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Archive for October, 2006

What happened during the blizzard of ’06.

Posted by Chance on October 28, 2006

Well, because of a huge blizzard going through Colorado this past Thursday, the wife and I were stuck home. Besides shoveling lots of snow and saving our trees, here is a breakdown of what happened that day.

Over at Port Charles, some lady named Laura was apparently in a coma for the past 3 years. Luke tried to save her with an experimental drug, and it seemed to finally work. Sonny’s brother Rick is trying to bring his crime empire down, and Rick slept with his stepdaughter Sammy (sp?) which made things a little awkward around the wife, Sammy’s mom, who I think is sick with cancer or flesh-eating bacteria or something like that. That also strained relationships with Sammy and Jason, but Jason is busy helping out Sonny with the empire. I think Sonny once said that he wanted to be legit, but I don’t believe him. Sonny’s ex-wife Carly used to be a short brunette with brown eyes, but now she is tall and blonde with blue eyes. I think next week she will be some black lady.

Over in Salem, Sami once again tried to crash Austin and Carrie’s wedding. I didn’t think Carrie and Austin would recover the first time when Sami showed up at their first wedding and announced she was pregnant with Austin’s baby. But it wasn’t Austin’s fault, Sami had drugged him, but it still bothered Carrie since Sami is her sister. Anyway, Sami tried to crash the wedding, but Austin and Carrie’s love marched through. Also, I tried to catch what Marlena was up to. It didn’t seem like she was demon-possessed or killing people for no reason this time, so that is always a good thing.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

A compromise for the stem-cell debate

Posted by Chance on October 25, 2006

The stem cell debate has been in the news a lot recently with Michael J. Fox doing an ad in support of it, and some celebrities opposing it. ( I didn’t want to pick one article, but do a Google News Search.

To be honest, I don’t know all the details about stem cell research, and how much of it actually destroys human life. I am not advocating it in this post in anyway, but I wanted to offer a compromise.

Allow stem-cell research to continue. Anyone at anytime and anyplace can perform the research. Hospitals, universities, whoever can do the research.

And not only that, states are allowed to fund stem-cell research based on a direct vote by the people.

Oh wait, that’s the current situation we have now.

Stem cell research is perfectly legal. Not only can private sector companies do it, but state governments can fund it. The only restriction is that of federal funding for certain stem cell lines. But for some people, that is not enough. If anything is remotely a good idea, we must throw the federal government at it.

The thing is, many of those who claim that I shouldn’t “enforce my morality” on them concerning the stem-cell research debate don’t have any problems with forcing someone to pay for research that they find morally repulsive.

My main preference is that no research happens that destroys human life. Again, I don’t know much about it, but I know pro-life groups have a problem with it. But at the very least, don’t make people pay for things they find morally repulsive. Now, I know some will say “but what about financing war that I disagree with?” Okay, fine, I understand. Many people have to pay for things they find morally repulsive with government. But just because some have to pay for some things against their will, shouldn’t open the door for everything else the government tries to fund.

But, an objection I anticipate is that letting people die is also morally questionable, and this is a good objection. The argument would be that we should do all we can do, and if federal funding is an option, so be it. Throw in all the guns. But I wouldn’t say that federal funding is guaranteed to improve medical research. I think many of us take it as a given that federal involvement and money always improves things; it seems like the intuitive answer, but I have also heard arguments that federal involvement makes medical research less effective. I won’t go into all of them now, but I think it is an assumption worth examining.

Update:
Yes, preacherman, Rush Limbaugh is an idot.

Posted in Politics | 8 Comments »

Same-sex schools, classes okay

Posted by Chance on October 25, 2006

The Bush administration gave the okay for school districts to have more freedom in same-sex schools and classes.

I haven’t had time to review all the details concerning the decision, but from my understanding, enrollment is voluntary. That is, students in a district will have the choice between a co-ed school or a same-sex school.

So, is going to a school with all the same gender a good thing? Or is going to a coed school better? Well, since enrollment is voluntary, it does not matter as much. It is up to the parents to decide. I can see possible complaints because it would supposedly open the door to segregated schools. Overall, I agree with the decision, simply because I believe in maximum flexibility when it comes to parents deciding what kind of school their child should go to.

