Thursday, November 29, 2007

Abortion Still a Complex Issue, Survey Says

You can definitely file the title of this blog post under duh. Anyhow, here are some preliminary results from the U.S. abortion survey:

64% of respondents are pro-choice, and about 2/3 of those who responded as pro-life do so absolutely ("Pro-life, period"). The majority response of 43% believe that the ultimate decision should be left to the states. About 85% of respondents range from socially moderate to very liberal. About 56% range from economically moderate to very conservative.

Evidently, there is a libertarian lean to our results so far. The results imply the importance of freedom: The personal freedom of choice, state's rights in opposition to federal uniformity, tolerance in society, and free market capitalism.

The most interesting statistic is that 71% of respondents are male and/or never had a uterus.


We will obviously have to further get into the results and break down responses according to political beliefs and other demographic information. I hoped that more women would have responded to the survey.

While I am not espousing disenfranchisement of the male vote if/when this issue goes to the voting booth, I would like the male opinion to be silent for this phase of the debate. I would like to know what women think about abortion (and facetiously others able to give birth: Male seahorses, the god Zeus giving birth to the goddess Athena, etc.). I suspect the issue would be just as divided between pro-choice and pro-life (and pro-life-period and pro-life-but) among women as it is for the entire population. However, in my opinion, the female opinion carries more weight in this debate than dudes like me.

All I'm saying is that men should listen to the diverse opinions of their wives, mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, lady friends, and girlfriends before casting their two cents - and more importantly, before casting their votes.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thirteen from "House"

House is cool. Anyhow, yesterday's episode was the big finale for the pseudo-reality show of Dr. House (played by the magnanimous Hugh Laurie), when he finally chose the new team. Since boss lady Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) forced the return of Foreman (Omar Epps) to the team, House had to eliminate two of the four finalists.

Also, there was an art punk rocker / addict with a heart of gold who was cured of measles.

Near the end, House fired Cutthroat Bitch (Anne Dudek) and Thirteen (Olivia Wilde), and he hired the plastic surgery doctor (Peter Jacobson) and the Harold & Kumar guy (Kal Penn). Of note is the humorous use of House's misogyny when it comes to the characters - the male doctors have names (Taub, Kutner) while the female doctors have nicknames (Bitch even though the character is named Amber Volakis, and Thirteen remains pseudonymous).

Anyway - yadda, yadda, yadda - this was all House's ploy to get Cuddy to have him hire three new team members, and so Thirteen is on the team. I wonder if she'll get a proper character name post-winter hiatus and post-writers' strike?

All of the above can be easily watched at Fox.com or read about in better detail at Wikipedia. The big issue is the actress playing Thirteen, Olivia Wilde: (1) Great choice, and (2) she's 23 years old. It's like reverse-90210 syndrome! My friends in medicine who are still en route to the M.D. are all older than Thirteen! What is this, like, hot chick Doogie Howser, M.D.?

Speaking of Dr. Howser, here's his blog. He was the first, you know. Since today is Whatever Wednesday, we'll be back soon with a more substantial blog entry.

Olivia Wilde photo credit: David Shankbone.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wer Mit Romney Ist?

Wer mit Romney ist? It's probably a horrible Babel Fish English-German translation, but roughly translated: Who is with Romney? Increasingly, the Republican Party is with Romney, to the chagrin of Rudy Giuliani.

If we're speaking in puns, the question asks: Who is Mitt Romney? To answer this, let's play FUNDIE?! JINGO?! or PINKO?!!!

Fundie? Technically no but realistically yes. Romney is a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or in more efficient language, a Mormon. Technically, he is not a Bible Belt-approved Evangelical Christian, but that's for the fundies of America to decide. Since his denomination has had a history of religious persecution in America, Romney is against official public school prayer that specifically endorses a particular religion or denomination or dogma.

