Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Checking out early

I've always been a bit fascinated by suicide, and a bit too relaxed with my humor. This explains the situation of when I was in 3rd grade the gifted program had us do an independent study. Basically it was a 5-20 page paper on something complete with citations a visual aid. Basic English 101 stuff, but when you're 9 it's a big deal. We all had to pick topics, and most people picked animals or historical figures, etc. I picked "suicide." My two teachers confronted me privately about this topic; I clearly underestimated the severity of their concern. They said, "we just want to know why you picked suicide as your topic." "Because I've thought about a lot," was my immediate response. Apparently, sarcasm is a lost art when 9 year olds are joking about suicide in the public school system. When I noticed they didn't find my humor appealing, I explained that I had an academic interest in what might cause somebody to take their own life. I was just curious. Granted they recommended I choose another topic. I ended up settling for the amoeba...

Should suicide be illegal? I've had some arguments about this. There seems to be a big rift between, "yes because [insert cognitive dissonance that usually points to Christian upbringing]," and, "no, it's a stupid law because you can't punish the person who is dead."

Here's my thought. Suicide needs to be illegal, but not for the sake of religious reasons, only for the purpose of helping with the legal aspects of someone punching their own card. If this person has debts... what do you do about those debts? This question (among others) should be answered in suicide legislation. What should the answer be? How should those imbalances be balanced to ease this person's self-departure? Now that's a tough question...

One weak theory might suggest always having all negative effects of suicide pushed to the family or closest people to the suicider (one who suicides)... with the idea this would deter some people from committing suicide, because it would harm those closest to them. Clearly this is flawed if for the mentally ill.

Another weak theory is that all debts should be erased... which means the entities owed the money have to pay for the act. This clearly isn't good either. Bottom line, random and uncontrolled suicide rarely happens without lots of negative consequence (both emotional and financial)

So while I think random suicide should be illegal (once again, only for the purpose of establishing legal ramifications), I do think assisted suicide should be legal (especially in the case of terminal illness). If someone doesn't want to live and they can demonstrate that their departure is either already imminent and/or would have minimal negative impact on the world, why should we keep them here? This is especially true for the terminally ill, but I'd extend the right to all legal adults. So to seemingly contradict my earlier statements, I believe people have the right to commit suicide; I just wish they would be polite about it.

What about the eastern cultures? What about suicide as atonement?
I apologize for the bit of coincidental morbidity that comes with posting a suicide blog on Halloween.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


...belongs to the conquer. This post started out with me thinking about how much history is affected by winner. I'd like to do some research and read some conflicting literature on something like slavery, women's rights (as I'm sure there were plenty of outspoken and prominent figures on both sides...but we don't hear much about them). Today the same issues are manifested in the gay rights movement. Anyway, this post is no longer about that. It's about Regan, and Cuomo, and government, and a tale of two cities.

I've always thought Regan was picture perfect president, worthy of a spot on Rushmore. Well maybe he is worthy, maybe he istn't. Just as those on Rushmore, Regan was not without opposition, and didn't do everything right. Mario Cuomo's 1984 Democratic Convention speech woke me up to this fact (found via farleft). Great speech. I should say though, I only agree with Cuomo's ideas if he planned to help the poor only by empowering them, not by giving free stuff away. I think I'm slinking toward libertarianism.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Every now and then...

...I actually post about bikes.

Yesterday is the last day I eat a dairy product until my birthday. This is how you know I'm getting serious about something athletic. As the weather has turned to what most people would call "shitty," I have become increasingly excited about cyclocross.

Nationals is in Kansas City this year. The day after graduation, I'll be racing in the collegiate national championships. My parents will be there to see me race, which is cool. Mizzou is hosting a race in Columbia on Nov. 10th on campus... and Mike Weiss of Big Shark has been ind enough to allow us to piggy back on his race in STL on Nov 11th. Both events are open to the public as well as collegiate racers.

It's cold and raining, and I just put my ksyriums on my cross bike, and lookout... my rear cassette goes to 11. This is going to be sweet.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

No frills living

This has been bugging me for awhile: How can we prevent the upward creep prices due to the addition of bells and whistles? This isn't a prevalent characteristic in all economies... but you can see it in the US very well.

