrill and hysterical in most of them. She does not offer much by way of facts and analysis while shouting from the roof top. I personally prefer some of the other NYT columnists like Friedman, Kristof, Krugman and Tierney. Money quote from Maureen Dowd's book's review in Village Voice: "It reads like a glib, déjà vu compendium of every Newsweek-style pop-science zeitgeist piece of the last 15 years." I always had a problem with neo-converts to anything. Dowd was in her own words, was too cool and too attached to being 'feminine' to take part in the feminist revolution of the '60s and '70s. So what happened? What's with all the feminism and male bashing now? For the record, I happen to know quite a few feminists who are extremely smart, capable and intelligent individuals without being shrill and hysterical. There is no way you can classify all of them as 'earnest sisters in black turtlenecks and Birkenstocks'. What she has done is silly stereotyping exactly in the same fashion that she claims to be against. She criticizes the current crop of young women for not joining the movement that she herself hadn't. From among the women I know, all of them are more idealistic, feminist and devoted to their cause than Maureen Dowd and her ilk. So what if they don't use a loudspeaker and shout from the roof top? Or wear black turtlenecks and Birkenstocks for that matter?

Milton Friedman Said It

"I'm disgusted by it," he said. "For the first time in many years Republicans have control of Congress. But once in power, the spending limits were off, and it's disgraceful." on the Republicans' sharp rise in spending over the last four years, which he says has betrayed the GOP's principles of limited government. You can read it here in this column by Donald Lambro in The Washington Times. To all those who had any doubts about whether the current breed represent true old fashioned Republicanism, this is the final clincher. There is no way the current crop of Republicans (a few exceptions apart) running the federal government can be called Republicans in the old fashioned Barry Goldwater sense atleast. What we have here is a bunch of different vested interests which have come together under the guise of conservatism for the sole purpose of pursuit of power.

Quote of the Day

"A tidy mind may not appreciate Turkey's contradictions. It is a place where the ruling Islamists blindly push the country into Europe while the old Westernized establishment threatens personal freedoms. Its booming capitalist economy coexists with a militant dislike for all things American. It's an experiment in secular Muslim democracy that could, in a decade or more, almost as easily end up in the European Union's postmodern paradise as in an Iranian-style theocracy. Unless, of course, yet another coup restores Kemal Ataturk's military-dominated republic." Matthew Kaminski, editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe in a column. The column is very good read. Turkey is one of those fascinating places where Islam exists in a fairly moderate form as part of a secular state. Most Turks I know are extremely liberal and modern and have this knack for picking up whatever they like from Islam and discarding the rest. They have this easy co-existence with a religion that some in other countries, carry to its most fanatical form. Turkey should be the model for some of the other countries in the Middle East. But some fanatics are trying their best thwart that and eventually make it into a theocracy. Sometimes, democracy is not always a good thing.

France

The most hypocritical country in the world is undoubtedly France. They talk big but when it comes to actual actions, they don't do anything. You can see it vis-a-vis international trade as well as its domestic problems. The French criticize the US for being a racist and unequal soceity while completely ignoring (literally) its own minorities. The French have kept their immigrants without any opportunities and education (of course this is subtlely done, come on we are French) while bitching about the US. The French have kept their immigrants in their ghettos while talking about integration. A recent survey in France proved that a person with an Arab name would get ten times less the response for a job application as against some one with a French name inspite of having the exact same qualifications. It is virtually impossible for an immigrant to get a decent job in France. Their elite universities have hardly any immigrants. Glass ceilings abound. You can never be French even if you are born and brought up in France and have always lived there. All this and the French have the balls to call American society racist. On the other hand, money is a great leveller in a capitalistic society. Immigrants in the US are busy studying at universities (with the aim of getting a well paid job eventually) or making money. French universities should start teaching that it has been 40 years since France was a great power. The French are still caught up in their past and their holy cows. There is no deGaulle anymore nor any French sphere of influence. Right now, all that France stands for is a third rate power (it of course does not realize that itself) that aspires to have global influence. Right now, wine, their most famous export, is losing market share to Australian, Chilean and Californian wines. At the rate they are going, in the next 20 years, they will not even be a power, forget third rate unless they change their policies and realize how the world has changed in the last 20 years. But for the French, ignorance is indeed bliss. Liberté, égalité, fraternité mais pas pour tout!