Jingo? Yes...sort of. Romney doesn't seem to be particularly gung-ho about Iraq, all the while showing some quasi-support of the Bush Administration's handling of foreign policy. He does, however, support the Guantanamo Bay prison and the use of the phrase enhanced interrogation techniques instead of torture.

Pinko? Um, yes...kinda? As governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed legislation to ensure health coverage for as many residents of the state as possible, with free health care for those under the poverty line. He did initially veto some parts of the Massachusetts health care reform law, but those vetoes have since been overridden.

Mitt Romney is a fundie but not really, a jingo in a sense but not in another, and a pinko of a Republican. He is as politically ambiguous as a Republican can get - an Arnold Schwarzenegger without action hero cred or foreign birth - and because of this, I smell a likely GOP nominee.

Mitt Romney photo credit: Steve Jurvetson.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Can Wii Play?

The question is, "Can Wii play?" The answer: If you don't already have one of this year's (and last year's) hot ticket items, then probably not. And if you're hunting for this Nintendo game console this holiday season, the chances are not good that you'll (1) find a Wii in a brick-and-mortar store or (2) find a Wii at the base price of $250 anywhere.

There is a chance, though, that you'll find a Wii console bundled with a handful of extras in the $400-$600 range. Here are a few price pointers to keep in mind to make sure any given Wii bundle is not a bad deal:

Wii console (includes the console, one remote, one nunchuk, Wii Sports, basic wireless sensor, A/V cable, electric cable, etc.)...$250.

You'll need at least one more controller to maximize playability: Wii Play with Wii Remote...$50.

You'll need a nunchuk addition for each additional controller...$20.

The above - let's call it a bare-bones multiplayer "bundle" - should only cost $320 plus sales tax (if applicable). However, many stores won't let go of their limited Wii supply and large Wii demand that easily. They'll add more stuff to the bundle:

Wii bundles often come with a battery recharging station to replace the requisite AA batteries needed for each Wii remote...$30.

Wii bundles will force you to buy additional games on top of Wii Sports and Wii Play...$50 each.

Several Wii bundles will offer additional knick-knack accessories for the Wii...$20, plus or minus, each.

Break up the bundle to the sum of its parts, and if you can buy a Wii at a reasonable price...I would write priceless but the term reasonable price is more to the point. Then again, low supply and high demand will inevitably create higher prices, as independent sellers (from eBay and elsewhere) have tacked on $100 on average to the price of a single-controller console.

Also, if you are going to shop online, if you use one of DeRamos.org's affiliate links to help you shop, then it'll be a win-win situation for everyone...now that's priceless.

Wii photograph credit: Jecowa.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Survey Sunday: Second Amendment

The definition of the Second Amendment is as important to the cultural landscape of the United States as the First Amendment. For many, the precedence of one over the other usually identifies their personal ideologies: Liberals are often outspoken regarding the First Amendment and tend to downplay the Second, and Conservatives tend to weigh in heavily on the Second Amendment and limit the scope of the First.

Anyhow, here's a survey about the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America:

1. What are the probable outcome(s) of the current Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller (2007)? (Select all that apply.)
[ ] In favor of an individual's Second Amendment rights
[ ] In favor of government regulation
[ ] In favor of the statehood of the District of Columbia
[ ] Against the statehood of the District of Columbia
[ ] Nothing to do with the statehood of the District of Columbia
[ ] A change in the definition of "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
[ ] Other

2. In the Second Amendment, what is a "well regulated Militia"? (Select all that apply.)
[ ] State government-sanctioned armies, as in "[State Name] National Guard"
[ ] State Police
[ ] A reserve force under government regulation
[ ] An ad hoc collective of individuals
[ ] Individuals with a choice
[ ] Other

3. In the Second Amendment, who are "the People"?
[ ] A collective represented by the government, as in trial cases
[ ] A collective represented in another way
[ ] Individuals
[ ] Other

4. Which U.S. political party's Presidential candidate would you probably vote for in November 2008?
[ ] Democrat
[ ] Republican
[ ] Other party - Conservative
[ ] Other party - Moderate
[ ] Other party - Liberal
[ ] Other
[ ] Undecided