Think of these:
-cars (5-spd, crank windows, rubber floormats?)
-Cell phones (sans camera, multimedia messaging, bluetooth, etc.)
-pillow cases (why can't we get really cheap material cases with super low thread counts for $.99?)
-bikes (why can't I buy an adult, single speed, rigid at Wal-Mart?)
-bike components (you can't buy new 9-speed through shimano any more... only 10-speed)
-iPods (if I could buy a new normal 2GB iPod for $20.... I'd do it... rather than spending $300 on an 80GB video ipod)

Yes, I know the market doesn't dictate a sufficient necessity for these low-end products. Manufacturers know they can increase profits by adding neato-gadets to their existing products, and getting rid of the previous product. My beef is that this trend decreases the ability for many lower-income people to buy these things....some of which are borderline between luxury and need (a car for example... while I live without one, I realize it's not a need, but it is a tool that can empower someone, i.e. no longer have to work only when and where public transportation goes).
I'm also thankful that this trend exists... it's indicative of our ever rising per capita income (even after adjusting for inflation). Bells and whistles are being added, because the majority of the market can afford the new tricked cell phones.

I don't know how the government could help this situation. I'm a believer that the government shouldn't hand out mandates to businesses. The market should be the only thing dictating economic equilibrium. That doesn't mean culture can't be shifted to a healthier market (clearly it's not the easy way...). I need an idea for this problem like the idea of carbon labeling... an idea that educates the people to make market affecting decisions if it is right for them.

This isn't very articulate, but I'm hungry, so deal. I apologize for the excessive use of ellipses.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Civil War

I'm becoming increasingly annoyed with people who like to fight progress that isn't perfect.
I have a message for people: "Cold fusion doesn't exist yet, and it's not close enough to wait around for it."

Things that annoy me:
-People who don't support building new nuclear reactors because of the waste (but let's keep burning a lot more coal?!?!)
-People who don't support moving to bio-diesel because corporate farming isn't sustainable
-People who don't buy compact fluorescent bulbs because they have trace amounts of mercury (far less than coal burning power plants expel into the atmosphere.... and they can be disposed of properly)
-People who shut down wind turbines because birds were flying into them (birds have been around a long time... they will learn very quickly, in the meantime wind turbines are shut down so we can burn more fossil fuels. yay!)

... also wasn't there a scenario in CA a few years back where the EPA wouldn't allow a field to be cleared because it would disturb the field mice's natural habitat... as a wild fire was spreading towards the field and the neighborhood that bordered it. I can't get behind that!

Listen... I realize their points. None of these options are perfect. Bio-diesel crops aren't sustainable at the level we need them. Guess what, civilization isn't sustainable with it's current trends, and I don't think many people are going to be too keen on returning to hunting and gathering. Therefore, we need to do the best we can right now.

Sustainability does not have a solution yet... we must satisfice while we continue to look for the answer.

sorry about that... I'm a bit annoyed today.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Facebook and China

My friend Erika is in China... and she must have some spare time, because she got tired of me being too cool for facebook, and signed me up. So I guess I'm on facebook now.

More importantly, Erika's blog can be found on the right under the link "until the local government oppresses"... As it turns out, she's long since been oppressed. The Chinese government reads all her email and is careful to shut down any blogs Erika or others may have. Youtube is also highly restricted and many pages are just blocked. Erika can't send email home about her Christian faith, unless she writes them in metaphorical code... generally a thinly veiled allegory will do (dad=pops, Dad=God; et al.).

Until Erika went to China, I didn't realize just how restrictive they are. While I think it's pretty stupid, I also find it incredibly impressive. How do you police the internet? That's just incredible. Especially when you consider the government doesn't just police what digitally leaves China, they police what comes in also.

Here's a wiki on internet censorship in China. It estimates their internet police force at 30,000 people. That still seems like a pretty small number to be as effective as they are at deleting message board posts as quickly as they do. They must have a lot of automation, and be really good at it. Simply impressive.

Monday, October 01, 2007

For school

This is what tomorrow's great minds are doing.Please don't click on that link. Don't hate me for the midi file embedded in the background, the use of tables and lack of CSS or xhtml... I'm just doing what the grading rubric calls for.

I get serious bonus points if the page gets ranked on google... the spiders seem to visit my blog pretty regularly... so there you have it. More ranting to come soon.