WTO, Rich Countries and Tree Huggers

The reason WTO has not worked to the extent it was supposed to is not because it did too much but because it did way too little. To see the actual benefits of free trade and its effect on poverty alleviation, one has to see actual free trade which has nto really happened. Instead of protesting against the WTO, the tree huggers should protest against the EU governments and France in particular. France is trying to stop the implementation of lower agriculture subsidies and eventually removing them in the EU. Indirectly, it is making poor farmers in Africa and Asia stay in poverty. This is how it works: France provides huge subsidies to the tune of billions of dollars to its farmers (other countries inclue EU ones as well as the US) to grow crops/food grains which can be grown at much lower costs in Africa and Asia. But these African and Asian farmers cannot sell their products in the global market and remain poor because after the subsidies, French, EU and American farmers manage to sell them at lower costs because their governments help them out. Example (not real figures): An African farmer might be able to produce one pound of cotton for $1 but it costs an American farmer $3 for the same. But the American government provides subsidy to the tune of $2.50 making it possible for the American farmer to sell it for $0.50 thus undercutting the poor African farmer. So while the African farmer is far more efficient and should be able to sell in the global market, American farmers manage to do so because the American government helps pay for it and gives money to the American farmer. Is is real free trade? No way! But the US has agreed to reduce and eventually eliminate subsidies to its farmers but the French are not willing to do so. The French are the biggest hypocrites, they love talking about aid to poor countries, inequality but do the least. All they do is talk big and do nothing in reality. The WTO talks in HongKong might fall through because of France. The developing countries want subsidies removed if the developed countries want access to their markets but it is France which is biggest impediment. They want all the gains without giving any concessions at the same time making their 'fat cat' farmers even fatter. So next time, you hear the French talking about inequality and capitalism, tell them to shove it. Vive la France!

Domestic Spying

The recent news about domestic spying leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It is the 'big brother' scenario coming true. But if there was one president who would have done it and done it so nonchalantly, almost as if it was his birth right, it is Bush. Right from the beginning, he has done everything unilaterally, not really caring for any advice or consultation. This is evident from his authorizing torture to the war in Iraq. What he thinks is right is right. There is no other way but his way. I am not sure if that is the correct frame of mind for a president of the only superpower in a unipolar world. The world is not just black and white, it is mostly gray. I don't think there is any justification for the US President to flout well established rules and laws as Bush has done. It shows his absolute contempt for the constitutional laws and rules upon which the American Presidency is built. Even worse, Congress has let him get away with it by hardly pushing for any oversight. Ten years later, Americans will be shocked to see the leeway they gave the President on the excuse of the 'war on terror' and what he did with it. Power always corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Unfortunately, that maxim has no exceptions. I have a feeling that all the policies and decisions that have been taken between 2000 and 2008 will have far wider ramifications than what is generally expected and not all of it will be good. But then in a democracy, the majority rules and that has to be accepted. I don't think most people who voted for Bush (apart from die-hard Republicans and the extreme right-wing) really knew what they were getting into. I am sure it is a learning experience for them as well.

Science and Republicans

Being a libertarian, a lot of my opinion could be classified as some what Republican but one of the big issues I disagree with them is on the environment. I believe that development should not take place at all cost and corporates/developers should be made to pay for whatever damages they cause. I believe in the power of science and technology (findings of which can be manipulated) and its ability to innovate for further human progress. Having said all that, it comes as no surprise that the Bush administration has devalued science to the largest extent possible, more than any other administration before. It is not science anymore but 'political science'. I don't think anything better can be expected when you have administration officials running sensitive environment departments who were lobbyists for corporate/developer/mining/oil and gas concerns before. It is shocking to see the US, forerunner of science and technology in the world, having to stoop down to such low levels just to satisfy corporate interests. Read about it here. Money quote: "Last year, the White House expelled the eminent cell biologist Elizabeth Blackburn, a proponent of embryonic stem-cell research, from the President's Council on Bioethics and installed a political scientist who had once declared, "Every embryo for research is someone's blood relative." And in 2002 the administration appointed the Kentucky gynecologist and obstetrician W. David Hager to the Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration. Hager has advocated treating premenstrual syndrome with Bible readings and has denounced the birth control pill." Mind you, I am no tree hugger as all of you know. It is also a debatable point whether one can consider the current administration as Republican, atleast in the old school sense.