5. Gender
[ ] Female
[ ] Male
[ ] Both
[ ] Other
[ ] None

6. Age range
[ ] Teenager
[ ] Young adult
[ ] Adult
[ ] Middle aged
[ ] Elderly

7. Class identification
[ ] Poor
[ ] Working class
[ ] Middle class
[ ] Upper middle class
[ ] Rich

8. Education level
[ ] No diploma
[ ] High school diploma
[ ] Associate's degree
[ ] Bachelor's degree
[ ] Master's degree
[ ] Doctorate
[ ] Other

9. Social values
[ ] Very liberal
[ ] Liberal
[ ] Moderate
[ ] Conservative
[ ] Very conservative

10. Economic ideology
[ ] Very liberal
[ ] Liberal
[ ] Moderate
[ ] Conservative
[ ] Very conservative

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Podcast

I can't think (yes, take that out of context!) to write anything new at the moment, so I'll have to redirect you to Mutiny Universe's podcast (mutinyuniverse.com/radio) - hosted by yours truly. We now accept phone comments via our Seattle-based voicemail system: (206) 309-0482. That's right, we outsourced to the foreign, sovereign nation of Cascadia! (By leaving a message, you allow Mutiny Universe to use that recording for a future podcast or whatever else.)

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Photograph Friday: Religious Crayon Bee

It's been almost two years, but this drawing never ceases to make me grin. I've always wondered who drew a crayon/bee that believed in God:


I taught at a private school backed by a religious institution, so the school prayer debate that's plagued public schools for the past decades was a non-issue (more on my beliefs concerning the separation of church and state in a future post). It was during school election time, and four students named Carrie, Andres, Victor, and Emily formed an ad hoc political party called C.A.V.E. to increase their chances of getting elected into a student body office. You can see the C.A.V.E. party paraphernalia strewn about the bee drawing.

I wonder how many offices the C.A.V.E. party won that year. I wonder if they made good on whatever promises they made during their campaign. I hope a former student of mine happens upon this post to fill me in on some trivia.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

This will be a brief entry, but I want to take the time to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! I'll be sure to record a new podcast sometime between today and Black Friday.

Here's a quick statistic for Results Thursday: When given the choice between being a bacterium, a bee, a jellyfish, a tree, and a wolf, about 17% would like to be a tree. Whatever that means, we'll analyze it on a later edition of Results Thursday. In the meanwhile, please take some surveys at Survey Sunday! Thanks!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

BlogRush and the Political Right

Ever since changing our BlogRush category from "entertainment" to "politics" (reflecting DeRamos.org's current subject matter), I've been seeing a bunch of links to right-wing political blogs. At first I wondered where all the left-wing blogs were, and while I still wonder about their representation in the BlogRush network, I'm a bit grateful for the opportunity to read about the opinions of the other side - conservatives.

I instantly discounted several right-wing (and also left-wing!) blogs that rely on ad hominem attacks and cliche demonization...without any noticeable sense of humor or hint of satire. Mudslinging rarely moves the debate forward, and for every accusation of "communist" there's always an equally valid retort of "fascist" (and vice versa). What gets done? Ain't nothin' gets done!

(Here at DeRamos.org, we try - but often fail - at balance. But at least we try: For every semi-serious jingo, fundie, and jingo-fundie insult used, there's a humorous pinko - a more loaded word - remark too. Sometimes.)

I have also discounted the blogs that advocate the suppression of dissenters (along the lines of: the soldiers fight for our freedom so ungrateful protesters should move to France - very oxymoronic) and/or those who advocate a precisely uniform American way of life (along the lines of: California is a socialist state - very uninformed and alarmist). On that note, if conservatives advocate state's rights, then why should they fear the "blue state" way of life versus the "red state" way of life? Does that mean all states should live like red states? If so, who's going to do that? How are they going to get rid of dissenters? Do they advocate the Federal government legislating lifestyle? What happened to state's rights, then?