This decision does have ramifications for school choice. If there does appear to be advantages of same-sex schools, even for some, but not all, I think it may show the advantage of having school choice in other areas as well. In fact, if school choice was more widely available, we would have probably more same-sex schools in the past.

Now, I am not advocating same-sex schools in any way. I don’t know if that is something I would want for my child. I am just advocating parents having the choice of same-sex or coed schools.

Even if same-sex schools turn out to be a failure, that is something parents, and society, on a larger level, will learn somewhat quickly. Test scores will be compared between counterparts, and we may find that some students do better or worse. And that is really how school should work in general. Schools compete to get better.

Now, how school choice should be implemented is another topic entirely. Should families get vouchers; should their be charter schools; should parents simply have the choice of schools in their city the same way one has the choice of public colleges? One thing I do believe, is that school choice must be implemented somehow.

This is something I will have to think more about. These are just my immediate thoughts on the subject. The point is, parents should have more choice in their children’s schooling than simply if they go to a coed school or not. If advantages are seen in having choice in this aspect, this may lead to choice in other areas as well.

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How to make smoking cool again…

Posted by Chance on October 23, 2006

It seems that the act of smoking cigarettes has taken quite a hit concerning social standing in society. In older movies, and maybe even television shows, it was not a surprise to see anyone light up. However, smoking seems to be losing popularity. Most people perceive it as a nasty habit, or may even enjoy smoking but give it up based on health reasons. Smoking is something that was associated with a somewhat rebellious image, something cool, but that seems to have changed over time.

Smoking is something that has never interested me. I’ve just never had a desire to do it. I still don’t, although, I must admit, a small part of me wishes I did. Why? Because there is a tiny side of me that wants to rebel against the anti-smoking zealots. Now, I am not even talking about the smoking ban, that is a much more complex issue involving property rights, and I don’t want to unravel that right now. I am talking about censorship. I read an article sometime back about censorship concerning smoking. For some reason, I thought I saw it at Lee’s blog, but it turns out it was at the Cato Institute Blog. The post says

Cartoon editors are painstakingly working through more than 1,500 episodes of classic Tom and Jerry, Flintstones, and Scooby Doo cartoons to erase scenes of characters – gasp – smoking. Turner Broadcasting says it’s a voluntary decision, but the move comes after a report from Ofcom, which has regulatory authority over British broadcasters. So in this case “censorship” seems a reasonable term.

It’s not the first time. France’s national library airbrushed a cigarette out of a poster of Jean-Paul Sartre to avoid falling foul of an anti-tobacco law. The US postal service has removed the cigarettes from photographs on stamps featuring Jackson Pollock, Edward R. Murrow, and Robert Johnson. And in the 20th-anniversary rerelease of ET, Steven Spielberg replaced the policemen’s guns with walkie-talkies.

On one level, this is just a joke: they are redrawing cartoons to make them more kid-friendly. And just to make the rules completely PC, Turner is allowed to leave cigarettes in the hands of cartoon villains.

But there’s something deeper here: an attempt to sanitize history, to rewrite it the way we wish it had happened. Smoking is a part of reality, and especially a part of history. Just look at any old movie. Everyone smokes: doctors, pregnant women, lovers. Real people smoked, too – people like Murrow and Pollock and Sartre. And some of them died of lung and throat cancer, which parents and teachers can point out. It’s Orwellian to airbrush historical photos in order to remove evidence of that of which you disapprove.

Franklin D. Roosevelt spent decades trying to conceal the fact that he was confined to a wheelchair. Historians say that out of more than 10,000 photographs of FDR, only four show him using a wheelchair. Those are the ones that are now used in textbooks and at the FDR Memorial in Washington. One victory for historical accuracy. However, the FDR Memorial removed the ever-present cigarette from FDR’s hands. Orwell’s ministry of truth would be proud.

The article has many good points, but I wanted to focus on the one about smoking. As I said previously, it seems like smoking is losing it’s “cool” image. And that is mainly people deciding for themselves that smoking is a bad idea, and certain voluntary groups, I believe, are helping in the effort. Smoking is viewed as more “dangerous”, but not in a cool way anymore, but in a “give you lung cancer” sort of way. However, when government steps in, I think it can have the reverse effect. Look at me. I am the least rebellious person I know. Even though I have many libertarian viewpoints, I consider myself a person with a conservative lifestyle and someone with few vices, other than the additional Hershey’s bar from time to time. But also, when I see such nanny-state behavior, it makes me wish I smoked just to throw it in the anti-smoking zealot’s face. If such actions affect me in such a way, how about the rebellious teenager?