Busy

It has been a while since I posted. I was extremely busy at work over the last week or so and did not get a chance. Hopefully, things should be a little easier from now on and I will be able to post regularly. I am going to post today and will make up for the last week. A lot of things have happened also and since I have an opinion on almost everything, I shall post some of them :)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Ayn Rand

I read this interesting article on Ayn Rand and thought I would link to it. She was one author whose books influenced me a great deal while growing up. I have a feeling that influence still exists. For those of you haven't read her novels, start with 'The Fountainhead' and then go on to 'Atlas Shrugged'. She had her faults but her idea of 'objectivism' made a lot of sense to me at that point and still does. I still remember the first line of 'The Fountainhead': "Howard Roark laughed." It helps if you have read Ayn Rand at a relatively younger age. It makes you wonder and think about how there are leaders and followers and most people are followers. Her heroes and heroines are perfect in a different sort of way but they always aspire and stand out among the rest of people. Check out the speech that Howard Roark gives defending his actions towards the end of 'The Fountainhead'.

Corollary to 'counter culture' post

I was at this gas station one time when the attendant asked me about the Che t-shirt that I was wearing. She thought that I had no idea who he was, his ideals etc. But she was surprised to know that I knew quite a bit about him and wore the t-shirt for a reason. In the end, I ended up educating her about Che. I am not too sure how many people know who Che was when they wear t-shirts with his face. It is a different thing that Che has been highly discredited. After taking Cuba, he became like any other fascist and put many innocent people to deah. I still admire him because of his idealism atleast during his initial years. One way or the other, Che must be turning in his grave realizing how he is being used to sell everything from t-shirts to mugs. The man who fought capitalism has become its icon. What a waste! Or may be that is where it all has to end.

Rebels Without a Cause

I am not sure if any of you feel the same way but every counter culture product as well as the culture itself becomes part of the establishment after a point and then starts making money out of it. I guess the temptation is too hard to resist. That is one reason why capitalism lasts. It becomes the means through which counter culture also hits the market. Isnt it amazing how everything that was started against the establishment and capitalism becomes part of the same institutions? Examples abound, one of the best being 'Hot Topic'. It was originally started as punk/counter culture but they are probably making more money than most brands. The funniest part is watching kids coming with their parents to shop there. Read this if you want to know more about how the anti-establishment becomes part and parcel of the establishment.

Korean Gesture for 'I Love You'

I recently read that if you place your two feet on top of the two feet of your girlfriend or boyfriend or spouse or who ever, it means 'I love you.' If you are dinner on opposite sides of the table, all you have to do is place your two feet on the two feet of the other person to say 'I love you'. I have no idea whether it is true or not. I wish I knew someone Korean, I could have checked. Nice gesture! Not too hard, eh? Korean Gesture for 'I Love You'

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Snow in Indy

Indy got hit by about 7-8 inches of snow on Thursday afternoon. It snowed from about 3 in the afternoon till midnight. It seems that the snow will be piled up for a while since temperatures are not expected to go above the freezing point. Traffic was crazy and people including yours truly was stuck in downtown for almost 2 hours. What a night! I saw people starting to walk or jug after running out of gas which led to more bottlenecks. The driver behind me was frantic because he works at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and was getting late for his show. I hope the poor chap reached in time but I doubt it. I told him that hopefully everyone else would be late as well. Poor consolation that! Unless it snows again, we will have a brown Christmas since most of the snow has turned brown from vehicles driving over it and dirt. Picture courtesy: The Indianapolis Star

Quote of the Day

"The Democrats seem to be basically nicer people, but they have demonstrated time and again that they have the management skills of celery. They're the kind of people who'd stop to help you change a flat, but would somehow manage to set your car on fire. I would be reluctant to entrust them with a Cuisinart, let alone the economy. The Republicans, on the other hand, would know how to fix your tire, but they wouldn't bother to stop because they'd want to be on time for Ugly Pants Night at the country club." Dave Barry. I think it is some what similar to what a lot of voters in the US feel right now. Courtesy: Andrew Sullivan.com where I first read this.