With that said, there are several conservative bloggers - neo-, paleo-, or otherwise - with very cogent arguments for their perspective. Unfortunately, I often don't agree with the premises and assumptions upon which those arguments are based. They are often based on stereotypes of the opposition (see above), a hatred of hippies, a slippery slope argument of a quiet communist revolution, a fear of American dhimmitude, and straw man arguments to prove their point.

So maybe...we should get all the assumptions, presumptions, and stereotypes that are otherwise unseen but affect our perspective and ideology nonetheless, and put them all out in the open. We should debate and clearly define those building blocks and their meaning before getting to the complex issues that plague the day. It'll likely turn out that I'll agree with the opposition on a few issues and vice versa, if clear premises and understood assumptions are used in a debate. Otherwise we'll have all sides disagreeing to the point of violence and each side not quite understanding where the others are coming from..other than the "fact" that the other sides are stupid and/or evil.

Yes, yes - this entry probably also contains a straw man argument or two, and while I should have added links to examples in the blogosphere, (1) I am lazy to retrace my steps from my browser's cache and (2) I want you to stick around for a while! Selfish of me, I know, but if you want to leave, the Blogrush widget to the right might have an example of a right-wing blog that I've been writing about.

Cheers.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

News Blurbs at Mutiny Universe

I've been writing news blurbs in haiku form at Mutiny Universe's blog, roughly every other day. I just started this new gimmick, but here's a sampling of what I have so far, with a referential link in one line of each poem:

11/20
Writers Strike: Week Three
Chuck Norris Hearts Huckabee
Thanksgiving ready?

11/18
Writers' strike - new talks?
Kiwis block fat immigrant
Ron Paul dollars seized.

11/16
Haiku blogs not new
Writers Guild strike at week two
Mounties taser Pole.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Online Shopping: Speed Versus Pennies

Okay, here's an obvious little tip for Money Monday: Buying from Amazon.com will probably save you some spare change, but buying the same books (etc.) from Barnes & Noble's website (BN.com) will deliver your items faster. As a disclaimer, these shipping methods tend to only apply to the continental United States.

At Amazon.com, for example, John Krakauer's Into the Wild costs $8.37. Add the necessary items to have your subtotal at or above $25 to qualify for free shipping. However, this will take about two business days to process and around seven business days to ship. You'll save some cash (wait for the BN.com example), but you'll wait a while. Alternatively, you can get unlimited "free" two-day shipping if you join Amazon Prime for a $79 annual fee, and that will cut the wait time significantly.

BN.com: Using the same example, John Krakauer's Into the Wild costs $9.76, or $8.78 if you're a BN member (an annual fee of $25). Regardless, Amazon.com is still cheaper for this specific book. Add the necessary items to have your subtotal at or above $25 to qualify for free shipping. After about one business day to process, you'll have your shipment in three business days or less.

When it comes to free shipping over $25, BN.com tends to be faster than Amazon.com. Amazon.com, on the other hand, tends to have better prices than Barnes & Noble when it comes to more-or-less popular items, but there are probably many exceptions to this rule of thumb.

Keep this timetable in mind if you're going to do some online shopping for the holiday season and (1) want to get your gifts delivered on time, (2) want to save some pennies on each item, or (3) somewhere in between.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Survey Sunday: Anthropology

I agree with Daniel Quinn: There is no one right way to live. And before those faithful to a specific religion say anything, I'm not just talking about spirituality - I'm talking about a combination of factors that make a way of life, and a collection of those combinations that make a society.

With that said, what is your ideal way of life? Please take this ten question, multiple-choice survey on anthropology - and let us learn and share together...but not in the same exact way.

Please notice that a society contains more than one person, as such an individualistic unit won't last past that person's lifetime, for one obvious reason.

