Buckle The Fuck Up

She lost control of her SUV while driving west and the vehicle hit a median and rolled over, authorities said. She wasn’t wearing a safety belt and was thrown from her vehicle, landing in a traffic lane where she was struck by a westbound semitrailer truck.

(From the Minneapolis Star Tribune.)

You’re not safer in your SUV if you don’t wear your seat belt! No offense to this poor woman, but you have to be a complete idiot to not wear your seat belt. You can roll your car and walk away with your seat belt on and you virtually always die if you get ejected from the vehicle. Presuming that you don’t want to die I highly suggest that you wear your seat belt 100% of the time.

Buckle The Fuck Up

War Is Killing

I would kill someone if i had to, no question about it. It would take extreme circumstances. I would be defending my life or my family or my freedom. It would be unquestionably a last resort. It may seem a little obvious but war is killing and when you agree with a war you are essentially saying by proxy that you are willing to kill over this. You are willing to kill people over the issues at hand. You can characterize it as an act of self-defense, which is fine, but you are still saying that you think this is something we gotta start killing people over.

I say this because I think many people don’t realize the immense responsibility that comes with wielding military power in the world. If we are a moral people we need to keep very close in our minds and hearts that when the US military kills they are doing it with our blessing. You and I are authorizing the violence.

If we separate ourselves from the violence that our military creates, we risk using it far too frivolously. It’s not just the enemy that gets hurt during wars. We are creating a whole new generation of vets with the sometimes deep scars of war to wrestle with the rest of their lives. Worse, dads and moms are not coming home to their young children in home after home across this country, because you and I ordered them over to kill people in Iraq.

We should all be doves, we should all be anti-war just like we are anti-killing. We should use war as a last resort. There are necessary wars, where we would all agree that violence was unavoidable. The US needs to actively work toward a world where there needn’t be necessary wars. We can’t do this when we are ourselves defending and expanding our interests with violence.

War Is Killing

Hang Up and Drive

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found a four fold increase in the risk of an accident for people who drive while phoning — the same risk as driving with a 0.08 blood alcohol level, the legal limit.

This shit has gotta stop. There is no worse place to talk on the phone than in your car. You cannot safely operate a cell phone and a car in modern traffic conditions at the same time. No phone call is worth people dying for so get over how god damn important you are and turn your full attention to the road. Driving is ungodly dangerous. It is the leading cause of death among the non-elderly. Yet no one treats it as if it was dangerous. Quit fucking around with your kids, quit talking on the phone, quit eating, doing your make-up and reading and fucking god damn fucking drive.

Hang Up and Drive

Intelligent Management of the Biosphere Is Critical

For as long as humanity has existed, but until now, the Earth has been for all practical purposes, infinite in terms of its resources. The volume of air in the atmosphere is enormous. The volume of water in the oceans is enormous. The number and varieties of animals and plants in this biosphere, the amount of oil, silver or wood — these quantities are astronomical numbers and these resources have basically seemed infinite to previous generations. That is a primary reason why the United States of America has risen to power in the world so quickly. Vast resources. The Earth is big. But…

These resources aren’t infinite anymore. The number and quality of fish in the world’s oceans is declining. The air has been getting pumped full of so much stuff for the last 100 years that its quality is changing. We will run out of oil someday not so long from now and we will probably run out of other things, too. We have lived in a very nice little world where you could just dig up new resources and those days are coming to an end.

One obvious reason is population growth. There are getting to be quite a lot of people on this planet. The other is that each person, on average, uses more resources now than previous generations. So we have essentially something like exponential growth going on in terms of resource usage.

This can’t go on.

Now let me say on the other hand, there is no shortage of mass or energy in the universe. These quantities are not at all scarce. The sun is pouring an ungodly amount of energy on the Earth every day. There are kinetic energies in the wind and surf. I believe that we will harness new energy sources to the degree that energy will be nearly free. There’s tons of energy out there in a lot of different forms.