'Syriana'

I saw 'Syriana' last night and I must admit it was one of the best movies I have seen in a while. It is extremely timely and keeps you on the edge right till the end. The movie is set in current times and deals with oli and gas politics and how different players from all over the world have a stake it and till what extent they go to make sure they don't lose out. It makes a lot of comments on these politics as well. The writer/director is Stephen Gaghan whose earlier film was 'Traffic'. It has certain commonalities with 'Traffic' like three different stories which come together towards the end. 'Syriana' has received good reveiws from critics as well as viewers. It was interesting to see the risks taken as well as the lives lost for just one commodity - oil/gas. I shall leave you to watch the movie and make up your own minds. A definite 'must see'.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Right Wing Christian Nuts Again

Here are some of the comments that were posted. I am posting them to give you an idea of the kind of people who exist and sometimes write comments on my blog. Maybe, I should be flattered that they read my blog. All you nuts, stay away from my blog. Go start your own and I am sure you will have a large following of fellow ignoramuses as well. Comments: "It is people like you that are nuts. If you didn't want anyone to post comments, then maybe you shouldn't post anything. Don't shoot the messenger. Whether you like it or not, homosexuality is not okay." "You are not political. You are just a jerk and politically incorrect." Of course, these comments were all anonymous. All you nuts, at least have the courage to put in your name and contacts. Or just do everyone else a favor and jump into a freezing lake. Maybe the cold will open up your brains and minds. High time!!

The Role of Propaganda in the US - II

The following paragraph is from Slate's article on the same topic. Money quote: "For the Bush team, rolling-your-own news has the further advantage of supporting the revolving-door conservative welfare state that has flourished in five years of expanding, undivided government. The administration's need to outsource its propaganda work—for reasons of deniability, not efficiency—has promoted the emergence of a new kind of PR-industrial complex in the nation's capital. Outfits like the Ketchum's Washington Group, the shadowy Lincoln Group, and the even more flourishing, even more shadowy Rendon Group are the parasitic fruit not just of unchecked self-puffery but of a lucrative new patronage network." I have never believed in conspiracy theories but this is not a conspiracy theory. It details how much the information that we receive the Internet, television and print media is actually 'spin' and manipulated. I am not sure what to believe and what not. Some amount of propoganda is needed but is it necessarly to 'spin' everything and that too in one's own country?

The Role of Propaganda in the US - I

It is not only Bush who has used 'spin' and propaganda to great effect. Clinton perfected that but no one thought anyone could better him. Bush promised he would get rid of all that but of course, the administration perfected the art when it came to Iraq. Let me add I am still in favor of the war but I don't agree with the way the American people at large were persuaded. If anything could be worse, the army used contractors in Washington DC to plant stories in the Iraqi press. I thought we were nation building and setting up democratic institutions in Iraq. We are setting a fine example for them. But to be honest, it is the same way it works in the US. Remember all those pliant journalists and experts the Bush administration used to plant stories about their various programs in the media? Read about John Rendon and his company here which the Bush administration used to sell the war. Previous administrations have used him as well to sell different things to the American people. Money quote: "Thomas Twetten, the CIA's former deputy of operations, credits Rendon with virtually creating the INC. "The INC was clueless," he once observed. "They needed a lot of help and didn't know where to start. That is why Rendon was brought in." Acting as the group's senior adviser and aided by truckloads of CIA dollars, Rendon pulled together a wide spectrum of Iraqi dissidents and sponsored a conference in Vienna to organize them into an umbrella organization, which he dubbed the Iraqi National Congress. The key element of Rendon's INC operation was a worldwide media blitz designed to turn Hussein, a once dangerous but now contained regional leader, into the greatest threat to world peace. Each month, $326,000 was passed from the CIA to the Rendon Group and the INC via various front organizations. Rendon profited handsomely, receiving a "management fee" of ten percent above what it spent on the project. According to some reports, the company made nearly $100 million on the contract during the five years following the Gulf War. Post September 11, the Bush administration took everything Rendon had to offer. Between 2000 and 2004, Pentagon documents show, the Rendon Group received at least thirty-five contracts with the Defense Department, worth a total of $50 million to $100 million." It is scary to see the power that companies like John Rendon's have and how much they can spin. After reading the article, you will really be at a loss to figure out what is true and what is spin. Sometimes, there is no dividing line.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Keystone Art Cinema & Indie Lounge