1. What is your ideal society?
[ ] Band
[ ] Tribe
[ ] Civilization
[ ] Post-civilization

2. To clarify, what is your ideal society?
[ ] Band of equals
[ ] Band with a leader
[ ] Tribe away from civilization
[ ] Tribe within civilization
[ ] Civilization
[ ] Utopian civilization
[ ] Post-civilization in this world
[ ] Post-civilization in a supernatural paradise

3. Humans are...
[ ] Animals that are sometimes bad, sometimes good, and generally have an instinct to adapt and survive.
[ ] Fundamentally good and getting better as our collective awareness increases.
[ ] Fundamentally good but getting worse as our collective ignorance increases.
[ ] Fundamentally bad but are getting better as our collective awareness increases.
[ ] Fundamentally bad and getting worse as our collective ignorance increases.

4. If you couldn't be human, and if you had the choice, you would rather be...
[ ] A bacterium.
[ ] A bee.
[ ] A jellyfish, especially of the species Turritopsis nutricula.
[ ] A tree.
[ ] A wolf.

5. Gender
[ ] Female
[ ] Male
[ ] Both
[ ] Other
[ ] None

6. Age range
[ ] Teenager
[ ] Young adult
[ ] Adult
[ ] Middle aged
[ ] Elderly

7. Class identification
[ ] Poor
[ ] Working class
[ ] Middle class
[ ] Upper middle class
[ ] Rich

8. Education level
[ ] No diploma
[ ] High school diploma
[ ] Associate's degree
[ ] Bachelor's degree
[ ] Master's degree
[ ] Doctorate
[ ] Other

9. Social values
[ ] Very liberal
[ ] Liberal
[ ] Moderate
[ ] Conservative
[ ] Very conservative

10. Economic ideology
[ ] Very liberal
[ ] Liberal
[ ] Moderate
[ ] Conservative
[ ] Very conservative

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Universal Health Care without the Federal Government (Sort of)

The title is a contradiction of terms, I'm sure. Anyhow, here are a bunch of ideas, musings, and hypotheses I've been mulling over the topic of universal/public (or socialized, for you Red Scare naysayers) health care in the United States:

1. I like comparing a proposed universal health care system with the structure and socialization of other tax-funded and mostly accepted programs: Police, firefighting, and to a lesser extent, public education.

2. Other than the FBI, the DEA, and other national agencies, police is localized by city, county, or state (in the case of Highway Patrol or State Troopers). It's an obvious point, but I feel the need to make it.

3. Let's consider a quasi-universal health care system, following the police structure analogy: A localized system - by county, city, or even House of Representatives district - is a call for chaos. It would also highlight the inequality from city to city, and neighborhood to neighborhood, akin to the current public school system of disparity. It would be ironic that those who would benefit the most from a public system - the poor and workers without health care plans - would not benefit at all if they live in a tax-poor locality. Those who don't need a socialized system in the first place - the rich - would have wonderful locally-funded health care that they could afford regardless.

4. A state-wide system would definitely appeal to state's rights advocates (paleoconservatives, libertarians, etc.), but it would highlight the polarization of Blue States (who probably would go for such a policy) and Red States (who might or might not, but would be happy that they had the choice in the first place).

5. What about a totally Federally funded bureaucracy? About half of America probably thinks that reeks too much of socialism (which leads to communism, which leads to bread lines and salt mines, as Yoda would say) and would not agree with it. However, I might guess that a significant amount of those in opposition would probably benefit from having health care paid by tax dollars. But it's the principle of it, right? Or is it the influence of Presidential candidates' views on weightier (?) issues such as war and morality that obscure the utility (futility to the naysayers) of this issue?

6. Maybe if the Federal government can remove any possible red tape when it comes to individual states creating a public health care system, and throw the states some minor subsidies from time to time, that would be the way to go. Instead of the years-old jingo-fundie (neoconservative Republican) bully line of "If you don't like it, you can move to France (or Canada)!" it would change to "If you don't like it in Red State X, you can move to California (or Blue State Y)!" As if being in the 6th-10th largest economy in the world is a bad thing.

