June 2012

Anti-abortion front hopes to use China’s Chen Guangcheng to make their case

Chen Guangcheng arrived in America, barely escaping the threats he faced in his home country because he had the courage to speak out.  Now that he’s here, the anti-abortion front is quickly trying to snatch him up like some sort of poster-boy for their cause.  Because of his up-close-and-personal experience with forced abortions in China and his open stance against it, they think he is going to eagerly jump on their side of the debate.  But they have failed to think the matter through completely.


In their effort to use Chen as a tool in the assault on women’s freedom, several organizations have been co-opting his image and trying to get him to join their ranks.  The National Right to Life Committee has been citing him.  The Family Research Council and several religious groups have been trying to get him to visit or speak for them.  So far, all Chen has to say about the matter is that he hasn’t really given it any thought.

Demand shocks

The global financial crisis of 2008 caused a negative demand shock in the American economy.

What is the appropriate way to deal with demand shocks? Let us look at some historical policy implications. After all, history is a great teacher. The more I have reflected on the past, the better I have been able to see what actions are appropriate for the future and most importantly what not to do.

In the '60s, the prevalent view was that demand shocks were the main determinant of business cycles. Keynes in particular argued that private business men were driven by “animal spirits" and that these spirits lead to repeated coordination failures like the one described above. This view lead to the idea that the government had to stabilize the economy by adjusting government purchases or money supply to compensate for the variation in private demand.

Generalized exams: IQ Tests, GRE, PSAT, etc.

They all matter to a certain extent.

I took the GMAT and wanted to share my experience here to remove some of those limiting beliefs that we have when we bomb a test whether it be a standardized one or a test in school.

My score was a 660. I had pretty good verbal and writing scores, but my math performance let me down as always. I think I am getting better at math and it is all about putting the time in to practice some of the more difficult problems. The point is not to panic and this was what let me down when I took the SAT as well almost six years ago.

In my opinion, the best way to approach math is to be confident and not try to overcomplicate matters. Sometimes, the answer can be arrived at quite easily and this makes me worry whether I was on the right track to begin with. So as I said earlier, the best way to tackle this issue is to do as many of the problems as you can and invest some time and this will make you a more confident test-taker when it comes to math.

I am clearly no math genius and from research that I have done, the majority of Americans are on the same boat as well.

Gutting us from the inside

The enemy is us

You can be concerned about events occurring in our country without being a conspiracy nut—even though that’s how some will portray it. The United States is the melting pot of the world, so the saying went—at least up until 30 years ago. Now the U.S. is more like a stew pot, the various ingredients heating up and flavoring each other but staying whole and intact without blending together. I know, that is a clumsy analogy, but it is the best one that comes immediately to mind.

The country is changing and that is to be expected, given that has always been the plan. An influx of new blood equals new energy, ideas and talent. I understand and agree with that.

However, we have to understand that we are one of the very few countries in the world who welcome illegal immigrants as well as legal immigrants. We are certainly one of the absolutely few countries in the world who change our laws to accommodate legal and ILLEGAL immigrants. We actually allow ILLEGAL foreigners to vote—the democratic Attorney General is battling officials in Florida and Arizona right this minute to force them to allow ILLEGALs to vote—on causes that favor the new arrivals at the expense of the citizens whose ancestry is rooted here.

These politics are on my last nerve, part 2

Americans continue to worry and suffer as the smiling and fundraising continue.

(continued from Part 1)

You see, most of us don’t like handouts, despite how little we might make—whether it’s out of pride or simply because so many others have disdain for it, I can remember as far back as elementary school denying my assisted lunch allowance from the school because kids made fun of kids with the different-colored card. You didn’t even know why, back then, only that you didn’t want to be made fun of. So all of this blaming the poor (or those who can afford healthcare but don’t buy it, I might add; I don’t know many people like that but I do think it’s their right) is pretty ridiculous, especially when it’s the American drug companies and medical industry itself—not even hailed as an industry in other developed countries but as a right, a service!—who is to blame for costs. Don’t even go there, President Obama.

I love that you’re trying to get to universal coverage, but is this really the time to force more penalties on Americans? SCOTUS just upheld your penalty tax without upholding the extension of Medicaid to more families, so you’re going to have plenty of families who simply cannot buy insurance! We struggle to insure our car by law (a law, of course, that varies by state), let alone ourselves. There are far better ways. Hell, in college my debate team and I worked on a case where we presented universal healthcare to the country with a simple tax on fast food and alcohol, using the text of As Sick As It Gets as our basis for the costs. The whole plan paid for itself and then some within a few years.

These politics are on my last nerve, part 1

Americans continue to worry and suffer as the smiling and fundraising continue.

