Tuesday, December 30

Gaea's Last Stand

There are many numbers that will live on in our history. The 13th day of the 186 defenders at the Alamo. The final fight of the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae. However, all these numbers pale in comparison to the number 350. This is the number at which our very existence begins to be threatened. After all, who cares about any of the great acts in history, if no one is around to read them?

Sunday, December 28

Yahoo!: Phoenix Opens New Light-Rail System

Awesome! But, the hot summers will be a huge test. Will people wait for the rail outside in the heat? Hopefully, the planners thought ahead and set up water mist systems at every stop.

Saturday, December 20

My National High-speed Rail Service Idea

So, I have been dwelling on high-speed trains lately. Since 4am yesterday, to be precise. I keep thinking how wonderful it would be to have a fully-functioning, profitable, fun way to travel this beautiful land of ours. However, since I am obsessing, I thought it would be a good idea to post my ideas about high-speed rail service so I might stop obsessing. (I have found that it is the best way for me to move on. Expect in the near future a few posts regarding the frighteningly quick evolution of sea creatures and female Apache helicopter pilots. Oh, and Rhode Island. Although, I doubt a few posts will cure me of that fascination.)
Back to the rail, I have something that I scribbled out today. First, a few disclaimers. This is an idea about preliminary, yet national, high-speed rail service. A starting point, if you will. Second, I understand that having a rail from San Diego to Las Vegas is a little silly since one is proposed for Los Angeles to Vegas, but I live in San Diego so I have some bias regarding this. I admit it. I still want it. Lastly, I scribbled this out at 5am today and now - after a few relaxing mixed drinks - it still looks alright to me. I just wanted to put that out there. OK, here we go:
A California line is already proposed (Prop. 1A passed on November 4th). It would have a line starting in San Diego and going through Riverside, L.A., Central Valley, and splitting off toward either San Francisco or Sacramento. This is great but I think it should continue from San Francisco all the way to Seattle. It could follow the I-5 with a stop in Eureka and another in Portland.
S.D. - Phoenix - Central N.M. - Austin - Nawlins - Atlanta - Orlando - Miami
LA - Vegas - Denver - St. Louis - Nashville
St.Paul/Minn - Chicago - Cleveland - New York
Pittsburgh - D.C.
This is the part where you have to visualize the diagonal subconnections. Use the map.
S.D. connects to both L.A. and Vegas. Vegas connects also to Phoenix. Phoenix to Denver. Denver to New Mexico. St. Louis to Texas and Louisiana. Nashville to Atlanta.
Denver also to St. Paul/Minneapolis. St. Louis also to Chicago.
Cleveland to Pittsburgh.
This would be great for commerce as well as jobs. Someone who lives in Cleveland could work in Chicago. Someone like myself could get to Phoenix or Las Vegas to visit family in less than 3 hours. A barbecue fanatic can get Texas style for lunch and St. Louis style for dinner. To compare or brag or whatever.
I feel a little better now that I got that out. What do you think?

Friday, December 19

Bloomberg: Credit Card Users Feel Pain

Companies are implementing rate hikes and extra fees to curb higher defaults and lower consumer spending.

The new rules come on the heels of a $700 billion federal bailout of the financial system, including $125 billion invested in the nine largest U.S. banks. Recent moves by JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and other firms to add charges and decrease the amount of money cardholders can borrow at the same time they’re taking taxpayer dollars have angered some customers.
“People are totally confused,” said
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Corp.’s Economy.com. “The taxpayer is essentially a big owner in JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup, and these are the folks who make credit-card loans. Many are asking, ‘So why is it that my credit-card loan got pulled? Why am I being charged a higher rate?’”
A decline in spending by consumers and a rising number of defaults are leading Citigroup, JPMorgan and other lenders to increase fees and interest rates for some customers and cut the amount others can borrow. The changes are intended to reduce risk and raise revenue.

Read entire article here.

Apparently, It's A Very Big Bus

Tuesday, December 16

Ignorance Is Bliss

I miss not knowing stuff. It was... peaceful. This is the reason Obama says things are gonna get worse before they get better. The problem is that they're going to get a lot worse for a lot longer than most people expect. Welcome the Great Recession everyone!! Take a seat and eat some popcorn, 'cause it's going to be awhile.

Wednesday, December 10

Nothing But Sunshine

Here is what I don't understand: If you know that you are doing wrong, then why are you talking? Why appear in front of cameras and essentially dare the authorities to try to get evidence? Unless Gov. Blagojevich is completely devoid of conscience understanding, he knew that anyone wiretapping him would have good evidence. Was it just arrogant bravado for the cameras? Why say anything at all? How about, "I am here to show my support for the workers. I have no comment at this time regarding accusations against me." Would that have been so hard?