7. Liberals can get into the bullying game too if we had a Federally-cleared, state-handled public health care system: "If you don't like it, you can move to Red State X!" Yes, I know, I could have used "Alabama," but that state gets picked on way too often:



Alabama Man!

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Alex Rodriguez

It looks like A-Rod is going to stay with the New York Yankees. He's probably gonna get a 10-year, $275 million contract plus bonuses. I was kind of hoping that he would either go to the Los Angeles Dodgers, with his former Yankee manager, Joe Torre, or go to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Oh well.

Anyway, here's a clip of the likely 2007 American League MVP hitting his 500th homerun from a fan's perspective in Yankee Stadium. A-Rod is the youngest to reach that milestone and is probably going to surpass the all-time homerun mark set by Barry Bonds, who, by the way, is being indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice for lying about using banned substances.



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Thursday, November 15, 2007

John McCain: Fundie, Jingo, or Pinko?

Politics is absurd. Far from Plato's ideal of a Philosopher King Council, the route to power involves nickel-and-diming the actions of everyone involved and a zeitgeist of mean-spirited mudslinging.

With that said, the current round of trivial politicking involves John McCain, a John McCain supporter, Hillary Clinton, and the word bitch. Feel free to Google all that information, as you'll find loads of commentary on both sides of the fence. You won't find that here, though, as we're about to play -

Fundie?! Jingo?!! Or Pinko?!!!

As a preface to the game, let me say that almost eight years ago, John McCain was once a great candidate for the GOP. History (arguably) and I would have preferred if he and Al Gore had that photo finish in November of 2000. Needless to say, things turned out differently. Anyhow...

Fundie? Increasingly. When he was Bush's rival for the 2000 nomination, and while he is a pro-life person, McCain said he would uphold Roe v. Wade to prevent dangerous abortions from occurring. Needless to say, he's flip-flopped in the past seven years, or is that he learned from his mistakes? Saying that the United States is a Christian nation sort of implies a desire for the democracy to become a theocracy (call me crazy) and is instant grounds for fundie status. John McCain once had this sentiment, but recently nuanced his position by using the more vague and more acceptable Judeo-Christian values line: "What I do mean to say is the United States of America was founded on the values of Judeo-Christian values, which were translated by our founding fathers which is basically the rights of human dignity and human rights." That's according to a Wikipedia article, and we all know the potential for inaccuracy there.

Jingo? Yes, most likely. He has supported the current administration's aggressive foreign policy. He also is sensitive to the issue of government-authorized torture, as he was a POW during the Vietnam War. On a slightly related and somewhat contrary note, McCain has been criticized for his gun control positions by pro-gun groups.

Pinko? No. McCain is for privatized Social Security (as contradictory as that phrase looks) and against universal health care.

Also of note is the legacy of those named John Sidney McCain. Candidate McCain is version 3.0, and one of his sons is number four.

Senator McCain's Congressional Photo is in the public domain.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Review: "Beyond Civilization" by Daniel Quinn

This summer I read Daniel Quinn's Ishmael trilogy, and during that time, Howard from SystemsThinker.com recommended that I read Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure by the same author. The book is a collection of short essays (akin to copy edited blog entries) that further explain Quinn's neo-tribalist point of view. If you've read the Ishmael trilogy, the earlier essays in the book seem redundant and lack the entertainment value of a Socratic dialogue between a telepathic lowland gorilla and a twelve year old girl.

However, when Quinn goes into more interesting detail as the book progresses, things get interesting. It's probably true that Ishmael had left many with the impression that we all need to go Into the Wild (but as a group, of course) in order to stop the destructiveness of Taker society. In Beyond Civilization, Quinn nuances his ideology by giving us real examples of tribalism - beyond civilization tribalism - living alongside (not isolated from) our buildings, streets, and hierarchy. You really need to read the book to grasp some understanding, as I won't plagiarize Quinn verbatim in this blog. But here's a teaser: Circus folk and the homeless. Go. Read. Now!