I haven’t been sleeping very well at night. I wonder if Mitt Romney sleeps well? Barack Obama, who holds the position that Mitt Romney wants, likely doesn’t. I’m sure there is plenty of pressure in that particular job. I wouldn’t want it, though I did when I was young and thought I could solve the woes of the world. I still think I could, that many people working together could—but I no longer believe that the title of president is the necessary place to actually do that.

No, that position requires a lot of smiling and baby-holding, a lot of perfect-clothes wearing, perfect-hair doing, and a hell of a lot of fundraising—so much fundraising, in fact, that could likely solve many of the problems we face right now. Could you imagine if either candidate simply pledged his fundraising money instead of toward campaigning but to, say, wildfire relief, or freaking debt relief in general that most Americans seem to have today—whether it’s medical, student loans, or mortgage? That person would probably get my vote.

Confused by the Affordable Healthcare Law?

Join the club.

After SCOTUS ruled that the Affordable Healthcare Law is constitutional today, the Internet, workplaces and pretty much any place with people went nuts. Supporters cheered and had parties while naysayers grumbled and even set goals for dates to kill the law somehow, whatever that means—but many of us lower middle class people (many of whom used to be simply middle class people before the economic crisis) are simply left scratching our heads. What does this mean for us.

President Obama talked tough about how people who pay for insurance are no longer footing the bill for those without who go to the emergency room—but I can’t help but laugh at this. You know who uses the ER for healthcare? The POOR. Not people who are intentionally abusing the system but people who had to wait because they can’t get or afford insurance.

North Korea continues to isolate China as an ally

North Korea’s policies have never been popular with the West (or pretty much anyone for that matter), but now they are looking at isolating their closest and most powerful ally by stepping up their resistance to international conformity.  Kim Jong-un (AKA the Great Puppet) continues to make poor decisions that cause anger worldwide.  Whether at his command, or more likely at the command of the military elite, they’ve gone right back to their nuclear program, despite the trouble it brings them.

This is just the latest in a long line of wacky DPRK antics.  The first idiot move was when they decided to test their ballistic missile a few months back (a huge fail).  Following that was the North Korean capture of two dozen Chinese fishermen last month.  Now, it’s nuclear testing.  They’ve even gone so far as to call themselves a “nuclear armed state,” despite their lack of actual nuclear capability.

Oreo joins its corporate image to LGBT rights

Kraft Foods has become the latest addition to the growing list of corporations that are openly adding their voice to the support of LGBT rights and equality.  So far, many popular brand names, including Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, AT&T and Google, have taken the bold leap forward into the inevitable future by helping the cause in such ways as sponsoring Pride events.  Kraft Foods’ addition to the movement was the posting of a picture of a rainbow-centered Oreo on their Facebook page.  It was posted with perfect timing to both support Pride and celebrate Oreo’s 100th anniversary.

Seven things that are preventing us from evolving

We are our own worst enemies.

Affirmative action, like so many other things in life, might be considered a given in some circles; in many others, however, there’s still talk of “r’verse discrim’nation” and “they took our jobs!” and so forth. In fact, it seems like humans aren’t evolving at the speed we should be sometimes.

Last week, I read a quote—attributed to some comedian or other; I couldn’t find it again today—about how religion is what’s preventing us from evolving any further. Even when considering our technological advances, humans themselves seem to be stuck in a rather reptilian rut—after all, if we were evolving properly, wouldn’t we have, I don’t know, stopped wasting so many resources, solved world hunger, stopped global warming, and made water accessible to all by now?

I’ll agree with the idea that religion itself is holding humans back from our fullest potential, but there are several other things that share the blame. These about sum it up for me…

Syria just keeps digging the hole deeper

Syria has its share of problems - problems that will likely end only through civil war or international intervention.  Now they add to their woes by shooting down a Turkish warplane.  In their defense, they claimed that the warplane was flying low over Syrian territorial waters, less than a mile off of their coastline.  In response to this incursion they unloaded their anti-aircraft guns on it (most likely Russian-made).  Turkey, of course, says that the plane was flying through an accepted corridor down to a base on Cyprus.

Iowa attempts to devastate women’s rights

Once again, the anti-abortion front attempts another maneuver to further limit women’s rights over their own bodies.  This one comes from the state of Iowa, where a petition is being circulated in hopes of making public abortion funding unobtainable to anyone in the state, regardless of the circumstances of their situation.  They seek to end all government funding of Medicaid, arguing that it violates state laws.  This includes (or rather specifically attacks) abortions in cases of rape, incest, severe birth defects and when a birth threatens the life of the mother.

Of course, many of those who will be affected are unable to pay for these services on their own.  To make matters even more ludicrous, the total number of abortions of these types during the entirety of last year adds up to 22, five of which were performed to save the lives of the mothers.  This seems a rather small number of serious cases to garner so much attention from anti-abortion groups.