Big Bang Theory Finally Hitting Home

The Big Bang Theory is simple. The Universe started as one, separated into many, and eventually will become one again. It took awhile but this theory is finally starting to be recognized as not just a theory, but a fact of nature for both the Universe and it's inhabitants. As a Star Trek fan, a world, not just a country, of the people, by the people, and for the people, has seemed as natural to me as breathing. Alas, the world will, once again, have to catch up to me.

Monday, December 8

Newsweek: Gay Marriage

This is an excellent article by Lisa Miller about the religious views of the anti-gay establishment. I found this article interesting for many reasons. On a personal note, I am not a religious person. I was raised in a family where members practiced different variations: Methodist, Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist, etc... If I had to claim one religion at this point in my life, it would be Humanist (did you know there are, like, 15 different aspects of Humanism? How does that make any sense??)

Suffice it to say, I just think people should be respectful of individuality, patient with differences, and stop using their personal beliefs as an excuse to be unkind. It always amazes me when I see someone being angry and judgemental and condescending while wearing a Christian cross around their neck. I mean, doesn't following Christ mean something anymore? Or is it just jewelry and random words? If you choose to believe that Christ is your Savior, then why not do your best to treat others like he did? I remember those stories about him from church as a kid. He seemed like a good guy. He said some good things. He did a lot of good deeds. He was kind, patient, giving and forgiving. Seems like someone to emulate, not use to degrade and disrespect others.

To paraphrase a line from Studio 60: If a gay couple moves in next door, how does that impact my family relationships? And if it does, why is it their problem??

12/8/08: Random Bushism Of The Day

"You know, I'm the President during this period of time, but I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so, before I arrived in President, during I arrived in President." --George W. Bush, ABC News interview, Dec. 1, 2008

Sunday, December 7

A Day Which Will Live In Infamy

The History Channel has a short video and summary of the attack on Pearl Harbor here.

Friday, December 5

I'll Drink To That!

75 years ago today, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was repealed. Now, normally I get a bit pissy about changes to the Constitution; however, it is my humble opinion that the 18th amendment was stupid anyway. So there.

The 21st Amendment was ratified on December 5, 1933. This amendment officially declared alcohol consumption, transportation, and possession would be legal again. Now, I wasn't alive to see this happen - hell, my grandparents were not even alive then - but I can imagine the reaction to this news went something like this:

"Thank you, Congress! I am so happy you have allowed me to drown my sorrows in a bottle of bourbon!"


"Cool! Maybe I can drink away the existence of the Hoover Administration!"


":::GULP::: Aahhhhhh..."

Again, I wasn't there. This is supposition, folks. But I'm probably close, right?

The point is that we can legally imbibe and we have been doing just that for 75 consecutive years. So in celebration of that, we are being asked to do more:

"This anniversary is a great time to recognize the success of the past 75 years of effective, state-based alcohol regulation since the ratification of the 21st Amendment," said NBWA President Craig Purser. "Today, American consumers of legal drinking age have access to nearly 13,000 labels of beer from the smallest craft brews to the largest multinational labels - all delivered through a transparent and accountable alcohol distribution system. If you're of legal drinking age, join America's beer distributors in raising a glass on December 5 to the 75th anniversary of the 21st Amendment and today's successful system of state-based alcohol regulation."

Sounds reasonable to me. Then again, I am so easy.


Wednesday, December 3

Rachel Maddow And Richard Engel

Richard Engel was a guest on The Rachel Maddow Show last night. I always appreciate whenever Engel is on any show because 1) He explains foreign policy and actions in a way that is easier to understand and 2) If he is being interviewed it means he is safe. I worry about that guy. He is always in the middle of a gunfight somewhere. It is a double-edged sword, I guess. He is great at explaining conflicts that are happening in other countries because he spends so much time in the middle of conflicts in other countries, but there is something really calming about seeing him in a television studio and not in the mountains with bullets flying around him.

Last night, Engel was armed with a great tool - a map. Engel and Maddow talked about the Afghanistan - Pakistan - India conflict. If you missed it last night, please watch the video clip below.

Tuesday, December 2

12/2/08: Random Bushism Of The Day

"I didn't grow up in the ocean -- as a matter of fact -- near the ocean -- I grew up in the desert. Therefore, it was a pleasant contrast to see the ocean. And I particularly like it when I'm fishing." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 26, 2008