Quinn's essays recounting his journey into business tribalism reminds me of my own production company: Mutiny Universe. My business associates (who are also dear friends) might not realize it, but we've been functioning as a (nearly) self-sufficient tribe of filmmakers since our founding. Any semblance of hierarchy is never permanent - only occurring during film production - and we've realized that we are the company. As board members, we don't work for the company: We are the company. According to Quinn, a new tribe makes a living together (unlike communities and many communes), and Mutiny Universe is well into that route of making a living as a solid tribal business.

All that will probably change if and when we have the resources to hire employees, and if and when the board votes to become a microcosm of civilization: A hierarchy. Until that day, I personally have been flourishing creatively within the tribal model: My band the Society of Gloves has recorded a song with moxy phinx for a Mutiny Universe/Sinister Noises production called Outcasts; I've been enjoying composing the music for Mutiny Universe's Elan Vital; I've been recording podcasts for the company on a semi-regular basis; et cetera. Yes, all that, and get to be an armchair pundit most of the time at DeRamos.org. Of course, while delegating these tasks in a hierarchy (in return for money and power) would be nice, it's been fulfilling being a D.I.Y. creative person.

Then again, to quote Quinn and his thesis: "There is no one right way to live."

Whenever you get the chance, pick up with book. You can even read it in a non-linear fashion, but you might miss some concepts introduced earlier in the book. Since it doesn't have a storyline to follow (as in a novel), Beyond Civilization is great for casual reading.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Comments Are Awesome

I love comments. I receive so few of them, and I enjoy reading each and every one - positive, negative, neutral, and unrelated. Plus, if I blog about a comment or commenter, I'll link to one of his/her sites. Unfortunately, my current PageRank of 2 won't really help.

Anyhow, I received a peculiar comment from Vote for Hillary Online, who wrote:

"Hillary is the ONLY candidate with these 4 attributes: honor, patriotism, loyalty, and kindness. I got $35 in the bank that says no other candidate has those attributes. Jerk.

http://www.voteforhillaryonline.com"
From what I can tell from the Vote for Hillary Online blog and website, this commenter is a militant Clinton supporter and/or an awesome satirist.

Satire, you say? Well, check out this post entitled "Grassroots Hillary. Mission: Bumper Sticker." This proposed mission has since been either aborted or put on hold, but initially, the writer suggested that other Clinton supporters place Hillary Clinton bumper stickers on other people's vehicles without their permission. It's brilliant in its blatant sponsorship of vandalism! Because pissin' folks off will no doubt win support for an indirect cause, in a reverse psychological kind of way.

As far as the comment goes, the commenter ends his/her message with "Jerk." Under normal circumstances, a vague insult from a Hillary Clinton supporter against the writer of a moderately positive review of Hillary Clinton is just ridiculous. As far as I can tell, only two kinds of people would try to bully another into voting their way: (1) Satirists and (2) the criminally insane. Because I'd rather not use an ad hominem attack, I'll say it's satire. (I could be wrong, of course.)

Do keep in mind that I am still a registered Democrat and therefore will have a bit of say in my state's closed Presidential primary. And the jury's still out when it comes to my endorsement of a Democratic candidate. (Aside from Elizabeth Kucinich, of course!)

As far as analyzing candidates on the basis of honor, patriotism, loyalty, and kindness goes - while noble and ideal...it's just not funny. "Fundie, Jingo, or Pinko?" is moderately offensive across the political spectrum (but does lean left a bit) and tries to inject some hyperbole, humor, and useful knowledge when it comes to identifying the candidate your party should nominate.

Here's an exercise in stating the obvious when it comes to DeRamos.org's little game of "Fundie, Jingo, or Pinko?":

If you're an Evangelical Christian, then you should consider a fundie candidate. Likewise, if you are not an Evangelical, you might want to avoid voting for such an incompatible candidate.