I believe that we should be extremely careful with the biosphere. It is super critical that our biosphere be healthy and diverse. It is not worth the risk to be concerned only about short term things like jobs or the economy when it is possible, if not probable, that very habitability of our planet could be at stake.

Conservative love to laugh this off like “Mr. Hippy Trippy gettin’ all ‘we gotta love the earth, man’ on us. ” I am not talking about hippy-trippy I’m talking about science. You can do the math and take the data on these resource issues and we are beginning to have a measurable impact on these previously considered “infinite” resources like the atmosphere and the oceans. We aren’t in Kansas anymore. Regardless of whether you agree it is happening yet or not, it’s happening. Let’s be super smart about how we handle it.

How about not-this:

“President Bush strongly opposes any treaty or policy that would cause the loss of a single American job…,” said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Intelligent Management of the Biosphere Is Critical

The Tyranny of the Majority

Some of you have probably seen the comparison between the 2004 Presidential Election results map and the map of the Free States and Slave States, before the Civil War. I’ve reproduced them for you here. I do not take any credit for recognizing this and I thank whomever noticed it originally.

I am struck by this comparison mainly because I have been thinking about what it means to be a liberal and what it means to be a conservative. At dictionary.com we see that liberal means:

“Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.”

Conservative, on the other hand, means:

“Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.”

So, by definition, one side embraces change and one side opposes it. At face value there is not an intrinsic better or worse view of the two but in practice, in terms of the history of this country, there certainly is. One side fought for slavery and the other side opposed it. One side fought for women’s right to vote and the other side opposed it. One side fights for civil rights, for minorities including gays, and one side fights against it. When you say you are against change you are saying everything is perfect right now, or at least that change would take us further from perfect, and this is what is so god damn perplexing about the reelection of George W. Bush. 51% of the people in this country think a change away from George W. Bush would be a bad thing. They apparently are perfectly satisfied with how things are now. That leaves 48% of us wondering what the hell they are thinking.

As has been pointed out, what they are thinking is “God, guns and gays”. They love the first two and hate the third one. Apparently they think that a “culture of life” means executing doctors who perform abortions and not being overly concerned about the 100,000 civilian casualties in Iraq. Apparently they think that Jesus would encourage us to deny rights and compassion to our homosexual brothers and sisters. Apparently they think that fear and bigotry are important American values.

Now I know that there are plenty of conservatives who are not religious. They see themselves as fiscal conservatives and don’t think we should reward failure in this country by having vast government safety nets. Many of them are pro-choice and support gay rights. To these people I would say two things. 1. The Republican party is no longer the party of fiscal conservatism. See my previous rant, The Myth of Republican Fiscal Conservatism. Certainly it is hard or impossible to argue that Bush is a fiscal conservative. The libertarian notion that government should not reward failure is also not fiscally conservative. Poor, sick people cost our economy much more than middle-class healthy people. It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but we cannot grow our economy if we leave a large percentage of our population to poverty and sickness. Like him or not, Paul Wellstone said it perfectly: “We all do better when we all do better.” 2. I think it is entirely non-sensical for fiscal conservative/social liberals to support the Republican party because they agree with a small percentage of the platform and doom us all to the radical religious extremism that now characterizes the party. Single-issue politics, whether based on small government, gun ownership or abortion, are irrational and dangerous.

The red states in this country are completely misguided by their so-called religious values. In these states you could probably easily make being homosexual a crime punishable by law. You could probably pass referendums that set civil rights for minorities back by decades. You could easily pass ballot measures making Christianity the state religion of the United States of America. This is what appalls the blue states and the rest of the free world about this election. It is what Thomas Jefferson called the tyranny of the majority. We are now being held hostage by the least tolerant, least educated, least compassionate and most self-righteous 51% of the people of this country and it is completely understandable why the blue states and the rest of the world are scared shitless.

The Tyranny of the Majority