Finally, a nice new multiplex for off beat and foreign movies comes to Indy. The new Place called ‘Keystone Art Cinema & Indie Lounge’ is located at the Fashion Mall at Keystone at the Crossing and opens on Friday. It will only show independent cinema, foreign language films, documentary features and classic revivals. Previously, there were only two places where you could watch movies like this – Castleton Arts and Key Cinemas. Castleton Arts has shut down while Key Cinemas is still running. The new multiplex has seven screens and will serve liquor as well. How much better could it get! At last, something noteworthy is happening in Indy. You can read the story here.

Global Cop in a Unipolar World

I believe that as the only super power, the US should play the role of a global cop. The American people can and will be convinced given the right reasons and more importantly, if politicians are honest and level with them. It was heartening to see US playing an active role in Kosovo. I wish Clinton had not pulled out of Somalia and had sent in troops to Rwanda and Bosnia during the early and mid 90s. Imagine, if the US had sent in troops or authorized use of force at the UN instead of actively lobbying against it, the Rwandan genocide may not have happened or at least would have happened on a much smaller scale. If saving the life of 500,000 people (with a substantial proportion of females and children among them) from torture and rape is not worth it, I am not sure what is worth it. I think the US as a society needs to think about these issues which arise from its soft and hard power in a unipolar world. As for me, my foreign policy views are a mixture of internationalism, liberalism and neo-conservatism. After all, 'war is an extension of foreign policy'.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The War in Iraq

"A woman testified in the trial of Saddam Hussein and his seven lieutenants Tuesday that she was assaulted and tortured with beatings and electric shocks by the former president's agents. She testified from behind a screen and her voice was disguised, but her weeping was still apparent. "I was forced to take off my clothes, and he raised my legs up and tied up my hands. He continued administering electric shocks and whipping me and telling me to speak," Witness A said of Wadah al-Sheik, an Iraqi intelligence officer who died of cancer last month. Several times, the woman, hidden behind a light blue curtain, broke down. "God is great. Oh, my Lord!" she moaned, her voice electronically deepened and distorted. She strongly suggested she had been raped, but did not say so outright" from today's Washington Post. That is why I had supported the war and I still do. No one has the right to do the ugly and horrible things that Saddam did and get away with it. It is a different thing that the war was incompetently planned and executed right from the beginning. But the idea was good and I believe we can still win. Liberals have to understand that there is no way they can justify Saddam Hussein however much they hate the Republicans. He was a nasty brute who deserved a nasty death. Whether one is anti or pro war, that Saddam Hussein is not in power is a good thing. What I fear is that the incompetency of the current administration will result in further losses and more chaos.

Gay Rights and Indy.

This is where I get a chance to vent. Goddamit, you Indy ignoramuses, how can you people fall for the crap that self styled religious bigots are feeding you? They do not need a hearing, what they need is a kick up their butt. I can't believe the City Council rejected the proposal to ban discrimination against gays the last time and now they are dithering so much. Having said that, I do think the majority of people in Indy support the proposition atleast going by Indy Star reader comments. It is just that the bigots are just a whole lot shriller and more organized. They are ready at a moment's notice to run to the State House to protest given that most don't hold real jobs and all they do is lobbying. Also, they get more publicity and newsprint since their histronics sell more copies. After having failed to get support for a bill to almost dictate who can/cannot have children through fertility treatment, an Indiana politician's latest cause is to make sure that this proposition does not pass. After all, he has been elected to serve the people. He probably thinks Hoosiers have no worries apart from gay discrimination and homosexuality. If he looks around, he will see that there are much larger issues around. Bloomington, Michigan City, West Lafayette and Fort Wayne have already passed similar ordinances. Hmm, I thought Indy was the coolest and largest city in Indiana? So much for that!
 
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