If you have unwavering support for the Iraq War, using the military to rebuild nations, etc., then a jingo candidate might be for you. If you've ever called French fried potatoes "Freedom Fries" or boycotted French's mustard, vote for a jingo. If you dislike the Dixie Chicks in a way that doesn't involve music, vote for a jingo. However, if you believe that patriotism involves dissent sometimes, then a jingo might not be for you.

Finally, if you have progressive/liberal beliefs, then a pinko candidate might be for you. While we have two categories that mock conservatives, pinko is the most loaded of the three pejoratives. If you didn't know, pinko refers to socialism - which is a slippery slope that implies Soviet communism to many. As long as our pinkos don't advocate totalitarian government, then all this slippery slope red scare fear is baseless.

Anyhow, fundies might advocate a totalitarian theocracy - which is bad if you are not in 100% agreement with the theocracy's dogma. Of course, jingoism can degenerate into nationalistic fascism pretty quickly. All's I'm sayin' is that totalitarianism blows - and non-ad hominem debate is good.

And yes, comments are awesome.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Hillary Clinton: Fundie, Jingo, or Pinko?

Many conservatives despise Hillary Clinton. Just as liberals cried out "not another Bush" in 2000 (and louder in 2004), and just as I would have preferred a Gore-McCain showdown that year, those of the Republican ilk would prefer not to have another Clinton in the Oval Office. Indeed, if this will be the case in January 2009, then it would seem that Americans like patterns.

I wonder if the Anti-Federalists/Democrats (oh, how ideologies have flip-flopped in two hundred years!) of the 1800s cried "not another Adams" when National Republican John Quincy Adams ran for office in 1824. Did they call him "Qubya"? What we do know is that the first Democratic candidate, Andrew Jackson, defeated Adams in an extremely personal race in 1828, culminating in the First Lady-Elect Rachel Jackson in December of that year.

But I digress. We're here to analyze Hillary Clinton, right?

Fundie? No, she is not a theocrat. However, she seems to take the middle ground on issues such as gay marriage ("civil unions" instead) and abortion (personally opposed to but upholding a woman's right to choose).

Jingo? Yes. Clinton supports the criminalization of flag burning. Much like Chuck Norris' support, flag-lovin' also constitutes an instant yes for this category. But seriously, Clinton has voted like a jingo (in favor of the Patriot Act in 2001, Iraq resolution in 2002, etc.) but has done an about-face years later (initially against renewing the Patriot Act in 2005, against the Iraq War troop surge in 2007, etc.). Naysayers would call this flip-flopping, and supporters would call this learning from one's mistakes. I personally would call it the latter - aren't we supposed to learn from past mistakes? - but at the same time facetiously calling it the former. It's mostly in the name of a good laugh.

Pinko? Yes. In the same way that Chuck's support and flag-lovin' automatically make one a jingo, supporting universal health care instantly makes one a pinko. Quasi-socialism can only go so far, you know. Police for everyone, funded by tax dollars? Virtually everyone agrees. Not enough security? Well, the wealthy can hire additional security on top of socialized law enforcement. Firefighters for everyone, funded by tax dollars? Virtually no protests here! If this isn't enough, those who can afford it can pay for additional property protection from fire.

Basic health care for everyone, on the other hand, needs not only debate, but ad Hominem mudslinging from both sides. Universal health care would obviously set America on a crash course headed for totalitarian bread lines. (I'm not being exactly serious here, if you haven't noticed.) Then again, if basic health coverage isn't enough, you can add a superior health plan to your security entourage and fire wall; that is, if you're rich enough.

Unfortunately, a lot of the haves wouldn't want to use their tax dollars for this aspect of society. Keep in mind that many of the upper class pay lesser-rate corporate taxes and not greater-rate income taxes that working Americans pay. Ah, yes, the ironic welfare for the rich...

That being said, we should probably analyze progressive rich man Warren Buffett like the presidential candidates. Now that would be interesting.

Hillary Rodham Clinton's official First Lady Portrait, by Simmie Knox, is in the public domain.

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