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments »

How do we take care of the earth?

Posted by Chance on October 21, 2006

Let’s take a look at Genesis 1:28-30.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

I bring up this verse because I want to look at mankind’s role in taking care of the earth, and understanding this role is important in light of environmental issues such as global warming and energy sources. When talking to various Christians, two main viewpoints come about.

1. God has provided on this earth exactly what we need. God has told us to fill the earth and subdue it, and He does so without qualification. Also, I trust that the earth will have enough resources to last us until the coming of Christ.

2. We are supposed to be more wise in our use of natural resources and ensure that what we do to the earth will not strongly impact future generations in a negative way. While God does not explicitly command us to conserve energy, one would expect that God expects us to use wisdom in our care of the earth, in the same way that He expects us to wisely manage our finances or our property.

I can understand both points of view, and I do not really know where I am. I can see the virtues in both. The first places trust that God will give us exactly what we need, but the second viewpoint – which does not negate God’s providence in any way stresses wisdom in management of the earth.

I don’t have that much to say on the topic; I just wanted to present these two different viewpoints that I have seen in Christianity. I do not have any articles to link to, these are just the viewpoints I have gathered just by talking to people.

I do want to make a couple of points however.

1) Humans are not parasites. Some of the more extreme environmentalists – not the norm – would be happy if most of the population was wiped out, due to consumption of natural resources. I will say that I do not believe overpopulation is a problem. Granted, one should not have more kids than they can feed, but God says “be fruitful and multiply” and He does so without qualification. Yes, the “subdue the earth” is without qualification as well, but we subdue the earth for resources, and one can argue that these resources are limited, so we do not subdue it as much. The point is, “subdue the earth” is open to more interpretation; “be fruitful and multiply” is less so. Anyway, humans should never, ever be seen as a liability, and I believe that any measure to discourage population growth encourages this viewpoint.

2) The earth is here for us, we are not here for the earth. Again, this does not give license to reckless disregard for the earth, but I do think we should have our priorities correct. In my view, Genesis 1 seems to favor the viewpoint that the earth is here for us. It has an overall tone that man (I use man in the broad sense, not a specific gender) has dominion over everything else. Again, this viewpoint can easily encompass varying environmental views, I am just saying we should have our priorities straight.

Just a few thoughts.

Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments »

Some basic philosophies in a nutshell…

Posted by Chance on October 20, 2006

I’ve spoken plenty on political topics throughout this blog. I have actually not been that involved recently in politics – not that I am actively involved, but I mean involved as in reading on political topics or actively thinking through various problems of a political nature. I wouldn’t say I have lost a passion for political issues, but they haven’t been the main thoughts of the day. I think to some degree, this has allowed me to step back and look at things in a gut level sort of way. I feel the desire to express some of my basic philosophies, not so much in political or philosophical terms, but more in a down-to-the-roots manner.

1. In general, people should have to pay for stuff. I don’t think things should be free. I’m not entitled to anything, whether it is the song I download, the software I use, the books I read, the food I eat, etc… Most everything I have is something somebody else provided. I’m not saying to abolish welfare, but welfare should be temporary for those who can feed themselves.

2. Government is not the answer to people’s problems. I believe the government should have as minimal a role in our lives as possible. Government is not some agent of God to make our lives better in any way. The more room government has, the less room for family and church. The transformation of a society can only be done through voluntary actions. We have learned this lesson with religion, you cannot force people to have a certain faith. In the same way, actions done through force cannot accomplish great change in our society.

3. Freedom is accomplished through negative rights, not positive. Positive rights will always come into conflict. The right to certain goods or services will conflict with the rights of the person providing it. The right to a microphone will conflict with the rights of the person providing that microphone. Freedom of speech means the government cannot interfere with my right to speak, it does not guarantee that someone provides the resources for me to be heard; doing so conflicts with the right of someone else not to support speech they do not like. Radio stations refusing to play the Dixie Chicks is not censorship. I touched on this before, but drug stores not carrying birth control is not an infringement on my freedom. Me demanding that they provide birth control is an infringement on theirs. A society truly respectful of others’ rights will not have people insist that others accomodate their lifestyle.