Obama has gone Hollywood

The next great screen star

For the moment, let’s simply discuss President Obama’s performance for 2012. While the United States and the rest of the world are virtually going to hell in a hand basket, Mr. Obama has been campaigning in those states critical to his re-election and neglecting the rest of the country. He has attended fundraisers at the palatial homes of Hollywood luminaries like George Clooney, Ricky Martin and Sarah Jessica Parker, just to name a few. He and Michelle continue to entertain themselves by sponsoring expensive events featuring huge stars of song and dance, as well as liberal television talk show hosts and others. The rulers are living it up while the bleary-eyed peasants are on their way to their second or third low-paying job.

Southern Baptist Church declares gay rights NOT civil rights

In a recent meeting, the Southern Baptist Church voted on a resolution that “officially” declares gay rights as not being the same thing as civil rights.  The SBC is traditionally against gay rights, using the old excuse that marriage is only to be between a man and a woman, but now they’ve managed to spread their prejudice a little further in this latest attack on the LGBT community.

The resolution says that homosexuals lack the “distinguishing features of classes entitled to special protections.”  The SBC goes on to classify those “entitled” groups as being based on race and gender.  They say that their reasoning is because there is no irrefutable scientific evidence to prove that homosexuality is anything other than a choice that people make.  If they did their research, however, they would find that there is a very significant correlation between biology and gender-orientation.  Apparently, they feel no need to recognize this research. 

Facts and Logic 12

Gun Control

Gun Control. Many claims have been made by conservatives and gun enthusiast against the Obama Administration for their stance on gun control. Most of the claims made, including those made by the NRA themselves have proven to be false or extreme exaggerations of the actual facts.

Before we nit pick through facts and logic, let’s look at the current climate regarding our Second Amendment Rights. Nearly 50 percent of American households own some sort of gun. Only 26 percent of the American people favor and all-out ban on handguns. So to say any politician would be pushing an anti-gun legislation would be ridiculous because it would be political suicide.

Church of England debates English Parliament over gay marriage

One of the biggest opponents of marriage rights for same-sex couples remains constant throughout the world - that of the church.  They oftentimes see marriage as something that is the property of religion only and thus their definitions of what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ are the last word on the subject.  They would choose to make marriage a religious practice rather than a right at all, allowed to only those who conform to their spiritual vision.

Vagina: A word to be avoided during abortion debates?

Politics can be a funny little world where little makes sense sometimes.  The abortion debate is one topic that sometimes invites the crazies to come out of the walls and start voicing their opinions.  The latest bit of wacky stupidity comes in the banning of two Michigan politicians for attempting to debate against an anti-abortion bill in a manner that “violated the decorum of the house.”

The setting was a Michigan debate discussing the latest anti-abortion bill; one that is considered by many to be one of the strictest of these legislations in the entire country.  In addition to ignoring many women’s health rights, the bill attacks abortion-providing health care facilities.

Always look to compete against the best

People around you will laugh, but it comes with the territory.

We live in a world where everything can be found on the Internet. That is everything about the richest people and what they do with their kids. I have always been a fan of homeschooling and with today’s world I think it may not be too bad of an idea to let your child go and explore.

This can be done even for people who are older and have already established themselves in their careers. What I have observed among wealthy families is that the children tend to study something like chemical engineering or electrical engineering and double majors are pretty common. Gone are the days when you went to school for something like Latin or history.

Age differences in classes

Is one year that big of a difference?

As I watched my daughter at her new gymnastics studio this week, I couldn’t help feel a bit disappointed. She was having a blast, which is the entire point, but between the annoying fellow parents and the teacher with the lackluster glare on her face, it felt very unwelcoming. Though last week was worse in terms of crowd control, at least the teacher she had seemed enthusiastic; this one, even younger, seemed like she was getting a root canal the entire time.

We left another gymnastics company years ago for similar reasons (among others), and if my daughter didn’t beg me to keep her in (it’s expensive, too, and we can’t really afford it—though it’s just for the summer), I would definitely withdraw already. Why pay more than $13 a class for such surliness, such disdain for your child?

Russia sends Syria weapons to protect them from outside intervention

As the problems in Syria escalate, the United Nations struggles to come to a decision as to what to do.  The council is split, with China and Russia voicing their opinion that outside nations need to respect the sovereignty of the small Middle Eastern nation and let things play out as they will.  This has resulted in a perpetual deadlock and a failure on the part of the UN to do anything for the country’s people.  Now, Russia is taking it one step further by backing up its stance on the subject with actions.  A Russian arms supplier is sending more defense to Syria in order to act as a deterrent against outside forces that might seek to get involved regardless of the UN’s official position.