That’s about it for now. I’m sure there’s more.

Posted in Philosophy, Politics | 5 Comments »

Some Changes

Posted by Chance on October 7, 2006

I am doing a few new things to the template. I plan to change back to what I had before, because I really like the header Josh gave me. I switched to blogger beta and am starting to add Labels to my posts. I had to upgrade the template to easily do the Labels links on the sidebar. However, I think I lost my old template, but I have one backed up on my other computer.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

The changing landscape of TV

Posted by Chance on October 7, 2006

I find it somewhat ironic how formulaic reality TV has become. When reality TV started to explode in popularity, I would say the late 90s, it was successful because it was something new and innovative. But really, as soon as the format came out, reality shows really started to just follow a certain pattern. Many of the shows overall pattern is the same, in which someone gets voted out each week, or at least eliminated in some way, whether it is the Bachelor, Amazing Race, Big Brother, or the Biggest Loser. That’s not so bad, but it does hurt originality somewhat. There are just particular patterns that really annoy me. The “let’s show what’s going to happen after the commercial break right before we go to commercial break” in which we see the same sequence over and over, or “let’s go to commercial right before we announce who gets kicked off”, or the announcer continuing to say this is the most exciting rose ceremony yet. For a television format that is supposed to be so innovative, all these shows are becoming so cookie-cutter.

I know these observations are way outdated, given that these shows have been out a while, and I know I am probably not saying anything original, I just wanted to point out in television, things that are supposed to be “outside the box” eventually just make the box bigger.

The new format of dramas, and even some comedies, have been interesting as well. This format is one in which each show builds upon the other. Many shows do this to some degree, but dramas are becoming more like a miniseries with no definitive end. “Lost” is the best example of this, and probably one of the first to take on this pattern. We know the show has to have an end, we just don’t know when. People are stranded on an island from a plane crash, and we assume at some point they will escape. Other series, like “Jericho” or “The Nine” (which I haven’t seen but can assume based on commercials) are basically one long story. The characters, and the view, find out more about what is going on as the story unravels.

This is a great format, but this is somewhat riskier. A standard type drama series, like CSI, one in which focuses on separate stories per episode, can go downhill, but it will not affect the earlier shows. Think of a movie or book that you really enjoyed for the most part. There were things to figure out, and certain mysteries were unraveled as you went along. However, the book or movie goes downhill, as certain explanations are somewhat contrived to fit the earlier half of the story, or they are somewhat anti-climactic. That is the issue here. Do the writers of “Lost” actually know where they are going with the show. It is exciting right now, but what if they disappoint us? If the ultimate ending or even later shows turn out to be disappointing, it will affect the entire series.

Posted in TV | 2 Comments »

A letter to the fruit of my loins

Posted by Chance on October 7, 2006

So, last week sometime, I was writing a letter to my baby that will be born sometime next year. I wrote a little bit about ourselves and different things going in the world and what we hope to teach the child as he/she grows up. I know that for myself, it is always interesting to wonder what it was like for previous generations when major techological advances came about. For instance, the onset of television during my grandparents’ lifetimes or the growth of the personal automobile in my greant grandmother’s or ancestors’ lifetimes. So, I just wrote a little bit about what it was like to have the internet come about in our lifetimes.

As I finish the letter, I thought “hey, it would be a great idea to look at the news headlines and jot them down for this date.” Unfortunately, I go to cnn.com and I see stuff about the shootings in Bailey and people dying in Iraq. I realized this was not such a good idea…

I am a bit of an escapist. I do not like watching the local news because it is so sad. So, at 10 pm I flip to the Simpsons. I choose to immerse myself in something that makes me laugh, rather than looking at the tragic things going on in the world. Is this a character strength or character flaw? I am someone who wants to be happy and to enjoy myself. This can be a flaw in the sense that I can spend my life simply trying to avoid pain, ignoring the bad stuff around me. Also, I can tend to be self-centered as I become less invested in other people and just care about my own immediate happiness. However, given the choice between watching the news or laughing at the Simpsons, I will choose the Simpsons.

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